Friday, November 20, 2009

the funny thing is i'm a big fan of disco music!

You're not the only one to say this by the way, i've read people say the "big forbidden thing in simon's nuum theory is disco" -- which

A/ i don't get or think is correct


B/ see why that's a big "ha! gotcha" point to make, like if it were the case (which it's not) that the theory then would crumble...

But what's really funnier still is I was into disco when disco was actually happening -- things like Donna Summer, Chic and Sister Sledge, Michael Jackson, earth wind and fire, Heatwave, etc. It was on Top of the Pops and Radio One when i was a teenager first getting into music and who could not love that stuff? And naturally you had your PiLs and Talking Heads and Gang of Four assimilating the rhythm and praising disco in their interviews. But I mean, my fourth or fifth single was Tom Browne's "Funkin' For Jamaica"!

Actually my very first album was a disco record, effectively -- Ian Dury and the Blockheads's Do It Yourself. It was co-written, arranged and produced by Chas Jankel, whose solo song "Ai No Corrida" was covered by Quincy Jones!
this was #1 in the UK
and this is even more disco-y

That said, people may have got this me-as-anti-disco idea cos a couple of times I've intimated that I don't think there was anything revolutionary about disco as a culture, that it's escapist. And I think that's true: it's clearly not an underground in the sense that rave things like jungle or gabba was, or hip hop before it really crossed over.

Of course I'm talking about mainstream post-Saturday Night Fever disco here, after it left its gay underground origins. But even there i'm not sure it was really an underground in the countercultural sense, so much as a haven

one thing i've found, doing my postpunk researches, is that i can begin to understand and even sympathise with discophobia in its original context -- not the Legs McNeil crypto-racist version, but more from people who'd lived through the whole
Sixties experience and then were confronted by this culture that seemed very plastic and escapist nd conveyor-belt. very much part of the whole Big Sleep seventies
syndrome. of course ironically theoriginal underground disco culture of new york had a fair bit in common with late Sixties counterculture -- trippy lights, hypnotic music, "Love is theMessage"/post-civil rights and gay liberation type values. some of the key people were 'heads'. but themainstream disco had none ofthat element and you can see why it would be repugnant to ex-Sixties types

that said listening to the Bee Gees today they are so fabulous and if you watch Saturday Night Fever, it is practically Ken Loach style social realism, quite a dark view of working class life.

one of the things about the mainstream disco versus the underground stuff (the stuff would then feed the whole disco-house tradition) is that the 70s crossover stuff is, on the whole, superior on every level to the stuff that stayed underground. i'd say i'm a huge fan of the original disco and less of a fan (while not unappreciative) of the stuff that came after that made a cult of underground disco. it's just the same as rockabilly cultists who think Charlie Feathers and Esquerita and Hasil Adkins are the real-deal. No, you're wrong, Eddie Cochran and Little Richard and Gene Vincent were just better.

there's no doubt that disco-house is one long rich tradition of music, a veritable continuum. i don't have a problem with it at all, but for me the militancy and the modernism factor -- the renegade buzz that i get off the jungle or grime moments, (or for that matter gabba) isn't there. but also the cheekiness and the cheesiness too. in a funny sort of way house is not serious enough and yet also too serious for me. weird that. i mean it's great music but in terms of me attaching my identity to it, if you get me.

No comments:

Post a Comment