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Posted By: Jeff on: 02/26/2007 13:28:00 EST
Subject: RE: 1st Disco Song - Disco era

Message Detail:
Bob and John, I'd like to put my 2 cents worth in on this:

In a sense "Rock the Boat" can be considered the first disco single to hit #1, in that the Hues Corporation was the first major act that came straight out of the original disco scene in New York in '74. But personally, I've always felt the record itself lies somewhere in between R&B and disco--it has elements of both and yet sounds almost like neither. Barry White originally wrote "Love's Theme" in 1964 and is basically like a romantic orchestral tune of that decade (think "Soul Coaxing") with early '70s funk and (what became) disco liberally sprinkled in. But IMO the first disco #1 was without question "TSOP" by MFSB. Even though the group wasn't New York-bred but instead were a bunch of studio musicians from Philly, TSOP contains virtually all the basic ingredients of disco--the orchestral arrangement, the constant syncopated cymbal beat, the peculiar bridge melody cadence (C-Bb-C-Eb-C), and the swooping girl group vocals with the simple exhortations to get down/dance/party/boogie. The only departure is if there are scratch guitars they're way in the background, and there's more emphasis on the brass. But TSOP is fundamentally a lot more disco than either Love's Theme or RTB.

As far as when exactly the disco era began, that's a little harder to pinpoint. But based on the pop charts it had to have occurred no later than the summer of 1975 with the #1 blockbuster "The Hustle." That touched off an unprecedented rash of big disco acts from K.C. and the Sunshine Band, the Bee Gees, Silver Convention, the Sylvers, and a lot of one-shot groups like the Wing and a Prayer Fife and Drum Corps. Personally I remember first hearing the expression "disco" early in '75 and in June of the same year there was a big article in the Washington Evening Star with the title "Is Disco Hustling R&B Out the Door?" So the genre had already started making significant inroads by then. Actually, it was a period when disco, R&B and funk all collided, substantially altering the basic sound of the latter two. But this was a process that got started several years earlier with the increasing orchestration in R&B tunes like Theme from Shaft, Papa was a Rolling Stone, The Love I Lost, and Soul Makossa. Although this new music first became known as disco in '74, it took about a year or so afterward to really catch on. Much like the MTV era which began in the early '80s.


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