Saturday, April 01, 2006

I've got disco, who could ask for anything more?

In honor of April Fools Day, I'd like to present you with The Ethel Merman Disco Album! First released in 1979 when it seemed like everyone and their mother put out a disco record regardless if they were suited to the genre or not. This is a great piece of pure unintentional camp, featuring over-the-top disco versions of her signature songs like "I Got Rhythm." Word had it that she had recorded her vocals before the instrumental tracks were laid down. (BTW the album was produced Peter Matz, who helped put together Barbra Streisand's first albums.) She did give the song the damn-the-torpedos treatment, even if she really didn't care much for the genre. Appearently this was a desperate attempt to assure that she's hip to what "the kids" were listening to at the time; it's like Madonna rapping about soy lattes on "American Life."

I remember when this album first came out. Ethel was a judge on the TV show Dance Fever to promote the album. It also got some really bad reviews in the press, making the list of the ten worst records of 1979 in People magazine. And when people wanted to discuss the downfall of disco and the record company overkill of the genre, they would simple point to this record.

A few years ago I found a vinyl copy of the album in a thrift store for two dollars. Hearing about its cheesy reputation, I bought it and found it to be, conservatively speaking, a hoot. The album would also be re-issued on CD in 2003 on the Fynsworth Alley label with a bonus track of her version of Irving Berlin's "They Say It's Wonderful."

But judging from that album cover, Ethel looks like she's having a good time on the dance floor, doesn't she?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I adore Ethel Merman! What a woman she was--a talent that was unique. She really gave everyone a great show even if she was feeling down. Thwey don't make them like this anymore. The album was camp but it was such good camp you couldn't help but to be bouyed up by it.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Foolhard said...

I am in agreement with Divine Jimmi

11:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home