Arabesque are pure pop trash. Formed in Germany in 1977, Arabesque were responsible for some seriously cheesy disco music until they split up in 1984. There were a few lineup changes early in the group’s history, but the group more or less consisted of Jasmin Vetter, Michaela Rose, and Sandra, who joined in 1979 and later went on to find solo fame. They were, and apparently still are, big in Japan and Russia.
Their songs are fun, catchy, and campy, and while you could never really describe the music as brilliant, it does make you smile. And that’s what music is for, isn’t it?
Friday Night was released in 1978, so it doesn’t feature any vocals from Sandra, and I’m not quite sure just who is singing. According to this site, either Mary Ann or Karen Ann (whoever they are!) do most of the lead vocals, while Michaela Rose definitely does the lead vocals on three tracks. So I’m guessing that was the lineup for 1978! (Confusing stuff, this crappy disco.)
Things get kicked off with the awfully titled “Hello Mr Monkey.” It’s basically about a guy who used to be famous but now is reduced to amusing kids in the park. This was actually a single from the album. I have no idea what the marketing people were thinking! But if you ignore the inane lyrics, you have yourself a rather great disco track. Heavy bass and zippy strings give this song a fab hook. “Fly High Little Butterfly” starts off with some snappy saxophone before getting into the story of someone else who became famous, but has issues with her mother. Um, okay! This track is more guitar-based than the first track and the sax takes the place of the string hooks.
“Someone Is Waiting For You” brings those fab disco strings back, as well as lyrics that make little sense. A fast-paced number, “Someone Is Waiting For You” has an urgent drum beat and a catchy strummed thing, panned to the right. I know I’ve heard it in songs before but I can’t think of what it’s called! Things get even sillier in “The Man With The Gun,” which has lines like “I don’t like a man with the gun / Why do I love the man with the gun?”. More great strings and this time a heavy guitar hook make this a decent track, in spite of its lyrics!
“Six Times A Day?” Get your minds out of the gutter – the Arabesque girls just want to hear “I love you” no less than six times daily. I love this track: it’s got a fantastic disco beat, cool picked guitar, and some soaring strings in the background. A neat little disco gem! Less of a gem, and more of a piece of coal, is “Buggy Boy.” This song is so stupid. “You are OK, Buggy Boy!” is an actual lyric in this song about a guy’s car. A deep male vocal says “Come on, get in my buggy, baby” at several points throughout the track. The keyboard or whatever riff is juvenile. This is a terrible, terrible track… and yet, I like it. :( Darn you, Arabesque, for being so charmingly bad!
I take that back. They redeem themselves with “Friday Night,” a glorious little song about, well, the joys of a Friday night. Perfect disco, this one. Ultra-catchy strings and some weird percolating synth in the little interludes make this a forgotten classic. I’m surprised it didn’t catch on outside of Japan and Russia! “Catch Me Tiger” is way too long at 5 minutes but it’s fun so it’s all good. More saxophone and strings appear, and there are even spoken bits that sound oh so wonderfully cheesy. Also too long is “Give It Up,” but it’s fun too, and bound to get stuck in your head. Well, except for the male vocal bits that sound like the “Ma na ma na” song from The Muppet Show! Aside from that, it’s actually a good song.
The album closes with “Love Is Just A Game,” the album’s big ballad. A moody affair, this track is slow but sweet, and works well as a final track. Good for cooling down after all the disco shenanigans of the previous tracks!
Friday Night is one of those “so bad it’s good” albums. I hope I didn’t make too much fun of it in my review, but I only do it because I love it so much. Give it a listen, and you might just find yourself falling in love too!
(If you like “Hello Mr Monkey,” you just might be interested in hearing what they did to it in 1998. It was remixed and released as a single in Japan. The mixes are only OK, but they’re a lot of fun to listen to. The ’98 mixes are very 90s Eurodance, while the PHG mix is more of a… well, I’m not quite sure what it is, but it sounds interesting. The CRN mix is Latin-flavored and begins with a cry of “Arriba!”. I’m not making this up.)