Disco music really started here, mainly due to the efforts of the Bee Gees. Regardless of if you love or hate Disco music, this compilation of music from the Saturday Night Fever film kickstarted a global trend back in the late 1970s for this new kind of music that had a mixed response over time. Still, this is a better example of Disco music and is worth looking at, so let’s do so and see where the music takes us.
We begin with the Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive which is a legendary track with some funky guitar and a string section, with some great falsetto singing from the Bee Gees themselves. It is instantly recognizable and a fantastic listen to this day. Definitely danceable, it is a showcase of pure talent and musical creation. A superb track and creation which has some typical Disco signature sounds about it, this is a must listen for all music fans out there. Based heavily on Funk music with some additional musical elements added to it, this is top. Great song.
Next is How Deep Is Your Love which is a much more subdued Bee Gees piece that is highly romantic sounding piece that is slower and more subtle than the first track. A terrific song, and a nice listen. There is a sort of Burt Bacharach style production here, minus the breakup story. It has not aged at all, and is a classic pop piece, even if it is Disco music. A great slice of retro Disco music, and a piece of musical history.
Night Fever is yet another piece by the Bee Gees which has some funky wah-wah guitar parts to begin the track, along with a beautiful string section. The falsetto vocals here are really magical, as is the song. The whole thing sounds amazing, particularly with the keyboard sound throughout. It is a great song, even today in a post Disco world. The Bee Gees obviously were great musicians, and delivered a Disco classic here, an ode to music itself. Decent effort here.
More Than A Woman comes next, and is a great love song dedicated to a lover by the Bee Gees. The chorus in particular is superb, and has some beautiful string sections about it. A very refreshing piece of music and sounding brilliant, even at this point in the 21st century. A refreshing and original slice of Disco pop, this sounds really top. Exhibiting real emotion, this is a great song. A must listen.
Next is Yvonne Elliman with If I Can’t Have You which is a top piece of music that sounds reflective of the era it came from. It is a great and awesome piece about losing a love and despairing about it. The pop structures, in particular the string section, are sublime. A fantastic and great listen, very touching to hear.
Walter Murphy’s A Fifth Of Beethoven is a great adaptation of a classical music piece to (what was then) a modern take on it. This is years before DJs in the EDM scene began doing similar things with electronics. Although it is an instrumental, it is a great listen regardless with some of the guitar and keyboard work added to it. It is one of the most noted pieces from the era. The string section here is excellent, and the whole thing is nicely played. Very catchy as well.
More Than A Woman is a rendition of the Bee Gees song by Tavares earlier on in this compilation. It still fits perfectly on this compilation, and sounds magnificent. Somewhat more commercial than the original, but still, just as good. Sounding more natural and less falsetto high, this is a good example of where a cover can compete with an original song. Nice effort by these guys. Although a little repetitive towards the end, it does the job quite nicely for this version of the song.
Manhattan Skyline by David Shire is another classy Disco era instrumental that landed on this compilation. The horn section here in particular signals the progression very well, and the string section motif is just beautiful. This compilation is a great example of the very best of Disco music, and even the instrumentals such as this deserve merit. Sounding a lot like a Disco Frank Sinatra or Burt Bacharach backing to a song, although there are no lyrics and singing here. A great and very fresh sounding listen, no wonder Disco was very popular after the release of this album, you can easily see why. It is a good listen, all the way through to the fade out at the end. Good stuff.
Following is Ralph MacDonald’s Calypso Breakdown which is yet another Disco era instrumental, this one with a bit more of a groove to it. Funky with some nice piano and guitar in it, this is an interesting listen. The guitar phrasing in it is excellent. This piece is over seven minutes long, so strap in and listen to this great piece. It slowly and gradually evolves into a slow but not dull Disco dance piece. There are surprisingly a lot of instruments in this piece, all having different sections and melodies supporting the main rhythm. It’s nice and unlike the Punk music of the time, it does have a quality of innocence about it. The saxophone and guitar solos in this piece are really good too, not overpoweringly loud, they’re just there to be heard. A funky piano part then pushes the song along. Some great call-and-response instrumental feel to this piece make it even more interesting. Very clever and fresh sounding music. Towards the end, it gets very frenetic with the percussion sounds, before fading out gradually.
