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Play It Again, Sam: 10 Artists & Comedians Signed to Casablanca Records

Casablanca Records was a record company started by Neil Bogart -- no relation to the late legendary actor Humphrey Bogart, although Neil was a big Bogie enthusiast and admirer. In the 1970s, Casablanca Records was the go-to label for disco much like Death Row was the go-to place for gangsta rap in the early '90s.

However, Casablanca Records wasn't totally limited to disco and was also home to such acts as pop artist Tony Orlando, soul singer Dusty Springfield and Motown expats the Four Tops. Casablanca suffered after Neil Bogart left and subsequently died, but was revived in 2000, 2005 and again earlier this year, and is currently owned by Universal Music Group.

Parliament: George Clinton's group signed onto Neil's label in 1973. In 1974, the band released Up for the Down Stroke and the 1975 classic Mothership Connection.

Rodney Dangerfield: Best known for such classic comedies as Caddyshack and Back to School, Dangerfield released a comedy album on the label in 1981 called No Respect, and it went on to win a Grammy for Best Comedy Recording. Dangerfield was no stranger to music, either. In 1983, his music video "Rappin' Rodney" became a hit on MTV and featured guest appearances such as Pat Benatar. Sadly, Dangerfield died in 2004 after complications from brain surgery.

KISS: From 1974 to 1982, KISS was signed to Casablanca Records. Though their self-titled debut album didn't spawn any radio hits, it still went gold in 1977. KISS stayed with Casablanca Records right up until 1982's Creatures of the Night album.

 

Lindsey Lohan: Remember when actress Lindsey Lohan tried to pursue a solo music career? Well, Casablanca was the label she signed onto when she decided to record her debut album, 2004's Speak. The album debuted at No. 4 on the U.S. Billboard 200.

Irene Cara: In the early 1980s, singer and actress Irene Cara was the toast of Casablanca Records. She was one of the many artists featured on the multiplatinum-selling soundtrack to Flashdance and sang the song "Flashdance...What a Feeling." That song, which Cara also co-wrote with Giorgio Moroder and Keith Forsey, won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 1983.

Robin Williams: In 1979, actor Robin Williams released his comedic debut album Reality.....What a Concept on Casablanca. However, he later went on to win an Oscar himself, for Best Supporting Actor in 1997 for Good Will Hunting.

The Village People: When the Village People thought it was "fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A" and were one of the many bands that defined the disco era of the 1970s, with such hits as "YMCA," "Macho Man" and plenty others.

 

Donna Summer: In the 1970s, Donna Summer worked hard for her money with such Casablanca Records releases as Bad Girls and Once Upon a Time. However, she left Casablanca for Geffen Records in 1980 because she felt she was being sexually exploited.

Lipps, Inc.: Lipps, Inc were a studio house band that achieved one-hit-wonder status with "Funkytown" in 1980. Though the band has disbanded, the song has lived on due to usage in various episodes of such shows as South Park and Futurama .

 

Giorgio Moroder: Perhaps best known for producing such artists as Blondie and Donna Summer, Moroder was signed to Casablanca Records as an artist. His main genre was Eurodisco, and he recorded 1977's From Here to Eternity and continued recording for the label up until after his final release for the label, 1980's E=MC2.

He also was one of the producers for the aforementioned Flashdance soundtrack, which featured such artists as Donna Summer, Irene Cara and the late Laura Branigan. Shortly after the label folded the first time in the early-to-mid-1980s, Moroder wrote many of the songs that were featured on the soundtrack to the 1986 summer blockbuster Top Gun. The soundtrack's breakout hit, Take My Breath Away by Berlin (which Moroder co-wrote), earned him another Oscar for Best Original Song in 1986.

Again, a very special honorable mention goes to the Flashdance soundtrack. Not only was it an Oscar-winning recording, but the film and the soundtrack were heavily influenced by MTV. According to the book I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, New Yorker writer Pauline Kael wrote that the film was essentially "a series of rock videos." Though it wasn't meant as a compliment, it ended up being true because it showed how well music and film could mesh.


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