Monday, September 27, 2021

Chic are a proof of my theory-stance-contention that the best disco is the the disco that made the charts

there is a logic to the syndrome of "the best stuff crossed over and became pop"

for what are the premises on which disco is based, its metric?

Good beat, good groove

Strong vocal performance

Great melody

Cool shiny production

Those happen to be exactly the same premises on which successful pop music is based - a beat you a dance to, a tune you can sing along to it, a certain conventional idea of vocal power, bright slick shiny production, well played etc

up to a certain point, you can say that disco-ness is poptasticness

so underground disco means simply not known by that many people, means not that successful on its own terms

Underground disco cultists are very similar to the Northern Soul thing

The Northern Soul people liked Motown-type music. But Motown they considered “commercial” – meaning, simply that ordinary kids knew about it cos it had been in the charts. So they formed a whole cut around either Motown releases that had not been hits (cos they weren’t quite good enough)  and then the Motown-wannabes, of which they were droves. And there was so much of this second-division, solid uptempo soul made then that they could sustain a whole culture based on it, and never play the Four Tops or Martha and the Vandellas or the Supremes.

Eventually they moved into the third-rate and the overtly substandard.

You get the same thing with garage punk of the Sixties – which I was really into and I went pretty deep into the second-rate zone, cos I loved that particular energy and set of noises and vocal aggression

But the best stuff  - objectively - was either the British groups who inspired the garage punks or those one-hit wonders like Count Five with ‘psychotic reactions’

Oh here and there you’ll come across something you think ‘this could have been a hit, should have been a hit’

But the bulk of it is determinedly second-division and enjoyable on that level if you are that obsessed with the sound

Same with disco


ahr2nd said...

I wonder how well this applies to, say, jungle—and to other dance genres for which the mainstream-underground distinction is less meaningful. I say that because it seems to me that jungle fans (and I’d include myself here) aren’t the most discriminating bunch: More tunes thrown on the heap—little known promos, dredged-up DATs, IDM crossover fare, etc.—is always good news. The worst I might expect to hear is that this or that tune is derivative (“Didn’t Bukem do this?”), not-his-best, or poorly mastered: The best and the worst in a great big undifferentiated glut.


well the corollary of the argument would be "what were the peak hour anthems, the guaranteed rewinds?". however that would result in rather a narrow idea of what jungle was, and miss out on a lot of tangents and anomalies that are among the best of the genre's achievements. so it would be a bit lowest-common-denominator maybe. the deejay's safe options. But it would include such genre-defining tunes as "Terrorist" or "Renegade Snares" or "The Helicopter Tune".... and "Atlantis" was a big tune on the pirates, I don't know about the ravefloor... there are also tunes that sold a lot, a pop-chart-like set of data exists to some extent, by which you could test the thesis...

house music is an interesting one because part of its tradition does continue the disco era's fixation on the Song, but there's a whole other strand of it that is tracky - either deep and mood-oriented, or rough-edged and collaged in the Todd Terry line... so judging by house by which tracks were songy and catchy enough to cross over would not be a good metric i don't think.

there were disco instrumentals but most of it was songs

ahr2nd said...

That’s a good point. I think I had more in mind the latter-day / Last Man junglist—a lot of young people plumbing YouTube, basically—whose registration of (say) Terrorist’s popularity is to notice the immense “Have” count on Discogs, maybe the fact that it appears on so many compilations and retrospectives. (As an aside, having joined a jungle Discord where half the users are under 20, it’s fascinating who gets elected to their canon of “great jungle”: Goldie out; Bizzy B in. And not as much love for Renegade Snares as I’d like myself!)

Thanks for jogging the mind, as always.


interesting, didn't realise people used discogs as a gauge of popularity - how many people actually own the record

so a lot of very young people are rediscovering jungle? would be interesting to snoop on that Discord

my son has been pointing me towards online producers who are making jungle-influenced stuff, as far as i can tell this is completely outside and separate from the whole old skool scene of 90s veterans who are buying /making 'new old skool', original era producers reactivating and putting out new stuff or (on expensive vinyl slabs) tunes they made at the time that never got beyond a dubplate or a DAT

this scene of new jungle influenced bedroom producers, i get the sense that it's music that doesn't exist on any irl dancefloor, they might never have experienced the music played through a system and toward a crowd of dancers

Benc2006 said...

Totally agree with the Northern Soul comments, precisely why I could never get into it, all just seemed to be good-ish, not great.