The Young Man's Guide to Disco

By Alex Gutierrez
Yeah, Yeah I know Disco, The white suits, pointing your finger towards the sky, Disco Duck and the stuff you have been conditioned to hate by basically everyone, but ” Staying Alive ” does not define this rich and complex music. In order to formulate a REAL opinion you must first listen to tracks representative of the actual genre, and not the ” Cheese” masquerading as the music heard in the clubs. Sure some of the hits you’ve heard were played at clubs at one time or another , but the truth is the majority of real Disco tracks you’ve probably never heard unless they have been sampled and used in contemporary dance music.
So where do we start? What 5 tracks can you play to a person who has never really heard ” Real” club Disco Music?
Of course all of us will have different tracks on our individual lists and the tracks will vary according to our age and when we were first exposed to the music. So I have taken 5 tracks that I would want a person who has never heard real Disco to represent the style and have this person formulate an opinion based on these tracks alone.
1. Ten Percent- Double Exposure Not only was it the first commercially available 12 inch to hit the market ( a little history to boot) which stretched the original 7 inch track out to about 9 minutes by Walter Gibbons, but musically it had all the elements that would define the genre. a PERCUSSION INTRO, HORNS , VIOLINS,and the soulful voice of Leonard Harris. A great introduction to any would be fan.
2. Supernature- Cerrone The French drummer’s electronic opus complete with drum solo ( Sweet Drums) and ecological message would certainly hint to the new listener that this was the roots of early house music.
3.Bad Luck- Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes No list would be complete without exposing the new listener to the ” Philly Sound” The Blue Notes’ most famous member was Teddy Pendergrass, lead singer during their most successful years at Philadelphia International. The track employs the standard opening and closing high hat but Teddy’s vocals elevates the track to a much higher and soulful plane.
4.Runaway – Salsoul Orch. feat Loleatta Holloway Its a tie between this track and her hit ” Dreamin” but the Vince Montana Jr vibe solo clinches it for me. This track is smooth and silky flowing at a lower tempo than the crowds here in Miami were used to but still oozing it’s sweet Disco juice and of course Loleatta’s Vocals ( a little tamer than we are used to from her)
5. I Found Love – Alec R Costandinos Last but certainty not least and although my personal favorite is ” Romeo and Juliette” Alec’s ” I Found Love” doesn’t rely on a theme or historical figure for it’s content. It is a perfect example of what Disco can do when it is in the hands of a master arranger such as Costandinos. The intricate weaving of Classic instruments with those of the 70s , such as the popular ” Wah-Wah” guitar scratching creates an entire ” B” Side for his first Disco album in 1977 on the famous Casablanca Label. Any Costandinos production can be used to exemplify Disco at it’s finest.
HONORABLE MENTION: Ultimate, Voyage, Madleen Kane, Amant,John Davis, Donna Summers , Giorgio Moroder

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