For sheer quantity of iconic dance music released, there are few record labels that can top Salsoul Records. Between its founding in 1974 to its dissolution ten years later, the New York–based label introduced so much of the classic disco canon that it can be difficult to keep track of just how many landmark tunes it was responsible for. Read on for a few great ways to remind yourself and get familiar with the legacy.
Click here to enter the contest
On August 6, Mobile Mondays!, Salsoul, and RBMA Radio are partnering up to bring a classic NYC dance experience to Summerstage 2014 at the East River Park Bandshell in Lower Manhattan. The evening will feature performances by boogaloo godfather and coiner of the term “Salsoul,” Joe Bataan, three-piece female disco group First Choice, Salsoul ambassadors Double Exposure, ’70s disco wonder Instant Funk, vocalist craftswoman Carol Williams and the Ladies of Skyy. Check out the Facebook invite.
Later that night, the party continues with the Mobile Mondays All-Stars DJ crew at the Hotel Chantelle.
Fraternity Music Group and Salsoul will also be issuing a special 7-inch single containing two of the biggest breakbeats to originate on the label, Instant Funk’s “The Funk Is On” and Gaz’s “Sing Sing.”
Those outside of New York City, don’t despair, because U.K. label Big Break Records has been steadily reissuing many of the best Salsoul titles in expanded, remastered, and generally top quality packages. Wax Poetics is proud to be partnering with BBR to offer our faithful readers a chance to win several handpicked releases, chosen by the Wax Poetics editors to represent the finest of the Salsoul stable.
Joe Bataan’s 1974 LP Salsoul was ironically not on the eponymous label at all. Bataan coined the title to signal his breakaway from Fania Records and the explicit combination of Latin rhythms with Black R&B he was formulating. Buoyed by strong performance of the two singles “Latin Strut” and “Aftershower Funk,” the LP did well enough that its financiers, the entrepreneurial Cayre brothers, would immediately inaugurate a new label to exploit this new avenue of dance music. That label was Salsoul.
The Salsoul Orchestra was admittedly inspired by MFSB, the group responsible for the Philly Sound that ruled early discos via the Philadelphia International label and artists like the O’Jays, Billy Paul, and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. In fact, the Salsoul Orchestra actually used many of the same session players, augmented by more extensive Latin percussion and the prominent placement of bandleader Vince Montana’s vibes. Their first album remains a powerhouse of funky disco, from the relentless “Salsoul Rainbow” and “Salsoul Hustle,” cuts that were enormous at the time and made sure the Salsoul term was embedded in dancers’ minds, to “Chicago Bus Stop” and “You’re Just the Right Size”—funky rewrites of Philly International jams “Love Is the Message” and “Do It Anyway You Wanna,” respectively.
The Salsoul Orchestra’s Getaway LP contains one of their signature tunes and one of the most beloved disco classics, “Runaway.” The soaring vocal by Loleatta Holloway is still heard echoing from clubs around the world, usually accompanied by crowds blissfully singing along. Other highlights are the group’s cover of Earth Wind & Fire’s hard-edged “Getaway” and the funky rare groove workout “Journey to Phoebus.” BBR demonstrates their bona-fides on their reissue by including Danny Krivit’s expertly extended edit of “Runaway” and the Walter Gibbons “Magic Bird of Fire” remix from the Disco Madness LP, notorious as one of the most avant-garde mixes of its day.
Loleatta Holloway is a powerhouse vocalist who stands out even in the upper echelons of that diva-filled realm. She debuted on the Salsoul subsidiary Gold Mind with two strong singles, “Dreamin’” and the down and dirty “Hit and Run.” A third single, “We’re Getting Stronger Together,” had enough juice that thirty years later it was lifted wholesale for Whitney Houston’s last great hit, “Million Dollar Bill.” Holloway’s output for Gold Mind/Salsoul remained on a consistently high level through the early ’80s, and included monster club anthems like “Love Sensation” and “Relight My Fire” (with Dan Hartman). BBR’s two-disc Holloway anthology touches all the bases and includes a booklet of reminiscences on the sadly departed icon from folks like Tom Moulton, Bobby Womack, and Patrick Adams.
We’ve chosen BBR’s Skyyhigh: The Skyy Anthology to represent the later era of Salsoul. Produced by Randy Muller at the peak of his creative powers, Skyy was a Brooklyn-based band who perfectly embodied the archetypal sassy female New Yorker and her slick male counterpart in a style of irresistible, smart, modern funk that would later come to be known as “boogie.” The two-disc set begins with the space disco nugget “First Time Around” (synth lasers galore), and touches on massive cuts like “High,” “Call Me,” “Let’s Celebrate,” and the absolute perfection of “Here’s to You,” while also including under the radar favorites like “Superlove,” “Get into the Beat,” and the breakbeat teaser “No Music.”
Five different lucky winners will receive one of these releases, but there is much more to choose from on the Big Break Records site, who have no plans to stop putting out deluxe packages of the finest Salsoul material as well as other choice gems from the golden era of disco and modern soul.
Click here to enter the contest.
For those in the New York area, the riverside party on the evening of August 6th promises to be as funky a good time as they come, and a rare chance to see some of the original Salsoul artists in person.
Read Randy Muller’s “12×12”
Read Oliver Wang’s interview with Joe Bataan