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Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Sharon Redd Retrospective….IN THE NAME OF LOVE….

In honor of the gay pride festivities around the world I've decided to post this gem again.
It's been a few years since I started this blog and I can't remember if I've ever done a proper Sharon Redd retrospective.  It would only be right as Sharon is probably the disco diva I hold closest to my heart.  Hhmm why might you ask?  Well in reality most of the other disco diva's were kinda before my time.  As much as I loved them I was too young to go to clubs.  But by the time Sharon was churning them out I was in the clubs dancing away night after night.  And Sharon was often there too doing a public appearance. I've probably seen her live five times.  Perhaps also because she was from Norfolk and I was going to university in D.C.

She started as a back-up singer for Bette Midler also known as The Harlettes.  In 1978 she was on an album with two other gals Ula Hedwig and Charlotte Crossley billed as formerly the Harlettes.  Then she was part of a group of people led by Luther Vandross on the album Soiree along with Fonzi Thornton, Jocelyn Brown, Yvonne Lewis and again Ula Hedwig.  They did a gorgeous remake of You Keep me Hanging On among other cuts.  Then in 1979 still not getting top billing her voice was the magic behind Love Insurance (hot edit) a #1 disco hit for Front Page.  SHAZZY ZIP 1  SHAZZY ZIP 2
redd zip
By this point she was very much on my radar.  So when Can you Handle It came out in late 1980 I was ready for the full on occupation of this disco diva.  Then when the Shep Pettibone WKYS master mix came out New York City was all about Sharon Redd and Can you Handle it.  I'd venture to say that it was one of the most satisfying remixes of an already fabulous record that I had ever heard at that point.  The sassiness of the track was pumped up deeply and the clubs like The Paradise Garage and Zanzibar had found a major anthem for the season.  In the U.K. even the downtempo Love is Gonna Get You saw a twelve inch release.

Shep is still brining them joy on a dance floor thirty years later!  
The next album Redd Hott seemed much more geared towards the gay crowd.  Now Sharon was more of a Saint disco diva then Zanzibar but in any case she had her first #1 on the Billboard disco charts and the album had several huge dance-floor anthems including Never Give You Up, Beat the Street and In the Name of Love (particularly adored by the gay crowds and subject to many remixes).  In the U.K. even the downtempo Takin' a Chance on Love was released on twelve inch.  

The 1983 album Love How You Feel was sort of Sharon's last hurrah.  It featured hits like the title song, You're a Winner and Liar on the Wire but they just weren't as big as her earlier dance floor stompers.  
 Many of Sharon's remixes were done by the genius Francois Kevorkian.  No doubt increasing their appeal on dance floors worldwide.
Her last twelve inch single for Prelude Undercover Girl came out in 1985 and was not that great it was followed up by 1988's Second to None which was sort of a weak attempt to cash in on the then popular freestyle sound and it remains pretty obscure though not bad really.  The vocals are distinctly Sharon and Sharon can SANG!  
On May 1, 1992 she succumbed to A.I.D.S. and I remember really feeling really sad that day.   It had been a minute since I had heard any Sharon but she had held a special place in my heart as she does now.  I hope you enjoy the two zips I have provided.  They include most of her hits and quite a few more recent edits that have been going around.


Craig (Sydney) said...

Great retrospective Michael. I was a big fan of Sharon's since the late 70s and I finally got to meet her in 1990 when we were travelling through Europe. My partner and I followed her European and UK tour over the next 2 years and she used to call us her Angels when she saw us in the crowd. We became good friends. We were deeply saddened when she passed away but we are so grateful for her incredible music and her big heart and how she embraced two strangers from Australia during her last few years on Earth. Thanks again for the memories!

Michael Vinyl said...

Wow that's very cool. I'm sure she did appreciate you guys! I added another zip that I had forgotten to earlier. It's called redd....ENJOY.