Catching Up #1
Now that demand for lounging jazz/exotica house is hovering above “straight-to-the-discount bin,” Dimitri From Paris has got a bit of time on his hands. But rather than performing a stylistic U-turn and releasing a minimal jazz house single, sampling the dust on the crawlspace section of his vinyl collection, (“I swear, if you listen really closely and punch yourself in the face… there’s a hint of M_nus on Mingus.”) he’s gone the crate-digging A&R route. Morgan Geist is one who made good on this premise, providing wide release to obscure Italo disco slabs on the Unclassics compilation. He gave a great interview about the compiling process and his motives to Beatz By the Pound a while back.
Dimitri’s planner couldn’t have been empty at a better time. It seems everyone has a compilation of recently unearthed tracks that everyone simply must hear; with the power of the Internet and Internet-based labels, there are more outlets than ever to make these into official releases. But one of the pitfalls of digging up the deeply buried cuts is all the detritus needing to be sifted through to find the true nuggets and few have bothered to be that discerning. Disappointingly, Dimitri has also fallen prey to these temptations, releasing the two disc collection, Dimitri From Paris Presents Cocktail Disco.
Astrud Gilberto, “Girl From Ipanema” [BBE Records]
Cocktail Disco? He describes the genre as having “that ubiquitous 4/4 beat and flying open high hat, complemented by rich orchestrations, campy, over-the-top vocals, and an often tropical, Latin vibe. Something that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Broadway musical.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t a large portion of disco in general fit those parameters? And doesn’t that last line make you recoil just a little bit? Whether or not they fit the bill, he’s also cited the Love Unlimited Orchestra, some Salsoul projects and Kid Creole as the sub-genre’s exemplars. Sadly, few of the 22 artists featured on Cocktail Disco can approach those standards, even in a scrappy or obscure way.
Nightfall, “Keep It Up” [BBE Records]
To be blunt, much of this comp is musically bland, derivative to a fault and often performed by second rate talent for whom cranking out disco records might have been just a paycheck. There are a few standout moments between the dreck, like thick, thwunking bassline in The Blue Velvets’ rendition of “Summertime,” the breezy delivery of Astrud Gilberto’s “Girl From Ipanema,” the sublime chorus of “Starflight” by The Band That Fell to Earth and the giggle-inducing ode to male endurance, “Keep It Up” by Nightflight. Bits and pieces do not warrant a two disc collection, especially one with such a crowded pool of competition (check your local library for proof) and little to attract even the most diehard disco fetishists. At least Dimitri still has that dustbunny “Baby Kate” stored away somewhere, right?
The Band That Fell to Earth, “Starflight” [BBE Records]