The Neon Nights- Sounds Like The Bee Gees

Normally I really hate Pickwick sound-alike records.  My philosophy is that you had an opportunity to do something, no, anything and you chose to do something totally derivative.  However, this was 80 cents and I like the Bee Gees.  I also figured this would make for either an interesting post or a chance to really crap on something.

Keeping with the theme of running down last month’s trip to Phoenix, we took a stop at the Aquarium and Butterfly enclave in town.  Pretty good little tour.  A lot of interesting fishes and the like inside.  Took a lot of pictures.  My aunt was in town from the New Brunswick and I found it odd when I saw her taking pictures of lobsters, being from the Maritimes and all (they got a lot of them up there).  I then , being from Texas, proceeded to take many pictures of the catfish (which are abundant in the state).  Well, I guess it is man’s ability to be hypocritical that separates us from the animals.  That and a couple inches of glass.

The butterfly enclave was pretty neat as well as you walked inside while they flew around in all directions.  Tried hard to get a picture of the blue butterfly’s but they really either proved to be elusive or were really old and worn.  I remember going thru the same thing at the zoo in Amsterdam , the only difference was I was so glad at the time to be inside with the butterfly as it was freezing outside.

I know nothing about the Neon Nights, who most certainly, were whatever studio band and singers Pickwick was using at the time.  As the title would greatly suggest, it is a collection of Bee Gee tunes done by a copycat group and released on the cheap, something Pickwick did a lot of at the time.  The songs on the album are pretty representative of the band’s big hits from the seventies.  I found it odd to include “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band” as it is less representative of the Bee Gees and more reminiscent of a huge commercial and artistic flop which nearly ruined the careers of everyone involved. I did like the inclusion of “Nights on Broadway” which was used by SNL on the Barry Gibb Talk Show which I can only link to (damn you NBC).

Link to NBC/SNL skit in question

 

So how does one critique a copycat album like this?  Simple.  For me, this album came down to the start of the second verse of “Stayin’ Alive”.  This was make or break point. How did the two compare?  Well you can see for yourself as that is the sample I used.

Or I can save you the suspense and just tell you, the Neon Nights fell flat. And that is why this is a low rated album.

George McCrae- Rock Your Baby

This week I have been posting records I bought in Amsterdam for a Euro.  On the surface, this album may seem strange selection.  Well, before I bought it, this record cover was posted on the wall of one of the bars, cafes, or restaurants I was in while on vacation.  However, I can not remember which one. When I saw it, I bought it and originally thought it was a Dutch artist.  

But George McCrae is from West Palm Beach Florida.  Born in 1944, McCrae has one of the first big hits of the disco era with this record and the self titled single.  It sold eleven million copies and was voted the song of the year by Rolling Stone in 1974.  It also was #1 overall in the US singles chart as well as in the UK, Norway, Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands.

In the 80’s, he moved to the Netherlands where he still remains popular.  He has released around a dozen records or so. 

As stated above, this was the first and biggest hit for McCrae.  I never really thought about it in disco terms until I did some research on it. The title track has some disco elements but overall, I thought it was a good R&B/ soul album.  “I Can’t Leave You Alone, “You Got My Heart” and “Make It Right” stuck out when I listened to this as well as the title track and reprise. All these quality songs considered, “I Get Lifted” is the sample I stuck with.

Satisfactory Record

OST-Saturday Night Fever

DSCN3885This was $2.40.   I did not think about it until just now but what an aptly put title to post today, on Saturday. Just got back from seeing Rusalka at the HGO so I am beat.  This one will be short.  Also, I am aware that my spelling this month has been poor and I am working on fixing that.saturday-night-fever-original-one-sheet-movie-poster

They used to play this quite a bit at Sharpstown Ice Center when I worked there.  Quite a bit.  I can picture the same figure skaters getting excited for the same part of the same song.  As far as the actual movie, you can read about that in the link below as I am tired.  It should be noted that John Travolta was nominated for an Oscar in this, his first role on film. It was also generally regarded as one of the best films of 1977 despite coming out right at the death of disco.

IMDB Link for Saturday Night Fever.

