The early 1980s marked a drastic shift in iconic record label Casablanca’s legacy and future. Neil Bogart, American music executive and founder of Casablanca, was pushed out in 1980 as a result of the label’s overspending and accounting irregularities. Meanwhile, the labels most prominent talents began to pursue other homes, like Donna Summers departing to Geffen Records due to creative direction disagreements. Although the label continued to represent talent, it never fully reached the peak of its disco glory days. Nevertheless, Casablanca still put our some tracks worthy of spotlighting in the decade - such as these three underrated records from the '80s that deserve some spotlight:
1. Stephanie Dorthea Mills - "Home": Stephanie Dorthea Mills, an American singer and songwriter, gained fame for her role as "Dorothy" in the original Broadway production of The Wiz, which won seven Tony Awards and ran from 1974 to 1979. Her iconic song from the musical, "Home," became a chart-topping hit in the US R&B genre and remains her signature track.
2. Irene Cara - "Flashdance...What A Feeling": Irene Cara Escalera, an American singer, songwriter, and actress, became famous for her portrayal of Coco Hernandez in the 1980 musical film Fame. She also recorded the title song "Fame," which topped charts in numerous countries. In 1983, Cara collaborated in writing and performing the hit song "Flashdance... What a Feeling" for the film Flashdance, which earned her an Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1984.
3. Cameo - "She's Strange": Originally called Cameo after a Canadian cigarette brand, the band had to switch their name after a copyright issue to “The Players.” Composed of a dozen members, the band was initially deeply funk-driven, but expanded their musical identity to disco and dance music. In 1984, the band launched their album She's Strange, which achieved significant success by reaching the top spot on the Billboard R&B chart and 26th position on the Billboard 200 chart. The album's title track, also named "She's Strange," not only became the band's first number 1 R&B hit but also their first song to appear on the pop charts, peaking at number 47 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Post 80's, the label rises again in the news as the musical journey of the label and founder Neil Bogart will come to the big screen on March 31, in a new motion picture, Spinning Gold. The soundtrack to film features the cast (Wiz Khalifa, Jason Dreulo, Pink Sweat$, Tayla Parx, Ledisi, Jeremy Jordan) covering classics such as “Bad Girls,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and “Midnight Train to Georgia.” In conjunction with the release a special limited gold-vinyl version of the film soundtrack will be exclusively available at select independent music retailers on April 22 for Record Store Day 2023.