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Parent categories: post- - disco
Related: ESG - Liquid Liquid - Italo disco - proto-house music - new Wave - no wave - proto-house music
"Before house music, a lot of the DJs on Chicago radio were playing a lot of Italian imports because I think the Italians were the only ones that continued with the disco when it all died out everywhere else. --Juan Atkins
Like it or not, house was first and foremost a direct descendant of disco. Disco had already been going for ten years when the first electronic drum tracks began to appear out of Chicago, and in that time it had already suffered the slings and arrows of merciless commercial exploitation, dilution and racial and sexual prejudice which culminated in the 'disco sucks' campaign. In one bizarrely extreme incident, people attending a baseball game in Chicago's Komishi Park were invited to bring all their unwanted disco records and after the game they were tossed onto a massive bonfire. Disco eventually collapsed under a heaving weight of crass disco versions of pop records and an ever-increasing volume of records that were simply no good. But the underground scene had already stepped off and was beginning to develop a new style that was deeper, rawer and more designed to make people dance. Disco had already produced the first records to be aimed specifically at DJs with extended 12" versions that included long percussion breaks for mixing purposes and the early eighties proved a vital turning point. Sinnamon's 'Thanks To You', D-Train's 'You're The One For Me' and The Peech Boys' 'Don't Make Me Wait', a record that's been continually sampled over the last decade, took things in a different direction with their sparse, synthesized sounds that introduced dub effects and drop-outs that had never been heard before.
But it wasn't just American music laying the groundwork for house. European music, spanning English electronic pop like Depeche Mode and Soft Cell and the earlier, more disco based sounds of Giorgio Moroder, Klein & MBO and a thousand Italian productions were immensely popular in urban areas like New York and Chicago. One of the reasons for their popularity was two clubs that had simultaneously broken the barriers of race and sexual preference, two clubs that were to pass on into dance music legend - Chicago's Warehouse and New York's Paradise Garage. Up until then, and after, the norm was for black, hispanic, white, straight and gay to segregate themselves, but with the Warehouse, opened in 1977 and presided over by Frankie Knuckles and the Garage where Larry Levan spun, the emphasis was on the music. (Ironically, Levan was first choice for the Warehouse, but he didn't want to leave New York). And the music was as varied as the clienteles - r'n'b based Black dance music and disco peppered with things as diverse as The Clash's 'Magnificent Seven'. For most people, these were the places that acted as breeding grounds for the music that eventually came to be known after the clubs - house and garage.
Right from the start there was a difference in approach between New York and Chicago. "All of the records coming out of New York had been either mid or down tempo, and the kids in Chicago wouldn't do that all night long, they needed more energy" commented Frankie Knuckles after his move to Chicago. The Windy City was seduced to a far greater extent by the European sound and when the records started to come, it showed. Whereas garage in New York evolved more smoothly from First Choice and the labels Salsoul, West End and Prelude, there was no such evolution in Chicago. Opinions still differ as to what the first house record was, but it was certainly made by Jessie Saunders and it was on the Mitchball label - probably Z Factor's 'Fantasy', but there was also another Z Factor tune which went by the name of 'I Like To Do It In Fast Cars'. 'Fantasy' sounds extremely dated now but ten years ago it was like a sound from another planet, with echoes of Kraftwerk's heavily synthesized string sounds, a Eurobeat bassline and a simple, insistent drum machine pattern. Suffice to say, the record remained obscure outside the close-knit urban Chicago scene. --Phil Cheeseman
Italo disco [...]
Italo disco was a style of electronic dance music during the 80s. Though many of the artists came from Italy as the name implies, the term is sometimes used for groups in other European countries in conjunction with euro disco. Italo disco had a more synth pop/electro feel to it than American disco, which had funk and soul roots.
The genre started at the end of the 70s when American disco was dying out (see: Disco Demolition Night) and lasted until the late 80s. The songs were very simplistic, with catchy melodies, and were often sung using vocoders or overdubs. The term italo disco was coined by Bernhard Mikulski, the founder of ZYX Records (Germany) in 1984, when ZYX released their first volume of "The Best Of Italo Disco". As with much of disco in general, italo was labeled as "gay music", which was partly responsible for it's inability to gain mass appeal. Much of the genre also featured cheesy love-song lyrics sung in heavy accents on top of monotonous synthetic rhythms, which turned many people off.
Over the years italo disco has had a cult following and is currently experiencing a renewed interest. Several online radio stations now stream the genre and underground clubs are playing the records once again. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italo_disco [Feb 2005]
Do Ya Wanna Funk (1982) Sylvester [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Hi-NRG is an early evolution of new-style disco. It is typified with simple, fast, danceable early house styles where the bass often takes the place of the hi-hat. Considered to be a cheesy, obsolete form of house by underground fans but still played in some of the more commercial clubs.
It has been said that the defining Hi-NRG track is Evelyn Thomas' "High Energy", produced by Ian Levine.
