Monday, July 20, 2009

Week 8: Bobby Orlando

This week I've got a two-parter dealing with one guy: the enigmatic and super-influential disco producer Bobby Orlando (aka Bobby'O). Whether you've heard of him or not, you've definitely heard his influence—he basically invented a lot of the dance music clichés of the 1980s and '90s, and while you may not be as fond of said clichés as I am, you still gotta give dude credit for being so dang influential.

That having been said, Bobby'O is an incredibly strange dude—a complete contradiction on a lot of levels. He's a hyper-macho, incredibly cocky, rampantly homophobic ex-boxer who made gay disco. He once backed out of a lease because he found out the previous tenant was gay, yet he produced legendary drag queen Divine, and discovered the Pet Shop Boys. Most of his songs are brazen odes to sex and partying, and yet he's a fundamentalist Christian who penned a (still unpublished) book on creationism called Darwin Destroyed. He created some of the most original dance music of the 1980s, but he seemingly was just as happy to shamelessly plagiarize current dance hits, releasing a slew of blatant soundalikes and proudly referring to himself as "the McDonald's of the dance record industry". He was incredibly prolific, releasing dozens of records each month on the numerous labels he ran, and citing the Bible as his reason: "I'm being fruitful, I'm multiplying," he told The Face in 1987. "I put out more records than anybody in the world; there's nobody that puts out more records than me. If a producer has the ability to put out that many records and he doesn't then he is disobeying God's command." DUDE WAS WEIRD.

So yeah, I felt like to really get a feel for this guy required two mixes. Part 1 is the case for Bobby'O as musical genius: 23 of my fave Bobby Orlando tunes. They may not be lyrical masterpieces, but they are all intensely catchy dance tunes couched in some groundbreaking production techniques, and I fucking adore them.

Part 2 showcases the embarrassing shameless hack side of Bobby'O. It comprises 7 pairs of songs: one big club hit of the 1980s followed by Orlando's transparent theft of said song. This one isn't beatmixed so much as just placed side by side, to keep clear the distinction between the original song and Bobby's rip-off. A few of his ripoffs are great, but most aren't, and even the good ones are still pretty damning from a copyright perspective.

Oh, and one last thing. Check out Bobby's Friendster profile (the real deal). Hilarity.

Chrissy's Year of Mixtapes Week 8, Part 1: Bobby Orlando, Musical Genius
  1. The Flirts; Calling All Boys (Unidisc)
  2. The Flirts; Helpless (Telefon)
  3. Girly; Trouble (Riovista)
  4. Roni Griffith; Spies (Vanguard)
  5. Pet Shop Boys; One More Chance (Remix) (Bobcat)
  6. Bobby'O; Still Hott 4 U ("O" Records)
  7. Roni Griffith; (The Best Part Of) Breakin' Up (Vanguard)
  8. Oh Romeo; One More Shot (Memo)
  9. Girly; Working Girl (One Way Love Affair) ("O" Records)
  10. Malibu; Lust Or Love (Eurobeat)
  11. Boyd Brothers; Keep It Coming (Bobcat)
  12. Charlene Davis; Aggression (Memo)
  13. Lilly & The Pink; Frustration (Memo)
  14. The Flirts; Boy Crazy ("O" Records)
  15. WOW; Magic Man (Young Man Young Man) (Memo)
  16. Oh Romeo; Try It (I'm In Love With A Married Man) (Bobcat)
  17. Malibu; Look At That Boy (Bobcat)
  18. Oh Romeo; Once Is Not Enough (Oh My! Records)
  19. WOW; Bring On The Men (Memo)
  20. Claudja Barry; Born To Love (Personal)
  21. The Flirts; Dancing Madly Backwards (Remix) (Telefon)
  22. Oh Romeo; These Memories (Bobcat)
  23. Malibu; Goin' Cruisin' (Bobcat)
Chrissy's Year of Mixtapes Week 8, Part 2: Bobby Orlando, Rip-Off Artist
  1. The B-52s; Rock Lobster (Sire)
  2. Barbie & The Kens; Just A Gigolo (Vanguard)
  3. Lime; Unexpected Lovers (Matra)
  4. Bobby 'O' & Claudja Barry; Whisper To A Scream (Meno Vision)
  5. New Order; Blue Monday (Factory)
  6. Divine; Love Reaction (Bobcat)
  7. Dead Or Alive; You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) (Epic)
  8. Girly; Saving Myself ("O" Records)
  9. Stacey Q; 2 Of Hearts (Atlantic)
  10. Hotline; Ready Or Not ("O" Records)
  11. Blondie; Call Me (Chrysalis)
  12. Roni Griffith; Hot Lover (Vanguard)
  13. Patrick Cowley; Menergy (Megatone)
  14. Divine; Shoot Your Shot ("O" Records)

