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Casablanca Records


Casablanca Records is a record label that was started by Neil Bogart in 1973 after leaving Buddah Records. The label released hits by Donna Summer, Kiss, The Four Tops, and Parliament. Polygram acquired a 50 percent stake in 1977 and later acquired the remaining half for $15 million. Afterwards the label had hits with Lipps Inc and Irene Cara.

In 2004, teenaged actress and singer Lindsay Lohan signed a recording deal with Casablanca, which is now owned by Tommy Mottola.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casablanca_Records [Mar 2005]


If there was a central figure of the disco era, it was the club DJ. Presiding over throngs of gyrating bodies, he possessed the ability to control their every move with just a drop of the tonearm. Between 1975 and 1985, a significant portion of DJ vinyl had the name 'Casablanca' emblazoned on the labels. Casablanca Records, along with its affiliates 'Millennium', 'Parachute', 'Oasis' and 'Chocolate City Records', came to epitomize dance music in the same way 'Cameo-Parkway Records' epitomized dance rock in the 1960s.

The late Neil Bogart had been a promotion man for Cameo-Parkway, and later, its president. In 1967, he took over the 'Buddah' label and oversaw the late '60s bubblegum trend led by such acts as The Chicago Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Company. Shortly after Buddah Records scored its biggest hit with Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Midnight Train To Georgia", in 1973, Bogart left to start a label of his own. It's moniker was inspired by his hero, Humphrey Bogart, its logo was pure Hollywood fantasy, a stylish depiction of a 1940s movie studio lot. With the disco era as its backdrop, 'Casablanca Records and Filmworks' would become remarkably close to realizing that fantasy.

The platinum-selling KISS Alive! album was Casablanca's first smash hit in 1975, making the label a contender in the arena rock market. Then came Donna Summer's "Love To Love You, Baby" in late 1975, a taste of things to come. After a year staking her claim on the disco charts, Summer stormed the pop world with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte's Eurodisco classic "I Feel Love".

Instrumentalist Meco Menardo was the star pupil in Casablanca's class of 1977, topping Billboard's Hot 100 with his discofied interpretation of the 'Star Wars' theme; in 1978, Donna Summer continued her string of legendary million-seller's with 'Last Dance' and 'MacArthur Park". That same year, George Clinton's infamous funk aggregation 'Parliament' lit up the pop, disco, and R&B charts with 'Flashlight', and Jacques Morali's novelty act the Village People released 'Macho Man', a tongue-in-cheek- stomper which broke out on both television and radio.

Casablanca enjoyed a banner year in 1979, the peak of the disco phenomenon. The label scored two monster singles, Donna Summer's steamy 'Hot Stuff' and Village People's anthem 'YMCA' - both crowd pleasers two decades later. Roughly a dozen Casablanca releases were major pop hits in 1979, Donna Summer, Village People, Brooklyn Dreams and Cher all scored big.

The dawn of the President Reagan Decade coincided with a sharp decline in disco music's popularity, yet in 1980, Casablanca was still hot stuff. The company diversified its image, and logged million-sellers with 'Captain & Tennille', 'Lipps Inc.' (with the diabollically infectious 'Funkytown'), Teri De Sario, 'Pure Prairie League' and of course, Donna Summer. Casablanca's profile did diminish after that - Summer and Village People switched to other labels, and Neil Bogart himself found another label. ('Boardwalk Records Inc.'). Controlled by Polygram Records, Casablanca soldiered on, landing hits with Dr. Hook and The Four Tops, among others. However, the flame wasn't extinguished yet, as the label scored a one-two platinum punch with Irene Cara's "Flashdance" movie theme and Michael Sembello's "Maniac", also from the film, in 1983. Fittingly, both were high-energy dance discs that harkened back to the Bogart glory days.

Casablanca Records and Filmworks was arguably the greatest of the '70s dance music labels, and there may never again be a record company like it - one whose releases crossed boundaries of age, class, culture, race, and sexual preference, and encouraged people to come together in rhythmic celebration. Perhaps more than any other label of recent memory. Casablanca tapped into the fantasy element inherent in American popular culture. "I went to the clubs, and I realized people needed good music", Neil Bogart explained to a 'Newsweek' reporter in 1979. "They were tired of guitarists playing to their amplifiers. They wanted to be the stars!" Indeed, in the short-lived entertainment empire he created, every dancer was a star, every dance floor was a movie set, and every dance was the Last Dance. -- Jason Ally http://homepage.ntlworld.com/jasonally/page4.html


  1. Love to Love You Baby (1974) - Donna Summer [Amazon.com]
    in 1974, she hit it really big with the worldwide disco hit "Love to love you baby" after meeting producer Giorgio Moroder and signing to the Oasis sub-label of Neil Bogart's Casablanca label. It is the typical disco song of the period - with Giorgio Moroder / Pete Belotte's thumping disco beat, the wah-wah guitar and the big orchestra (actually "Munich Machine"). "Need-a-man blues" is other disco track from this first Oasis album. --discofunk.com

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