Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Mixed Bag

I guess hard-core disco lovers will hate my selections, as I love messing around at the fringes of the genre. But I reckon if something's danceable, it doesn't have to sound like disco to get included here.

Hence the first two entries in this selection. Late 60s pop really, but who could not like Madeline Bell - a singer who had yet to make her mark when she recorded this unsuccessful single in 1968. Biljo by Clodagh Rodgers is catchy, though not her biggest success by a long way. As so often on Clodagh's earlier recordings, the lyrics seem almost nonsensical, but I love the general sound.

I'm not a huge fan of African influenced disco, but find the Manu Dibango track at No 3 pretty powerful. More borderline disco from Sniff'n'the Tears next - in fact this is one of my favourite examples of rock disco.

The most unlikely people got into disco in the 70s - as witness track No 5 from the Glitter Band - and this was a recent discovery for me, as was Idris Muhammed at No 6.

We break the dance mood slightly at no 7 with the Polish Radio Orchestra. Time to pour a Bacardi (or perhaps put the Ovaltine on?).

Shakatak don't even seem to be retro cool these days. A forgotten sound of the early 80s, I suppose, but a good record of the jazzy influences around in those times. A classic from George McRae at track 9 - one of the sounds that really started the disco explosion back in '74.

This seems to flow nicely into the Don Ray track - apparently a Frenchman named Raymond Donnez in reality - and then we have Syd Dale's Disco Tek which is sleazy and cheesy all at once! Finishing off for once with an uptemp number - and pretty classic disco at that from Carrie Lucas. This is the 1980 remake of her 1977 success. Never quite clear why it was remade as not much changed apart from the title!

1.00:00Madeline Bell - Thinkin'1968
2.02:33Clodagh Rodgers - Biljo1969
3.05:32Manu Dibango - Dikalo1972
4.09:29Sniff'n'the Tears - Driver's Seat1979
5.13:05Glitter Band - Makes You Blind1976
6.18:57Idris Muhammed - Could Heaven Ever be Like This1977
7.27:18Polish Radio Orchestra - Pondering1974
8.30:11Shakatak - Night Birds1981
9.34:26George McRae - Rock Your Baby1974
10.40:40Don Ray - Garden of Love1978
11.45:06Syd Dale - Disco Tek1973
12.47:50Carrie Lucas - Keep Smilin'1980

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Funkytown - The Montreal Disco Era

Came across this very interesting radio documentary from CBC Canada about the Montreal disco scene.

Canada, and Montreal in particular, was a major contributor to disco music and this programme reflects on how Montreal's position as a cultural bridge between Europe and North America may have been the reason.

A few curious omissions, however (or perhaps there's a Part 2 planned?). So no mention of important artists like Gino Soccio and Lime here. But this seems more like an analysis of the earlier years, so perhaps there is more to come. There's certainly enough material to fill a second programme, as Canada was a major player in the retrenchment of disco after it fell out of mainstream favour around mid 1979, and continued to be an influence on the genre well into the 80s.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Easy Listening Disco

I've called this selection Easy Listening Disco because that's just what it is - something like a Radio 2 playlist perhaps (but a good one, of course!).

South Side Movement is a recent discovery for me and we kick off with a nice funky instrumental. Next up is The Cutter - a fun Rediffusion library track, linking on to Eddie Kendricks early disco sound with Date with the Rain.

A bit of celebrity disco at track 4, but Johnny Mathis does it so nicely we can forgive him! Then at track 5 something interesting - an uncredited female singer on Sounds Like Soul's version of Son of a Preacher Man (another Rediffusion library track), and I must say whoever she is she gives Dusty a run for her money.

Going way back in time next for the Frank Sinatra track. This and the end track are from an EP that's been lying about since I was a child. Usual classy vocals accompanied by a very uptempo and swinging Billy May Orchestra on these two tracks.

A soulful sound from session singer Rosetta Hightower next, and some more funk from LTG Exchange, then on to another track from the 1980 film Prom Night. This track accompanies the dancing at the prom disco just before all the carnage begins!

We finish up with some classic pop from one-hit wonders Ace, and some late 60s northern soul from Marilyn Powell before ending with the second Frank Sinatra track.

1.00:00South Side Movement - Mud Wind1972
2.04:25Vick Flick - The Cutter
3.06:29Eddie Kendricks - Date With the Rain1972
4.15:02Johnny Mathis - Gone, Gone, Gone1979
5.21:22Sounds Like Soul - Son of a Preacher Man1969
6.23:44Frank Sinatra - Dancing in the Dark1959
7.26:06Rosetta Hightower - Friendship Train
8.29:51LTG Exchange - Waterbed1974
9.35:22Paul Zaza - Love Me Til I Die1980
10.39:58Ace - How Long1975
11.43:06Syd Dale - Time for a Change1974
12.46:30Marilyn Powell - Something to Hold on To1968
13.49:14Frank Sinatra - Baubles, Bangles and Beads1959

Please note this mix is presented for information and demonstration only in a low bitrate mono stream

Friday, 6 November 2009


After a long gap I've finally got another mix of my favourite dance and slow dance tracks together. A few notable ones here for example, track no 3 was composed for the Canadian horror film Prom Night. It's one of the few horror films I know of with a disco soundtrack. The female vocalist was never credited, so I've listed it under composer / arranger Paul Zaza.

Track no 4, Dolly My Love by The Moments was never one I was particularly fond of - until now! By chance I happened to hear it while supermarket shopping this week, and suddenly thought what a great, happy sounding dance track.

Wasn't sure about including track 5, by Andy Williams, but it's a good example of "celebrity disco", a phenomenon that occurred around 1979 when a mixed bag of established artists started recording disco tracks - ironically just as the disco bubble was about to burst, in the US at least.

The Steely Dan track at no 7 was another re-discovery for me. I recently found the album Can't Buy a Thrill in a Manchester charity shop, and was struck by how strong this track is. Ditto with Maria Muldaur at no 8 - known the song for years, but it really does repay another listen.

I've used the Banzaii track so much lately, just because I love it. I guess at the time it was very much the poor relation of Carl Douglas's "Kung Fu Fighting" but of the two I reckon I now prefer Banzaii.

We finish up with Barbra Streisand and Guilty. Never a huge Streisand or Bee Gees fan - this is actually a duet with Barry Gibb - but I just love this, and it seems an ideal slow dance track.

Here's the complete listing:

1.00:00Gary's Gang - Keep on Dancing1978
2.04:25Peter Gatah - Rock Me Now1980
3.06:29Paul Zaza - Prom Night1980
4.15:02The Moments - Dolly My Love1975
5.21:22Andy Williams - Love Story1979
6.23:44Raydio - Jack and Jill1977
7.26:06Steely Dan - Do It Again1972
8.29:51Maria Muldaur - Midnight at the Oasis1974
9.35:22Banzaii - Chinese Kung Fu1975
10.39:58Barbra Streisand - Guilty1980

Please note this mix is presented for information and demonstration only in a low bitrate mono stream