понедельник, 25 июня 2007 г.

The Ritchie Family

The Ritchie Family
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Ritchie Family was the name of an American vocal group, based in Philadelphia, who achieved several hits during the 1970s disco era.

A female disco trio created by Ritchie Rome and produced by Jacques Morali, best known for masterminding the Village People. At first the Ritchie Family was known for wild Labelle-like costumes and ambitious (if tacky) medleys, but as disco devolved and personnel changed they started cranking out the same kind of overlong, minimalist camp as everybody else. The group stopped recording as disco faded from the airwaves, but they are currently touring together, and working on some new material.


Cheryl Jacks, Cassandra Ann Wooten, and Gwendolyn Oliver, vocals. Circa 1978, they were replaced en masse by Vera Brown, Jaqui Smith-Lee and Theodosia "Dodie" Draher. Draher left 1983, replaced by Linda James. Group broke up shortly thereafter, but reformed with Brown, Draher, Smith-Lee and Ednah Holt.


The three original members were not related; the group was created by Jacques Morali who soon after also created Village People. The group took its name from record producer Ritchie Rome, and originally consisted of singers Cheryl Jacks, Cassandra Wooten, and Gwen Oliver.

Their first hit single, a reworking of the 1930s song "Brazil" reached the Top 20 in the United States in 1975, and the album, also titled Brazil, sold well. The following year they released the album Arabian Nights, and with it the single "The Best Disco In Town". The song was essentially a medley of recent disco songs linked together with an original chorus and it became a worldwide hit.

Their follow up albums Life is Music, which followed a 1930s theme, and African Queens were only mediocre successes. Each of these four albums was a concept album featuring songs of a similar theme as suggested by each album title. Each album also featured a long medley, usually running from 15 to 20 minutes.

By 1978 the three members had been replaced by Jaqui Smith, Dodie Draher and Vera Brown. Their 1978 album American Generation was a slight departure from disco and more in the style of europop, although one of the singles from it was called "I Feel Disco Good." The group abandoned the exotic and highly kitsch costumes of their earlier incarnation in favour of a more contemporary, sexually provocative style. This album was followed by a self titled album, and the hit "Put Your Feet To The Beat."

The Ritchie Family next recorded the Give Me A Break LP which contained the hits "Give Me A Break" and "Never Be Able to Set You Free." Continuing with album releases, the next was a strange partnership with Jaques Fred Petrus and Mauro Malavasi, the pair behind Change. The album they recorded was I'll Do My Best For You Baby; following that was All Night All Right.

In 1980 they joined Village People for the movie Can't Stop the Music. The film was a resounding failure and still appears on many critics' "worst ever" lists; however the soundtrack album sold well in some parts of the world. By this time disco music was losing its popularity.

After deciding to split, after group owner Jaques Morali discovered he had AIDS, the group continued as Vera Brown and the Rich Girls for one song called "Too Much Too Fast" that crashed completely. Vera Brown released one CD called "That's Just The Way It Is" under the name Veronica in 1991. Since then she has reformed The Ritchie Family, with Dodie Draher and Jacqui Lee-Smith, but without further releases.



1975 Brazil
1976 Arabian Nights
1977 Life Is Music
1977 African Queens
1977 The Best Of …
1978 American Generation
1978 Bad Reputation
1979 Je Te Tiens, Tu Me Tiens Par La Barbichette
1980 Can’t Stop The Music
1980 Give Me A Break
1982 I’ll Do My Best
1983 All Night, All Right
1990 Greatest Hits
2005 The Best Of …

From - http://www.discomuseum.com/RitchieFamily.html

When The Ritchie Family surfaced in 1975 with "Brazil," which contained impressive remakes of "Peanut Vendor," "Frenesi" and the title cut, many thought they were merely newcomers who hopped aboard the disco bandwagon in pursuit of quick bucks. Not so.

From 1965 to 1972 Cassandra and Gwen, who met in their school glee club, were part of a group called "Honey & The Bees," an R&B quartet based in Philadelphia, which seems to have nurtured an abundance of musical activity and talent.

Both women agreed, recalling with amusement some of their earliest experiences and memories of boys, out on the corner, fighting over who was going to sing bass or tenor, while the girls were singing in each others' living rooms or on the front stoops, getting each "doo-wa-doo" down pat. "While we used to practice," recalled Gwen, "our parents used to say, 'Oh no, not tonight; you can quit early tonight, you poor girls."

