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Jenny Laurence’s School of Sound: ‘70s Discothèque

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By Jenny Laurence

In this new weekly feature, I’ll be showcasing some of the best music of the past century. Our first lesson in the School of Sound: ‘70s Disco.

Disco was a genre discovered in the ‘70s as a reaction against the domination of rock music and the stigmatisation for dance music. Its initial audience comprised of African-Americans, Latinos, gay, and psychedelic people, and had influences from funk, Latin, and soul music, with an intense bass guitar presence. However, this great era did not last long. The American-based genre was drowned out by the rock and punk fans who staged a very physical anti-disco protest in the Chicago White Sox Arena in 1979.

The genre is still remembered due to the connection with nightclubs like Studio 54 and David Mancuso’s The Loft, roller blade disco, Saturday Night Fever, and Austin Powers: Goldmember.

So, I think it’s only appropriate to start with the song that was the influence of Hey Goldmember, sung by Beyonce Knowles in Austin Powers. It is, of course, Shining Star by Earth, Wind and Fire.

Number 2 on my list would have to be a song by KC and the Sunshine Band. Do You Wanna Go Party was released in 1979 and received platinum status soon afterwards. When listening to it, the urge to nod my head or tap my feet becomes unbearable – I suppose I just… wanna go party.

Now, most of you will probably recognise this song when you hear it, but I still have to put it in list. It was Chic’s first ever Number One, and the introduction launching straight into the chorus just makes you forget that you are in a public space – I sung it loud and clear in Heathrow, Terminal 5 once. It is Le Freak, by Chic.

Number 4 is Play That Funky Music, by Wild Cherry. It was a Number One in the Billboard 100 for three weeks in 1976! And for goodness’ sake, the bass!

You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), by Sylvester was one of the few disco songs to reach No.10 in the UK, and reached No.36 in the Billboard 100 in 1979. Its tempo is quite a lot faster than a lot of others of his time, but then again, he was known as the ‘Queen of Disco.’ (He frequently did dressed in drag.)

Boney M was one of the few Disco groups formed in the UK (1975.) They were famous for Rasputin, Rivers of Babylon, and Ma Baker. I was lucky enough to discover them five years ago, and my favourite song, Sunny, got to No. 3 in the UK.

Naturally, our next one has got to be Night Fever by the Bees Gees. It’s probably so well-known today due to Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta, but undoubtedly, it’s still a great song.

My last song is Boogie Oogie Oogie, which was A Taste Of Honey’s first single, going straight to No. One when it was released in 1978. It was one of the last big hits for Disco, and my last song for this week’s lesson in the School of Sound.

(Other artists include: Anita Ward, Barry White, Donna Summer (RIP), Hot Chocolate, Sister Sledge, Gloria Gaynor, Village People, Hues Corporation, the Trammps, Patti LaBelle, Stevie Wonder, and Boney M.)

Photography: source.

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