We’re a little more High Energy here in the Magic City. North of us in New York and Chicago back in the day , Disco music was grittier and more urban. Lower BPMs dominated the dancefloor. Here is my choice based on reaction at the time and throughout the years.
In 1976 at the age of 15 & 16, two aspiring DJs , unable to get into any of the straight clubs in Miami , found themselves in front of the WindwardResort Motel in Miami Beach. They both agreed that they would say ” We left our IDs in the car ( Those lines worked back then ) Half an hour past their curfew of 10:00pm , they approached the front door and a large bouncer who calmly waved them in, No questions asked . The music was getting louder, the dance floor packed with bodies, and a song that would introduce them to a whole new world of music they couldn’t get at their local record store. The song was ” Love in C Minor” by Cerrone but they wouldn’t find out the name of the song until two weeks later because the DJ had covered the label with tape, a practice back in the day to sound exclusive. I was one of those two kids who would forever be in love with the music known as ” Disco”
Jean-Marc Cerrone born 24 May 1952 is a French disco drummer, composer, record producer. Rumor has it that he had some serious beef back in the day with another Disco superstar Alec R. Costandinos ( Click here for Interview )
His album covers were unmistakable , using controversial images for his European releases that usually had to be sanitized for US Releases. Release after release his tracks became dance floor staples for ” Disctheques” around the world. Here in Miami Cerrone’s tracks especially Supernature have all endured the test of time and can still be heard at bars, nightclubs and events.
Cerrone now tours as a DJ and still performs . He has new material ” DNA” which sounds like a Giorgio Moroder/Kraftwerk hybrid with some Pink Floyd overtones . My personal choice from his new album is “ I’ve got a Rocket “
I’m a huge James Bond fan,so you can imagine when in the opening credits of ” The Spy Who Loved Me” 007 evades several machine gun wielding adversaries while on a pair of skis to a hard pouncing, dance floor worthy Disco theme,complete with scratching wa -was.I wasn’t a big Fan of Roger Moore but the producers ,or should I say Composer Marvin Hamlisch hit it right on the head !!The soundtrack to the film was composed by Hamlisch, who filled in for veteran John Barry. Released in August of 1977 it was almost as if Albert R. Broccoli had predicted the coming of Disco.
Biddu Orchestra – James Bond Disco Theme was released in 1978 but never appeared in a James Bond film.
This is something we are extremely proud of.Growing up and listening to his records and then years later being able to actually have a conversation with the Master himself was a real privilege. My number one all time Disco Hit has always been Romeo And Juliette. Listen to the voice that brought us all this beautiful music.No matter hoe he appeared as Love and Kisses, Sphinx,Sumeria,Tony Rallo his productions are testament to the quality that Disco music could achieve. Open House radio is our weekly Disco program heard all over the world on stations such as Generation Soul Funk Disco and AmyFm in France. Wepa.FM in Miami, Disco 935 New York, Radio Sigma and Cultura Web in Brazil and countless more. Enjoy and help ” Keep the Music Alive”
December 16 marked the 26th anniversary of the death of one of Disco’s greatest performers, Sylvester born Sylvester James, Jr. September 6, 1947 in Watts, Los Angeles, California.His music was a staple of nightclubs throughout the world and continues to be included in every Disco set played today. although he had a previous release in 1977 Sylvester first came to our attention with the release of his 1978 ” Step II” which include Dance ( Disco Heat ) ” Gotta a Match?” and Mighty Real on the Fantasy Label.The DJ Promo 12″ was released in 1978, with “Dance (Disco Heat)” as the A-side and “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” on the B-side. Most club DJs at the time programmed both cuts with equal enthusiasm , but my favorite was ” Mighty Real” which in my opinion embodied the feel of the Disco experience as opposed to the grittier ,soulful, Gospel -like ” Disco heat” which was the mainstream favorite. His 1979 album ” Living Proof” produced the mediocre ” Body Strong” which basically used the same drum pattern as ” Disco Heat” .It wasn’t until Sylvester’s album “Stars” that I believed he was back on top of his game with the title track ( stars) and my favorite ” I Who Have Nothing” previously performed by Ben E. King in 1963.The track was a killer , explosion of sounds on a quality nightclub sound system and re-established Sylvester as a leader in the genre. His later more electronic work with producer Patrick Cowley’s Megatron Label on ” Sex” ” Don’t Stop’ ” Trouble in Paradise” and His mega club hit ” Do You wanna Funk” kept him in the spotlight until his death in in 1988. The Unofficial ” Queen” of Disco ,no telling where he would be today musically if he was still alive.
Produced by Disco Music Icon Ray Martinez founder of Paris International Records and creator of the groups Amant and Passion, Foxy was formed in 1976 here in Miami. The group consisted of vocalist Ish Ledesma ,percussionist Richard “Richie” Puente ( son of Tito Puente), keyboardist Charlie Murciano, bass guitarist Arnold Paseiro and drummer Joe Galdo . Carl Driggs later joined on their second album as vocalist/percussion and shared songwriting credits.
Their big international hit of course was ” Get Off” but it was this track ” Get Off Your Ahh and Dance” that introduced alot of local club patrons to Foxy. The track was tailor made for Hustle Dancers , Ray Martinez’s signature sound is evident throughout the track complete with violins, flute and the tropical percussion that would cement Martinez’s image as the creator of ” Miami-Style Disco” Unfortunately this beautiful piece of music was obscured when several months later the better promoted T – Connection released a similar sounding ” Disco Magic” also on TK’s Dash Label. The track continues to this day to be one of the ground breaking records that defined the early disco Era.
