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Any Major Disco Vol. 1

July 16th, 2015 8 comments

Any Major Disco Vol. 1

The Any Major Funk series might have ended, but that does not mean that we must pack away our dancing shoes. So here we begin a new series of disco mixes, drawing from the various strands in the genre, using 1982 as an approximate cut-off date.

The first mix coincides roughly with the 36th anniversary of the record burning bonanza at Chicago’s Comiskey Park on 12 July 1979, which gave full expression to the Disco Sucks movement. Several students of music, such as the British journalist Simon Price, have charged that the the anti-disco movement was driven by elements of racism and homophobia. While not all who invaded the pitch in Chicago for the Disco Demolition Night (or applauded from afar or donned their Disco Sucks t-shirts) were motivated by bigotry, the charge has some merit.

The negative reaction to disco was not invariably racist, of course. For starters, a lot of disco was produced by white people; including the unlikely poster boys of disco, The Bee Gees. Just as disco was a diverse collective, so were there different reasons for rejecting it. But at Comiskey Park there was a distinct racist dimension as the mob of sonic reactionaries incinerated records not only by disco acts such as Sister Sledge and Chic, but also those by artists such as Marvin Gaye and, unbelievably, Bill Withers. Records by any black artist who wasn’t Jimi Hendrix were liable to fuel the pyre.

The charge of homophobia is more difficult to substantiate, even if some Village People albums found their way on to the pyre. Nonetheless, let me try.

Disco was a broad movement borne of gay and soul-funk clubs alike. Sartorial flamboyance, funky basslines and synth experiments tended to blend across the sub-genres of what would become known as disco. The homophobia in anti-disco sentiments was not necessarily of a gay-bashing kind, but arguably was grounded in the disco culture”s threat to the prevalent models of masculinity.

When the mob at Comiskey Park burnt Earth, Wind & Fire records — possibly while humming Emerson, Lake & Palmer — a dimension of their unarticulated objection related to flamboyant costumes worn by men who sang in feminine voices. Disco challenged the traditional models of manhood (and, in the case of the Village People, satirised them), and it subverted prevailing social (and sonic) norms. Comiskey Park and the Disco Sucks movement were, in part, a reaction to that.

A few years later this threat to conventional masculinity found expression again when many believed Prince, who already had a prodigious track-record of heterosexual behaviour, to be gay on grounds of his Purple Rain stylings. The effete Prince subverted the standard notions of masculinity. The only explanation many could find for that was to believe Prince was gay.

Across the musical fence, the camp exploits of Dee Snider and David Lee Roth, or indeed Kiss, did not cause infernos of vinyl. But these acts performed their shtick with a nod and a wink which their rock fan constituency could understand and even relate to. The same sort of fans denied, at the pain of death, that Freddy Mercury was gay, and the Kiss make-up was considered not camp but an extension of the members’ individual personae. There was nothing here that threatened concepts of masculinity in the way the unironic flamboyance of many disco stars did.

Earth, Wind & Fire's Maurice White and Philip Bailey defied the sartorial codes of American masculinity.

Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White and Philip Bailey defied the sartorial codes of American masculinity.

But homophobia and racism surely were not the primary incitement for the Disco Sucks movement. Disco supposedly sucked not because the music was bad (though some of it indisputably was) or because Verdine White played the bass while sporting silver flamingo wings. It sucked because, like punk, it ate itself culturally. The exclusivism of clubs such as Studio 54 caused resentment — even among those who produced disco music. Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernie Edwards wrote Le Freak after they were denied entry to Studio 54; the original title was Fuck Off. And yet, how could the artists be blamed for the behaviour of those who played their records? Effigies of nightclub owners, not records by the artists, might have made for more appropriate burning matter at Comiskey Park.

The anti-disco sentiment was fed by disco’s ubiquity, starting with Saturday Night Fever (a gritty film which disowns the phoniness associated with the Studio 54 culture, a message usually overlooked in favour of Barry Gibb’s sterility-inducing trousers on the cover of the mega-selling soundtrack). Disco Sucks was also a reaction to the hegemony of the genre and its culture. It was a reaction to the Saturday Night Fever poster and Travolta’s white suit, to Ethel Merman and Sesame Street recording “disco” albums, to acts like Blondie and the Rolling Stones dabbling in disco sounds, to the hedonism of the élite, and to the occasional musical horror produced by cash-in corporates which was falsely considered to be representative of disco.

