Friday, January 25, 2008
Larry Levan - Live At The Paradise Garage
Larry Levan, Live at the Paradise Garage Disc 1 (YSI link) (Sendspace link)
I'm not sure if there's something in the air or what, but this post looks at another musical artist taken from us way too soon. Larry Levan is a legend, a hero for this blog, one of the many people who helped to create the disco sound and scene. We're gonna come back to Mr. Levan a lot, so I won't go on to much about his biography.
One essential fact of the Levan story is the residency at the Paradise Garage that Levan began in 1977. The Garage was located in Greenwich Village at 84 King Street in an old parking garage (hence, the name). Founded by Michael Brody and Mel Charen, it was a member's only place and no liquor, food or drink was served. The club was modeled after David Mancuso's Loft, although its owners intended it to be a downtown version of Studio 54, a gay club for rich white men. From the beginning, though, the Garage would bring in a diverse crowd and Levan's sets reflected that diversity perfectly.
I can't begin to tell you how perfect this music sounds to me, from those first beautiful keys on Ashford and Simpson's "Bourgie Bourgie" straight through. I tend to think of dance music as being synthetic, cold, mechanical (and love it for that!), but Levan's DJ sets were the complete opposite. His sets were filled to the brim with classic Philly soul, funk and pop, lovely strings, huge drum breakdowns, brassy horns, as warm as a summer day. It's ecstatic music, joyous, life-affirming. emotional; during the refrain of T-Connection's "In Midnight," I'm always brought to tears, when that bassline goes nuts and Theo Coakley sings "When midnight come around, I really come alive. At Midnight! Oh I really come alive," it makes me feel alive.
For the record, this is the first disc of the out-of-print Live At The Paradise Garage 2 CD set from 2003. If there's interest, I will put up the second disc. Download this, your life will be better from here on out, I promise. Disco will save your life.