Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Let's go to the disco!  

The Invisible Man's Band may be hard to see, but they bring on the funk all night long! They were born from the Chicago soul scene as a teen group known as The (Five) Stairsteps. The key track from them is O-o-Child. The Invisible Man's Band put out two albums and this track is from the first. I like how it actually sounds like there is a party going on in the studio. There are lots of fun post production trinkets in there as well, but it is the stomp that makes this track really fun.

AAC: All Night Thing

Posted by Joel Brüt | 1 comments


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sparque - Take Some Time  

West End is my favorite old school New York dance record label, and its output in the post disco era, that being arguably the early nineteen eighties onward, is my favorite material from the label. Sparque's 'Take Some Time' is my favorite track from that period of West End, so maybe therefor by that logic it's my favorite ever dance track.

Sparque's 'Take Some Time' comes from a time when disco was in deep mainstream decline, the shunning of disco by popular radio in effect gave it back to the underground, beaten, sick and in terrible shape. With the spotlight turned away the genre was given a chance to breathe, convalescing in the wharehouses and clubs of a few of the world's big cities. Evolving with newly injected creativity spawned from limited resources and ever cheaper technology, eventually to re-emerge with a new face and several new names, boogie, electro, house etc
. 'Take Some Time' is straight out of that transition, its still has the traditional elements and live instrumentation of disco, a very minimal but soulful vocal, some of the stripped down groove of boogie and the synthy punch that would mark the rest of the decade. Its great to mix, has a slow to mid tempo and it gratifyingly hookey with the disco bell curve sine wave 'booo' sound all over a mix that typifies the idiom "less is more", the arrangement and build up also utilize every lesson learned at the what was then the tail end of the first generation of disco producer's decade long journey.

Sparque was the project of producer Larry Joseph, a prolific but mysteriously uncelebrated figure who created some of the best works on West End under his Sparque moniker, all tastefully energy filled dance floor movers, and who made a very natural progression into Electro and hip hop as the decade wore on (one of which I know Larry himself raps on), eventually even releasing a couple of house records as the nineties loomed. What happened to him, what he looked like, what his deal was at the time, I have no idea whatsoever and the fact he is so undocumented is a shame as his creative contribution to that important formative era of modern dance music is as important (to my mind at least) as many of the other much hailed production giants of the genre.

Sparque - Take Some Time

Posted by Black Shag | 3 comments

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Monday, September 17, 2007

A Place Called Tarot  

Now this track has surfaced in the past couple of years as the main sample in Ray Mang's Tells Bells and as a much acclaimed Idjut Boys redit, which I honestly haven't heard and I'm sure its good, but to be honest I think the rare as you like original 12" dance edit is near perfect as it is. There is a 3 minute version on Tantra's 'The Double Album' LP but the extended dance version turns up three times, as a B side to the 'Macumba' 12" on DDD and Philips in 1982 and on the excellent Disconet vol. 5 prog. 1 from that same year, which is what I have. I like the Disconet pressings and I took this recording from a well looked after copy, enjoy:

Tantra - A Place Called Tarot (Original 1982 Dance edit)

Posted by Black Shag | 1 comments

Love Has Come Around  

Donald Byrd is a living legend and a total innovator. Jazz purists love to cry foul of the moves he made in his career, but I prefer to call him a purveyor of genuine musical progress. After a long career steeped heavily in the Bluenote jazz/bop scene, the 70's rolled in and the landscape of jazz completely changed. Instead of calling it a day and staying the musical course, he hooked up with the influential production duo the Mizell Brothers. Together they laid down a series of groundbreaking jazz/disco fusion lp's. The Mizell production aesthetic was filled with soaring disco strings, jazzy horn lines and heavy funk backbeats.

By the time the 80's creeped around, Donald (now well into his 50's) produced two boogie records with the aid of soul godfather Isaac Hayes. The albums they produced with his new band, 125th Street NYC, drip with the flavor of modern soul heat. "Love Has Come Around" in particular is an all time favorite.

Donald Byrd - Dominoes

Donald Byrd - Love Has Come Around

Posted by Magnum | 2 comments

Who ya gonna call?  

Long ago, before Ray Parker Jr. met the Ghostbusters, he was in Detroit making some incredible disco funk and writing hit songs for many 70's groups. This track has such an incredible stomp and perfectly executed vocal that it is hard to imagine that it wasn't one of his hits. It is more apparent on the hit from the LP (For Those Who Like To Groove) that the album got some help on the keys from funkmaster Herbie Hancock.

AAC: It's Time to Party Now

Posted by Joel Brüt | 0 comments

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Satisfaction Guaranteed  

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Skyy was one of the great disco/funk/boogie collectives from the early 80's. The 8 piece band formed in 1978 and was quickly signed to the white hot NYC imprint Salsoul Records. The band was founded by Randy Muller who was also a member of Brass Construction, and did some arrangements for seminal funky disco act B.T. Express. Take note of their album cover art as well. They had a super hot disco space going that you could only get away with in that era.

"Here's to You" has a near perfect vocal arrangement courtesy of the trio of Denise, Delores, and Bonny Dunning. The 12 inch has become increasingly sought after and costs a pretty penny these days.