David Shire returns again with Night On Disco Mountain which begins with some Disco like horror music theme to it. It gradually flows through such emotional themes, sounding a lot like Gustav Holst’s The Planets instrumentation. Yes, this is another instrumental, but it suits the album very well. The horn playing on this in particular is really top, and they dominate, sounding a bit like The Beatles Penny Lane. Still, it is a good instrumental, designed to make you dance and get goosebumps simultaneously. A good quality instrumental that won’t let you down. Put on your high heel shoes, and let’s dance, if you dig Disco music that is. Very suspenseful, too. Towards the end, it become lighter, with some top notch guitar playing. Great instrumental and effort here.
Open Sesame is a Kool & The Gang song that has a very interesting intro with a distorted vocal, before going into a really upbeat, funky and fun tune. Although there is not a great deal of lead vocals here, there are some wonderful backing vocals. “Get down with the genie,” is chanted here amongst trumpets, wah-wah guitar and cicada beats. A good piece to listen to, even today. Some of the melodies are kind of weird, in a Disco way. Regardless, this is fine music and gave many other non-Disco acts a run for their money. Great piece of music here.
Jive Talkin’ has some muted wah-wah guitar and some other subtle instrumentation, before the Bee Gees begin singing in a less overly falsetto way, and sounds interesting and listenable. It’s likely Kid Rock ripped off the main chord progression of this song for Amen on his Rock N Roll Jesus album. Still, despite that this is a nicely, subtle and enjoyable listen, showcasing the then new style of Disco music. Top stuff. This song, along with many other Bee Gees songs from this era, have been played a lot over the years. Great song.
Next the Bee Gees have another song called You Should Be Dancing which begins with percussion and bongos, and has a very funky feel to it. It is a classic song about the nature of dancing, and what one can appreciate about it. The guitar phrasing here is wonderful. In the midsection are some multitracked horn parts and a fantastic guitar solo. This is a really fun, exciting and energetic listen from the Bee Gees. The bongos in the middle of this song are really excellent. Excellent piece of music, although it is a little repetitive towards the end. Quality listen, though.
Following is Boogie Shoes by KC & The Sunshine Band which is a fun and singalong track about dancing (again) which is really good. This is a really fun listening experience this song, and the guitar solo in it is quacky sounding and very funky. A great piece of music from the lost era of Disco, this is very positive to hear. Totally uplifting.
Salsation is another David Shire instrumental, which is similar in feel to the other instrumentals on this album, but has a definite Latin USA feel to it. There are still typical Disco music touches, such as the horns and Fender guitar style sounds, but this is a magnificent piece regardless. This is something that Miles Davis fans may dig, it is a genuinely interesting and good listening experience. The piano in this track is very well played, and much copied over the years. A cool listen, even for an instrumental.
K-Jee by MFSB is next, and sounds gloriously wonderful. It is a great instrumental piece that has all the Disco elements you really need to dance along with. All you need now is Roger Moore (James Bond of the time) in flares and you have Disco mania. Seriously though, a great track to hear, and the guitar solo is very impressive. A superb effort of musical skill, this is amazing sounding. The horn section is reminiscent of King Crimson. A combination of guitar, horns, strings and other funky instrumentation really propels this one along. Not at all bad for an instrumental of its kind, quite good listening.
Last is Disco Inferno by The Trammps is another classic Disco track that sounds really good and fun listening. Of course, like many songs here, it has been played to death over the years but is a good listen regardless. Some great instrumentation and lyrics are here. The whole thing is nearly 11 minutes long, but sounds perfectly fitting for this album. Singing very well, The Trammps finish off this album nicely. “Burn baby, burn” is chanted throughout this song. After the song section has stopped, the backing vocals push on in parts, before a beautiful Fender Stratocaster style solo emerges. This is a great piece for people at parties to dance to, unquestionably. Disco Inferno itself refers, not to arson, but to the fire in the heart of someone who loves dancing and Disco music. This piece is a great tune for an audience to relate to. There are various instrumental solos throughout, with each instrumental gently expressing the Disco groove. Although this may seem lengthy, it is intentionally so. Great for dancing, as well as listening. Towards the end, it goes straight back into the song section, and we conclude a great song, and indeed album as well.
Disco kicked off strongly with this album release and the Saturday Night Fever movie in 1977. It may not be the greatest album/compilation of all time, but for a long lost era, it is definitely worth hearing. The only issue here? Too many instrumentals, although this can be easily overlooked and/or skipped today. Fans of this album should check out editions with extra tracks added to them.
Disco boogie goodness.