Consumer Guide Album
Company Freak: Le Disco Social [OpusLabel/Superlatude, 2014]
You may not want to know that this could be the most intelligent disco album ever made, especially when I go on to amend that to "intellectual" on the grounds that most good music is intelligent one way or the other and usually both. But you must be told that the intellectual in charge is a Ph.D. named Jason King who's long been my boss at NYU's Clive Davis Department/Institute of Recorded Music--and who (now he tells me) studied voice before he went on to more abstruse pursuits. The idea is to reconstitute classic disco as a band music featuring divaweight vocalists--not the original heroines of a style now 35 years past its commercial prime, but their better-paid heirs, Broadway belters like Vivian Reed and Shayna Steele. "Company freak" meant "house hippie" in the biz's pre-disco days, but here, at least according to "Theme From Company Freak," it signifies five-day-week wage slaves whose only recourse is dancing. "Sexaholic" warns them that alcohol can freak your life, and not in the good way. "Do Ya Wanna Funk" is a Sylvester cover that's even more uplifting live. "Crackdown" deploys a cartoonish Bootsy voice to sing the 99 percent and the immigration that founded every nation. "Istanbul Disco" finds a groove in Muslim instrumentation. And "Andr? Leon Talley" escapes into fashion. Jason is quite a dresser.