Archive for dance

The Essential 80’s Vol. 1-5

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on 210000006UTC 12 by marky7235

Vol. 4

Love Will Tear Us Apart Again [Joy Division]—-With this track, considered the only close to hit release in the US, this band gained a cult following until Ian Curtis’ death. The band went on to become New Order and conquer the world….but this is where it all started. This bleak and dark tome to love never tires on me.

Wishing [A Flock Of Seagulls]—-The second single from the self titled debut release, this was a bit longer than the average radio single…but played in the dance clubs rather well. The sound is so comforting and familiar I just have to sit here and listen to the entire thing again and again. The space age feel is everywhere on this track!

Der Kommissar [Falco]—-The only hit single for Falco in the US [unless you include the oft heard Amadeus], this track was played every where and even covered by the American band After The Fire. I prefer the German version….its more fun to guess the sentiment. This is another track that never wears on me.

I Love Rock And Roll [Joan Jett]—-Branching out on her solo career after the demise of The Runaways, Jett scored a gigantic hit with this harder rock track then we were accustomed to hearing on 80’s radio. This has energy, aggression and you can dance to it. We love Joan!!!

Supersonic [ JJ Fad]—-Not so much a radio hit as a cult classic, play this for your friends and remind them when Electro really started. Not only is the beat incredible but the vocals are fantastic…..the speed these girls manage to twist words by is mind numbing. A true classic 80’s track.

The Breaks [Kurtis Blow]—-I was never familiar with Blow until I heard this on the soundtrack from Def Jam [?]. Blow has a vocal that is distinct and instantly recognizable. I love how he always sounds like he is out of breath when he raps….this is classic old school!

The Roof Is On Fire [Rock Master Scott And The Furious Three]—-Any one familiar with the origins of rap and the beginning of the movement knows all about this track. If you don’t, become familiar with this house rocker!!!

I’m Not Having It [Special K]—-Built on simple beats and relying on the give and take of the vocal flow, this track was overplayed and feels a little bit old for me…..it’s an ok track…but it has been done over and over before.

Just A Friend [Biz Markie]—-There is nothing redeeming about this song…..I just don’t like it or Biz!!!

Jenny/867-5309 [Tommy TuTone]—-The saddest thing about this single was the simple fact that no one considered listening to the rest of this album….which is damn exceptional. This is a bona fide 80’s hit….but TuTone still records and tours….playing this whether he wants to or not.

Situations [Cetu Javu]—-I know a lot about the 80’s decade, but I sure don’t know this song!!! It is poppy and reminds me a bit of Men Without Hats. It has a very distinct British sound….there is no denying it should have been heard much more…..

Funky Cold Medina [Tone-Loc]—-Built on the distinct vocal of Tone, that deep baritone is instantly recognizable. This was more of a 90’s hit….but it is on here despite that. Following a few hit singles, Loc now does voice-overs on cartoons.

Treat ‘Em Right [Chubb Rock]—-1990…..I won’t argue over brass tacks though. The beat is pure NYC…the flow is slick and smooth. Still a whole lot of fun to listen to!!

 

*** out of 5

The Essential 80’s Vol. 1-5

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , on 190000006UTC 12 by marky7235

Vol. 2

Don’t Stop Believin’ [Journey]—-Released during the true hey day of this band, it reminds us once again that the 80’s were not just full of synths and swirls. No voice could ever quite match Steve Perry and this song is proof of that. The voice literally soars. With the guitar from Neil Schon, this song is still a classic…..ummmm and karaoke favorite!

Take My Breath Away [Berlin]—-Berlin and Terri Nunn were bona fide stars before hitting this track out of the ballpark. taken from the Top Gun soundtrack, it was hard not to get through a day without hearing it at least once. This still plays so well today. The synth swirls are magic and the emotion is incredible!

She Talks In Stereo [Gary Myrick]—-This is not a track I’m really familiar with, although it does contain all the needed 80’s qualities from the onset. I think maybe someone else sang this at one time or another. This has a familiar sound and a classic 80’s feel. I’ll keep it!!!

Bette Davis Eyes [Kim Carnes]—-CLASSIC!!!!! Delivered with a nice gravel tone, Carnes made everyone aware of who Bette Davis was and scored a huge hit at the same time. This track has a timeless sound….it feels fresh to me every single time I hear it. The slight synth, the guitar and the voice….a great recipe!

I Melt With You [Modern English]—-The definition of the US one hit wonder, this song really was driven by MTV and the stark video. The vocal is incredible….managing to sing but still hang on to that English accent, this is one full CD that I do not yet own. Perhaps soon…and I’ll review it here of course. Still one of my very favorite 80’s songs.

Flashdance [Irene Cara]—-The title track from the timeless movie Flashdance, the song never gets old. Combining an 80’s sound with the still lingering Disco beat this song literally drove people to the dance floor. Not even the best song from the soundtrack, but a staple even in retro clubs today. Classic!!!

