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Sunday 23 August 2009

Music: Paul Morley goes disco - and sets me off on a nostalgia trip

Previous readers may have noticed my predilection for a spot or hour-upon-hour of disco.

So I was please, nay amazed, to see writer Paul Morley conduct an interesting round-table for Guardian Online with Vince Aletti, the very first writer to cover New York's emerging disco scene in the 70s, DJ and author Bill Brewster, and Luke Howard, DJ at London's Horse Meat Disco.

Being Paul Morley it's hyper-intellectual but all three of his panelists pick up on one DJ trick which I recall being the mark of a great DJ - finding that obscure, forgotten track which you made your own.

I was too young for disco in the 70s except on the radio but by the time I'd started DJing in 1987 in Sydney I'd also started rummaging through Sydney's great second-hand record shops for obscure disco classics to play first on my Saturday night radio show 'Move On Up' and then later in parties, bars and clubs.

Raw Silk: Just in time and space
From New York's consistently brilliant West End Records. The best version of this is the trip-out dub, which I found on YouTube. Yay! :]

That's exactly the sort of track which would find a home at Paradise Garage, the legendary New York club which the best of my contemporaries in Sydney had been blown away at and then started Sydney's dance party scene in homage to, especially the incredible Black Party which ran for years and only ended when two of its three founders died. (It was named after the notoriously sleazy party held at NYC's Saint club but in Sydney people came mainly for the dancefloor not any sleaze).

Paradise Garage

DJ/producers like Francois Kevorkian (who is still around), Larry Levan and Shep Pettibone as well as Frankie Knuckles (of course) were the heroes of Black Party DJs and are my musical heroes too.

Kervorkian produced many left-field dancefloor hits like his remix of U2's New Years Day that my favorite Sydney DJ the brilliant, technically and creatively, Stephen Allkins would drop in a set because on a dancefloor they worked, especially late late when everyone was well mashed.

The last session was always the one where experimental DJs like Allkins came alive - not only were you not playing to a crowd which just wanted what was then in the charts but you could also throw in the left-field, slower and funkier tracks. The highlight of my DJing career was the 5-9am at a New Year's Eve Rat Party held at the RAS Showgrounds (now Fox Studios) where the decks were directly on the floor so on my favorite long, funky mid-tempo tracks I could nip out and boogie around with mates and several thousand others.

This was the sort of track you could play during the 'last shift', if you were Allkins or Black Party's late, great Ron Oram.

Taana Gardner: Heartbeat (Larry Levan mix)

That's on West End Records. Salsoul is another label from which you'd buy a track just 'cos it was on it and you knew it'd be good.

There is a Larry Levan mix of this Salsoul track but I couldn't find it on YouTube.

Skyy: First Time Around

You'd buy records on the Sleeping Bag label and be guaranteed a great track too.

Dinosaur L: Go Bang! #5 (François Kevorkian Mix)

More Salsoul and a Shep Pettibone mix (there's also a Frankie Knuckles one). This is a classic (classy) gay club track 'cos it's got fantastic female vocals and listen out for some of the most used samples ever.

First Choice: Let No Man Put Asunder

Last - must stop before the page download grinds to a halt - one of the all-time best dancefloor fillers and another track from which a zillion samples have been taken.

Hamilton Bohannon: Let's Start To Dance

Check out my music tagged posts for a heck of a lot more Dissssssssscoooooooooooo ...

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