Various Artists

Disco 75

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Disco 75 Review

by Andy Kellman

Before it was sanitized, homogenized, and over-produced for mass consumption, disco simply classified a broad variety of R&B-rooted music spun by DJs at underground clubs hosting predominantly gay, Black, and Latino dancers. By late 1974, disco's progressions were being contextualized and charted by U.S. trades Billboard and Record World, thanks respectively to Tom Moulton and Vince Aletti. Blues & Soul followed suit in early 1975 with a U.K. perspective. The magazines' charts, based on reports from club DJs rather than sales or airplay, are the references for Disco 75. The three-disc, 55-track set doesn't discriminate between singles that became major pop hits, such as Average White Ban's "Pick Up the Pieces" and KC & the Sunshine Band's "That's the Way (I Like It)," and those that didn't go farther than the Blues & Soul chart, including not one but two Jaws-themed numbers. It also reflects the adventurousness of the DJs. Among the embraced were flexible soul and funk bands, of course, but also current and former teen idols, interloping jazz flutists and glam bands, blues singers seeking commercial recognition, and even by-products of television -- as long as their tracks got a positive reaction from the floor. A whopping one-fifth of the selections were either released or licensed by the Blues & Soul-affiliated Contempo label. Some other tracks aren't ideally sourced; Genya Ravan's version of the Detroit Emeralds' "Feel the Need," for instance, is truncated, taken from a CD compilation assembled in tribute to radio legend Frankie Crocker. The set is generous still with appeal to collectors and beginners. Juggy Murray Jones' deliriously funky "Inside America," Joe Bataan's soaring instrumental take on Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson's "The Bottle," Black Stash's sweeping "Mighty Love Man," and Archie Bell & Drells' free-spirited "Let's Groove" represent a small fraction of the deep and unfadable classics. The 40-page booklet is packed with information: track-by-track annotation, release details, chart positions, and sleeve and label scans. The evident love and care put into the box counteracts the space limitations and licensing restrictions that prevent it from being definitive. (Gloria Gaynor's "Never Can Say Goodbye," the Isley Brothers' "Fight the Power," and Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby" are among the missing.) Released with the promise of successive volumes for each year through 1979, this is a fine start to a series that should prove to be just as valuable as Rhino's The Disco Years and Harmless' Disco Discharge.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Seeds of the Earth 03:11 Amazon
2 De-Lite-Ful 02:46 Amazon
3 Chuck Jackson 03:30 Amazon
4 Calendar 05:53 Amazon
5 Retta Young 03:16 Amazon
6 Bataan 03:33 Amazon
7 Derek Martin 03:15 Amazon
8 Sylvia 02:45 Amazon
9 The Jackson 5 06:23 Amazon
10 Crown Heights Affair 03:51 Amazon
11 Brother to Brother 03:28 Amazon
12 Brother to Brother 02:58 Amazon
13 The Reflections 03:43 Amazon
14 The Rimshots 03:28 Amazon
15 The Moments / Moments & Whatnauts / The Whatnauts 03:19 Amazon
16 Pat Lundi 04:09 Amazon
17 MFSB 03:35 Amazon
18 People's Choice 03:16 Amazon
19 Esther Phillips 03:40 Amazon
20 Banzaï 03:07 Amazon
21 Glitter Band 03:13 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick