Come Towards The Light, Cha Cha Cha
:: Enjoy Yourself Cha Cha ::
:: I Could Have Danced All Night Cha Cha ::
:: Moon Over Miami Cha Cha ::
:: C'est Magnifique Cha Cha ::
:: Jada Cha Cha ::
:: Night & Day Cha Cha ::
:: Green Eyes Cha Cha ::
:: Volare Cha Cha ::
:: Let's Fall In Love Cha Cha ::
:: Travel Now, Pay Next Year, Pleasure Cruise Cha Cha Cha ::
:: The Night Is Young Cha Cha ::
:: Charleston Cha Cha ::
It's kind of remarkable that we've been doing our thing for nearly two years, and we've never featured one of the most important figures in modern vinyl history. Well, until today. Enoch Light might nowadays be best known for his weird and groovy 1969 Moog album, Spaced Out, but back even further he had a very successful album on his own Command imprint called Persuasive Percussion, which spawned three additional volumes and a handful of similarly alliterlatively titled albums. This is one of those. Expounding on the formula that produced an earlier hit, "I Want To Be Happy Cha Cha," Light created this album consisting entirely of Cha Cha's, mostly old standards and show tunes, all transformed into ultra-percussive Latin dance numbers. There is one original tune, the awesomely titled "Travel Now, Pay Next Year, Pleasure Cruise Cha Cha Cha."
I made reference to Light being an important figure in vinyl history, and he truly was. He invented the gatefold, an innovation he came up with to insure he could fit the entirety of his elaborate liner notes for each album. A younger future generation found the gatefold useful for something else. He also was very interested in the stereo recording process, and as you can tell by listening to any of these tracks' opening seconds, the separation of stereo channels. The effect of starting out everything in just one channel is a bit jarring, especially after the sound information is cobbled down to mp3 form, but once everything kicks into full stereo it's very rich and nice indeed. In addition to the meticulous recording and production techniques (very dutifully covered in the gatefold's extensive liner notes,) Light's strengths as an arranger really show here. I love the way the Hammond organ is utilized; it doesn't dominate the songs or turn the album into the soundtrack from an ancient skating rink. Perhaps more importantly, it doesn't seem at all out of place next to all the cowbell, congas and guira; that couldn't have been an easy task.
There is a sameness to these songs that make a straight-through listen not for everyone, but each song has its own strong points and nuances, whether it be through the instrumentation or the style of song the original was. I'll tell you one thing, when I heard "C'est Magnifique" I instantly pictured Alvin & The Chipmunks in one of those situations where they are happily dancing with their sweeties and somehow ultimately Alvin and Theodore end up with unknowingly dancing with each other.