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 Post subject: Disco... Can You Hear Me?
 Post Posted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 4:56 pm 
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:o

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Last edited by Pete Denis on Tue Feb 03, 2009 5:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post Posted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:12 am 
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I hear ya Pete!

If you don't have a decent pair of speakers that you can play at a reasonable volume then headphones are the way to go for that full stereophonic enjoyment of disco. :wink:

Personally I hate headphones. Even the comfy ones hurt after you have them on for 30 minutes. :x

The other reason why we as djs & dancers back in the day used to love the music so much was because the bass speakers emitted low frequencies that worked your diaphram. When that happened it sent a message to your brain that released both adrenalin & endorphines that actually gave you that rush that kept you dancing. :twisted:

Combined with the other rush you got from your ears recieving the candy, we were all flying. :)

The better the bass bins, the better the response.

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 Post subject: I had other influences
 Post Posted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 1:03 am 
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:roll:

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Last edited by Pete Denis on Tue Feb 03, 2009 5:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: IN THE BEAT OF THE NIGHT--by BRIAN CHIN
 Post Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:31 pm 
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IN THE BEAT OF THE NIGHT by Brian Chin


SMILE WHEN YOU SAY "DISCO." But, of course, you do. You'd have to, whether you're mentally windmilling your arms to a Village People record or doing that slow Spanish hand-jive at your relatives' wedding reception. More than 25 years after its birth and nearly 20 since its heralded death, disco still works its spell on the brain and the feet.

At this stage, it's hard to see how anyone could think otherwise: people would have to up and decide that getting together and dancing is just no fun. The grooving hand claps, fizzing percussion, colorful strings and horns, joyful vocalisms, slick pop rhythm, innovative electronics, and deep gut emotion--all of these would have to lose meaning for disco to disappear. And it hasn't happened.

That's because the kind of fun devised by the DJs, producers, songwriters, and artists represented here was built to last. It was edgy, flamboyant, in-your-face . . . and yet accessible. And amazingly, indisputably, it still sounds that way. Years later, these are records that can still make you drop your guard, lose your anguish, and get totally into the mood. That was a revolutionary step for people then, and it's a step for people now--one that every generation discovers is worth taking . . . whether you're stepping to disco, house, hip-hop, rave, reggae, or electronica.

THE EUROPEAN IDEA OF THE DISCOTHEQUE--literally, a "record library"--peeked its head out in America with the British pop invasion of the '60s and was promptly overrun by the hippie happenings, music festivals, and demonstrations of the later decade. But by the early '70s, in what could well be called the first "alternative" scene, an underground brewing in New York was experiencing its own political and social awakening, but with gatherings that were more familial and celebratory in nature--and totally devoted to music.

Journalist and later A&R man Vince Aletti, the first to document this scene in the mass media, pointed out the diversity of the '70s club phenomenon in 1979: "The period when people were making the connections that led to 'disco,' making the fusion happen, was exciting." Settings ranged from a firehouse that was the headquarters of New York's gay activist group to bars that added a DJ booth to fashionable and elegant nightspots that transformed the jet-set image of the '60s discotheque with a strong street vibe--one that was racially and sexually diverse. "You could tell something was going on by the interest," Bobby "DJ" Guttadaro recalled: "They weren't only coming on weekends. They'd come to the booth and ask what the songs were."

The main artists inside the club were the DJs. Each felt that their selections set them apart and that one's style of choosing and playing constituted "their music." They proved it every weekend in front of audiences that, while loyal, were "real picky, and just rude enough to show it."

With amazing quickness, a musical ecosystem materialized: DJs ran from their clubs to record stores and labels in a state of constant buzz about obscure records and album cuts. One key New York radio station, WBLS, integrated club hits into its playlist and forced other competing stations to follow. The TV show Soul Train provided immediate national exposure for records and instantly broadcast new dance styles all over the country. And disco-goers, who didn't hear enough of their music on the radio, bought tens of thousands of records in the New York area alone, forcing labels to pay attention to records they'd been ignoring.

"We had incredible record collections," recalls Long Island DJ and record pool founder Jackie McCloy. "In those days, record companies would have different release schedules for different cities, so a record that was in Philadelphia might not be in the stores in New York until several months later. (Fellow DJ) Paul Casella worked for TWA. He could fly anywhere he wanted for practically nothing and pick up records in Boston, Montreal, Philadelphia, wherever. When we'd make the rounds to the record companies in Manhattan to get the latest promos, we'd trade records with other DJs while camping out in the waiting room. We had records first, and their popularity would spread, because we'd trade away our extra copies."

