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What does the word "Euphoric," mean to you? To me I imagine choirs of angels, or a choir of mixed voices soothing and relaxing. Well, it really means a general sense or feeling of happiness. ** This is a long review as it is a double album **
If it means general happiness then I'm completely overjoyed and funking on down to the beats and songs on the disco floor with this album. I saw it on sale at HMV for a £7-99 and it being a double album of songs from the 1970's primarily, it has just about every artist and song that has made the term "Disco," very popular.
And when I mean "Disco," I don't mean Madonna's "Hung Up," track or groups such as "S Club 7," or similarly young teeny boppers trying to inject a new style into an old formula.
Twenty-three songs make up the first and second CD's on this double album and already I can hear some of you thinking "wow, what a bargain," but stop..! This isn't an album full of individual songs separated with good fade outs; the album is simply a very extended medley of great dance tracks!
When I first heard "Can You Feel The Force," by The Real Thing, (which is the first song on this album) I was in my first year at college and I thought it was one of the best stomping tracks I had ever heard against the usual Disco songs that I had heard whilst growing up. What makes this song a great opener is that it really sets the style and general feeling as other songs come after and are mixed into the fold.
Similar to Boney M's "Night flight to Venus," you'll receive a fader inwards on the song with a loud explosion as the electric synthesizers come in, and with the title track of the album being repeated, "Can You Feel the Force..." being repeated. And before you know it what you will be dancing along to is less of an electro acoustic idiom but the full sparkling sharpness of a jazzy brass band, hand bongos which are such a cliché of 1970's Disco songs, but work well with closeness to Caribbean styles, a good flowing bass line, some inserts here of pre-recorded applause and interim keyboard parts as if you are being transported to space.
If of course you don't like the idea of singing along to a group of male voices, then you better get used to the idea. At times, this band has shades of other singers such as Edwin Starr in his song, "Contact." As with it being Disco, you'll also hear full stereo imaging whilst the bass has been amped up in this particular recording. And after 3.43 minutes and seconds, you'll hear another song which if you haven't heard it before will become all too familiar;
2) "Can You Feel It?" by The Jacksons has been used by a lot of artists of late, but this original version gives the full family effect here by the original Michael Jackson and his brothers. I've always liked this song but I never really felt alongside other songs in their discography that it's the best that could well be applied on here. And, as I did say at the beginning, "Feel The Force," really does set the style here, because this song doesn't have any "outer space" electric keyboards used here to add colour. But you do get the original Disco stomping song. What a shame that it only lasts 3.05 minutes and seconds though, because you are then taken on (with the bass still sounding from the last song) into the next song, which is;
3) "Dance To The Music," by Sly & The Family Stone.
Now if memory serves me correctly, Madonna used this song on one of her live tours, through the song "Keep It Together," about families which stick together, and its inclusion originally brought the song back into public consumption. Well I do like the original, especially the clarinet and saxophone running and falling in jazz scales on one speaker and on the other, you'll get the drum kit and tambourine shaking like there's no tomorrow.
Here though it sits well with the style of dancing, it doesn't actually include a Disco feel to my ears and sits uneasily straight after the last song which was in the same key. Definitely you'll also hear a slight pitch change between The Jacksons group and this group because of the effects of original recording. At just 2.05 minutes and seconds you'll only get to hear most of the song's best content, because then you'll be given;
4) "Strut Your Funky Stuff", by Frantique. Well, although it was covered by Mel & Kim in the early 1980's, this song is much better although it is sparse and doesn't include chordal and pre-recorded bubbly instrumentals like Mel & Kim's version (but that's half of the fun with Stock, Aitken and Waterman music in general) Like "Can You Feel The Force," the song has spooky and eerie electric effects which run in and out of the song, plus a building disco style bass and a loud drum percussive nature. Whether you like the song though is up to you. I don't mind it; it certainly adds more Disco style and funky stuff than "Dance to the Music," did.
5) At three minutes, you'll then be served one of the songs which I don't think fits in well with the nature of true Disco, "Love Train," by The Jays. Although originally I do recall it was supported by a cartoon when it was originally released, you'll get a good clear version of the song here. At 2.38 minutes and seconds the inclusion of this song isn't necessary on here and I'd have preferred something closer to the original style of what I've heard here already.
