Dr. Buzzard's Original "Savannah" Band
Released: June 1976
Chart Peak: #22
Weeks Charted: 49
Certified Gold: 12/14/76
This groundbreaking soul album, which had its first impact in discos, kaleidoscopes "swank" and "nostalgia" in a delightfully skew collection of musical montages. A six-member grop which features three singers (two men and a woman), "Savannah" deftly interposes literal quotes from old songs like "Whispering" and "Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goodbye)" with allusive musical fragments. Though the allusions cover four decades, the cheif reference points are swing band and hotel orchestra.
The highest moments introduce a genuinely surrealistic disco sound whose adventurous use of bitonality and electronic sound effects stands in absolute contrast to the recent disco market's cynical prefabrication of oldies. "I'll Play the Fool," "Cherchez La Femme" and especially "Sour and Sweet" are group originals that literally explode the genre with their brittle, scintillating audacity.
But those looking for passion in dance music will not find it here: "Savannah," though infinitely more sophisticated than Silver Convention, is just about as mechanized. Nevertheless, a welcome thread of whimsy runs through the album. The electronic music is more Spike Jones dada than Pink Floyd spacey; and the vocals and lyrics are sassy and blithe.
- Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 9/23/76.
A very campy blend of the big band sound of the forties and today's pop/disco music scene. Vocals are strong enough for radio airplay, and there's enough variety to avoid tabbing this as solely a disco effort. Two of the cuts, "Cher Chez La Femma" and "Sour And Sweet," though, should generate strong dance following. Best cuts: "Cher Chez La Femme," "Sour And Sweet," "Hard Times," "Sunshower," "I'll Play The Fool," "We Got It Made."
- Billboard, 1976.
I hated this the first time I played it, which turned out to mean that I had encountered a clear, uncompromising and dangerously seductive expression of a vision of life that was foreign to me. Call it disco-sophistico: a version of post-camp nostalgia that celebrates the warmth (OK) and class (ugh) of a time irretrievably (and safely) past. Since they're not white, the Savannah Band never make you feel they love the '40s because there were no uppity muggers back then, though I still wonder about their get-thee-behind-me dismissal of hard r&b, not to mention their fashion mag potential. But it's a pleasure to admit that their music is a fresh pop hybrid with its own rhythmic integrity, and that its sophistication is a lot brighter and more lively than most of the organic bullshit making it to the rock stage in the mid-'70s. A
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
Dr. Buzzard introduced a big-band sheen to '70s dance music with the hit "Cherchez la Femme" and the rest of this charmingly neo-retro album. * * * *
- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Featuring strong musicianship and production, Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band is a well-played, disco-style delight. * * * *
- Lawrence Gabriel, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
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