Tuesday, 20 January 2009

My Disco Top 150: (1-10)

1. Black Ivory Mainline (1979 Buddah)
For me, the ultimate Disco record. Great lyrics, big, lush arrangement with sweeping, majestic strings and punchy horns. Huge production with fat drums - the breakdown sounds enormous due to the power and punch of the drums - immaculately recorded by Tom Coyne. Written by Leroy Burgess and produced by the Black Ivory members - this track is indebted to the Philly classics but has a uniqueness that sets it apart. It never loses energy with each change in structure and the finale with its "nothing is the same... ever since you came my baby" chant against pounding drums is pure Disco heaven.

2. Double Exposure Ten Per Cent (1976 Salsoul)
A fitting track for the first ever non-promotional, commercially available 12 inch single. A Salsoul released Philadelphia-based B-H-Y (Baker-Harris-Young) classic with a ground-breaking, genre-changing mix from genius Walter Gibbons. Tape edits galore and a huge breakdown - Gibbons switches from vocal to instrumental sections, strips down the arrangement then builds it up and never loses the feel over its nine minute duration. Pioneering.

3. Chi-Lites My First Mistake (1977 Mercury)
A Disco classic with an unforgettable gear-shift into one of the most impassioned vocal performances to hit wax. Eugene Record sends shivers down the spine on the final two-thirds of this Phil Hurtt-Richie Rome penned monster. Originally released on the album "The Fantastic Chi-Lites", Mercury re-released it on 12 inch in the nineties due to its never-ending popular demand.

4. Sympho-State You Know What I Like (1979 Ze UK)
A baffling and rare track. Found on the B-side of the UK label Ze and never released at the time in the US, this epic Disco track is taken at break-neck pace and features not one, but two of the most terrific breakdowns in Disco history. Although uncredited, it's clearly the unmistakable voice of Leroy Burgess (credited as co-writer) behind Sympho-State... a true enigma of the Disco genre.

5. Motown Sounds Bad Mouthin' (1979 Motown UK)
Released only as a 12 inch in the UK, this awesome B-side is a relentless, instrumental piece of Disco that doesn't let up for it's six minute duration. Beautiful vibes punctuate the thick arrangement. Taken from the album "Space Dance", the entire project was the brain-child of Michael "Lovesmith".

6. First Choice Double Cross (1979 Gold Mind)
My ultimate First Choice track - written and produced by Norman Harris "Machine" and Ron "Love Committee" Tyson and powered along by the lead vocals of Rochelle Fleming. This classic is mixed by Bobby DJ Guttadaro.

7. The Brothers Under The Skin (1976 RCA)
Released on the B-Side of an early RCA 12 inch, this storming piece of instrumental Disco has a large production and heavy drums and bass. Written and arranged by occasional jazz producer Mitch Farber, Under The Skin has suitably solid horn solo's. Rare and highly sought-after on original vinyl.

8. Ashford & Simpson Bourgie Bourgie (1977 Warner Bros. UK)
Released as a 12 inch only in the UK, this instrumental classic - by one of Disco's most prolific song-writing partnerships - was later covered by Gladys Knight, John Davis & Monster Orchestra and others. Yet, it's this version with it's huge arrangement, large-scale production and dramatic shifts in tempo that hits the heights for me.

9. Jean Carn Was That All It Was (1979 Philadelphia Int.)
From spiritual-jazz to heavenly Disco - Jean Carn is undoubtedly one of the voices of Philly soul. This uplifting mid-tempo classic is co-produced by veteran Jerry Butler.

10. Diana Ross Love Hangover (1976 Motown)
With it's sensual half-time opening and sudden shift into a shuffling Disco groove, Diana Ross effortlessly pulls off one of Motown's seventies classics. "If there's a cure for this... I don't want it..."

1 comment:

Michael K said...

Hi Kirk, am new to the blog scene and just came across your blog. You really surprised me with your top disco records. I was always under the impression that I know a lot about disco, but had to realize that I don't even know about 30 percent of whats on your list. Of course it was also a surprise for me that my personal disco favorite (Queen Samantha – Take a chance (TK) didn't even made it onto your list ... Believe I have some catching up to do now.
By the way, I am a huge fan of your music and been listening to your stuff from the very beginning! Unfortunately I have had to sell my record collection and am missing out on some stuff. Hope you going to release some of your earlier works on CD some day, so I can listen to it again ...