DESMOND CHILD & ROUGEÂ “Our Love Is Insane”Â b/wÂ “City In Heat” (Capitol Records #4669, 1978)
I was never one of those “Disco Sucks” guys.Â In fact, disco pretty much freaked me out and blew me away from the beginning, before the genre even had a name.Â George McRae’s super-sexy and shimmering “Rock Your Baby”…was it soul?Â Funk?Â Pop?Â Or was it such a smash that it didn’t even matter?Â On a daily basis, Merv Griffin brought the most inventive and outlandish disco acts of the ’70’sÂ into suburban American living roomsÂ via his afternoon syndicated chat show.Â Among them were The Village People, Chic, Grace Jones, Sylvester and the unforgettable Donna Summer, whoseÂ operatic moans coupled with Giorgio Moroder’s pulsating European synthesizersÂ propelledÂ popular music into the techno-sexual stratosphere,Â never to fully recover.Â By this time, disco was (and still is), like it or not, an indelible part of the American landscape.
Trolling for obscure new wave importsÂ in a little restroom-sized headshop called Grooves, I stumbled upon this pug-fugly slab of vomit-swirled purple vinyl by Desmond Child & Rouge.Â I had never heard of them, but this record looked so disgusting (like a baby had puked up a messy mixÂ of grape sherbet, blood and charcoal) that I just couldn’t resist.Â I had seen colored vinyl before, even owned a few pieces of see-thru plastic, and picture-discs were popular then amongst collectors, but Lord Almighty. Â I’d never encountered anything this revolting that didn’t require a mop and lots of Pine-Sol.Â Sold!
From the opening bass-&-kick-drum punch on the first listen, it was very clear that “Our Love Is Insane” was not going to be theÂ slick, glossy, overproducedÂ kind of disco then cluttering up the post-Saturday Night Fever airwaves.Â This wasÂ grittier, more underground and more urban in nature.Â This was a foreshadowing of the dance-rock about to come.Â This was the future.
The hot, pounding rhythm sectionÂ and hard-rock guitars lay a nice rough bed for the intertwining, cascading vocals of the Rouge girls, who ooze a veryÂ natural, classy, liberated New York sexiness that I just don’t see anywhere anymore.Â Â “Insane” never significantly charted, but became a considerableÂ club smash.Â Within weeks, more rock acts were allowing disco rhythms to creep into their repertoires, and more disco acts were beefing up the guitars and sneaking in a little more rock.Â Â Soon Donna Summer herself would score big with the one-two punch of “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff,”Â which both sound eerily close to this track.Â On the streets of New York, rock drum patterns and disco basslines were beingÂ rapped over in the Bronx, and a young Madonna was planning her attack down on theÂ LES.Â Let the ’80’s begin.
On the flipside, “City In Heat” provides a heavy swirl of hard guitars, piano, bongos and jazzy vocal scatting that ebbs downward and builds back up to staccato crescendos.Â Perfect soundtrack music for an episode ofÂ Starsky & Hutch or S.W.A.T., but not the unique barn-burner the A-side proved to be.Â That’s OK, though;Â they can’t all be winners.
“Winner” is, however, a word that can easily be applied to Desmond Child.Â After a 2nd Capitol LP with Rouge, Child embarked on a songwriting career that singlehandedly leaves most others in the dust.Â You can find a stunning (and ever-growing)Â list of his hit credits here, and you can see, hear and learn more at his website, but chances are you probably have a Child-penned song running through your head at any given moment.
NEXT WEEK: Your head is shaking and your arms are shaking and your feet are shaking because the Earth is shaking.