Giorgio Moroder first came to my attention through his productions with Donna Summer. Most notably his 1977 triumph “I Feel Love”. This heralded in the electronic space disco sound. And also,along with Kraftwerk,began the re-writing of the book for dance music in the decade to come. He came from a mixed Italian/German back round, and began releasing singles from the early 60’s to the early 70’s under the name Giorgio. Most notable of these was 1972’s Son Of My Father. A few of these songs being used in a film showcased Moroder’s future direction: as a king of the electronic soundtrack.
Moroder was a very busy man from 1976 to 1979. In addition to working with Summer along with lyricist Pete Bellote out of Munich,Germany he was also continuing his film scoring work. One protege he began working with during these years was fellow early electronic musician Harold Faltemeyer. He would later achieve a cinematic success of his own with his 1984 theme song to the Eddie Murphy vehicle Beverley Hills Cop with “Axel F”. Faltemeyer’s first taste of musical success came in collaboration with Moroder on the hit single from their soundtrack to the 1978 film Midnight Express called “Chase”.
A sequenced synth bass (a Moroder musical trademark) starts off the song-along with synth string orchestration using an echoed flanging effect. There’s also a pretty straight lead synth melody. After a few bars of this,the melody reduces down to the 4/4 drums,the bass sequencer and a series of clicking and clanging rhythmic percussion sounds. Than the synth strings slowly build back in for several more bars. After the song reduces to the drum and sequencer again,the main melodic synth plays a more involved melody before the song fades back out on several more bars of its own chorus.
“Chase” has become one of Giorgio Moroder’s signature pieces of music. Structurally the song mixes rhythmic and melodic elements of American funk and European classical music into a song that embodies the very sound of electronic/space Euro disco. Its far more stripped down and stylized than the contemporary EDM. So much so that during the height of EDM about a decade ago,the paranormal/conspiracy theory based radio show Coast to Coast AM used it as its theme song. Basically, this is one of a handful of electronic disco numbers in 1977/78 that pointed to totally to the future.
A truly amazing album and,with little doubt in my mind THE BEST of Janet’s pre Control recordings. At this point in her life Janet was officially entering adulthood and breaking away from her families control by marrying (then leaving) James DeBarge. On this album Janet has found her musical niche and is starting to put her sound together. She wasn’t all the way there but was edging closer and closer to the sound of her breakthrough only a year and a half later. Produced alternately between her brother Marlon,The Time’s Jesse Johnson and Donna Summer’s former producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Ballotte the sound of this album is dominated by uptempo tunes with a far more aggressive musicianship,sharper sonic’s and top notch songwriting as well.
The opening is the slamming electro funk of “Don’t Stand Another Chance” which really shows you how underrated Marlon Jackson is as a producer and how much of the early electro/hip-hop/funk sound he’d actually assimilated,especially hearing some of Janet’s growls and snarls in the vocals. “Two To The Power Of Love” is the lone ballad here and is the only song that really doesn’t quite fit,with a very corny arrangement not that different from something you might heard sung by a Jem doll at that time frankly. “Pretty Boy” gets the mood up very quickly. Prince,“Purple Rain” and the Minneapolis sound in general was super hot at that point and here you see the reason.
Janet and Jesse Johnson JAM out this song that completely exposes the nucleus of the sound she’d soon make famous only in a somewhat rawer Minneapolis funk context with some screaming synthesizers and Janet’s call and response “PLAY THOSE FUNKY HORNS!”. On Giorgio Moroder’s title song,with a video that was snuck into one of her appearances in Fame definitely finds Janet maturing on every front,singing a very bittersweet tale of the realities in the struggle for celebrity to one of Moroder’s patented euro/Italo disco style arrangements.
“Communication” and “Hold Back The Tears” are his other two productions and find Janet succeeding much better in the new wave/rock style she’d attempted less successfully at the end of her previous album. Jesse returns again for the very break dance/electro friendly mid 80’s street funk of “Fast Girls”,another driving and amazingly effective groove. Marlon returns with “All My Love To You” which very much echoes the flavors of the first song on this album.
The record closes with another Moroder tune in the potent new wave-soul-dance hybrid of “If It Takes All Night”. You’d think with all the cooks in the kitchen on the production of this album that Janet’s identity would remain very submerged-it didn’t. If anything on this album Janet’s actually began to develop a persona driven by intense,funky 80’s style dance jams and some unbeatable hooks and breaks as well. For those looking into early Janet for music that points to her big breakthrough later in the decade this album would be the sure fire place to find it.
Originally Posted On March 31st,2010
Link to original review here*
Filed under 1980's, Amazon.com, elecro funk, Fame, Giorgio Moroder, Italo disco, James DeBarge, Janet Jackson, Jesse Johson, Marlon Jackson, Minneapolis, Music Reviewing