The classic Disco sound can be defined by a prominent drum machine beat, funky bassline and itchy ‘chicken scratch’ rhythm, played tautly and close to the neck of an electric guitar. Sumptuous string arrangements, generally high vocals and a jangle of hi-hat cymbals add a theatricality befitting the glittering environments and colorfully dressed patrons of the discos themselves, as do dramatic piano glissandi that tend to come sweeping out of nowhere. Upbeat lyrics almost exclusively about love, empowerment or disco dancing complete a heady mix.
The roots of Disco can be heard in the dance rhythms, punchy vocals and jingly hi-hat of Motown records in the 60s, and the smoother, string-laden Philadelphia Sound that began to challenge Detroit as the dominant force in soul music on the cusp of the 60s and 70s.
A lot of the inspiration for Disco can be attributed to MFSB, the house band at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios, which played on one of the first hits with a recognizable Disco sound: “Love Train” by vocal harmony group The O’Jays. MFSB stood for Mother Father Sister Brother, if you want the clean version, or Mother-Fucking Sons of Bitches if you want to know how hot they played. Either way, “Love Train” had most of what you could want from a Disco song, including its call for unity and inclusion – People all over the world, join hands – that was central to New York’s club ethos.
It came out in 1972 and topped the US charts early the following year. Other contenders for Disco’s first big hit include “Rock The Boat” by the Hues Corporation and the orchestral instrumental “Love’s Theme” by Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra.
Stream the Classic Disco Sounds via Spotify!
Arguably the record that really nailed down the sound of Disco, though, was “Rock Your Baby” by George McCrae, which became a worldwide chart-topper in the summer of 1974. The song was written by Harry Wayne Casey – the ‘KC’ from KC and the Sunshine Band – and his bandmate Richard Finch. They cut the backing track as a Sunshine Band record at TK Records in Miami but Casey couldn’t manage the song’s high notes. McCrae happened to be on hand to stand in and went on to sell 11 million copies. As well as McCrae’s sky-high Ah-AHHs and calls for his Woooo-man to hold me in your arms and rock your baby, the record was one of the first to feature a drum machine.
KC and the Sunshine band weren’t left on the sidelines by McCrae’s success. With Casey on vocals and keyboards, the group went on to enjoy a string of Disco hits, including “Get Down Tonight”, “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty”, and “That’s The Way (I Like It)”. As the white leader of a large band of predominantly black musicians and backing singers, Casey epitomised Disco’s multiculturalism.
Gloria Gaynor, meanwhile, became the music’s first female diva with an album specially made for the dance clubs. Produced by Jay Ellis, Meco Monardo, Tony Bongiovi and Harold Wheeler – collectively known as the Disco Corporation of America – the first side of her 1974 long-player “Never Can Say Goodbye” comprised just three songs, “Honey Bee”, the title track and “Reach Out, I’ll Be There”, run together into a continuous 19-minute swathe of music, characterised by a thumping beat, swirling strings and Gaynor’s soaring vocals. It was an industry first and Gaynor, who had been singing in clubs since the mid- 60s, was initially unsure about the extended format, observing that there were large stretches of music when she wasn’t singing. The producers told her: “You better learn to disco dance, then!”
The risk paid off when the disc took the dancefloors by storm and DJs played the whole 19 minutes. The extracted single, a cover of the Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye”, was the first song to top the Disco Action chart when it was introduced by music trade paper Billboard to chronicle the emerging New York scene. It also made the Top 10 of the US pop charts and took Gaynor around the world, hitting No.3 in Canada and No.2 in the UK.
Lana Del Rey Never Sounded Like This! Meet Remix Genius Kuckoo
Remix genius Kuckoo puts his own tweak on Lana Del Rey‘s Pop Ballad hit, “Summertime Sadness.” Just imagine how pleasant it can be to hear 80s-tinged synths replacing her dreamy acoustic music. Well, this version satisfies all your dreams as it’s fully loaded with retro components. Considering its upbeat twist, he has transformed “Summertime Sadness” into a Disco gem, plus, he gives it the right energy!
The independent producer from the UK takes the original melody to new heights while Del Rey’s vocals are left intact. On a side note, the pigeon (mascot) which is part of Kuckoo’s visual identity represents the symbol of peace. In fact, the artist firmly believes that music can affect the peaceful world positively.
I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about him in 2021. Stay tuned.
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“Crying At The Discotheque,” Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Newest Hit
The “Murder On The Dancefloor” singer is back with her newest hit, “Crying At The Discotheque”. On this occasion, Sophie Ellis-Bextor releases a music video that looks kinda depressing.
The “Murder On The Dancefloor” singer is back with her newest hit, “Crying At The Discotheque”. On this occasion, Sophie Ellis-Bextor releases a music video that looks kinda depressing. In the clip, she sings at empty London venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, this cover is 100% dancey as fuck. The original version is sung by Alcazar, one of Sweden’s most successful groups. Obviously, the melody at the background is a sample of Sheila B’s timeless Disco song, “Spacer,” produced by the one and only, Nile Rodgers from Chic. The British diva brings her unique touch to this lovely tune that will make you move your ass and sing all night long. Honestly, I like it so much, that I have added this track to my recent Cycling Playlist 2020. Enjoy it.
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Sick And Tired Of Your Boring Cycling Playlist? Get Funky With This One
Sadly, the air quality swirls with toxic fumes that inflame your lungs. Stop pollution now and avoid contributing to the problem with this cycling playlist. The healthy activity of riding a bicycle is a proven weight-loss strategy. Naturally, it blasts away at your intra-abdominal adipose tissue. So, if you’re into funky music while exercising, you’ll simply love the way I have curated the greatest Nu-Disco hits of 2020 on Spotify. (Follow this playlist immediately)
Stream Cycling Playlist 2020 – Nu-Disco Hits
Cycling represents a lot of benefits, from enhancing your digestion to making you smarter. In fact, the boost to your cardio-respiratory fitness can result in a 15% spike in mental test scores. Commuters who pedal to work also have a far lower risk of heart disease and early death than even pedestrians. Forget about those urban myths that the cardio benefits of cycling are negated by the fumes you inhale. Recent studies confirm that peddlers are the commuters least exposed to pollution.
With the COVID-19 crisis far from over, now is the time to hit the road on two wheels. There’s no better way to do it by listening to groovy tunes from the likes of Purple Disco Machine, Kylie Minogue, Dimitri From Paris, Horse Meat Disco, and more. Contemporary Disco music will make your journey easier than ever.
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