Five Great Dance Records (Modern Classics)
When I moved to Glasgow three years ago, I assumed that I would be entering into a world filled with retro-attired kids, all living and breathing for the same sort of brit-rock and indie pop music that captivated me, a kind of twee mecca if you will. Instead I discovered techno, or rather the marvelous world of dance music and the culture that surrounds it. This was amazing for me because I was able to unearth, for the first time, a plethora of new records about which I knew nothing. Most of these I heard in Glasgow at clubs such as Optimo and Divine, and there were several that I hold very near and dear to my heart and very rarely leave my playlist (I now do some DJing myself, primarily in Austin). If you were somebody who had grown up in Britain then some of these records might not have registered beyond something kind of new and catchy you heard in a club and then forgot about, but for me they still signify the beginning of what I'd like to consider a true affinity. They are a mixture of new and old.
PS. I don't consider myself an authority on music and I'm sure many readers will already know these tracks. so if you've no desire to read on, that's cool with me. I'm not trying to educate anyone, I'm just, well... blogging.
1. Dinosaur L-Kiss Me Again
This track is perhaps the most special to me and is by far the oldest on this list. It is an Arthur Russell composition from 1978 and I believe there are about twenty different versions of it floating around. Several years ago, it was reissued on a Disco Not Disco compilation, but I am not a very big fan of that remix. I recently obtained a copy on vinyl that had been issued on something called Underground Disco Classics, but it's not nearly as good as the version I will try to post in the next couple of days. For years I would hear it played at the Sub Club but nobody really talked too much about it. I remember one day obtaining a copy of it my friend Keith (Twitch of Optimo) who told me the history of the song and about its many incarnations, and the more I listened to it the more I began to appreciate the multiple instrumental layers (guitars, trombone, cello, etc...) and the constantly evolving feel of the song. Yes, that sounds a bit music school wanky but as a rule I am completely opposed to funk and soul and this track definitely swayed my feelings in the other direction. We would have these parties after Optimo that would go on for quite some time (that is, after all, the Glasgow way of doing things) and I can remember everybody listening to this song and singing in unison sometimes nine or ten times in the space of one night. For me it is a very sentimental tune.
*Interesting Side Note: David Byrne is playing the guitar.
2. Green Velvet-Flash
This is kind of an early nineties dance classic and it's difficult for me to explain why exactly it resonates so strongly with me. For a long time I had trouble figuring out who the song was by or what its title was because I could not discern the lyrics on the instrumental break (my favorite bit), but one day I was sitting in my parents' living room going through every song that had been imported onto my computer and I discovered that I already owned it, but had just never given it a listen. To me part of the magic of this song is that there is zero melodic content; it is all dance. (If anybody's interested in the marvelous and endless land of remixes I think the Timo Mas dirty dub version is amazing). CAMERAS READY PREPARE TO FLASH!
3. Monte Cazazza-Sex is No Emergency
This track is incredibly hard to find in its original format. Monte Cazazza seems an extreme character to say the least, a trait which is not incongruous to his Industrial Records counterparts, such as Throbbing Gristle. Anybody who is interested can find more information about him here. Perhaps the reason I like this song is because it is so continuously dark and the lyrical content is undeniably minimal yet smart, the best line being "love is more than just some fucking four letter word." I once tried to order The Worst of Monte Cazazza but the record store was unable to find a copy anywhere in the country. Now that I think about it, perhaps the Dinosaur L track is not the oldest on this list. I shall have to investigate...
4. Annie Lennox-Little Bird
Okay, this is not really a dance track but in my Glasgow life it was kind of an unintentional dance track. My friend marv and I used to do this night called Muzique, orginated and promoted by this crazy fashion designer who called himself Richie Sudo, and was undeniably larger than life. Sometimes he'd show up to the club wearing three pairs of ripped denim, a silk Louis Vitton neck scar, and a freshly shaven mohawk with a dollar sign drawn on the side of his head... with magic marker. His mission was to bring laughing gas parties and Italo Disco back in fashion and his charisma just might warrant him that victory, but when we were on the decks we played pretty much anything we wanted to. This Annie Lennox song became kind of a classic among our friends (still is)- probably because singing it makes you feel so damn good. It's the sort of thing that I would never have expected to like. but just grew on me over a period of time. At the end of Muzique dance night (which was about once every two months) we would play Enjoy the Silence (Marv's favorite tune) and loop the end refrain of "enjoy the silence" while fading in Little Bird. Then, depending on our particular state of sobriety, or lack there of, we would play about thirty more songs... just as a night cap of course.
5. Captain Comatose- $100
This for me is the perfect mix of pop and dark electro. There was a lot of great stuff with a kind of dark German edge that I was hearing at the time of its release, but this one for me just really epitomizes the kind of dance record that manages to be fun and trashy without being disposable. I have seen Kid and Khan (Khan being one half of C.C.) live before, but never Captain Comatose, a situation I hope to one day remedy. Khan's biography/discography is fairly amazing, as he's worked with Jimi Tenor and all sorts of other people. Long before Captain Comatose (in the early nineties I think) he released an album called 1-900-Get-Khan, and one of the tracks on that album features a sex-chat telephone intro. On a seemingly unrelated note, I spent much of the last year cat/house-sitting for my friend Jill Mingo in Glasgow, a wonderful woman who is a character in the truest sense of the word. One day we were talking about Captain Comatose and she happened to mention that she was actually the sex-chat voice, a fact that should have been more surprising to me. Apparently Khan also introduced her to Jungle Juice, a triple strength strain of poppers only legal in Germany. As I said earlier, the perfect amount of dirty.