Since it’s release on Casablanca Records in 1983 Rags to Riches ” El Watusi/ La Bamba ” has been a standard must play in the progamming schedule of every veteran DJ here in the South Florida Area . Of course our large Hispanic population may play a major role in this decision by the jocks, but far from being another straight ahead Remake of ” La Bamba” like Antonia Rodriguez’s 1978 dancefloor hit, Rags to Riches ( 12′) builds it up with a long percussive intro ( 2:51) where a female voice ” narrates” her intentions to steal another girl’s boyfriend ( in Spanish) it is this intro that ” sold” the track to the DJs.The intro weaves seemlessly into ” La Bamba” is a classic style which originated in the Mexican state of Veracruz and combines Spanish, and African musical elements, yet the female voice on the track is speaking with a Carribean Latin Accent ( Dominican,Puerto Rican) Album Tracks
A Land Of 1000 Dances Medley 22:07
B El Watusi / La Bamba (Special Dance Mix Version) 6:43
“Land Of 1000 Dances” medley:
Land Of 1000 Dances
Twist & Shout
Walkin’ The Dog
Mashed Potato Time
Land Of 1000 Dances – Reprise
Although it only represented a ” localized” Disco experience, specifically that of Italian Americans living in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City. The film helped propel Disco into the mainstream. Although the music and dancing were secondary in the telling of the story of Tony Manero ,the visuals defined the period and was the mold for new ” Disco Converts” Polyester shirts, Blow Dried hair,gold chains, elevator shoes and other details that would become standard disco style. “Would you just watch the hair? I work a long time on my hair, and you hit it!” was one of my favorite quotes from the movie. The songs used in the film were not really representative of the style of music heard in the nightclubs at the time , but that didn’t keep an 18 year old DJ from seeing it countless of times. In the end Saturday Night Fever would represent ” Disco” and would be the future source of ridicule to generations of people who never really got to know the true essence of the music and the scene.
So Disco became a “bad word’ Radio stations went back to playing Top 40 and Rock and before you knew it Hip Hop took over.But did it go ” Undercover” ? Did artists influenced by this music continue to produce ” Disco infused” tracks? Do contemporary artists such as Daft Punk, Bruno Marrs,Justin Timberlake, DJ Cassidy, Pharrel and others continue to produce this music and covertly serve it up as contemporary pop? Can there be Disco music without Disco” The Culture” ? Was the music connected to an experience , a musical style that can no longer be labeled Disco” without all of it’s peripheral accessories ? We are a global community of fans ,sharing memories via You tube links .Are we buying the music from the artists that pay homage to this style by incorporating it into their music,. somehow sending them a message that we appreciate their efforts? We should. Below are a just few of the artists that over the recent years have carried the torch for the music that started the party. Jamiroquai is a British funk and acid jazz band formed in 1992. Fronted by lead singer Jay Kay . The groups abilty to fuse Disco and contemporary styles is unmatched.
David Russell Lee Dave combinedhis Love for disco music into house music as both a producer and remixer, Making him one of the pioneers of “Disco-House ”
Justin Timberlake ( Justin Randall Timberlake ) Not only was he Britney Spear’s boyfriend, but this former N-Sync member can crank out some funky and downright Disco sounding tracks.
Afro Medusa – Pasilda is a Britishdance musictrio, of members Isabel Fructuoso, Nick Bennett and Patrick Cole. They had two songs on the USHot Dance Music/Club Playchart, beginning with “Pasilda”, which hit #1 in 2000. Classified under ” Latin House: there are definately some Disco influences running through the track.
; DJ Cassidy – Calling all Hearts (Cassidy Podell ) is a DJ from New York associated with some very high profile people like President Obama, Beyonce. His first album, Paradise Royale, is scheduled for release by Columbia Records in 2014. The aim of the album is to “bring back the greatest and most universal dance music of all time,” with new material that captures the essence of 1978–1982 dance music.With this album hehas brought together a 14-piece string section and 22 of the world’s most notable musicians from that period, including Nile Rodgers of Chic; Ray Parker Jr., who worked with Stevie Wonder and Barry White; Jerry Hey, who arranged Michael Jackson‘s horns and string sections; and Philip Bailey, Verdine White and Larry Dunn of Earth, Wind and Fire.
Daft Punk – Get Lucky The French duo gave it to us good in 2013 proving to the world that Disco was very much alive. Released on their ” Random Access” album. The song broke records with the highest number of plays of any song in a single day on music streaming application Spotify. They won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year 2014
Even one of the Beatles had to give it a try. Paul McCartney’s attempt at this genre wasn’t half bad. ” Goodnight Tonight” released in 1979 is a catchy track driven by it’s bass line that balances very well between the dance world and pop radio. Flamenco Guitar intro lets us know that this is not your usual McCartney track. I do remember this track playing at peak times during the course of a regular club night.As usual the hard core McCartney fans were not too happy about Paul’s dalliance into this forbidden territory , but it worked out for everyone involved. Disco….maybe 50/50 …smart guy. ( by the way that’s his wife at the beginning of the video)