Catching Up #1

The first in a series of album and single reviews I’ve been meaning to do since April. For one example of what’s kept me busy in-between, check out my feature on Digitalism, now up on RA.

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]


4 comments so far

  1. trees on

    if you want some real cocktail disco, it’s all about this record:

    a bossa legend making a disco record = classic. it actually is quite good.

  2. littlewhiteearbuds on

    I’m a big Sergio Mendes fan in general. His careful touch helped a lot of great talent flourish.

  3. m@earth on

    Showtune and Broadway influenced disco? Recoil? If done wrong yes and there’s ton’s of that. For the business tho, Dr Buzzards Original Savannah Band.

  4. chris keyz on

    allo allo – well as much as i like disco, pretty obvious i guess, this release sadly doesnt do it for me, I like Dimitri, some of his live sets are amongst the most inspired i’ve ever heard, but there is the kitsch element to some of his stuff which makes me nervous. it’s the sort of Disco that causes some people to laugh, as in ‘ha ha disco man, woohoo’ and then they do some sort of badly rendered disco moves.basically not what its about for me.. like the man above said Dr Buzzard – or Mendes mentioned above him, awesome!!! I find he deco’ish artwork horrid too – your review is spot on!!

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