Keep or Cull – Silver Convention

Today, kids, we are putting on our dancing shoes and heading for the Silver Convention, which sounds more like a gathering of cutlery collectors than a band name.

For a brief moment, the group, which essentially started as a studio project conceived in West Germany by the writing/production team of Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze, ruled the airwaves and the discos with a couple of really, really big hits.

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Their first hit, Save Me, was popular enough in the UK that Levay and Kunze had to put a group together, with Penny McLean, Ramona Wulf, and Linda G. Thompson serving as the Silver Connection despite the fact that different singers, including Roberta Kelly, who went on to score a few disco hits herself with Zodiacs.

But it was Fly, Robin, Fly, a song so lyrically concise at just six words that it made The Ramones seem prolix by comparison, that went to number one on the Billboard charts in late 1975.

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I won’t deny that Fly, Robin, Fly is wonderfully sublime in its very simple way, and it is kind of perverse that a song that is little more than a five-minute vamp with exhortations for a robin to fly up to the sky managed to soar up the charts.

But a little of that goofy charm goes a very long way.

Especially over the course of a long-playing record.

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Take Tiger Baby, which runs 4 minutes and change but has twice as many words as Fly, Robin, Fly but probably half the inspiration, and a tiger growl that sounds like someone snoring.

But listening to these songs, you kind of understand why there are stereotypes about German engineering because the disco grooves have a crispness, a preciseness, that makes them get over despite their rigid adherence to formula.

Once in a while, Kunze and Levay trade the disco for the bedroom, slipping into something comfy like Please Don’t Change the Chords of This Song, which you may have noticed packs more words into its title than Fly, Robin, Fly does in its five-minute run time.

But for the most part, they are content to knock out string-laden dance songs so inscrutable, it seems churlish to ask questions like what the ‘it’ is in a song like I Like it.

If you like disco and songs that don’t demand much of you beyond dancin’ and lovin’, this has certain bubblegum charms.

But outside of those contexts, the Silver loses some of its luster.

So this and the album that featured their other monster hit, Get Up and Boogie (that’s right!) are culls for me.

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