You, me, the music, and me.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

MECO Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk

Millenium MNLP 8001-V (1977)

I picked this one up on Labour Day of this year at a flea market in uptown Saint John. The guy originally wanted forty dollars, but was willing to part with it for twenty; I think I bargained him down to fourteen. In collector's terms, I don't think it's worth that much (even though it's in great shape) but I felt it calling to me, saying, "Buy me! Buy meeee! I am your nostalgic memories of childhooooooood!" See, back in 1977 or thereabouts, I remember having to choose between buying this album or another one by Meco at Zellers. The one I got (for 99 cents) was called Encounters of Every Kind, which was an "interpretation" of the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (and which seems to have gone missing from my collection over the years). I guess I must have had a slight preference for that movie over Star Wars, or maybe I just thought the cover looked cooler. Anyway, I always wondered what this one sounded like until now.

Domenico "Meco" Monardo was a producer and arranger from Pennsylvania who had some success at the dawn of the disco era producing hits for Gloria Gaynor and Carol Douglas. As legend has it, he saw Star Wars on its opening day and was so impressed by it that he went four more times on the second day and again on the weekend. He began to imagine what a disco version of the score would sound like, and in just three weeks, this album was recorded. A single released from the record went on to outsell the album of the original score by John Williams, and Meco was nominated for a Grammy as "Best Instrumental Pop Performer" (which he lost... to John Williams).

Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk is divided into two sections. Side one is a medley of musical themes such as "Imperial Attack" and "The Land of the Sand People" played over a disco beat, Hooked-on-Classics style. Williams' original score for Star Wars was recently awarded first place on the American Film Institute's list of top film scores of all time (his name appears only once on this album, in a credit on the label) and his horn-and-string-heavy melodies adapt themselves pretty well to a disco beat (especially "Cantina Band"). Side two is made up of three tracks entitled "Other", "Galactic", and "Funk" that sound like "Rockit"-era Herbie Hancock leading a marching band drumline. It's an interesting, original sound that no one today seems to have picked up on or developed; too bad. (There even seems to be some record-scratching going on, probably one of the earliest examples of this technique on record.)

Monardo continues to record to this day; his latest effort is titled (surprise!) Star Wars Party. Many of his recordings have been reissued on CD, including this one, and others can be tracked down on eBay or at your favourite flea market. Click here for a discography, and may the Fo... uh, I mean, good luck.

(note - album track does not include character voices heard in video)


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