All that practice paid off though, when "Honey & The Bees" met with minor success with regional hits like: "That's What Boys Are Made For," "Better Come Get It" and "It's Gonna Take A Miracle." Did Cassandra and Gwen get swelled heads? Not exactly-when you consider they were too busy putting up with a few unexpected surprises they came up against in the cruel, heartless world.

"One time in Bristol, Pennsylvania" reflected Cassandra, "we worked this rinky-dink club and weren't really getting paid much money.The club owner, for some odd reason, thought he was paying us grand-theft cash. We hadn't brought a p.a. system since we were accustomed to working in clubs which had one; but the owner thought we had come unprepared. He started fussing and saying things like 'Yeah , everytime I hire you professional groups and pay you all this money I get all these problems'. He started ranting and raving to the point where he wanted to fight us-four girls!!!-but we didn't want to 'cause he was around 70 years old! Though his wife tried to calm him down, he said he was going to get a gun and blow us away! So we got up on stage, of course, and started singing without microphones. We were glad to do it-man, were we scared!." They also remembered the good times, particularly the days that they appeared at the Uptown Theatre-the Philadelphia equivalent of New Yorks' Apollo Theatre-which broke in so many contemporary disco artists. "It was the best place to be in the whole world" claimed Cassandra.

After the group disbanded, the disillusioned Gwen and Cassandra joined the Philadelphia School Of Performing Arts, where they met Cheryl. During this period producer Richie Rome recorded the "Brazil" album using the Sweethearts Of Sigma Sound (Carla Benson, Evette Benton, and Barbara Ingram). When the album became a hit an actual group was needed to tour and make personal appearances. Audtions were held and ...enter Gwendolyn Oliver, Cheryl Mason Jacks, and Cassandra Ann Wooten...The Ritchie Family.

Ritchie Rome created "The Ritchie Family" and arranged, co-wrote and produced, with Jacques Morali their first three albums. "Brazil," "Arabian Nights" and "Life Is Music" defined and cemented their sound and yet Rome was the first to leave in an endless list of casualties in the evolving "Ritchie Family".

Producer Jacques Morali seizing total control of "The Ritchie Family," was by 1977 on a roll, and with his new partners, Henri Belolo, Phil Hurtt, and Horace Ott released the groups fourth album. Many consider "African Queens" to be their consumate album. The changes had only begun, 20th Century out-T.K. Marlin in, Richie Rome out-Henri Belolo in. Sadly it seems the changes were more than any of the parties involved could handle. Thus, "African Queens," was to be the final effort for Gwen, Cheryl and Cassandra.

1978 brought new girls to the banner of "The Ritchie Family," Ednah Holt, Dodie Draher, and Vera Brown, with a completely new sound. This line-up released "American Generation" for T.K.-Marlin before the next evolution of the Ritchie Family. T.K. Marlin out-Casablanca Records in.

Ednah Holt was replaced after this project by Vera Brown who became the group's lead singer from then on. Ednah formed her own group, Ednah Holt & Starluv, and they released the single "People Come Dance."

This line-up limped into 1979 with the weak and rather aptly named "Bad Reputation" for their new label. It seems the magic was gone and The Ritchie Family indeed was achieving a Bad Reputation! Also in 1979, a soundtrack of a French film by Jean Yanne “Je Te Tiens, Tu Me Tiens Par La Barbichette” was released in which the Ritchie Family performed in the movie.

An appearance in the big-budget flop, "Can't Stop The Music" added to their decline. The 1980's looked bleak for disco music and The Ritchie Family. Jacques Morali out-Jacques Fred Petrus (and Mauro Malavasi) in.

Casablanca out-RCA Records in. A valiant effort by the artists, producers, and new label did produce a bigger hit than their 1979 fiasco. 1982's "I'll Do My Best For You Baby" was the first time The Ritchie Family enjoyed airplay and clubplay simultaneously in several years. And yet another series of changes were in the air.

In 1983 Dodie Draher was replaced by Linda James. A new producer, Gavin Christopher, was able to pull one more single out of the group. "All Night, All Right" was to be the end of the line. 7 talented women, 4 record labels, 5 production teams and "The Ritchie Family" was over!

In reviewing their music you can hear the musical evolution and sadly witness the results of all the constant changes. All and all the name "The Ritchie Family" still garners a place in The DiscoMuseum for their early creations. Our love and thanks to all those who had a hand in creating such wonderful tunes....thanks!

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