Various Artists – Disco 75 – Robinsongs

Starting a series celebrating the music based around the word Disco this first compilation from 1975 spreads its wings across three discs, plus sleeve notes written by Bob Fisher further highlighting the story. Of course the music’s roots can be readily traced a decade back but the sounds, styles and songs which congregate here feel like a melting pot in the making. As with all collections (they are subjective by default) it’s down to the sounds in the end and as far as I’m concerned the full length version of Harold Melvin & Bluenotes – Bad Luck is worth the price of admission alone. Add to that Pick Up The Pieces and lesser known gems such as Rhythm Makers – Zone and you’re a third of the way there.

The second disc feels more soulful in terms of De-Lite-Ful, Chuck Jackson and Pat Lundi’s sublime Party Music and you can still hear the echo of classic Motown float across the melodies, though equally the welcome evolution of Crown Heights Affair – Dreaming A Dream and sheer exuberance of MFSB – Sexy, Peoples Choice – Do It Any Way You Wanna plus The Glitter Band – Makes You Blind are still hard to beat in any decade.

The final CD again takes steps forward with its amalgamation of sounds like the James Brown referencing Jimmy James & The Vagabonds – I Am Somebody, The Salsoul Orchestra’s supremely funky Chicago Bus Stop, capped off by the soaring harmonies of Archie Bell & The Drells – Let’s Groove. It’s exciting to hear how all in one given year the record releases progressed the genre capturing influences far and wide alongside the subsequent development of invigorating rhythms as well as production values. Consequently this somehow seems more like an adventure rather than an exercise in plain nostalgia.


Archie Bell & The Drells
Let’s Groove: The Archie Bell & The Drells Story (50th Anniversary Collection)
Big Break Records

Before I get to the music I have to say a BIG thank you (again) to Christian John Wikane for his continued sterling work on the sleeve notes for bbr. Always a pleasure and always more than informative. That said, this two cd compilation starts with one of favourite all-time grooves in the shape of Tighten Up which still plays like the supremely, soulful party piece it is. If music is about feelings then here they are in abundance. And in ways that to me is what Archie Bell & The Drells are most definitely about: life and confirmation of joy. From the low down Soulful delivery of A Soldiers Prayer, 1967 to the explosively beautiful I Could Dance All Night, and Northern Soul gem Here I Go Again, it’s great to hear just how they evolved in terms of the song writing eventually provided by the supreme team of Philadelphia International Records writers, plus of course it’s fascinating to hear how music production has developed over the timeframe – Let’s Groove, still sounds like a masterpiece of six minutes in ecstasy. As indeed did Disco/ up-tempo R&B became the dominant force by the mid to later seventies they were also creating numbers like: The Soul City Walk, Where Will You Go When The Party’s Over, and the most apt ‘Everybody Have A Good Time. Very recommended.