Tracks 6 ("Disco Nights," by G Q and then "Hold Back The Night," by The Trammps) and Track 7 however are very far removed from the idea of Disco. Although I don't know "Disco Nights," terribly well I do recall it being played a couple of times in my life, but it doesn't have a particularly memorable occasion here for me. And track 7 has a very 1960's feel about it, more of a slow ballad than a proper get up, get down funkin' feel. "Hold Back The Night," also has shades of "Love Train," by the Jays as well which doesn't bode well if the last song sounds exactly, or at the most close to the last song.
8) "Let's Go Around Again" by The Average White Band, will certainly get you back onto the disco floor, if not the memory of a simple dance routine of feet tapping together and dancing in circles with your partner as the band sing "Let's go Around again," in the chorus line. Whilst it was yet another cover in the 1980's and 1990's by other singers, I love this version even if it sits uneasily between the last two songs which I don't particularly think sits well on the album layout in this album medley. And at 3.51 minutes and seconds, it is also on average a long song to dance to, even though you may well clap for cheer when you hear the opening bars to;
9) "Give It Up" by KC & The Sunshine Band. I've never known anyone who hates the song and what makes it great is the overall sound of the singer's high voice (sounds a bit like the singer from Fine Young Cannibals and shades of Level 42) coupled with high piccolo, brass and a great stomping percussive beat. Even today when I hear this song on it's own on the radio, it certainly has a great dance appeal and I'm glad it's on here - it certainly does well as a Disco medley track, even though it is then taken on with a short intro in the bass by the next track...
10) "Let's All Chant" - Michael Zager Band
"Your Body, My Body, Everybody Move your Body!" and the "Woo ooo's" repeated with a Wonder Woman tv hit tune bass line moving upwards really gets you back onto the dance floor. I've always loved this song, which shows off the basic elements of the disco style despite a classical clarinet section which gives a rather camp feeling in the middle, superseded by a trumpet and some chordal piano sounding instrument that could well be an electric harpsichord (and reminds me of the sounds of some songs by Eminem!) Thankfully at just 2.35 minutes and seconds you'll banish the campness off the floor and back into your heels!
11) A disco album, be it a medley or a complete compilation is never a true album without "Disco Inferno," by The Trammps. And this is the next track which comes in straight after "Let's All Chant." What can I say about this song? It really did a great turn when it was included on the original soundtrack to "Night Fever," even though if the version on that album was the 12" version. Here you don't have to worry about it because it only lasts 2.51 minutes and seconds before the almighty dance queen himself interrupts,
12) "You Make Me Feel Mighty Real", by Slyvester is another of those songs that should be included on every Disco album even if you don't like it yourself. Similar to the sounds of Moroder, Slyvester's dance music could well have been Disco inspired, but previous works would invest in orchestral architecture rather than the electronics you get to hear. I still think after all these years, and with the singer's demise that this original version is much better than Jimmy Sommerville's covered version. And at 4 minutes and 13 seconds, there's enough here for real Disco fanatics.
13) Now one of the reasons to why I wanted this album was really for this song, "Keep On Jumpin'," by Musique. It uses a string and brass orchestra, a rising disco bass line, not overly amped up but rounded enough. The vocals are hard hitting but they deliver the message well, and sadly it only lasts a few minutes before another great Disco song comes in. Duration: 3.07
14) "Shame" - Evelyn King Champagne. Duration 3.48
15) "Givin' up Givin' In" - Three Degrees (you don't need me to say this but I've always loved the rhythmic rising nature of this song) Duration 3.40.
16) "Jump (For My Love)" - The Pointer Sisters; another Disco great! Duration 3.45
17) "Going Back To My Roots" - Odyssey
Now here's a song which I have never really appreciated. I love the instrumentals of the bass line, the electric guitar and an overall sound which is similar and mimics The Pointer Sisters and The Three Degrees before this song. However I couldn't see myself dancing to this, despite the ostinato/sequence of the electric guitar. It's just not down right dirty enough, never mind fast enough. One for the change of footwear or getting another Spritzer from the bar methinks!
