Any Major Disco Vol. 3
And in time for your New Year’s Eve party, or preparation for one, here’s the third Any Major Disco. Of course, if you take the seven Any Major Funk mixes as well, you could take over DJ duties — provided your fellow guests are of a certain age and disposition.
In Any Major Disco Vol. 1 I discussed how the “Disco Sucks” movement was a reaction not only to the music but also to the impact of disco on culture. Now, to be clear, I am not suggesting that those who didn’t dig disco — the music or its scene — were reactionary bigots. But if you chucked a Bill Withers LP into the Comiskey Park bonfire, I might just call you out. Hell, if you blew up a Chic record, we ought to have words.
Disco certainly had an impact against which your average bigot might wish to act. Disco changed things. In fact, it was more revolutionary in the US than punk was in the UK. But where punk was angry and uncompromising, disco was all about finding refuge in joy (and don’t we need that today?).
Disco brought black music and, to some extent, the gay scene into the mainstream. The genesis of disco can be condensed to black music being played in New York gay clubs. This was in the early 1970s, just after the Stonewall riots. Two men dancing together had been illegal in New York — now there were clubs playing great, dancable music and running vibes that were hot and free. The thing spread, and concurrently sexy music was being produced in Philly, NYC, New Orleans that fit these vibes.
In disco music — even if it wasn’t called that yet — women could be not only sassy but also sexual. Previously few women in mainstream pop had expressed their sexuality; Tina Turner blazed a trail. Now, in the mid-1970s LaBelle were directly inviting sexual encounters, and former porn star Andrea True wanted More More More. A little later, Grace Jones defined a whole new kind of sexy, and Donna Summer climaxed on a 12 inch.
And Summer’s records were part of the final piece to the disco scene: the Munich Machine/euro disco type of synth-driven dance music — the birth of electronica — produced by the likes of Giorgio Moroder and the unlikely pair of Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze, who created Silver Convention (Fly Robin Fly, Get Up And Boogie).
So disco empowered black musicians (even if the media traded a white band, the Bee Gees, as the “Kings of Disco”), and women in pop, and brought the gay scene not only out of the closet but into the heterosexual world. It was when the countercultural was absorbed into the mainstream — think Ethel Merman singing disco — that disco lost some of its power. The “Disco Sucks” movement succeeded in killing Disco— as a concept, as a thing.
But there was no turning back. Disco didn’t die. It didn’t only survive but went on to thrive, as Michael Jackson’s Thriller showed. By the mid-‘80s, black musicians were mega stars: Jackson, Richie, Prince, Houston. By the ‘90s, black music set the pop agenda — not under a white guise, as had been the case with rock & roll, but as the driver, in the form of Dr Dre, R Kelly, Janet Jackson and so on.
Thanks to disco, women in pop had become self-aware. Madonna, a direct product of disco, has been followed by many women who will grind their groin not only to turn on the boys but to express their sexual power.
And with disco, homosexuality emerged from the cultural shadows (though the AIDS crisis that coincided with the “death” of disco created some new barriers). Where Liberace had to hide his sexuality, Boy George and Bronski Beat followed in the footsteps of Sylvester, the first out pop star — at least in Britain and Europe. Of course, for all the advances that have been made over the past four decades, the fight for gay rights goes on, especially in the US. But disco helped to bring that fight out into the open.
And with that, here’s the mix to get your feet shuffling and hips shaking, with a bit of everything from the disco buffet, drawing mainly from the glory days of 1977 to the late disco era.
And a happy 2016 to you!
1. Al Hudson and The Partners – You Can Do It (1979)
2. Sharon Redd – Can You Handle It (1981)
3. Earth, Wind & Fire – September (1978)
4. Ozone – Walk On (1980)
5. Kool & The Gang – The Force (1977)
6. Karen Young – Hot Shot (1978)
7. Don Ray – Garden Of Love (1978)
8. Salsoul Orchestra feat. Loleatta Holloway – Runaway (1977)
9. Double Exposure – Ten Percent (1976)
10. Jermaine Jackson – Let’s Get Serious (1980)
11. Bionic Boogie – Risky Changes (1977)
12. Evelyn Champagne King – Shame (1977)
13. Jean Carn – Was That Was All It Was (1979)
14. Anita Ward – Ring My Bell (1979)
15. Sheila B. Devotion – Love Me Baby (1977)
16. Lipps Inc. – Funkytown (1980)
17. Supermax – Lovemachine (1978)
18. Meco – Star Wars Theme (1977)
19. Edwin Starr – Contact (1978)
20. Sylvester – Dance (Disco Heat) (1978)