24 July 2009

Giorgio Moroder - Nights In White Satin

Giorgio Moroder - Nights in White Satin

Label: GTO
Year of Release: 1976

I'm sure I've uttered these very words at some point before on this blog, but Giorgio Moroder is a genius, not just as a producer, but as a solo artist as well.  Of course, there are many wise, decent people out there who already know this fact.  The man is a legend in his home country of Italy, and may as well be given the keys to the control room of the country's music industry.  Here in Britain, however, his solo works are largely bypassed in favour of praising Donna Summer's revolutionary sound on "I Feel Love", or talking about how he breathed life back into the Mael brothers career - both worthy things to mention, but only really telling half the story.

"Underdog", as I've established before, is a prime slab of seventies pop which the Sparks probably borrowed a great deal from even before he ever sat down in the same studio with them, and this is just one of the more simultaneously ridiculous and wonderful things to come out of the seventies disco boom.

We will all be familiar with The Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin", with its pomp, grandeur and woe-ridden lyrics, Justin Hayward sounding like a man writhing in emotional agony upon the battered carpet of a lounge in a Midlands semi-detached house.  It's not to everyone's tastes, but I personally love it.  However, a guilty confession - I probably like this cover version of it a lot more.  In it, Giorgio takes the chest-beating pleading of the original and turns it into sexual writhing.  Whilst Hayward attempts to lure back his lover with sobs and hastily scribbled poetry, Moroder beckons her back with gruff whispers: "Yeeahhh... I love you... I want you!  I neeeeed you!" he hisses, whilst a synthesiser buzzes deep, panther prowling notes in the background.  

Had Hayward and Moroder been locked into a battle to see who could get their lady back with the use of this particular ballad, I'd be willing to bet that the former would still be sobbing now despite writing the damn thing, whereas the latter would at least have got some hot, loving sex out of his effort, which is better than nothing, isn't it, readers?  

If anybody were to tell me that Jarvis Cocker had never heard this record, I would be stunned. If we forgive the saxophone solo, it more or less sets the blueprint for a lot of Pulp's disco wig-outs like "My Legendary Girlfriend" and "Seductive Barry", and Giorgio's seduction technique is perhaps similar, as even more so than Cocker, he wasn't exactly a conventionally attractive man, nor a pitch-perfect singer.  On top of that, it puts recent ironic mirrorballed cover versions such as The Scissor Sisters' "Comfortably Numb" to total shame - the lyrics to that just don't work on the dancefloor if you've any idea about their origins at all, whereas Moroder has spotted some sexual yearning in "Nights in White Satin" and gone the whole way with the idea, rising it above the status of cheap irony.

I've also managed to write this entry up without mentioning much about the cheeky B-side "I Wanna Funk With You Tonite", wherein a saucy female vocalist keeps deliberately misunderstanding the use of the word "funk", and repeating a certain other f-word back.  That alone would be worth a download.

A quick note - yes, I'm aware this single was credited as "Knights in White Satin" in other countries, but it definitely wasn't released as such in Britain, so I'm running with the k-less title.  Sorry and all that, but it doesn't make any difference to what you're going to hear, which is top drawer stuff - right down the back of the drawer in fact, alongside the porno mags.


Clive said...

I seem to recall the single was "NIGHTS in white satin", whereas the album, rather conceptually, was called "KNIGHTS in white satin" - hence Giorgio and the Munich Machine guys hanging around what looks like some turkish baths in wispy satin shirts.

Anyway, the album version is a hoot and goes on for about 17 minutes. In the middle of all this the song segues into a nice little instrumental called, wait for it - "In the middle of the Knight".

It's all a far cry from the hi-nrg "I feel love", and yet NIWS was recorded within just months of that self-same track. Listen to Donna Summer's 1976 beautiful "Four seasons of love" album and you can begin to spot the transition.

23 Daves said...

Thanks for the extra information, Clive. I've yet to obtain a copy of the album, but it's already worked its way near to the top of my "must haves" list as a result of your description alone!