Rating: 7.5/ C
Category: Disco / Dance Music (synthetized)
Format: Vinyl (120g at 33 1/3 rpm)
"All Night Dancing"
Produced and Written by Steven Greenberg
Executive Producer: Steven Productions
Recorded between October and December 1979 at Sound 80 Studios Minneapolis
Engineered by: David Rivkin
Assistant Engineer: Mike Severson
Mixed by Youth in The Study, 2010
Mastered at Allen Zentz Studios, Los Angeles by Chris Bellman
Pressed at: ?
Steven Greenberg: Drums, Synthesizers, Percussion, Keyboards, Vocals, Bass.
Cynthia Johnson: Lead vocals, Background vocals.
Terry Grant: Bass.
Roger Dumas: Synthesizer programming.
Tom Riopelle: Guitar.
David Rivkin: Guitar.
Ivan Rafowitz: Keyboards, Piano solo on "All Night Dancing"
Violins: Karl Nashan, Brian Mintz, Bruce Allard, Herman Straka & Bob Zelnick.
Horns: Bruce Allard, Dale Mendenhal, Jack Gillespie & Richard Jorgensen.
Background vocals: Steven Greenberg, Cynthia Johnson, Dana Greenberg, Joyce Lapinksy, Vera Jenkins, Marilyn & Danny.
Charts by: Scott Jones.
Vocal assistant: Sandy Atlas.
Art Direction & Design: Michael Kevin Lee/Gribbitt!
Illustration: Jan Kovaleski and Michael Kevin Lee
The artwork is rather non-inspiring and is typical of the New Wave period and early 1980's with it's short hair androgynous figureheads bathing in the oh so popular blue and pink hues of the time.
My copy was bought many years ago in 'near mint' condition and is still easily found in excellent condition for under ten dollars, this is not a rare sought after album in any sense. The fact that the music does not present any low level passages will in most cases mask any mild surface noises.
Before getting into details, the thin pressing (concurrent for the times) and general sound was typical of what I expect from the Casablanca catalog. That is to say the Neil Bogart (as in NBLP 7197) label has never released a bad sounding record nor a spectacular DEMO worthy neither; they are for the most part rather slightly above average than their counterparts but less impressive than Philly International, Salsoul or the Sunshine T.K.Disco Florida label.
Synchronized Music, Side One:
Let's get something straight right up front: there's nothing funky about "Funkytown" at least not in the JB's, Clinton/Parliament, or even those Wild Cherry white boys kind of way. No this is about as square as it gets south side of Chicago. Neither should it be confused with the just released semi-fact based Quebec movie sharing the same title.
"Funkytown" made it's first appearance on the (then shrinking) Disco scene the last week of December, right on the heels of a new decade. Fittingly many consider it the last Disco Hit. I've always viewed it as the bridge between Disco and Dance Music to the same degree that Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes 1973 hit "The Love I Lost" can rightly be interpreted as a defining moment; i.e. the bridge from luscious Soul to Disco, codifying by the same token "The Philly Sound".
In both cases it reflects a transition to a new era possessing a slightly different musical structure than it's previous one. In the case of "Funkytown" the structure retains the typical 4/4 mid-120's bpm kick drum, plus percussion, bass, rhythm guitar, violins and female vocal chorus but does so in a more strip down version than 1970's Philly Soul or complex Eurodisco. I guess you could call it Diet Disco; it stimulates on the spot but it doesn't satisfy long term. It's an offshoot of cheesy Eurodisco-pop the likes of Silver Convention's "Get up & Boogie" but a more direct influence would be The Michael Zager Band's late 1977 hit "Let's All Chant" with it's minimalist metronomic beat along with built up intro and delayering outro, disappearing in a (synth)bass fade out.
With it's mid tempo, steady beat, monotonic bass line and electronic flourishes it'll blend well with - and predates by nearly three years - Roni Griffith's "Love is the Drug" along with Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean".
Overall the sound is well balanced from lows to highs. There is some compression typical of the period, that is more so than the average 1970's Disco cut but less so than 1983 onward and nothing compared to the onslaught hardness of this last decade. To make an audiophile analogy, the sound is more of a cool running Class AB transistor amp than a warm romantic tube design. Precise but a bit sterile to my taste. I don't posses the (identical version) 12inch single to compare it with, but my experience with the Casablanca label is that it should be close enough, save for maybe a tad more punch in the kick drum which in this case wouldn't hurt in the warmth department. An '7.8/ C+'.
"All Night Dancing" fits more the typical Disco mold of 1978-79 not only in style but in sound. The kick drum is much better, being bigger and stronger in the mix than the opening track. The Bass is good while in the treble counterpart, the tambourine comes out clean and extended on the top. Voices are much better integrated also, rendering it easier on the ears especially when turning up the volume. Further along the 'break' showcases again the solidity of the kick adding good 'slam' with the snare panning between left to right channels. The electric piano solo adds a fresh twist to the mix followed by the tambourine once more. Male and female vocals alternate in counterpoint lending a somewhat odd dissonant combination. The song ends with a second last 'break' characterized by a long fadeout ideal for a DJ to segue into the next song without even the trouble to lower the fader of the exiting song. This one earns an '8.5/ B'.