The Don Neal Collection - Dixie to Disco Dancin'
Here's a private press nugget recorded somewhere around 1977 at the prized Uncle Dirty's Sound Machine in Kalamazoo, MI. Like the other stuff I've heard from there, it is expertly recorded, and just a little wacky.
The Collection was a local lounge band with a wide repertoire. As the title suggests, they do go from Dixie(-land jazz, not country music) to disco. The band is more versatile than nimble, though, and there is a real and enduring amateurish vibe going on here. In particular, the horn section seems to sneak up on notes, sometimes missing by a fair amount.
There are two things that really sell this one for me, though. The first is the total Tony Clifton shtick of the singer. For those of you with short memories, Tony was the lounge club singer that used to open for Andy Kaufman's comedy act. He was a crooner and a ladies man, bracingly unfunky, and crushingly insincere. This singer has that character nailed. Try their version of After the Lovin' if you don't believe me.
Did I mention unfunky? You've got to hear the versions of Sir Duke and Night Fever to believe them. Easily the craziest mash up of midwest lounge jazz and black dance music ever made. These tracks will make your next party the social event of the season.
There's a subtle and incongruent Four Freshmen thing that sneaks in from time to time. In fact, they somehow managed to get an endorsement from one of the freshmen on the back cover. I wonder if the guy managed to listen to the album first.
Alert: a couple of the tracks on here (Glenn Miller Medley, I mean you!) cross a line into transcendently bad. If that's not your scene, you might want to ride the skip button. In fact, you might want to start with side two to get into the flow of the thing.
glenn miller medley
rock n roll medley
after the lovin
it’s a blue world
how deep is your love