This album has tracks by Yvonne Elliman, The Tramps, K.C.& the Sunshine Band, and Kool & the Gang but make no mistake about it; this is the Bee Gee’s album.  From “Stayin Alive” to “How Deep is Your Love” to “Night Fever” to “Jive Talkin”, the brothers dominate the quantity and quality of this double album.  There are some decent instrumentals as well.469842For a sample, here is the Bee Gee’s “More Than a Woman”, which was also covered by Tavares on the same soundtrack.  Also to highlight the instrumental contribution, here is a “Night on Disco Mountain” adapted from Mussorgsky.DSCN3886Top rated album.  Ok movie I guess.  I don’t think I can watch it again any time soon, but it is entertaining. Sorry to shortchange any of you with this post but I am quite tired and have a long day ahead of me tomorrow.

Ethel Merman- The Ethel Merman Disco Album

DSCN3298This was in pricey range of $3.00. Normally, when I buy a record, it is at least a month or so before I post it. I bought this beauty on Tuesday. Scott Fix told me about the existence of this record. He probably told me how bad it was but I must have tuned out that part.

Annex - Merman, Ethel (Anything Goes)_01

Because I have been working as of late, I have fallen majorly behind on listing to stuff I have bought. I am generally hesitant right now to buy more albums until I have worked my backlog, but I had to get some Christmas records so I went shopping last weekend. The owner of Sig’s Lagoon told me he was getting a new shipment of cheap records in on Tuesday. Again, I was hesitant to go back knowing damn well I would buy more albums which I would not have time to listen to. Nonetheless, I decided to check it out. Indeed, I bought more records than I can handle but I did come out with this gem.Annie-get-your-gun-ethel1

Ethel Merman (1908-1984), oddly enough, was married to Ernest Borgnine for less than three months . Apparently, Merman found out during the honeymoon that Marty was broke. Borgnine said that he spent most of the marriage arguing. Merman, on the other hand, had a chapter on the marriage in her autobiography that consisted one a single blank page. There is a funny anecdote during their time together but since it involves profanity, the worst of which for that matter, I am not going to repeat it. If you want, you can read it at the link below.

Link to Anecdote above

27 Jun 1964, Los Angeles, California, USA --- Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine at Their Wedding --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

This album was released in 1979. Merman recorded 14 songs for it but they only used seven. The songs were recorded in one take and arranged vocally in a style consistent with her earlier work. The disco music was added afterwards.

Gypsy3650

A lot of people made disco albums in the 70’s. It should also be noted that Merman was 20 years past her prime when she made this. That all being said, this album is pretty bad but has tremendous camp value. I have seen copies on the Internets selling between $25 and $50. This copy is in pretty good shape. Musically, however, it is pretty bad.DSCN3299

For a sample, I was hard pressed to determine what was the best tune on the album. I like a lot of the original versions of the songs but there is not one that really jumps out as the best/ worst. I decided to go with “There’s No Business Like Show Business” because there are no people like show people.  I mean they smile, man, when they are low.I was going back and forth between this and “Some People”, but I actually prefer Rosalind Russell’s version which was apparently not 100% her own vocals. Please do not call be a heretic. Also was considering Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You”. Ethel_Merman03

Meh is probably wrong but I can not say this is a satisfactory record. Again, the camp value is totally worth it and the record sounds like one would imagine. However, it is just plain bad music if you like either Broadway, Disco, or both.

DSCN3298

 

Henry Mancini- Symphonic Soul

DSCN2397This was $5.00.  Anything by Mancini is worth a shot, but generally speaking, his attempts at cross-genre albums or anything that deviates from his sound usually miss the mark.p55362txj7z

This was Henry Mancini’s take on soul/disco and is actually quite good. Where other genre themed albums of Mancini failed, this album succeeds, mainly because it capitalizes on past works and greatly utilizes Mancini’s genius with string arrangements. I believe this was released in 1976 and it is really good.  Highlights include the title track, “a new tack on “Peter Gunn”, and “African Symphony” as well as the samples I selected.DSCN2398

For samples, I went with “ Satin Soul”, “Pick Up the Pieces” and “Slow Hot Wind” which is basically a re-work of “Lujon” from Mr Lucky / The Big Lebowski.

Top Rated.

