Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile

Advanced

Let’s discuss 70’s disco....

Bip
Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
June 24, 2020 08:57PM
I figure most of us here probably lived through the 70s disco era or are at least familiar with the music. Curious how you view the genre... sworn enemy, proud denizen of Boogie Wonderland, or somewhere in the middle?

Rather than a lengthy diatribe, some scattered musings...

I have a lot more patience and respect for the music now than I did then. It was everywhere and could indeed get tiresome. But today I can appreciate how well put-together those records by an artist like The Bee Gees were. Amazing records. They can still generate excitement.

It was indeed everywhere, but even in my preteens I felt it had an exclusionary element. Only certain people could get into those discos...or pull off those moves and those outfits. You might admire the club, but it seemed like you couldn’t be IN it.

To this day I can’t get over that the gay men in Village People (aka Greenwich village)pulled off a song about living in the YMCA that even the most bitter rednecks will dance along to at weddings. Could a song like this get to the top 10 now? Or even in the 80s? Or 90s? Seriously, god bless those guys. Just unbelievable when you think about it.

The infamous ‘Disco demolition night’. While I know it was wrong-headed, I don’t know if it was a referendum on blacks, Latinos and the gay community. (I say this from a blah straight white guy view). Maybe just dumb rock fans who felt threatened by the music’s crazy popularity? But then again, we’ve never had ‘country’ or ‘alt-rock’ demolition night, have we....

The excessive use of strings and horns kills many of the disco records for me. Just too much. Reminds me of the band on the ‘Love Boat’ dressed in tuxes playing groovy disco for the passengers to boogie to. Gross!!

I prefer my disco stripped down, ala Donna Summer’s “I feel love”. Even something like 79’s “ring my bell” by Anita Ward gets my vote because it limits the strings and horns. And of course ‘funkytown’. The closer disco got me to synth-pop, the better.

Sorry to pontificate. I’m just glad to have the board back!! Want to hear your impressions of the genre.
Re: Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
June 24, 2020 10:45PM
I wasn't a "sworn enemy" of disco in my teens, but I didn't appreciate it as much as rock 'n' roll. There were some disco songs I enjoyed on the radio, and I did like to dance, but that exclusionary element Bip mentioned turned me off. I'd watch shows like The Midnight Special and American Bandstand, watching the people dance in their cool fashions, and I just knew that scene would never welcome me.

The first time I danced in public happened in early 1980, right after I turned 18. I was at a club with a bunch of my co-workers. I still was as awkward, nerdy and unconfident as I ever had been, but to my surprise, one of my co-workers actually asked me to dance. I said sure. It turned out to be kind of a revelation. It wasn't an ugly-duckling moment, but I realized that no one in the club really cared about my looks or my fashion sense, and nobody there paid any attention to anyone else's dance moves unless the dancer was really good or really poor. I could acquit myself well enough on the dance floor, and that was all it took. (I also remember that night as the first time I heard hip-hop: the DJ played "Rapper's Delight," which sounded pretty cool to me.)

After that night, I was glad to go dancing anyplace I could. I was really excited to start going to the rock 'n' roll clubs, but if my friends wanted a night at the disco, I didn't say no.

These days, with a monthly radio gig as guest host of "The Gumbo Mix," Seventies disco is never all that far away. I'm not game to play the 15-minute version of anything, but Donna Summer, Chic, Abba and K.C. & the Sunshine Band always are welcome in my setlist. Disco or not, a good song is a good song.
Re: Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
June 25, 2020 03:36PM
Delvin, you have a point there with the whole "lifestyle/marketing" aspect of disco that was almost as oppressive as its ubiquity for me. Disco seemed like something you needed a lot of money for from the outside in. To look the "right" way. To have the "right" hair. To know the "right" dance steps. It seemed exclusionary and elitist to me. That didn't help either.

As for dancing, I never danced a step in my life… I was too introverted for such things. It wasn't until the late 80s when attending a concert at a local rock club where they played records until showtime that something snapped and I started dancing. As a music fan this was a revelation. I really loved it as it combined the physical and the aesthetic within my body. After that I started clubbing in earnest and repeated exposure to "Old Wave" nights that played New Wave club hits that I had missed the first time around became a huge feature of my life. Between "disco" nights and local garage rock concerts I would spend 10-20 hours a week dancing through the late 90s in what were horribly smoky clubs I couldn't last a minute in now. Once I met my wife, clubbing per se ended for me, but there were lots of concerts we'd attend; 2-3 a week and neither of us were shy about shaking a tailfeather. I miss dancing.

