One of the latest series features to hit Anthem Online is "One's & Two's," a monthly (possible biweekly) podcast. Our inaugural mix is by the great Lee Jones, who just released a new solo album on Aus Music, Electronic Frank. As fans of Jones know, the guy tends to get pretty minimal, but never loses a sense of humor about the stuff he's playing; there's an unusual edge of fun and whimsy to his music that isn't akin to most minimal artists.
It's early on Saturday morning in L.A. -- what would be a more appropriate thing to post than a relatively subdued mix made by yours truly?
This one's more focused than the previous one -- and significantly shorter (it runs a bit longer than forty-five minutes) -- but hopefully just as fun and/or interesting.
There's some weird stuff on it ... if you want to know what anything is, leave a comment and inquire! I promise to start making tracklists. Note: The very end of the mix cuts off ... I'm not sure why that is since it happens probably less than a minute before it was supposed to end.
Continuing my fascination with producers, I present you all Cory Robbins, a relatively minor disco guy who may not have been especially prolific, but the stuff he did do was pretty impressive.
Everything Robbins touched (1977 - 1984 or so) has this incredible whiff of snooty cocktail parties and dramatic big band productions. On top of that underscored charisma, Robbins dropped awesome disco bass lines, vocal melodies, funky guitar hooks, and dancey horns and strings.
So ... what do we have here? First up is Front Page's "Love Insurance," a cut Robbins made in 1979. As with 90% of disco acts from the 1970s and 1980s, Front Page literally recorded only one song. It's a fun one, though, so who can complain?
Second is Nightfall's "Keep It Up," a jam that cracks me up every time I hear it. It's saucy and light and strangely sexy, but ... yeah, a bit cheesy. Listen to it a.s.a.p. and you'll get my meaning.
Third is Betty LaVette's "Doin' the Best That I Can." LaVette was actually a bit of a child star, beginning her recording career in 1962 at the tender age of 16. Once the disco thing rolled around, she put out a few singles that Robbins produced, including the wonderful "Doin' the Best That I Can" which was, at one point, featured on a split 12" with Arthur Russell's Loose Joints -- and something of a hit. The disco world was a small one ... and one that never excluded anyone.
Alright, let's start with some cold, hard facts here.
I live in downtown Los Angeles at a loft that provides more than one function for me (keeping a roof over my head): it's also a studio and gallery space. I don't produce art, but I live here -- it's enjoyable.
We like to throw parties. They may not be the biggest around; they may not be the loudest on the block; they may not be the most crowded -- but they are a lot of fun, and they tend to attract a rainbow pastiche of people.
Last night we had one such shindig to celebrate a friend's birthday. Below is my entire DJ set from the night (it's nearly four hours long). I don't have a tracklist for it and I wasn't in top form. While the thing starts well, it degrades over the course of 220 minutes or so of audio. If anything, this'll keep you occupied for the bulk of your work day, so check it out for that if nothing else!
It features loads of disco, plenty of minimal, a few handfuls of Latin stuff, and some goofball jams (courtesy of my "partner" for the night, DJ Pussyfinger, who has an obsession with Pulp and all things Jarvis Cocker). Lastly, due to technical difficulties, the mix was interrupted twice. I cut out the blank spots, but they sound a little choppy. Be warned.
To begin with, my apologies for the technical difficulties and for slagging off for the past couple of weeks. They've been busy -- but productive! -- I assure you. Hopefully there'll be some film pieces soon for you to enjoy.
I'm going to make it up to you today with a massive Boris Midney love fest.
Midney was a Russian national who did the bulk of his work in the States (more specifically, the Eras Studios). A ton of his stuff (both under his own name and aliases or for other bands) was put out on T.K. Production (a.k.a. T.K. Disco), so he was pretty high profile, although he somehow has only fallen under my radar recently.
Starting in the late-1970s (possibly with production work for One X One), Midney churned otu hit after hit well through the 1980s. Below are some of my favorites.
Double Discovery was a relatively large band that Midney assembled for one 12" ("Can He Find Another One?") in 1982. The two songs were arranged by, conducted by, and produced by Midney, but a whole pile of other folks were involved in its creation. (Double Discovery refers specifically to the female singers Midney brought together.) "Can He Find Another One?" is an addictive funk-based, slightly schlocky disco cut.
That's the thing about Midney that becomes very clear very soon after getting into his stuff: he was sort of cheesy. Take Companion, another group Midney was involved with in 1981, for example. The band released an LP, a 12", and a 7" (and then dissolved), and all of the songs are these horn-heavy, vocally-flamboyant epic odysseys into the worlds of funk, soul, disco, and gimmicky club hits. That being said, I love "This Is A Test." It's quintessential disco fodder -- take it as such.
Masquerade was another outfit Midney assembled, but back in 1979, so it's substantially smaller (just Midney and a few vocalists). The one and only LP Masquerade released, Pinocchio, is a swooning, almost ballad-like hodge-podge of sultry disco jams with a twist of Midney's trademark funk and orchestral schlock.
Midney also did plenty of stuff under his own name, but the one release that stands out most is 1980's Music From The Empire Strikes Back (I wish I knew more about this one since the film itself didn't come out until 1982). The four songs included on the 12" include "Yoda's Theme," "The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)," "Han Solo and the Princess (Love Theme)," and "Star Wars (Main Theme)." Yeah, Midney was a huge dork, it seems. The songs are all funky and extended twists on The Empire Strikes Back's score, and while I don't really recommend listening to them all (they get a little tiresome) they're great examples of Midney's awesome production skills and sense of humor.
Last but certainly not least is U.S.A. - European Connection, a band that Midney kept around for a while (five years). The group's body of work represents some of Midney's crowning achievements. Many of the songs exploited 48-track recordings, and they tend to be really long, energetic, charismatic, and vibrant. If you get hooked on Midney, U.S.A. - European Connection is the stuff to pay the most attention to.
Anyway -- enough with my summarizing. Download the songs and boogie down!
Giancarlo Meo was a relatively major disco producer in the 1970s and 1980s. He worked extensively with the great Banana Records (if you're looking for solid fun, go to Banana) and did quite a bit of work for C.B.S. among many others.
Below are a few of my favorite tunes produced by Meo. He didn't do his own stuff, really, although he was in a "band" or two, including Capricorn. Maybe I'll publish some stuff by them in the future.
Everything that Meo touched was graced with this amazing synthetic yet incredibly organic vibe. Production-wise, his cuts sound a little cold, but the warm vocals, energetic bass lines, and funky filters make all the stuff loads of fun. Jam.