Orient Express (1978) A Desert Fantasy (LP) Polydor 2424192 (Canada)

Orient Express
A Desert Fantasy
Polydor 2424192 (Canada)
produced by Steve Gilston and Franz Auffray
arranged by Uri Kariv
1978

Rating:**** (Recommended)

Oddball desert-themed disco album from France (and Israel), the epic 13-minute title track starting off with a thumping beat and then alternating between that and signature Euro-disco vocal sections, spicing up the sound with jabs of rock guitar followed by rolls of middle-eastern percussion, slowly building up the number with bass and horns until it sounds more aware of James Brown’s lessons than most disco numbers, this likely following Donna Summer’s example of how disco could remain glossy and still provide a groove.

After an atmospheric slow-dance/make-out/waterbed number that comes complete with bluesy electric guitar and romantic saxophone, the flipside offers two more stand-out numbers, instrumentals that sound even more aware of Brown’s lessons, the set closing with “Abdullah’s Wedding,” not the strongest cut but perhaps the oddest, apparently the story of a girl who opts to mate with the father of the suitor, this number especially sporting the desert sound.


This might not be a classic, but it’s an oddball album and it’s clearly a cut above most of the competition.  For fans of rare disco, this is worth the search. 

–winch

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Robert Fripp: Exposure (LP) 1979

Robert Fripp
Exposure
Polydor 6201
1979
Released April 1979, reached #79 (#71 in UK)
recommended ****

 

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While this clearly has elements of King Crimson’s version of progressive rock, it also shows influences from the mid-70s arty underground of NYC where Fripp had relocated in 1977–the same time he started working on elements of this 1979 release.

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If you’re looking from mainstream straight-forward rock and roll, look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for something different that doesn’t push into noisy avant garde, this set is at least worth a listen.  When progressive rock was focused on synthesized pomp, Fripp delivered something a bit more interesting and enjoyable.

— Winch

http://www.eight-track.com

Roy Ayers Ubiquity (1975) A Tear to a Smile / Mystic Voyage

Roy Ayers Ubiquity
A Tear to a Smile

Polydor 6046
Produced by Roy Ayers
Arranged by William Allen

Noteworthy ***
1975

Most jazz/funk albums from this era ended up sounding forced and uninspired, commercial music patched together to make some bucks.  In contrast, this album sounds like Ayers was doing exactly what he wanted to do, and like he was doing it for all the right reasons.  The time and passion put into this clearly comes through the music.  Several cuts seem designed to go with the rhythm of the waves in a waterbed, and even much of the social-themed material has a sensual vibe.  While it’s a snap to spot influences, the music is completely Ayers.  The beginning and conclusion are especially strong, essential moments for fans of this group.  The lineup included Edwin Birdsong & Debbie Darby (vocals), Bernard Purdy (drums), and William Allen (bass, arp).  Allen and Ayers contribute most of the compositions.  
Roy Ayers Ubiquity
Mystic Voyage

Polydor 6057
Produced & Arranged by Roy Ayers

Recommended ****
1975

Ayers retains the Ubiquity moniker but pulls in quite a different line-up from A Tear to a Smile released earlier this same year.  The sounds of the albums are similar in many ways, both offering a variety of sounds and tempos, from full-fledged funk to jazz-influenced reflective numbers, but each album has its own sound.  This offers the reflection of the instrumental title track but has much more focus on the heavy thumping of the dancefloor funk. The changes in sound likely had a lot to do with the departure of William Allen, the bassist of the previous album who also arranged and wrote the majority of the cuts on that set.  While the funk of the previous seemed focused on the waterbed, this features plenty of numbers designed for the club.  If side one doesn’t grab you from the get-go, just flip her over.  If you have any doubts about Ayers delivering the funk, the proof comes to knock you out with the one-two punch of “Funky Motion” and “Spirit of the Doo Do.”  Both 1975 sets are recommended listens for fans of funk, but this one is essential for folks looking to get the party started.  This lineup included Calvin Brown (guitar), Chano O’Ferral (congas & bongos), and newcomers Byron Miller (bass), Chicas (vocals), and Ricky Lawson (drums).  Oddly the album doesn’t mention song credits.

— winch

(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

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