Former TP subscriber [81, 82, 83, 84]

[postpunkmonk.com]
For further rumination on the Fresh New Sound of Yesterday®
ira
Re: Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
June 25, 2020 09:26AM
My friend Steve posted earlier this week about a Donna Summer box he'd purchased containing 33 (that's right, 33) CDs. I can't even...

I wrote a tiny bit about the reappraisal of disco in my bubblegum/glam piece...
Re: Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
June 25, 2020 11:27AM
I was in junior high in the late 70s, and disco was the staple of my church youth group dances (along with all kinds of music - AC/DC, country, Beach Boys...I've come to realize that a lot of my eclectic tastes started there). I have a lot of fondness for a lot of those singles, and have indulged in some used disco records of late. (Just got the first A Taste of Honey album, in fact. I had no idea it was a self-contained band and not a producer's project, like so many disco acts.)

I indulged in some of that anti-disco stupidity in high school, but thankfully got over it. Hearing techno for the first time in the early 90s, and realizing it was just disco in a new, all-electronic package, made me realize how good a lot of it was. I'm no dancer, and thus have little tolerance for dance music as a listening experience, but disco sounds like the Beatles compared to most EDM. And I'm with you on the craft that goes into it - the Bee Gees and Donna Summer made great records, whether you like the genre or not.

Lately I've been really fascinated by Eurodisco. It really is its own eccentric breed - created to cash in, I'm sure, but a lot of those artists give the music their own distinctive spin. French producer/drummer/songwriter Cerrone is probably the king of it all, at least in the 70s, and his single "Supernature" is strange genius. (There's a surprisingly strong concert from the Montreux Jazz Festival on YouTube - Cerrone's drumming is like a clock.) But I'm especially fond of the weirdo science fiction-themed acts like Space (whose Magic Fly album is quite good), Ganymede (whose performance of "It Takes Me Higher" needs to be seen to be believed), the Droids' "The Force" (which attempted to cash in on Star Wars mania...sort of) and Dee D. Jackson's "Automatic Lover" (another "wait, seriously?" moment, but a catchy song). Not to mention Austria's Supermax, which appears to be what happens when a long-haired hippy decides to get in on the disco thing - check out their song "Lovemachine." You can find all this stuff on YouTube. I've whiled away many an hour late at night with this stuff. A lot of it - hell, all of it - seems impossibly silly now, but, again, there's a high degree of craft that goes into it.

And there's the French/Italian band Rockets, whose blend of disco, space rock and proto-electronica puts them in a class all by themselves. But that's getting outside the bounds.
Re: Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
June 25, 2020 03:24PM
Michael Toland Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Lately I've been really fascinated by Eurodisco.
> It really is its own eccentric breed - created to
> cash in, I'm sure, but a lot of those artists give
> the music their own distinctive spin. French
> producer/drummer/songwriter Cerrone is probably
> the king of it all, at least in the 70s, and his
> single "Supernature" is strange genius. (There's a
> surprisingly strong concert from the Montreux Jazz
> Festival on YouTube - Cerrone's drumming is like a
> clock.) But I'm especially fond of the weirdo
> science fiction-themed acts like Space (whose
> Magic Fly album is quite good), Ganymede
> (whose performance of "It Takes Me Higher" needs
> to be seen to be believed), the Droids' "The
> Force" (which attempted to cash in on Star
> Wars
mania...sort of) and Dee D. Jackson's
> "Automatic Lover" (another "wait, seriously?"
> moment, but a catchy song). Not to mention
> Austria's Supermax, which appears to be what
> happens when a long-haired hippy decides to get in
> on the disco thing - check out their song
> "Lovemachine." You can find all this stuff on
> YouTube. I've whiled away many an hour late at
> night with this stuff. A lot of it - hell, all of
> it - seems impossibly silly now, but, again,
> there's a high degree of craft that goes into it.

