Not to be confused with Blind Gary Davis — the itinerant blues musician of the 1930s who bequeathed “Samson and Delilah” to the Grateful Dead — the Gary Davis of A New Jersey Story was a music composition student from Camden, New Jersey who created some preposterously rare records in the late '70s and early '80s that get disco collectors'palms sweating. Davis'brand of disco was a far cry from the cocaine-syn-drum pile driving that characterized the Studio 54 mainstream. Instead, Davis created deeply funky records with weird Moog lines and a rhythmic sensibility that was as psychedelic as it was motorvational.
If you've heard of Davis at all, it is most likely as a result of his involvement in one of underground disco's most celebrated records, “Got to Get Your Love.” Credited to the 15 year-old vocalist, Clyde Alexander, after Davis (the co-writer and producer) had a falling out with the label boss (the legendary and notorious Peter Brown), “Got to Get Your Love” has one of dance music's truly great bouncing basslines, jazz piano tinkling in the background, a killer Moog hook and Coke bottle percussion all held together by a ramshackle guitar vamp and dipped in a hazy fog that lends it an air of mystery. An original copy will set you back several hundred bucks, but “Got to Get Your Love” is included on A New Jersey Story in its instrumental form, which only makes it all the more mysterious and fascinating.
After his sour experience with Peter Brown, Davis set up his own Chocolate Star label in 1981 and released dance records even more obscure than “Got to Get Your Love.” “Super Jake” (included here in a dub version and with new lyrics by Davis himself) was similar in style with its trippy groove and ghostly vocals, while “Gee Dee” displayed more of Davis'jazz training even if the melody and underlying rhythm is the same as “Got to Get Your Love.”
A New Jersey Story is a continuous mix by L.A.'s Mr. Chinn, a format that suits Davis'singular rhythmic sensibility well and emphasizes the dubby qualities of both the fully fledged tracks (“What Can I Do”) and the less fleshed out instrumental sketches (“Land of Drums”). Although the package would have been helped by the inclusion of the more well-known versions of “Got to Get Your Love” and “Gee Dee” as well as missing tracks like “Space Walking” and “The Pop,” A New Jersey Story serves as a good introduction to one of leftfield disco's maverick visionaries.