"Call Me" was released in 1981 and broke the band as well as being the biggest hit of Skyy's career. It ended up not only on the billboard disco charts, but also topped the pop charts,

Skyy- "Here's to You"
Skyy "Call Me"

Posted by Magnum | 4 comments

Mass Production  

Mass Production are my favorite of a breed of 70's also ran funk acts that hung on into the 80's and made the sonic transition into the electro funk, boogie era. A lot of these bands, whose roots stemmed from classical jazz training and standard funk drum kit, guitar, big percussive rhythm section combos didn't take to the new studio driven synth aesthetic and methodology with much success. Imagine being part of a gigging funk 6 piece, having been on the road for the best part of a decade, the eighties come in and suddenly all the club r'n'b chart/dance music top spots are being taken by a couple of faceless guys and a drum machine. Realizing that you needed some studio time with a roland juno and the accompanying manual must have been exciting and daunting, although maybe it wasn't like that at all, maybe all these old well established deep funk acts evolved into electro funk boogie studio production outfits naturally as the new sounds, technology and instruments permeated black musical culture. I doubt it though.

Mass Production were a jazz-funk group that formed in a high school in Norfolk, Virginia. They eventually moved the act to New York and produced some good disco-funk records such as 1979's 'Firecracker' that are reasonably sought after, and the one or two instrumental tracks they had on each album always seemed to chart, although I don't listen to any of that stuff, Mass Production for me came alive as soon as 1980 came around. Albums like 'Masterpiece' and 'In A City Groove' are full of overlooked quality boogie numbers, consistently so, although light on standout classics. In 1983 shortly before disbanding they released the album '1983', and in order to prove that time had not passed them by they included electro funk tunes with contemporary hip-hop influence, and even a vocoded reggae funk hybrid. This is also one of my favorite album covers of the era, full of color and humorous cartoon futurism, little Japanese graffiti looking robots on the funk production line. Here is a slow electro instrumental groover from said album called "Victory '83", listen to how it all melded together shortly before they disappeared into history..

Mass Production - Victory '83

-Black Shag

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Are You Experienced?  

Who the hell is the Joel Diamond Exprience? Joel Diamond was apparently a huge hit writer for the Supremes and Gary Puckett and the Union Gap before discovering his funky side. Somewhere in there he produced this little gem that seems counter to his career as a music industry executive. The subject matter seems a little racy. This track shows a lot of elements that seem to run through late 70's disco. There is a non-cohesiveness apparent, but it doesn't necessarily make the music bad or disjointed. It actually sounds like there are a couple different ideas pasted together that any modern music producer would turn into individual tracks. Maybe it was the drugs, maybe it was too much freedom of expression. Whatever the case, it is fun and ridiculous at the same time. The main vocal sings the innuendo laden lyrics with the subtlety of a Peking opera singer; and the annoying harmonica making sex noises(?) breaks to a wonderful chorus that is smooth and groovy.

AAC: Joel Diamond Experience- Music Machine

Posted by Joel Brüt | 0 comments

Here Comes That Sound Again and Again and Again!  

This is one of those epic disco tracks that goes on forever and continues to bring on the funk and soul. It opens with authority and lands into this slutty groove that's totally unexpected. The infectious popping bassline mates with disco lazer toms and Jackson Five-esque breakdowns for a dance floor killer. For those track switching DJs, there is a great breakdown at 4:30 (that goes on for nearly three and a half minutes) that will allow you to drop another track and skip the bass solo, followed by a vocal solo, followed by a piano solo followed get the idea. This track by LOVE DE-LUXE with Hawkshaw's Discophonia is both a mouth and an ear full, the original track seemed to go on forever at 16:52 long. Here we have the Jim Burgess mix that that clocks 8:50. This track was dropped in 1979 and stayed at the number one spot for a week in the hot dance/music club play chart in 1979.

AAC - "Here Comes That Sound Again"

Posted by Joel Brüt | 7 comments

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Weeks And Company + Shep Pettibone  

Weeks & Co was the brainchild of Richard Weeks (also of The Jammers), and the sound has a proto boogie, heavy synth feel, they produced one LP and their limited work spans the early to mid eighties. Tracks such as 'Rock Your World' can be found on early WBMX playlists and on the recordings of early house sets from the Warehouse in Chicago, but the track I'm putting up for you is 'Knock Knock'. This came as an album version with the powerful soul vocal stabs midway through the track and also as a bonus Shep Pettibone remix, which is essentially an instrumental (of what was already a very instrumental track) with the drums brought out in the mix. I'm going to do a separate piece on the post-disco boogie and electro production work of Shep Pettibone later on when I have collected together and recorded enough of my favorites..

Weeks & Co - Knock knock (album vocal version)
Weeks & Co - knock Knock (Shep Pettibone remix)

Posted by Black Shag | 0 comments

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Rene & Angela burst onto the scene in with their self titled debut in 1980. The follow up, 1981's Wall to Wall was a killer entry into the the growing boogie sound. produced by Bobby Watson (of Rufus fame) Rene Moore and Angela Winbrush helped usher in a new era of modern soul groove. The standout track, "I Love you More" is all funky gliding piano, heavy synth bass courtesy of the Moog Liberation keytar, and soaring disco strings. "Secret Rendevous" coasts on a soulful vocal courtesy of Angela. Feel it!

mp3: Rene & Angela "I Love You More"
mp3: Rene & Angela "Secret Rendezvous"

-BT Magnum

Posted by Beat Electric | 0 comments