Space Disco! I remember an album a friend had in 1978 called "Spaced Out Disco" it was like Space Disco library music! When I recently got the 12" of "Electric Avenue" by Eddy Grant, I was astonished to hear that the B-side "Time Warp" was an older 1977 Space Disco gem by Grant that would have sounded head-scratching in 1983 but has attained hipness cachet in the Space Disco revival of today. The late period Visage music of the 'teens had the band collaborating with Didier Marouani on cuts from their last album, "Demons To Diamonds." Some of the late period Visage remixes had a Space Disco slant.
Re: Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
June 25, 2020 11:32AM
> Just got the first A Taste of Honey album …

I remember seeing that band on The Midnight Special. It was the first time I'd seen a band with female members playing instruments.
Re: Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
June 25, 2020 03:13PM
Reflecting back in 2014 at the full Moogfest I attended, the one thing that seemed fascinating to me was that there were a lot of powerful disco experiences there. I saw a panel by Giorgio Moroder and when they played “I Feel Love” I was reduced to tears at its beauty. I saw a great Chic concert even though the original band is gone with only Nile Rodgers remaining to anchor it. Finally, the absolutely devastating Escort gig was disco at its most potent; a transcendent experience. One of the most powerful concerts I've ever seen and an experience like lightning striking repeatedly in a small club. You might think that I was a big fan of disco in its heyday, but you’d be wrong. Here’s my background.

I was a kid in the 70s who grew up on nothing but Top 40 radio from day one until about 1978. I had no older siblings or anyone else to point me in any particular musical directions. I gulped down the hits as if there were literally nothing else to listen to, which, in my case, was the truth. I had a record player and a few dozen 45s like any kid had [at least I hope so] but only a handful of albums, and even those were comps of hits. My main drip feed came from the transistor radio that was my close companion. I had likes and dislikes, but I pretty much listened to anything that became reasonably successful on US radio in the 70s. I didn't know otherwise.

Over my life, I’ve seen many pop culture scholars point to “Rock The Boat” by the Hues Corporation as the first “disco” hit. It was a good pop song. You could have heard a lot worse in 1974! It had a certain beat and was arranged to make dancing as smooth and easy as possible; the raison d’être of disco music. I didn’t dance as a kid, so this was not one of my concerns. I just liked pop music, and this was a good enough pop song.

Over the next few years, the trend line of disco began to creep upward. This caused me little concern as I was still chugging down the Top 40 brew fairly indiscriminately. Some things really piqued my interest more than others [Lou Reed, Roxy Music, Bowie, Kraftwerk] but they remained fringe phenomena on the US charts. Not so for disco, which had a watershed moment in 1977 with the release of “Saturday Night Fever,” a movie that I still have never seen. The soundtrack as dominated by the Bee Gees, who’d changed their stripes from pop rock to a more R&B styled output in the mid 70s, became the prototype monster soundtrack album with multiple hits peeled off of it for what seemed like years at the time. Either the Bee Gees or some of the other artists from that album were never off the charts for at least 18 months.

“Fever” seemed to spark a Disco Event Horizon, where the entire pop cultural environment tilted in the direction of disco by 1978. I can remember that disco went from being one flavor of many on the pop charts, to being the dominant style of music that charted in that period. There were established rock bands trying on disco garb in the pursuit of hits [Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart] but also performers who were way older than your parents, cashing in on the new sound. “The Ethel Merman Disco Album” in 1979, was probably the public nadir of that trend! But it didn’t stop with music.

What was probably the deal-stopper for me, was that disco engulfed our entire popular culture in the ’78-’79 period. There were more disco movies, quickly made to cash in on “Saturday Night Fever’s” success [“Thank God It’s Friday,” “Can’t Stop the Music,” “Roller Boogie,” “Xanadu”]. There were even disco comic books! Marvel Comics released "Dazzler" a disco superhero, but the killing stroke, for me, anyway, were the disco episodes of TV shows! It seemed like every TV series extant had to have a “disco episode” in this period be they comedies or drama series! The amount of disco material on the radio was getting oppressive, but turning on the tube was just another vector of disco infection, and by the end of 1977, I had enough! And I wasn’t the only one.

When I saw Nile Rodgers speak on a panel at Moogfest, he took particular pains to refer to the anti-disco backlash and how it meant the end of CHIC in the marketplace. Their last smash single, “Good Times,” was released just a month prior to Disco Demolition Night, a strange baseball promotion done by the Chicago White Sox on July 12, 1979. Baseball fans could bring a disco record and get $0.98 admission to the baseball game and see WLUP-FM DJ Steve Dahl blow up the collected records on the field. The White Sox expected 20,000 attendees.

