Saturday, June 3, 2017

"High Energy" by Evelyn Thomas

Song#:  2059
Date:  09/29/1984
Debut:  95
Peak:  85
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Dance

Pop Bits:  DJ Ian Levine became popular on England's Northern Soul club circuit in the early 70s. When he branched out to producing music, he went over to the States to look for talent. On a trip to Chicago he encountered singer Evelyn Thomas. Levine got her signed to 20th Century Records in the UK and together they issued a couple single that were minor entries on the UK chart. During the height of disco, Thomas then signed to Casablanca in the US and recorded a debut album 1978. The following year saw another album issued on the AVI label, but neither album did any business and with the fall of disco, Thomas' career was fading fast. Even though disco had died, the clubs still needed dance music and that spot was filled with a lot of Euro-dance tunes. Ian Levine hooked into this and once again brought Thomas over to the UK to record more songs. Their first effort was "High Energy" and once released it reached #5 in the UK. The song then got attention in US clubs and soon it was sitting atop the Dance chart. The attention there helped the tune crossover to the Pop chart for a few weeks. It would be her first and only #1 Dance hit and her only one to reach the Pop chart. An album of the same name would be released and it sold a few copies. A follow-up album came out in 1986, and it featured two Top 20 Dance hits and her only song to reach the R&B chart, "Heartless" (#84). She continued to record over the years, but nothing would be successful as this single.

ReduxReview:  This song definitely had a sound that was going to soon catch on at Pop. It was just a matter of time, the right song, and the right artists. In the meantime, it has to start somewhere and this song was one of the first of its kind to really take over the dance floor. It was still a bit too dance-oriented to really catch on at Pop and its disco flavor wasn't going to win over a lot of fans who poo-poo'd that genre. Still, it's a solid tune and Thomas sounds great. Thomas was never able to capitalize on this song and make it big in the US, which is too bad. She had the talent and some good material. She's a bit of a lost artist now, so if this song interests you, check out her other tunes.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  "High Energy" was not only the name of the song, but it would also become the name of the song's sound. Later known as Hi-NRG, the genre was basically a spinoff of disco after that genre experienced a massive backlash. Hi-NRG combines elements of Eurodance and disco, but with a slightly higher tempo. One of the first song attributed to the genre was Donna Summer's 1977 hit "I Feel Love." It has been mentioned that Summer may have inadvertently coined the style's name. Apparently in an interview she mentioned that "I Feel Love" became a hit because it had a "high-energy vibe." A few songs that fit the style followed, but it really came into fashion in the early 80s, mainly in the UK. There was even a specific music chart dedicated to the genre there and Thomas' "High Energy" was one of the first to top that chart. Hi-NRG would become more popular in the States with songs from the Stock-Aitken-Waterman production team hitting the charts ("Venus" by Bananarama, "You Spin Me Round) Like a Record" by Dead or Alive, etc.). Hi-NRG would peak in the mid- to late-80s with offshoot genres like techno and rave starting to take over.


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