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Dancing About Architecture
by Marc 'Moose' Moder
2015-09-16

This article shared 2637 times since Wed Sep 16, 2015
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Disco's first go 'round was nearly as long, or welcomed, as dance music's current mainstream renaissance. The genre increased, peaked, and fell within the second half of the '70s and was dead by the Reagan administration. Within that short space, record labels and some artists saw an opportunity to reach a newer ( read: less white/straight/male ) audience that had eluded them previously by adding a touch of disco to their tracks. Heavily influenced by nights out at Studio 54 and similar venues, acts like KISS, Blondie, The Clash, Queen and Rod Stewart worked in some greasy rhythm guitar and a 4/4 drum beat to achieve unexpected disco hits—and still made it out alive. Many others tried and were grateful to be forgotten about quickly, but I remember 1979.

The Kinks struggled to sell big numbers in the US until Ray Davies tried his hand at disco in 1979 with "( Wish I Could Fly Like ) Superman" off their ( believe it or not ) best-selling album to date, Low Budget. Not surprisingly deep under the disco fluff, Davies sang about insecurity in a superficial world filled with workers on strike and bills to pay and got a Top 20 album out of it.

The Grateful Dead, known for psychedelia and 45-minute drum solos, embraced their inner Andy Gibb on 1978's "Shakedown Street," one of the most tolerable and funky Dead tracks ever. Languid, dreamy and very groovy, the guys often did extended live version of this disco track well after disco was not cool, but then they never knew when to stop.

Paul McCartney's Wings project ended on a literal high note with the sexy "Goodnight Tonight" in 1979. Disguised as a flamenco track, "Goodnight Tonight" was pure sexy disco vibe with its flawless bass ( complimented by John Lennon, who actually hated the song itself ), hi-hat and touches of Moog organ.

In 1979, The Beach Boys had well lost their '60s surf vibe, and were slowly losing their '70s hipster cred as leader Brian Wilson sank more into drugs and insanity, leaving the others to pick up the slack. Without Brian to add the weirdness and creativity, Bruce, Carl and Mike took a desperate stab at a needed hit for their new label and created a synthy, eleven-minute opus called "Here Comes the Night." Originally recorded in 1967, they brought it out of mothballs and gave it the remix treatment. It bombed horribly, and spawned the terrible/wonderful trend of remixing old hits.

Now, bands like Maroon 5, The Killers, Kings of Leon and Mumford and Sons think nothing of going off into a danceable direction, and many rock bands have made the beat part of their regular sound instead of a one-off, making it pretty much permanently acceptable. Time will tell if twenty years from now, I'm writing about the worst cases of guest rappers on pop/country songs or if hard rock will make a comeback like in the '90s and wipe the beat away—for a while.

Follow DJ Moose/Marc on Twitter at @moosesicman


This article shared 2637 times since Wed Sep 16, 2015
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