Gino Soccio is often mistaken as a European artist. Perhaps because of his euro-disco sounds? In fact Gino is a French Canadian, who was born in Montreal and now resides in Quebec.
Gino first gained prominence as a musician in the mid 1970’s. His first sessions of note were under the guise of Kebekelektrik (pronounced Quebec Electric) who scored hits in 1977 with “Magic Fly” (predating a version by Space) and “War Dance.” Both songs would be remixed and re-released in 1981 and 1982 on Rio Records.
Moving into the realm of producer in 1978, Gino went to the famed Muscle Schoals Sound Studios (my cousin’s studios) to work with it’s legendary musicians on a disco concept album of rock classics. The resulting “Witch Queen” was released in 1979 and scored a major hit with “Bang A Gong.”
Still not ready to become a solo artist he continued producing. Next up was fellow Canadian Karen Silver and her debut album, “Hold On I’m Comin’.” The title track from the 1979 album became a top ten hit. Both were released on Arista Records in here in the States.
With both of these successes Gino was ready to step forward as an artist. Released in 1979, “Outline” became an immediate hit. The 12″ single of “Dancer” raced up the charts and landed at number one. The album spawned two more 12″ singles, both of which went Top Ten in the clubs, “The Visitors” and “Dance To Dance” neither had the radio impact of “Dancer.”
Despite coming into disco near its end, Gino would be one of the few artists to survive the disco backlash and flourish through it’s darkest period. By the time of his next release, 1980’s “S-Beat,” musical tastes had shifted. This album still had his euro-disco sound but incorporated elements of the emerging “new wave” of sounds, as evidenced by the 12″ single of the title track. A second 12″ single, “Rhythms Of The World,” also became a hit, perhaps more because of a special Disconet remix. The album’s sales were good and established him as a major disco star. And a third single, “Heartbreaker,” made him one of the only disco artists to have three singles from each of their first two albums chart.
His biggest success came in 1981, just as disco seemed to be dead. The release of “Closer” brought Gino to a wider more diverse audience. His previous releases were widely accepted by the close knit disco community whereas “Closer” brought him acceptance from the R&B/Black radio stations. The first 12″ single, “Try It Out” was exactly where radio and clubs wanted to be, downtempo. And the follow-up “Hold Tight” continued in that vein.
Gino, seeing the future of dance music, realized that high energy was not the sound of the early 1980’s. Downtempo and funkier were the key words. So he proved he could change with the times.
His work with Karen Silver continued with a streak of hits for her. “Fake” (1980), “Nobody Else” “Set Me Free” (1981) and “Clean Up Woman” (1982). All of which were packaged with her “Hold On I’m Comin’ ” tracks and released on compact disc.
For his next solo album he continued his mid-tempo style with 1982’s “Face To Face.” The first 12″ single was “It’s Alright” which sounds like a leftover track from the “Closer” sessions, naturally it did well. The prize of the album was the next 12″ single, “Remember,” which was pure euro-pop. It was similar in style and formation to Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” or Patrick Cowley’s “Menergy.” Needless to say it revived high energy dance music at a badly needed time and was one of the forerunners of the second wave of “disco high energy” music.
His next release wasn’t until 1984 with the 12″-only of “Turn It Around.” Seems American record companies couldn’t or wouldn’t invest in another album from him. “Turn It Around” was an immediate club hit, in a softer vein than what was popular at the time. Perhaps that was because Gino had tired of trying to make “hit” records and was now focusing on what he liked to do?
Two more 12″ singles followed in 1985 and 1986, “Temptation Eyes” (not the old Grass Roots song) and “Magic” (not the Olivia Newton-John song).
By the late 1980’s Gino had gone back to being a session player and most notably a producer. Since then he has kept a low profile, but one could see another round of his well crafted dance music appear at anytime, because a great talent can never be held back.
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