Hi-NRG musicians include:
See also: disco - electronic music - house music - cheesy - commercial
Dub Thing in Disco
"Thanks to You" and "Don't Make Me Wait " came out and started the whole dub thing in disco. [Steven Harvey in an interview with Shep Pettibone] [Next >>]
Proto House Labels
Sleeping Bag records, Jump Street records, Supertronics records, EasyStreet, Quark records, 1982, 1983, 1984, Arthur Baker, Emergency records
Before Frankie Knuckles moved to Chicago where he opened the Warehouse, before Trax records was founded, there had already been some New York labels and tracks that we might call proto house.electronica and electro You are now at the proto house page and the 'next' button will take you to the House 1.0 page [Next >>]
- The Perfect Beats, Vol. 1 [Amazon US]
1. Planet Rock - Afrika Bambaataa/Soulsonic Force 2. Play At Your Own Risk - Planet Patrol 3. Don't Go - Yaz 4. The Mexican - Jellybean 5. Bostich - Yello 6. Trans Europe Express - Kraftwerk 7. Numbers/Computer World - Kraftwerk 8. Don't Make Me Wait - Peech Boys 9. Just An Illusion - Imagination 10. Starchild - Level 42 11. A Little Bit Of Jazz - Nick Straker Band 12. Dirty Talk - Klein/M.B.O. 13. Love Money - T.W. Funkmasters 14. Bonus Track
Part 1 of Tommy Boy's comprehensive compilation of early electro, hip-hop, and freestyle hits concentrates on the fundamentals. The collection begins as it must, with Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force's epochal "Planet Rock," a sort of Rosetta stone for producers in the decade that followed and beyond. Loved (and sampled) to this very day, "Planet Rock" cleared the way for all the tracks that follow it here (arranged chronologically), including "Walking on Sunshine" by Rocker's Revenge and Jellybean's timbale-mad upgrade of Babe Ruth's "The Mexican." But despite the limitations implied in the compilation's subtitle, "New York Electro Hip-Hop + Underground Dance Classics, 1980-1985," the set reaches back to earlier sources, inevitably including Kraftwerk's bleats, blips, and beats. --John Sanchez
- The Perfect Beats, Vol. 2 [Amazon US]
1. Let The Music Play - Shannon 2. I.O.U. - Freeze 3. Dancing On The Fire - Jellybean 4. Crash Goes Love - Loleatta Hollaway 5. My Love Is Alive - Chaka Khan 6. The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight - Dominatrix 7. For The Same Man - B Beat Girls 8. Infatuation - Upfront 9. Hip Hop Be-bop - Man Parrish 10. Set It Off - Strafe 11. Moody - Esg 12. Cavern - Liquid Liquid 13. Together Forever - Exodus 14. Confusion - New Order 15. Slack - Slack
Following the history lesson of volume 1, The Perfect Beats, Volume 2 reaches a little wider in its selection of electro-boogie, hip-hop, and freestyle oldies. This seems to be the set's unofficial "happy" disc--some of the fastest cuts are on this volume, as well as the lightest and most playful. (Even the monochromatic series package design adds to the effect--this volume's a sunny orange.) "Let the Music Play" by Shannon (one of the highest-charting records in the collection) appears in a livelier-than-life remix, and just try to resist the bubbly synth-vibraphone on Dominatrix's "The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight." Lots of these cuts will be familiar as the source of samples that fueled bigger hits, especially Liquid Liquid's "Cavern," which formed the basis for Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel's huge rap record "White Lines." --John Sanchez
- The Perfect Beats, Vol. 3 [Amazon US]
1. Give Me Tonight - Shannon 2. If This Ain't Love - Jay Novell 3. On The Upside - Xena 4. 99 1/2 - Carol Lynn Townes 5. Release Yourself - Aleems 6. Din Daa Daa - George Kranz 7. Emotional Disguise - Peter Godwin 8. Let Me Go - Heaven 17 9. Renegades Of Funk - Afrika Bambaataa + Soulsonic Force 10. Al Naafiysh (The Soul) - Hashim 11. Remember What You Like - Jenny Burton 12. Honey To A Bee - Tina B 13. All Night Passion - Alisha 14. Do You Want It Right Now - Seidah Garrett
More ass-shaking artifacts from the early-'80s dawn of electro, hip-hop, and freestyle. This might be the least distinct disc in the set, but in such great company, that's hardly a put-down. Of all the volumes, number 3 hews closest to the strictures of the compilation's subtitle, "New York Electro Hip-Hop + Underground Dance Classics, 1980-1985," though Heaven 17's "Let Me Go" came out of England and was in no sense underground. The excellent liner notes by Brian Chin don't mention it, but this also seems to be the diva disc of the bunch, with high-volume output from Shannon, Tina B, Carol Lynn Townes, Alisha, Seidah Garrett, and Xena (no, not that one!). --John Sanchez
- The Perfect Beats, Vol. 4 [Amazon US]
1. One More Shot - C-Bank 2. Body Mechanic - Quadrant Six 3. Pack Jam - Jonzun Crew 4. Clear - Cybotron 5. Automan - Newcleus 6. Stone Fox Chase - Area Code 615 7. It's Just Begun - Jimmy Castor Bunch 8. Give It Up Turn It Loose - James Brown 9. Rock Creek Park - Blackbyrds 10. Expansions - Lonnie Liston Smith 11. Jingo - Candido 12. Woman - Barrabas 13. Date With The Rain - Eddie Kendricks 14. Dance To The Drummer's Beat - Herman Kelly + Life 15. Looking For The Perfect Beat - Afrika Bambaataa
On the fourth and final installment of the Perfect Beats series, there are plenty of meat-and-potatoes electro hits (like C-Bank's "One More Shot" and Afrika Bambaataa's "Looking for the Perfect Beat"), but there are also lots of oddities to add flavor. Leading the weirdo pack is the harmonica-happy "Stone Fox Chase" by Area Code 615, which inexplicably mutated its way out of Nashville in the early '70s. Also deviating from the program: the raucous and rockish "Woman" by Barrabas and the mellow, flute-accented "Rock Creek Park" by Blackbyrds. --John Sanchez
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