Disco: A Balm For Social Distancing
There are two kinds of people: those who love disco, and liars. Everybody loves disco. You love disco. Your Nan loves disco. The Pope freaks to Donna Summer. Deep down, underneath all of those racist/homophobic undertones and REO Speedwagon T-shirts, the ‘Disco Sucks!’ campaign of ‘79 even loved disco. A shimmering mirror ball twirls inside of all of us.
As social distancing measures march on around the world and second wave fears take hold, the lack of human contact has begun to really take its toll. Not only distance from loved ones but also the removal of proximity to strangers, whether that be on the tube, or at work, or in a club, begins to pull at the fabric of our humanity. It's part of our essential nature to socialise and be close to one another, and deprived of it we start to feel less human.
Whilst maybe not quite a remedy to this strange ailment we are facing, somewhat of a balm in these latter weeks has been, you guessed it, disco. Disco is the music of togetherness, community and joy. Within those arpeggiated synths and sultry vocals is the essence of all that is good in humanity. Well, albeit getting a little carried away, if we can’t be together then we can at least instil some of those emotions to help us through.
So without further ado, dust off those Cuban heels and take a short journey around the world, from the underground gay clubs of New York and beyond, with these 11 disco belters to make you feel mighty real.
Arthur Russell – ‘In The Light Of The Miracle’
The enigmatic Arthur Russell was a purveyor of many musical styles, but it’s his disco classics of the late 70’s that really cement his place in musical history. While not as well known as his classic cuts under his ‘Dinosaur L’ or ‘Loose Joints’ monikers, it’s transcendent dancefloor rapture is contagious.
Plaza – ‘(Got My) Dancing Shoes’
Obscure treasure from British act Plaza’s self-titled 1979 debut album. The track's vocals belong to none other than Clare Torry, of Pink Floyd's ‘Great Gig In The Sky’ renown.
Arpadys – ‘Stone Roller’
From their 1977 self-titled debut. Along with other artists including Space and Voyage, Arpadys were pioneers of the French cosmic disco sound (preceding Daft Punk’s disco robotics).
Kiki Gyan – ‘Disco Dancer’
Ghanaian star Kiki Gyan found fame and fortune as a member of successful British Afrobeat band Osibisa before having further success as a solo artist with hits including this 1979 classic.
Joni Haastrup – ‘Greetings’
Recruited for Ginger Baker’s band in the early 70’s, Nigerian ‘Soul Brother Number 1’ Joni Haastrup had a storied career throughout the 70’s, including solo gem Wake Up Your Mind which included this disco funk corker.
Rupa – ‘Aaj Shanibar’
Rupa Biswas’ album Disco Jazz sold only a handful of copies upon its release in 1982. Thanks to the internet and endorsements from crate-diggers like Dan Snaith (Caribou) it has finally received the recognition it deserves decades later.
Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band – ‘ลำสั้นดิสโก้’
From their 2014 album 21st Century Molam this band hybridises traditional Thai music with Western genres. Once you’ve heard this disco molam masterpiece you’ll be unable to go long without playing it again, and again (and again).
Yellow Magic Orchestra – ‘Rydeen’
Influential Japanese band which counted Ryuichi Sakamoto as a member. This track wears its Giorgio Moroder influence whilst maintaining a distinctly original Eastern sound.
Parcels – ‘Overnight’
Keeping the disco spirit alive, Australian band Parcels released this jam in 2017 with a little production assistance from Daft Punk.
Lord Nelson – ‘Disco Daddy’
A legend in his homeland of Tobago, Lord Nelson released this disco calypso classic in 1980.
Brainstorm – ‘We’re On Our Way Home (Part I & II)’
Bringing us back to the States let this 1978 classic from Detroit outfit Brainstorm be a mantra for troubled times.