The past few months have seen a lot of talk about a disco revival. Daft Punk have topped the charts across the world with ‘Get Lucky’, which has a vocal chorus nearly as catchy as its guitar riff. The riff is played by Chic’s Nile Rogers, who also produced many of the biggest hits of the early 80s. Daft Punk had a stated aim taking the EDM movement – the name under which America has finally embraced the dance music culture which has enthralled the rest of the world for the past two decades – back to its roots. Surfaces have been scratched with articles in national newspapers, and despite no doubt good intentions, the same old records and clichés about the history of dance music have been repeated.
“The Get Down Boogie Sound” could show people a better route into the past than some of the lazily researched ramblings. Whilst disco was mainstream in the late 70s, its success was but a blip in a continual line of club culture that had begun in late 60s New York and would at various times break through to the general consciousness and the charts. The clubs were underground and the music tended to emerge from blackAmerica. The disco hits of the late 70s were based on a template of Philly soul and uptempo Motown, and when that was used up black America found something else to dance to. This compilation tells us what happened next.
Expertly compiled by Julian Jonah, an experienced DJ and recording artist (he made one of the earliest UK house records and as part of 187 Lockdown scored several hits including the Top 10 ‘Kung Fu’), these records are one of the starting points for modern day club culture. As Julian explains in his notes, as the commercial successes and big sales of the disco era disappeared it was harder to employ the big orchestras that were so much a part of that sound. Dance music became stripped back, funkier and started to use newer technology such as synthesisers, creating a distinctive, modern sound. Raps and chants can be heard on tracks such ‘Body Move’ by Washington DC’s Rare Essence and ‘Dance So Fine’ by Nijel.
This was an exciting time for American dance music with underground clubs taking hold of 12-inch releases and using them as the building blocks for house and garage. In the UK these new releases were purchased and turned into clubland hits. The music is exhilarating and it is great to see established names such as Bill and Gerry from the Fatback Band using their hit-making skills to forge new sounds as they did with the record by Mynk. Other well-known names who turn up include Motown’s Pam Sawyer (the writer of ‘Love Hangover’ and ‘Love Child’) and Leroy Burgess, whose production style had a natural affinity to the dancefloor and who under the name Convention created a very in-demand 12-inch single.
They are joined by many others who are either cult heroes or were making their only appearance on vinyl. Carol Williams’ ‘Can’t Get Away (From Your Love)’ is a gem and J.T.’s ‘I Love Music’ is an astounding creation, which makes you wonder why he never recorded anything more.
It’s all here, over 13 tracks, the sound of disco being redefined as dance music. The boogie sound!
By Dean Rudland