Silver Convention ‘Summer Nights’ (BBR) 3/5

silver-conventionEuro disco is a taste at the best of times and one might immediately conjure up its poppier manifestations such as Boney M and Baccara. However, Munich was also the birthplace of Giorgio Moroder’s production genius and at precisely the same time as ‘I feel love’ was being constructed, studio group Silver Convention were ruling the airwaves in Germany and reaching across the pond to the States which was in a heavily discofied mood. As with many female disco groups of the era, appearances could be deceptive and in this case the English-speaking pseudonyms were a disguise for very German names. That said, along the way a new member, Rhonda Heath, would join and add a new soulfulness to the vocals and the trio became a duo. The album dates from 1977 and comes after the initial group hit, ‘Fly Robin Fly’ from 1975 which actually became a top one hundred US pop hit, no mean feat, and was a major success at the Gallery disco with DJ Nicky Siano. Another 45, ‘Save Me’ featured a prominent bass line with a proto Motown rhythm and this became a Silver Convention trademark under the joint production talents of German duo Michael Kunze and Silvester Levay on the Midland International label. A final single prior to the 1977 album surfaced in 1976 with ‘Get up and boogie (that’s right)’. it is a pity that the aforementioned singles could not have been included here for it would have made for a far more cohesive package and a de facto greatest hits release. In their absence, there is nonetheless a good deal to admire and by far the strongest of the new releases on offer is ‘Telegram’ which is more soulful in tone from the rest and comes across as a Three Degrees from their Philly period soundalike. The harmonies are excellent and this was clearly aimed at the wider mass market audience. This writer’s personal favourite is ‘Ain’t it like a Hollywood Movie’ that has beefed up percussion, restrained strings (in other places a little too prominent) and soulful harmonies. This could easily be confused for a classic Salsoul release from the same era. Less convincing and now sounding a tad dated is ‘Hot Shot’ which has swirling strings, wah-wah guitar and echoey sounding vocals. A better A-side would have been ‘Save me’ which has a Motownesque piano vamp and bass line. All in all, a worthy re-issue, but one that the listener dips into and selects rather than listening to the whole.

Tim Stenhouse