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San Francisco Macho Man

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Album Review

Assembled by French producer Jacques Morali, who also struck gold with the outrageous Ritchie Family, the Village People took high camp and good spirits even farther over the top with their overtly gay-oriented disco. Masters of exploitation or attraction was always the debate as the band cruised through songs that were immediate club staples during the late '70s. But despite the inevitable, and often ridiculous controversies, what is important is that this band, no matter how plastic fantastic or politically incorrect they may have appeared, still turned in some classic performances. The sextet, fronted by the talented vocalist Victor Willis, had already made a splash on the disco scene with their self-titled 1977 debut. With that LP clocking in under 30 minutes, Morali ensured that there was still room for more. One of two Village People albums to appear in 1978, Macho Man hit the stores in the spring to immediate success. A punchy, driving disco flanked by Willis' funk vocals marks the consistent keynote of this LP — one that was all but crushed under the dominance of "Macho Man." And OK, the costume party image was the gimmick, it was the distracting fascination that brought the band so much attention. But there are interesting moments buried here as well. "I Am What I Am" may not have been subtle, but it certainly was a well-constructed slab of groove. And as for the gospel-tinged "Sodom and Gomorrah," there's a good reason why it was buried at the end of the album. Also of note, for the preservation of history, is the throwaway "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" medley. This particular coupling was devised by Louis Prima in 1956 and, of course, the classic 1985 rendering by a top-hatted and be-suited David Lee Roth is now nearly a camp classic. In terms of hot pop shenanigans, however, the lesson here is that the Village People did it first.

Biography

Formed: 1977 in New York, NY

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Part clever concept, part exaggerated camp act, the Village People were worldwide sensations during disco's heyday and keep reviving like the phoenix. Producer Jacques Morali in 1977 assembled a group designed to attract gay audiences while parodying (some claimed exploiting) that same constituency's stereotypes. Songwriters Phil Hurtt and Peter Whitehead were tabbed to compose songs with gay underpinnings, and roles and costumes were carefully selected; among them were a cowboy, biker, soldier,...
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San Francisco Macho Man, Village People
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