Apr 22, 2017

RhoDeo 1716 Grooves

Hello, I have to admit that the music i post today, isn't really my thing, I remember at the time cynically calling them New York's answer to James Last. Sure it must have been impressive hearing this big band perform live, but performing in Europe was way to expensive back then. Anyway you can make your own mind up now...

Today's artists were the backing band of session musicians for many acts on New York City label, Salsoul Records and, under its own name, recorded several hit singles and albums between 1975 and 1982. Their music featured elements of Philadelphia soul, funk, Latin and disco. The Orchestra included up to 50 members and was created and masterminded for Salsoul Records by Philadelphia musician. Vincent Montana, he wrote, arranged, conducted, produced and played on all of the orchestra's tracks until 1978  ..... N'joy

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The music world's prime disco big band during the late '70s, the Salsoul Orchestra recorded several of the tightest, chunkiest disco themes of the 1970s, both on its own productions and as the backing group for several prime vocalists. Organized by Vincent Montana, Jr. in 1974, the band was an experiment in fusing funk, Philly soul, and Latin music together in a highly danceable discofied style with plenty of room for solos by individual members. With arrangers, conductors, and whole sections of instruments (including up to 18 violinists) contributing to the sound, the Salsoul Orchestra routinely included up to 50 members. Though the Salsoul sound became passé in the wake of disco music's explosion and rapid commercialization during the late '70s, Salsoul was a heavy influence on house music in the 1980s and even the return of disco-inspired electronica during the following decade.

The beginnings of the Salsoul Orchestra (and Salsoul Records) lie with nominal head Vincent Montana, Jr. A longtime jazz vibraphonist, bandleader, and session man with Philly soul groups like Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes, the O'Jays, and the Spinners, Montana dreamed of constructing a large studio orchestra which could fuse polished soul and brassy funk with Latin percussion and live strings. In 1974, he was introduced to local entrepreneurs Joe, Ken, and Stan Cayre (who ran a local Latin music label) by Afro-Cuban pianist Joe Bataan. With their blessing (and financing), Montana spent months recruiting dozens of musicians from the streets and studios of New York -- including more than a half-dozen percussionists alone. The collective recorded three tracks, which impressed Bataan and the Cayres so much that they decided to form a new label -- named Salsoul for its connotations of salsa and soul -- to release a full-length LP.

One of the original Salsoul Orchestra recordings, "The Salsoul Hustle," was released in mid-1975 and it placed well on the charts. Salsoul's second single, "Tangerine" (an unlikely cover of a Jimmy Dorsey tune), hit the Top 20 in early 1976 and pushed the eponymous Salsoul Orchestra LP to number 14 on the album charts. Follow-up singles like "You're Just the Right Size" and "Nice and Nasty" did moderately well on the charts but soon a glut of similar-sounding material began to flood the market, cheap imitations of the amazing instrumentation of Salsoul Orchestra members -- guitarist and producer Norman Harris, bassist Ronald Baker, drummer Earl Young, arranger Don Renaldo, percussionist Larry Washington, and vocalists Jocelyn Brown, Phyllis Rhodes, Ronni Tyson, Philip Hurt, and Carl Helm. Many Salsoul contributors played on the biggest and best disco tracks of the era, including Trammps, Grace Jones, the Whispers, Loleatta Holloway, and First Choice.

Salsoul's third LP, the slightly amusing Christmas Jollies, displayed a predilection towards the growing disco novelty trend. The slip was hardly improved upon with 1977's Cuchi-Cuchi (which teamed the Orchestra with Charo) or 1978's Up the Yellow Brick Road (a takeoff on The Wiz). After disintegrating the Salsoul Orchestra in the early '80s, Vince Montana led the studio group Montana and recorded with several pop stars of the '80s as well as dance inheritors of the '90s like Mondo Grosso and Nuyorican Soul. Though Salsoul records had long been out of print, several were brought back in the mid-'90s, as well as a prescient two-disc retrospective titled Anthology.

