Even though disco gets a bad rap for its index-finger-pointing moves and
white polyester three-piece-suit fashion sense, the world of
ever-trendy dubstep, techno, and house would be nowhere without its
four-on-the-floor beat devotion and decadent party-till-sunrise excess.
Disco was actually a hip underground scene, prevalent in gay and black
nightclubs, before its proliferation onto mass culture and the
spawning of atrocities like the novelty hit "Disco Duck."
Three of the most eminent bands from the '70s disco movement take to the stage tonight at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's Hard Rock Live. Titled the "American Music Festival," this one-night-only event brings the Trammps, Village People, and Gloria Gaynor and infallible dance-floor igniters like "Disco Inferno," "Y.M.C.A.," and "I Will Survive" to our shores for one evening of glimmering mirror-ball nostalgia.
In our attempt to convince those who cannot see beyond the brothers Gibb and their perfectly feathered hair, the bell-bottoms, and dancing construction workers, we compiled a list of nine songs from the disco era that wouldn't sound entirely out of place in current-day dance floors at your hippest nightclub. Disco doesn't have to suck.
9. Amant - "If There's Love"
Famed producer Ray Martinez uses Latin rhythms and deep percussions in this studio group to create what would be coined the "Miami Sound." Being 1978, Martinez was one step ahead with his Latin-crossover ways -- many years before the Estefan's Miami Sound Machine would release its first English-language album, Eyes of Innocence
, in 1984.
8. The Flirts - "Passion"
Back in the day, some people might have called this New York City trio "the Go-Go's gone disco," but we think of them as precursors to current-day femme fatale beat-smiths like Le Tigre and Peaches.
7. Loverde & Patrick Cowley - "Die Hard Lover"
Those familiar with noir-disco act Hercules and the Love Affair will hear many similarities in Frank Loverde's baritone delivery on this debut single from 1982. Loverde was working the club circuit, DJing and performing from time to time, when he met producer Patrick Cowley -- who would lay down the four-four rhythms and slow-shifting electronics. His deep, glossy vocals and Cowley's perfect backbeat make this one a relevant number to this day. You can hear seedlings of Erasure, Soft Cell, and other overly emotional electro groups
in this dramatic number.
6. A Number of Names - "Sharevari"
Disco's evolution is made evident on this 1981 track from obscure group A Number of Names. Many credit this duo from Detroit's late-'70s underground party scene as giving birth to techno with its faster-paced beats and barrage of keyboard lines. The players who would make up Detriot's famed techno movement a few years later are listening.
5. Cybotron - Cosmic Raindance (1981)
Released mere months after "Sharevari," Detroit duo Cybotron take it one step further with its robotic mind-bending groove. Techno godfather Juan Atkins teams up with Rick Davis here and turns the funk rhythms of P-Funk that inspired them into futuristic cyborg jams. Moby, the Orb, and Orbital were all paying close attention.
4. Cerrone - "Love in C Minor"
Cerrone's 1976 debut, Love in C Minor, stirred up some controversy with its risque album cover composed of a bare-naked woman kneeling beside the robed Marc Cerrone. The title track here also raised a few eyebrows too with its possibly coitally induced heavy breathing and moaning. (Think Meg Ryan pivotal scene in When Harry Met Sally, only much more methodical.) But can you blame this feisty Frenchman? With its repetitive violin-like synth stabs, faceless female groans, and deep, steady beats, Cerrone practically invents house music here, influencing the Euro-dance movement, Euro-trash, and Tiesto all at once.
3. Yellow Magic Orchestra - "Firecracker"
This influential Japanese trio introduced the world to disco with an Asian flair on this track from its 1978 self-titled debut. The three-piece took more cues from Kraftwerk's brand of danceable German rock rather than from the Bee Gees' soft rock, thus sounding much more relevant and experimental to this day.
2. Dinosaur - "Kiss Me Again"
Trailblazing cellist/avant-garde musician Arthur Russell teamed up Studio 54 resident DJ Nicky Siano to produce this lively yet somewhat minimalistic romp in 1978. Featuring guest guitar licks from the Talking Head's David Byrne, this was the first disco track released by Sire Records -- the former home of the Smiths, Madonna, and Ice-T, to name a few. With a loose extended pace, Russell and company are laying the foundation for that Chicago house style that would ensue a few years later. Also the fellas from the New York City postpunk group the Rapture were taking notes to the rhythmic use of cowbell and handclaps.
1. Donna Summer- "I Feel Love"
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We couldn't make a disco track list without including the "Queen of Disco" herself, Donna Summer. We chose this memorable track off Summer's 1977 concept album I Remember Yesterday because, of all the popular disco hits, we feel this stunning number truly stands the test of time. LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy was no doubt influenced by producer Giorgio Moroder's drum machines and frolicking synthesizers heard here. Summer's spine-tingling, ethereal vocals would inspire legions of divas afterward -- Janet Jackson, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga all included.
The American Music Festival with the Trammps, Village People and Gloria Gaynor. 7:30 p.m. at Hard Rock Live 1 Seminole Way Davie
Tickets cost $73, $63 & $53 available at all Ticketmaster outlets here. Sold out!