trans fat posted:
All I've ever heard in my life is how lame disco is.
Start off by getting some classic disco DJ compilations/mixtapes (disco music is intended to be heard in the context of a discotheque). Disco as a genre is really much more complex than popular culture would have you believe. All this being said, I think looking into disco bands is going to give you the wrong idea. The entire genre (as it is with most dance music) was a singles driven deal...don't get me wrong though, Chic is an excellent band but more people know them for the single "Good Times" than they do for "C'est Chic" the album.
Since disco was about singles more than albums, and dance floors more than headphones...disco was also less about bands and more about DJs. The 1970's was an era when bands didn't "make" singles (as in promote them), disc jockeys did. It's an era when b-sides and obscurities got radio play and became disassociated with the musicians and associated with the DJs. This is why "Soul Makossa" is a loft record, "Heartbeat" is a garage record, and "I will survive" is a studio record. Study the DJs then and the appealing side of disco becomes apparent. The DJs, clubs, and singles were where it was happening not the individual artists (or the disco clones, or the ethyl mermans or the john travoltas)
I recommend these comps with preference in the order that they appear:
Soul Jazz Records Presents: Nicky Siano's "The Gallery": The Original New York Disco 1973-1977
Soul Jazz Records Presents: A Tom Moulton Mix
The Loft by David Mancuso
Journey into Paradise: The Larry Levan Story
Story of P&P: Sound of Harlem
Baia Degli Angeli 1977-1978 (Part 1 & Part 2) By Daniele Baldelli (Baia Degli Angeli was Italy's Studio 54)
Those are comps you can buy, there are also all sorts of vintage mixes you can find on the internet. Two great repositories of classic DJ mixes are deep house page (which has a full 10 hour broadcast of David Mancuso live at a loft party in Tokyo as well as hours upon hours of classic WBMX chicago radio broadcasts) and VJS productions which has some absolutely crucial mixes from some of Manhattans most famous DJS (stuff I haven't found anywhere else).
On the VJS site i'd recommend listening to anything by Tom Savarese, Tom Moulton, Roy Thode, Bobby Viteritti, Frankie Knuckles, or Danny Krivit. For an overarching history of disco I'd recommend listening to the 5 part interview with Tom Moulton...who wasn't actually a working DJ but instead the most prolific/important producer of the era. He gets lumped in with the DJs because he got his gig as a producer by making reel to reel mixtapes of non-stop music for clubs to play.
The history to the music is about as interesting as the music itself and by understanding the historical context you can get a greater appreciation for what disco was, where it came from, what it meant, and why it is still relevant and alive today.
--About the dancefloors and not headphones thing though, this music really is good to listen to even when you are not dancing! David Mancuso in particular as his song choices are so erratic, one minute he could be playing the 1812 overture and then all of a sudden drop some crazy world beat record with synthesizers. There is an entire culture/style of eclectic disco that has arisen from this aesthetic...music more for headphones than for dancing, it's epitomized by DJ Harvey (this is an oversimplification of DJ harvey though) and his "Harvey Sarcastic Disco" mixes...there's also a huge scene in NY that is all about this, lovefingers, has a ton of mixes and songs. Some people call it "beardo disco" or "space disco" but I like to call it "stoner disco"...
--For instant gratification just click here. Great video that captures Larry Levan killing it at the Paradise Garage (song is Sylvester's "Over and Over")
--And here for a great and quick summary of Disco in Manhattan with some shots of the Gallery and the loft in action..
Tokyo Drifter fucked around with this message at Mar 21, 2008 around 08:52
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