Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Apr 17th 2007 2:00PM by Gaylord Fields
'I Don't Know If It's Right,' Evelyn "Champagne" King
From 1977's 'Smooth Talk'
Back in the late '70s, when both Evelyn "Champagne" King and I were teenagers, you had to take sides -- at least in New York you did. The Bronx-born, Philly-raised King chose R&B/disco, I went the punk/New Wave route. But joining one tribe didn't take me out of earshot of what the other was up to, not in my NYC hometown. Fortunately, I could encounter soul and dance music in thumping, rhythmic abundance by just strolling down a Manhattan street, or even as the soundtrack for my home life courtesy of my siblings' radio choice, the local black-music stations WWRL and WBLS. That's when and how Miss King -- famous for pure disco like 1977's 'Shame' as well as more R&B-grounded fare like 1981's sublime 'Love Come Down' and the song I'm using this space to profess my freakin' love for -- became a guilty pleasure whom I later regarded as an unqualified pleasure.
The teenage divaette sings the Shinola out of 'I Don't Know If It's Right,' tricking it out with R&B vocal turns that a mere 17-year-old -- too young to legally drink the champagne in her own name -- shouldn't even possess, let alone master. And she brings it clean and hard, from the moment the needle hits the record's lip till it tracks around and around the inner groove: Try to resist, for example, the chorus' hook, where she melisma-fies the word "right," giving it 12 syllables while spanning a sick range of notes. She shows off her agile pipes and mature phrasing unfalteringly throughout the song, making a strong grab for that crown resting pretty on Chaka Khan's head, all atop a production that is 99 and 44/100% pure groove. Deservedly a hit single in 1979, it tided me over until New Wave and dance music somehow became kissin' cousins in the early '80s.
For sale or trade: one "Disco Sucks" T-shirt, size medium, only slightly worn.
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