Classics: The Trammps – Soul Bones (Atlantic)/strong>
No matter what… (Disco) Music would probably not have been what it is without the unvaluable contribution of The Trammps. Beginning with their memorable ‘Disco Inferno’ which would get extra exposure back in 1977 as a part of the ‘Saturday Night Fever’ OST.
As you might guess, they left us way more than that. From ‘Love Epidemic’ back in 1973 to ‘That’s Where Happy People Go’ 3 years later. With ‘Soul Bones’ makin’ no exception…
Despite its infectious production work courtesy of band member Ron Kersey, ‘Soul Bones’ sadly failed to get the attention it deserved. Probably because of its release date. At a time when Disco had already started facing heavy critics, although The Trammps never had anything to do with the clichés that caused its death. And even more when listening to the funk bass-driven flow of ‘Soul Bones’. But the dammage had been done, as sanctionned a few months after during the sadly memorable Disco Demolition Night. And Stevie Wonder‘s blowing solo on harmonica unfortunately didn’t change anything.
‘Soul Bones’ nevertheless remains a staple in the repertoire of the band. Besides I wouldn’t be surprised being said it more or less influenced Leon F. Sylvers III by the time he produced ‘Ice Breaker’ for Dynasty…
From Philadelphia, PA, the nucleus of The Trammps originated from The Volcanos. A band which briefly became The Moods after the departure of lead singer Gene Faith. With Jimmy Ellis replacing him soon after. Meanwhile drummer Earl Young came up with the concept of The Trammps. With songwriting/production team Ronnie Baker, Norman Harris and Young crafting their reportoire. And MFSB mainstays playing in the background.
The Trammps went straight to the charts with their upbeat version of the James F. Hanley‘s 1934 standard ‘Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart’ back in 1972. Its title somehow inspiring the one of their 1975 ‘The Legendary Zing Album’ LP on Buddah Records. The latter featuring extra gems such as ‘Hold Back The Night’ and ‘Tom’s Song’.
Strangely enough, that same year also saw the release of their ‘Trammps’ album, although on Golden Fleece this time. This effort featuring ‘Love Epidemic’ which they’d released 2 years before as a one off on Philadelphia Sound International.
1976 marked a major turn in the profile of The Trammps with their arrival on Atlantic Records. ‘Disco Inferno’, the title track of their album of the likes getting soon after extra exposure. This with its inclusion of the ‘Saturday Night Fever’ OST along with MFSB‘s ‘K-Jee’ the year after. Meanwhile, from the same album, also came ‘Starvin” which would get them standin’ at #1 position in the U.S. Dance charts.
The Trammps have undoubtedly a signature sound. With thanks to their firing arrangements. But also to Earl Young‘s unique Disco style of ‘Rock drumming. The whole givin’ birth to a consistant string of extra gems. From ‘That’s Where The Happy People Go’ and ‘Disco Party’. To ‘The Night The Lights Went Out’ and ‘Soul Bones’. As many masterpieces which most likely made of The Trammps the best Disco male band of all time.
Young eventually contributed to The Atlanta Disco Band. A transient project that saw him jammin’ along with some of his MFSB partners. This resulting in the release of the ‘Bad Luck’ album back in 1975. An effort mostly remembered for their cover version of the McFadden & Whitehead penned… ‘Bad Luck’. With other tracks worth the check including ‘Buckead’, ‘Do What You Feel’ and ‘Ole Goat’.
Norman Harris sadly died of cardiovascular disease in Philadelphia, PA at the early age of 39 on Mar. 20, 1987.
Lead singer Jimmy Ellis, who’d suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, sadly died at a nursing home in Rock Hill, SC, aged 74 on Mar. 08, 2012.
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