I went on a major music-buying spree this past summer. I’m that rare individual who still buys actual, physical compact discs in 2018, and the discovery of various online vendors of used CDs has proved, for the past several years, to be a major weakness for me. On rare occasions when I want just one or two album tracks and truly can’t stomach or justify purchasing the whole album, I’ll buy the individual downloads online, but I’m old-school. I want the actual, physical thing in my hands, whereas a digital file often seems far too abstract.
I love liner notes, pictures, lyrics, and other things that often come with a tangible jewel case. Spotify is great, as are Google Play and Pandora… but I often want to listen to something again and again, and I treasure my music library. Having said all of that, part of the fun of compilation discs is that they have often exposed me to artists and songs which were previously unfamiliar to me.
Have you ever heard a song and immediately thought that it must originally have been written expressly for use as a commercial jingle? I’m not even a minute and a half into the song above, and the effect is powerful. I’m already envisioning a new-for-midyear-’77 Pontiac Phoenix two-door on a slowly revolving platform with multiple pinspots shining on it from different angles, as a trio of very attractive ladies sing, dance, smile around the car, trying to convince me that the upscale compact, X-Body Phoenix would be a viable, more efficient alternative to the (much) larger, Colonnade-platform Grand Prix. “Eighty percent of the Grand Prix’s class, luxury and panache, for 80% of its price… and with all the style of a Phoenix!”
The mastermind behind this catchy tune, performed by Aquarian Dream and originally released in 1976, was jazz fusion musician and producer Norman Connors, who had a Billboard Hot 100 Top-40 / R&B Top-10 hit that same year with “You Are My Starship”. “Phoenix” was released twice – first in ’76, slightly predating the mid-model year introduction of the first, ’77 Phoenix, and then again in ’79, presaging the arrival of the newly-downsized, front-wheel-drive 1980 Phoenix. Did Connors perhaps pitch this song to GM’s advertising arm back then? After all, disco was white-hot between 1976 and early-’79.
I unashamedly stand by my love of disco music (this past weekend I went to watch the 2018 documentary on Studio 54 on the big screen), and having discovered this track on a compilation originating from England was a treat. I’ve come to the conclusion that as far as compilations discs go, many of my favorites have come from overseas record labels as, more often than not, they contain songs that may have been popular abroad, but haven’t been overexposed here in the United States. I’ll also say that using “Phoenix” by Aquarian Dream would have made a much more tuneful and interesting sales pitch to much of America than the incidental music that was ultimately used in the TV spot from ’77 above.