The fabulous WEATHER GIRLS will  forever be remembered for their novelty disco anthem ‘It’s Raining Men’ but both dance devotees and soul collectors know that there’s much more to the duo than that one, as this new portmanteau collection from David Nathan’s Soul Music Records proves!

The “girls”, MARTHA WASH and IZORA ARMSTED (both raised in San Francisco) first met   via their respective Church gospel groups but they united professionally when disco star Sylvester recruited them as his backing singers – naming them Two Tons of Fun, a respectful play on the ladies’ stature. Martha and Izora featured on Sylvester’s  biggest hits and sang live with him on his club and theatre dates. Larger than life and with a commanding stage presence, the girls caught the attention of the Fantasy label, where they cut two albums as the Two Tons of Fun.

Then in 1979, the duo were offered a song that Donna Summer had rejected. It was ‘It’s Raining Men’ and the disco diva, now a born again Christian, thought it blasphemous! Martha and Izora recorded it with the song’s writer, Paul Shaffer who touted it round various labels looking for a deal and eventually (in 1982) Columbia took it on.  On the back of the release the Two Tons of Fun became the more appropriate “Weather Girls”. The song was, of course, a world-wide smash and three Columbia Weather Girls’ albums followed and those three LPs form the core of this new Soul Music release.

All the album tracks are included alongside a plethora of remixes and as you might guess the overriding vibe is disco with a capital D. But when called on the ladies could deliver ballads too – witness ‘Hope’ and ‘Why Can’t We Show Our Love’ – both big and dramatic in the manner of Whitney Houston. Also of interest is a lovely version of Neil Sedaka’s ‘Laughter In the Rain’ and a catchy ‘Well-A-Wiggy’ – a throwback to the  Brill Building sound. Lovely.

In 1990 the inevitable happened and Martha and Izora split up. Some sources suggest they simply fell out; others say that it was an issue with management. Who knows.. but we do know that Izora eventually reformed the “Girls” by adding her daughter Dynelle to the line-up while Martha sang sessions (which led to litigation about who sang what, but that’s another story!)and eventually she  inked a deal with RCA, the label releasing an eponymous album on her in 1993. And that long player is included as the fourth CD in this collection. The album is a tad more soulful  than disco and even a cursory listen lets you know that Ms Wash was brought up in the righteous gospel tradition. All the albums 14 tracks are included alongside remixes of some of the key cuts.

Thus, this collection… THE WEATHER GIRLS/MARTHA WASH, ‘Carry On 1982-1992’ delivers 58 tracks across 4 CDs and with a lengthy essay and archive pictures you’ll get to know almost everything you need to know about the ladies! Out now!