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This 1975 album introduced to the world to the slick yet groovy instrumental stylings of the Salsoul Orchestra, a group of Philadelphia session musicians spearheaded by vibes player Vincent Montana. Since many of the musicians (including Montana) also participated in the recordings of MFSB, it's not a big surprise that The Salsoul Orchestra explores a similar vein of orchestral soul. The difference between the two is that the Salsoul Orchestra explores a more Latin-oriented style with a heavy emphasis on congas and other forms of exotic percussion. This style is neatly encapsulated in the lead-off track "Salsoul Hustle," which is built on a contrast between a dreamy, string-led melody and a series of funky instrumental breakdowns spiced with conga tattoos. Other highlights in this style include "You're Just The Right Size," which layers sweet orchestrations and a female chorus cooing the title chant over a synthesizer-layered groove while "Salsoul Rainbow" glides forth on a fusillade of congas and wah-wah guitar riffs. On the downside, The Salsoul Orchestra occasionally allows their slickness to overpower their r&b backbone and the result is disco-flavored easy listening like "Tangerine" and "Love Letters." Another problem is the album's highlights, as funky as they are, often have a cookie-cutter feel to them: for instance, "Salsoul Hustle" and "Tale Of Three Cities" are built on strikingly similar arrangements that hinge on the contrast between string-led flights on fancy and funky grooves from the rhythm section. Despite these shortcomings, The Salsoul Orchestra shapes up as a solid disco album that will entertain anyone who enjoys orchestral soul.

The Salsoul Orchestra - The Salsoul Orchestra    (flac  368mb)

01 Salsoul Hustle 5:21
02 Get Happy 3:09
03 Chicago Bus Stop (Ooh, I Love It) 4:51
04 You're Just The Right Size 4:44
05 Tangerine 4:43
06 Tale Of Three Cities 6:13
07 Salsoul Rainbow 4:11
08 Love Letters 3:41
Bonus Tracks
09 Salsoul Hustle (Single Version) 3:32
10 Tangerine (Single Version) 3:24
11 You're Just The Right Size (Single Version) 3:15
12 Chicago Bus Stop (Ooh, I Love It) (Single Version) 3:03
13 Salsoul Hustle (Disco Version) 6:37

The Salsoul Orchestra - The Salsoul Orchestra  (ogg   132mb)

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On their second album, the Salsoul Orchestra enhance the appeal of their string-heavy soul sound by marrying it to a series of tight, hook-laden tunes. The overall feeling of Nice 'N' Naasty is very ‘up' and the album prominently features a number of high-energy tracks tailored for the dance floor. In fact, the album contains of two of the Salsoul Orchestra's best-ever uptempo tracks: "It Don't Have To Be Funky" moves forward at a double-time speed thanks to a combination of frenetic drumming and an infectious rhythm guitar riff while "Don't Beat Around The Bush" layers the rhythmic, sexy chant of the title over a huge-sounding, thickly-layered drum beat that sounds like it was lifted from a glam rock record. Another uptempo highlight is "Salsoul 3001," a dance floor stormer that brings "Thus Sprach Zarathustra" into the disco age by marrying its dramatic melody to a frenetic groove anchored by some furious conga drumming. Nice 'N' Naasty also improves on the group's debut album by downplaying the easy listening excesses that marred that album: even on soft tracks like "Nightcrawler," the musicians add a rhythmic touch that keeps the album's overall groove moving forward. In fact, the only time Nice 'N' Naasty slides toward easy listening is during the "We've Only Just Begun/Feelings" medley, but even that is saved by a clever arrangement that highlights some some lovely vibes work by Vincent Montana. Overall, Nice 'N' Naasty's combination of solid tunes and tight performance make it the Salsoul Orchestra's most consistently entertaining album and a good choice for disco fanatics.

The Salsoul Orchestra - Nice 'N' Naasty   (flac  503mb)

Left Cheek
01 Good For The Soul 4:20
02 Nice 'n' Naasty 4:35
03 It Don't Have To Be Funky (To Be A Groove) 3:36
04 Nightcrawler 3:45
05 Don't Beat Around The Bush 3:30
Right Cheek
06 Standing And Waiting On Love 3:31
07 Salsoul 3001 6:16
08 We've Only Just Begun / Feelings 4:59
09 Ritzy Mambo 5:29
10 Jack And Jill 0:15
11 Nice 'N' Naasty (12" Disco Mix) 5:20
12 It Don't Have To Be Funky (To Be A Groove) (12" Disco Mix) 7:46
13 Ritzy Mambo (12" Disco Mix) 7:39
14 It's Good For The Soul (12" Disco Mix) 7:05
15 Nice 'N' Naasty (Single Version) 3:40

