Born in the Seventies…


Driving into work this morning, there was a discussion on the local radio about which decade would you most have liked to have lived through.

The fifties were winning -but more to do with people’s perception of fifties America which has been shaped by Grease and Back To The Future, apparently; and absolutely sod all to do with living in a Britain where rationing was still in place, and austerity was the name of the game (don’t laugh folks, cos all cliches turn full circle).

I on the other hand, rang in -and got to hear my dulcet tones on air (apparently I sound much more scottish on air than in real life, according to my friend Keith who heard me) -and said the seventies.

Now, I’m well aware that the seventies had their downsides – and I don’t mean fashion either – but for music it would have been awesome.

Well, not Tony Orlando and Dawn or Peters and Lee or Demis Roussos (like duh) but this would have been awesome to see.

Sex Pistols -‘Anarchy In The UK.’ mp3

Althea and Donna -‘Uptown Top Ranking.’ mp3

Dead Kennedys -‘California Uber Alles.’ mp3

Bob Marley -‘Waiting In Vain.’ mp3

Chic -‘Good Times.’ mp3

Slits -‘Typical Girls.’ mp3

Cure -’10:15 Saturday Night.’ mp3

Clash -‘Complete Control.’ mp3

Cramps -‘Human Fly.’ mp3

Television -‘Marquee Moon.’ mp3

Mind you, there’s younger folk who are envious of me seeing Radiohead and Pulp at Glastonbury in the nineties, and Jeff Buckley…

Six of the records that shaped dance music, 1977-1989

A friend came to stay the other week who I’ve known for twenty years. As is the case, we spent a fair amount of time discussing music. He’s been more of a dance fan than ‘indie’ over the last decade, though those two genres are not mutually exclusive. he’s been excavating the old dance stuff, and with my love of music from 1977-1982, it’s clear that this era stamped its’ mark on dance just as much as indie.

Having picked up an Arthur Russell compilation (on whom more to come!), I thought I would post three dance classics:

First up a classic. I wrote about Chic’s Good Times back in March, so here it is again.

Chic -‘Good Times.’ mp3

I mentioned Arthur Russell earlier; I will do a No Wave post one of these days…

James Chance -‘Contort Yourself.’ mp3

This record featured an American vocalist, but it’s a very European-sounding record.

Donna Summer -‘I Feel Love (12″ version).’ mp3

These guys came out of the same Bristol scene that spawned Massive Attack, Nellee Hooper, and Tricky, amongst many others.

Pigbag -‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag.’ mp3

And the first sample strewn record to top the charts in the UK:

M/A/R/R/S -‘Pump Up The Volume.’ mp3

Of course, by the end of the eighties, it wasn’t just New York and Chicago doing house, but Italy was doing ‘Italia House.’ And this was probably its’ best known hit:

Black Box -‘Ride On Time.’ mp3

Of course, there are many more out there…watch this space…

Ten for a summer’s day

Hallelujah. It’s a summer’s day, it’s nice and warm and i’m not back in the classroom for several weeks. Yeees!

So, why not a playlist for a summer’s day? An eclectic mix of indie, dance, jazz and whatever takes my fancy.

Jamie Lidell -‘Another Day.’ mp3

Nina Simone -‘Feeling Good.’ mp3

Sigur Ros – Staralfur.’ mp3

Rockers’ Revenge -‘Walking On Sunshine 12″.’ mp3

Primitives -‘Through The Flowers.’ mp3

Aphex Twin -‘Girl/Boy Song.’ mp3

Donna Summer -‘I feel Love 12″ version.’ mp3

Moloko -‘Sing It Back (Boris musical mix).’ mp3

Chic -‘I Want Your Love 12″ version.’ mp3

The Streets -‘Your Song (Elton John cover).’ mp3

Melys -‘Chinese Whispers.’ mp3

Disco needs you -Chic and Donna Summer

In their 1992 40th birthday issue, NME commented that Chic’s single ‘Good Times’ had an effect on artists as diverse as Public Enemy and Queen. That would have been claim enough for any band, but given just how fantatsic the tracks are, it may also be something of an understatement. The Smiths’ Johnny Marr claimed them as a major influence, and Orange Juice were initially derided for having the cheek to say that they wanted to mix Chic with The Velvet Underground. (Considering how influential Orange juice continue to be today, I think we know who had the last laugh). Formed by guitarist Bernard Edwards and bassist Nile Rodgers in 1976, Chic are arguably just as influential as Kraftwerk on Hip-Hop and Dance culture over the last thirty years.

In terms of Hip-Hop and the Public Enemy influence, the first Hip-Hop track, The Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’ used Good Times as its’ basis (as did Coolio in 1995 on ‘1-2-3-4 (Sumpin’ New)’). Whatever you make of Queen, their biggest selling single worldwide was not ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ but ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ which showed that Chic was a huge influence on bass player John Deacon. As Hip-Hop culture evolved and Grandmaster Flash’s ‘Adventures Of Flash On The Wheels Of Steel’ set the tone for cut and paste hip-hop, ‘Good Times’ featured prominently there too. As did ‘Rapture’ by Blondie, which is as much a tribute to Chic (who would go on to produce Debbie Harry’s solo debut Koo Koo) as the rappers and DJ’s namechecked in the song.

And after the band split in the early eighties, the production skills of Edwards and Rodgers were in demand by many. They had wisely turned down the chance to produce Aretha Franklin’s disco album, but they worked with Diana Ross producing hits like ‘Upside Down’ and ‘I’m Coming Out’, produced David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, Duran Duran’s Notorious and perhaps most famously, Madonna’s Like A Virgin. Even allowing for Madoona’s utter determination to get to the top, it’s quite unlikely that she would have done it without their help.

Of course, Disco came from other areas too. Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ was produced by Germany’s Giorgio Moroder. Released in 1977, this track can still slay dancefloors today, more than thirty years after its release, and its’ influence can be tracked in many areas. Put it this way, without ‘I Feel Love,’ New Order’s Blue Monday would have sounded hugely different (and might not have got beyond that rough demo sound that you hear in 24 Hour Party People).

Not everyone loved Disco, especially people who were uncomfortable with the blacks and gays associated with the scene. A ‘Disco Demolition Night’ got wildly out of control, and the ‘Disco Sucks’ phrase was common amongst rock fans by the late seventies. Interestingly, about this time in the UK, Wah! Frontman Pete Wylie coined the phrase ‘Rockist’ which sneered at those obssessed with Rock.

Punk and Disco’s relationship was uneasy. Some punks sneered at it, but there were points where it mixed, most famously Blondie’s ‘Heart Of Glass.’ The No-Wavers in New York incorporated it into their sound -for example, James Chance knowing that it would annoy hardcore punk fans. The Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafra, however, likened Disco to the Cabaret music of Weimar Germany, for its escapism and apathy towards government policy.

But maybe records don’t always need to be overtly political to get their point across. Sometimes actions really do speak louder than words.

Chic -‘Good Times 12″.’ mp3

Chic -‘Le Freak 12″.’ mp3

Chic -‘I Want Your Love 12″.’ mp3

Donna Summer -‘I Feel Love 12″.’ mp3 (Thanks to Davy H at the Ghost Of Electricity)

POSTSCRIPT: In view of what I had written about, I felt it only right to include this track too:

Grandmaster Flash -‘Adventures Of Flash On The Wheels Of Steel.’ mp3

Chic at Wikipedia