In the early 1970’s, music was getting heavier and more serious all the time. Rock bands were writing album long epic journeys, and Funk became the soundtrack for a wide audience as race relations changed in America. Disco, on the other hand, was more about feeling good and forgetting your daily cares, so it’s little wonder that, at the time, Disco was thought by many to be a mindless or soulless musical movement.
With its loud hi-hats, constant 8th note bass lines, wah-wah guitars and melodic string lines, Disco ruled the dance floor. In 1978 the movie “Saturday Night Fever” gave Disco its last moment in the spotlight. Featuring the music of The Bee Gees, the movie soundtrack album sold over 40 million copies, becoming one of the most popular albums of all time. The movie and music were later adapted for the stage in London’s West End and on Broadway.
Naturally, when I was offered the job to produce a score recording for a new adaptation of “Saturday Night Fever” I jumped at the chance. Here were a bunch of really great songs that did nothing but make me smile when I heard them. The show was being produced by, of all things, the cruise ship line Royal Caribbean. RCL has made a commitment to produce top quality, high value broadway shows (investing millions in each) for a few of their ships, including “Chicago” and “Hairspray” and SNF was their latest effort. I was working closely with music director Brent Frederick, orchestrator Phil Edwards (Phil has been the orchestrator of every incarnation of the SNF broadway show), and show director co/author Loren Van Brenk.
Miami’s top session drummer, Lee Levin, has played live with Barry Gibb off and on for several years. Add that to the fact that he’s just damn amazing on the drums and you can see why he was my first choice for the 8-piece rhythm section sessions along with Glen Caruba and Eric Darken on percussion, Craig Nelson on bass, Paul Brannon and Dave Cleveland on guitars and Steve Kummer and Pat Coil on keys. There was much pre-production programming to be done as well, covered by Kurt Goebel and myself.
“It looks like Guitar Center in here,” remarked Steve Kummer as he walked through the Tracking Room. All the players came in having studied the original recordings and were loaded with appropriate gear. Real Rhodes, Wurlitzer, B-3 and piano were used for authentic key sounds, likewise the guitar and amp choices by Dave and Paul.
After adding 9 brass and wind players, 9 violins and 8 phenomenal session singers, well, the result is sure to give you a serious case of Disco Fever.
The show will be running for the next few years on RCL’s Liberty of the Seas, so you’ll have to take a cruise if you want to see it. Bummer 😉