Send Me An Angel [Reel Life]—-From the onset, the synths remind you of the decade we are immersed in. The UK slant to the vocal gives the song even more life. This is classic….but has been over played, over mixed and worn out. I still love the sentiment though.

Only The Lonely [The Motels]—-Led my Martha Davis, this band never received the attention that it deserved. The sound was both modern and retro at the same time…always bringing a smile to my face. I listen to the 4 releases they made still today….you can’t escape that sexy sultry voice that Davis has.

Walking On Sunshine [Katrina And The Waves]—-I’m sorry……I hate this song…..even more after the hurricane. NEXT!!!

Salt In My Tears [Martin Briley]—-Another of those rare 80’s tracks I really do not know very well. I love the voice although the music is a bit generic. This reminds me of a weaker Tubes or Loverboy. The chorus is magnificent….the rest of the song falls a bit flat for me.

Honestly [Stryper]—-Known mainly for being a Christian band who threw bibles to the audience, Stryper became a household name with this ballad that still gives me goosebumps to this day. Michael Sweet had a soaring vocal that has withstood the decades incredibly well. A masterpiece of a song!

Cum On Feel The Noize [Quiet Riot]—-Beneath the synth driven 80’s, hair metal was alive and well with bands like Quiet riot…..it made for great MTV programming. This song still holds up well….vocalist DuBrow passed away a short time ago….but he left a great legacy in the music.

Pass The Dutchie [Musical Youth]—-Coming from the poorest parts of the world, this group of young boys made a huge splash in the US with this little track. The success was fleeting but the song is instantly recognizable even today and has stood the test of time incredibly well. The slight reggae feel seemed to appeal to everyone…this is great!

Dream Warriors [Dokken]—-Another hair band that dug the trenches in the 80’s, Dokken scored this hit from the soundtrack of the same name. I never saw the movie and was never a huge fan of the band….the fights and the constant break-ups destroyed the fan base. Still some of the music they produced remains fresh and viable…this….not so much.

Total Eclipse Of The Heart [Bonnie Tyler]—-Just like Meatloaf, Tyler’s career was built on the music of genius Jim Steinman….the sound is all over every track she sang on. This is a great video…the vocal is perfect and the mood is all Steinman. I never tire of this song!

Love On A Real Train [Tangerine Dream]—-So, I’m slow…..I never even knew that this was an 80’s song….oh well….live and learn. This has enough synth to fit in the decade, but the sound is much more New Age than synth-pop. I don’t dislike this stuff, I just need to be in the mood for it.

Let The Music Play [Shannon]—-An accountant turned performer, Shannon scored a number of dance hits in the post-disco era of crowded and sweaty dance floors. The voice draws you in….she sings with gusto and true feeling…it is hard not to get caught up in the energy. Still touring today, Shannon manages to show up on the club charts from time to time….but nothing equals this instant classic!!!

 

**** out of 5

 

Madonna / MDNA

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 30000006UTC 12 by marky7235

MDNA

MDNA is the twelfth studio album by American recording artist Madonna, first released on March 23, 2012 by Interscope Records. It is also Madonna’s first album not to be associated with Warner Bros. Records, the label she was signed to since 1982. As well as Madonna producing the album she worked with a variety of producers such as Alle Benassi, Benny Benassi, Demolition Crew, Free School, Michael Malih, Indiigo, William Orbit, Martin Solveig.

The album received generally positive reviews from music critics. Upon its release, it debuted at number one in many countries worldwide, including Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Madonna set a new record for the most number-one albums by a solo artist in Australia and the United Kingdom, but also achieved the largest second-week percentage sales drop for a number-one debuting album of the Nielsen SoundScan era in the United States.

The album’s lead single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’“, was released on February 3, 2012. The single became her 38th top-ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100, extending her record as the artist with most top-ten singles in that chart’s history. The second single “Girl Gone Wild” was released digitally on March 2, 2012. Prior to the album’s release, Madonna performed at the Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show on February 4, 2012. The album is promoted by her MDNA Tour.

The Analysis:

Girl Gone Wild—-You have to love the intro to this track…..it all hearkens back to the glory days of the original master! The beats on this track are classic…the slow ebb and the heavy bass…the magical way it ebbs and flows…with the slight french influence. this is a classic Madonna track….it will remain one of my favorites for quite sometime….her voice sounds as youthful and as full of energy as it ever has…and it just proves she still has her finger on the pulse of modern dance music!

Gang Bang—-Only Madge could get away with a song title such as this!!! The track begins with an almost apocalyptic feel……Madonna delivers a vocal that is pushed far to the back of the mix filled with lots of echo…nice production!!!! The track is not as necessarily catchy life the previous…but it is still genius…..showing again the genius of the artist…this is not a favorite…but not a throwaway by any means either!

