Independence Day 1981: Motörhead’s No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith is knocked off the top of the UK album charts by Ronco’s latest compilation. But wait! There’s two of them. Forever intertwined, Disco Daze and Disco Nites. Buy one, get the other free. Except that the records retailed at IR£5.99 (GBP£5.49) – quite a pricey hike from the normal price point of the time. It’s natural to assume that order but a quick look at the catalogue numbers on the spine suggests that Disco Nites was the intended lead – RTL 2056A. At some stage, late in the game and after the sleeves were printed, the order seems to have been reversed. As sure as night follows day, I will talk about Disco Daze first.
Donna Summer’s I Feel Love still sounds like something from the futuristic 1980s but beamed back to 1977. A metronomic delight, a glorious blend of visionary production and a sublime vocal. From here to eternity: absorb Edwin Starr’s fabulously energetic Contact followed by the slick boogie wonderland of The Whispers’ And The Beat Goes On, a smash in 1980. Also from the new decade comes Shalamar’s breezy I Owe You One and Leon Haywood’s shuffle beat revival Don’t Push It, Don’t Force It. Plus the shimmering disco glitter ball Bourgie Bourgie written by Ashford and Simpson but performed by Gladys Knight and The Pips. Midnight ravers.
Funkadelic’s dance funk classic needs no introduction. On its heels we get the irresistible groove of Joe Tex’s endearing Ain’t Not Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman). And then the roof gets raised with the timeless jazz funk joy of Southern Freeez. Props to the Royalty club. We step back to September 1979 and the Sugarhill Gang. Rapper’s Delight: the heavy sample sound of Chic’s Good Times. So much so that Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers ended up with songwriter credits. 1, 2, 3, 4 – What are you waiting for?
The Chic Organization pop up immediately afterwards on Sister Sledge’s swirling He’s The Greatest Dancer. The funk goes through the ceiling on a 1974 banger from KC and The Sunshine Band – Queen Of Clubs. Time for a taste of greasy grooves on Quincy Jones’ orgiastic Stuff Like That. Listen out for Chaka Khan. Elsewhere there’s Change’s spacey Searching with its killer bass and cool Luther Vandross vocal. Get the action going for More, More, More, Andrea True Connection’s sultry ’76 bomb. The day draws to a close to the furious strains of Rapp Payback, a cooked-up bomb from the Godfather, James Brown.
C81: Disco Nites starts with more Brit funk – Linx’s delightful Intuition. Its success was greatly helped by a BBC technicians’ strike, which resulted in only music videos and photographic stills being allowed to be used on Top Of The Pops for the duration of the dispute. As a result, the video for Intuition was shown several times and reached the top 10. Steel drums, sax and a groovy vocal: David Grant never topped it. Meanwhile Amii Grant works hard on the evergeen Knock On Wood which is followed by the symphonic protest soul Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now from McFadden and Whitehead. Movin’ on up.
Stacy Lattislaw’s Jump To Beat was the realisation of Narada Michael Walden’s vision of youthful, streetwise rhythm. Then Brothers Johnson light up the night on the good time masterblaster Stomp. The disco juice gets squeezed out by Rose Royce on the self-fulfilling prophecy of It Makes You Feel Like Dancin’. Elsewhere we get the pneumatic drill of Funky Town from Lipps Inc. and Dan Hartman’s joyful Instant Replay. 10-9-8-7-6 bring the needle back. But there’s even more Chic, the monstrous bass jam Le Freak. Champion. After the glory comes yet another British gem, Beggar and Co. with the defiant (Somebody) Help Me Out. Plus a sublime trumpet break. Worthy of a thousand riots.
Keep moving on: Anita Ward’s breathless and exciting Ring My Bell and Gene Chandler’s sophisticated disco blast Get On Down. LaBelle’s Lady Marmalade is a VHS Soul Train memory and one for all aspiring drummers. A song to learn and sing. Get up with the spaced-out UK Players as it blends into The Real Thing’s superbly urgent and melodic Can You Feel The Force. We’re almost there, the finale. The closing vamp comes courtesy of The Four Seasons who turn back the clock to late December 1963 with the emotional Oh What A Night. There’s a message here that still resonates – get busy living.
“Embrace the good things in life”
Freeez – Southern Freeez
Linx – Intuition
Beggar and Co. – (Somebody) Help Me Out
Chic – Le Freak
Lest we forget
KC and The Sunshine Band – Queen Of Clubs