In this period, prior to the corporatization of record labels, DJs had a lot of direct input into these records: "The Hustle" was suggested as a theme to legendary R&B composer, producer, and bandleader Van McCoy by DJ David Todd, who brought a couple in to do The Latin Hustle in front of McCoy--much the same way that venerable producer Jerry Wexler danced The Jerk for Booker T. & The MG's so they could get the groove of Wilson Pickett's "In The Midnight Hour." Not long afterward, Todd began postproduction mixing himself; he added the wicked echoed hand clap to "Shame" that helped make it a worldwide hit for Evelyn "Champagne" King. Francois Kevorkian, employed in A&R at Prelude, also edited and remixed most, if not all, it seemed, of that company's best material for clubs.

The year 1974 was the watershed for disco's aboveground emergence: a string of #1 pop hits put the industry on notice that clubs were discovering records that could make the whole country dance. Months of club play and album sales forced 20th Century to release the instrumental "Love's Theme" from the album Under The Influence Of Love Unlimited. And by February Barry White had his first #1 hit as a composer and producer. In April the theme song from TV's Soul Train-- which had thoroughly usurped American Bandstand's position in teen culture--reached the top spot in a slightly retooled version, titled "TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)" by MFSB. Then, in July, George McCrae and The Hues Corporation made the wake-up call official with the back-to-back chart-toppers "Rock Your Baby," a more or less instant hit, and "Rock The Boat," a song released in February that was given up for dead when club play suddenly sold 50,000 singles in New York alone.

At that point, everyone agreed that a "market" had arisen, and the floodgates opened. Previously, clubs chose up-tempo records that had been made for the pop and R&B audiences. Now labels and producers targeted the dance clubs with music tailored to them, having been shown a direct path from clubs to radio to sales.

The new music addressed all members of the disco army line hustling across America's dance floors. The gay and straight glitterati got most of the media attention (The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men," Chic's "Le Freak," and Sister Sledge's "He's The Greatest Dancer"). But street people of all cultures were the bellwether crowd, if not literally the source of disco's most cutting-edge content (Disco-Tex & The Sex-O-Lettes' "Get Dancin'," Rose Royce's "Car Wash," Sister Sledge's "We Are Family," and Freeez's British-American disco/hip-hop fusion "I.O.U."). The working class that partied locally or made up the bridge-and-tunnel crowds that headed downtown on weekend nights were the least recognized constituency, but they made underground hits and mainstream ditties alike into gold records (Bell & James' "Livin' It Up (Friday Night)," Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music," The Trammps' "Disco Inferno," and the middle-brow classic by Patrick Hernandez, "Born To Be Alive"). Eventually, Chic's "Good Times" single-handedly cast a wide net across America's social fabric: it had relevance to those who lived the "sporty life" of the lyric and to those who aspired to it, as well those early hip-hoppers who were on the verge of creating the next generation of street style.

THE ESSENTIAL SYMBOLS OF DISCO were not white suits and platform shoes. They were, instead, a heartbeat and a cry of emotion out of the darkness. And they remained the same through its heyday, even if the noise level was rising. Disco's artists--who would include the singers, the songwriters, and the producers--had not one but two feet in the street (all of this was way before megastardom really put artists out of reach of reality). An artist such as Sylvester ("(You Make Me Feel) Mighty Real") reflected both the grittiness of the street and the fevered imagination of its most flamboyant denizens. Can all things disco be considered underground? Well, think of the social mores of the time--or even those of today. Any place where young gays, blacks, and Latins congregate in a spirit of welcome creativity and empowerment would be by its very definition out of the mainstream. Then, as now, disco artists recontextualized mainstream R&B and pop. (Just think of the way Puff Daddy's records sound in the street environment that spawned them compared to how they sound on Top 40 radio.)

Disco's talent pool stacked themselves up against vocal superstars like Diana Ross, The Temptations, and Aretha Franklin. It's so easy to hear the fire of Wilson Pickett, the interplay of Sam & Dave, and the rollicking doo-wop of The Marcels in the five-man vocals of The Trammps. And the girl group and family group tradition melded seamlessly with the new sounds in records by Silver Convention ("Fly, Robin, Fly"), The Sylvers ("Boogie Fever"), Tavares ("It Only Takes A Minute"), Musique and Inner Life ("In The Bush," "I'm Caught Up (In A One Night Love Affair)"), Andrea True Connection ("More, More, More (Part I)"), Lipps, Inc. ("Funkytown"), and The Jackson 5 ("Dancing Machine").

