France Joli is a Canadian vocalist who became a teenage sensation during with her disco hit “Come To Me” in 1979. Growing up in the Montreal suburb of Dorian,Joli’s mother (a teacher) tutored her so she could concentrate her spare time on her musical development. She recorded two albums with musician/producer Tony Green-including her self titled debut and its follow up Tonight in 1980. In 1981,she began working with Ray Reid and William Anderson of the band Crown Heights Affair. The result was her 1982 album Now,on which her music evolved to embrace the post disco/boogie funk sound.
My personal discovery of the Now album came quite by accident. Located it Bull Moose Records in Bangor on CD. Before seeing the name,I thought the record was a lost Teena Marie album based on her appearance. Had no idea who France Joli was,or the fact the singer was only 19 when this album was recorded. Its a wonderful album overall,consisting of nothing but strong material. In particular one of her biggest hits in the uptempo bass/guitar oriented “Gonna Get Over You”. The song on the album which got my attention most is the opening number “Your Good Lovin'”.
This is one of those songs where every element of the instrumentation is built around its chorus. This chorus consists of a hard dance beat with a brittle pump of a synth bass line. A very Nile Rodgers style rhythm guitar plays the main melody of the song,with bursts of Minneapolis style synth brass and processed electric piano accenting it all. Along with climatic string arrangements. A brief refrain has the chord changes to a minor one and the strings and synth provide a more Asian style groove. The bridge of the song features an early hip-hop style drum/hand clap groove before fading out on the main chorus.
‘Your Good Lovin'” is an amazing song. Joli’s vocals are very powerful,even torchy. On the other hand,it provides just the type of soulful and jazzy touches that a funkified groove like this requires. Its a very stylized boogie funk arrangement too. The song does have a naked rhythmic attitude right in line with the early Minneapolis sound-with its synth bass and brass. Yet the arrangement,with the rhythm guitar and strings,have an ornate approach that provides a significant contrast between the disco and post disco/boogie era. So far,its my favorite of France Joli’s hit grooves.
During the mid to late 1970’s, the Montreal native Gino Vannelli was Canada’s musical answer to Steely Dan basically. With a strongly grooving progressive jazz sound in tow, Gino and his keyboardist brother Joe had signed their group to Herb Alpert’s A&M Records about a decade into the labels inception. It was also time when new record labels were far more open to more creatively minded artists. So Gino and company were able to really stretch out in terms of making music that was both instrumentally meaningful and commercially successful.
I personally discovered Gino’s music about 8-9 years ago. And quite by accident, as it came from a music recommendation based on my own browsing habits on Amazon.com. It wasn’t long before I was ordering used copies of his 70’s albums on CD from there. One that made quite an impact on me was his third album from 1975 entitled Storm At Sunup. It was a concept album dealing with a male 20 something coming of age during the post 60’s sexual revolution. The second song on the album called “Mama Coco” was the one which really blew me away!
A metallic synthesizer bursts into a mix of Afro-funk percussion accompanied by electronics playing a classical opera melodic theme. It drives right into a righteous rhythm with round,burbling Moog bass and Fender Rhodes electric piano playing the songs bluesy melody. On the refrains,one of which features a deep vocalese on the talk box, the song suddenly goes into a swinging Brazilian jazz mode before returning to the original chorus. Another refrain hard rocking bridge with a screaming guitar and electric piano solo before ebbing out.
In terms of funk, this song covers all the bases beautifully. It has the blend of European classical and soulful modern electronics, the Afrocentric jazzy instrumental attitude as well as the progressive rock arrangements of the time. It’s a wonderful groove stew. Thematically Gino is wittily making a point about the exoticism black women can provide in the mind of a free and single young white men. Even pointing out to Mama Coco that he’s “just a male Caucasian/I’m virgin to your kind”. It’s one of many examples of fine funk Gino threw down in this era.
Filed under 1970's, Afro-Cuban rhythm, Afrocentrism, Amazon.com, bass synthesizer, Brazilian Jazz, Canada, concept albums, electric piano, Fender Rhodes, Gino Vannelli, Herb Alpert, jazz funk, Montreal, Moog, percussion, sexual revolution, Steely Dan, Uncategorized