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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lightning Lightning - s/t

Name: Lightning
Album: Lightning
Year: 1979
Style: Disco
Similar Bands: Musique, Bee Gees, Trammps, Chic, Rufus
"One Word" Review: Smooth Disco
Based Out Of: New York
Label: Casablanca Records & Filmworks
Lightning - Cover & Record
Lightning - Back & Record

Lightning (1979)
  1. Disco Symphony 10:15
  2. In & Out of Love 6:41 /
  3. Baby Without Your Love 7:03
  4. I Love the Way You Love Me 5:25
  5. One Step At A Time 6:28
Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Lewis Merenstein - Producer
Ralph Moss - Producer, Recording Engineer, Mixing, Master Engineering
Robin Martinez - Asst. Engineer
Judy Elliot - Asst. Engineer
Howard Merritt - Asst. Producer, Mixing
Mike Richardson - String & Horn Arrangement
John Henderson - Guitar, Vox
Tom Siano - Guitar, Vox
Eddie Dozier - Vox
Paul Caravello (Eric Carr) - Drums (KISS, Cellarmen, Crystal Collins, Bionic Boogie, Wendy O Williams)
David Collier - Bass, Vox
Jerry Platkin - Keys
Opie O'Brein - Keys (Nighthawks, Bon Jovi)
Dino Kovas - Keys (New Monkees)
Jeff Ross - Guitars (Asylum Street Spankers, Rank & File, Desert Rose Band, Candye Kane)
Bo Tomlyn - Synth (Chicago, Chick Corea, Julio Iglesias, Neil Diamond, Kenny Loggins)
Ricky Cardona - Percussion
Julie Burger - Vox (Klaus Nomi)
Holly Oas - Vox
Jose Rodriguez - Mastering
Murray Whitemore - Art Direction / Design
Michael Kevin Lee/Gribbitt - Art Direction / Design
Scott Hensel - Photography
Skate Escapes - Skates
Peter Alfond - Hair & Make-up

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of this band. But the cover art is amazing and totally worth whatever is inside. It shows two chicks in neon spandex Blade Runner outfits, one holding guns, the other holding a neon lightning bolt while rolling on roller-skates. The colors jump out and the contract is fantastic, not to mention the font and sizing of the band name / album title. It is obviously going to be disco, but man, what presentation.

Album Review:
Apparently the drummer is Eric Carr of Kiss fame, and allmusic links the guitar/vocalist John Henderson to be a founder of Camera Obscura, but I rather belive this is just the dilemma of having the same common name.

“Disco Symphony” starts with a harp and a single kick drum beat. Swirling strings and brass fill in the background and then the song just lifts off once the bouncy disco beat kicks in. It is soulful, grand, and swooping. The song rests upon the single rhythm and tempo, only throwing in small pauses to highlight the accents and punctuate the stanzas. The chorus is catchy, but not very driving. Instead it relies on a steady energy that never really evolved, rather, it just loops around. Because of this, the song does not rely on any sort of pattern to the sections. They are all interchangeable, and equally catchy, so there is some rawness in the fact that you cannot rhythmically tell which section will come next, and the introduction of new variations of the sections is welcome and easily malleable into the song. The song does get a little too repetitive when it repeats the catch phrase over and over, each time backed by one less instrument, until the song stops altogether.
“In & Out of Love” picks up with high pitch harmonies and a off-rhythmic pulsing kick drum beat, which eventually levels out to a recognizable disco metronome tempo with bouncy bass accompanying. The song almost feels like an older male vocal group set to an “updated” disco production. It could have just as easily been recorded as a doo-wop single minus the horns and strings. There is a female chorus that sings the repetitive title catch phrase over and over in a quiet musical breakdown section (with the off-timed drum beat), that is in key, but basically monotone and devoid of any emotion. The song comes back for about a minute, revisiting the disco style with some free style lyric-less singing, and is quickly followed by a fade out.

“Baby Without Your Love” is a faster pace, relatively sizzling musical piece, with some fast and furious string playing, and feels downright agitated compared to the songs before it. But lyrically, it sounds exactly like the last song on the first side, pumped up with a bit more adrenaline…or coke. Male vocals take turns but end up overlapping each other in an ever flowing, harmonic singing pattern that perpetuates itself. The song launches into an instrumental section that sounds like the vocals were just forgotten to be mixed over. And just as it seems like it is going to kick in for another repeat section, a thunderous swoosh sweeps over the soundscape and the song ends.
“I Love the Way You Love Me” has a basic one-two drum beat, and is another smooth disco number with conga influence, where the dancing would consist of lots of hip swaying, fist clenched salt & peppering, and feet sliding around a lit from below dance floor. The two section to the song repeat twice, and the song finished with a fade out.
“One Step At A Time” is a slower number, with a slow-dance rhythm and elements of conga with tinny drum accents. But the bass line reminds me, once it kicks in, of Rufus’ “Tell Me Something Good” with island themed relaxed laziness. This song is not really disco, but it is a nice song to finish the album on and come down from the drugs.

Stand Out Track: Disco Symphony

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