It's 1978 and disco is reaching a fever pitch, the Bee Gees rack up an entirely unprecedented amount of Billboard accolades, Chic claims their first overall number 1 record with 'Le Freak'. Amidst all of the glitz and glamour, the 28 year old disco devoted producer, Patrick Adams, released the seminal 'Phreek' project. Adams, already a seasoned arranger at this point, recruited a burgeoning cast of musicians and producers, most of whom he'd worked with in the past, to put the finishing touches on a quirky disco album with a futuristic album cover. The record wouldn't be a chart topper by any means, but would go on to be greatly influential in the world of dance music.
The album opens with a true anthem, Weekend, a song that could regularly be heard at the Paradise Garage, and would later be remixed by Larry Levan himself, outdoing the original in terms of commercial success. The original version was largely produced and arranged by Leroy Burgess and James Calloway, who left Black Ivory, a group known for their sweet and soulful ballads, a year prior to the albums release. Virtually starved for work, Burgess and Calloway's arrangement would soon be heard by Adams, who asked to include it on the album, after getting Christine Wiltshire to sing the main vocals. The song would go on to act as the first domino in Burgess and Calloway's up-tempo, dance music career. Nevertheless, I'd like to talk about a B side off the album though, as it can be easily overlooked due to the importance of songs like Weekend and I'm A Big Freak.
Have A Good Day makes for the perfect outro, not just for it's obvious lyrical themes, "be happy and gay / and have a good day", but also due to it's forward thinking arrangement. During the time when disco ruled the airwaves, it wasn't at all uncommon to have 20 or 30 different musicians on a single recording, usually boasting lavish horn & string arrangements, wild guitar solos, and a deep range of vocalists. Adams was well versed in this method of arrangement at this point, but having recently been given a great deal of creative freedom on Peter Brown's P&P Records, as well as starting his own production company, PAPMUS, he was more than happy to keep experimenting and pushing dance music to its creative limits.
Sonically, it's relatively minimal, but the groove is locked in and irresistible from the jump. Clean and almost mechanical drums start it out, they remain fairly rigid but provide the song with a solid foundation. Adams' beloved Minimoog is heard next, acting as the lead melody, bouncing and weaving through a mix of syncopated funk lines, to jazz leaning solos. Rhythm guitar is sparse and repetitive, with a mean fender bass arrangement that accompanies the soaring synth work. Finally, Venus Dodson's catchy, no frills, vocals add the finishing touch to this tune, making it the perfect precursor to the boogie sound that would come to define the early 80s.
Prolific wouldn't even begin to describe Adams' output after the albums release, from 1979 to 1982, he released 22 studio albums alone. His next couple of decades would see him collaborating with everyone from Eric B & Rakim, to Keith Sweet, Colonel Abrams and beyond. Phreek wasn't his first left field disco arrangement, and it certainly wasn't his last, but it's this sort of willingness to draw from a myriad of sounds and influences that made his work some of the most well respected dance music to this day. He seemed to always understand how to be commercially successful, but was more than comfortable going against the tried and true methods to create what he referred to as "non-disposable dance music".