The Salsoul Orchestra – How High (1979)

frontThe Salsoul Orchestra was the backing band of session musicians for many acts on New York City label, Salsoul Records and, under its own name, recorded several hit singles and albums between 1975 and 1982.
Disco orchestras were synonymous with the Seventies. The earliest and most examples of them came from Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra and M.F.S.B who both had chart topping hits and a slew of albums and singles with varying degrees of success on both the pop and disco charts. Later in the decade, acts like John Davis and the Monster Orchestra and the Rice and Beans Orchestra wouldn’t trouble the pop charts so much but would be massive in the clubs. The Salsoul Orchestra surfaced smack dab in the middle of the 1970’s and their first album, “Magic Journey” spent a whopping 46 weeks on the charts. With a string of memorable, string drenched funky hits like “Tangerine”, “You’re Just The Right Size”, “Dance A Little Bit Closer” with cuchi-cuchi Latin diva Charo, they were the cream of the crop of some of the best musicians around. But by the time 1979 arrived the disco landscape had changed and both of the albums the Salsoul Orchestra released that year –the terrific “Street Sense”, and “How High” – failed to chart. It pains me to say that “How High” is not their best album. The title tune is not memorable and is much more laidback than a title tune should be, and actually would be more at home on a mellow Sunday morning after party than in a club. “Have A Good Time” is up next and it’s “disco is here to stay” lyric fails to acknowledge that in the USA at least, disco was on it’s sad way out. It’s also a pretty bland song that doesn’t do much for me. “My Numbers Up” is better because it’s such a happy tune and full of relentless beats per minute drumming, great backing and joyous vocals…and of course the strings fill it with a happy vibe – one of the best tracks on the album. “I’ll Keep You Warm” is schmaltzy disco but it is pretty cool and features that same bass technique heard on Bunny Sigler’s “By The Way You Dance” that came out the same year. Next is my favourite track, “Resorts International”, an over the top glitzy affair that shows the Orchestra still had it in them to make great music…camp fun, fast paced, great! “Stop and Think” is a ballad that is pleasant but you would think by the year it came out would have sounded dated. The bonus tracks include the Larry Levan mix of “How High” which is marginally better than the original, a ballad “Nothing Can Change This Love” that doesn’t do much for me, and finishes with the excellent instrumental version of “Catch Me On The Rebound”, which still retains some of Loleatta Holloway’s screams and is an awesome bonus track on here. Artwork wise, it’s rather appealing in a cheesy kind of way, but pretty disco. The liner notes are informative to a point, though I suppose there is only so much you can say about an album that wasn’t really a success. So in summing up, for me it is a good album, but not great, but worth it for “Resorts International”, “Catch Me On The Rebound” and “My…

Tracklist

1. How High  (6:13)
Vocals – Cognac
Written-By, Producer – Colin Horton Jennings*, Steve O’Donnell

2. Have A Good Time  (4:49)
Written-By, Producer – Ron Baker

3. My Number’s Up  (7:47)
Arranged By – Lenny Pakula
Mixed By – Tee Scott
Producer – Bunny Sigler
Written-By – Jimmy Sigler

4. I’ll Keep You Warm  (7:28)
Arranged By – Larry Davis
Producer – Bunny Sigler
Written-By – Bunny Sigler, Dennis Richardson, Larry Davis

5. Resorts International  (5:59)
Arranged By – Lenny Pakula
Producer – Bunny Sigler
Written-By – Bunny Sigler, Jimmy Sigler

6. Stop And Think  (5:56)
Producer – Ron Tyson
Written-By – Edward Moore, Ron Tyson

Credits

Notes

Recorded & Mixed at Sigma Sound Studios, Blank Tape Studios, Trident Sound
Mastered at Sterling Sound, Inc.
℗ & © 1978 Salsoul Records Corporation
Genre: Funk / Soul
Style: Disco
Length: 38:26Label – Salsoul Records

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