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IN TERMS of actual record sales and box office figures, Joe Simon has only one or two peers over the past decade or so. Yet this quiet and peaceful gentleman is the most reluctant and withdrawn of all of the soul superstars. He rarely talks above a polite whisper, he uses language that would grace any christian establishment — yet his lightning sense of humour makes him good company and, therefore, good 'meat' for any interviewer. Today, of course, is the perfect time to talk with Joe because he has just come off of his umpteenth No. 1 single in the States and a follow-up album is ready and raring to go. The single is "Get Down Get Down" and that will almost definitely become the name of the album, too. "The album should be ready within two weeks," a rarely excited Joe Simon explained via the telephone from his New York office suite, "and we all feel that it's the very best Joe Simon album ever! There's one cut on the album that is an even better disco record than 'Get Down' and that's 'Music In My Shoes'. It was co-produced by myself and Ray Godfrey. And for those of you who like my ballads best, there's one called 'It Be's That Way Sometimes' and I favour it as one of the best songs I've ever recorded."

Of course, Joe has not always been a disco star. His earliest successes — many of which won him Gold Disc awards — came from ballads, many of them soulful adaptations of Country songs, notorious for their story-lyric content. "I like simple love songs," Joe explains, equally simply. "Sure 'Get Down' is good of its kind and for certain people and I like it. I just happen to like simple love songs but I realise that times change and that isn't what the public wants today. Now, instead of dealing with just the heart when I'm singing, I have to try and appeal to the brain, too. A lot of artists are into political songs and songs about dope — but that's really not for me. Not that I don't like a heavy lyric — but my idea of a heavy lyric would be 'The Chokin' Kind' or 'You Keep Me Hanging On', or even 'Drowning In The Sea Of Love', because these are not obvious 'I love you' songs, they have something more than that to say. But, though things have changed, I haven't. I'm grateful for my success because it has allowed me to do things I've always wanted to do but could never have done otherwise. I always strive to do better and to put out better recordings every time I record. And that's why the new 'Get Down' album makes me so happy — because it really does get down. Right now, I have to concentrate on disco records because that is the sound that is happening. It's just the way it happened, it's a trend. But the funny thing is that we didn't really aim 'Get Down, Get Down' at the disco market, it just happened on its own and I admit we were kind of surprised that it went over so big. But then I'm always surprised and happy when a record crosses over that big. People call me a superstar but I don't consider myself to be one. But if that's the way my fans think of me, then I'm naturally very happy."

Once the album is out and on the streets — plus the new single, which looks like being "Music In My Shoes" — Joe plans to become more involved in outside producing. His immediate projects are to come up with hits on two fellow-Spring artists, Philip Mitchell and Garland Green. Bearing in mind that both could be considered loosely to be in the Joe Simon bag, both projects look assured of success. The sessions will be carried out in New York, which is where the Joe Simon new album was cut in its entirety. Then, in September, joe hopes to headline the proposed European tour of the Spring package — it should feature Joe, Millie Jackson and the Fatback Band but the loose ends still have to be tied. It will mark Joe's first trip to Britain in well over two years — right back to when he had his one and only big stab at the British charts with the disco oriented "Step By Step". But despite that, he has yet to appear at a major concert venue in the UK and the package is one that we will certainly follow with great interest




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Joe Simon March 1971 Interview
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Joe Simon March 1972 Interview
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