Track 18 is by far one of the tackiest to consider. Why on earth did they include "A Fifth of Beethoven" by Walter Murphy Band is beyond me. Whilst it is alright to listen to, putting it on a Disco album by my reckoning is complete bonkers. It's like dancing to "Hooked On Classics," on a dance floor in a night club. What would have been better would perhaps been the same style in terms of purely instrumental (no lyrics) could be "Machine Gun," by The Commodores which is a good hand bongo, drum inspired funky track with plenty of wah wah guitars.
19) "Play That Funky Music" - Wild Cherry. One of my all time favourites but far too short to be considered or dance to properly at just 2 minutes and 55 seconds. Shame on you Telstar!
20) "Get Down Saturday Night" - Oliver Cheatham. This song brings back memories for me and maybe if you get to hear it, it may well do something for you too - its just a slow kind of hip swaying electric synthesizer inspired song with similar accompaniments and a high voice. It could well have been covered by Luther Vandross, because the singer is quite similar in style. 3.49 duration for this one.
21) And again no disco album is complete without "Car Wash," by Rose Royce. Need I say more? Come on now! This is one groovy Disco song that really needs no comment from me! Shame it only lasts 2 minutes and 33 seconds though. Not long enough!
22) "Baby Don't Change Your Mind" - Gladys Knight & The Pips.
Now here is a song that I've never been able to dance to, and unless you want to hear about love changing and being able to take it on, then this is the song for you. It has been included on other Disco albums I have heard over the years but it's not one that I particularly like despite the nice accompaniment and overall feel.
23) To finish the first CD1 of the album, here is a version of a song that I thought had been originally covered by Gloria Gaynor and later in the 1980's made its comeback with the help of falsetto Jimmy Sommerville yet again. "Don't Leave Me This Way," by Thelma Houston (yes the mother of!) lets you hear a very young Thelma and in a way the precursor sound to her songstress daughter, Whitney. But whilst Gloria's version is more polished, this version really has loads of sparseness in it between the Disco beats, a lovely string counter melody, Thelma's juicy voice strong and potent through the verses. The only downside is a warble next to Grace Jones which broadens out the song at the end. Look out for tremolo electric piano which vibrates and falls oh so softly like melting toffee. If this song doesn't convince you enough to get up to dance, then frankly nothing will! It lasts 3 minutes and 33 seconds so that should give you enough time to consider and discover whether you appreciate disco or not!
** Disc Two **
It is easy to see that Telstar, who were responsible for this compilation have easily breezed through their own discography of album releases and taken songs willy nilly without much thought. Whereas the first CD sparkles with some wonderful gems and some songs which don't always fit the basic Disco feel and style, the second CD splits into two very distinct natures:
To start with, "Somebody's Else's Guy," by Jocelyn Brown may well bring out all the screamers on the dance floor with this high pitched lament before the heart edged feelings begin to pour out with the main stomping appeal of this song. Undoubtedly you'll either want to clap to this song whilst dancing or sit this one out. It makes a good start to the second album as it uses slap guitar, a thumping bass line and good short piano parts in between the verses. And at 3 minutes and 40 seconds it's quite a long recording before the next stomping track comes in. But suddenly one begins to wonder if the basic feeling of Disco has been lost. I think it adds interest and dimension to other forms of Disco which began to broaden out historically and musicially at the end of the 1970's and into the 1980's.
2) Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, by Indeep comes in straight after aided by the slow walking bass line from "Somebody's Elses Guy," and whilst its a good song it's not one that you would dance to with happy abandonment. Luckily it only lasts for 2 minutes and 30 seconds;
3) before it is replaced by the awfully boring and strange sounding thick piano accompanied "More More More," by Andrea True Connection. "How Do You like this song?" Well I don't. I have never liked it. I've never been able to disco stomp to it and to me it's not one of the best songs to consider doing on the dance floor.
4) "Rock The Boat" by The Hues Corporation, has a lot of shades from The Stylistics without the high pitched voice. Whilst it's a good song, it's yet another song from the old style with more piano accompaniment, a bouncing along bass line and some string orchestra. This is the kind of song you would probably dance to with groups of people rather than your chosen partner. It's a song which fits 50/50. It neither serves a good or bad purpose to be included. 2 minutes and 51 seconds.
