Disco which had provided the musical backdrop to the second half of the seventies, went from hero to zero in the space of a year. Suddenly, disco sucked. Disco’s downfall started on Christmas Eve 1978, That’s when Steve Dahl was fired by Chicago radio station WDAI. It had previously been a rock station, but switched to disco. Steve wasn’t out of work long. He was hired by WLUP, a rival station. WLUP played rock, which suited Steve Dahl. He’d an inkling that disco wasn’t long for this world. 

Steve wasn’t a fan of disco, and took to mocking disco on-air. Openly, he mocked WDAI’s “disco DAI.” It became “disco die” to to Steve. Soon, Steve had created the Insane Coho Lips, his very own anti-disco army. Along with cohost Gary Meier, they coined the now infamous slogan “Disco Sucks.” The backlash had begun.

From there, the Disco Sucks movement gathered momentum. Events were held all over America. This came to a head at Disco Demolition Derby, which was Steve Dahl’s latest anti-disco event. Each one was becoming bigger, rowdier and attracting even more publicity. Disco Demolition Derby, which was held at Comiskey Park, Chicago on 12th July 1979 surpassed everything that went before. WFUL were sponsoring a Chicago White Sox game at Comiskey Park. if fans brought with them a disco record, they’d get in for ninety-eight cents. These records would be blown up by Steve Dahl. An estimated crowd between 20-50,000 people attended. Quickly the event descended into chaos. Vinyl was thrown from the stands like frisbees. Then when Steve blew up the vinyl, fans stormed the pitch and rioted. Things got so bad, that the riot police were called. After the Disco Demolition Derby, disco nearly died.

Following Disco Derby Night, disco’s popularity plunged. Disco artists were dropped from labels, disco labels folded and no further disco albums were released. Disco was on the critical list, and suffered a near death experience. It took a long time to recover. After disco’s demise, dance music changed. 

No longer were record labels willing to throw money at dance music. Budgets were suddenly much smaller. Gone were the lavish productions of the disco orchestras of the seventies. This is epitomised by The Salsoul Orchestra and John Davis and The Monster Orchestra. Strings and horns were now a luxury. Music would have to go back to basics. Replacing them would be sequencers, synths and drum machines, which were much cheaper. Previously, they were only found in studios or were used by wealthy and famous musicians. Now they were within the budget of many musicians. This would prove crucial in the rise and rise of the boogie, the musical genre that replaced disco as the favored choice of music for discerning dancers and DJs.

Boogie was different from disco on several ways. The tempo was slower, usually between 90 and 110 beats per minutes. Lavish arrangements were a thing of the past.Strings and horns were no more. Synths and drum machines took their place.  Sometimes producers like Leroy Burgess played an important role within a band.  Often, bands were essentially studio bands, made up of session musicians. This includes Inner Life and Logg, who enjoyed some success at Salsoul. Both groups were at the forefront of this new musical genre, boogie. So were groups like The Mynks, Shock, Convertion, The Ritz and Shock. These groups feature of BGP’s latest boogie compilation The Get Down Boogie Sound, which I’ll tell you about.

The Get Down Boogie Sound is a thirteen track compilation, which features tracks from the back-catalogues of Vanguard, Fantasy and Posse. Among the artists that feature on The Get Down Boogie Sound are Carol Williams, Sylvester, The Mynks, Convertion, Marlon McClain and Shock. Released between 1981 and 1983, the thirteen tracks on The Get Down Boogie Sound, are a perfect primer for newcomers to boogie. You’ll realize that when I tell you about the highlights of The Get Down Boogie Sound.

I always think that the track that opens an album or compilation is the most important. It’s a case of first impressions matter. Compiler Julian Jonah realizes that, and chose Mynks’ Can’t Get Away (From Your Love). Mynk featured Bill Curtis and Gerry Thomas of the Fatback Back. Bill and Gerry produced this track. It has a joyous, good time party sound, where soul, disco and funk combines. Released in 1981 on Posse Records, this was Mynk’s only single. That’s a great shame, as this is a tantalizing taste of what Mynk were capable of.

Carol Williams released one of the best albums released on Salsoul Records, ‘Lectric Lady, which featured More and Love Is You. Sadly, that was the only album she released on Salsoul. Her sophomore album of Reflections Of Carol Williams followed in 1979. It was released on the Quality label. After that, Carol released singles for Atco, Roy B. Records and Steyrer Disco. By 1981, she’d signed to Vanguard Records and released Tell The World. Can’t Get Away (From Your Love) was her second single for Vanguard. Producer Darryl Payne builds the drama before Carol’s vocal enters. Her vocal is sensual and needy, while punchy harmonies accompany her. She goes on to deliver a vocal that’s not just soulful, but oozes emotion and sensuality. 

Dance So Fine features a storming, vampish vocal from Nijel. Released in 1982 on Fantasy Records, it also features a vocoder. This is an instrument that divides opinion. Thankfully, here it’s used sparingly and effectively, during an arrangement where soul, funk and disco are combined by producer Lemel Humes.

So good are Shock, that they’ve two tracks on The Get Down Boogie Sound. These are That’s A Lady and Electrophonic Phunk. Both tracks are from their third album Waves, which was released on Fantasy Records in 1982. The best of the two tracks is the deeply soulful, but dance-floor friendly That’s A Lady. It was produced by Roger Sause and Marlon McLain, formerly of Pleasure. As for the production, there’s no expense been spared. Lavish and “big” describes it. Horns augment the rhythm section, percussion and synths, while the lead vocal and harmonies drive each other to greater heights of soulfulness on this gem of a dance-track.

