Friday, December 16, 2011


Raymond Donnez emerged in the late 1960s as an arranger and musical director for the likes of Françoise Hardy and Serge Gainsbourg, but he became the engineer of the unique French disco sound of the late 70s when he arranged the milestone disco record Love in C Minor by Cerrone and Alec R. Costandinos. Both producers would use the skills of Donnez - or Don Ray as his artist name was - on numerous records the following years. Having just conducted the French 1977 Eurovision Song Contest victory Marie Myriam's"L'oiseau et l'enfant", he also arranged French disco sensation Santa Esmeralda's million-selling debut album Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood.

Cerrone produced Don Ray's one and only solo album, The Garden Of Love. Although all the vocals were done by session singers, Don Ray co-wrote all the songs with Cerrone. One of the coolest club projects of the 70s – a set of tracks based around the keyboards of Don Ray, but handled with lots of electronic disco touches from Cerrone! The pair are great arrangers on their own, but together they really make some magic – kind of a leaner take on the extended Cerrone groove – honed to a "t" in the studio, and sometimes given a nice punch with chorus vocals too. The tracks are shorter than you'd normally get from Cerrone, but still filled with all those freewheeling clubby grooves – warmly soulful undercurrents that make a great platform for the more electronic keyboards – never too cold at all, and a fair bit more personal than the sorts of keys we're used to hearing from the European scene.

"Got To Have Loving" and "Standing In The Rain" went on to become huge club hits. The album was only followed by a 1980 release, the single "Simplify / Stop Your Runnin'", before Don Ray withdrew behind the scene again. He co-wrote and arranged more Cerrone albums 1980-83, and also arranged the 1982 musical "Abbacadabra" with Frida and Daniel Balavoine a.o. Mainly working with French chanson singers, he revisited his glory disco days as a co-writer and arranger of Cerrone's 2002 comeback album Hysteria which included a re-make of his 1978 disco hit, "Got To Have Loving", this time featuring Nile Rodgers on rhythm guitar. Song titles include "Garden Of Love", "My Desire", "Body & Soul", "Got To Have Loving", and "Standing In The Rain".

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