France Joli – A quick look at Canada´s premiere Disco Diva

12 Comments

My last post on this site dealt with some fabulous disco records – all made in 1979. They were all more or less obscure one-off releases by some now forgotten acts and one by a never-to-be-forgotten-ex-Supremes diva, Mary Wilson.

Another great record appeared that same year, a single called “Come To Me”. I bought the single, performed by a beautiful young girl called France Joli. The song starts out with a ballad intro, then picks up steam and turns into a disco extravaganza. When I bought her debut album, “France Joli” I was happy to find a much more complete (i.e. longer) version of the song on it, lasting close to 10 minutes. Followed by the next song, “Let Go” which is almost the same length, I was dancing around the room and I was definetely an instant fan of this Canadian singer – who was all of 15 when this album was made! The album consists of only four songs, all made for dancing – and totally perfect for 1979!

F01

The first album, “France Joli” (1979)

 

Producer Tony Green (born as Antonio Di Verdis-Mazzone) had to strike while the iron was hot, and 1980 saw the release of another album, “Tonight“. Putting the ballad “This Time (I´m Giving All I Got)” out as the first single proved a wrong move, so more danceable stuff were put on the next singles; “Feel Like Dancing” and “The Heart To Break The Heart”.

Tony Green + F + Gene Leone 1979

Tony Green, France Joli and Gene Leone in 1979

 

Luckily, these last two songs confirmed that France was indeed a force to be reckoned with if you wanted to dance in the late 70´s.

F02

Her second album, “Tonight” (1980)

 

Her third album for Prelude Records, 1981´s “Now!” saw a slight shift in musical directions for France. Turning down the tempo a couple of notches, this record is a much more urban contemporary affair, and a style that suits Miss Joli´s smooth, silky, but still strong voice. My personal favourites from this album are “Gonna Get Over You” and “Can We Fall In Love Again”.

F03

Third album, “Now!” (1981)

 

When France Joli switched labels in 1983, from Prelude to Epic, I was certainly not prepared for the musical change that also took place. The album “Attitude” shows a completely new France, and even as great as she had been up to this point – she gets even better here! Ditching the disco sound completely, France works with Pete Bellotte and Giorgio Moroder and they created an absolutely stunning concoction of radio ready rock with a slice of synth pop and just a tiny bit disco. France herself sings in a new way too, showing off that she is one terrific singer – as she slides effortlessly over the fast paced rhythms, heavy drum machines and guitar solos. She also wraps her silky pipes around some really juicy lyrics, done in tongue twisting tempos.

F04

Fourth album “Attitude” (1983) – you didn´t see this one coming!

If comparable to anything else released in 1983, it has to be the albums Teri Tims and Tane Cain put out around the same time. These three albums by these three different singers form a category all their own, it might be labeled AOR – but it´s not quite that either. “Attitude” will forever stand as France Joli´s crowning achievement, and I consider it one of the best albums of the 1980s! Standout tracks are: “Nasty Love”, “Dumb Blonde”, “Girl In The 80s”, “Walking Into A Heartache” and “Standing In The Shadows Of Love”. If you want to own just one France Joli album – get this one!

1984 saw France participating at the Yamaha Music Festival in Japan, and she won the Grand Prix for her song “Party Lights”. That is no surprise as the George Duke-produced track is a stunner. He also produced her fifth and final album, “Witch Of Love” (1985). In addition to her Japanese winning entry, the albums opening track “Does He Dance” was put out on a single and gained some attention in the clubs. On this album France does one of her very few ballad performances, a beautiful version of Snow/Weils “Love Always Finds A Way”.

F05

The fifth of France, “Witch Of Love” (1985)

 

During the last 30 years, France Joli has done very little recording but a lot of live performing. She is an ever popular singer, appearing at festivals and disco shows to an always appreciative audience.