NEXT WEEK: Ambient Jungle.


  1. Nothing makes my day like a Bobby O single. Nothing makes me gay like a Bobby O single.

  2. I can't wait to tear into all of these gems. Thanks Chris!


    "Bobby O Girl" aka H-Bomb/Hank's Girl

  3. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Music is great, but Wow. Who knew? Love his self-homophobic rants, too. Wow. Just Wow.

  5. Great stuff, although I always Bobby O was gay! I'm straight but back the 80's in Manchester, UK there was a fantastic little gay club across the street from the Hacienda. It was called the Archway and it was a real clone zone, brilliant DJ and great atmosphere. Thanks.

  6. bobby o c'est le plus grand dans sa catégorie comme pour les beatles dans la leurs vive bobby orlando

  7. Everything you said was right on!!! biggest rip-off producer of Artist and Songs that you have ever met. The guy talks about God and his actions are like a demons. He is crazy...I worked with him and know first hand. Changes names and addresses so know one can find him. Yet there is one that sees everything and Bobby will reap what he sows in this life or the next. Roni Griffith

    1. Roni, it's Kim Fay! I met you way back had just come off of touring. You introduced me to Bobbie and he made me the leader of The Flirts...things got messed up and though we did a dream never materialized. He had a shitty contract, with everything in HIS favor and barely anything for the artists themselves. Anyway, I would so love to hear from you!

  8. WOW, Roni Griffith! Really pleased to hear from you...I LOVE your stuff!
    If you have any unreleased songs, or if you ever wanna work on some tunes together please get in touch...
    chrissy at murderbot dot com

  9. I read somewhere that Roni and Bobby were a couple in the early 80's. And look what Roni has to say about Bobby on this blog...
    Well, things change...
    Even so, the dance track Desire was a huge dance hit in the US and a good-selling single in Europe at that time.
    By the way, does anybody know how Bobby O tracks are selling these days as downloads? Nielsen SoundScan, anyone?

  10. isn't most of Bobby's catalogue out of print? I'm sure Unidisc keeps a couple of comps in print, but everything else (esp on vinyl) is down to the used/collector market and so soundscan wouldn't be tracking it...

  11. a couple of the genius mixtape could count as his biting of other songs but great collection regardless. i wasn't old enough to really hear this when they first came out but glad in the innanets age folks like you can let us catch up on what we've been missing.

  12. also like to add, bobby o released a new album last year and releasing new singles this year too and its all on

  13. Ack, what did I miss on Friendster? Bobby's profile doesn't exist any more :(

    Someone fill me in?

  14. The most brilliant and accurate assessment of Bobby O and his music ever. And Roni Griffith's comments - OMG! I've loved and hated so many of his tracks.
    And ditto Anonymous - would have loved to read that Friendster profile...

  15. For Bobby O fans, there's an excerpt of the (rather poor, I must admit) Pet Shop Boys' biography "Introspective" which I actually have from way back when (1991). Most of the book was filled with interviews with Bobby (though I don't think most PSB fans would have been too pleased):
    The Face profile of "O" records from 1987 (which I still have) doesn't seem to be online any more. The picture of Bobby stared down on me in my bedroom for a few years :)

  16. A more up to date "O" collaborator:
    If anyone has even more recent news about what he's up to (I can see some uploads on Youtube, so he's still making music), I'd love to hear.

  17. Never heard this before, but of interest to Bobby O fans, too: (New Order's live response to Divine's "Love Reaction").