Disco Daze / Disco Nites (Ronco, 1981)

Disco Daze

Disco Daze r

Disco Nites

Disco Nites r

Review
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”

Favourite tracks
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

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Space Invasion (Ronco, 1980)

Space Invasion

Space Invasion r

Review
Every Thursday.
The Beano reached a milestone on 15 November 1980 – issue #2000. A striking pose. Four characters in a human pyramid with Walter on top passing an issue of the comic to Gnasher who is perched on a stack of them from the floorboards up. To the right is our hero, Dennis The Menace, pulling the bottom one out (Jenga-style) and quipping:
“I’ll show you a picture of the cover of the very first Beano on the back page, readers.”

The cover price said 8p but we paid a little more. I used to purchase my copy in Nolan’s or Nugent’s. On this occasion, I went for the former. They sold records too and as I paid for The Beano I noticed Space Invasion in the racks. The sleeve immediately grabbed my attention. This was amazing. I would see it here and there over the next two years or so, always picked up and scanned but not purchased until 1984. The concept was simple: 20 tracks of varying styles linked together by a common theme. It remains the ultimate crossover compilation which introduced me to a number of different musical fields.

Space Invasion begins with a song about UFOs; Hot Chocolate’s No Doubt About It, an intergalactic slow-burner. Then it’s time for some computerised exotica – The Yellow Magic Orchestra’s mind-expanding Theme From The Space Invaders / Firecracker. I’m heading down to The Penguin which doubles up as a chipper and an arcade. First time on my own, summer of 1980. The sound of this track mixed in with the noises from the video games is still in my mind. The arcade and the machines are long gone but the chips are still the best in the south east of Ireland. Equally compelling are Deep Purple and the godlike drumming festival that is Fireball. Best not think about it while driving.

Treats abound on Galaxy, War’s spaced-out funk masterpiece while OMD’s oblique Messages gets snipped by the Ronco shears. Still shimmers. Meanwhile The Shadows plied their country / disco / twang crossover banger Riders In The Sky on Top Of The Pops during February ’80. Next comes a brace of lush grooves: Dollar’s weightless 1979 number Who Were You With In The Moonlight and The Manhattans sweet Shining Star. This atmospheric vibe continues with Chris De Burgh’s nicely trimmed A Spaceman Came Travelling and The Carpenters deadly cover Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft. Kudos to Klaatu. The experiment was to be known as World Contact Day.

Side 2: we stay in the ’70s. It starts with the Manfred Mann Earth Band’s hugely enjoyable 1977 take of Springsteen’s Blinded By The Light which then blends into Elton John’s dramatic Rocket Man, not really such a long long time as it fades away at 3:25. Still in 1972, Genesis’ Watcher Of The Skies. There was a radio version of similar length to this unique Ronco edit. I still wonder why it wasn’t used. Whooosh! Hawkwind’s sublime Silver Machine which memorably covered by James Last on Non Stop Dancing 1973. On: Eve Of The War from Jeff Wayne which contains more inexplicable editing.

We move onto a glorious disco glitterball on Sheila B. Devotion’s Spacer, a collaboration with Chic. Risqué era. Hooks, harmonies and melodies. And then back to the musical version of The War Of The Worlds for Justin Hayward’s plaintive dirge Forever Autumn. Elsewhere Dollar make a second appearance on the zippy romanticism of Shooting Star. This is followed by a Brit funk classic – the timeless grooves of Atmosfear’s Dancing In Outer Space. We wind down with the sound of Space’s thrilling Magic Fly, truncated into 2:20 of disco meets new wave meets Daft Punk. Analogue synthesisers at their best.

Favourite tracks
Yellow Magic Orchestra – Theme From The Space Invaders / Firecracker

The Carpenters – Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft

Sheila B. Devotion – Spacer

Lest we forget
Atmosfear – Dancing In Outer Space

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Chart Explosion (K-Tel, 1980)

Chart Explosion

Chart Explosion r.jpg

Review
“She is D, delirious,
She is I, incredible,
She is S, superficial,
She is C, complicated,
She is oh-oh-oh”

A mantra from France: Ottawan’s D.I.S.C.O. was a love hangover from 1979 but didn’t reach the UK charts until September 1980. It kicks off K-Tel’s fiery Chart Explosion, another memorable compilation featuring 20 chart hits packed into 61 minutes of vinyl. Blondie, first out of the blocks on Star Traks are second with the pulsating Call Me, theme to Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo. The 7″ edit was less than half the length of the soundtrack album take; it loses a further 30 seconds here. It’s followed by another movie tune, Roxy Music’s Same Old Scene – as heard on runaway smash Times Square.

The sequencing takes a logical brassy turn now. Madness’ terminally groovy Baggy Trousers melts into Geno, the breakthrough from Dexys and a #1 hit in March.
“I want to create a place of my own in the welfare state”
Ian Dury and The Blockheads inspired and edgy I Want To Be Straight. Killer bass. Next is Gary Numan’s angry swipe against the music press, I Die: You Die. Wasn’t on Telekon. This marvellous run continues with The Tourists and the stalled-at-40 Don’t Say I Told You So. And a brace of disco to wind down – Shalamar’s slamming I Owe You One and The Village People’s hedonistic Can’t Stop The Music.

Side 2: Cliff is back. The poptastic We Don’t Talk Anymore was the sixth video aired on MTV in August 1981. It’s the US 7″ version that’s included on Chart Explosion. Paisley’s hi-NRG specialist Kelly Marie saw her 1978 flop Loving Just For Fun reach #21 after the success of Feels Like I’m In Love. Loving… is a cracker and should have been placed much higher. Meanwhile Odyssey’s timeless heartbreaker If You’re Looking For A Way Out is a total show-stopper and was later covered by Tindersticks. The tenderness continues with the rockabilly twang of Matchbox and When You Ask About Love while Leo Sayer’s More Than I Can Say’s still brings a tear to my eye. Couples only.

A message to you: Bob Marley’s easy delight Three Little Birds was originally featured on 1977’s Exodus but not released as a single until 1980. Time for some classic ska from Bad Manners on their most endearing number, Special Brew. Elsewhere Change’s soulful Searching is a wonderful thing with a super bassline while Pat Benatar’s snotty Hit Me With Your Best Shot still kicks as teenage rebellion anthem. Finally it should never have to end this way: the sole 45 from OMD’s doom-laden Organisation, Enola Gay, banned by Swap Shop and still one of the greatest synth classics. All it takes if for me to hear the opening notes and I’m back in 3rd class of the CBS again. In a war no one wins.

Favourite tracks
Odyssey – If You’re Looking For A Way Out

Ian Dury and The Blockheads – I Want To Be Straight

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Enola Gay

Lest we forget
Kelly Marie – Loving Just For Fun

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