I’m Addicted—-Full of a deeper house sound and lots of erratic keyboards, it still allows the vocal to really be in the front of the mix. This is another throwback classic track….the fans would expect nothing less. The way the song builds and builds and then ebbs is so reminiscent of 90’s classic by the First lady….the song..to me, shows relevance and a continued drive…I love this!

Turn Up The Radio—-It has been a long time it seems since i have such a pure vocal from Madonna…..this is brilliant and perhaps my favorite track on this release…..the voice is left pure and alone and never, ever falters…still carrying the slight child like voice that made her famous to begin with. The instrumentation is high energy and full of effects, but it is simply the voice that carries this song…this is damn near brilliant!!!!

Give Me All Your Luvvin’—-I must say it…..I don’t understand this track…I don’t like this track….but every release has one of those. I only listen to it for MIA!!!!

Some Girls—-Returning to more modern and almost Dub oriented sound, this is another favorite track of mine…if only for the DEEP sound of energy. I love the way the song magically switches….between a deep experimental sound to a more conventional ‘clean vocal’ and then back to a robotic distorted sound. This is energetic and hypnotic….I’m sure the clubs are thumpin’ this track…as it should be….a magical fun track!

Superstar—-I am wonderfully enamored with this track…it reminds me of the classic and glory days of Madge and convinces me that she is still dedicated to her craft. This is energetic…full of classic Madonna sentiments and phrases…a cleaner vocal and a damn catchy chorus that will live in your brain for weeks at a time. This is brilliance…I love this return to form!!!! Wonderful!!!

I Don’t Give A—-This is just a FUN track…reminding me of the classic stuff Madge did with Jellybean…..the beats and breaks are SHARP and there is a noise involved that I find ver attractive. This is brilliant…the delivery is rapid fire…the melody is catchy as hell and I want to sing it over and over in my brain all day. This is wonderful…fantastic and damn near brilliant. And Nicki….is pretty brilliant!

I’m A Sinner—-Another track that surprised me…simply because of the unadulterated vocal that Madge delivers. The voice is amazingly pure as it was at the beginning….she sounds 20…is it possible Madonna is 50!!!!???? The music hearkens back a few releases ago…but it works with the whole flow of the CD….thank God for great production…this is a masterpiece…catchy as hell!!!!

Love Spent—- Odd from the very onset…it is exciting at the same time. The track quickly looses the oddity and becomes a rather generic track….kind of surprised me….not really a favorite track…I would have preferred something more deep and intense at this point…but it is as it is!

Masterpiece—-Allowing a bit of a respite, this is a much-needed and thirsted for track…the sound is deep intense and sad…reminding us how much the woman has been through in the past few years. This is a beautiful and wonderfully revealing track…..just what I needed…..the hurt of love betrayed…..

Falling Free—-rounding out the release with a rather magnificent orchestrated track, Madonna delivers a vocal full of pain and real betrayal. I sit back and listen….and examine the word FREE which is repeated over and over through the song…..reminding me that despite fame and fortune…..free is the same to me as it is to her. hurt is universal…..interesting!

****1/2 out of 5

Jonsi / Go

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on 90000008UTC 12 by marky7235

Go

Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson (pronounced [ˈjouːn ˈθouːr ˈpɪrkɪsɔn, ˈjounsɪ]( listen)) (born April 23, 1975) is the guitarist and vocalist for the Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós. He is known for his use of a cello bow on guitar and his falsetto voice. Jónsi is blind in his right eye. He is openly gay,[1][2] and his boyfriend Alex Somers has done much of the graphic design for Sigur Rós. They also perform together as an art collaboration called Jónsi & Alex. They released their self-titled first book in November 2006, which was an embossed hardcover limited to 1000 copies,[3] along with their first album, Riceboy Sleeps, in July 2009. Jónsi is a vegetarian[1], and also prefers to eat only raw food.[4]

On December 1, 2009, Jónsi’s official website, jonsi.com, was launched, in anticipation of his upcoming debut solo album, Go, released the week of April 5, 2010. After the release of the album, Jónsi promptly started a worldwide tour across North America and Europe, featuring songs from the album plus a few other selections, planning to tour from March-September.

In late-January 2010, Jónsi had announced that Sigur Rós was on “an indefinite hiatus,” as the band had scrapped plans for a new album previously announced to be released in 2010, saying that “they were just rumors.” The band has decided to take the year off, as several members of Sigur Rós recently had children, and as Jonsi’s solo career has been developing.

Go Do—-With lots of nice electronic overtures at the onset, the song grows and grows until the vocal enters….reminding me of Coldplay!!! Just not as serious! This is fun, energetic and pleasant…..there are lots of little sounds going on through out the track…taking multiple listens to really appreciate all of them. This is fantastic!

