Amii Stewart, Knock On Wood, Ariola Records SW-50054, 1979
In the 80s there was a raging debate about whether Madonna or Cyndi Lauper would be the more successful singer. For the discount record buyer, we have to scale it down a bit to questions like which 1979 Disco one hit wonder’s record is better, Anita Ward’s or Amii Stewart’s? On cover alone, Amii Stewart wins. Don’t wear this outfit to shovel snow in February.
While the back is much more sedate, it’s easy to see why her career never really reached these heights again. Side one features the #1 hit in a fun 6:13 extended dance mix along with the #69 follow-up, an 8:26 version of The Doors’ Light My Fire. Unfortunately side two is just some middling efforts written by the producer Barry Leng. The vocals are engineered in such a way that I don’t think it really mattered who the singer was.
Interestingly, however, while this one album will represent the extent of any US record shopper’s Amii Stewart collection, she did go on to have a successful 10 year string of chart success in Italy. Apparently, l’amore is mutual, as Stewart lives in Italy and appears on TV and performs there to this day. Take that Anita Ward!
Cost: $2, $438 Remaining
Anita Ward, Songs Of Love, Juana 200,004, 1979
It is said that Anita Ward’s biggest fear was becoming a one hit wonder. But with the success of Saturday Night Fever, Disco Music sales soared, virtually ending the popularity R&B/Soul sound of African American singers. It was way past the point of people thinking it was a fad. So when the popular disco label TK Records tells you that their star producer Frederick Knight wants to sign you to a brand new label he’s starting and has a sure-fire hit to jump start your career, well, if you’re like Ms. Ward, you sign on the dotted line.
Like many up and coming singers, the lure of a hit might cause you to agree to a few things that you never thought you would. Like Donna Summer, Anita Ward’s faith made her uncomfortable to sing the double entendre sexual lyrics she was given to record. Ring My Bell really had nothing to do with actual bells after all.
Unlike Ms. Summer, it all came crashing down fast for Anita Ward’s career. Despite the international success of Bell, TK Records was bankrupt by 1980, disco died virtually overnight, and Anita was in a bad car accident that laid her up for months. Her seven big days at number one would be all she ever had. This excellent copy of her crowning achievement will live on on my shelf, complete with it’s original shrink wrap and promotional stickers, the Juana label with the TK inner sleeve, and it’s cautionary tale for all newcomers.
Cost: $2, $825 Remaining