As mentioned in the Story Of Xanadu mega-piece in this web site, the music of Xanadu didn’t end with the release of the soundtrack and movie. Xanadu co-producer Joel Silver conceived a project with record producer Richard Perry (who recorded hits with the likes of The Pointer Sisters, Harry Nilsson, Carly Simon & Barbara Strisand) that was inspired by the film’s big band/rock musical sequence ‘Dancin’. The result was this 1981 record called Swing on Perry’s label, Planet Records.
Swing consisted of top studio musicians like Tom Scott (who also was the musical director for Olivia Newton-John’s 1983 Physical touring band), Victor Feldman, Ira Newborn (who played the big band leader in the Dancin’ scene), James Newton Howard, Paulinho
Da Costa, David Benoit and the Tonight Show arranger Tommy Newson with Charlotte Crossley, Lorraine Feather & Steve March handling the leading vocals, as seen on the back cover of the album.
Similar to Dancin’, this project was presented with the mix of traditional big band sound with modern technology to bring out, what the albums liner notes calls, “the sound of swing in the 80’s.” It should be noted that, unlike Dancin’, there’s no sonic outbursts from a five piece rock band to be found here.
A good chunk of the tracks were covers with a pinch of originals mixed in. Tweedell Dee, Serenade In Blue, Let The Good Times Roll, Crazy He Calls Me and the Duke Ellington classic Caravan were played next to more “updated” old tunes like Trocadero Ballroom and
Big Bucks (the first and only single), along side the originals like The Right Idea and, what should have been a great single, Make Love To Me Baby.
Not much is known about this project outside of this one-off record. I personally remember this was also released on a picture disc format and, if I’m really scratching the back of me head, good old 8-track tape. It's rumored that in the mid-80's Perry solf his Planet Record label to RCA for 20 million dollars.
It is interesting to note that one year after this record was released, Linda Ronstadt would come out with the first of her three big
band/ballad titles, What’s New, to acclaim and large sales. This might suggest that the sales for Swing was below expectations or
they would of came out with a follow-up to capitalize Ms. Ronstadt’s latest success.
To make this even worse, this title wasn’t given a passing thought during the 1990’s lounge/big band revival and remained in the
used vinyl record bins.
ORIGINAL ALBUM NOTES:
“SWING” is a term usually associated with the ageless joy, passion
and romance of the big band era.
In bringing ‘Swing’ to an audience of today, we have taken all the vital elements of this music and added a vibrant new quality. The result is not another revival but an unique fusion – a blend of sounds never before experienced.
Modern recording technology enabled us to produce a special sound and character that was literally impossible in the big band days. The total sound of drums and percussion, the use of electric bass and guitars, and the shimmering effects produced by the synthesizer (sometimes voiced along with the sax section) – all have played an exciting part in creating this new definition of “Swing”.
Although they are involved in all aspects of contemporary music, the talented musicians, arrangers and singer who contributed to this album have a feeling and understanding of the musical essence of swing.
This is music with a fresh and fascinating new dimension: the sound of swing in the 80’s.
NOTE: the last two articles were from the November 7th, 1981 edition of Billboard Magazine.