Boris Midney ‘Disco Recharge: ‘Companion’/’Double Discovery’ 2 CD (Harmless) 4/5


Russian born producer, arranger and jazz trumpeter Boris Midney is one of the more unusual converts to the disco idiom. He was conservatory trained in his native country with both parents being professional musicians. However, he did not want to remain under Communist rule with its restrictions on individual freedom and instead defected to the USA via Tokyo. Thereafter he made his name as one of the principal musical architects of what has come to be called symphonic disco. This was typified by the USA-European Connection sound which hits the dancefloors in the mid-1970s. This latest re-issue in the truly excellent and pioneering Disco Recharge series takes us five years forward to 1981 when disco was officially dead with the ‘Disco Sucks’ campaign having succeeded in taking the genre off the main pop charts. Those in the know knew better, however, and so captivating a music form simply changed its name into a plethora of sub-genres and went underground where it has thrived ever since. This is where the album ‘Companion’ comes into the equation. Originally released on the French Barclay label in 1981 and now a rare original on vinyl, it featured some of the trademark Midney classy arrangements, but given an early 1980s makeover with a synth undercurrent that is not unlike that found on the Gary’s Gang singles. Key numbers include ‘There’s a way’ which has a pared down feel and is in fact a reworking of a song from the second USA-European Connection album, ‘There’s a way into my heart’. The 12″ take on ‘Living up to love’ is included with its lengthy piano intro as is the extended version of ‘Step on out’. Some might argue convincingly that this form of disco lacked in soulfulness and in comparison to artists on the Prelude label such as Loleatta Holloway, First Choice and Double Exposure maybe they have a case, but then Midney was carving out his own distinctive sound.

The second CD brings together the disparate elements of the various projects that Boris Midney was involved in at the time and crucially features one of his most endearing and beloved disco anthems, ‘D-D-D-Dance’ by Double Discovery available here in five separate versions. For something slightly different, the mid-paced ‘Thanks for loving me’ has become a rare groove collectable and is as soulful as Midney ever got. Three takes on ‘Can’t he find another one’ make CD2 a DJ’s delight. Excellent inner sleeve notes by disco musicologist Alan Jones and as ever immaculate presentation both visually and in terms of essential vinyl details.

Tim Stenhouse