Dinah Washington's classic "What a Difference a Day Makes" proved to be a perfect vehicle for a comeback by veteran jazz-soul-pop vocalist Esther Phillips. Phillips was part of a string of veteran artists who would find renewed success through disco recordings. People's Choice demonstrated Philly soul at its peak, and producer Jacques Morali registered his first major disco success with the exotic sounds and costumes of the Ritchie Family.
Banzai - "Chinese Kung Fu" (Scepter)
"Chinese Kung Fu" was another record that capitalized on the martial arts craze of the mid 1970s. It is instrumental disco punctuated by kung fu shouts.
Ralph Carter - "When You're Young and In Love" (Mercury)
Ralph Carter first gained fame portraying Michael Evans on the hit TV show Good Times. He was also nominated for a Tony Award for his role in the Broadway musical Raisin based on A Raisin In the Sun. "When You're Young and In Love," the title song from Ralph Carter's debut album was written by Van McCoy and first recorded by Ruby and the Romantics becoming a minor hit in late 1964. The Marvelettes had a top 10 R&B hit with the song in 1967. Ralph Carter's version could be called teen idol disco.
Isley Brothers - "Fight the Power" (T-Neck)
The Isley Brothers are one of the most enduring and influential of all R&B recording acts. The family group was formed in the early 1950s and recorded one of their first classics "Shout" late in the decade. By the early 1970s they had evolved into a funk band with a rock edge. "Fight the Power" is a funk classic with enough of a dance groove to have appeal to disco audiences.
Hubert Laws - "Chicago Theme" (CTI)
Hubert Laws is another of a string of top jazz musicians who found success with early disco hits. "The Chicago Theme" was written by smooth jazz pioneer Bob James. It is a laidback instrumental track highlighting the jazz flute of Hubert Laws.
Linda Lewis - "It's In His Kiss" (Arista)
Linda Lewis is a British R&B vocalist with a long, distinguished career. As a session singer, she appeared on David Bowie's 1973 album Aladdin Sane. Her version of Betty Everett's 1964 classic "The Shoop Shoop Song" was released as "It's In His Kiss" and welded northern soul to a disco beat. Luther Vandross appears on background vocals.
MFSB - "Sexy" (Philadelphia International)
The more than 30 studio musicians that made up MFSB (Mother Father Sister Brother) were the house band for disco pioneer label Philadelphia International. Recording on their own the band created "TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)" otherwise known as the theme song for TV's Soul Train. "Sexy" is big band disco at its best.
People's Choice - "Do It Any Way You Wanna" (TSOP)
People's Choice emerged out of Philadelphia in the early 1970s. "Do It Any Way You Wanna" was an early disco smash featuring hypnotic chanted vocals and a deeply funky but elegant instrumental groove.
Esther Phillips - "What a Difference a Day Makes" (Kudu)
Esther Phillips success as a recording artist dated back to 1950 when she first hit the top 10 on the R&B chart as a teenager under the name Little Esther. In the 1960s she recorded songs that bridged country and soul. In the early 1970s she received some of the best reviews of her long career recording gritty soul. "What a Difference a Day Makes" won Dinah Washington a 1959 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance. Esther Phillips' version is smooth uptempo disco.
The Ritchie Family - "Brazil" (20th Century Fox)
The female singers who made up the Ritchie Family were not related. French producer Jacques Morali, who would later form the Village People, put together the group with his collaborator Henri Belolo. "Brazil" was first written as "Aquarela do Brasil" in 1939.