What they got instead was 50,000 people ready to see some disco records blow up reeeeeal good. The explosion damaged the field and a riot ensued afterward. The White Sox had to forfeit the game to the Detroit Tigers. Following that event, CHIC never had another chart hit, and they had three years of precious metal chart hits prior. “Le Freak” sold seven million copies. For his part, Rodgers took the anti-disco backlash very personally, and it certainly hit him in the wallet. It precipitated the end of CHIC but fostered his move into the even more lucrative production field, so it wasn’t the worst thing to happen to him.

But obviously, public sentiment had turned on disco, seemingly overnight. But by the summer of 1979, I had already gotten off of the disco bus for a year and a half. It was early 1978 when late on a Sunday night I chanced upon something on the radio dial that caught me ear. It was a radio show that only played comedy and novelty records, the Dr. Demento show. I enjoyed the show but was amazed to discover FM Rock at the same time.

I had been an unadventurous radio listener throughout my childhood. Top 40, first on AM but then on FM from around 1975 or so. I listened to the FM affiliated station of my favorite AM channel as I got older. Better reception. The notion of album rock had not previously occurred to me, but here it was. In my face and wha…? No disco of any kind, so was I ever ripe for that change. They played all sorts of bands who may have had a single top 40 hit [or two] that I had known growing up [Yes, Bowie, Pink Floyd] but here were what seemed like lots of other songs by these people getting airplay. In reality, maybe eight or ten songs from Bowie got played [day-in, day-out] but it was still more than "Space Oddity," "Fame,"

At the same time, the school tribes were split into distinct Rock/Disco camps. Truth be told, I didn’t really fit into either, though having been suffocated by disco during the last two years for what it was worth, I stuck in the anti-disco camp, even though I was not an abuser of quaaludes and in fact, I really liked getting an education! And I preferred more erudite art rock to The Nuge, or Molly Hatchet. Central Florida had two FM Rock stations, and I soon discerned that WDIZ-FM [where I had heard Dr. Demento] was the more “blue-collar” of the two, with WORJ-FM being more my cup of tea. But that’s not to say that it was all skittles and beer in my disco-free world.

I quickly realized that no matter which FM Rock station I listened to, I was going to get really tired of a force-fed diet of the latest [weak] albums by The Stones and The Who, not to mention the elephant in the room, Led Zeppelin! Oh my goodness, I might have not had to contend with disco every other song on the radio, but “Stairway To Heaven” was just as bad. It was after about another year and a half of this that I came to the conclusion that what I really hated wasn’t disco, but a lack of variety! WDIZ-FM must have been trouncing WORJ-FM in the ratings, because the latter ended up closely following the lead of the dumber station, to my dismay. If I thought I was weary of disco, then brother, Southern Rock got just as insufferable and onerous in record time! Gaaah! The unholy alliance of heavy metal and country music was just about the worst thing I could have imagined! And even at this stage of the game, I still managed to hold a torch for Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” as the “one great disco song.”

Fortunately, in the summer of 1978, I begged my parents for my first stereo, and at that point could begin building my nascent Record Cell in earnest. By the time I had several dozen albums the time came, some time in early ’80 to cut free from the radio, since I realized that it was not going to give me what I wanted. In the meantime, the scant crumbs of commercially acceptable New Wave that had filtered into FM Rock illuminated a path that I wholeheartedly explored to my unceasing delight. And then in 1981 I chanced to pick up a college radio station and then the rehabilitation of disco began in earnest as New Wave cross-pollinated with disco to create new and exciting hybrids. Ze Records plowed fearlessly into new realms they called “Mutant Disco.”

40 years later, disco is just another color in pop’s palette. I can enjoy music of any stripe now because I have been disengaged entirely from pop culture for almost two generations. I have no idea what was in the charts for the last 30 years. No matter what they’re overplaying, I have not heard it, so that keeps me pure and naive in my listening. Because I’d probably dislike whatever I’m overexposed to.

