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Big Break Goes Disco with KC and the Sunshine Band, George McCrae, Johnnie Taylor

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KC and the Sunshine Band - Part 3The Temptations had sunshine on a rainy day, John Denver had it on his shoulders, and the O’Jays took their cue from an old standard to address a loved one as “my sunshine.”  But Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, forming Miami’s KC and the Sunshine Band, had sunshine both in the band name and in the joyful, exultant brand of music they played.  Big Break Records has recently reissued one title recorded by those disco titans, one title produced by them, and one with another connection to the genre.  All three of BBR’s expanded editions will transport you to those heady days when the dance underground became the pop mainstream.

KC and the Sunshine Band’s 1976 long-player was simply and efficiently titled Part 3 (CDBBR 0817).  As the title made explicit, the album wasn’t an attempt to redefine or expand the band’s sound.  Instead, Part 3 continued the style the group of musicians had already established.  After 1974’s unsuccessful Do It Good, Casey and Finch reinvented their group with a self-titled album in 1975 that asked listeners to “Get Down Tonight.”  That was clearly the way listeners liked it (uh huh, uh huh), so Part 3, too, was all about the groove – and how it makes you move!  With simplicity and clarity, KC and the Sunshine Band invited listeners to “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Your Booty.”  And though the other seven selections on the album would inevitably fall in the shadow of that No. 1 Pop and R&B hit, this new reissue proves the album is an upbeat delight from start to finish.

In the fine and detailed liner notes from J. Matthew Cobb (who supplies the essays for all three titles reviewed here), Harry Wayne Casey reveals “Shake, Shake, Shake” as an ode to self-empowerment and to fearlessness of doing your own thing.  Of course, that unbridled freedom was a major part of the disco identity at its roots, and few groups expressed personal liberation with more vitality than KC and the Sunshine Band.  Cobb’s essay also frankly discusses the implications of Casey and Finch, two Caucasian men, making such an impact in disco, and the feelings from some quarters that they had somehow co-opted black music.  This probing discussion gives a subtext to the listening experience that can’t be overestimated.  Still, Part 3 is a sunny, ready-to-party record, as evidenced by that significant rainbow on the front of the album artwork.

The album’s other major hit, “I’m Your Boogie Man,” followed “Booty” to No. 1 Pop (and No. 3 R&B).  And if it’s not as stone-cold a classic, it has all the hallmarks of KC’s disco-funk-pop perfection.  “Let’s Go Party” could be the band’s mantra, and the funk is ladled on this tight track, too.  It’s certainly not excessive, at under three minutes’ length, but is a reminder that KC and co. were deft musicians far more than “just” a disco band.  Casey and Finch’s production hallmarks extend to the lesser-known tracks;  “Baby I Love You (Yes I Do)” was only released on 45 as a flip, but it could have been an A-side, with its (likely intentional) echoes of “That’s the Way I Like It.”  It’s difficult to discern any deeper meaning to “Wrap Your Arms Around Me” (“Come on, come on!”) with its shrieks and wails of pleasure, but it’s likely you’ll want to join in.  “I Like to Do It” is another simple but insistent affirmation with bold horns, its melody set to the familiar KC percolating dance groove: to boogie down all night long, to shake it up, all “with you.”  The album-closing “Keep It Comin’ Love” is another sexy pop confection with an irresistible hook (“Don’t stop it now, don’t stop it now”).

BBR has added two bonus tracks, the single versions of “Boogie Man” and “Keep It Comin’ Love,” to Part 3.  (Singles were also released for “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Your Booty,” of course, as well as “I Like to Do It” and “Wrap Your Arms Around Me.”)  KC and the Sunshine Band’s disco hits are still staples of oldies radio today, but this full-service reissue makes the experience of listening to the band’s music a more immediate, and ultimately more fulfilling, one.

Hit the jump for the scoop on the latest reissues from George McCrae and Johnnie Taylor! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 16, 2013 at 10:04

Release Round-Up: Week of June 26

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The Beat, I Just Can’t Stop It Wha’ppen? Special Beat Service: Deluxe Editions (Edsel)

The Beat’s discography is expanded in the U.K. by Edsel in fashionable 2 CD/1 DVD editions. (Don’t forget: a similar five-disc box is coming out from Shout! Factory in the U.S. next month.)

The Miracles, Renaissance Do It Baby (Hip-o Select/Motown)

The first two post-Smokey LPs by The Miracles on one CD.

The Electric Prunes, The Complete Reprise Singles / The New Christy Minstrels, A Retrospective 1962-1970 / The Tokens, It’s a Happening World: Deluxe Edition / Timi Yuro, The Complete Liberty Singles / Rita Pavone, The International Teen-Age Sensation (Real Gone)

A veritable ’60s bonanza from our pals at Real Gone, including some international rarities, an expanded Tokens LP and some singles compilations.

Deniece Williams, NiecyI’m So Proud: Expanded Editions / KC and The Sunshine Band, KC and The Sunshine Band: Expanded Edition (Big Break)

U.K. label Big Break’s offerings today: expanded editions of Deniece’s last two pre-Footloose LPs and the disco band’s breakthrough disc.

Teena Marie, Emerald City Naked to the World: Expanded Editions (Soul Music)

Two high points in Lady T’s late-’80s work for Epic, newly expanded from Cherry Red’s Soul Music label.

Cherry Red Round-Up: Kenny, KC, Carly and More Get New Expansions

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Our friends at Cherry Red Group have had a stellar amount of new reissues in the past month, and we figured now was as good a time as any to highlight some of our favorites across the board.

The Lemon label has issued an expanded edition of Keep the Fire, the 1979 soft-rock classic by Kenny Loggins. While the singer-songwriter had put out two albums since the disbandment of Loggins & Messina, it was only recently that he started his ascendancy as one of the go-to pop writers and performers of the age; previous album Nightwatch featured Top 5 hit “Whenever I Call You Friend” with Stevie Nicks, and earlier in 1979 saw “What a Fool Believes,” written with Michael McDonald for McDonald’s Doobie Brothers, reach the top of the Billboard charts. Loggins and McDonald teamed up again for Keep the Fire‘s lead single, “This is It,” which reached No. 11 and won Loggins a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. Strong guests bolster the album, with Michael Brecker contributing saxophone work and underrated album cut “Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong” featuring sweet vocal harmonies from Michael Jackson. Lemon’s expanded disc features two live tracks of undetermined origin and a “clean version” of “This is It.”

One of Big Break Records’ newest titles harkens back to the days of disco and the unstoppable dance rhythms of KC and The Sunshine Band. Harry Wayne Casey, Richard Finch and their irrepressibly-produced band had a triple platinum hit with their self-titled sophomore album for T.K. Records in 1975, buoyed by No. 1 hits “Get Down Tonight” and “That’s the Way (I Like It).” (The effervescent “Boogie Shoes” was a Top 40 hit when included on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack LP two years later.) Bonus cuts include the original single mixes of “Get Down Tonight” and “That’s the Way (I Like It)” as well as a 1994 mix of the former by veteran disco man Tom Moulton.

It’s on to the ’80s and ’90s with some big hits and intriguing obscurities after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

June 5, 2012 at 13:26