Biddu Orchestra

Blue Eyed Soul

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Having already scored a major success as producer of Carl Douglas' 1974 disco novelty "Kung Fu Fighting," Biddu turned his attentions to his own material and debuted Blue Eyed Soul in 1975, a slick and smooth instrumental disco set that was sexy, understated, and deliciously rich -- richer than anyone probably expected. The depth of Biddu's vision has always been charged with intricate patterns, but this set brought exquisite orchestration into the mix as well, and Blue Eyed Soul emerged a marvel because of it. With the very first song setting the pace, Biddu blisters through eight more that are undoubtedly disco, with deep beats and giveaway guitars. But behind those markers lies something quite special. The title track is a surprisingly edgy exercise in strings and brass, its smooth surface hiding an unexpected rawness, while the bubbly "Northern Dancer" flips the intention, employing a rough vocal refrain over a melody that's effusively catchy to say the least. "Exodus" (not the Bob Marley song), on the other hand, proves to be a wonderfully hypnotic blend of both rough and smooth edges. Two further songs are of particular note. The title track brought Biddu his first solo foray onto the charts as the song cruised into the U.K. Top 20 in August, and followed stateside in November. With this hefty slab of lush disco behind him, Biddu turned the tables completely with the inclusion of the funk fusion spark "You Don't Stand a Chance if You Can't Dance," with vocals from Jimmy James & the Vagabonds. A nice piece of cross-marketing undoubtedly geared to win fans from both camps, this performance was also the title track for James' own 1975 album. There is no question that Biddu was producing some of the purest dance music of the time. And on this stunning debut, which falters only once or twice, he does so without pretense or gimmick. This is classical music for the clubber -- disco as it should have been constructed, but so rarely was.

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