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Change: Disco's Most Underrated Band?

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Change: Disco's Most Underrated Band?

Before I really started getting into disco records, I might have known one Change song. 'Change Of Heart', with its 80s production from Minneapolis based Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis is perhaps their signature tune, and a great one at that (we particularly like the Dr. Packer Rework). But they're not one-hit wonders.

Earlier this month, they released 'Reach For The Sky: The Change Anthology' - a full set of remastered, extended versions taken from their formidable back catalogue. It's the perfect way to showcase some of their work prior to the aforementioned 'Change Of Heart' album from 1984.

Formed in Bologna, Italy in 1979 by businessman Jacques Fred Petrus and producer/songwriter Mauro Malavasi, Change looked to Chic for inspiration. Like their heroes Nile and Bernard, the pair opted for a behind the scenes role, concentrating on creating high quality backing tracks at studios in Italy that would then be sent over to the US to have vocals added. Like Chic, that meant the band featured a revolving door of musicians and singers and a distinct European feel.

One thing's for sure – they knew how to pick a vocalist. Debut album 'The Glow Of Love' featured two lead singers: a then relatively unknown Luther Vandross and the more established Jocelyn Brown, who had previously found fame singing for Musique on their hits 'In The Bush' and 'Keep On Jumpin', and would go on to great things with Inner Life.

The album's first single was 'A Lover's Holiday', which is a great place to start with Change if you're one of the uninitiated. The most popular version of this track is actually a remix by NYC based DJ and producer Jim Burgess, who was known in the 70s as one of the premier disco selectors and played at prestigious clubs such as the Paradise Garage:

Two more singles followed. 'Searching', led by a very familiar bassline, was a nice showcase for Vandross, but it was the third single and title track 'The Glow Of Love' that really cemented Change's place in disco history. A timeless song that oozes class, 'The Glow Of Love' is a perfect example of a track that counteracts the cliched, Saturday Night Fever-inspired archetype of the disco sound. We'll overlook the fact Phats & Small sampled it, for now:

Follow up album 'Miracles' came in 1981, and with it another couple of fantastic singles. 'Paradise' features potentially the most to-the-point bass guitar intro of all time:

After that came 'Hold Tight', a slower groove that isn't perhaps as dancefloor friendly but still has a lot to offer:

1982's 'Sharing Your Love' doesn't contain much of note, but 'This Is Your Time', released in 1983 (remember when bands used to release an album a year? Nor do I.) led with the title track. 'This Is Your Time' is typical of the Change sound - Italo disco production stylings with Chic-esque backing vocals where the lyrical focus is on going to a club:

From the same album there's also 'Got To Get Up', a sparse, slow-burner that has a lot more space between the elements than most other Change tracks:

And so we come to 1984, and 'Change Of Heart' itself. Undoubtedly a great track, but certainly not the only song Change should be remembered by.


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Halloween Hype Machine

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Halloween Hype Machine

Love Come Down Halloween at The Arch Gallery is imminent, and in the run up to the event we've been counting down the days by posting one of our current favourite tracks each day.

You may have seen our posts on Facebook and Twitter, but we've also decided to put them all in one handy place right here - 5 tracks to get you in the mood for this evening.

1. Change 'The Glow Of Love' (12" Extended Version)

I'm really into Change at the moment - they're so underrated. This track is one of Luther Vandross's first lead vocals (he'd previously been a backing vocalist for Chic, Diana Ross AND Bowie, amongst others), and boy does he deliver. This is some smooth shit.

2. Deep & Disco 'Feel The Rhythm' 

Razor-N-Tape is an awesome label out of Brooklyn, who have delivered a host of great edits and original tracks since they started up back in 2012. Their slogan is: "Cut in Brooklyn. Good for dance", which says it all really. This track is an edit of Chic's 1977 track 'Strike Up The Band', and we love it. But the A-Side to the 12" 'So Tight' is also well worth a listen. It was tough to choose between them.

3. Masters At Work feat. India 'When You Touch Me' (MAW Remix)

Masters At Work's most famous song also features India's vocals, but I recently discovered this one and like it just as much. Straight up, this is disco/house crossover at it's best.

4. Teddy Pendergrass 'You Can't Hide From Yourself' (Dimitri From Paris' Super Disco Blend)

Another incredibly smooth male vocalist in the vein of Luther Vandross, this Teddy Pendergrass track is one of those songs you'll probably know as soon as you hear it. Those horn stabs have been sampled so many times! The ever-reliable Dimitri From Paris brings it up to date.

5. Inner Life 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' (JM 4AM Mix)

A (perhaps THE) Paradise Garage classic - Inner Life's take on the soul standard 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' (a song that, nearly 40 years after its first release, was heavily borrowed from by Amy Winehouse) is for me the definitive version.  Controversially, I'm preferring the John Morales mix to Larry Levan's perhaps more famous version here - mainly because it's slightly more suitable for modern dance floors. You will hear this on Halloween.

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