Sunday, February 9, 2014

10 surprising disco remakes of oldies hits by their original artists

If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you do it too? 

These artists said yes!

Today's Music Weird presents 10 entertaining (or discouraging) examples of oldies artists who updated their own hits in the disco era. 

Let's get the bandwagon rolling with... 

Frank Sinatra

Ol' Blue Eyes hit the dance floor in 1977 with his disco remake of "Night and Day":

The Lettermen

In 1976, the Lettermen reprised their first hit, "The Way You Look Tonight" from 1961, as a disco extravaganza beyond compare. It features not only wah-wah guitar and hyperactive high-hat cymbals, but also an interpolation of "Love American Style" and some sexy, breathless, Jane Birkin-style female vocals. Good stuff!

(By the way, Music Weird recently interviewed the Lettermen's Gary Pike.)

Frankie Avalon

Frankie Avalon, the co-star of all those beach movies with Annette Funicello, topped the adult contemporary chart in 1976 with a disco remake of his 1959 hit "Venus." Since more is better, here's the extended 12" version:

The Beach Boys

In 1979, the Beach Boys remade their 1967 song "Here Comes the Night" (from the album Wild Honey) as an 11-minute-long disco epic: 

Connie Francis

The disco craze brought Connie Francis out of hiding. In 1978, she returned with her first album in years, and it included this disco remake of her 1960 hit "Where the Boys Are":

Ethel Merman

This one was too easy. Ethel Merman cut an entire album of disco remakes of her old songs in 1979. Here's "I Get a Kick Out of You": 

Bobby Rydell

Music Weird did an entire post on Jesse Pearson from Bye Bye Birdie not too long ago. Bobby Rydell, another star of Bye Bye Birdie, remade his 1960 hits "Wild One" and "Sway" as disco funfests in 1976: 

Percy Faith

Easy listening maestro Percy Faith released this disco version of his classic instrumental "Theme from 'A Summer Place'" in 1976:

Grady Martin

There wasn't a lot of country disco out there in the '70s, but there was some. Sonny James sang "Kid Cisco" ("at the Mexican disco"), Bill Anderson cut some disco originals, Dolly Parton had one or two disco cuts, and Barbara Mandrell certainly looked disco. Even Grady Martin, the veteran Nashville session guitarist who played with Country Music Hall of Famers such as Marty Robbins and Red Foley, dabbled in disco. 

I wish that YouTube had a video for Grady Martin's 1977 instrumental disco remake of 
"(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" so you could experience the magic, but it doesn't. You'll just have to take my word for it. 

Note to Grady: Those lights in the sky aren't ghost riders—they're reflections from the disco ball. 

Bonus tracks: Al Martino

Traditional pop vocalist Al Martino jumped on the disco train too with a disco-fied "Volar√©" in 1975 and actually cracked the Top 40. This recording doesn't qualify as a remake because, although the song was previously a pop hit for other artists, Martino hadn't recorded it himself. Still, it's a shining example of the old guard slipping into a pair of sequined elevator sneakers and dancing the night away. You just have to wait 30 seconds for the disco fun to begin: 

The Kalin Twins

No audio unfortunately, but in 1980, Herbert and Harold Kalin released a disco version of their 1958 Top 5 hit "When"!

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