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TK Records

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The Best Of T.K. Disco Singles: All Day All Night () - Various artists[Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

1. Come into My Heart/Good Loving - USA-European Connection 2. That's the Meaning - Beautiful Bend 3. If There's Love - Amant 4. Girl You Need a Change of Mind - Paul Lewis 5. Break - Kat Mandu 6. All Day, All Night - Margaret Reynolds 7. Star Cruisin 8. Black Water Gold - KC & the Sunshine Band 9. Plato's Retreat - Joe Thomas 10. Love Machine - Tempest Trio 11. Full Tilt Boogie - Uncle Louie 12. Beyond the Clouds - Quartz 13. Odyssey - Johnny Harris 14. Dance to the Drummer's Beat


TK Records was one of the record labels started by Henry Stone. It distributed disco stars KC and the Sunshine Band until 1981.

TK Records is closely associated with the early rise of disco music, being the label on which the first disco song to become a #1 hit on the pop music charts was released, "Rock Your Baby" by George McCrae in 1974. Within a couple of years, TK's notability in disco music would be surpassed by other labels such as Casablanca Records and RSO Records, but in the early years of disco TK was undoubtedly in the top tier of record labels in the genre.

In 1981 TK Records encountered financial problems and the label was acquired by Morris Levy's Roulette Records, and the unification of the labels formed Sunnyview Records. Once Morris Levy was forced to leave the country in 1986, Henry Stone formed Hot Productions with Paul Klein and continued to re-release the TK catalog until its acquisition by Rhino Records. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TK_Records [Jan 2006]

Disco redux: South Florida roots music gains respect


Before Gloria Estefan, 2 Live Crew, Ricky Martin and Trick and Trina, there was the Miami Sound. The uptempo R&B dance music -- played by such acts as George and Gwen McCrae, Betty Wright, and Latimore -- was popular worldwide in the 1970s, and Miami was ''challenging Philadelphia as a black music center,'' a national magazine wrote in 1974. K.C. and the Sunshine Band even became one of the most popular bands of the decade, landing five No. 1 records.

Of course, in most history books, K.C. -- who plays Sunday at Mizner Park in Boca Raton -- represents a more notorious musical craze: disco. The Miami Sound got swept up in that once all-powerful, all-ridiculed '70s style. For decades the legacy of one of the most fertile periods in South Florida musical history has been submerged under thick layers of white polyester disdain.

But disco is undergoing a historical reevaluation. Duke University next year will publish the first academic chronicle of the music, Tim Lawrence's Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-79. At the Experience Music Project in Seattle, a massive exhibit chronicles Disco: A Decade of Saturday Nights. The exhibit makes a persuasive argument that, far from being just cheesy novelty tracks played at all-night, coke-fueled, strobe-lit orgies (though that was certainly part of it), disco was in fact the soundtrack of sexual revolution and racial integration.

''I'm convinced it's more important than ever,'' says Eric Weisbard, lead curator for the EMP exhibit. ``Dance is a fundamental underpinning of pop. It was a really big story that takes in an enormous aspect of music history and social history.''

Still not adequately recognized is the seminal role South Florida musicians and entrepreneurs played in disco's formation. In fact, it was Hialeah-based T.K. Records -- home of K.C. -- that helped jump-start and dominate '70s dance music.

''The Florida side of that story remains to be told,'' Weisbard says.


Three decades ago, a young Miami musician heard a Bahamian band and had an idea for a new fusion of music: American R&B and Bahamian junkanoo. Harry Wayne Casey formed the Sunshine Junkanoo Band; a couple years and a name change later, K.C. and the Sunshine Band was one of the most popular acts in the world.

Simultaneously, Vince Aletti was a New York journalist discovering a new mix of sounds at an underground dance party: African instrumental records seguing into American jazz and soul. He wrote about this scene, at places like The Loft, for Rolling Stone, and a dance-music movement was officially born.

Casey and Aletti were unearthing a new style of music, a rhythm-based multicultural genre that had legitimate claims to being an early example of ''world music.'' Of course, it came to be known as something far less reputable -- disco.

''When people started calling it disco, it was a slap in the face in a racial sense,'' says Casey, speaking from his offices in Miami Lakes. ``That upset me. It was R&B. I didn't understand why it was being changed, why it was being named after a place you go to listen to music, not what the music's about.''

Casey considered the Sunshine Band, a multiracial group he founded with bassist Richard Finch, an R&B act. That was the music he loved, that had brought him to work in the warehouse of a record distributor in Hialeah in the hopes of being able to make music at the adjacent T.K. studio.

T.K. head Henry Stone was already a music-industry veteran, having recorded and/or distributed records by Ray Charles, James Brown and Timmy Thomas. With T.K., he created a Motown-like hit factory, where singers recorded with the house band. But unlike Motown, blacks and whites worked together in Hialeah.

''At T.K., there were black and white people in and out of there,'' says Casey. ``It was like a family.''

Two white musicians, Casey and Finch, wrote T.K.'s first hit, the gently seductive Rock Your Baby, recorded by black singer George McCrae. The song went to No. 1 on Billboard's pop and R&B charts in 1974.