Animal Arithmetic—- Delivering a much more straight forward rock track, this is something you could still dance to, but you would not hear this in any local club. The vocal is not as falsetto, therefore being much more accessible..although it is impossible to catch a single word…at times I think this must be in a foreign moniker. This is really nice though…energetic and with that magic element that sticks in your head.

Tornado—-Slowly emerging with a nice melancholy piano base, the vocal enters and is the most accessible yet. This is sedate and touching…Jonsi manages to rip your heart from your chest in 60 seconds and lay it right on the table in front of you….switching back and forth between his falsetto and more acceptable voice, this song just builds and builds….creating a huge track that is full of emotion and despair. This is brilliant!

Boy Lilikoi—-This is cute, quaint and remarkably queer. I love this guy…why have I not listened to this before now…this has been sitting in a pile of CD’s for months now….I guess I’m slow. The music that backs up this song is brilliant…light, airy and remarkably fun…the vocal is in a normal tone and delivered with a slight playful edge…this is just wonderful!

Sinking Friendships—-Beginning with layer upon layer of vocals, this is followed by a toy piano sound that builds and builds until it is almost annoying…but not quite. Jonsi delivers his highest falsetto yet…one wonders how the hell he gets that out of himself. This is wonderfully simple, but magically intense and layered. I love this!!!

Kolnidur—-A bit deeper in tone and more morose than the past few songs, this is delivered in a foreign language…leaving you to only assume that this must be something of beauty if delivered in english. The instrumentation is a deep but airy sound that is full of strings and escalating drums and electronics….building the emotion even higher. Wonderful. This is a journey.

Around Us—-Again, heavy with faux strings and a falsetto that seems almost superhuman, the song really opens up by the second bar…giving the track a pretty danceable lift…..the falsetto is firmly in place, but the backdrop of voices are a masterful addition. this is wonderfully constructed and even better delivered. For me, this is my favorite track from this release.

Grow Till Tall—-This is almost too quiet after the last track! The vocal is the most prominent sound on the song, although a nice swell of instrumentation remains in the backdrop. This is mellow, intense and delivered with so much emotion your eyes may blur for a moment. Magnificent!

Hengilas—-With deep swelling sounds and another foreign word lyric, you can only imagine, again, that this is not a happy or jubilant song. The low hum that runs through the backdrop is so sedate and intense that it only adds to the vocal intensity. This is a remarkable end to a pretty incredible release….

****3/4 out of 5

Boys Town Gang/Cruisin’ The Streets

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 90000005UTC 12 by marky7235

Cruisin' the StreetsThe Boys Town Gang were a San Francisco based disco and hi-NRG band. Their popularity peaked in the 1980s, when the group reached number 5 on Billboard‘s Hot Dance Club Play chart with the singleCruisin’ the Streets“, and number 4 in the UK Singles chart[1] and number 1 in the Netherlands with their cover version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.

In 1980 DJ Bill Motley saw an opportunity to form a group that catered to San Francisco’s large gay clientele. In his search to form a group he auditioned hundreds of vocalists, both male and female. Local cabaret singer Cynthia Manley captured the lead spot.

The idea was originally for one 12″ single with two tracks of high energy music. Motley, a Diana Ross fan, picked two Ashford & Simpson songs to form a medley for the A-side. For the B-side he wrote a disco drama in four acts. A record label was founded to release the two songs.

When “Remember Me” / “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” was released the song took off, with Manley’s vocals propelling the song into the top of the club charts. The four-act explicit “Cruisin’ The Streets” was a snapshot of Castro and Market Streets at sundown.[3]

Manley departed after the release of these two records and Jackson Moore took over lead vocal responsibilities in 1981. [Wikipedia]

Remember Me/Ain’t No Mountain High Enough [Remix]—-At an astounding 13 minutes long, this was the type of manufactured disco that drove the most successful Gay clubs in the Castro area for years. With huge horns, monstrous keyboards and a chorus of voices, the energy and the fun never left this track. With vocals that would rival Diana herself, this hi-NRG remix is so full of whoop ass dance beats that it still manages to drive my heart rhythm into a frenzy. This is dirty, sleazy fun disco that eclipsed the whole epidemic before anyone knew of the slaughter that would come to our friends shortly after this release. This is hedonistic, fun and a free for all that still plays well today…a piece of musical history and a Gay landmark recording.

Crusin’ The Streets—-Clocking in at an impressive 13+ minutes, this is a mini-lesson into the dark underbelly of the Gay scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s when every night out was a sexual free for all. this is pumped up with incredible energy and sexually charged synth lines that just beg for extended plays from san francisco to the darkest, most private place in Iowa…and so it was played…over and over in quiet, dark hedonistic clubs all over the world and a nation of millions lost themselves in the stomping bass and swirling foggy synth. This plays like a mini-movie placed on vinyl…the moods come and go…but the fun never leaves the song. This is wilder than anything the mainstream could endure…and so we get a true piece of Gay History magically transposed to CD…sounding cleaner and more crisp than ever. The unofficial entry needed in the Book Of Crusin’…..how fun is this song!!!

