By the late 1970s, the memo had come down from the music biz execs: make a disco record. Everyone, and we mean EVERYONE is hereby ordered to march into the studio and sing over anonymous lush orchestras, wah-wah guitars, congas, and female backing singers. Yes, even you, Ol' Blue Eyes. It's hot, it's commercial, you have no choice.
And so we have here an assortment of some of the biggest names in music pounding their well-established square peg styles into the round hole of disco. Faded stars like Frankie Avalon, Petula Clark and Teresa Brewer remade their old hits inna disco stylee. EZ listening acts like Percy Faith, Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis figured this would be a way to squeeze onto rock-dominated charts. Leftover hippies like Country Joe McDonald and The Byrds cut new songs designed to get them back into the good graces of their old Baby Boomer audience, now living a coke-filled life of affluence. I suspect that some, like Ringo Starr, simply had nothing better to do. Toot toot, beep beep, ka-ching!
One of the great musical mysteries of my life is why I find old forgotten disco cheese so entertaining. I never really liked disco in the first place, and I still couldn't care less about most of the big hits, e.g.: the Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, etc. But the hilarity of hearing utterly inappropriate material subjected to the disco treatment, the surrealism of the likes of Sinatra or The Beach Boys on the dance floor, the aura of pre-AIDS decadence, some genuinely impressive arrangements and powerful performances (Andy Williams kills it here), and yes, those exuberant rhythms all add up to tacky kitsch taken to almost Liberace-like levels. Plus, we have not had these songs pounded into our brains over the years/decades a la the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack.
If for no other reason, download this for the incredible Country Joe McDonald song. Granted, he never struck me as being the most talented sort, but this song is the very definition of "wrongheaded."
Thanks to MadJon! He's the madman who gave us the worst of Sinatra collection.
In case you missed it: more disco sickness. (I did two other thrift-store disco comps, but they got knocked off-line.)