DISCO DISCHARGE-DIGGIN’ DEEPER.
DISCO DISCHARGE-DIGGIN’ DEEPER.
Growing up, I was just the right age to hear the best music of the disco era. Since then, I’ve always loved disco music. Even when disco was meant to “suck,” I still loved the music, and over the last thirty odd years, have amassed quite a collection of classic disco. So, every time I see a new disco compilation released, I’ve just got to explore it. Back in 2009, I spied a new compilation series that was just about to be released by Harmless Records, Disco Discharge. Starting with four compilations in 2009, Classic Disco, Disco Ladies and Euro Disco another eight compilations followed between 2009 and 2011. This included Disco Boogie, Mondo Disco and Cruising the Beats. Another of the Disco Discharge series was Diggin’ Deeper, in May 2010. Like the other eleven compilations, it was compiled by that international man of mystery Mr Pinks. Who is Mr Pinks I hear you ask? Well, no-one knows, all that’s known about him is that he’s deeply knowledgeable in all matters disco, steeped in disco music and has exquisite taste. That knowledge and exquisite taste is put to good use on Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper, which is a double album featuring twenty full-length tracks. On the Disco Discharge series, there’s no chopped down, shortened versions that lesser labels feature on their compilations. Here it’s quite the opposite, with the original twelve inch mixes featuring on Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper. It doesn’t matter whether the track is six, seven, eight or fourteen minutes long in the case of Dan Hartmam’s epic masterpiece Coutdown/This Is It, you hear the track in all its glory. That track is just one of twenty, from artists that include The Trammps, Mick Jackson, Touch of Class, Frantique and the brilliantly names John Davis and The Monster Orchestra. With so many great tracks on the two discs of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper, choosing just a few to talk about is a tough job. However, someone has to do it, so these are the highlights of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper.
My first choice from Disc One of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper, has to be The Trammps’ Soul Searchin’ Time. This is the original version from The Trammps’ 1976 album Where the Happy People Go, which reached number fifty in the US Billboard 200 and number thirteen in the US R&B Charts. When oice from Disc One of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper, has to be The Trammps’ Soul Searchin’ Time was released as a single, it only reached number sixty-seven in the US R&B Charts and number forty-two in the UK. Why this track never fared better seems strange, but The Trammps’ next single Disco Inferno, gave them one of the biggest hits of their career. To me, the music of The Trammps equals energy and joy, demonstrated perfectly with this track. It has everything, cascading strings, bursts of blazing horns, an impassioned vocal augmented by tight, punchy harmonies and a sizzling, funky rhythm section. With the Baker, Harris, young rhythm section providing the track’s heartbeat, it’s a dramatic slice of disco that masterfully combines passion and emotion.
Mick Jackson is best known for co-writing and recording Blame It On the Boogie, which was a huge hit for The Jacksons, at the same time Mick released his version of the song. However, there’s much more to Mick’s music than that one track, with Weekend, released on Atlantic in 1979, a track that’s long been a favorite of mine. Taken from Mick’s 1979 album Weekend, the original is a joyous, uptempo track with a real feel-good sound. Here, the version included is a previously unreleased instrumental version. This has a real Philly Sound influence, with swathes of the lushest strings at the heart of the arrangement. They’re accompanied by rasping horns that punctuate the track, while the rhythm section and chiming guitars augment the strings. It’s very different to the original, but has an irresistible, lush sound, thanks to the layers of strings. Add to this punchy horns, handclaps and keyboards, while flourishes of guitar drift in and out the track, and you’ve a track that not only sounds lush, but grand and beautiful.
Although Never Gonna Say Goodbye is usually associated with one of disco’s divas, Gloria Gaynor, there’s a very different, totally sensual version from Poussez on Disco-Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper. Taken from Poussez’s 1979 album Poussez, one Vanguard Records Never Gonna Say Goodbye is totally transformed, with breathy, sensuous vocals giving the track a red-hot, sizzling sound, so much so, that the track should have an adult rating! With a plentiful supply of percussion, punchy drums, handclaps and a funk laded bass accompanying keyboards and cascading strings, the soft, breathless vocal enters. It gives way to a gentle vocal enveloped by swirling strings and handclaps. As the energy builds, the percussion enters, while breathy bursts of backing vocals join the mix. From there on, the track just gets even better, resulting in a steamy, sensuous slice of disco, that makes Gloria’s version almost look tame.