The anti-disco sentiment was fed by disco

The anti-disco sentiment was fed by disco”s ubiquity, starting with Saturday Night Fever.

And here we enter the final error of the Disco Sucks movement: the false notion that disco is a single, homogenous genre. As in rock music, there are common elements. Most disco songs have a 4/4 beat, basslines tend to drive the songs, and so on. And yet, take songs like, say, Love To Love You Baby by Donna Summer and Shoulda Loved Ya by Narada Michael Walden (on Any Major Funk Vol. 3). Both fall broadly within the disco genre, but one is Euro-Disco and the other is what one might call Disco-Funk. They are as different as Sweet Home Alabama is from A Whole Lotta Rosie.

Then there was the pop-disco stuff such as Y.M.C.A. (though I’d be reluctant to call it disco), which is quite different from either Summer or Walden. Blondie’s disco stuff, Heart Of Glass or Atomic, represents yet another separate genre; it’s disco, of a sort, but not in the way Cheryl Lynn’s Got To Be Real (on Any Major Funk Vol. 1) is disco. Like rock, disco is a collective term for many sub-genres.

This series will, I hope, demonstrate just how diverse disco was as a genre — and why the Lynyrd Skynyrd fans at Comiskey Park were thoroughly mistaken: disco never sucked.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-bootyshaken covers. PW in comments.

1. Bee Gees – You Should Be Dancing (1976)
2. Vicki Sue Robinson – Turn The Beat Around (1976)
3. Chic – Everybody Dance (1977)
4. Carol Williams – More (1976)
5. Don Ray – Got To Have Loving (1978)
6. Loleatta Holloway – Hit And Run (1977)
7. Brenda And The Tabulations – Let’s Go All The Way (Down) (1977)
8. Musique – In The Bush (1978)
9. Michael Zager Band – Let’s All Chant (1977)
10. Dan Hartman – Relight My Fire (1979)
11. Santa Esmeralda – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (1977)
12. Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing (1975)
13. Patrick Juvet – I Love America (1978)
14. Grace Jones – La Vie En Rose (1977)
15. Donna Summer – Love To Love You Baby (1975)
16. Rose Royce – Is It Love You’re After (1979)
17. Ben E. King – Music Trance (1980)
18. KC & the Sunshine Band – (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty (1976)
19. Andrea True Connection – What’s Your Name, What’s Your Number (1977)
20. Odyssey – Use It Up And Wear It Out (1980)

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Any Major Funk Vol. 8

June 11th, 2015 8 comments

Any Major Funk Vol. 8

It is now more than seven years ago since I posted the first Any Major Funk mix (using the word “funk” loosely); here is what I think will be the concluding mix in the series.

Some songs in this series are probably as easily classified as disco “” even on this mix, the tracks by Earth, Wind & Fire or Diana Ross or Donna Summer are not foreign to the disco genre.

All the previous Any Major Funk mixes are up again, with funky covers. Of course, all of them are timed to fit on a standard CD-R. PW in comments.

1. Brothers Johnson – Ain”t We Funkin” Now (1978)
2. Skyy – Show Me The Way (1983)
3. Earth, Wind & Fire with The Emotions – Boogie Wonderland (1979)
4. George Benson – Give Me The Night (1980)
5. Diana Ross – The Boss (1979)
6. Shalamar – The Second Time Around (1979)
7. Jimmy “˜Bo” Horne – You Get Me Hot (1979)
8. Cheryl Lynn – Shake It Up Tonight (1981)
9. Ren̩ & Angela РFree And Easy (1980)
10. Leon Haywood – Strokin” (1976)
11. Linda Clifford – Runaway Love (1979)
12. Gap Band – Outstanding (1982)
13. Slave – Watching You (1980)
14. Side Effect – Take A Chance “˜n” Dance (1980)
15. Gary Toms Empire – Walk On By (1978)
16. Donna Summer – Last Dance (1978)

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Any Major Funk Vol. 7

July 12th, 2012 4 comments

Here is the seventh CD-R mix in the Any Major Funk series. It might have been called Any Major Disco, but that would have been (equally) misleading, with expectations of Saturday Night Fever, Munich Machine or, eek, Ethel Merman doing disco. So these mixes are not quite funkadelically funky, but the funk and the brand of disco spearheaded by Chic are the influences that dominate these mixes.

