Evelyn Thomas ‘Disco Recharge: ‘I Wanna Make It On My Own’ / ‘Have A Little Faith In Me’ (Harmless) 4/5

Better known for her later mid-1980s foray into Hi-NRG terrain, these two early albums capture a then debuting singer smack bang in the middle of the classic disco era and are a useful addition to her discography. The pairing of albums is noteworthy for the choice of producer in Ian Levine who is a legendary figure on the northern soul scene and at least some of the songs here are performed at a tempo that northern soul fans would feel instantly at home with. Rewind in time to 1975 when flared trouser and wedges were the norm and judging by hair length or style alone, it was difficult to distinguish between boy or girl.

The first album, which dates from the aforementioned year, is typical of its time in that it borrows from the then in-vogue strings and horns of the Philadelphia International sound and the title track opener fits perfectly into that mould with a catchy chorus hook. For a budding disco diva, Thomas offers some surprisingly soulful sounds on the mid-tempo ‘Look no further’ which is arguably the strongest cut on the album and the nice subtle touch of a clavinet and this combines ideally with brass and strings. For northern and even modern soul devotees, ‘It’s the magic of your touch’ which will appeal and this song is dressed up in layers of smooth strings.

A second album from 1978, this time on the prestigious Casablanca label that in the same year released the likes of Donna Summer’s ‘Last dance’, Love and Kisses ‘How much, how much I love you’ as well as the soundtrack to ‘Thanks God it’s Friday’, pretty much repeats the formula, though with a few differences in line-up. The album is a fascinating end of era document in production technique with one side on the original vinyl being recorded in the UK with Evelyn Thomas cutting her vocals in Chicago and side two being an extended version of songs that segue into one another and as such will prove to be dancers delight. It is the title track which is the strongest song and once again use the trusted Philly groove as its template. Three bonus cuts are added with ‘Sleaze’ the most attractive and has a lengthy percussive Latin intro that will impress and by Evelyn Thomas’ standards is a relatively downtempo number and typical of the tempo that DJs in the 1970s would play from a set in the very early hours of the morning. Once again expertly packaged and a welcome re-issue from a label that prides itself on introducing the choicest of classic dance music to the widest possible audience.

Tim Stenhouse