The Joy of Disco BBC Documentary 2012

Make your weekend better and check out this documentary, which is about how a much-derided music actually changed the world. Between 1969 and 1979 disco soundtracked gay liberation, foregrounded female desire in the age of feminism and led to the birth of modern club culture as we know it today, before taking the world by storm. With contributions from Nile Rogers, Robin Gibb, Kathy Sledge and Ian Schrager.

Overview from the Guardian:

There are many fine moments in BBC4’s The Joy Of Disco, a 60-minute romp through the 10 years, 1969-79, in which the musical genre born from the groovier end of US soul and the struggles of black and gay New Yorkers came to devour the planet in a silken swirl of polysexual liberation, taking in the Stonewall riots, Studio 54, Saturday Night Fever and the bizarre 1979 “disco sucks” demolition rally in Chicago’s Comiskey Park. Though disco’s rainbow arc may have been painted a thousand times on film and in print – particularly well by Peter Shapiro in his book Turn The Beat Around: The Secret History Of Disco – 35 years on, its cast of characters such as Nile Rodgers and Nicky Siano still sparkle as if they’ve just stumbled, elated, out of David Mancuso‘s Loft parties. Well, all bar Mancuso, that is, who looks like he has so many ridiculous memories from that time sloshing around inside his head he seldom bothers to engage with reality. “Certainly LSD had a role in it,” muses one reveller, recalling the easy-going high jinks at Mancuso’s influential shindigs.

More revealing, especially for anyone with the slightest interest in dance music’s history, is the appearance of Giorgio Moroder, the 71-year-old synth-pop deity who revolutionised disco not once but twice. In 1975 he teased out Donna Summer‘s hymn to female desire, Love To Love You Baby, to nearly 17 tantalising minutes so that dancers could lose themselves in its irresistible throb. Two years later the Italian perfected electronic disco as we know it with Now I Need You (from Summer’s Once Upon A Time … LP) and I Feel Love, not to mention his own excellent solo album, From Here To Eternity. “Sometimes I think I could sue the whole world for infringement of copyright,” he says of the numerous tracks that have since ripped off I Feel Love’s arpeggiated bassline. “But I’m happy if they like the sounds and the melodies.”

Moroder himself was no slouch in the 80s, scoring Top Gun, Scarface, American Gigolo and Flashdance among others. But it was I Feel Love that became a blueprint for pure dancefloor pleasure in that decade, helping shape the high-energy sound of producers Patrick Cowley (responsible for Sylvester), Bobby Orlando (Divine and Pet Shop Boys), Ian Levine (Evelyn Thomas) and Stock Aitken & Waterman, who took high-energy’s fruity bounce to No 1 in 1985 with Dead Or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) and never looked back. While we’re here, is it just a coincidence that the stuttering drum-machine in New Order’s Blue Monday mirrors that in Our Love by Donna Summer, another 70s Moroder production?

As disco buff and S’Express man Mark Moore notes in The Joy Of Disco, Moroder “invented Euro-disco, techno, Italo-disco; he made disco European”. And Europe, like the rest of the world, went disco in turn.

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