Blisspop Disco Fest | Playlist Week 1

Ahead of Blisspop Disco Fest starting August 31st at the 9:30 Club and U Street Music Hall, Blisspop contributors Aeron Premo and William Creason talk about some of their favorite disco records.

 

Carol Douglas – “Doctor’s Orders” (1974)

In order to re-record a hit UK single by an act called Sunny, RCA put together a crack team of session musicians for “Doctor’s Orders.”  Produced by future space disco originator Meco Monardo and featuring the vocals of actress and voice over artist Carol Douglas, “Doctor’s Orders” became a smash hit in New York City discos at the end of 1974.  The great, soulful vocal take and genuinely hard to shake ear worm melody make this cut stand out decades later. William Creason

 

 

Cloud One – “Spaced Out” (1976)

The simplicity of this song is mesmerizing. There are no verses, there is barely even a chorus. It’s little more than one vocal phrase and a wriggling monophonic synthesizer and yet it makes itself memorable and instantly recognizable. Patrick Adams, the man behind Cloud One, would later in his career engineer foundational hip-hop hits from Salt-N-Pepa, Heavy D & The Boyz, and Eric B. & Rakim. William Creason

 

 

Charo and the Salsoul Orchestra – “Dance A Little Bit Closer” (1977)

While Charo is known mainly for her flamenco guitar skills, appearances in pop culture, and her signature phrase “cuchi cuchi,” she also recorded three albums with the legendary disco backing band the Salsoul Orchestra. “Dance A Little Bit Closer” is a beautiful track, with Charo’s mixed English and Spanish vocals blending in with the soaring strings and ebullient horns that defined Salsoul’s signature sound. The Roy Ayers-esque vibraphone solo is also a standout element that deserves a mention. Aeron Premo

 

 

Gibson Brothers – “Better Do It Salsa” (1979)

The Gibson Brothers, three actual brothers from Martinique, had a series of disco hits including this 1979 cut from their great LP Cuba.  “Better Do It Salsa” is a mélange of Caribbean styles pivoting around a steady 4/4 beat.  You’ve got compelling electric piano lines, squealing horns, and the Gibson Brothers’ trademark rough around the edges vocal delivery.  This has a little bit for everyone and a lot for clubbers, it easily puts a smile on your face. William Creason

 

 

Sister Sledge – “He’s The Greatest Dancer” (1979)

For many casual music listeners, their knowledge of Sister Sledge stops at the classic wedding staple “We Are Family.” However, the album of the same name produced so many other classic disco staples, most notably, “He’s The Greatest Dancer.” Hearing that unmistakable Nile Rodgers guitar riff combined with the epic strings, observant lyrics and sensual vocals will make any listener want to go out onto the dance floor to find their own “champion of dance” who “never leaves the disco alone.” Aeron Premo

 

 

Diana Ross – “The Boss” (1979)

Overshadowed by the double barrel hit singles “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out” released the following year, it’s easy to miss this single that grazed the US top 20 in 1979 but this Ashford & Simpsons penned and produced gem still shines bright.  The mournful key progression, uplifting strings, and ever rising vocals give this song serious emotional heft.  Add to that: one of Ross’s all-time best vocal performances. William Creason

 

 

Kiki Gyan – “Disco Dancer” (1979)

There are several reasons that this track from Ghanian musician Kiki Gyan is a favorite among disco DJs. The bassline is KILLER and really contributes to the energy level throughout. Gyan’s keyboard work is extraordinary, with prominent pads and standout solo lines, and his understated falsetto vocals really allow the instrumental parts to shine. Many current disco acts who are influenced by African music owe a lot to tracks like “Disco Dancer” and while his output was small, Gyan’s legacy is cemented. Aeron Premo

 

 

Loose Joints – “Tell You (Today)” (1983)


In a too short career full of NYC disco defining hits, Arthur Russell’s “Tell You (Today)” as Loose Joints is one of his most deliriously happy. The horn fanfare that swirls around the conga rhythm and walking bassline sets the tone while the ever present “tell you” chant and whistle riff (!) blast this tune into the edge of space.  This is timeless music woven out of unfiltered sunshine. William Creason





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