Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Disco Stupid

Last week I reviewed Disco in cinema, this week its Disco Stupid...the absurdities of the disco era.  Back in the 70s disco music ruled the airwaves.  As a kid, I loved it...hell, I still do!  There were some great songs and performers of the era...but as with everything...there is the good, the bad and the ugly.  I suppose this will be about the bad and the ugly side of the disco craze.  Disco music was really great, until every performer had to put out a disco album, no matter what style of music they usually sang.

One of the oddest releases of the disco era has to be the Ethel Merman Disco Album.  "I've got Rythym, I've Got...disco?"  Seriously?!!  Even the cover art is super cheesy, and for some reason it has developed a weird cult following, probably because it is jaw-droppingly bad/weird/unbelievable/horrifying (take your pick!).  The rumor is that Ethel hated the disco craze, so her vocals were recorded beforehand and the thumping disco beat was added later. What boggles my mind is that she would agree to do this at all, especially since she loathes the genre.  She belts out eight of her biggest show tunes on this recording....guess Everything Is Coming Up Disco!

Next up is Rick Dees and his aptly named Cast of Idiots.  This gem came out in 1976, and appealed to my little brother (who didn't know any better at the time).  He bought the 45 record and proceeded to annoy the hell out of me with its constant playing.  I was almost tempted to break it on a few occasions, but sadly, the record is still around.  I had it for a number of years, then passed it onto my sister who's kids like to play with our old 45's .  The duck voice is incredibly annoying...think nails on a chalkboard.  I've never listened to the whole album, but I'm sure that it can't be any worse than the duck.  In the film "So Wrong They're Right" about 8 tracks and the people who collect them, there is one segment where this guy talks about how he scored a Disco Duck 8track tape.  The odd thing was, the guy didn't even like the song, but he had to have the tape...I guess because its so bad, you have to have it to remind yourself that it actually happened.

...and what would the disco craze be without having something for kiddies.  Sesame Street, the beloved children's show came up with a concept album called Sesame Street Fever.  Instead of John Travolta, we see Grover.  The Bee Gees are replaced by Burt, Ernie and Cookie Monster.  It is an adorable homage to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and even Robin Gibb appears on one of the tracks.  Ok...this isn't bad or ugly, but it is kind of weird, so I included it on the list.

Now for the older folks we have Arthur Saturday Night Fiedler?  Here we go again with another parody album!  Leader of the Boston Pops, Arthur always tried to get with the hip generation, so I guess this was his way of being more current, rather than appealing to grandma and grandpa.  The cover of the album alone, with him in a disco suit getting ready to boogie down, is just too much!  Put on your boogie shoes cause Arthur is groovin'!

Barry Manilow was king of the airwaves for most of the 70s with hits such as Mandy, Weekend in New England, I Write The Songs, and my favorite hit of his, Ready To Take a Chance Again, that song was in the movie Foul Play with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase.  The song played during the scene where Goldie is driving her VW bug down the Pacific Coast Highway, hair blowing in the wind, picking up a cute hitchiker, and I would think to, I wanna be her!  Ok, off topic...back to Barry.  Since disco music was so popular, Barry thought he would try his hand at it, and now we are blessed with Copacabana.  I have to admit, it is quite a catchy tune, but the radio airplay was maddening, and to this day I still cringe a little when I hear it playing.

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