Tuesday, June 26, 2012

K.C. And The Sunshine Band

It's guilty pleasure time, my friends. There are certain acts that many of us who consider ourselves serious fans of "good music" with "discriminating tastes" feel are beneath us. We turn our nose up at acts like Abba, Kiss, The Bay City Rollers and others because they lack substance, are too gimmicky or simply make unworthy music. Therefore, we can't be bothered with such as these...at least not in public. Behind closed doors however, or in the privacy of our earbuds we rock to these guys hard with the rest of the world none the wiser. Well I'm here to tell you I like K.C. And The Sunshine Band and frankly don't care who knows it.
There's actually a lot to be said for this band, formed as it was in 1973 by part-time Miami, Florida record store employee Harry Wayne Casey (K.C.), the songs, though remarkably similar to one another, carry an undeniably infectious groove that tended to lean more to the funk side than most of the disco music of the period. He was introduced to bassist Richard Finch while at his other part-time job at Miami local  record company TK Records . They became the core of the group early on.

While working on demos for the band, they created a song called "Rock Your Baby" for singer George McCrea which became a #1 hit in 51 countries. The band's first songs, "Sound Your Funky Horn" and "Blow Your Whistle" were not overly successful but did well enough for TK to want more product from the band, which now included guitarist Jerome Smith and drummer Robert Johnson. The group's second self-titled album release yielded two #1 singles, "Get Down Tonight" and "That's The Way (I Like It)" and went triple platinum in 1975.

Maybe it was Finch's relentless bass lines. Possibly it was Casey's perpetual seizure-like hopping about. For me personally, it was the drummer's unspeakably cool hat. Factor in the horn section's perfect-for-the-job horn lines and choreography and you have what is called a winning formula. They rode that formula right into the following 1976 album follow-up Part Three containing two more #1 singles, "I'm Your Boogie Man" and (Shake,Shake,Shake) Shake Your Booty".  Another single from the album, "Keep It Comin' Love", a slight departure composition-wise, peaked at #2             

Their success lasted for five albums up to their last hit single "Please Don't Go" which hit #1 in January 1980, coincidentally making it the first #1 single of the 80s decade. New wave music exploded as disco's popularity waned, and the band explored other musical styles without much success. The band signed with Epic Records in 1980 after TK records went bankrupt.

In 1981 Casey and Finch parted ways acrimoniously. The band released two more pop-oriented albums with little success. The following album, All In A Day's Work did however, produce a single that did well in the U.K. entitled "Give It Up" .Despite this, Epic did not release the single in the U.S. because of the group's recent poor showing in the U.S. prior to this. Casey formed his own label, Meca Records, and released the single himself. While doing fairly well, the single nonetheless failed to perform up to expectations.

Casey retired in 1985, then with the revival of interest in disco music, returned to performing with a new band. Compilation albums were released along with 2001's I'll Be There For You which was received well by the critics but did not do well commercially. K.C. And The Sunshine Band's music appeared in the movies Blow and The In-Laws, as well on several video games. Casey perfomed "Get Down Tonight" on American Idol in 2009 and still works in the business as a producer. The band also, I'm not the least bit ashamed to say, performs quite regularly on my I-Pod.

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