Forty years ago Opa-locka lad Harry Wayne Casey offered the public a tantalizing proposal: “Do a little dance. Make a little love. Get down tonight.”
Clearly, millions of listeners were turned on because the song hit No. 1. That’s the way they liked it. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
Get Down Tonight’s Feb. 1975 release was followed in June by the integrated R&B group’s second No. 1 single, That’s the Way (I Like It). Two more singles from the subsequent Part 3 album hit the top in America’s Bicentennial year — (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty and I’m Your Boogie Man. The Hialeah-based KC and the Sunshine Band extended its string to five No. 1 songs with Please Don’t Go in Jan. 1980.
After helping South Florida partially define the national soundtrack of the second half of the 1970s, Casey reaches back to the previous decade for his new album with a retooled Sunshine Band: Feeling You! The 60s is a 17-track collection of covers of songs by Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, the Bee Gees, Jackie DeShannon, Ben E. King and others.
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Released on March 10, and with an accompanying tour at Hard Rock Live Friday, Feeling You! The 60s is autobiographical despite the fact Casey didn’t write the material.
“It’s a little autobiographical and how I feel. Blowing in the Wind was the way I feel about today’s world situation,” Casey, 64, said recently from his vacation home in Durham, North Carolina. “I did Both Sides Now instead of My Way, thinking of a song that says what I’ve gone through in life. I’ve lived life from both sides now — my life’s been up and down, my love life, and all sorts of stuff. That song told it exactly the way I’ve lived my life so it was easy to relate to that.”
The arrangements, like the best of KC, are mostly upbeat, and that, too, was by design.
“That music lifts you up, and I think with everything going on people are looking for anything that lifts you up and makes you feel good — like the [Pharrell Williams] song Happy,” Casey said while placing his lunch order: spinach salad with avocado and grilled chicken, cup of soup, no bread, balsamic dressing on the salad.
With the tour on the way, and a second volume in the Feeling You! series, which will contain all original material, also planned for later this year, Casey is getting in shape. Smoking, out. Five pounds gone, so far.
The flood of new music, the ’60s covers and the forthcoming new material, has had an even more profound effect.
“I feel like I’m 24,” Casey said. “Forty years later I feel like I’m back in 1975. Coming to 2015 and the 40th anniversary of Get Down Tonight going to No. 1 has been an interesting process. That creative flow we got going in ’73, ’74, that’s what I’m feeling like now.
“I know that in 1984 we wanted to get away from it all, we were tired of it of it all,” he said. “This has reinvigorated me, and it clicked back. I think I’m writing better than I did then. Lyrically, I think it’s better. There’s a lot more melody. I just think the new stuff is completely different and much more mature, and I don’t know how to explain it, but it feels good.”
Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.
If you go
What: KC and the Sunshine Band in concert
Where: Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminle Way, near Hollywood
When: 8 p.m. Friday