And because these mixes, all of which are timed to fit on standard CD-Rs, previously came without covers, I have homebaked a selection, a collage of which you will see at the end of the post.

I”m posting this mix on the 33rd anniversary of the Comiskey Park disco records burning action, on 12 July 1979 ““ as chance would have it, also a Thursday. I wrote about it previously in “The Disco Inferno”.

TRACKLISTING:
1. Delegation – Where Is The Love (We Used To Know) (1977)
2. Dee Dee Sharp Gamble ““ Let”s Get This Party Started (1980)
3. Rainbow Brown – Till You Surrender (1981)
4. Yvonne Gage – Garden Of Eve (1981)
5. Skyy – High (1979)
6. Shalamar – Make That Move (1980)
7. Thelma Houston – If You Feel It (1981)
8. Sister Sledge – One More Time (1979)
9. Billy Ocean – Whatever Turns You On (1981)
10. Fat Larry’s Band – Here Comes The Sun (1979)
11. L.T.D. – One On One (1979)
12. Central Line – That’s No Way To Treat My Love (1981)
13. Phyllis Hyman – You Know How To Love Me (1979)
14. Sylvia St. James – Can’t Make You Mine (1980)
15. Jet Brown – Living Together (1979)

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Any Major Funk Vol. 6

August 18th, 2011 3 comments

It has been two and a half years since I last posted a Any Major Funk mix. Most of the tracks contained in this, the sixth volume, have been languishing in the shortlist folder since then. So here are 16 more songs from the great era of dance music, stretching from 1977 to 1983.

While I”m at it, I have updated the expired links for the first five volumes.

Michael Henderson has played with the greats. Having moved to Detroit as a child, he was only 13-14 years old when he played the bass with various Motown acts as well as The Fantastic Four, The Detroit Emeralds and Billy Preston. Later he toured with Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Miles Davis. Later he debuted as a vocalist for Norman Connors, the great drummer and producer.

It may be by subliminal decision that I sequenced a track by Norman Connors” after Henderson”s 1983 effort. Connors has produced, played or arranged for some great acts in soul and jazz, including Billy Paul, Jack McDuff, Charles Earland and Herbie Hancock. As a juvenile he once stood in at a gig for John Coltrane”s usual drummer. He discovered Phyllis Hyman, who in 1981 recorded a duet with Henderson. The vocals on the featured track by Connors, the title track from his 1980 album, are by Adaritha, who still performs, now as Ada Dyer, and who recorded the original of Anita Baker”s You Bring Me Joy.

Rainbow Brown (singers Fonda Rae, Luci Martin, Yvonne Lewis) only ever released one LP, a self-titled effort on New York”s Vanguard label produced by Patrick Adams, a prolific songwriter for a number of soul and hip hop acts, ranging from The Main Ingredient to Keith Sweat and the Notorious B.I.G.. Adams wrote Musique”s enthusiastically banned In the Bush, a song that had little relationship with horticulture, but was a top 20 hit in gardening paradise Britain.

The bush-loving nation gave us Hi-Tension, a 12-member ensemble that is regarded as a pioneer of Brit-Funk. They were led by David Joseph, who went on to record several UK hits, including You Can”t Hide Your Love (1982) and Let”s Live It Up (1983).

