Saturday Night Fever could be cited as the reason why disco was burnt at the stake. After the film and soundtrack arrived, a scene that had slowly been moving into the mainstream was now catapulted into the spotlight. Record labels and artists realised that this was a chance to cash in and reinvigorate some dying careers in the process. Most of these attempts only compounded the problem and as a result disco went from briefly being the dominant force on radio to being a despised genre.
I’d like to share a couple of the buried gems that were created under these circumstances.
The Osmonds – I, I, I
The first one is an unlikely disco attempt by The Osmonds. Unlikely because it is a dark disco classic. The 12” of this has recently been fetching silly money on Ebay due to renewed interest from people like DJ Harvey and was featured on Radio Slave’s Creatures of the Night mix on Eskimo.
Instead of aiming for over the top cheese The Osmonds (with the help of Maurice Gibb and Steve Klein) manage to keep it very subtle. The overall vibe is a very convincing mix of dark disco and rock. Ignore it at your peril!
There is a slightly re-edited 12” available here which is backed with the awesome “Like An Eagle” by Dennis Parker.
The Walker Brothers – Nite Flights
Yes, you read correctly, even The Walker Brothers had a go! This sits comfortably alongside The Osmonds’ “I,I,I” as they both make good use of rousing strings. Lyrically, this is a long way from “Stayin’ Alive”, making use of very oblique phrases much the same as Scott Walker’s recent output.
“glass traps open and close on nite flights
feather weights press- the walls
be my love
we will be GODS on nite flights
with only one promise
only one way to FALL”
Chicago – Street Player (Buy)
“Street Player” was reviled when it was released by Chicago’s fans and the album is still held in low esteem by critics. Luckily this song was rescued by a large sample in “The Bomb!” by The Bucketheads and will be instantly familiar due to its success. Disco was consigned to the waste bin in the late 70s and it was only through house that it was able to have its revenge.