Let’s talk disco.
Wait. Don’t run away. I know what you’re thinking. “Disco sucks.”
And I agree with you. Most of it did suck. But as someone who was dragged to a few discos in my time by friends who thought that was how you met women — destroying your hearing with loud, monotonous rhythms and messing up your equilibrium with bright, flashing lights — I’ve heard more than my share of horrible songs, but I’ve heard a few interesting ones, too.
And it’s those songs I’d like to share with you.
The first song is very short, especially compared to the extended epic lengths of most disco songs. It only runs about two and a half minutes.
It’s by Funkadelic, who were a funk act led by George Clinton (they started out as a simple backup band to his other band, Parliament). The song isn’t a typical disco song, but was played in clubs.
The outstanding feature of the song is the uncredited, yet fantastic, extended guitar solo. Even George Clinton didn’t know who the guitarist was, although a Paul Warren, who was a Detroit session musician, claims he played it.
The Spinners (aka Detroit Spinners or Motown Sponners) are an R&B vocal group that formed in 1954. This song spent three weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
“The Rubberband Man” may at first blush just seem like any other disco song, but what separates it from usual dredge is The Spinners are just having fun. It’s a silly, upbeat song and they aren’t taking themselves too seriously. Instead of disco, I’d put this song in the novelty category with songs like “Happy ” and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
Santa Esmeralda was a French disco group that had it’s best success with Leroy Gómez, an American singer. Their first album, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” is the only disco album I’ve ever owned.
Their remake of, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” originally done by Nina Simone, has a lively Latin, flemenco and salsa arrangement to it that I enjoy, bit it’s the Spanish guitar that really made me enjoy this song.
As you probably know, disco spread like a disease, infecting even some of the staunchest rock acts, from David Bowie, to Rod Stewart, to the Rolling Stones.
It’s probably no surprise that KISS did a disco song, they were mostly about making money, after all.
Here is the extended version of “I Was Made for Loving You.” Feel free to skip it. I’m only including it to show disco’s influence. It is not a song I particularly like and honestly, I had outgrown KISS long before this came out.
On the other hand, I’ve read that this next song, by a band you’d never think of wither disco or dance, was considered a disco song. At least the single version, if not the album version. Their producer, Bob Ezrin, wanted a single, but Pink Floyd wasn’t a singles band, or a dance band. They played rock for sitting and listening to.
They envisioned this next song as a simple seque into the song that followed at only about 1:14 in length. Bob Ezrin talked them into the disco beat, then duplicated the track to lengthen it, added a children’s chorus, and released it as a single. It became Pink Floyd’s only number one single.
If you made it this far, thanks for listening. Aren’t you glad I didn’t include “Disco Duck?”
But here’s Ernie singing, “Rubber Ducky,” just because.