Sunday, May 20, 2012

Donna Summer 1948 - 2012


This has been the hardest and most devastating loss I've experienced from any performer who has left us so far.  I'm not sure if is the shock of her untimely death at only 63 or just simply realizing how much this legendary icon has been such an influence in my life.  I have been going around in circles deciding what to write and can't even find the words to express the love I have for Donna Summer.  I remember hearing for the first time the historical and radical "Love To Love You Baby" coming from my mother's record player as I giggled silly at her orgasmic moans and strange sounding tempo.  It was not until the age of fourteen in 1981 when I fully became enchanted by her magic. During that time she already held the indisputable title of Queen of Disco and was already transforming her music and crossing over into a more pop, rock, experimental, R&B, electro funk and new wave sound.  I was in the middle of nowhere outside Managua, Nicaragua teaching the "campesinos" how to read during the early years of the Sandinista government when a fellow "brigadista" had the cassette version of On The Radio: Greatest Hits Volume I & II.  We would listen to the record over and over and act out every epic song in it for months in my humble room and I knew then my life would never be the same again.  I had no clue what she was saying on those songs and worse yet, Disco was officially and stupidly declared over by mass culture by then and went underground again.  Nevertheless, I was entranced by what came out of that cassette player and was mesmerized like everyone else by the warmth, purity, love, sensuality, soul, magic, edginess and clarity of that mezzo soprano voice.  Jellybean Benitez put it perfectly on CNN recently when he said "how she was always accepting of club culture and her songs were about love, falling in love, being in love, enjoying life... since disco before her, was all about 'get up get down let's boogie, let's dance'...she brought something different and unique...and that's why her songs are still played today and still putting smiles to people on the dance floors".   Also, I have to say it  has been extremely difficult to choose which songs to include here that could do justice from her extensive list of brilliant songs and mixes that surpassed and defied any genre.   Her incredible talent, amazing live performances, the soulful beauty and clarity of her voice that actually became even more powerful as she aged always remain true.  I could probably devote a whole blog of her music alone.  In this case, I rather let the music speak for itself. She had an amazing life and a legacy that will continue to inspire generations to come.  My heart goes out to her husband Bruce Sudano, their daughters Brooklyn and Amanda as well as daughter from a previous marriage, Mimi.  I love to love you Donna Summer!

The beginning....


Donna Summer 1948 - 2012

Previous postings on Donna Summer:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Talking Jungle

So far, here is my favorite song of 2012 and I am thrilled to own the vinyl release of Justing Vandervolgen's amazing treatment of Soft Rocks "Talking Jungle" which will be released as part of ESP's upcoming remix of their critically acclaimed and first full LP titled The Curse of Soft Rocks. Soft Rocks is a disco collective from Brighton that started during the mid aughts and have released some amazing edits of rare '70s disco on their Disco Power Play series.  Late last year they released their first LP blending the worlds of dub and ambient new age with some '80s inspired soulful grooves and oddities delivering some of the most intriguing nu disco sounds out there.   Justin Van Der Volgen on the other hand is an American Dj and remixer who has been making some deliciously sounding  disco and dance music for the last thirteen years. He was the founding father of the band Outhud and has been credited for creating some of the early 2000 sound of NY dance music.  He is also known for making a sublime remix of Maserati's "Inventions".  His remix here of "Talking Jungle" has taken the original song to a whole new level heightening the soulful aspects, adding some loopy strings and  pulsating a 4 on the floor kick thus elevating the song to disco classic terrain. The references on the song are simply brilliant!  Also, on the other side of this amazing release is   Tiago's remix of "Obo" which is pure meditative bliss.  Both songs complement each other really well and I know and hope this will be played a lot this upcoming summer and years to come!  Enjoy!  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Disco Photography: Remembering Empire Roller Skating Center

Cher rolling skating at Empire roller rink in Brooklyn

Here is a homage to the worlds first roller skating rink that started the Disco rolling skating movement. Empire Roller Skating Center located in Crown Heights.    I was lucky to go there a couple of times before the unfortunate closure in 2007.  Although it was during the day when I visited while chaperoning Middle School students during Summer Camp, the spirit of disco and skaters was still there.  Legends such as Cher used to be a regular there.  To find out more, New York Times did an amazing article on the history of the 66 year old famous roller rink.   Here is a great video from 1978 of Bill Butler Quad capturing that amazing spirit to the music of Roundtree's "Get On Up (Get On Down)  . Enjoy!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Cancion Ritual