Pistol-hot rhythm bands--every one of them formidable songwriting, production, and performing entities--also fired this engine, from KC & The Sunshine Band ("Get Down Tonight," "That's The Way (I Like It)," "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty," "Keep It Comin' Love") and Kool & The Gang ("Celebration," "Fresh") to Chic ("I Want Your Love"), Rose Royce ("Car Wash"), British bands Heatwave ("Boogie Nights") and Hot Chocolate ("You Sexy Thing"). The gigging R&B stage band remained alive and well in the disco era, although Germany's celebrated Munich Machine (hits by Silver Convention, Donna Summer) and later, the Italian-American conglomerate Change ("The Glow Of Love," "A Lover's Holiday"), played upon the element of mystique, never emerging from the European studio onto the U.S. stage at all.

The timeless iconography and sheer magnetism of the pop and R&B diva is, most notably, an essential element of disco, which is still the only music format where female singers rule. A traditionalist crooner-turned-Queen of the Discos, Gloria Gaynor ("Never Can Say Goodbye," "I Will Survive") had a powerful, wide-ranging voice that made every word of a song register intensely. Donna Summer ("I Feel Love," "Bad Girls") traveled from Broadway to Germany to the world's dance floors. Sister Sledge ("Lost In Music," "Got To Love Somebody") had a short string of respectable semihits before riding Chic-produced anthems into musical history. Evelyn "Champagne" King ("Shame") and Cheryl Lynn ("Got To Be Real") walked through unlikely open doors: respectively, the bathroom at Philly's Sigma Sound, where King was heard singing Sam Cooke while helping her mother clean; and, in Lynn's case, the stage of TV's (generally) no-talent showcase, The Gong Show. And newcomers Amii Stewart ("Knock On Wood"), Debbie Jacobs ("Don't You Want My Love"), and Carol Douglas ("Doctor's Orders") all updated the female R&B vocal tradition and musical format.

Meanwhile, established R&B/pop singers including Thelma Houston ("Don't Leave Me This Way"), Candi Staton ("Young Hearts Run Free"), and Edwin Starr ("H.A.P.P.Y. Radio") all had dance hits of their own that played first in the clubs.

AT ITS HEIGHT, DISCO ELICITED HOSTILITY--and, inescapably, veiled racism--from rockers who thought that disco was taking over the world, and from one Midwestern DJ whose "Disco Demolition" event turned violent (even though he himself hosted disco parties shortly before that night). Disco responded the only way it could: with extra attitude, honey. A nightclub owner threw Foxy off the stage and right onto the street the night the band debuted "Get Off." The "oo-ooh! oo-ooh!" hook, which annoyed the owner when he heard patrons whooping, had been written right into the song in the most aggressive, in-your-face way.

By the time Saturday Night Fever and Studio 54 became media phenomena, the scene had already matured and peaked. The excesses of those new to disco made it faddish; as they say, the shattered image of disco was the symptom, rather than the disease. If you compare the way the Summer of Love, the Woodstock period, or gangsta rap has been covered by the mass media, it is no less simplistic than the coverage disco received. What this kind of treatment conferred on most disco artists was not so much ridicule as invisibility.



FOLLOWING DISCO'S CRASH, radio stations that had played the music all day long switched back to their old formats, and the next media-fed frenzy, surrounding Urban Cowboy, precipitated the same boom-and-bust in Nashville that disco had experienced in metropolitan areas. Harry Wayne Casey, KC of the Sunshine Band fame, had a #1 European hit with "Give It Up," but he couldn't get his record label to release it in the States. He released it himself and it hit the Top 20 and made a lot more money than if Epic had put the song out. Disco had come full circle, from being ignored by the industry to being acknowledged to ignored by the industry again--all the while selling plenty of records to people who still liked to dance on the weekend.

THERE ARE MANY SONGS that came out of disco that are truly for the ages, and not just because you can dance to them. Alicia Bridges' Grammy®-nominated "I Love The Nightlife (Disco 'Round)" is, of course, not about dancing, but about a fading relationship. Songwriter/producer Patrick Adams says that Inner Life's "I'm Caught Up (In A One Night Love Affair)" was his version of Motown, but few records from Detroit's classic years addressed adult situations with this combination of hard-edged realism and heart-tugging tenderness. And the great disco anthems--"Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now," "We Are Family," and "Celebration" among them--combine spiritual affirmation and joyous physical display to unite us all.

Years later, it goes without saying that disco echoes through our consciousness, made new through daily radio play and the sampling of contemporary artists. Disco is still multilayered--communal and intensely personal: Patrice Rushen's "Forget Me Nots" is not only a rhythm track sampled in Will Smith's rap theme for the movie Men In Black but it's also a touching allusion to a time of greater simplicity, innocence, and connection celebrated in George Michael's "Fastlove." Now, as then, disco music is able to bring people to the edge, emotionally and physically.

--Brian Chin (with additional reporting by Barry Walters)

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