Classics: The Trammps – Disco Inferno (Atlantic)
‘Disco Inferno…’ That’s pretty much where we felt like taken into back in the mid-70’s. Either while hangin’ out or whenever comin’ to spin in the then burgeoing club scene. However, if stories vary as to who invented Disco, there’s no doubt about the origins of the term itself. With the latter being the diminutive of French word ‘Discothèque’. And God knows how France pretty much stood the comparison to America at the time. With Le Palace being to Paris just what The Paradise Garage happened to be to the Big Apple…
As a matter of fact, Kinda hard to find any better illustration than the blowing ‘Disco Inferno’ to sum up the period. With The Trammps pretty much embodying the very best one could find in the genre. Meanwhile bringin’ altogether Soul and Funk vibes along with drummer Earl Young‘s unique way of drumming. And how not to refer neither to lead singer Jimmy Ellis‘ one of a kind performances?!? This in addition to the presence of the great Tom Moulton in charge of the mixing duties…
As a result, no wonder how the RSO label executives brought ‘Disco Inferno’ at the epicenter of the memorable ‘Saturday Night Fever’ OST. This along with MFSB‘s ‘K-Jee’. But also Kool & The Gang‘s ‘Open Sesame’. Not to mention various cuts from The Bee Gees, beginning with ‘Stayin’ Alive’…
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.