I am so in love with today’s Sparkle Video because it’s truly beautiful. The sweet sounds of orchestrated strings calibrated to the disco beat always makes my heart flutter, and combined with the vocals of Love Unlimited takes this classic to a whole ‘nother level. “Love’s Theme” performed live (yes, really live!) is also a visual treat starting with the Barry White & Love Unlimited light-up sign on top of the flashing lights of the Soul Train stage. Then we have our three lovely ladies in matching big hair, bedazzled sparkle outfits, and hands adorned with gobs of gold rings and amazingly long nails– a style I’d like to see more often today. On top of all that is the color. The overwhelming warmth of red and yellow everywhere, from the stage down to the all the dancers in the crowd seems like everyone got a memo telling them what to wear. However, I prefer to believe that like all things fabulous, it just happened magically.
I love funk just as much as the next General, however today’s Sparkle Video was chosen for one reason only: the sparkle outfit to end all sparkle outfits. I’m gagging over the most singular sensation of head-to-toe sequins I have ever seen! The singer from Graham Central Station is a vision in glittering silver made all the more sublime by bell sleeves, matching pants and a commanding rhinestone necklace (I’ll be honest, I could live without the wig, but I’ll never deny a Soldier their right to fabulously big hair). I think that “Can You Handle It” is the perfect name for a song sung by one wearing this ultra-dazzling ensemble because not only can I handle it, but I want it. Bad.
Today’s Sparkle Video is something I like to call, “Off Da Chain!”, featuring The Commodores. Yes Soldiers, The Commodores, who even though their outfits have always sparkled madly, are mostly known for their sweet and sometimes tear-jerking ballads like “Three Times A Lady”, “Sail On” and “Lady”. However, there was a time long before the pop charts when they were full of funk, and as witnessed by this clip from a fabulously stage-lit Soul Train, that they were outright “trippin’-on-acid-y” . This instrumental performance of “Machine Gun” is two minutes and 36 seconds of heaven, watching the guys get down in their blue bedazzled jumpsuits accented with fluttering white feathers and magically lit with glorious star filters. The whole thing makes me wish I could jump in a time machine and head over to the studio so I could bug-out on the dance floor and, if I’m extra lucky, maybe even get in on a line dance!
I’ve recently realized that I need more Jimmy Bo Horne in my life and and what better time to start than Sparkle Video day. “You Get Me Hot” is 4 minutes and 5 seconds of pure “I dare you to sit down while you listen to this” funk, which is taken to the max by a room full of ultra cool Soul Train dancers. So cool, that even though there is nary a sequin in sight on the dance floor, everyone of them sparkles in a wave of brightness that is truly magical. Then there’s the man, Mr. Horne, who is beaming at us through a mirrored disco ball which is a dazzling vintage effect that I hope comes back into television fashion very soon (I know American Idol could sure use the ratings boost!). I think I’m going to spend today playing this on a loop because I can’t get enough nor can I sit down because even though it’s only morning, Living Room Disco is in full effect thanks to Jimmy Bo!
Whenever a song starts out with, “Alright you freaks..”, you know it’s going to be extra good just like today’s Sparkle Video. Don Cornelius (RIP) is showcasing a full-on outfit war on the Soul Train stage and to be honest, I’m not sure who the winner is. Now normally, I always “go sequin” as did the legendary Teena Marie (RIP) in an exciting magenta sequin dazzler which she smartly paired with a turquoise sequin tube top and matching boots. However, she’s standing next to the one and only Rick James (RIP) who’s wearing a very “Bootsy-esque” suit with extreme bell cuffs, accented with rhinestones and fabulously topped off with jeweled encrusted glasses and glitter dusted hair. This makes for quite a conundrum so instead, let’s call it a glittering tie because when it comes to sparkling, everyone’s a winner!
Disco Heaven officially has an MC. Music fans and Sparkle Army Soldiers everywhere mourn the loss of the legendary Don Cornelius who was the creator, producer, host and owner of Soul Train – a show that millions of us grew up with. Airing from 1971 to 2006, most of those years were hosted by Don himself with the silky deep voice that was one of the most recognizable in television history. Every Saturday we all got on board the “SOOOOOUUUUUUUL TRAIN” to see the superstar guests, amazing dancers (especially the line dance and my favorite pop n’ locker Shabba Doo), the disco-tastic outfits, the word scramble, and the unforgettable animated show packaging. There were many versions and several theme songs over the years, but not surprisingly, my heart belongs to the one with the train chugging along to “T.S.O.P.” Don Cornelius’ contribution to the music world and to forming us into the dance floor dazzlers we are today cannot be measured. RIP Mr. Cornelius.
I really tried to find a higher quality version of today’s Sparkle Video but there wasn’t one. No matter because High Energy‘s fabulosity still comes across full force. These wonder women are singing, roller skating and looking disco-tastic at the same time and they do it all with perfection. I definitely feel their “Swirl”.. don’t you?
Warning Soldiers: You are about to witness a Sparkle Video beyond anything you’ve witnessed before and which also serves as a reminder that there will only ever be one Godfather of Soul. Here, James Brown and his band are performing “Payback” live and killing it so hard that a party of sparkling proportion is happening on that stage filled with rhinestones and shimmering capes. It’s not just happening on the stage either- take a look at the Soul Train dancers. They are totally feeling it and so am I, for even though it’s only 11:30am, I am dressed and ready to hit the disco (or at least an early happy hour)!
By the way, I’d also like to take time in this post to thank my childhood sitters who were not only sisters, but “Sisters” with fabulously big afros. They played lots of James Brown for me and my brother while teaching us how to dance “The Bump” and then rewarded us with a trip to the candy store after.
Debbie & Tanya: you were the best- thanks for giving Da General some soul!