Atencion! Atencion!  Extremely rare disco here and extremely hard to find!  "Cancion Ritual" is by a Mexican disco band called Hot Pepper.  Very little is known about these guys except that they released this record called Spanglish Movement in 1978.  The LP consist of four songs with names like "Deja Que El Mundo Sea Feliz Otra Vez ( Let The World Be Happy Again)", "Camino Equivocado (Wrong Way), No Me Precionse (Don't Push Me)" and "Ritual Song".  As soon as I heard this song, I did an extensive Internet search and all I could find was two e-bay postings selling the record for $100 and an edit done on this amazing blog named Estropical.  The edit is a bit faster than the original but other than that is quite nice and clean.   I also found the original version U Tube. It is rough sounding but don't mind after hearing this sublime piece of disco exotica with its pulsing drums and strange vocals.  I would love to get my hands on the full LP and believe me I got my eyes on this as soon I hit the crates.  By the way, I'm also loving the cover.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

R.I.P. Adam Yauch

So saddened for the loss of Beastie Boys founder Adam Yauch,  also known as MCA and "Nathanial Hornblower".   Yauch was born and raised in Brooklyn,  a film maker, a Buddhist who became an important voice for the Tibetan Independence movement by organizing the Tibetan Freedom concerts.  The Beastie Boys contribution and influence to dance music has been huge and continue to be an inspiration.  Their debut LP Licence to Ill  broke so many barriers of styles in music with their in your face no holds barred wit and sound.  This seminal offering is a must have classic with every track in it sounding as great on a dance floor, a house party or a picnic in the park with the amazing "Brass Monkey", " No Sleep Till Brooklyn", "Paul Revere" and of course "You Gotta Fight for Your Right To Party".  In 1998 they released another favorite of mine "Intergalactic" from their 5th studio LP Hello Nasty which I ended up featuring on the September Mix series.  Here is the Rub n Tug version of the emblematic  post 9/11 "My Open Letter To NYC" from their 6th studio release To The 5 Boroughs brilliantly sampling dance classic Steve Miller Band's "Macho City".  I could go on and on about their music.   Adam, your spirit and legacy will always live on in our hearts with your sensitivity, humor, creativity and passion. 

R.I.P. Adam Yauch

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Feliz Disco De Mayo!

Feliz Cinco De Mayo! Here is a disco classic to elevate you this festive Saturday!  The Mexican by Bombers is a cover of Babe Ruth's "The Mexican".   Nothing can beat the beauty and rawness of the original but I must say the Bombers did quite amazing here elevating it to a even higher Disco strata.  Bombers was a disco outfit under the famous West End Records label that started shaking things up on the dance floors around 1978 with their dance and funk classics such as "Don't Stop The Music" and "Dance, Dance, Dance". My all time favorite is "Shake" from their follow up  Bombers II LP.  In celebration of the great nation of Mexico here are the original Mexican, the mix original and B-Boy anthem and of course Bomber's version for your enjoyment!....Disfrutalos!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sooner Or Later

Happy May! Here is a great song that speaks volumes about timing.  "Sooner Or Later" by by Kotey Extra Band featuring Chaz Jankel.  Released in 2007 this song is great of example of the Nu Disco rehash that has become all too popular nowadays.  This is a great collaboration between DJ and producer Stevie Kotey, legendary Chaz Jankel and David Barbarossa who was the drummer of the early '80s band Bow Bow Bow.  This trio concocted a great version of Giorgio Moroder's classic. Chaz Jankel  is best known as the guitarist and keyboard player with Ian Dury and the Blockheads.  Jankel and Dury has collaborated on dance classic such as "Glad To Know You" and "Spasticus Autisticus".  Later Quincy Jones had a hit with Jankel's version of "Ai No Corrida".  Also "Number One" was well received on the dance floors in 1983.  I'm loving the uplifting and speed up treatment of the original by Moroder so I'm including both for your enjoyment.

Disco Photography

 Bouncers at Xenon Discotheque, 1970s