. The Salsoul Orchestra - Nice 'N' Naasty  (ogg   190mb)

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Having already reached the apex of orchestral soul on their marvelous self-titled 1975 debut, the Salsoul Orchestra found themselves cookie cutter-ing themselves to death across subsequent releases. Keeping their hooky blend of Latin soul, disco beats, and big instrumental arrangements, the band soared, then foundered, as the decade progressed. A pairing with Charo on the lackluster Cuchi-Cuchi didn't put the Salsoul Orchestra in the best space to regale a tired audience. That said, the band dusted off their boots, pulled them up, and tackled Broadway across 1978's Up the Yellow Brick Road -- a collection of movie and musical hits titled to tie in with that year's Broadway smash The Wiz, whose "Ease On Down the Road," Salsoul style, serves as the LP opener. The instrumentation is tight and punchy and textually interesting, creating a perfect foil for the vocal hijinks of the Sweethearts of Sigma -- Barbara Ingram, Evette Benton, and Carla Benson. Their vocals, though, are best heard on the chunky "West Side Story (Medley)," which pretty much packed it all in across snips of "Fanfare," "America," "Maria," "Somewhere," and more. Elsewhere, the band repeats the feat to cringing effect with their salsa-fied "Fiddler on the Roof." The antics continue with a take on the title track from the Bee Gees/Peter Frampton movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which keeps the boogie-woogie piano and brass, but just doesn't measure up as a disco song. Overall, Up the Yellow Brick Road is sweet in hindsight. Unfortunately, by 1978, fans had already heard it all before, and Broadway moms and dads wouldn't really have given this any more than a passing glance. And even now, the Salsoul Orchestra's own early output is a far better bet.

The Salsoul Orchestra - Up The Yellow Brick Road    (flac  288mb)

01 Ease On Down The Road 5:32
02 West Side Story (Medley) 12:17
03 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 2:51
04 Fiddler On The Roof (Medley) 12:59
05 Evergreen 5:08
06 West Side Story (12" Disco Version) 7:38

The Salsoul Orchestra - Up The Yellow Brick Road  (ogg     114mb)

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Although this album is dominated by orchestrally oriented instrumentals, Street Sense is different from much of the Salsoul Orchestra's other output. Instead of being guided by Vincent Montana, this album was produced by disco remix legend Tom Moulton and arranged by Munich session man Thor Baldursson. The end result is an album that is much jazzier and more electronics-oriented than past Salsoul Orchestra albums. The tone is set by the exotica-flavored "Zambesi," a track that features the Latin percussion and swirling strings that most listeners associate with the Salsoul Orchestra, but surprisingly marries these elements to a very jazz-oriented tune that pushes its synthesizer sounds to the forefront. The big highlights of Street Sense are its title track, a dancefloor stormer that marries rhythmic chants from a group of singers with pulsating strings to create a track with a strong Euro-disco feel, and "212 North 12th," a funky instrumental workout that layers its churning, bass-driven groove with soaring strings and some trippy electronic effects. Note that the latter tune became a cult favorite with hardcore disco fans and was a favorite at the Loft, New York City's famous club. Unfortunately, Street Sense also includes some material that should have been left in the can: the remake of Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love" is professionally crafted but pointless and lacking in passion, while "Sun After the Rain" is a little too campy for its own good. All in all, Street Sense contains enough solid tracks to make it worthwhile for the Salsoul Orchestra enthusiast.

The Salsoul Orchestra - Street Sense  (flac 435mb)

01 Zambesi 5:22
02 Burning Spear 6:01
03 Street Sense 7:32
04 Somebody To Love 5:27
05 212 North 12th 8:31
06 Sun After The Rain 5:29
07 Somebody To Love (Single Version) 3:31
08 Street Sense (Original Single Version) 3:42
09 Sun After The Rain (12" Disco Version) 8:10
10 Sun After The Rain (12" Instrumental Version) 8:14

  The Salsoul Orchestra - Street Sense   (ogg  164mb)

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot!