I mentioned before how my sisters each had their own slice of the family record collection, only to cede music purchasing duties to my brother and me.
Shadow Dancing belonged to my eldest sister. We played it a few times on the record player till it went out of fashion. Then the record pretty much sat on the shelf till it disappeared altogether without anyone noticing. I tried to track it down in 2019, hunting all around my mom’s house with no success.
I had already bought a sealed copy from Hungry Ear Records in Honolulu the year before, assuming I would never track down the vinyl collections of my siblings. Although disco is a towering influence on dance music today, it’s still fashionable to dunk on the genre. (Hello, institutional homophobia!)
Even I treated Andy Gibb with some fair amount of derision toward the end of the 1980s.
It’s not deserved.
Strip away the era’s sonic hallmarks — the California smoothness of the Eagles, the disco strings — and you’re left with a set of some durable songwriting.
Side A hogs all the hit singles, leaving Side B to fend for itself, which it does quite well. “One More Look at the Night” always felt like something I had heard on the radio, only to find it was never released as a single. Same for “Good Feeling.” Under Toto’s hands, “I Got You” could have been more prog rock.
Even the singles deserve re-evaluation. The title track is a perfect target for haters because it’s the ultimate earworm. Hear that string intro once, and it’s impossible to wipe it from memory. Also, check out the modulations on “(Our Love) Don’t Throw It All Away”.
Shadow Dancing epitomized its era so well, it suffered a backlash when tastes moved on. I don’t get the impression its reputation has recovered, and it doesn’t really warrant obscurity.