Classics: First Choice – Double Cross (Gold Mind Records)
I can’t help myself remembering those brilliant montages of tune snippets which NYC radio WBLS used to turn into jingles. Meanwhile delivering their famous motto… “107.5, WBLS radio, number 1 for your ears!” Then you would hear pieces of First Choice‘s ‘Double Cross’, Skyy‘s ‘Here’s To You’ or Quincy Jones‘s ‘Razzmatazz’ to name a few.
Livin’ in Paris at the time, I can’t tell you how excited I was when listening to tapes which the sister of a friend of mine used to record for us one week after another. Something that most likely seems like the Middle Age to the younger generations. But hey, those were the absolute golden days of Disco. And I’m happy I didn’t miss them, as a matter of fact…
Although not their most famous song, ‘Double Cross’ remains nevertheless my favorite by the likes of First Choice. With outstanding vocal arrangements around lead singer Rochelle Fleming at the peak of her heart. But also a stellar production work courtesy of Norman Harris and Ron Tyson, with lush keys and horns over an infectious slapped bassline. Not to mention TJ Tindall‘s insane rhythm guitar part.
From Philadelphia, PA, First Choice were Rochelle Fleming, Annette Guest and Joyce Jones. They first sang together as The Debronettes at High School by the end of the 60’s. And by 1972, they met songwriters/producer Norman Harris, Allan Felder, Thom Bell and Ronnie Baker. Eventually releasing their debut-single – ‘This Is The House (Where Love Died)’ – soon after on Scepter Records.
Remaining under the direction of Harris/Felder, they switched to Philly Groove Records the year after. There, they delivered gems such as ‘Armed And Extremely Dangerous’ and ‘The Player’.
They then followed Norman Harris on his Gold Mind Records label. Eventually starting with the release of an album – ‘So Let Us Entertain You’ – via Warner Bros. wich generated relatively poor results. Then coming to bigger light after Harris had secured a distribution deal with Salsoul Records. Their follow-up album – ‘Delusions’ – spanning the classics ‘Dr Love’ and ‘Let No Man Put Asunder’ back in 1977. Their 1978 Hold Your Horses’ album adding to their fame with extra gems such as ‘Double Cross’, ‘Love Thang’ and ‘Let Me Down Easy’. With many of them standing as real sources of inspiration during the early days of House Music.
First Choice eventually released another album – ‘Breakaway’ – which would be their very last back in 1980. It featured ‘Pressure Point’ which Tony Humphries rebuilt in an incredible way as a part of the ‘Synergy’ compilation 12 years after.
Rochelle Fleming delivered a bunch of releases on her own. Beginning with ‘Love Itch’ on Prelude Records back in 1985. And she eventually came to flirt with House Music territories. Teamin’ up with producers such as Paul Simpson, GTS and Luis Radio. Not to mention Teddy Douglas of The Basement Boys fame with whom she ‘s done ‘Gonna Give It To You’ and ‘Nobody’s Fool’, successively in 2013 and 2015.