Wonder & Mystery: Loose Change

I will listen to each record, in the order it is taken out of the box. If I know a little something about the artist fine, if I don’t I may try and glean any information from the record sleeve and cover. I will listen to each one cold, logging my thoughts as I listen (my fiancée Allyson will be joining me for these listening experiences). Only after I have listened to the whole album may I go to Great Google and see what is what.

Loose Change.

Never heard of it.

Casablanca Records (and something called Tom n’ Jerry Records) 1979, PRODUCED BY TOM MOULTON for T.J. Productions. I notice this: Arranged And Conducted By Thor Baldursson.

Baldursson? I’m into mythology and thanks to MARVEL Comics Norse mythology in particular, so this is either a prance about stage name or the dude is from some Scandinavian country. Or maybe it’s a badass biker type name or evocative of Swedish melodic death metal band Amon Amarth?

Maybe not, there are a lot of strings and horns on this.

Side One

Babe

All Night Man

Darling, That’s Me

Side Two

Straight From the Heart

Love Is Just A Heartbeat Away

Rising Cost of Love

I Wanna Hold On To You

I was right, DISCO, I thought so when I saw the horns and strings.

This could be subtitled as “Music Inspired by the Television Series CHiPs.”

“This sounds like some producer’s girlfriend,” Allyson says. I don’t think it’s meant as a compliment.

Second song All Night Man has a really groovy start. I mean that in a totally non-ironic way, even when those 70s era laser sound effects kick in. Then the lyrics, these ladies don’t have bad voices but they are typical of disco era vocals.

Not that I’m a connoisseur of disco era vocals.

Some lyrics from Darling, That’s Me aren’t really sung but spoken in that sincere kind of way that spoken lyrics are supposed to sound.

I hate that by the way, I think the only song that I like in that style is The End by The Doors which is Something Else.

There is one song that stands out, Straight From the Heart, the first track on side two. It starts with a subtle groove of the band just gelling perfectly.. None of that kitschy disco crap, just a good dance jam with excellent playing and singing. It doesn’t have all that disco flash that sounds so dated then cool then dated again. I find out later that this is one of the two singles from the album.

So far this album evokes a pastiche of The Love Boat; Isaac is serving screwdrivers, Gopher is running for Congress and Captain Stubbing should be fighting the ladies off with a stick.

If there were justice in the world Captain Stubbing would have been the Hugh Hefner of The Love Boat.

Here’s an idea, the good doctor gets a hold of some kind of infernal text that has passages of the Necronomicon and attempts to summon Cthulhu by sacrificing Julie the Cruise Director, he uses drugs to control the crew but then the guest stars (Charo, McLean Stevenson, Robert Hays, Barbi Benton and Paul Williams) stop them but not before crashing into Fantasy Island.

I would watch the shit out of that.

But This isn’t That. One song blends into another blends into another. I’ll be the first to admit that Disco ain’t exactly my thing, I do have the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever (mostly for Allyson) on vinyl but that said that is like the best of the best of the genre. Maybe this is wasted on me.

And maybe not? After Boogie Nights love me some Boogie Shoes.

This album to me is everything wrong with disco and why there was such a huge backlash against the genre so that the “legitimate” (he winced at using the word “legitimate” in describing disco) got a lot of hate near the end. I wasn’t even 10 years old and I remember news stories of disco record burnings. I’m not a proponent of burning anything as far as it being records, books, comics, video games, whatever, However that first amendment also protects the right for people to do exactly that as a form of protest. So as a form of censorship no, as a form of protest maybe; it still makes my skin crawl.

So who are these people? It seems that Loose Change (Leah Gwin, Donna Beene, and Becky Anderson) were a Philadelphia girl group in the tradition of Martha and the Vandellas to Destiny’s Child. The album only received lukewarm interest and I don’t think it even charted.

Producer Tom Moulton is something of a Greg Allman of disco? It seems that even if he is not the originator of the dance mix, he is at least credited with making disco songs longer to make them more valuable as dance songs on the dance floor. This Thor Baldursson guy is Scandinavian but looks more like Dr. Donald Blake than a strapping Jack Kirby Thor. Thor however seems to be a gifted musician, arranger and all that, having worked with… Grace Jones a lot.

giphy

I wonder if I have any Grace Jones in the box?

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