Alec R. Costandinos

Alec R. Costandinos' recording career may have been short-lived, but the Euro-disco producer dominated the disco world during his late-'70s reign. After having made a name for himself after co-writing Cerrone's "Love in C Minor" in 1977, Costandinos signed to the French label Barclay where he released his first record as Love and Kisses. This self-titled 1977 LP featured the timeless disco hit "I've Found Love (Now That I've Found You)." Soon he was releasing hit records on America's most recognized disco label, Casablanca. Perhaps more importantly, though, he introduced the concept album to dancefloor music with his well-regarded Romeo & Juliet album in 1977, followed by a number of other less successful conceptual efforts. He became best known for "I've Found Love," "Romeo and Juliet," and "Thank God It's Friday" (the theme song to the movie of the same name), but literally disappeared after a prolific 1977 to 1979 run. Before Costandinos became one of the world's top Euro-disco producers, though, he began his career producing songs by French pop artists such as Dalida and Claude Francoise. Born Alexandre Kouyoumdjiam in Cairo, Egypt, in 1944 to an Armenian father and a Greek mother, he moved to Paris at age 22 after some time spent in Australia. It was his work with Cerrone there that finally proved to be his big break, and with the acclaim he garnered from "Love in C Minor," he set up shop in London's Trident Studios and began working nonstop for the next three years. First came the 1977 self-titled debut by Love and Kisses on Barclay. This debut confirmed Costandinos' gift for epic disco anthems, which often clocked over 15 minutes and spanned the entire side of an LP. Next came his first release for Neil Bogart's Casablanca label, a conceptual disco LP released under the moniker Sphinx. The album wasn't a huge hit, but it was impressive with its ambitious scope. Another conceptual release under the moniker Sumeria, Golden Tears, was similarly ambitious, but it was Costandinos' landmark Romeo & Juliet record, released under his own name, that solidified his legacy. Soon Costandinos was writing the hit theme song to the Casablanca-affiliated disco film Thank God It's Friday and contributing another hit song, "You're the Most Precious Thing in My Life," to the film's soundtrack. Simultaneously, he continued releasing albums as Love and Kisses -- How Much, How Much I Love You (1978) and You Must Be Love (1979) -- and also released two soundtrack albums: Trocadero Bleu Citron (1978) and Winds of Change (1979). As if this wasn't enough music for his fans to consume, the prolific producer also released another concept album, Hunchback of Notre Dame (1978), and collaborated with Raymond Knehnetsky in a side project called Paris Connection, releasing a self-titled album on Casablanca in 1978. By this point in time, Costandinos had his own orchestra, which he prominently featured on the 1979 album The Synchophonic Orchestra Featuring Alirol and Jacquet, and also had his own vocalist group called the Birds of Paris. Following the successes of 1977 and 1978, Costandinos' career began spiraling in a strange direction as 1979 advanced. His You Must Be Love album as Love and Kisses was a satisfactory yet formulaic offering, streamlined a bit in terms of song length for commercial acceptance. It was The Synchophonic Orchestra album, though, that proved to be the omen. First of all, the album featured a second side of down-tempo songs that had little to do with the dancefloor. Besides this out-of-character move, Costandinos only composed two of the album's songs, letting his orchestra handle most of the songwriting. While the album did have the producer's trademark sound, it signaled his waning enthusiasm after the numerous albums he released during 1978 and 1979. Furthermore, an ill-fated album with Tina Turner, Love Explosion, obviously didn't help. Costandinos soon parted ways with the struggling Casablanca and fell into oblivion just as disco was nearing its final days as a mass movement. In 1991, his Greatest Hits album surfaced, which featured a few of his early dancefloor anthems in their epic glory, but for the most part, his work remained out of print, obscuring his relevance as one of the disco era's premier producers. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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