Sunday, July 25, 2010

Disco Spirituals

12" Release "There Is Something Better"
New York Community Choir

It is Sunday and I'm feeling disco gospel today so this is a tribute posting dedicated to the "Disco Spirituals". Can I get an Amen?  First let me start with Free Life's amazing "There Is Something Better". Free Life were proteges of Earth, Wind & Fire's Philip Bailey.  Bailey co-produced and co-wrote several of the songs from their self titled full length album in 1978.  The follow up releases were 12" singles that bridged the gap between church and disco. "Dance Fantasy" released in 1979 was also seminal, although not necesarily a disco gospel,  it shows the transition from disco to "dance" music by using more electronic sounds.  "There is Something Better" was the b-side and it is a timeless "disco spiritual" that I personally never get tired of hearing.  The next song is from the New York Community Choir's "I'll Keep a Light in My Window" which was actually a song also performed and released by Free Life on their self titled LP.  Free Life's version of "I'll Keep a Light in My Window" was more R&B influenced.  The Choir's version is full on disco gospel and for what I've heard, it brought the holy ghost to the clubs and it enraptured the dancers whenever they would hear it. Pioneered by Edwon Hawkins and Rance Allen, New York Community Choir made the brilliant move to fuse disco and soul/gospel at the height of the disco craze also with "Express Yourself".  Last but not least, the timeless Paradise Garage classic "Stand On The Word" by the Celestial Choir.  Originally recorded live at the First Baptist Church in Crown Heights, NYC, in 1982 and pressed only for the congregation, Walter Gibbosn (owner of Jus Born studios and a new born Christian a the time of the recording) acquired a copy and played it out at the 7th Ave. Rock and Soul shop where he worked.  This was the place where most discerning DJs and soulful dance music aficionados picked up on this new sound, and it quickly became a Garage, Loft and Zanzibar club classic, championed by Larry Levan, David Mancuso and others. Later, Larry tweaked the original and made it his own and for what I've heard, Levan's version took the dancers on a spiritual journey of pure disco gospel bliss.  Enjoy and praise the Lord disco style! Amen

There Is Something Better - Free Life

I'll Keep a Light on My Window - New York Community Choir

Stand On The Word (Larry Levan Mix) - Celestial Choir

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