Whenever I fill in at Ted’s desk here at the Mix Six, I like to have a good time. Case in point, this week’s flashback to the late 70’s and early 80’s. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Disco? Really?” Truth is, many venerable rock acts, most of them English, saw dance music as a way to reach a new audience. This was especially true for some rock acts whose success came in the early 70’s. While many disco songs are scoffed at, I present to you six durable tracks that many of you may have shaken your grove thing to back in the day. Several of these selections are still staples on mainstream/classic rock stations. The irony of that last statement is that those same stations decried the disco movement and applauded the downfall of the genre (perpetuated, no doubt, by Disco Demolition Night at the old Comiskey Park in Chicago back in 1979).
Ted put together an excellent mix that recalls the bygone days of radio when six songs were played back to back without some dumbass talking over the into, without some ridiculous station ID, and without a frickin mattress commercial breaking up the rhythm. So give it a listen. And hey, leave a comment. Don’t cost nothin’!
“Last Train to London,” Electric Light Orchestra (download)
Jeff Lynne and company walked the fine line between disco and rock and roll with their smash album, 1979’s Discovery. It contained this dance floor classic, as well as their top 10 hit, “Don’t Bring Me Down.” While the latter is still played on rock stations around the world, “Last Train to London” (which only peaked at #39) is kind of forgotten. Too bad. The melody is bittersweet and the ELO strings lend themselves nicely to the lush productions associated with so many disco songs.
“Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” Rod Stewart (download)
Rod the Bod. As a young boy, there were two things I knew about Rod Stewart, he wore tight pants and he had this nasty rumor that followed him around. This was the first Stewart song I ever heard by the singer, so I assumed he was just another disco lothario. It would be a few years before I found out that he was once a blues/rock lothario, and then became a folksy lothario before squeezing into the spandex and tank tops (he eventually became a standards crooning lothario). All I can say about this song is that it’s nasty, from Rod’s lascivious singing to Carmine Appice’s dirty drum sound. Still, I will never think Rod is sexy.
“Another One Bites the Dust,” Queen (download)
Fans were more pissed that Freddie Mercury grew a Village People ‘stache than the fact that his band created one of the greatest disco tracks of all time. John Deacon’s famous bass line came about because he was hanging with the members of Chic and was inspired by their classic, “Good Times.” Released in 1980, “Another One Bites the Dust” dominated every damn chart, going to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 2 on the R & B and Disco charts, and becoming a staple on mainstream rock radio. “Another One Bites the Dust” is still heard throughout every sports arena and ballpark and continues to get spun on radio stations. As if you didn’t know!
“Miss You,” The Rolling Stones (download)
Who better to embrace the coke fueled, hedonistic culture of Studio 54 and sweaty discos than the Stones. I swear, Charlie Watts sounds fucking asleep on this song and Keith is… well, Keith is Keith. But Bill Wyman’s bass playing, like any great dance song, really makes the song. This is great ‘70’s era Stones. If you don’t dig this nifty little number, all I can ask is “Whatsamatta wif choo boy?”
“(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman,” The Kinks (download)
The hell? The Kinks? Doing disco? No shit, people. Listen to that drum part and the bass line and you can easily see polyester dresses swirling and multi-colored lights blinking. Think I’m full of crap? The Kinks even released a disco mix of this song! Ray Davies knew a good trend when he saw one and this song helped revive the band’s popularity in the late 70’s. Low Budget, the album from this song comes, became the best selling album, reaching #11 on the album charts.
“Goodnight Tonight,” Wings (download)
Let’s face it, anything Paul McCartney does comes off as the guy is just having fun. The guy is so rich it always amazes me, baby, that he continues to write pop fluff like this one. The lyrics are dumb, but who the heck listens to the singer when there’s a stellar bass line from an ex-Beatle and a swell flamenco guitar in the mix. “Goodnight Tonight” was a top ten hit for Wings and is a great way to end our little disco flashback.