Dance Trance [Megamix]—-With a very gay flourish of piano, the bass enters the song with a loopy disco synth line that was designed to make people on the dance floor literally insane. There are horns, swirling black lite synths and a bevy of female vocals that beg for poppers and inappropriate dancing. this is naked, hedonistic, sweaty dancing music. It makes me yearn for the ‘old’ days even as I sit here writing. This is almost like a huge conglomerate of entwined sounds…you catch pieces of every song on this release included all in one song and the result is nothing less than MARVELOUS!!! This will not disappoint on any level…if you are feeling really bad…put this on, you cannot help but at least smile and at most it is a 15 minute break from 2010. Fantastic…..well done!!!!

Yester-Me, Yester-You—-With a nice loopy sexy synth and some subtle horns, this is a nice track that moves the sound of the group a little more into the new decade…this is full of that late 70’s, early 80’s Dance vibe that was slower and more seductive. The vocal is masterful….the lyrics are crystal clear and this cover version would rival the original. Sometimes, in the grand scheme of things, these producer designed studio bands really pulled off a good one…this is one of those instances. This EP is really a moment of time caught on a 50 minute onslaught of synths and vibes that makes you remember, wish you were there, or wish you could remember being there. A fantastic vibe!!!

When Will I See You Again—-Boystown Gang takes this classic song…adds about an extra 80 BPMS to the sound, raises the bass about 12 notches and adds enough synths to mimic as orchestra….and you have…in my opinion the best song on this release. This is rich. textured and full of spot on perfect harmonies that  makes sweat break out on your forehead. This is never old, never dated or less than anything but Magnificent. When the extra underlying bass line kicks in n the chorus and you are jubulant…this makes you feel warm and fuzzy…yay Disco!!!!

Remember Me/Ain’t No Mountain High Enough—-Interesting enough, this ‘original’ version is almost 2 minutes longer than the remixed version! is even better than the real thing…Really, this differs little from the previous version…the horns are joyful, the synths are huge…the chorus of voices allows you to just lose yourself in the fun and relaxed delivery of the song…this remains….INCREDIBLE!!! The Diana impression is magnificent.

Crusin’ The Streets [Instrumental]—-Much more piano based than the original at the onset, this is obviously meant to be a nice mixing option for Studio 54 DJ’s looking to draw out the already epic sleaze in the streets. Meant for my own heart…wonderful.

**** out of 5

Sylvester/Greatest Hits [2 Disc Collection]

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on 70000005UTC 12 by marky7235

Sylvester - Greatest HitsSylvester James (September 6, 1947 – December 16, 1988) better known as Sylvester, was an American disco and soul singer, and a gay drag performer. Sylvester was sometimes known as the “Queen of Disco,” although this moniker has also been bestowed on some of the ladies of the disco era (i.e. Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer).

In San Francisco, Sylvester performed in a musical production called Women of the Blues , with his repertoire of Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday songs in tow. In the early 1970’s Sylvester joined a short-lived group of performance artists called The Cockettes, a psychedelic drag queen troupe founded by Hibiscus, aka George Harris. After leaving The Cockettes, Sylvester performed in San Francisco a number of different times as a solo act. One of his most famed shows, entitled Jungle Sin which reprised Sylvester’s greatest Cockette solo songs, took place at the San Francisco supper club Bimbo’s and was produced by the rock impresario David Ferguson in 1972. That same year, Sylvester performed at The Temple in San Francisco with the then-unknown Pointer Sisters which was also produced by Ferguson. Sylvester can be seen in the Cockettes’ outrageous short film Tricia’s Wedding, lampooning the wedding of President Nixon’s daughter Tricia, and in an eponymous 2002 documentary about the group (which at one time included Divine).

In 1972, Sylvester supplied two cuts to Lights Out San Francisco, an album compiled by the KSAN radio station and released on the Blue Thumb label.

In 1973, Sylvester & The Hot Band, featuring Bobby Blood on trumpet, Chris Mostert on sax, James Q. Smith on guitar, Travis Fullerton on drums, and Kerry Hatch on bass, released two rock-oriented albums on Blue Thumb (their self-titled debut was also known as “Scratch My Flower,” due to a gardenia-shaped scratch-and-sniff sticker adhered to the cover).

