Van McCoy - Soul Improvisations (Part 1)

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Van McCoy
Van McCoy.jpg
Background information
Birth name Van Allen Clinton McCoy
Born January 6, 1940
Washington D.C., U.S.
Died July 6, 1979 (aged 39)
Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Disco, R&B, pop
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Years active 1952–1979
Labels Columbia, Avco, H&L, Buddah


  Van Allen Clinton McCoy (January 6, 1940 – July 6, 1979) was an American musician, record producer, arranger, songwriter, singer and orchestra conductor. He is known best for his 1975 internationally successful song "The Hustle". He has approximately 700 song copyrights to his credit, and is also noted for producing songs for such recording artists as Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Stylistics, Aretha Franklin, Brenda and the Tabulations, David Ruffin, Peaches and Herb and Stacy Lattisaw.


Van McCoy was born in Washington D.C., the second child of Norman S. McCoy, Sr. and Lillian Ray. He learned to play piano at a young age and sang with the Metropolitan Baptist Church choir as a youngster.

By the age of 12, he had begun writing his own songs, in addition to performing in local amateur shows alongside his older brother, Norman Jr. The two brothers formed a doo-wop combo named the Starlighters with two friends while in Roosevelt High School. In 1956 they recorded a single entitled, "The Birdland", a novelty dance record. It gained some interest, resulting in a tour with drummer Vi Burnsides. In 1959 the Starlighters produced three singles for End Records that included "I Cried". Marriage and other commitments eventually caused the group to disband during the mid-1950s. Van also sang with a group called the Marylanders.



McCoy entered Howard Universtity to study psychology during September 1958, but dropped out after two years to relocate to Philadelphia, where he formed his own recording company, Rockin' Records, releasing his first single, "Hey Mr. DJ," during 1959. This single gained the attention of Scepter owner Florence Greenberg, who hired McCoy as a staff writer and A&R representative for the label. As a writer there, McCoy composed his first success, "Stop the Music," for the popular female vocal group, The Shirelles during 1962. He was co-owner of Vando Records with Philly D.J, Jocko Henderson. He owned Share label and co-owned the Maxx label during the mid-1960s, supervising such artists as Gladys Knight and the Pips, Chris bartley and The Ad Libs.

He really came into his own after first working for top producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller as a writer and then signing with the major April-Blackwood music publishing concern, connected with Columbia Records. McCoy went on to write a string of hits as the 1960s progressed. He penned "Giving Up" for Gladys Knight and the Pips (later a hit for both The Ad Libs and Donny Hathaway), "The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven" for Chris Bartley, "When You're Young and In Love" for Ruby and the Romantics (later a hit for The Marvelettes), "Right on the Tip of My Tongue" for Brenda and the Tabulations, "Baby I'm Yours" for Barbara Lewis, "Getting Mighty Crowded" for Betty Everett, "Abracadabra" for Erma Franklin, "You're Gonna Make Me Love You" for Sandi Sheldon and "I Get the Sweetest Feeling" for Jackie Wilson. He also put together the hit-making duo of Peaches and Herb, arranging and co-producing their first hit, "Let's Fall in Love," for the Columbia subsidiary Date in 1966. The same year, McCoy recorded a solo LP for Columbia entitled Night Time Is a Lonely Time, and, a year later, started his own short-lived label, Vando, as well as his own production company VMP (Van McCoy Productions).

Van wrote or produced most consistently for The Presidents ("5-10-15-20 (25 Years of Love)"), The Choice Four ("The Finger Pointers," "Come Down to Earth"), Faith, Hope & Charity ("To Each His Own" and "Life Goes On") and David Ruffin ("Walk Away From Love"). In the early 1970s, McCoy began a long, acclaimed collaboration with songwriter/producer Charles Kipps and arranged several hits for the soul group The Stylistics as well as releasing his own solo LP on the Buddah label, "Soul Improvisations", in 1972. The album included a minor hit, "Let Me Down Easy," but it was not a success following poor promotion. Following his success with "The Hustle", it was re-released as "From Disco to Love." He formed his own orchestra, Soul City Symphony and, with singers Faith, Hope and Charity, produced several albums and gave many performances.


