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Release Info: EVELYN "CHAMPAGNE" KING / Smooth Talk (1977)
The official story of how young Evelyn "Champgane" King came to be a superstar disco diva sounds like a fairytale. One day she was helping her mother clean the Philadelphia offices of Sigma Sound Studios and was overheard singing in the restroom by Theodore T. Life. "T. Life" mentored the young King and eventually got her a recording contract with RCA records. Smooth Talk, her debut album, was released in 1977 when she was just 17 years old. The first single "Shame" was an across-the-board smash hit, zooming into the Top 10 on the Pop, R&B and Disco charts. Judging by its inclusion on virtually every disco music compilation released in the last 25 years, it is safe to say that it is one of the best known and most loved tracks of the disco era. That shimmering keyboard dancing on top of that driving rhythm section with a horn jumping in and out, it's an engaging track even before King's robust, aching vocal takes command. Thematically, it is one of those perfect disco songs, the "shame" comes from the young woman trying to reconcile her burning desire for 'that man' with the admonitions of her mother ("...mama just don't understand!"). "Shame" was followed by the equally spectacular "I Don't Know If It's Right." The remixed single version of "I Don't Know If It's Right" was a Top 10 R&B and Disco hit. The album version of "Right" is a more subdued, breezy groover. Even though it has an impressive rhythm track it does not have the urgency of "Shame". Here, King's vocal is more girlish and sing-songy, which fits the sentiment of the song perfectly. Although she was skilled at conveying youthful exuberance, King never came across as a child-singer. Most times, her vocals conveyed experience and maturity way beyond her years. The silky Dexter Wansel-penned ballad "The Show Is Over" showcases King's very adult vocal prowess. The rest of Smooth Talk is perfectly pleasant but it was a mere foreshadowing of the stellar 80's funk/R&B hits to come a few years later.
I Don't Know If It's Right
Til I Come Off The Road
Dancin', Dancin', Dancin'
We're Going To Party
The Show Is Over
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