Tracks 5 and Tracks 6 ("Native New Yorker," by Odyssey and "Aint No Stopping Us Now," by McFadden and Whitehead) are disappointments, which for me beg to ask Telstar what their definition of Disco really is. Whilst "Native New Yorker," has a wonderful go lucky feel to it, the version on this album isn't very clear and the quality is one of the worst songs which have been recorded here in terms of close up sound. And that's a shame, because for the price I paid, I'm expecting the best quality!
Track 6, "Aint No Stopping Us Now," may well be the original but I've heard better closer up cover versions than the song Telstar feature here.
7) "Upside Down" - Diana Ross. Thank the wee man they didn't include "I'm Coming Out," which is a song which has sadly been played to death on the Disco night club circuit. Here you'll hear a brash, bouncing song which allows Miss Ross's vocals to come out short, sweet and straight to the point. Oh I think Telstar are finally getting closer, again closer to the roots of Disco, even if originally this song is older than it sounds. And at 3 minutes and 18 seconds, it is worth listening to, because it will make you dance.
8) "I Can Make You Feel Good" - Shalamar. Sorry for fans out there of this group but I've never liked the chords from the keyboards here to make it into a song which fits the banner "Disco." It just doesn't work despite the title in the chorus. Thank the lord it only lasts 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
9) "Lady Marmalade (album version)" - Labelle (feat. Patti Labelle). This song needs no comment from me. It fits well in Disco and being the original it is still better than the cover version that everyone knows...and Telstar have kindly included 3 minutes and 23 seconds of the song for you to enjoy, as you pretend to sing into your make believe microphone!
10) "This Is It" - Melisa Moore. Another great Disco song which will get you up and running for the floor. Full of happy contentment not just aided and emphasized by Melisa's young and sexy voice. 3 minutes and 9 seconds. It is unfortunately chopped up at the end by the next track.
11) "Love Come Down" - Evelyn Champagne King. I've liked this song the first time I heard it - and yes, I was on a disco floor! But I loved the way it started, very much like Five Star (if anyone remembers this British group!) in the way the vocals were seamless and the vocals in general which sparkle, aided by electric drum machines and a tendency to stomp around in agreement. At 3 minutes and 40 seconds you'll also get a lot more of this song.
12) "And The Beat Goes On" - The Whispers. I always thought that The Jacksons did this song, and it goes to show it's good to read! This is one song which stomps along easily enough even though the quality on this album is poor. Again, as it faded in after "Love Come Down," it changes slightly in pitch and that can be really annoying!!
13) "Aint Gonna Bump No More With No Big Fat Woman" - Joe Tex
When I first heard this song, it was on this album! At first I thought it was James Brown because the vocals and lyrics are very similar and excuse my ignorance because I don't know who Joe Tex is!! It's probably the same guy because all the nuances are there from James Brown; plenty of good jazzy and fruity brass sections are evident here apart from some Hammond organ and a nice accompaniment. Could he be rapping though? Well the song uses a lot of spoken content... so figure it out for yourself. I'm glad it's on the album as it adds interest and I can imagine a lot of people dancing to it, despite the horrible title of the track! Lasts 3 minutes and just over 5 seconds.
14) And when it's replaced by "Le Freak," by Chic then you will know that someone in the Telstar studio knew what they were doing! I just can't fault this song even though the sounds of the young ladies may not appeal to all! It goes to show that a song as simple as this with that electric guitar strumming away with a disco beat, clear and sparkly can make a really basic accompaniment. Put in a string orchestra, pre recorded over dubs, hand claps and a good thick bass line and you have the makings of a fantastic song. Telstar have even included the middle bridge of the string orchestra in the middle of the song, which is undoubtedly another section of this song which makes it ideal for Disco considerations.