Television and film

Van McCoy appeared on the Mike Douglas Show and was a regular guest on The Tonight Show. He wrote and sang the theme song for the 1978 movie Sextette that starred Mae West and Timothy Dalton and made a cameo appearance in it, playing a delegate from Africa. He also contributed some music for A Woman Called Moses. Along with Faith Hope & Charity, Brass Construction and Johnny Dark, he appeared in episode 4.20 of Don Kirshner's Rock Concert.


Mainstream success

In 1975, McCoy released to low expectations the mostly instrumental LP "Disco Baby" for the Avco (later H&L) label. The title song, "Disco Baby", was written by George David Weiss, Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, and performed by The Stylistics. Unexpectedly, a single called "The Hustle" from the album, written about the dance of the same name and recorded last for the album, went to the top of both the Billboard pop and R&B charts (also #3 in the UK) and won a Grammy Award. The album was also nominated for a Grammy. McCoy, then regarded as a disco hitmaker, never repeated the success of the song, although the singles "Party", "That's the Joint" and "Change with the Times" got significant airplay. The latter reached #6 in the Billboard R&B chart and was a Top 40 hit in the UK. There were no further major sellers in the US, despite a series of follow-up albums, From Disco to Love (the 1975 reissue of Soul Improvisations), The Disco Kid (1975), The Real McCoy (1976), "Rhythms of the World" (1976), "My Favorite Fantasy" (1978), "Lonely Dancer" (1979) and "Sweet Rhythm" (1979). However, he scored the UK top 5 again during 1977 with the instrumental success "The Shuffle".

McCoy also had success with David Ruffin's comeback album, Who I Am, featuring "Walk Away From Love", a number 1 R&B hit (#9 pop) in the US and a UK Top 5 success. He went on to produce the next two albums for Ruffin, which spawned further successes. McCoy produced Gladys Knight & the Pips' "Still Together" LP, and for Melba Moore ("This Is It" and "Lean On Me"). He discovered Faith, Hope and Charity, whose major success in 1975, "To Each His Own", was another R&B chart-topper.





Van McCoy

  • 1963: "Never Trust A Friend" / "Mr. DJ"
  • 1963: "It Ain't No Big Thing" / "Love Can Mess Up Your Mind"
  • 1965: "Baby Don't Tease Me" / "Girls are Sentimental"
  • 1966: "I'll Wait for You" / "The House that Love Built"
  • 1967: "To Make My Father Proud (To Make My Mother Smile)" / "Where There's a Heartache (There Must Be a Heart)" / "Did My Baby Turn Bad"
  • 1968: "Follow Your Heart" / "Lonely"
  • 1969: "I Started a Joke" / "Tony's Theme"
  • 1974: "Soul Improvisations (Part 1)" / "Soul Improvisations (Part 2)"
  • 1975: "Change with the Times" / "Good Night, Baby"
  • 1975: "Night Walk" / "Love Child"
  • 1976: "Party" / "The Disco Kid"
  • 1976: "The Shuffle" / "That's The Joint"
  • 1977: "Soul Cha Cha" / "Oriental Boogie"
  • 1978: "My Favorite Fantasy" / "You're So Right For Me"
  • 1979: "Lonely Dancer" / "Decisions"




Van McCoy - Soul Improvisations (Part 1) / Soul Improvisations (Part 2)

UK Buddah BDS 418 solid centre (1974).

Record produced by Van McCoy and Joe Cobb.

The vinyl record attains a strong excellent grading, suggesting few plays.

Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.

Both record centre labels are free from tears, stains or stickers.

The record centre hole displays no signs of spindle wear.

The record comes with an original company paper sleeve.

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