Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone" by Manhattan Transfer

Song#:  0138
Date:  04/19/1980
Debut:  84
Peak:  30
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Disco, Vocal



Pop Bits:  This NYC quartet's strength mainly surrounded their vocal jazz abilities, particularly in "vocalese," a fairly dormant style at the time. Vocalese basically sets words to previous instrumental compositions, mainly with jazz tunes. Although it can be improvised, the lyrics are typically set to an already existing melody and/or instrumental solo. The Transfer's albums usually consisted of standards, vocalese tunes, and modern compositions and it was a successful formula for them. They scored a Top 30 hit in 1975 with "Operator" and developed a very loyal following. Their next singles failed to chart in the US, but they had a string of hits in the UK including the #1 "Chanson D'Amour" in 1977. They finally made it back on the US pop chart with this disco flavored tribute tune to the popular TV show.

ReduxReview:  If you were anywhere near a high school show choir during this time, the Transfer were the shizzle. They were what every show choir wanted to be. I didn't participate in choir, but I saw plenty of performances where Transfer tunes were covered. They were the mecca for vocal work. And still are. This song is really quite an oddity considering their jazz work, but it is a really fun song and cool to hear all the sounds done via vocals. It would set them up for doing more pop tunes on their next couple of albums.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  After one initial album in 1971 ("Jukin'") with a different line-up, the group split. Lone remaining member Tim Hauser kept the Transfer alive and found three others who fit his vision of the group. They signed with Atlantic and issued their self-titled album in 1975 with the hit single "Operator." There would only be one other personnel change in the group when Laurel Masse would leave in 1979. Cheryl Bentyne would join for the album "Extensions," which this song is from. The line-up hasn't changed since then.

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