Also representing Britain are Delegation, who came from Birmingham and had a UK Top 30 hit in 1977 with the excellent Where Is The Love (We Used To Know). I tend to associate them with Sunfire, for no better reason than sometimes sequencing their 1977 hit with Young And Free And Single. Sunfire were a New York outfit whose best-known member was Bruce Fisher, whose At The End Of A Love Affair should be well known to fans of Northern Soul, and who wrote the title track of Quincy Jones” 1973 album Body Heat.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Homebaked covers are included.

TRACKLISTING
1. War – Galaxy
2. Brothers Johnson – Ain’t We Funkin’ Now
3. Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne – Get Happy
4. Sunfire – Young, Free And Single
5. George Benson – Turn Your Love Around
6. B.B.R.A. – Do What Make You Feel Good
7. Michael Henderson – You Wouldn’t Have To Work At All
8. Norman Connors – Take It To The Limit
9. Rainbow Brown – I’m The One
10. Shalamar – Full Of Fire
11. George Duke – Brazilian Love Affair
12. Delegation – Put A Little Love On Me
13. Hi-Tension – Hi-Tension
14. One Way – Music
15. The Players Association – Turn The Music Up
16. Parliament – Flashlight

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Any Major Funk Vol. 5

December 26th, 2008 4 comments

 

Just in time for New Year’s Eve, the fifth Any Major Funk mix. amf5As always, this is serious disco from the golden age of 1978-1983 (with two songs falling on either side of that timeframe). Joyful, funky, dancable. But not suitable for hilarious Afro wigs and Travolta dance moves. And as always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R.

The song of particular interest here is the opener, Loleatta Holloway’s Love Sensation, written by Dan Hartman and recorded with the backing of the Salsoul Orchestra. The song was liberally sampled on the big dance classic a decade later, Black Box’s Ride On Time. In the video we saw a young, lithe woman incongruously belting out the lyrics. The deception was exposed (though legally it was not fraud, because Black Box paid Salsoul for the samples off Love Sensation).

While Love Sensation hints at the emergence of Hi-NRG a few years later, Two Tons O’ Fun’s I Got The Feeling could be regarded as the first Hi-NRG hit (as opposed to its Euro Disco progenitor), or at least as a link between the disco funk of, say Chic, and the Hi-NRG sound of the mid-80s. A few years later, the group’s two singer went on to to record one of the defining Hi-NRG hits: It’s Raining Men, as the Weather Girls.

TRACKLISTING
1. Loleatta Holloway – Love Sensation (1980)
2. Two Tons O’ Fun – I Got The Feeling (1980)
3. The Jacksons – Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) (1979)
4. Cheryl Lynn – Shake It Up Tonight (1981)
5. S.O.S. Band – Take Your Time (Do It Right) (1980)
6. L.T.D. – Back in Love (1977)
7. Instant Funk – I Got My Mind Made Up (1978)
8. Phil Fearon & Galaxy – What Do I Do (1984)
9. Commodores – Lady (You Bring Me Up) (1981)
10. Shalamar – There It Is (1982)
11. Mtume – So You Wanna Be A Star (1980)
12. Teena Marie – I Need Your Lovin’ (1980)
13. Change – A Lover’s Holiday (1980)
14. Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King – If You Want My Lovin’ (1981)
15. Melba Moore – Mind Up Tonight (1982)
16. France Joli – Feel Like Dancing (1979)

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Any Major Funk Vol. 4

October 2nd, 2008 3 comments
Here’s the fourth Any Major Funk mix, covering the years 1977-84, a few standards and a few lesser known gems. Patrice Rushen’s Number One in particular is glorious.
(PW in comments)

1. Crusaders feat. Randy Crawford – Streetlife (Full version)
2. Average White Band – Let’s Go Around Again
3. Dan Hartman – Relight My Fire
4. Linda Lewis – Class-Style (I’ve Got It)
5. Webster Lewis – Give Me Some Emotion
6. Diana Ross – My Old Piano
7. Luther Vandross – Never Too Much
8. Billy Ocean – Whatever Turns You On
9. Patrice Rushen – Number One
10. Quincy Jones – Ai No Corrida
11. Peaches & Herb – Shake Your Groove Thing
12. Third World – Try Jah Love
13. Taste Of Honey – Boogie Oogie Oogie
14. Commodores – Brick House
15. Chaka Khan – I’m Every Woman
16. Yvonne Elliman – Love Pains
17. Rick James – Super Freak

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Any Major Funk Vol. 3

September 17th, 2008 4 comments

Apart from the phenomenally popular Christmas mix, the first two volumes of Any Major Funk have been the most downloaded mixes on this blog. Acting on apparent demand, here is Volume 3, with a fourth installment in the works. Like all my mixes, this one is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. As before, these tracks cover the golden age of disco-funk, 1978-83. So put your hands up in the air and shake ’em like you just don’t care.

