Guadeloupe born, Italian-based record producer Jacques Fred Petrus was one of the more enigmatic figures in early 80s black music. He was an expert at packaging studio concepts that paired American vocalists and lyricists with Italian musicians and arrangers (notably right-hand man Mauro Malavasi), leading to what some call “spaghetti disco.” He reputedly launched his empire with money from the Italian Mafia. And when he was murdered in 1987, rumors split over whether the shooter was a man turned away at one of his nightclubs, or an underworld mobster carrying out a deadly hit. In the years since, his productions have become treasured by DJs and lovers of boogie music.
Petrus’ most famous project was Change, whose 1980 debut The Glow of Love featured disco masterpieces like the title track, “A Lover’s Holiday,” and the Italo-disco mainstay “The End,” and effectively launched Luther Vandross as a solo superstar. High Fashion (which featured future R&B stars Alyson Williams and Meli’sa Morgan), Zinc, the BB & Q Band (a.k.a. the Brooklyn, Bronx & Queens Band), and the Peter Jacques Band: All were nearly faceless acts created by Petrus’ Goody Music team. The album cover designs featured beautiful models cavorting in a disco fantasia; Change’s covers were abstract images created by Frank Porto. The music itself was heavily influenced by Chic; and then Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis when their sound took over black radio. (In fact, Jam & Lewis produced Change’s Change of Heart.)
Despite, or perhaps because of the assembly-line nature of Petrus’ catalog, he made some of the best club tracks during that strange period in black music between disco’s effective demise and the rise of hip-hop, quiet storm and New Jack. High Fashion’s “Feelin’ Lucky” pulses with spirited, upbeat rhythms; The BB & Q Band’s “Genie” may be the best song Loose Ends never made. From Change’s “Paradise” to Zinc’s “Street Level,” this is some of the most entertaining boogie-funk of its day.