In 1974, Sylvester met Horus Jack Tolsen (Keyboards) together with Sylvester’s drummer Amadeo Barrios (drums) and Brother Adrian Barrios (Bass) formed a trio which backed up Sylvester at a nightclub in San Francisco called Cabaret – After Dark. Shortly after Horus was fired, Amadeo brought in new players, Archie White (Keyboards), Angel Reyes (Guitar), Background vocalist Bianca Thorton, Gerry Kirby and another vocalist named Debbie. This took Sylvester into a new musical direction. The band unofficially called themselves The Four A’s and had finally thrown in the towel after several attempts to get signed by a major label. In 1975 The Brother’s Barrios gave it one last shot before joining The Lenny Williams Band , and Sly stone.

Sylvester signed a solo deal to Fantasy Records in 1977, working with the production talents of legendary Motown producer Harvey Fuqua, who produced his album Stars in 1979. Sylvester later alleged that Fuqua cheated him out of millions of dollars. Sylvester soon met his frequent collaborator Patrick Cowley. Cowley’s synthesizer and Sylvester’s voice proved to be a magical combination, and pushed Sylvester’s sound in an increasingly dance-oriented direction; his second solo album, Step II (1978), unleashed two disco classics: “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real),” and “Dance (Disco Heat)”. These two songs charted together on the American dance chart and spent six weeks at #1 on this chart in August and September 1978. By this time both his live shows and recordings also recognizably featured the back-up vocals of Two Tons O’ Fun: future Weather Girls Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes. 1979 brought three Billboard awards and an appearance in the movie, The Rose, starring Bette Midler. He sang “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” live for The Castro Street Fair, thanks to future first openly gay supervisor Harvey Milk.

Moving to Megatone Records in 1982, Sylvester quickly landed a Hi-NRG classic with “Do You Wanna Funk”, which was featured in the 1983 film Trading Places. He was close friends with other Megatone artists Linda Imperial and Jeanie Tracy. Sylvester was also very close to Patti LaBelle and Sarah Dash for whom he recorded background vocals for her dance hit “Lucky Tonight”.

Later pressure from the label to “butch up” his image would result in him attending meetings in full-on drag. A drag photo shoot, which he staged and presented to label heads as a gag (calling it his “new album cover”) would later grace the cover of Immortal after Sylvester died; it was the label’s way of paying tribute to his spirit. In 1985, one of his dreams came true as he was summoned to sing back-up for Aretha Franklin on her Who’s Zoomin’ Who? comeback album. His sole Warner Bros. Records album was Mutual Attraction in 1986; a single from the album, “Someone Like You”, became Sylvester’s second #1 hit on the U.S. dance chart and featured original cover art by Keith Haring.

Sylvester died of complications from AIDS in San Francisco on December 16, 1988. He was 41 years old. His good friend Jeanie Tracy took care of Sylvester during his last days.

On September 20, 2004 Sylvester’s anthem record, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”, was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame. A year later, on September 19, 2005, Sylvester himself was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame for his achievement as an artist. [Wikipedia]

Disc One:

Dance [Disco Heat] [Remix]—-From the very first beat of the tracks, you know that this is a stone solid Disco club hit….everything about the tempo and sound screams the sweaty gay discos of the late 70’s. The spoken word intro is TOO gay…but lots of fun. The beat of the song is moderate sticking to around 120 BPM;s…the backdrop of vocals are nice…this is just full of memories and a classic example of the talent Sylvester possessed. This is GRAND!!!

Bodystrong—-Clocking in at over 8 minutes long, what else would you expect from that decade. The loopy bass beat literally defines the disco sound…..you can almost feel the heat and smell the poppers as the lights swirl around your head. The intro…typical….is very long….before you get any vocal, you get the rhythm and bass firmly implanted in your brain. The song is less than fantastic…featuring the typical sound that makes you think of a studio session band trying to cash in on the disco fad…which happened all the times in the 70’s. This is nice, but less than spectacular for me.

Sell My Soul—-The immediate thing you notice is that this not begin in typical Disco flair…this is much more atmospheric and R n’ B based. The chorus of female vocals along with Sylvester create a nice picture. The horns kick in and the bass becomes more pronounced…Sylvester enters and delivers a bluesy sexy soul that you can dance to…Genius….’nuff said!

You Make Me Feel [Mighty Real]—-For me, this is one of the best Disco songs ever recorded. There is no weak spot to be found on this recording. Sylvester sounds better than he had ever and the beat of the song is so damn addictive you fall in love with it even more than the vocal. Not to slight the vocal…this is magnificent. The loopy sound of the music and the pace of the song is just made for huge packed dance floors…and so it was…a tremendous piece of musical history…regardless of how you feel about it.

Can’t Stop Dancing—-With that deep choppy bass beat, you know that you are still not in Kansas. The synth lines enters and ramps up the pace of the song and you soon have a nice rhythmic track resplendent with horns and strings [manufactured?]. Sylvester enters in an almost normal tone but reaches for his comfortable falsetto before the 5th word. This is nice…a little bit more generic in sound, but still rather tasty.

