10 essential Disco Funk tracks… Like always, a selection is per definition limited, and God knows how Disco would definitely not have sounded the same without the regular experimentations which have paved its way… Such as when it came to integrate Funk, Jazz, Rock or Electronic along with analog synthesized sounds. Even though the line might be thin at times from a category to another. With this engendering inevitable debates between die hard fans and music lovers. As a result, many are the gems we couldn’t talk about here, even though they would definitely have deserved a mention.
No need to say how this selection is way from being exhaustive, with a Part 2 now available for your attention. Nevertheless, you should find thereafter a pretty much illustrative sample of highly energetic jams where the infectiousness of the groove predominates.
Wishing you’ll enjoy the ride as much as we did, while putting this together for you. With your feedback, and a mention of your favorite song more than welcome.
Miami producers Harry W. Casey and Rick Finch established a unique and instantly identifiable sound back in the mid 70’s. Be it when collaborating with artists such as Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne or under their K.C. & The Sunshine Band guise. Blending stellar keys and firing horn parts over funk bass driven grooves. The brilliant and insane ‘Get Down Tonight’ stands among their highlights along with cuts such as ‘That’s The Way’, ‘Shake Shake Shake’ or ‘I’m Your Boogie Man’. Not to mention ‘Please Don’t Go’ although on a mellower vein.
On the heels of the firing ‘Disco Connection’ which he released back in 1975 as Isaac Hayes Movement, Ike pushin’ the move forward 4 years later. This time using a synth funk driven 4X4 Disco beat along with stellar strings and burning horns. Therefore showing another of his countless facets and making proof of his undeniable versatility in a quite syncopated vein this time…
There’s an instant feeling of familiarity when coming to listen to this gem. No wonder why as DASARB happened to be a spin-off group of Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band. This explaining the flamboyance of their arrangements. With percussionist Don Armando Bonilla in the drivers’ seat along with female singer Fonda Rae, surrounded by an impressive line-up of sessions musicians. With production work by the likes of Sugar Coated Andy Hernandez, better known as Coati Mundi. ‘Deputy Of Love’ the title track of their one off album also saw the light in a rare version in Spanish titled ‘Diputado Del Amor’.
Producer Norman Whitfield put Undisputed Truth together back in 1970 and brought them to Motown. There, they released 6 albums, but also backed groups such as The Temptations for instance. Eventually delivering the original version of ‘Law Of The Land’ which the latter covered soon after. Following Whitfield when he launched his label, their line-up slightly changed with the notorious arrival of Chaka Khan‘s sister Taka Boom takin’ the lead. From their ‘Method To The Madness’ album, ‘You + Me = Love’, is an 11+ minutes of pure psychedelic funkiness. With Boom reachin’ a rare level and Michael Moore delivering a killer sax part…
Everything started like a fairy tale for Tunisia native French singer Chantal Curtis. And most likely in the streets where her producer – Pierre Jaubert – asked her if she could sing from hearing her talking with a friend. Alas, gotten into hard drugs by her boyfriend, she had to deliver her first release (‘Can’t You Feel It’) under another guise – Michele – back in 1977 on West End. Blended with a characteristic harmonica part courtesy of James Whiting aka Sugar Blue, ‘Get Another Love’ is her most famous cut. Chantal tragically passed in Israel in 1985, allegedly the victim of a bullet intended for her boyfriend…
More than 40 years have gone since the release of this stellar production and it still sounds so uplifting. Both vocally speaking with Barbara Pennington singin’ her heart out. And in terms of arrangements with British producer Ian Levine takin’ the lead. Most likely one of the best productions at the time. Displaying the refined side of Disco per excellency over a killing bassline. One would hardly do music like this anymore nowadays. And most likely because of the productions costs, which, at the time, could reach US$ 35,000 per track!!!
Although most likely a one hit wonder considering the poor material that follwed, Eddy Rosemond quite caught up the attention in the clubs back in 1979. And for this, he came up with this energizing Disco stomper over a furious rhythm section and a funky bassline. Its production reminding much of those by the likes of Patrick Cowley. Not to mention his vocal performance reachin’ tones close to the ones of the late Sylvester. A cut which Daniel Wang partly sampled 14 years later on ‘Like Some Dream’ (Balihu Records)…
A reaction to the Disco sucks movement that took place in Chicago during the Summer of 1979? The one known as its undisputed Queen obviously took his distance from the genre. Releasing soon after this infectious funk bass-driven midtempo. Eventually sharing the vocal duties with the sultry Jeanie Tracy. And surrounded by the late Woody Cunningham of the Kleeer fame on drums and Gerald Martin responsible for a blowing jazzy sax part. Not surprisingly, this unsung gem never got the same recognition as ‘You Make Me Feel’ or ‘Dance (Disco Heat)’. Larry Levan turned it though into a classic at The Paradise Garage which is justice!
I remember as if it was yesterday when (Uncle) Mel Cheren asked about my favorite cut on his West End Records label. I told him about this one. He then got straight to the basement of The Colonial House Inn in NYC Chelsea where he had his office. Then, about 10 minutes later, he came back with a big smile… And a rare 12″ promo copy in stone Mint condition for me!
I never understood though why, despite such an impressive vocal range allowing to flirt with falsetto tones, Nichols never managed to get the recognition he truly deserved. And I’m not even talking about his skills both as a songwriter, arranger and producer. Responsible for gems such as ‘Out Of Work’ and ‘That’s Hot’ For Jesse Gould.
‘Slidin’ & Glidin” is most likely not the first track comin’ to mind whenever thinking of Kleeer. First, because the former Patrick Adams‘s backing musicians delivered a few well known classics. From ‘Keep Your Body Working’ to ‘Winners’ or ‘Get Tough’. And second because ‘Slidin’ & Glidin” never saw the light as a single. Probably because of its concept, built on a furious rhythm pattern. This being nevertheless the reason why I love it so much at the time, marking a drastic change as to what one could usually hear. Hard to resist to the infectiousness of this tough bass-driven jam blended with sparkling keys. Dontcha think?