Thursday, June 5, 2008

A West Indian Disco Powerhouse

In early 1981 I purchased a compilation cassette called ‘In The Bag’. One of the stand out tracks that encouraged me to buy it was the disco/dance track ‘Que Sera Mi Vida (If You Should Go)’ by The Gibson Brothers. The song had debuted on the Australian charts during the last week of 1980, and spent the first half of 1981 inside the top 100 (a remarkable feat for any song), peaking at #9 along the way. But the song had actually been around since 1979 and had charted elsewhere considerably earlier than down under.

The Gibson Brothers hailed from Martinique, part of the West Indian group of islands in the Caribbean and obviously chose music as a career over cricket - I‘m not sure how big French cricket was in Martinique at the time. The brothers were Chris Gibson (lead vocals), Patrick Gibson (vocals/drums) and Alex Gibson (vocals/keyboards). Around 1976 the brothers were living in Paris and they started working with producer Daniel Vangarde, that year recording their debut single ‘Come To America’, a disco-salsa styled tune that was well received in parts of Europe. ‘Non-Stop Dance’ followed soon after and in 12” format became a smash hit across Europe, but again the trio couldn’t crack the lucrative U.S. market.

Henry Stone’s T.K. label then signed the talented brothers and a 1977 12” single ‘Heaven’ was launched in the U.S. market, but beyond the thriving club scene it again but again missed out crossing over to the mainstream airplay/chart scene. But the Gibson Brothers would soon savour a taste of the same kind of mainstream success as their near namesake Gibb Brothers were experiencing in the late 70s.

With their 1979 album ’Cuba’ The Gibson Brothers finally broke through in a broader commercial sense. The title track ‘Cuba’ was a huge hit on U.S. dance floors and worldwide garnered 14 gold record accreditations, rocketing to #1 in 16 countries. 1979 was the peek of the disco/dance movement (even in the U.K.) and the album ‘Cuba’ realised three major U.K. hits; ‘Cuba’ (#12), ‘Ooh! What A Life’ (#10) and ‘Que Sera Mi Vida (If You Should Go)’ (#5). A follow up album ‘On The Riviera’ in 1980 yielded one further major hit for The Gibson Brothers with ‘Mariana’ (U.K.#11) before the new wave/new romantic movement blew disco into the realm of the anachronistic.

‘My Heart’s Beating Wild (Tic Tac Tic Tac)’ was a minor hit U.K. (#56) during 1983, but beyond the dance floors The Gibson Brothers didn’t trouble the chart statisticians outside European markets again. Steady touring did continue throughout the 80s, and a 1987 album ‘Emily’ earned The Gibson Brothers a ‘Group Of The Year’ award in Europe. The trio continued with production work and recorded again in 1997 with the Belgian album release ‘Move On Up’, featuring a mix of new songs and cover versions. The Gibson Brothers most recent album was a German release in 2005 titled ‘Blue Island’. Acclaimed producer Daniel Vangarde continued on to huge success with artists such as Santa Esmeralda and Daft Punk.

The song ‘Que Sera Mi Vida (If You Should Go)’ was also featured on the sountrack to the 1998 motion picture ‘54’. IMHO ‘Que Sera Mi Vida (If You Should Go)’ stands tall as one of the top 10 best songs of the entire disco/dance genre.

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