Wayne St. John’s Something’s Up (Love Me Like the First Time) is a disco track with a real funk influence when the track opens. Released in 1977 on Salsoul Records and produced by Ian Geunther and Willi Morrison, the track builds and builds, resulting in a dynamic and energetic arrangement. While a dramatic combination swirling strings, searing guitars and blazing horns accompany a rhythm section that combines funk, with a soulful side. Above the arrangement sits Wayne’s vocal, matching the energy and drama of the arrangement, but adding to it emotion and a sense of soulfulness. It’s a sizzling slice of disco, with just a sprinkling of funk in Pete Pederson’s arrangement.
My final choice from Disc One of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper is Carol Hahn’s Do Your Best, released in 1982 on Nickel Recording. Taken from her 1982 album Portraits, Carol has a lovely voice, sweet and soulful, sung against an arrangement that marries an electronic sound with disco music. Synths, handclaps and the rhythm section merge with sweeping strings while Carol’s voice is impassioned and subtle. With backing vocalists accompanying her, the track swings along. Although quite different from my other four choices from Disc One, Do Your Best has one thing in common, quality. Like the other four tracks, this is a quality slice of soulful disco music, with an early eighties synth sound.
Although I’ve only mentioned five of the tracks on Disc One of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the other five tracks. With tracks that include The Ritchie Family’s Quiet Village, Constellation Orchestra’s Dancing Angel and Q’s The Voice of Q, this demonstrates just how consistent the quality of music is on Disc One of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper. However, that’s not surprising given Mr Pinks’ quality control of the music on the Disco Discharge. He wouldn’t allow any poor or inferior tracks to grace one of his compilations. He’s a man that eats, lives and breathes disco, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of disco gems. I’m sure he won’t let his standards drop on Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper. Having told you about the highlights of Disc One, I can’t wait to tell you about the disco delights that can be found on Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper.
While the music on Disc One of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper was of the highest standard, it seems Mr Pinks has dug even deeper on Disc Two. Truly, it’s a disc crammed full of some stunning slices of delectable disco delights, with tracks from Touch of Class, Dan Hartman and Frantique, sitting comfortably beside tracks be Ferrara, Freddie James and John Davis and The Monster Orchestra. Overall, it’s ten classy slices of disco, with plenty of lush, disco strings gracing Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper. However, what are the best tracks of this feast of disco music? That’s what I’ll now tell you.
Opening Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper, is Touch of Class’ I’m In Heaven, from their 1975 debut album I’m In Heaven, released on Midland International Records. Touch of Class were a disco quartet from Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, who released a trio of albums between 1975 and 1981. When you listen to the track there’s a real Philly Sound influence, with the arrangement reminding me of The Detroit Spinners. The reason for this is that many of the same musicians played on both sessions, including unmistakable sound of Don Renaldo’s strings and horns and Vince Montana Jr.’s vibes all grace this track. Swathes of lush strings, chiming guitars and the rhythm section accompany the lilting, soulful strains of Touch of Class, while the lead vocal is sweet and the harmonies tight and gentle. Later, bursts of horns add to the gorgeous arrangement, and add the final touch to a lush sounding quite and beautiful slice of disco Philly style.
Avenue B Boogie Band’s contribution Bumper to Bumper is another track released on Salsoul Records, this time in 1980. Co-written by Billy Mersey, who also arranged and produced this track with a post disco sound that incorporates elements of funk and Latin percussion. Adding to this funky sound are blazing horns, searing guitars and flourishes of keyboards, which accompany the joyous, rasping vocal. Meanwhile backing vocalists give the impression that it was party time in the studio when the track was recorded. Together with a proliferation of percussion, loping bass and rasping horns the end result is a sizzling marriage of funk and Latin music that’s totally irresistible and hugely catchy.