Rock Your Baby was ground zero for the Miami Sound, a style that could perhaps only have been birthed in a place where the American South meets the Caribbean.

''We made great R&B dance music with a little island flavor,'' says Stone, speaking from his Coconut Grove penthouse.

''It was a kind of southern music that had a real elemental feel to it, not overdecorated, very straight ahead,'' says Aletti. ``It was going in the opposite direction of Barry White; there were not a lot of strings, it was just great rocking music.''

McCrae's record was the first of dozens of hits for T.K. The lion's share of them were by the Sunshine Band: Get Down Tonight, That's the Way (I Like It), I'm Your Boogie Man. Casey called his music rhythm & blues, but, as Stone says, ''It's not blues, it's the grooves.'' Songs by the Sunshine Band had none of the soulful angst that clouded other T.K. hits, like Let's Straighten It Out.

''This was happy music,'' Casey says. ``Miami has always been this laidback area, but musically it's high energy.''

Lyrically, K.C.'s songs were repetitious anthems of not-so-sly sexual innuendo, using black slang. Casey has said they were calls to white America to loosen up, to shake shake shake its booty. As the sexual revolution of the '60s spread to the suburbs, millions responded.


Rock Your Baby wasn't just a historic landmark for Hialeah. It was one of three hits that summer that stunned the music industry by rising not through the traditional system of major labels and commercial radio, but by being an independent single made popular at nightclubs, a k a discotheques, like the Loft.

''That was the first time the music business knew there was something moneymaking happening that they could put their fingers on and identify,'' Aletti says. ``And then it became disco.''

Thanks to T.K.'s New York promotion man Ray Camiano, Stone was well aware that the burgeoning club network was a powerful marketing tool. He says his was the first company to service 12-inch vinyl records to all the clubs in the country. Rock Your Baby was one of the first singles released in an extended dance-mix version, the kind favored by DJs who, beginning with Francis Grasso in the early '70s, began playing records not back to back, but mixed together, seamlessly intertwined in the way that's the hallmark of modern dance music.

Of course, many of those clubs were gay or gay-friendly. Disco rose hand in glove with the emerging consciousness of post-Stonewall America, as the Village People -- a group of men dressed as gay icons and singing such anthems of urban gay life as YMCA -- and Sylvester, the out-gay San Francisco singer, made evident.

''During disco was the first time the music business absorbed a lot of gay people, knowingly,'' Aletti says. ``In a way it was a revolutionary thing for the record companies, for each label hired some freaky gay guy or girl to go out and promote and become part of their business.''


Many historians have speculated that the spectacular and thorough backlash against disco that erupted in the late '70s was in large part a homophobic reaction to disco's mainstreaming of gay subculture. Disco records were burned, ''disco sucks'' became a common T-shirt slogan, and even today, disco remains synonymous with manufactured, substanceless, dated cheese.

''There's no question in my mind you had rock going through the '70s as an increasingly white male music, and disco represented everything that had been repressed from rock, and it was not just public but giddy,'' says Weisbard. 'Rock prides itself on being authentic, and disco was bashed as inauthentic. The same words used to bash disco were used to bash gay men in general. Just the phrase `disco sucks' indicates a homophobic streak.''

Disco was also a victim of its own success, and excess. After Saturday Night Fever in '78, disco permeated pop culture.

''Media saturation can destroy something,'' Weisbard says. ``Disco is an early example of that.''

Much of what passed for disco by the end of the decade was manufactured, simplistic and derivative music that had little to do with the diverse sounds Aletti first heard at the Loft.

''Disco is characterized as an empty-headed, mechanical, hedonistic thing, but for many of us involved, it was not that at all,'' says Aletti. ``These records were steeped in social consciousness, they were about community and music, about loving one another. I think all those kinds of soulful messages were important to the experience of going out and dancing. Love Is the Message: that really was the anthem for the Loft and Garage and so many other clubs.''

Disco was synonymous with a flashy hedonism that was very much out of favor by the time Ronald Reagan was elected, and preppie became the new fashion.

The disco backlash took the Miami Sound, and the careers of Casey and Stone, with it -- though of course the name lived on, as a married couple by the name of Estefan formed the Miami Sound Machine.

''To this day I can't figure it out,'' Stone says. ``It was so successful. The music was great.''

But disco never really died, it just went undercover, disguising itself as house, hip-hop, synth-pop, rave, techno, trance and even teen-pop. The dance music that has ruled Miami clubs for years and is considered the cutting edge of music fashion worldwide is a direct descendant of K.C. and the Sunshine Band and Donna Summer. That's why clubs such as South Beach's Level host events like their Studio 54 party, named after the most famous '70s disco, or Sunday's Discomatic.

''Sure it went away as a word, but it lives on as dance music and club culture,'' says Weisbard. ``The basic sound of it if anything was at least as vibrant in the '80s. DJs didn't stop being a force. Club culture kept going.''

''Disco impacted everything you hear on the radio today,'' says Casey, who eventually came to terms with the word. ``It's part of our culture, and it's going to be there until the world ends.

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