Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate uncertain, is the 1981 ninth album I Kinda Like Me by American singer/songwriter and disco legend Gloria Gaynor. Will this album be Likeable, or will it be Kinda Like garbage? Read on…
This 9 track LP opens with the second single and titular track I Kinda Like Me. The track has some wonderfully funky bass and sweeping strings – thick with up-beat disco vibes throughout as Gloria drops her vocals with ease and wonderfully rich and playful confidence. It really is a catchy foot-tapper from the out-set, and I’m surprised that to not have heard it as a cover. The single was released in the US and select other countries, but sadly does not appear to have had a UK release, which is a huge shame. The album is off to a perfect start.
Next up is Fingers In The Fire, which opens with what sounds almost like a siren before some more fat bass before the song bursts with Gloria’s vocals. Gloria is more dreamy and softer here with her vocals in the verse, saving the energy for the chorus. Sadly, the verse vocals feel a bit weak, but the drama of the chorus gives it a slight Chic (Thinking Of You) sound courtesy of the guitars. Still, it’s another catchy little track.
That’s followed by the lead single Let’s Mend What’s Been Broken, a track that was co-written by songwriting powerhouse Gene McFadden and John Whitehead. Strings and bass lead us over a fairly muted simple set of drums, and give us a fairly mellowed track in comparison to the two previous songs. Sadly, despite this expert penmanship, the track failed to chart in the UK.
Yesterday We Were Like Buddies brings side one to a close, and perhaps as predicted from the slightly obscure title, we’re in heartfelt warm ballad territory. Gloria makes easy work of this song, and it allows her to show off her warm slow vocals and range over this plodding track, set against some supporting backing singers. It’s a gentle close to side one.
Side Two opens with a wonderful mixture of disco urgency meets ‘breaking news’ as we step into I Can Stand The Pain. Even more funky bass and flurries of strings swirl around some more impressive vocal gymnastics from Gloria who gets yet another catchy song, and she gets to throw her vocal range and power with great ease. It’s another great start to a vinyl side.
That’s followed by I Love You Cause, a dedication to her then husband who was her manager – Linwood M Simon, and aptly it’s a slow and simple love song. Complete with vocal harmonies and moody saxophone, and it remains uncluttered with a simple beat and laid back strings and guitars that just seem to gently nudge the song along. Gloria’s vocals are soft, and that suits the mellow sound perfectly.
When You Get Around To It follows, with guitars leading as Gloria builds up her vocals, then all of a sudden the disco strings, bass, and vocals kick in, giving us another nice catchy mellow disco song. The track even gives us a really nice moment where it’s just Gloria, bass, and beats, but then the orchestra creeps back in before giving us another dose of disco feels.
Then it’s the disco-pop Chasin’ Me Into Somebody Else’s Arms, which comes bouncing in with yet more up-beat vocals and lyrics, some well placed backing vocals, and simple synths. The guitars ensure the album’s disco feel keeps going along with Gloria’s vocals. It’s a nice little track.
The album closes with The Story Of The Joneses which continues with the slower tempo, and gives us another glimpse of Gloria’s vocal range as she sings alongside some uplifting vocal harmonies and swooping strings. It gives us a nice slow ending for the album.
Over all, this album is a wonderfully funky collection of disco songs that you’ve probably never heard before, but should.
The strongest points of this album are certainly the titular I Kinda Like Me, I Can Stand The Pain, Chasin’ Me Into Sombody Else’s Arms and When You Get Around To It, which all take on disco, albeit sometimes more mellow tones of it. Let’s Mend What Was Broken seems like a mis-step in the single releases, but by 1981 the charts had begun to ignore disco, so in theory the song would help bring this disco icon a hit… but sadly the track flopped.
The ballads here are a little weaker, with the odder Yesterday We Were Like Buddies perhaps being the weakest, but their placing at the end of the album sides works well as a cool-off.
There’s certainly no I Will Survive here, and that actually works in this album’s favour, as it allows these new songs to have the space to breathe and an equal light to shine on them rather than having an iconic 70’s disco hit distracting everyone.
One thing that may have subtly aided this album to not succeed, was the fact that the designer needed a lesson in contrast. The album title, and Gloria’s name are hard to read because of their choice of typeface and colour. Changing this to something more visible may have helped the album be more readable, memorable, and at least recognised by shoppers.
- POP RESCUE 2022 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1981 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Did not chart.
- POP RESCUE COST: £2.99 from a Discogs.com seller.