It’s not dif­fi­cult to find vin­tage dis­co mate­ri­al on CD but it rarely gets the respect­ful archival edi­tions that rock or soul albums get.  Fans usu­al­ly have to set­tle for album-only reis­sues or track down mul­ti­ple com­pi­la­tions to get the sin­gle edits and twelve-inch mix­es for a desired song.  Thankfully, Mr. Pink — the man behind the ace Disco Discharge com­pi­la­tion series — has applied the rock/soul “deluxe edi­tion” style to clas­sic dis­co mate­ri­al via his new Disco Recharge series.  His 2-CD edi­tion of Voyage’s clas­sic Eurodisco album Fly Away is the lat­est exam­ple of this series and it gives this album the respect it is due (and then some).

For those not famil­iar with this group, Voyage was a French stu­dio project mas­ter­mind­ed by library music pro­duc­er Roger Tokarz and it fea­tured a band of the country’s top ses­sion musos, all of whom were famil­iar with the musi­cal demands of the dis­co mar­ket.  Fly Away was their sopho­more album and it found the group refin­ing the inter­na­tion­al trav­el-themed dis­co exot­i­ca that they pio­neered on their self-titled first album.

The album starts on an impres­sive note with “Souvenirs,” a sun­ny, joy­ous trib­ute to jet­set wan­der­lust that cap­tures the exu­ber­ance and glam­our of dis­co per­fect­ly.  Though the struc­ture of the arrange­ment is clear­ly mod­eled on past Voyage album-open­er “From East To West,” this song quick­ly push­es the melod­ic envelope into fresh ter­ri­to­ry.  The dense arrange­ment begins with a spacey intro where flut­ter­ing syn­th lines weave in and out of a wah-wah-dom­i­nat­ed groove.  However, it soon blos­soms into a lav­ish main melody where a sen­ti­men­tal piano melody pro­vides the back­bone for an array of shiny vocal har­monies and soar­ing string and horn arrange­ments.  The end result is one of the all-time Eurodisco clas­sics.

The remain­der of the first side devotes itself to an exot­i­ca-styled med­ley that  cov­ers the Far East (“Kechak Fantasy” and “Eastern Trip”) plus a trip to the trop­ics (“Tahiti, Tahiti”).   Like the first Voyage album, this first side nice­ly fits the late 1970’s mold of Eurodisco: a taut rhythm sec­tion lay­ered with lots of key­boards, vocal har­monies, orches­tra­tion and some light elec­tron­ic touch­es.  Depending on the loca­tion, exotic touch­es are mixed in for extra son­ic fla­vor: expect to hear tablas, vibes and steel gui­tars as well as the occa­sion­al locale-speci­fic vocal chant.

Let’s Fly Away” starts the sec­ond side in style, dish­ing up anoth­er trav­el trib­ute with a midtem­po pace and some quirky yet charm­ing syn­th touch­es en route to an ethe­re­al cho­rus. “Golden Eldorado” is this side’s best moment, a pop track with a dance beat that achieves a Santa Esmeralda-esque Latin style with some Spanish-style acoustic gui­tar riffs and trum­pet lines.  It also has a soar­ing cho­rus to die for. The album finale adds a inter­est­ing twist to the Voyage for­mu­la: “Gone With The Music” adds some are­na-rock gui­tar riff­ing to cre­ate an effect rem­i­nis­cent of Abba’s ges­tures towards the rock and roll mar­ket.

In its orig­i­nal album form, Fly Away clocked in at under 35 min­utes… but the new Disco Recharge spe­cial edi­tion adds plen­ty more val­ue for mon­ey by expand­ing the run­ning time to a whop­ping two discs.  For starters, it has sin­gle edits and twelve-inch mix­es for every­thing com­pil­er Mr. Pink could get his hands on: “Souvenirs,” “Let’s Fly Away” and “Tahiti, Tahiti” are the tracks high­light­ed in the­se mul­ti­ple for­mats.  They play well at any length but the real rev­e­la­tion comes from Steve Algozino’s “Hot Tracks” remix of “Souvenirs”: it alters the pitch of the song, restricts itself to instru­men­tal sec­tions and even adds some extra drum fills and syn­th lines into the mix.  The result has the kind of trip­py, blissed-out feel you occa­sion­al­ly get with dub tracks.  Purists will be hap­py to notice there’s also a sec­ond ver­sion of the mix pre­sent­ed at the speed used on the album ver­sion.

However, the best bonus here is the inclu­sion of Special Instrumental Vol. 2, an all-instru­men­tal col­lec­tion that offers a side’s worth of mate­ri­al from the first two Voyage albums and a side of vocals-free songs from an album by Voyage vocal­ist Sylvia Mason that fea­tures the same musi­cians used on the Voyage mate­ri­al.  The Mason mate­ri­al is most­ly uptem­po stuff — think Chic-style grooves deliv­ered in an even more lav­ish style — plus a love­ly bal­lad called “Shadow In The Sun” that has a lite-jazz style, com­plete with sax­o­phone solo. If you need any addi­tion­al bonus mate­ri­al, the pro­duc­ers even throw in a music library dance track the musi­cians did under the name Disco & Co!

In short, the Disco Recharge edi­tion of Fly Away is a keep­er for dis­co fans and a great exam­ple of the qual­i­ty spe­cial edi­tions rolling out under this series moniker.  Word has it that sev­er­al Boris Midney pro­duc­tions are in the works for Disco Recharge edi­tions so it will be inter­est­ing to see what kind of expan­sive dis­co delights Mr. Pink and com­pa­ny put togeth­er the next time.