Former TP subscriber [81, 82, 83, 84]

[postpunkmonk.com]
For further rumination on the Fresh New Sound of Yesterday®
Re: Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
June 25, 2020 03:48PM
Bip - So true with that whole MOR aspect of the worst disco that also helped to taint the genre. While bands like A Taste Of Honey and CHIC were, in fact bands, too much of disco was "production music" and the product of production companies over talent. Disco could be from an idiosyncratic point of view or a mass produced commodity and with the bar set pretty low in the public arena, some got away with murder after a while. Whenever there's a new stylistic craze, the surest thing to follow were cover records of old chestnuts in the new style, so we had things like "A Fifth of Beethoven" cluttering up the landscape. Just awful records, and Disco String Section Porn® proliferated. Too bad it couldn't all be as witty and spectacular as Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band. But August Darnell managed to help start the Ze empire that was some of the best disco ever created. And speaking of best disco, "I Feel Love" is one of the ultimate songs ever created - period. One of the most seminal and ground breaking sounds I've ever heard. It was shockingly new in 1977 and to this day I never tire of it. Whenever I've heard bands dip into that sound for the last 43 years, it fills me with excitement.
Re: Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
July 01, 2020 04:17PM
There is something magical about "I Feel Love." I also never tire of it. I guess it was disco, but it sure sounded different than the rest of the genre. Artists should stop trying to cover it! (Sorry Marc Almond.) There have been some creative sampling uses of it (I'm thinking of Mark Stewart's "Fatal Attraction").

In my high school days (1981-1985) I felt like I couldn't like "uncool" music and disco had been put on that list by then. I secretly still liked some of the disco songs (Disco Inferno, Knock on Wood, and Ring My Bell come to mind) but I wouldn't have admitted it. Silly I know. In my advancing years I don't care what a song is categorized as, if I like it then I like it. I shall blast ABBA whenever I'm so moved! I wasn't "supposed" to like country either, but there are a few songs I enjoy now. I got completely swept up by "new wave" starting in 1981, an obsession that never left, but when that started we weren't supposed to like dinosaur rock either. Now I'm happy to put on classic tracks by ELO or Steve Miller Band when the mood strikes.


Post-Punk Monk Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> speaking of best disco, "I Feel Love" is one of
> the ultimate songs ever created - period. One of
> the most seminal and ground breaking sounds I've
> ever heard. It was shockingly new in 1977 and to
> this day I never tire of it. Whenever I've heard
> bands dip into that sound for the last 43 years,
> it fills me with excitement.
Bip
Re: Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
June 25, 2020 06:57PM
I recently commented on New Wave Outpost about how I would’ve loved to have been in the room when Bowie was sitting there and Eno burst in clutching a copy of ‘I Feel Love’ saying “I’ve just heard the future of music!”.

True about all the references to disco in late 70s television. Reminds me how so many shows went through a Bigfoot obsession right around the same time!
Re: Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
June 26, 2020 09:11AM
Bip Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I recently commented on New Wave Outpost about how
> I would’ve loved to have been in the room when
> Bowie was sitting there and Eno burst in clutching
> a copy of ‘I Feel Love’ saying “I’ve just heard
> the future of music!”.
>
> True about all the references to disco in late 70s
> television. Reminds me how so many shows went
> through a Bigfoot obsession right around the same
> time!

Quote
ENO
“This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next 15 years.”

And the 15 year span ENO [remember when he was always a capitalized mononym?] posited looked to be a rather conservative estimate.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/26/2020 09:12AM by Post-Punk Monk.
Re: Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
June 27, 2020 11:50AM
> I would’ve loved to have been in the room
> when Bowie was sitting there and Eno
> burst in clutching a copy of ‘I Feel Love’
> saying “I’ve just heard the future of
> music!”

That would've been helpful, since Bowie probably didn't remember that moment at all.
Re: Let’s discuss 70’s disco....
June 27, 2020 01:05PM
I have a fantastic Amazon playlist that is all disco and disco inspired. More More More is probably my favorite disco song, just a really cool tune with great musicianship and what a breakdown beat. So good it was reused in Still My Sunshine, not my cup of tea, but it was awesome to hear that familiar breakdown. And for whatever reason that stupid Makin It song by the werewolf dude can put a smile on my face no matter how I am feeling. I think that is the pull of disco music, just good times. The Boards of Canada can bring the same feeling to me but they obviously have a slight twist on feeling that nostalgic rage. Robyn, Dua Lipa with Calvin Harris, Doja Cat, CeCe Peniston, all great stuff.

Does anyone remember the melodramatic movie Thank God Its Friday, the ending was so so good when Donna Summer busted out Last Dance. That feeling during that song in the movie sums up everything about disco for me.
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login