Her career may be based on her 1979 hit “Come To Me” – but the few years she spent making albums has left us with a portrait of an artist who deserves to be considered as much more than a “70s Disco Diva”. Personally, I am sorry she didn´t make more albums, as she had potential to be something much greater, judging from her 80s albums. One can always hope that some producer will re-discover her, and get her back into the studios! Talent always wills out in the end….

My personal thanks to the “tres jolie” Miss Joli, vive la France!

 

F 2015

France in the 2010s, on stage doing a fabulous show for the audience

 

 

 

Three unknown masterpieces from 1979….

Leave a comment

Back in 1979, disco was still popular – and a lot of great albums came out during disco’s heyday. Some by famous artists who were either true “disco stars” or albums by singers from other fields of music who just jumped on the disco wagon for a shorter time span. Then there were some great records released by singers or groups about whom nothing much is known – but that doesn’t take the focus away from the fact that their albums were great and still sound fresh and exciting today! I will give you a closer look into my three favourite albums from the glorious disco year 1979!

 

Barbara Law – “Take All Of Me”

The album "Take All Of Me" by Barbara Law

The album “Take All Of Me” by Barbara Law

I know absolutely nothing about Barbara Law, but this great record was recorded in Canada – so she might be Canadian…. Whether she has made any other records is hard to say, not much information about Miss Law to be found on the internet. But at least she made this great album! As far as I know this collection has never been released on CD, but if you search long enough, you will find a digital version (made from the original LP).

The title track is by far the best thing on offer here, seven and a half-minute of true disco heaven (even if the lyrics don’t do much for women’s liberation!) Barbara Law has a smoky, sensual voice that sounds a little strained at times – but that gives her a special edge. “On My Own Again” is the only ballad here, but it proves that she is a more than competent singer, and that makes me wonder why she didn’t record more… The other 6 songs are of the upbeat disco/pop variety, and they are all good. All in all – this album is one of (disco)musics most obscure treasures, but well worth searching out! If any of my readers can supply me with som additional information on Barbara Law, please write me!!

 

The Raes – “Dancing Up A Storm”

The Raes were indeed "Dancing Up A Storm" in 1979

The Raes were indeed “Dancing Up A Storm” in 1979

This Canada-based duo made another one of the most exciting albums of 1979 – led off by the incredibly infectious hit single “A Little Lovin’ (Keeps The Doctor Away)”. The whole album is very good, even their disco remake of Supertramps “School“. This album is another one way overdue for CD-release, and like the Barbara Law album, you can find digital versions that have been made from the original LP. As far as I have been able to find out, this was the second of three albums made by the Raes. The rest of their history, you can read HERE.

 

Mary Wilson – “Mary Wilson”

Ex-Supreme Mary Wilson, solo album from 1979

Ex-Supreme Mary Wilson, solo album from 1979

Maybe the greatest injustice in the history of music, is the fact that Mary Wilson’s great 1979 album has never been put out on CD! She started out in the Primettes in 1959, then was the only constant member of the Supremes until they disbanded in 1977. Diana Ross was always front and center of the Supremes, but on several of their many great albums, Mary Wilson gets the chance to shine as well – so this was not the first time music lovers got the hear her dark, honeyed tones, but this was the first time SHE was front and center on an album!

Not a typical disco record, this one is a little more funky and soulful than a lot of the other stuff that came out in 1979. But tracks like (her first solo single) “Red Hot“, its B-side “Midnight Dancer” and “I’ve Got What You Need” will no doubt make you dance! Through the seven great songs here, Mary Wilson proves that she is more than talented enough to be a solo star. However, record companies never seemed to be very interested, and her next two singles (“Don’t Get Mad, Get Even” and “Ooh Child“) were both recorded in England for Ian Levine’s Nightmare label… This album laid the foundation for what should have been an illustrious solo career – but during the last 25 years, Mary Wilson has recorded only sporadically, and when she did – it was for smaller labels that offered little promotion…

There! A short survey on three of my all time favourite albums! If you have anything to add to these short musings, please let me know! If you already own these records – I guess it is because you enjoy them as much as I have through the last 37 years….

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: