It’s that time of year again when radio stations everywhere turn to the sounds of the holiday season. One of the tunes always in frequent rotation is a bit of light swing from The Salsoul Orchestra’s 1976 disco classic Christmas Jollies: “Merry Christmas, All.” The voice of that perennial belongs to Denise Montana, daughter of its composer-arranger-conductor, the late, great MFSB vibraphonist and Salsoul Orchestra leader Vince Montana. Now, another project uniting Vince and Denise Montana has come to CD courtesy of Big Break Records. Underneath its rather typical risqué cover, Vincent Montana, Jr. Presents Goody Goody is, like his Salsoul outings, a sublime melding of dance with Philadelphia soul and impeccable musicianship. Montana recorded it for Atlantic Records following his departure from the Salsoul label, utilizing Philly’s Sigma Sound Studios as well as Alpha International.
Goody Goody took its name from the 1936 standard penned by Johnny Mercer and Matty Malneck and recorded by everyone from Benny Goodman to Frankie Lymon and Frank Sinatra. The upbeat, buoyant disco revival of the tune, in the style of Vince Montana’s earlier takes on classics such as “Tangerine” (a No. 4 Dance and top 20 Pop hit for The Salsoul Orchestra), was the only one of the lean album’s six songs not written or co-written by the elder Montana.
Denise’s soulful but sweet lead vocals were introduced on the infectious opening track and lead single “# 1 Dee Jay,” a rather canny ode to a record-spinning man. With a strong melodic hook and a clean, understated production featuring Montana’s vibes and John Bonnie’s saxophone among the instrumentation, it opened the album in attention-grabbing fashion. The creamy sounds of “# 1 Dee Jay” provided prologue for the sleek “Super Jock,” its title again aimed at those who would be sharing Montana’s record with the masses. The rhythmic composition featured minimal lyrics and vocalizing by Denise. The strictly instrumental “Bio Rhythm” was an even funkier composition, emphasizing drums and percussion on a spare track far-removed from the lush Salsoul Orchestra outings.
Though Vince Montana largely eschewed plush strings and horns in his arrangements on Goody Goody, he made an exception for the hypnotic, lyrically sparse “It Looks Like Love.” Exuding sensuality over its throbbing beat, it also featured a jazz sensibility with extended solos and prominent flute. “You Know How Good It Is” similarly employed an expansive sound. Redolent of his best Salsoul productions, Montana’s beguiling fusion of jazz and disco captured the best of both worlds. The track (the lengthiest on the record) truly swings, as in an extended section with tightly interlocked piano, bass, and drums – not to mention the fine horn work under Montana’s baton. (Alas, the musicians were uncredited on the original LP.)
Big Break has extended the original six-song LP with five additional tracks: the extended 12-inch and 12-inch instrumental versions of “Mr. Dee Jay” as well as its single edit; plus the single versions of “Super Jock” and “It Looks Like Love.” Christian John Wikane’s compelling and comprehensive liner notes draw on a new interview with Denise Montana, who sheds light on her famous father with affection as well as a clear eye. Reissue producer Wayne A. Dickson and Nick Robbins are credited as sound consultants for the fine sonics. Although Goody Goody failed to crack the Billboard 200, “# 1 Dee Jay” and “Super Jock” both made the top 20 rankings of the U.S. Disco survey. BBR’s reissue, housed in a Super Jewel Box, is welcome for those who remember those dancefloor favorites, but is an also an essential complement to the label’s library of reissues from the Salsoul and Philadelphia International catalogues. Indeed, you know how good it is!
Vincent Montana, Jr. Presents Goody Goody (Atlantic Records SD 19197, 1978 – reissued Big Break Records WCDBBRX 0362, 2016) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
- # 1 Dee Jay
- Super Jock
- Goody Goody
- It Looks Like love
- You Know How Good It Is
- # 1 Dee Jay (12-Inch Disco Version) (Atlantic 12-inch single DSKO 120, 1978)
- # 1 Dee Jay (12-Inch Instrumental Version) (Atlantic 12-inch single DSKO 120, 1978)
- Super Jock (Single Version) (Atlantic single 3551, 1979)
- It Looks Like Love (Single Version) (Atlantic single 3551, 1979)
- # 1 Dee Jay (Single Version) (Atlantic single 3504, 1978)