Lovin’ Is Really My Game—-With that glittery piano intro, the bass creeps up into the song rather slowly but soon becomes the star of the show. The oft spoken ‘loopy’ sound is here and the generic sexual lines are a hoot. Sylvester was not afraid to be who he was…songs like this just prove it. This is rather non descript…not really sure why this is here, but it is always nice to hear the voice.

Do You Wanna Funk [Remix]—-If asked what my favorite all time Dance/Disco song…this is it hands down. Not only is this song damn contagious, it has great memories for me. Sylvester combined with Crowley literally made magic. Crowley’s music was made for Sylvester’s voice and vice versa. You can not get much better than this…the song is heavy on disco funk….so danceable you will kill yourself and just dirty enough to result in some interesting actions on the dance florr…as I said…who could ask for more? And when he lets out that scream…..holy shit this is fun!

Don’t Stop—- Again, this is full of that rhythmic disco sound, but the strings give the song a more organic feel…making me think of circa 1979. Sylvester delivers a vocal that is crystal clear and so damn pleasant you will fall in love with this rather gentle dance song. This is big…lots of fun…and damn nice!!!

Band Of Gold—-With a huge bass line and slowly emerging synths, this cover song finds Sylvester almost begging to be taken into the mainstream. This has a huge Disco presence though and Sylvester does what he does best…he sings his ass off and the result is another track for the history books. This is magestic…I love this.

Stars—-Clocking in at a whopping 10 minutes in length, this is like a stage play!!!! The song emerges slowly…with sounds added as each musical refrain repeats until it grows larger and larger. The end result is a huge dance marathon. Sylvester enters the scene and just eggs you on to keep going and keep dancing and keep loving the feel of the music. This is a huge, magnificent , fantastic opus of the grandest kind!!!

Disc Two:

One Night Only—-Another cover of a huge Disco classic, this is so much fun. This finds Sylvester delivering a slow and bluesy vocal that makes you think of Church!!! This is fantastic…and let me tell you…Sylvester could hit those notes…this is indescribable. This is Patti….Tina…and Aretha influenced magic.

You Are My Friend—-Presenting his cover of this LaBelle classic in a live setting, this song builds in extreme measures. Sylvester enters and delivers his vocal to a Gospel styled musical delivery….he introduces his Girls…and it is almost hilarious. The crowd goes wild when Martha and Izora enter and both sing…this is a huge emotional song that I never get tired off. This is real…dirty soul gospel that only proves to you that Sylvester was pretty good at that Church music. Marvelous!!!

Ooo Baby Baby—-Delivering yet another cover song, perhaps this was another misguided step to try to make Sylvester more mainstream. This has a pleasant result though, the song has a nice breezy feel that finds Sylvester sounding perfectly comfortable with his vocal and the doo-wop feel is classic with a R n’ B twist. Pretty Great!!

Be With You—-This is a fine return to the Crowley style disco that helped Sylvester so much in his career. This is energetic and has a synth line that is damn addictive. This is remarkable…Sylvester enters with overlayed vocals that fly all over the song in different tones…it’s remarkable. The dance ratio is a million to one and you will return to this again and again.

Take Me To Heaven—-Wow….this starts out really slow, but becomes this addictive synth groove that sounds fresh even for its age. This is like a alt-dance song circa 2000….the energy and the synth line drive and drive the beat into your brain with this addictive pace…the vocal is like a conglomeration of Sylvester songs all rolled into one huge song…this is literally…no lie…genius!!!

Trouble In Paradise—-A rather sedate song that takes a minute or so to get really started, it is worth waiting for as it opens up into a rather mainstream sounding R n’ B dance track. If you did not know the back story, you would think Sylvester was an up and coming Woman singing R n’ B. This is nice…I love the energy and the mainstream quality of the song.

I [Who Have Nothing]—-Clocking in at over 11 minutes in length with varying BPM’s, this song is a tour de force of musical tempos that just urges you to stay on the dance floor and move with the flow. The electronic drum sound is magnificent…the slowly emerging beats and the cow bell makes you think of Love To Love you. This is huge and takes patience but the result equals lots of fun. This is great.

Menergy [Remix]—-I actually became familiar with this song and the next from an Italian Pressing of Do You Wanna Funk?. I love this song and wonder how the hell I missed it the first go around…perhaps I was not that gay at the time…LMAO!!! This has huge swirling synths and atmosphere that develop into a bass beatdown and lyrics that are full of back-room imagery. This is huge and fun. I really like this song….just mad I missed it the first time around. The sound is very Boystown Gang…and Sylvester delivers some screams that will melt your ears.

Rock The Box [Remix]—-Not nearly as fun or addictive as the previous song, the menage of Crowley hits defined Sylvester and made him a Gay household name. This is fun but the addictive quality is missing from this track,. Still great to have a longer, extended version of this.

