Friday, August 21, 2009

Donnie Osmond - Disco Train - 1976

I know what you've been thinking, "enough with the photos already". Yeah, yeah I hear you. Let's get some cheeseball music going again. What better way to fill that cheeseball hankering than some later 70's Donny Osmond.

The cover alone is worth the purchase. I love how literal the photo is. You have Donny dressed in full on disco garb and then you have a train, hence Disco Train. Brilliant. Now would someone explain why the piano is being played on the tracks?

The music you say? How does that stack up? Well the album gets off to a great start with a song called "C'mon Marianne" that has an opening lifted right right from "Touch Me" from The Doors. I am surprised there wasn't a lawsuit over this one. I guess the song didn't do well on the charts and didn't warrant the lawsuit. I'm including a youtube clip so you can listen and compare.

Rip off aside, the song is a fun little pop song and is a god album opener.

The songs that follow after that fall into the faux white man funk genre. There is just something weird about them in that they aren't quite authentic and give them a weird feel. It is as if aliens came to this world and tried to mimic the popular music of the time.

Track 2 "Old Man Auctioneer" is a really weird number. It has a twangy hillbilly thing going on while also being heavily funk influenced. There is also another suspicious bit in the song where the melody and lyric phrasing sounds a lot like "Dancing Machine" by The Jackson 5. Think of the part in that song where Michael sings
"Automatic Systematic
Full of color self contained
Tune that channel to your vibes"

Then listen to Donny's singing at around 1 minute 3 seconds in. You can sing those "Dancing Machine" Lyrics right over Donny and it fits right in. The really offensive line is "Nobody could sing his funky song" that sounds exactly and I mean exactly like "tune that channel to your vibes". I mean even the way Michael breaks the word vibes into two syllables is copied by Donny. Teen heart throbs stealing from each other.

If you are interested in any other other lyrics from the song on the record someone who must really love Donny has published them on the web. Good for them. Find them here at

Another cheeseball effect on the record is the faux live recording. This album is so desperate. Let's travel back in time to the late 70's. The Osmonds were growing up. Their luster was fading. They needed hits and so Donny is doing whatever he can to stay relevant. So he does what other pop acts do, he looks around and sees what is selling. So beyond coopting the disco thing he also sees that live records like "Frampton Comes Alive" and Kiss's "Alive II" are selling like hotcakes. Now let's be honest, Donny's not the only one who jumped on this band wagon and more than likely it wasn't Donny's idea to make track 4 seem like a live recording. There are cheering crowds and such, but it is obvious that this was all done in the studio, which is what makes it all the more desperate. The song isn't too bad and the studio trickery makes me giggle a little.

I'll cut short the review of every single song on the record. I think if you check out the first couple I talked about you'll get the idea for the rest of the album.


01 C'Mon Marianne.m4a
02 Old Man Auctioneer.m4a
03 Swinging City Gal.m4a
04 I Follow The Music (Disco Donny).m4a
05 Don't Need No Money.m4a
06 I Can't Put My Finger On It.m4a
07 Disco Train.m4a
08 Reachin' For The Feeling.m4a
09 I Got Your Lovin'.m4a
10 Disco Dancin'.m4a
11 Never Gonna Let You Go.m4a

Donny Osmond - Disco
As an extra bonus here are the other Osmond brothers performing an accapella more country version of "Old Man Auctioneer".


jennifer said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Spencer said...

Well, thank you for reading. I hope you do come back and that you comment again.

AutoPuzzles Blogger said...

Hey - great blog!Your music collection is amazing.

I can't let your comment about the opening of "C'mon Marianne" being a ripoff of the Doors. The riff on Donny's "C'mon Marianne" IS a ripoff - but it comes from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons' take on "C'mon Marianne" - a top ten single from 1967 - a year before the Doors released the Soft Parade album which included "Touch Me". So, who ripped of whom?

Anyway - keep up the great work - your blog is a gem.

Here's Frankie and the boys:

Spencer said...

I stand corrected. I had never heard this Four Seasons version and you are right. The riff is clearly there. The beat and notes are there, but it sounds more bouncy and maybe jangly like Iggy Pop's "Lust For Life". It sounds like the Doors took the riff and did their thing with it and then When Donnie's people produced his version, they picked up where The Doors left it. I still think it sounds more like The Doors than The Four Seasons, but I can't fault them for wanting it to sounds a little more "hip" or "modern".