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Four Faces of Disco Americana

Few singer/songwriters presented a critical view of sexual mores during the 1970s disco era like disco icon D.C.LaRue whose best-known club hit “Ca-the-drals” had first appropriated the scene in June 1976.  Moving out of the gay disco environment where the track first broke, it became one of the most danceable records of the year throughout the world. Superficially condemning the loose seventies way of conducting relationships through promiscuous sexual activity lyrically, it's pumping bass and shimmering sexy vocals only emphasized the picture of sexually dominant lifestyles.  

LaRue was born David Charles L’Heureux on April 26, 1949 in New Haven, Connecticut.  After studying graphic design at college, he entered the record industry as an album sleeve designer working for recording artists that included John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Ten Wheel Drive, Jim Croce, John Sebastian and Janis IanLaRue saw design as a way of getting into the industry through the back door—his ambition had always been to become a singer.  His album graphic design work won him two prestigious Paul Revere Awards before his deciding to take the giant step into the disco limelight by signing a recording agreement with Pyramid Records.

"Ca-the-drals” was written as a result of a breakup between LaRue and a girlfriend and the personal antagonism he felt at the time toward the promiscuity of disco culture.  But he was back the next year with a more appropriately disco/dance friendly celebration of the party idiom titled "The Tea Dance."  This recording was conceived and presented as a kind of sound track to a thirties style musical/stage revue and opened with a tinny gramophone intro into it's “Overture (All We Need Is Love),” a chugging mid-tempo cut which contained another plea for understanding and universal love.  LaRue also included the hit Brazilian samba “O Ba Ba” which he transformed into a voluptuous, exotic artifice with an opening percussive passage leading into an English lyric that spoke, in well-established tropical imagery, of magical sunsets and palatial gardens.  Also included in the album was the track “Don’t Keep It In The Shadows” which featured a vocal duet with D.C.'s long time friend pop/rock legend Lou (“Lightnin’ Strikes”) Christie.

After supplying the songs “Do You Want the Real Thing?” and "You Can Always Tell A Lady" for the film "ThankGod It’s Friday" sound track, LaRue put more messages in his music.  Anxiety attacks were promoted in “I'll Wake Up Screaming The Middle Of The Night,” from his "Confessions" album and mega paranoia in the title cut from his "Forces Of The Night" album. The latter found the composer/singer diversifying his disco sound with a more rock ’n’ roll bent while penning less abrasive lyrics.

All of LaRue’s work was produced as structured musical form.  The “Dancing with Strangers” cut from his "Confessions" album, describing clubbers as sinister nocturnal creatures, was an effective merging of both the synthesized and acoustic aspects of disco while retaining the dance rhythms that made LaRue's music so successful through out the world.

*excerpt from
The Story Of Disco
Alan Jones & Jussi Kantonen
A Cappella Press






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