PW in comments

TRACKLISTING
1. Stephanie Mills – Never Knew Love Like This Before
2. McFadden & Whitehead – Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now
3. Skyy – Let Love Shine
4. Narada Michael Walden – Shoulda Loved Ya
5. B.B. & Q. Band – On The Beat
6. Shalamar – I Can Make You Feel Good
7. Booker Newberry III – Love Town
8. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – Back Together
9. Champaign – Can You Find The Time
10. Earth, Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove
11. The Gap Band – Oops Upside Your Head
12. Chic – I Want Your Love
13. Odyssey – Inside Out
14. Heatwave – Groove Line
15. Roy Ayers – Don’t Stop The Funk
16. G.Q. – Disco Nights

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Any Major Funk Vol. 2

April 1st, 2008 16 comments

funk_vol_2

In December I posted a funk/disco mix-tape (meaning the songs don’t fade into each other), covering the golden era 1978-1983, and fitting on one CD-R. It was downloaded more than 1,300 times, and received the grand total of one comment. But that commenter was so pleased with the Any Major Funk mix, he or she asked for a follow-up. So, for that kind soul, here’s Any Major Funk Volume 2, which had me partying it down big time during its compilation. Get funky! 1. Bell & James – Living It Up (Friday Night) (1978)
2. Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne – Dance Across The Floor (1978)
3. Central Line – Walking Into Sunshine (1981)
4. Oliver Cheatham – Get Down Saturday Night (1983)
5. Brenda & the Big Dudes – Weekend Special (1983)
6. The Whispers – And The Beat Goes On (1979)
7. Third World – Dancing On The Floor (Hooked On Love) (1981)
8. Patrice Rushen – Forget Me Nots (1982)
9. The Emotions – Best Of My Love (1978)
10. Sister Sledge – Thinking Of You (1979)
11. Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out (1980)
12. Chic – My Feet Keep Dancing (1979)
13. Kurtis Blow – The Breaks (long version) (1980)
14. Thelma Houston – Saturday Night (1978)
15. Level 42 – Starchild (1981)

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Any Major Funk Vol. 1

December 26th, 2007 3 comments

This mix might come in time for your New Year’s Eve party: great disco/funk tracks from the glory years, 1978-82. The songs should fit on a CD-R.

I’ve tried to stay clear of the usual fare offered disco samplers, so no synth-driven Euro disco, no Bee Gees, no Alicia Bridges, and damn well no Village People or Boney M. This mix is not supposed to encourage the “hilarious” donning of Afro wigs, white suits and other such hi-jinx as doing the Travolta SNF pose. This is for people who take the funk and disco seriously and groove to it joyously.

1. Odyssey – Going Back To My Roots (1981)
2. Cheryl Lynn – Got To Be Real (1978)
3. Raydio – It’s Time To Party Now (1980)
4. Billy Ocean – Stay The Night (1980)
5. Shalamar – A Night To Remember (1982)
6. Skyy – Here’s To You (1980)
7. One Way feat. Al Hudson – Push (1979)
8. Positive Force – We Got The Funk (1980)
9. Fat Larry’s Band – Act Like You Know It (1982)
10. Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne – Spank (1978)
11. Sharon Brown – I Specialise In Love (1982)
12. Tom Browne – Funkin’ For Jamaica (1980)
13. The Whispers – Let’s Go All The Way (1978)
14. Hi Gloss – You’ll Never Know (1981)
15. Sister Sledge – He’s The Greatest Dancer (1978)
16. Webster Lewis – Give Me Some Emotion (1979)
17. Leon Haywood – Don’t Push It, Don’t Force It (1980)
18. Rodney Franklin – The Groove (1980)

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Get funky: Remembering Disco

March 22nd, 2007 2 comments

In the 1981 Bill Murray comedy Stripes, a character ( played by Judge Reinhold) wears a t-shirt bearing a legend which summed up a particular spirit of the time: “DISCO SUCKS“.

