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Camouflage Feat Mysti & Showdown Feat Sampson (2 LPs on one CD)
Nº of Discs:
FTG Records UK
very small quantity of these available
Having initially used the name on their 1976 release on Roullette Records, "You've Got The Power", producers Meco Monardo, Tony Bongiovi and Jay Ellis (a/k/a DCA Productions), opened their own label in 1977 HONEY BEE RECORDS. Which was to be distributed by PRELUDE RECORDS. (I know... Prelude's history starts pretty long before most of us want to remember) I know that those names which were responsible for Gloria Gaynor's "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "Experience" LPs, between 1 and 2 years prior, very-well made anyone who was paying any attention to sit-up and take notice. If you take the Philly sound out-of-the-mix; DCA Productions was the 1st outfit to take a good-hold of the American Disco scene. Giving the entire genre a definitive starting point from which to grow.
But something happened... Very shortly after it surfaced, HONEY BEE RECORDS disappeared. With not even so-much-as a rumored explanation. It just kinda happened... Then it was gone. (yes, Meco... people like myself and every DJ I knew, noticed it and were sad that it was over...) But in that 1, lone year, the boys kicked out 2 great LPs and several great 45s. Providing different sides to the DCA production team's sound.
First up: "A Disco Symphony" by CAMOUFLAGE featuring MYSTI (HB 24001)
Granted, the side-long, kickoff track; "A Disco Symphony / MacArthur Park", cuts it's dance-floor future to ribbons, by dropping the bpms from 127, to 104, smack dab in the middle of the side. But, for anyone who "got it", it's also one the grandest, most beautiful pieces of American Disco music, ever. When that BIG finish comes up (Harold Wheeler is a genius!) and those chords from "Rhapsody In Blue" come bangin' through the speakers ... I STILL get goose-bumps. Drop whatever I'm doing and rush to be in the "sweet spot" for my stereo. As if I weren't capable of picking-up the needle and starting it again. Not for any reason outside of: I have to hear it, because the goose-bumps feel great. And it's a creative moment in Disco music that I truly respect. (attn: Wheeler fans... Get your copy of "The Wizard Of Oz" lp, by MECO and give a good listen to "The Reprise", on side 2. If you're not moved by it... something's very wrong!)
Then comes "Take A Ride", which is one of the greatest down-tempo grooves, ever recorded! (think: After-Hours dancing till the sun comes up.) This song is indescribably beautiful. And manages to run the same 2 melody lines for over 9 minutes, at 86bpm!!! All without sounding repetitive. Although this was the b-side to the UK 12" of "Bee Sting", the full version of "Take A Ride" can only be found on the LP.
"Bee Sting" was the 1st horse out-the-gate for HONEY BEE RECORDS. Of the entire, 3-track LP, "Bee Sting" was the most aggressive Disco track. And, although I feel it's the least creative track, it's sound reminds me of some legendary TK stuff. And should have gone a lot further than it did. Was it the lack of promotion? Or just the Disco sound, itself, making a sharp left turn...? And no, contrary to record-pool rumors "Mysti" was not Gloria Gaynor. She was noted studio vocalist Sondra Simon who had performed (with her Sisters) as the Atco label act Simon Said, another early DCA production.
Next up: "Showdown" by SHOWDOWN featuring SAMPSON (HB24002)
Most noticeably, Harold Wheeler's not involved in this release. So the whole LP takes a decidedly funkier path. Even with it's opening track, another version of the Andrea True Connection's "What's Your Name (What's Your Number)". But even having vocals provided by established recording artists; The Jive Five, doesn't save the release from falling into obscurity.
Thankfully, MECO is on board as Arranger for 3 tracks. Hence, those all have a decidedly higher energy-level. Not to mention that the LP's last track is "Let's Make A Deal", which was the title track for Gloria Gaynor's LP of the same year. (The DCA guys were really firing on all 12 cylinders, for over 3 years by now!) And though I prefer Gloria's version, Showdown's version is mixed from a totally different angle. And I'm not sure if both recordings were from the same musical session. But I am glad to hear Showdown focus much more heavily upon the guitar track (performed on both LP's by Lance Quinn).
Then... as quietly as it had appeared... HONEY BEE RECORDS was gone.
Stephen L. Freeman
dis oui musique