All the vibes on this classic Italo funk disco gem.
Much can be said about Italian disco and funk, and it has an incredible pedigree. A blend of the sounds of disco and funk from America, along with its additional Mediterranean twist, gives it an undeniable flavour and swagger. Its feeling of sunny feel good warmth, mixed in with fantastic instrumentation, means that it has retained a special place in the hearts and minds of music lovers everywhere. It really feels like a continuation of some of the pioneering ‘post funk/soul’ and ‘pre disco’ bands of the 1970s in the states, where Djs focused on the long drawn out 6 minute long band orientated sounds that would delight clubbers all over the land (think the Loft and such).
Firefly were very much within this mould. Active from the late 1970s through to the mid 80s, the band released a wide variety of records, that drew from the deep hazy guitar driven sounds of classic disco, along with tasteful choruses full of harmonies that drew more from modern soul, and within that a healthy helping of the cheeriness that was so infectious about Italo disco and pre italo disco records of the time. Their tune ‘Love is gunna be on your side’ would be their most widely know hit, but this record, ‘My Desire’, might be their most significant. A fantastic and wide reaching release, it shows the band at the height of their powers. It is a real delight, pure vibes and energy from start to finish, in a sunny and melodic journey rich with depth and musical goodness. So lets take a dip!
‘Our Trade is Life’ opens up the record, and sets the tone perfectly. The guitar chimes into play, before the swirling keys and hard bass line all bring the intro together expertly. The vocal element begins with the chorus, that chimes in so peachy and perfect. The basis of the song presented up front, no frills, just displaying all the elements for us to enjoy in a wonderful series of transitions between vocal filled parts to funky as hell instrumental parts. Up next is ‘Come Back’, that ups the funk just a tad. The intro once again demonstrates the bands strength in depth of creating layers and layers of instrumentation; whereas some American bands focused on how instruments filled space, Firefly demonstrate the delicate intricacies of guitars, bass and keys to great effect. The structure highlights the vocal positives of the group, before descending into expertly executed instrumental fills, where the bass synth plays a notable role in the effectiveness of the groove. ‘You can lead me’, that comes next, is perhaps the album’s standout moment. The intro alone is worth noting, with its phenomenal build up, much more subtle and extraordinary than the initial two tracks. It builds and builds, once again lead with a chorus from above, before a lovely descend into the verse. Another element here that signify a different approach is the use of the high guitar riff, that remains throughout the chorus and verse. After the second chorus, a charming piano solo chimes in, a transition that begins a series of beautiful moments of instrumentation. Next comes the guitar riff that is just so damn groovy, with the vocal chants of ‘you make me feel so good’ doing just that. Then the piano again, then a synth, its all so damn glorious and mesmerising. Honestly, this might be one of the most perfect progressions of music this writer has ever heard, its seamless, and genius. Then bass. Damn! To counter act that, we have ‘my desire (studio), a short 1 minute clip of piano that compliments the full version expertly. A sign of things to come.
The band move away from the melodic and atmospheric funk and just head straight into the groove with ‘Don’t Stop’. The bass once again takes centre stage here, with the piano and guitar perfectly in time with the hi hats and cymbals. The synths also take a strong high line here, and adds greatly to the progression of the track, along with a lovely sax solo to boot. The full version of ‘My Desire’ comes next, and oh boy is it a good one. Evoking the strong emphasis of Chicago house on the piano riff, its simple yet deadly. The track descends into this galloping beat, that focuses more on the use of the guitar to move the track along. The verse and its instrumental effect is very powerful, and moves into the chorus effortlessly. The keys come back, don’t you worry, with the piano acting like this simple force of nature that interjects on occasion when needed. It’s a masterpiece, no doubt.
Up next we have ‘Danielle’, and is the slowest song on the album yet. Evoking Japanese Jazz Fusion, 80s r’n’b and slowed down disco boogie burners, the tune is full of heart and soul. Moving from the swaying verses, to the full bodied chest pumping choruses, its glorious in its melodies and meaning, and breezily effortless in its execution. One final journey into the funk comes in the form of ‘Let Me Come In Your Life’. The intro displays the tunes bones, a funky high tempo key line with a pumping drum beat underneath, with heavier guitar work than shown on the rest of the record. The harmonised vocals again add significant depth, and just work in the funk factors favour. Brilliant.
Firefly mirrored the contemporary scene at the time, and produced something that only adds to it. A brilliant band, with an ability to do much more with their abilities to read between the lines, created an album full of subtle elements that add together to create a whole that stretches way beyond the music itself. They do the funk thing very well, but its blended with the best qualities of boogie and disco, using the groove as something to feed off of. It feels like Atomsfear if they went more disco, rather than Brit Funk. This is a real classic, and for any lovers of 80s boogie and disco, this is the one!
Check out 'My Desire' below: