From the Stacks

From the Stacks: The Ritchie Family, ‘Bad Reputation’

Here’s what you need to know about the Ritchie Family’s 1979 album Bad Reputation:

  1. Disco impresario Jacques Morali came up with the idea for the Ritchie Family in 1975. “The idea was to make an epic record for the clubs, sung by larger-than-life female singers,” according to Wikipedia.
  2. Two years later, Morali prepackaged another concept band, this time based on gay stereotypes: The Village People.
  3. By 1979, The Ritchie Family were on their sixth album, third record label, and second lineup.
  4. That third record label was Casablanca, home to–you guessed it–the Village People.
  5. Morali co-wrote Bad Reputation’s songs with Victor Willis, better known as the Village People’s cop.
  6. In 1980, the Ritchie Family hit the big screen in the Village People’s Can’t Stop the Music, which is exactly as bad as it sounds.
  7. Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

All of which goes a long way toward explaining why this album cover looks like what you would expect from a Village People sleeve. It’s all here: the clones, bikers, bondage, Speedos, glamour–the sheer late ’70s disco tackiness.

How’s the record? I don’t know. To my ear it sounds like another four-on-the-floor generic dance record churned out by the disco mill, but I’m a terrible judge of the genre. Maybe it’s brilliant, a disco landmark, but I don’t think so. Bad Reputation was the band’s first album to fail to crack Billboard’s top 200.

It doesn’t matter to me, anyway. I’m just in it for the bad album cover, and this one is really cruddy; in fact, it’s so cruddy that it deserves special recognition. Please join me in welcoming the Ritchie Family’s Bad Reputation to the Bad Album Cover Hall of Fame.

 

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