First Choice ‘Hold Your Horses’ (BBR) 5/5

Disco is a much maligned and misunderstood term, yet for those who appreciate the history of dance music and its roots in the classic disco era of the 1970, one group stand out for their soulful harmonies and infectious beats and their name is First Choice. They recorded with the cream of studio musicians on the Gold Mine label affiliated to Salsoul, principally from MFSB aka the Salsoul Orchestra, and, in addition, had the notable production/remixing skills of one Tom Moulton who is a crucial figure in understanding the history of disco. This was the fifth album the trio of ladies recorded for Gold Mine and it is generally regarded as their best and with good reason. Clubland has continually gone back to sample the delights of First Choice and those not already familiar are in for a real treat. Side one of the original vinyl is the more varied with a distinctive piano hook and lush orchestrations characterising the uptempo ‘Let me down easy’ and this was simply the classiest from of disco music. Spanish flamenco guitar greets the listener on the opening of ‘Good morning midnight’ while there is a Euro disco feel to the tension building number ‘Great expectations’. However, it is on side two that the fun truly begins. The title track has a thumping bassline with percussion to match and it has long been a dance-floor favourite while ‘Love thang’ has all the feel of a boogie tune (the natural progression from classic disco) before the term was even coined. Best of all, though, is reserved for the final track on the album, ‘Double cross’ which is one of the subtlest dance-floor numbers ever recorded and features the Salsoul Orchestra in top form on combined brass and strings. For those in possession of either the original album, or even the first CD rendition, this superb edition wins hands down because it includes no less than seven bonus tracks of which no less than five are full-length 12″ versions in one way or another and feature some of the disco’s greatest remixers such as Walter Gibbons, Larry Levan and of course Tom Moulton. Little short of eighty minutes, this is fantastic value for money and in it’s own way a mini greatest hits album of sorts. A spaced out and pared down instrumentation version of ‘Let no man put asunder’ is the icing on the cake. Tim Stenhouse