Of course, our t-shirted friend was spectacularly wrong. He might have had a point, however, had his t-shirt proclaimed: “Certain aspects of Disco Suck, particularly its appropriation, dilution and exploitation by The Man who has no interest whatsoever in maintaining its artistic and, let it be said, joyful integrity.” But those who represented the “Disco Sucks” mindset were already struggling with the two syllables contained in the name of the genre they claimed to despise, never mind applying their mind to what they were really protesting against.

Of course, nobody was obliged to like Disco. I don”t hold the artistic talents of Ms Paris Hilton in high regard, but would find it unnecessary to communicate my protest at her lack of talent through sartorial media. The “Disco Sucks” movement (which went as far as record burnings) was not about the music.

There is little doubt that some resented Disco because the sub-culture was alien to supposed “American values”. For one thing, disco was the first musical genre that allowed homosexuals to express themselves explicitly in a mainstream arena. For another, it was dominated by lots of black people, in an age before every suburban boy was from da “hood, yo!

Of course, Disco was not a homogenous genre. Even at its roots, it was disparate. Gay Disco, mainly Euro-based and heavy on synthethisers, was quite a different kettle of lamé flares from the harder bass-driven funk sounds of Black Disco, or the harmony & backbeat Disco for which the Sound of Philly provided the blueprint. Somehow the two cultures collided and fed of each other, to the point that Earth Wind & Fire dressed as outrageously as Sylvester.

Disco was black and and it was gay. It was quite fabulous and it was popular. So Commercial America had to lighten it, straighten it, exploit it. And thus the Kings of Disco were inaugurated: three white lads from Australia who just a few years previously were the Kings of Melancholy Ballads. Make no mistake, the Bee Gees produced some good Disco, but they were no more the “Kings of Disco” as Benny bloody Goodman ever really was the “King of Jazz” (The Man tried the same trick a decade later when he sought to crown Vanilla Ice the “King of Rap”. That time, The Man failed, and Hip Hop prospered commercially anyhow).

Who knows whether Disco would have crossed over “” been dragged over “” into the mainstream in such an exploitative manner as it was, had it not been for the success of the Saturday Night Fever, and the uncontrollable popularity of its (only half-decent) soundtrack. Suddenly Disco was everywhere. The muppets of Sesame Street did a Disco album, with Grover in iconic Travolta pose, of course; Ethel Merman “” the natural badass queen of sweaty funk “” got in on the act; and ridiculous manufactured pop acts such as Boney M came to be regarded not only as being part of the Disco movement, but as representative of it (a mistaken notion perpetuated even today by Afro-wigged revivalists. Let it be known that Boney M were not Disco!).

If Grover, Ethel and the dubbed Bobby Farrell were Disco, then one might confidently pronounce that Disco indeed Sucked. But they weren”t, and it didn”t. Just as Ethel Merman got the funk, the disco-funk scene in particular was reaching its artistic peak. While much of Disco”s varied genres were effectively killed by the Studio 54 hype, “Disco Duck” and John Travolta”s choreography by 1981, the funk sub-genre lived on and evolved. Alas not Chic, those innovators who were too closely identified with the Studio 54-type scene “” ironically so, if one reads the history behind “Le Freak” (Nile Rodgers has much to say on the subject).

And all this to introduce a few early-80s disco-funk classics that survived the Death of Disco “” and a bonus track of a superb mid-“80s South African dance classic, Brenda & the Big Dudes” “Weekend Special”.

Positive Force – We Got The Funk
Skyy – Here’s To You
Jimmy “˜Bo” Horne – Spank
One Way – Push
Billy Ocean – Stay The Night
Brenda Fassie – Weekend Special