Silver Convention – Get Up and Boogie! (review)

Silver Convention – Get Up & Boogie – The Worldwide Singles (Omnivore Recordings)

Gleefully good fun

Only in the Seventies. 

The German studio band, Silver Convention, had two gargantuan hits with “Fly, Robin Fly” (#1, 1975), and “Get Up and Boogie” (#2, 1976).  Neither song was deep lyrically.  In fact, both tracks had the dubious distinction of only containing SIX words each.  Yet, the combination of seductive female voices, prominent strings and an insistent, disco beat, made these two songs irresistible dance numbers.  Omnivore Recordings has assembled the first-ever, fully-sanctioned collection of the band’s work.

The real draw of this compilation is the inclusion of rare single mixes and edits, many of which have never appeared digitally.  

Silver Convention was the brainchild of Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze, who assembled a rotating lineup of female singers for their unique blend of orchestrated dance music.  “Save Me” was their first single – and it would introduce all the important ingredients: a fat bassline, pounding piano, and strings that were front and center.  Truthfully, the strings ARE the verses, with the girls just providing the backup.  “Save Me” is showcased here in its rare, 3:04 single edit.

That’s followed by their first mega hit, “Fly Robin Fly.”  This is pure confection.  The kick drum is loud, providing the backbeat, while the piano provides the counter beat.  The girls sing, “Fly, Robin Fly / Up up to the sky,” but it’s the strings that do most of the talking.  This rare version is slower than what we had on CD here in the office and is about 30 seconds longer.

Oh, there’s plenty of schmaltz here too.  “Tiger Baby,” replete with cringe-worthy growls.  There’s a point, as the singing stops, that the backing sounds like “More, More, More” from the Andrea True Connection (which wouldn’t be released until the following year).  I dig “San Francisco Hustle,” which features a back and forth between the girls and a male voice.  

“(There’s) Always Another Girl” actually features a more typical set of lyrics, and glides along on a sinewy hi hat-infused rhythm.  “Get Up and Boogie (That’s Right)” returns to the six-words-per-song formula, and is arguably their finest moment.  The song has a driving bassline and clever clavinet accents, while the strings, once again, take care of most of the melody.

The baffling thing is, Silver Convention arrived before the disco boom of the late Seventies.  Yet, they were never able to have another hit after their two smashes.  “Telegram” sounds like a lost ABBA track.  The excellent “Spend the Night With Me” (featured here in the rare, promo single version) features a really good vocal by Zenda Jacks, and should’ve been a big hit.  “Get Up” features a funky groove and horns, and was the band’s final single.

The excellent liner notes by Joe Marchese really give insight to the curious history of a relatively unknown band, Silver Convention.  Get Up and Boogie is good fun throughout.  —Tony Peters