Friday, June 30, 2006
Disco not Disco 1 Part 2
Material, "Over and Over"
Was (Not Was), "Wheel Me Out"
Dinosaur, "Kiss Me Again (original edit)"
We're gonna a little deeper into Disco not Disco Volume 1, where we get a real sense of what this compilation is all about with possibly my three favorite tracks. The middle of the CD is like the Bronx Bombers, the 3-4-5 hitters that strike fear in the heart of pitchers everywhere. Some of these names might sound familiar, especially Was (Not Was) who had a hit with "Walk the Dinosaur" around this time. Material is Bill Laswell's earliest project, while Arthur Baker is the man behind Dinosaur (I will devote one post to his work on these two volumes, as he might be the pivotal figure in all of this).
What all of these names have in common is that they were not a part of the disco scene in any way, nor were the interlopers just trying to cash in on a fad (as many notable stars like Dolly Parton and Paul McCartney did). They were outsiders to the music, which more than likely gave them this strange and new take on the music. From the outside, they didn't have to worry about offending or losing their fans, they could just try to make what they wanted to make. This compilation is described by Sean P. and Joey Negro as "leftfield disco," which does a nice job of describing the music. It's off-the-wall, non-traditional, but it is a part of disco and treats the music with respect. This is not parody or exploitation, it's just a new take on the genre.
The thing that stands out to me on these tracks was the central role of the live bass in these songs. The bass sounds so warm and big on all 3 of these songs, serving as the focal point of the music in a way that enables all of the other odd touches to happen without making this dancefloor-unfriendly. Note the trumpet solo on "Wheel Me Out," which seems more suited for a downtown loft concert with guys in berets and cigarettes (that's how I envision jazz concerts). It works though, as that bass keeps us grounded as we head into outer space. However, this is not futuristic music or machine-centric, like Chicago/acid house, it's much more inviting and soft. Perhaps that is the main divide between the late 70s and 80s?