Secret Disco: Roller Boogie

Bisquit-Roller Boogie

I tried my best to resist the lure of this video which I was first introduced to through artist Porous Walker‘s Facebook page.
What is it exactly that I find so lovable about this song? Is it the synthy Hi-NRG beats, the hypnotic vocoder robot vocals, the infectious chord changes, the catchy chorus backed by samba shakers, the requisite hand claps, the unrelenting bass line, the melodic alarm clock beeps taken from a children’s cartoon all topped by a perfectly timed cowbell pop? Or is it the video itself with the Chrissy Snow dancers, so vapid and rhythmless (you can see them counting beats in their head) following a choreography that means absolutely nothing to them cause all they are smiling about is the cocaine they were promised after the video shoot? Did Cicciolina find her inspiration here? Xuxa?
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Secret Disco: Cheesy Robot Music

The Secret History of Disco Book devotes a good amount time exploring the influence of electronic and synthesized sounds in the development of disco. Briefly mentioned are a list of French “cheesy robot” musical acts that might’ve influenced disco composers like Cerrone and Giorgio Moroder. Looking up these tunes, I was taken with the pop pre-new wave sound of the genre. I also finally realized where bands like Stereo Total got their influence. They always seemed derivative of something else but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Elli et Jacno – Main dans la main 1980

Here’s some French pop reveling in all it’s cheese and fluffy bleepy quirkiness. It’s the stuff of my cotton candy dreams!
The sound cuts out halfway through, you can watch another version of the song here but I prefer this clip as it highlights Elli’s unique dancing style.
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Secret Disco: Sylvester and Patti Jo

Patti Jo-[Moulton Mix] Make Me Believe in You ] (1975
Considered part of the post-Northern Soul genre that was popular in England but was remixed by by an early disco DJ (Moulton)

Due to the constant interference of jobs and the other mundane details that can consume one’s life, a backlog of posts have been piling up around this blog. They all need lots of editing and will eventually go up but for now, I’m going to start a small series of music posts based on an excellent book I’m currently reading: Turn the Beat Around, The Secret History of Disco by Peter Shapiro. I’m only halfway through because I’ve had to stop every few pages to look up many of the songs that make up this fascinating history. How can I not be intrigued by the music when Shapiro puts in passages like this?

Almost the entirety of the next thirty years of dance music comes from this single record: the cheery bonhomie, the cloying fantasy of the good life, the doe-eyed spirituality, the cushiony, enveloping bass sound, the string stabs, the adoration of jazzy chords and jazz as a sound rather than process, the keyboards like pools of liquid mercury, the mantra as lyric.

The song he’s talking about is MFSB’s “Love Is the Message.”

Shapiro takes the time to not only introduce the reader to the genre’s significant songs, DJs, performers and other musical producers but also frequently delves into the social and cultural context of the music. For instance, his take on one disco’s greats, Sylvester and his anthemic and timeless dance floor favorite You Make Me Feel:

“You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” interrogated the African-American musical tradition and asked what “realness” is supposed to mean to gay black men who, alienated from almost all of society, were forced to hide their true identities for most of their lives.

My understanding of this song was changed completely.

You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)-SYLVESTER

More music in the next few days.