Category Archives: Disco

Dionne Warwick, always a heartbreaker

My first impression of Dionne Warwick was from listening to her pleasant, calming vocals during car rides with my mother 30 years ago. In the ’80s, her music was experiencing a mini revival, gaining new fans from her time hosting “Solid Gold” and riding on 70s hits like “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” and the 1982 disco-jazzy “Heartbreaker.”

My second impression was that she was from San Jose — she must be, because she says so in the song, right? Apparently a lot of people have thought that, which is what she told me during our interview recently. But the Princess of Pop was totally cool with it and doesn’t fault people for assuming she’s from the West Coast. But she grew up in New Jersey – slightly different locale. One of my favorite lines from the song is when she airily suggests dropping $100 to help buy a car. Sounds like a deal to me!

At the time though, I didn’t realize she was part of one of the most successful collaborations in popular music history. The three of them — Warwick and songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David — struck gold with memorable songs like “Say A Little Prayer,” “Walk On By,” and “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.”

It’s a massive catalog. If you’ve never taken the time to listen to her hits from the 60s, it’s worth it. Part of it is the Bacharach/David easygoing style of orchestral melodies and brass that makes them memorable, part of it is how Warwick was able to melt so gracefully into the lyrics. “Walk On By” is one of my most favorite songs ever; the piano line is so comforting, like a rainy Sunday.

Some of the songs haven’t aged as well — “Wives and Lovers” has a fantastic, breezy melody. The song is a good example of that ’60s James Bond-style grand sound, but the lines about keeping pretty so your husband doesn’t leave are pretty stale now.

I’ll finally get the chance to see her live tonight in Derry, NH. Hearing songs in person when you’ve had the original stuck in your brain for years is a weird experience. She’s probably not going to sound like she did then, but that’s what will make her performance unique.

 

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Filed under '60s, '70s, Disco, Gospel, New Music, Pop, R&B, Soul

Nile Rodgers, CHIC sign deal with Warner Bros.; album drops in June

Nile Rodgers performs with his band Chic on the third day of the Glastonbury music festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset June 28, 2013. REUTERS/Olivia Harris (BRITAIN - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)

Nile Rodgers performs with his band Chic on the third day of the Glastonbury Music Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset, June 28, 2013. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

Warner Brothers has announced a recording deal with guitarist and producer Nile Rodgers and his band CHIC, which Rodgers co-founded. Warner Bros. has also announced a deal with Rodgers’ and Michael Ostin’s label, Land Of The Good Groove.

Even bigger news — Rodgers has been busy prepping the first CHIC album in almost 25 years —  with the first single scheduled for March 20, and the album to drop in June.

Rodgers’ influence on popular music has thrived, since the golden days of 70s funk and disco, through his producing, composing and guitar work.

CHIC’s disco smash “Le Freak” will be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame on Sunday. Rodgers is set to receive the President’s Merit Award during the Academy’s 8th Grammy Week Celebration for the Producers & Engineers Wing of NARAS.

For the uninitiated, watch the video for “Le Freak”; its free-living, jumping soul-funk style that melds classical points with disco fire is unmistakable.

Le-Freak-Chic_crop

Concocted during New Year’s Eve 1977 and released in the disco/funk-rich period of 1978, “Le Freak” commemorates Studio 54’s snubbing of the band after Grace Jones didn’t notify the staff of the band’s arrival.

The song’s “Freak out!” and “Le Freak, C’est Chic” catchphrases can be found everywhere in pop culture across generations and with no sign of stopping; CHIC’s revival this year may only fan the flames.

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Filed under Disco, Funk, Pop, Soul, VIdeos

Mystery Skulls’ latest singles will rock your head

mystery skulls forever_cover

In case you missed it, electro-pop dance outfit Mystery Skulls, also known as Luis Dubac, released his new album “Forever” Oct. 27.

Mystery Skulls also also released the songs “Magic” and “Number 1,” which both feature Brandy and Nile Rodgers.
If the new single “Paralyzed” with its raging hot beats is any indication, “Forever” should stop you in your tracks. Watch it here.

“Forever” is out now on Warner Brothers.

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Filed under Disco, Electro-pop, New Music