Monday, June 23, 2008

Tony Valor, Touch and others part two

Today I'm going to highlight a rather unusual album that found its way to me through a reliably serendipitous source: my current roommate, dj partner, and brother to the Ambassador, Charles. This dude knows jams! He also has this way of finding rare shit without even trying and has bragged to me on several occasions that he has never spent more then 20$ on a record. Now don't get me wrong, he works for it. Whenever we walk into a spot together I always scan the pricey wall records and check the new arrivals, while Chuck immediately gets on his hands and knees and starts getting dirty with the crates on the floor. He has a thing for K-Tel comps and house band disco cover albums. I believe he picked this gem up during his tenure in Detroit. Its a triple (!) LP disco instructional record complete with foot charts and overdubbed voices giving cues on when to move your feet. Thank God the producers of this album were kind enough to provide a third record with just the songs for you to dance to. Imagine my delight when I noticed the producer of this album was none other then Tony Valor! This was released in 1976 (prior to the majority of his creative output) and featured Touch on several tracks as well as MaryAnn Farra, The Tony Valor Sounds Orchestra (TVSO), and several other no-name Valor produced acts.

Santos - Amore Santos This is one of those no-namers. Anyone out there ever see the "Santos" album? Didn't think so.

Touch - Positively Positive This song just KILLS me. We had been really into the Santos song for a while before Charlie flipped the record over late one night saying he thought there might be something else good on the other side. Was there! BTW if anyone out there recognizes the vocalist please let me know. It might be Maryann Farra, but I kind of don't think so for some reason...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tony Valor and Touch part one

Tony Valor - singer, producer, DJ, manager, engineer and apparently a NYC cop for a while, he certainly made his mark on disco music. For one thing he was buddies with disco remixer number one Tom Moulton, forming T.N.T. productions with him. He had hits both with his scions Fantasy, Soccer, and Jeanne Napoli as well as under his own name with the Tony Valor Sounds Orchestra. Early in his producing career he also put together an album by a little band called Touch that was released on Brunswick in 1977. Here are a couple of jams off their debut "Energizer"

Touch - Everyday is Just Another Day This one gets stuck in my head a lot. Its bubbly dark rhodes and slow funk guitar plus the kind of depressing lyrics really set the tone for this band.

Touch - You Don't Know (how to do the hustle) More of the ubiquitous rhodes. This song was released under a different title with a different vocalist in a slightly earlier version I will post over the weekend.

Touch - Love Hangover (breaking down) Breaking down indeed! This instrumental version of the classic is the reason most people would want to own this album. I first heard it on Dmitiri from Paris's "Disco Forever."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oh honey oh heartache

Ah Delegation... this is some supreme euro-boogie. Hailing from England and big in France they never really busted out in the US. I got this picture sleeve 7" at a garage sale from a guy who had a lot of interesting foreign singles. I don't really know which side was intended to be the single, they are both pretty jammin'

Delegation - Put a Little Love on Me

Delegation - You and I

Also here is what most people would consider their "main jam"
Delegation - Heartache Number 9 (off their album "Delegation")

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Curtis Mayfield or Patti Jo?

Well, its not really a competition. All the tracks featured here were produced and written by Curtis Mayfield and arranged by Rich Tufo. Curtis's versions are both buried on the B sides of their respective albums and at first listen seem like merely solid album cuts. But after listening to Patti Jo's excellent interpretations, I felt compelled to hear them back to back. Both of the Patti Jo tracks have been compiled and re-released before (though they are still rare and expensive in the original 7") I was lucky enough to glean them from Scepter records awesome "Disco Gold" (more on that later) which was kind enough to provide both singles.

Patti Jo- Ain't No Love Lost

Curtis Mayfield - Ain't No Love Lost I can really dig the warbling vocals on Patti's version here. Curtis does his smooth thing as usual. I love how he changes the lyric about becoming "some Casanova" to becoming "some Miss Casanova." The Curtis version is off his album "Got to Find a Way."

Curtis Mayfield - Make Me Believe in You

Patti Jo - Make Me Believe in You I first heard Patti's version of this song about eight years ago on a OST records re-edit I randomly bought at open mind records in San Francisco. I remember thinking: "Too funky..." I love the more psychedelic orchestrated direction Curtis takes his version in contrasted with Patti's harder one. In both cases Curtis's versions were released after Patti Jo's. the Curtis version is off his album "Sweet Exorcist."

Whew! Intense! Now that I got you in the mode, lets all chill out with this: (off his album, "Give Get Take and Have")

Curtis Mayfield - Only You Babe

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Why I'm Going To California . . .

1. Women, er woman (she's originally from N. California)
2. Wine
3. Sunsets
4. Mine the lyrics of the next three songs for some other compelling reasons . . .

Why I Came To California - Leon Ware

California My Way - The Main Ingredient

California Sunset - The Originals

Monday, June 02, 2008

Pull up to the bumper, baby

Grace Jones - Pull up to the Bumper Ok, here's another NYC jam. Not the most obscure song in the world as it comes off one of her easiest to find albums but this is essential for me. I was a tad reticent about calling this a New York city song as it was recorded at the Compass Point studio in Jamaica that Allen blogged about here. Also it was co-written by Mrs. Grace Jones herself (born in Jamaica,) and produced by Sly and Robbie of reggae fame. But hey, its got the city sounds. Plus, its a song about parking cars! (or is it?)

California Dreaming

Only two days left on the job, an apartment to pack and a wedding to go to and then we're off . . . California bound!

The Four Tops - California Dreaming
I know this is an obvious song for this moment, but this Four Tops version takes it in new directions with a kinda somber dirge-like plodding pace. The more I listen to this version, the more I love it. Especially the intro . . . I wonder which "top" sings those first lines, "All the leaves are brown . . ."

Eyes on the Prize - The Holland Tunnel

Holland Tunnel - John Phillips
This has become Jamie and my theme song as of late as we think about finishing everything: wrapping up our jobs, packing up the apartment, saying goodbye to friends and finally hitting the road.
You can tell that John Phillips was trying to tap into a bit of that magic that made California Dreaming such a monstrous hit and while this song falls short of that original ode to westward travel, it is a marvelous song that kinda tells anothe side of the story that you hear in "Dreaming." With two days left on the job and the apartment to pack on Wednesday, for Jamie and I , all we need to do is "drive through that Holland Tunnel . . ."