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Ultimate: Ultimate

Album Notes

Although this self-titled LP was recorded in Philadelphia in 1979, it might as well have been recorded in Berlin, Stockholm, or Milan -- that's because Ultimate's music is about as Euro-disco as it gets. The production is extremely European sounding, which is exactly what producers Juliano Salerni and Bruce Weeden were going for when their company, South Philly Productions, brought this project to Casablanca (home of Donna Summer and the Village People) in the late '70s. Back then, Philly was giving the world a lot of dance floor classics, but most of them weren't terribly European sounding -- think of club-minded artists who recorded in Philly during the Disco Era (Double Exposure and Moment of Truth, among many others), and you tend to think of artists who blended the disco beat with gospel-influenced passion and a strong awareness of disco's soul roots. Ultimate, however, sounds nothing like those artists and is influenced by European acts like Cerrone and Love and Kisses. Ultimate was ignored by pop and R&B radio in the U.S. but was well-received by club DJs who loved the lush, high-gloss approach of tunes like "Take Me to Chinatown" and "Ritmo de Brazil." Dance clubs were especially receptive to Side 1, which brings the songs "Touch Me Baby," "Love Is the Ultimate," and "Dancing in the Night" together for a 14-minute nonstop dance medley. Rock critics, of course, hated this LP with a passion, calling it contrived and campy. And, to be sure, Ultimate is both of those things, but it's still a fun and infectious piece of ear candy. ~ Alex Henderson


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