Now we're going to the Netherlands for a super quick visit.
In 1983, Bas Fortgens, Hans De Witt, and Paul Vrieling came together to form Modern Danceable Music Company, or M.D.M.C. The trio released three singles and a triple-disc vinyl LP, and then all but vanished. (Literally, none of them have done any "real" work since the band split.)
The debut single, "How About It" first appeared as a 12" on High Fashion Music, Benelux's biggest and most prolific Italo-disco label. The song represents a sort of hybridization of the Tom Tom Club and heavy, jammy disco cuts ... with some old school DJ scratching thrown in for an added dose of confusion (and fun!)
I'm hoping that by posting this, the band will realize its awesomeness once again and reissue everything they did. Needless to say, they've been wrongly overlooked for too long.
Wow, I could go on and on about today's selections, but I'll try and keep it short -- too many long days.
When I began my Italo-disco Journey, I was perhaps a little overly enthusiastic. Like I've said before, a lot of the material from the loose genre is ... junk. Fortunately, there are gems -- and many of them, the deeper you dig -- and that's what makes the entire disco genre still relevant and something to look back upon in admiration.
Giorgio Moroder and Jean-Marc Cerrone are often said to be the founders of the Italo-disco movement. They had the vision on the production side of things that set a whole genre of music in motion. While their names are readily used, their work is sort of difficult to find because they were either working soundboards or lurking in the background more than taking the limelight.
However, in the 1970s, Cerrone and six other musicians joined together for Kongas, a world music-inspired , tribal-infused disco outfit that represents precisely what I wanted to unearth. The Italian label 12 Inch Stars released their first 12" single in the late-1970s; Kongas' "Anikana-o" was the b-side and Trax's "Crusader" was the a-side. What!? Trax!?
Trax was Pete Bellotte and Keith Forsey, and three or four years, the duo tore the nascent Italo-disco style a new one. Forsey is notable for (a) working closely with Moroder and (b) weirdly being the producer on a ton of Billy Idol singles, EPs, and LPs (i.e. "White Wedding"). Bellotte was another regular Moroder collaborator, but the Brit's work is less compelling than Bellotte's ... maybe one day I'll delve deeper into it.
But we're keeping this short! The below two songs are from the "Crusader"/"Anikana-o" 12" ... play them in the proper order and be blown away. This is a good one, folks.
We're getting weirder and weirder here (and a little newer).
Starting in 1986, the Dutch label, Taurus Records has been releasing a whole bunch of primarily 12" singles. Most of them are pretty out there and totally underground -- and I suspect that a bunch of them completely blow -- but there're a few gems that stand out, particularly Radiorama's "Fire" 12" from 1988.
Radiorama was Mauro Farina on lead vocals, Simona Zanini on female vocals, and Mauro Farina and Giuliano Crivellente on arrangement, composition, and conduction. The Italo-disco act (which eventually turned into more of a Hi-NRG one) was formed in 1985 and still exists today, albeit it in an altered and more amorphous form. "Fire (Special R.E.M.I.X.E.D. Version)" uses a classical song that I'm completely blanking on right now as its core riff and adds a whole bunch of Pet Shop Boys-esque production on top. The thing's dripping with mildly-cheesy disco jams and late-1980s vocals, but there's something really infectious about the tune and I recommend you check it out. Radiorama released a total of four 12"s on Taurus Records, but this one really sticks out for its epic quality (and the fact that the R.E.M.I.X.E.D. version was by the great Lex van Coeverden).
I'm still a little shaky on M.B.O. 99, but "Don't Let Me Down (99 Remix)" is pretty good. The outfit was fronted by Mario Boncaldo (of M.B.O. & Klein, which I wrote about in "D03") with Angelo Valsiglio also being credited as a co-writer and producer. The below remix doesn't seem to have been featured on the 1985 "Don't Let Me Down Again" 12", but that doesn't negate its coolness. The three-track single was put out by Discomagic Records which has released an ungodly number dance cuts.
Dig them both. I'm off to 88BoaDrum for some brain-melting and mind-numbing.
Along with Film Editor Sam Kahn and Sarah Hamblin, we filmed everything, including a pre-show interview with Andrew Butler. Check out the HD video above, in a larger format at the AnthemVimeo page, or at the Anthem homepage. (So many options!)
First is Danny Keith's "Keep On Music." The 12" was released via Time Records in 1984 and is a pretty strange one. Imagine Depeche Mode with a slightly less eerie and morbid vibe and less intelligible lyrics. "Keep On Music" is the Italo-disco response to "Enjoy the Silence" (or rather, "Enjoy the Silence" is the post-punk response to "Keep On Music"). The track was "executive" produced by Gianni Corraini (a.k.a. Danny Keith while on Time Records) and produced by Giuliano Crivellente, one of the most prolific of his time.
Second is Klein & M.B.O.'s "Dirty Talk." This isn't the rarest track ever (it appeared on Röyksopp's 2007 Back to Mine compilation, for example), but it's really great. The duo was actually only half Italian: Mario Boncaldo represented Italy while Tony Carrasco came from the States. The 12" was released by a ton of independents in 1982, the notorious of which being the TMT Records cut (maybe). Both Boncaldo and Carrasco produced and worked on a great many dance singles in the late-1970s through ... today, actually. Interestingly enough, Carrasco is still kicking in N.Y.C., and working on a decent number of projects.
Anyway. Jam the night away. I know I certainly need to.
As with most "scenes" -- especially those tight and condensed enough -- certain labels, producers, and names pop up with surprising frequency.
In a lot of situations, this is a good thing. Listeners and distributors are generally smart enough to latch on to stuff that's at least decent, so whether you're in heavy metal or rap, if you're for some reason both sought after by consumers and producers alike, you're in a good place.
American Disco was a "big" label in the 1980s, releasing approximately thirty 12"s. I'll admit some ignorance here, though, because I'm not quite getting the appeal of American Disco. The label specialized, it seems, in discovering acts that fit nicely in between Y.M.O., Depeche Mode, and ... maybe Charlie or something a little classier and legendary.
While I sort of dig the below Scotch track, "Penguin's Invasion" (their biggest "hit"), there's something especially dated about it ... as though it could've appeared on the Hot Dog ... the Movie's soundtrack. I've nothing against that film -- who doesn't like swigging flasks of whiskey on the slopes and ogling hot babes? -- but it's pure novelty.
Join me for D03 soon. Hopefully that installment will feature some more intriguing finds. Not all disco was created equally. (As a bonus, I'm including Prins Thomas' worst song ever, "S.O.S.," here -- not all Prins was created equally. I think he made this in collaboration with Kenny G. for the Norwegian Elevator series.)