My favorite track on Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper is easily, Dan Hartman’s epic masterpiece Countdown/This is it. It’s fourteen minutes of impassioned, driving disco. Released in 1978 and taken from Dan’s 1978 album Instant Replay, it’s a song of two parts. Part one, Countdown is a driving, dynamic track lasting eight minutes, full of keyboards, percussion and a rhythm section that provide the song’s heartbeat, while synths explode and Dan’s powerful vocal is augmented by backing vocalists. The song just builds and builds, the energy never ceasing, before the track changes totally in part two, This Is It. Opening with punchy drums, cascading strings, keyboards and Dan’s vocal, the track unfolds at breakneck speed. During a breakdown, strings sweep and swirl and horns rasp, before woodwind cut in, signaling the return of Dan’s vocal. From there on, the track just sweeps you away with its impassioned, uplifting, feel-good sound. It’s a true classic, one with a real hands in the air sound, that reminds you just why you love disco music.
When I originally bought Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper, I was really pleased to find a track by John Davis and The Monster Orchestra. Ain’t That Enough for You was the title track from their 1978 album on SAM Records. It’s another really quick track, 136 beats per minute, with searing guitars and the rhythm section driving the track along, while lush strings and percussion accompany the female vocal. As the strings quiver and shiver, the beat is constant, the sound catchy with a lush quality. Later, flourishes of piano and blazing horns are added the arrangement. They’re just the finishing touch to what’s a quite brilliant track, one that’s combines funk with disco strings masterfully, resulting in an uplifting track laden with hooks.
The last track on Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper I’ve chosen to mention has a quite different sound to many of the tracks I’ve previously mentioned. Ferrara’s Love Attack has an Italo Disco sound, and was released in 1979 as the B-side to Shake It Baby Love. Arranged and produced by John Ferrara, Love Attack has a real electronic sound with synths, drums and funk drenched bass driving the track along at 130 beats per minute. Handclaps punctuate the arrangement before a sweet female vocal briefly enters. A haunting woodwind sound sits atop the arrangement, before bursts of punchy, rasping horns enter. By now, I’ve been seduced by the charms of Love Attack and just allow the rest of this totally joyous track to reveal itself. For nearly six minutes you’re unable to resist this delicious slice of driving Italo Disco.
So on Disc Two of Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper Mr Pinks weaves his magic yet again. As if effortlessly and seamlessly, he combines the classic sound of Dan Hartman, with Ferrara’s Italo Disco and the Philly disco of Touch of Class. Add to that Avenue B Boogie Band’s funky sound with the uplifting, hook laden sound of John Davis and The Monster Orchestra. That’s not forgetting tracks by Frantique, Freddie James and The Ring. Overall, the ten tracks on Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper are just as good, if not better than the ten tracks on Disc One. When I listened to the music on Disc One, I thought that it would be difficult to either match, or better, the music on that disc. However, somehow, Mr Pinks has managed to do so. By digging deeper than other compilers, and relying upon his encyclopaedic knowledge of all things disco, Mr Pinks succeeds yet again. Truly, Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper is one of my favorite compilations in the Disco Discharge series, due to brilliant music that can be found on the two discs. Since the release of the previous compilations, Mr Pinks has been busy. Probably the hardest working man in disco, and unable to rest and when there’s always more delectable disco delights to discover, Mr Pinks has been digging even deeper. Recently, he’s found more majestic music for four further volumes of Disco Discharge to add to the previous twelve volumes. Soon, American Hot, Midnight Shift, Disco Exotica and Europa will be added to the Disco Discharge series. If these four new volumes of are as good as Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper then we’ll need to salute Mr Pinks once again. Sir, long may your disco balls sparkle. Standout Tracks: The Trammps’Soul Searchin’ Time, Mick Jackson Weekend, Dan Hartman Countdown/This is it and John Davis and The Monster Orchestra Ain’t That Enough for You.
DISCO DISCHARGE-DIGGIN’ DEEPER.
- Posted in: Disco ♦ Funk ♦ Italo Disco ♦ Philadelphia Soul ♦ Soul
- Tagged: Dan Hartman Countdown/This is it, Disco Discharge-Diggin’ Deeper, Disco Discharge-Disco Fever USA, Disco Discharge-Disco Ladies, John Davis and The Monster Orchestra Ain't That Enough for You, Mick Jackson Weekend, Mr Pinks, The Trammps’Soul Searchin’ Time