Do You Wanna Funk—-Not sure why they found it necessary to put another version of this song on this collection. Pretty much rote…I would have preferred they include the version of him singing How Great Thou Art….it is incredible.

****3/4 out of 5

Pet Shop Boys/Actually

Posted in CD of the day, music, random, reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 20000005UTC 12 by marky7235

ActuallyActually is the third album, the second of entirely new music, by the UK electronic music group Pet Shop Boys. It was first released in 1987. This album is also the group’s third best selling album with over 4 million copies sold. Actually is featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Actually is not much different from Pet Shop Boys’ first album, Please in terms of musical style, although production values are noticeably higher.

Actually spawned four UK Top 10 singles: the number one lead-off single “It’s a Sin”, “Rent“, “What Have I Done to Deserve This?“, a duet with fellow Parlophone artist Dusty Springfield which peaked at #2 in both the UK and US and led to a major resurgence of interest in Springfield’s earlier work; and the duo scored another UK number one in April 1988 with a remixed version of the album’s fourth and last single, “Heart“.

During this period, the Pet Shop Boys also completed a full-length motion picture called It Couldn’t Happen Here. Featuring songs by the duo, it was most famous for containing the video for “Always on My Mind” (starring Joss Ackland as a blind priest), which – while not on Actually – was released as a single during this period.

The period from Actually to Introspective is considered the band’s imperial phase, a term now in common usage, by both fans and the Pet Shop Boys themselves. [Wikipedia]

One More Chance—-As the introduction mentions, when you first hear the opening strains of this release, you realize how much more crisp and concise the sound is. The synth creation that Chris Lowe manages to come up with all the time are remarkable. I do not care for this track entirely…it falls a bit flat for me with Neil sounding truly disinterested instead of a contrived disinterest. All in all, I worried but you know as well as I, there is no need. 

What Have I Done To Deserve This?—-A huge hit for the band, this duet with English Superstar Dusty Springfield also sparked a huge interest in her and rejuvenated her career as well. The tone of the song, musically is full of a liteness and airy sound…the horns…whether real or manufactured are genius. When Neil and Dusty trade vocals, the result is something made in heaven. This is joyous and exciting…all of these years later, it is fresh new and exquisite….this was a genius career move and a match made in heaven.

Shopping—-Another of those remarkably Gay Songs that never gives you any reason to think so…you just know. This is fun…the synth lines provided by Lowe are reminiscent of the fun electro boogie of the early part of the decade. Tennant sings of a passion for shopping in a voice that could be anything less than interested…it is campy and fun….a classic Boys single!!!

Rent—-Well, I hate to beat a dead horse, but this is yet another track where the duo were screaming to be let out of the closet but fearing what the result would be to their career. One could never doubt the proclivities after Liza covered this song a few years later. This is brilliant…with a really nice dance groove that is subtle yet pronounced…a slow hum of mellowness in the backdrop and the warm familiar croon of Tennant, how could you nit love this stuff!!! JEEZ!!!

Hit Music—-This is a nice taste of more aggressive almost acid house before the world even knew what that was. This is so danceable, but so electric at the same time you know how this type of music swept the world years on. Neil delivers a mix mash of a vocal…sometines talking other times crooning…so that is a bit bi-polar…for me it is all about Lowe on this track.

It Couldn’t Happen Here—-Steeped in a low mellow hum that reaches in and wraps around your heart, the synth is so electric  yet melancholy at the same time. Tennant has a very removed vocal…pushed way to the back of the mix…the hum and swirl of the song laying on top of it…this will leave you introspective and ruined. Exquisite.

It’s A Sin—-A true highpoint of the duo’s career, I would be hard pressed to make it a best…but it comes pretty damn close. This track has every element that you have come to expect for the Boys…it is a synth model of exquisite dance grooves…it is campy as hell….the vocal is the best of all styles…incorporating them all…the overall tone joyful and fun…you could never ask for more.

I Want To Wake Up—-Remarkably downbeat musically, the rat a tat tat that runs through the backdrop keeps the song from being to sedate. Neil delivers a vocal that is a nice mix…he sings all of the refrains but delivers a nice croon for the chorus…this is nice, but for me again…the music is the star of the show. Chris is a genius.

Heart—-Another PSB track that was grossly ignored by the general public, this has everything good about the 80’s contained in a few minutes…the new-wavish synths are magnificent…the story of love is in full effect…the story of unrequited love echos even stronger…..the underlying hum is everywhere despite the upbeat synth line…the disinterest in magnificent despite the lyric…this is almost damn near pretty close genius!

King’s Cross—-I like this track…it has a nice layered sound that you have come to expect by this point…too me the content is almost foreign [duh] and the delivery a little bit to sedate. All in all nice, but not something I would casually reach for.

**** out of 5

Rent—-W