15) "Lost In Music," by Sister Sledge (2.00 duration) and Track 16 "Young Hearts Run Free," by Candi Station are both equal good considerations. Latterly the version of Candi's song which appears here has been remixed under the name of "K-Klassic," and it lifts the orchestrally rich original with a much better lighter accompaniment as it allows piano to come in - some interest - an added backing vocal to this song - and other parts from the orchestra which is lost in the original. A real eye opener and one that works even if the disco beat has been used from a drum machine (3.48 duration)
17) Oh lord! Tacky or what and here's another cringe worthy confession from me. Now we have Baccara singing "Yes Sir I can Boogie!" I adore this song because it is similar to Chic's Le Freak song; it uses a basic string orchestra, a lovely precise Disco beat and a good vocal line. You have to open your ears to these Foreign ladies even if you can't believe some of the lyrics.
18) "Supernature" by Cerrone is one of those tracks which has definitely been put on for filler effect. It could be a sample from any home keyboard. Telstar have obviously scratched the bottom of the barrel for Foreign imports akin to Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis and even that gentleman who wrote that song for Miami Vice - Jam Hammer, was it? This is one track you will either appreciate or not. It does have a lyric to it, but it's nothing imaginative - if Grace Jones could have covered it, she would have done. The lady singing in this song brushes closely to the effect of Miss Jones' harsh voice. And oh dear unless you like tacky keyboard effect I doubt whether many people would actually dance to it.
Track 19, "Candido" by Jingo isn't any better. Hand bongos come in, a good Limbo stick style is in order here and if you like being silly on the dance floor, you'll be creating little sticks between your friends to crawl under. But the only problem is that it smacks of poor 1980's over dubbing quality - one of the effects of buying products from Telstar. Is it Disco? No not in my mind! Shame it lasts over 3 minutes and 35 seconds.
20) And "Shaft" the original theme tune has thankfully been included here courtesy of Mr Salty Chocolate Balls, Isaac Hayes. All of a sudden we are now being transported to why I'm here in the first place! This has always been one of my favourite gangster television theme tunes and it sits well here on this Disco medley album. Just in at 3 minutes.
21) A poor chordal start which clashes right at the end of "Shaft" tells me that the version of "Flash dance," by Irene Cara isn't the original version, but a version which appeared a few years ago after the original was released. Well it's here anyway and it sits well even though it's been vamped and tampered around by a tacky electric drum kit.
22) "Instant Replay" - Dan Hartman. I never heard this song before I got this album but whenever I hear it now, it reminds me of Leo Sawyer with the way Hartman sings the song. It does have a great disco stomping bass and good overall string accompaniment with a full chorus, and it's the album version which appears here which means 4 minutes and 52 seconds.
23) And lastly with the help of a tambourine banging out the beats, you'll be greeted with Donna Summer's "I Feel Love", the last song on this album. I've always adored the electro synthesized sound of this song and it is a Disco classic even though it has been covered so many times I care to remember. It is a great song however to choose to end the album. Duration 3.28.
There are worst Disco albums I have had in the past that promised the "Best Of," and sadly didn't live up to the name. Here there is a good selection of the late 1960's to the early 1980's of general Disco style music which sits easily on the dance floor as well as at home getting ready for work in the morning or just to get a kick out of.
However, there are some bad fillers here too which is nothing new if you have ever owned a Telstar offering before. Unfortunately this is one of the downsides to many Telstar albums, which from my experience I am used to when it comes to finding compilations which look great from the track listings displayed before realising who the record company is! Some of the songs blend in easily from the endings into songs which come next and some songs don't sit well with the change in sound quality and general pitch. Sadly that is one downside I have come to expect from Telstar quality. Sound quality for the most part is average although there are some high points against overall quality that feels rushed.
It's a fair compilation but if you are new to Disco, don't expect that it includes the very best of 1970's Disco. It doesn't have songs which I would have thought fetched a higher recognition value such as the Bee Gees (certainly songs such as "You Should Be Dancing," or "Night Fever," or "Staying Alive.") or "Hot Stuff," and "Bad Girls," from Donna Summer. Sadly there are no "Earth, Wind and Fire" tracks here either.
Is it The Very Best of Disco Breakdown? Well it's not the cream of the crop but its close...but slightly far away. For experienced Disco fans, this is an album which has favourites but you'll be missing others - however for its girth and vastness, its a worthy accompaniment to serve up in the disc changer of your car, or simply ideal for samples when DJ'ing. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008.
My Price: £7-99 from HMV
Current Amazon Price: £3-98 to £18-10 (German company!)
Release by Telstar Records