 

Foxes- OST

DSCN0054I believe this was $5.00.  Giorgio Moroder has been trending lately.  He also was in seven of the eight magazines I subscribe to last month highlighting his comeback of sorts.tumblr_mo1d4hh9RZ1rr34bqo1_1280

Giorgio Moroder is known as a pioneer of synth disco and is therefore one of the legends of electronic dance music.  Born in 1940 in Italy, he began his career making a name for himself in Germany.  Out of Munich, he would produce Donna Summer’s biggest disco hits including “Hot Stuff”, “Love to Love You Baby”, and “Bad Girls”.  He also had a number of hits in the 70’s under his own moniker.  In regards to film work, his credits include Midnight Express, American Gigolo,  Scarface, and Top Gun.  He would win 3 Academy Awards and 4 Grammys in the process.  According to Moroder, Top Gun’s “Take My Breath Away” would be the work he was most proud of.  giorgio-moroder-news-wired-italy-050814

After a long period of little activity, Moroder came back into the scene with his work with Daft Punk’s 2013 album Random Access Memories.  From there, he started DJ’ing as well as more guest work on albums.  In 2015, he released a new album, Deja Vu, featuring Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Sia, and Charli XCX along with others.

Moroder’s Web Page

This album was the soundtrack to 1980’s Foxes.  It was a coming of age film about four teenage girls growing up in the late 70’s and featured Jody Foster, Cherie Currie (from the Runaways), Sally Kellerman, and Scott Baio.It would be Foster’s last role before going to Yale.  It got decent reviews but did nothing at the box office.  I believe the moral of the story is that girls with poor self image issues end up marrying Randy Quaid.

Along with American Gigolo (which spawned Blondie’s hit “Call Me”, this was the only other soundtrack work Moroder did in 1980. A double album, it contains one side of disco songs, one side of instrumentals, one mixed side of both, and a hard rock side by the band Angel which factors into the movies plot.  With the exception of the Angel tracks, Mororder wrote or co-wrote the remaining songs.  Donna Summer’s “On the Radio” would be the biggest hit from the record.  Jannis Ian’s “Fly Too High” would also do very well and is a bit surprising coming from the singer of “At Seventeen”.  Make no mistake, this is Ian doing a disco song.  Cher also puts a song in as well.

DSCN0055As for the instrumental tracks, they feature the driving synths and production values Moroder is known for.  Of all of these, the ten minute long “Valley of the Dolls” best exemplifies what Moroder was doing during this period.  And therefore, here it is as your sample.  I think it is awesome.

Satisfactory Record

Silver Convention- Save Me

DSCN1214This was $4.00. I figured it was a good way to get some diversified music on to this page.

Silver Convention was a West German disco band from the 70’s. It was the brainchild of producers/songwriters Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze . It was led on vocals by three female session vocalists, Linda G Thompson, Penny McLean, and Jackie Carter. This was their first album, released after they scored some success on the singles chart. Oddly enough, their first appearance was in Dallas in 1977, in a Braniff airplane hanger. It was for a promotional party for the airline. The vocalists would leave and find moderate success on their own. After some hits and misses, they would release Love in a Sleeper in 1978 with a new producer and new singers. This album would bring success back to the group. However, with disco on the way out, the act’s fate was sealed. Levay went on to work in Hollywood on movies (he was the arranger on Scarface). Kunze, on the other hand became a successful lyricist and librettist in the German Musical theater.

Silver Convention WebPage

This record, released in 1975, would hit number 10 on the Billboard Pop Albums charts. Three singles would hit # 1 on the US Dance Charts. “Fly, Robin, Fly” would go to #1 on the US Pop Charts as well.

silver-convention-Fly-robin-Fly

I was surprised when I found out that Silver Convention was German. I always assumed they were from New York or Detroit area. I also always associated German music as being more synthesizer heavy so the lack of it is strange to me on this. As far the album, it is a disco album that is representative of the time. The songs are short on vocal verses and mostly focus on the chorus. Descent songs such as “Save Me” and “Tiger Baby”.  I understand why this was popular at the time, but there is little on this that transcends the era it came out of.DSCN1217

I went with “Fly Robin Fly” as the sample. It was popular at the time and has been used in film soundtracks since.

Meh. I am done with this album. Too much a dated disco album than anything else.