Song Of The Day 6/20/2014: The Trammps - "Hold Back The Night"

Black Music Month/Philadelphia Week: The Trammps -- the extra "m" stands for magic! -- are best known in the U.S. for their pyrotechnically irresponsible smash single "Disco Inferno," which was originally released in 1976 but benefitted greatly from its inclusion on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Its refrain went "Burn, baby, burn," which was something of a rally cry during the Watts Riots of 1965. There's no record of anyone setting anything on fire while under the influence of "Disco Inferno." Don't be the first.

The Trammps, who were actually from Philadelphia, had slightly more success on the pop charts in England, where their swinging anthem "Hold Back the Night" hit the Top 40 twice: once with their version, and again when Graham Parker released his own equally impressive cover. The lead singer of The Trammps was the underestimated Jimmy Ellis (1937-2013), who possessed a vibrato of lethally smooth force. "Hold Back the Night" has a gale-force, barbershop-quartet chorus that was their most effective hook until, well, you know. They also had a minor hit with a discofied version of the '30s revue tune "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart." Yes, at one time that was a perfectly marketable song title.

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