After a long holiday weekend here at FMF, I bring you some heat from the Atlantic Records vaults. The monster that Atlantic was, I don’t know why I do not focus on them more. I guess I always get caught up in the “oh wait this is a good side, or that 45 is long forgotten”, rather than throw the reader some Atlantic goodness. Well, today is that day, and I wanted to throw the obligatory curve ball in anyway. Here’s Roberta Kelly on the verge of Disco but still funky with “Kung Fu’s Back Again” from 1974 on Atlantic Records.
Born in Los Angeles, California in 1942, Roberta Kelly’s musical journey led her from Funk to Disco to Dance and more. Linking up with super producer/ label honcho and synthesizer genius Giorgio Moroder and his Oasis label early in her career led her to this very record released on giant Atlantic. Her cover of the Sand Pebbles “Love Power” (previously reviewed here on FMF) before the Disco craze kicked in and her most notable release “Trouble Maker” would put her on the map. Her work with Giorgio and producers Bob Etsy Pete Bellotte on Casablanca Records would keep her going through the Disco phase, getting a bit controversial on Zodiac Lady and trying to tackle Gospel via Disco on Gettin’ The Spirit while simultaneously shouting out the Pope in one of her later releases. Throughout her career she was a back up singer for Thelma Houston and Donna Summer. Fizzling out in the early 80’s she popped up back in the 90’s with a WWII tribute record, and again in 2008. I tried to get some updated info on her website, but no dice, it is now under construction.
Maybe Kelly was channeling her inner Jimmy Castor when she put this out, because I can clearly hear Mr. King Kong doing these vocals if she wasn’t available. The patented Moroder Disco sound, even though it was 1974 (and IMHO should have been funkier) is prevalent here, some cheeky Asian style strings, and Kelly crooning about her version of Black Dynamite returning to who knows where. Now we all know that no one fucks with Dynamite, so whatever her version was of the man, I’m sure it was the Lite version. I give props to Roberta for taking on the Kung Fu and the funk, but I think I may have liked it a bit more if Giorgio kept it more funky and less, how you say, in the words of Uma Thurman, “Diiiiscoo”. Just one digger’s opinion, I’m sure I can find a way to sneak this in on a mix. Keep an open mind and Keep Diggin’!