Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 1980 eighth album Stories by American disco legend, Gloria Gaynor. Will these Stories be worth sharing, or should you send this to be pulped. Read on…
The album opens with the piano of lead and only single Ain’t No Bigger Fool. We’re off to an up-tempo start that has glimmers of that earlier disco classic I Will Survive. It’s pretty funky too, and the bass and strings really work well. The backing vocals are really warm and well placed throughout and Gloria’s vocals shine here. There’s energy and pace, and Gloria gets to show off some of her vocal range towards the ending. It’s a catchy start to the album, but sadly didn’t chart in the UK as a single.
Next up is I Let Love Slip Right Through My Hands, and we’re now into a slow piano ballad. As you’d expect from the title, the song is loaded with reflection, and lyrics about loss and regret – ‘I ain’t no preacher, but wise enough to teach you’ she sings. This sadder and slower track does let Gloria show off her more emotive vocals, and she gets a well placed key change in the final part of the song. The backing vocals help to sew the song together, and whilst it is a slow track, it’s pretty good.
On A Diet Of You is up next, and this song leans back into her disco success, but the problem with it is that the lyrical concept of being on a diet of someone, leaves the track feeling a bit too weird. Musically and vocally, it does the best it can (and it is good), but lyrically it is just too weird to sit comfortably. 1980’s disco pop just wasn’t ready for cannibalism.
Side one closes with Lock Me Up, and once again there’s leans towards disco again. It’s a nice plodding bass and beat that carries this along. Gloria’s vocals sit here with ease alongside the music, and the backing vocalists are there once more in all the right places. This is a nice safe track.
Side two opens with All My Life, written by Christine Yarian and Samuel F Brown III, who by this time had written several tracks for The Jacksons, Michael Jackson, Jerry Butler and The Miracles, so in theory we’re probably in safe hands. The track is filled with sweeping strings, and plenty of disco tropes, however Gloria gets a lower register, and she ends up feeling someone vocally confined until really late in the track.
Next up is Don’t Read Me Wrong, which gives Gloria her one and only writing credit on the album. This is a middle-of-the-road ballad. Given that she’s co-written it, it makes sense that the vocals are confident here and she gets to show off her vocal range and power, but sadly the lyrics are fairly generic. It isn’t particularly catchy, and it definitely feels like a bit of a filler.
Penultimate track The Luckiest Girl In The World is next, and this track is loaded with strings, wonderful vocal harmonies with the backing vocalists, and the plodding bass line makes this feel like a really nice plodder of a track. Gloria sounds wonderful here – and shows of some rich and warm vocals. She’s even joined by a flittering flute towards the end. A nice little song.
The album closes with Make Me Yours, and we’re back once again to those echoes of disco – the swooping strings, the uptempo beat, and Gloria is once again allowed to dance around in her vocal ranges perfectly. It’s a nice ending to the album.
Over all, this album starts off pretty well, but by side two it just lacks the energy that led you into it. If you’re looking for THAT hit song, it’s not here, and there’s no replicas here either.
The album is laden with disco signatures which had previously afforded Gloria with her success in the late 1970s, but as 1980 was seeing fans tire of the disco sound, this album feels a bit lost for where to go. The catchy songs are far and few between, and some weaker lyrics ensured that they remained elusive.
Gloria puts in a great performance with the songs she’s given, and the musicians do a great job too, but perhaps allowing a few other songwriters into this project (6 of the 8 songs were written by Dino Fekaris and Freddie Perren) or into the production chair (they also produced it) might have enabled some diversity in the songs that could have lifted up its quality.
My highlights are Ain’t No Bigger Fool and I Let Love Slip Right Through My Hands, and The Luckiest Girl In The World is pretty good too. We know Gloria can do better, but on this album she’s been held back by duff lyrics.
- POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1980 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Did not chart.
- POP RESCUE COST: 50p from a Discogs.com seller.