Leroy Burgess’ name is synonymous with boogie. He’s perceived as one of the founding fathers of boogie. Convertion were one of Leroy’s studio bands. Although they only released a handful of singles, they’re music is fondly remembered and revered by connoisseurs of boogie. Sweet Thing was Convertion’s second single. Released in 1982, on Vanguard and produced by Greg Carmichael, it’s a genre-melting track. Soul, funk, boogie, proto-rap and disco combine with drama, sass and vampish vocal. No wonder this Sweet Thing is so fondly remembered by boogie fans.

If you’re only going to release one single, make it a good one. That’s what J.T. or as he’s better known, Joseph Tooney III did. He released I Love Music in 1983 on Vanguard Records. Sadly, it seems to have sunk without trace. Given the quality of the track that’s surprising. Driven along by the bass synth, squeaks and beeps escape from upbeat, funky arrangement. J.T’s vocal is both swaggering and soulful, full of energy and enthusiasm. Following the failure of this single, J.T. called time on his musical career. That day, music lost a talented singer.

Talking of talented singers, that’s almost an understatement. A charismatic and ebullient showman, Give It Up (Don’t Make Me Wait) is the perfect showcase for Sylvester’s inconsiderable skills. The version chosen is the Extended UK 12″ Mix. Taken from his 1981 album Too Hot To Sleep, which was produced by Harvey Fuqua, this is a delicious fusion of disco, jazz, funk and soul. Blazing jazzy horns are the perfect foil for Sylvester. It’s like throwing down a gauntlet. While more mellow than tracks like You Make Me Feel Sylvester vamps his way through the track, with gospel-tinged harmonies for company. The result is one of the highlights of The Get Down Boogie Sound.

Having left Pleasure, Marlon McClain signed to Fantasy Records, releasing his only solo album Changes in 1981. It didn’t replicate the success that Pleasure enjoyed. However, it did feature the mellow, languid sound of Pastel. Jazz-tinged, the track meanders along dreamy harmonies giving way to chiming guitars, hissing hi-hats and jazzy piano. Reminiscent of The Crusaders’ Street Life in parts, it’s proof that boogie was a broad musical church.

From the funky introduction and sinister laugh, Steptoe has your attention. You wonder where the track is heading? Before long, you know where the destination  is… boogie. Written and produced by Greg Watson and Pam Sawyer. Released by Fantasy Records in 1982, there’s a space-age, experimental and leftfield sound to this enigmatic track.

Arthur Baker produced I Wanna Get With You which was released by Ritz’s in 1981. Released on Arthur Baker’s Posse label, this was his new label’s first release. He chose well. Ritz weren’t just the house band, but a band oozing talent. Seamlessly they could switch between soul, funk, boogie and Latin music. A myriad of blazing horns, a driving, uber funky rhythm section and soaring harmonies accompany a heartfelt, needy vocal that’s influenced by seventies Philly Soul. A truly innovative, genre-sprawling track, it’s what I’d expect from a group Arthur Baker deemed good enough to be his house band.

Project Funk’s only single as Eazy, released on Vanguard Records in 1981. Written by Darryl Payne, who produced the track with Danny Weiss. The track has a tough, P-Funk sound, as it bursts into life. An explosion of energy, a chiming Niles Rodgers’ guitar, braying horns and funky rhythm section join bubbling synths.They provide the backdrop to P-Funk harmonies and a vampish vocal. Together, they plays an important part in a track that’s worms its way into your consciousness.

Rare Essence’s Body Move is the final track from The Get Down Boogie Sound I want to tell you about. Straight away, I noticed the track was produced by Chuck Brown the founding father of Go-Go. A fusion of Go-Go and boogie, Body Move was originally released on Washington’s Groove Records in 1981. Later in 1981, it was picked up by Fantasy Records who released the single to a wider audience. Oozing in quality, it has a tougher, edgier sound as boogie and Go Go meet head-on.

So, that’s the story of The Get Down Boogie Sound, BGP’s latest boogie compilation. From the opening bars of Mynks’ Can’t Get Away (From Your Love) right through to Shock’s Electrophonic Phunk, it’s quality all the way. I’d describe The Get Down Boogie Sound as, all killer, no filler. That’s unusual. Usually, there’s the odd musical faux pas along the way. Not here. Compiler Julian Johan has chosen well. He’s chosen a mixture of old friends and new faces.

Along the way we hear from some familiar faces, including Carol Williams, Sylvester, Convertion, Shock and Marlon McClain. There’s also hidden gems from Mynks, Ritz and Rare Essence. The Get Down Boogie Sound is a thirteen song musical journey. It’s a journey where we hear references to disco, funk, Go-Go, jazz, Latin and soul music. All these genres can be heard on the thirteen slices of boogie that feature on The Get Down Boogie Sound. These songs are quite different from disco, which preceded boogie.

As you’ll realize listening to The Get Down Boogie Sound, boogie is very different from disco. The tempo was slower, usually between 90 and 110 beats per minutes. Gone were lavish arrangements. They were a thing of the past. Strings and horns were no more. Synths and drum machines took their place. Despite all theses changes, boogie quickly found favor amongst discerning dancers and DJs. Just like disco, there’s no let up in our love affair with boogie. Thirty years later, and boogie is just as popular. That’s why there’s so many boogie compilations released. Very few are as good as The Get Down Boogie Sound, which is one of the best boogie compilations I’ve heard not just this year, but in recent years. That’s why I’d recommend that you get down with The Get Down Boogie Sound. Standout Tracks: Carol Williams Can’t Get Away (From Your Love), Shock That’s A Lady, Sylvester (Don’t Make Me Wait) and Ritz I Wanna Get With You.


1 Comment

  1. Great article! a good assesment of those times

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