You likely won't have heard of John Morales, but he's one of those behind-the-scenes innovators who was at the forefront of shaping the disco genre we know today.
If Tom Moulton invented the remix, then John Morales and his production partner Sergio Munzibai took the baton and sprinted ahead of the pack during the 70s and 80s. Working out of New York City (where else) under their M&M moniker, the pair were responsible for over 650 productions, edits and remixes until Munzibai's death in 1991.
At a time when beat-matching two records together was still seen as a novelty, and a 'don't bore us, get to the chorus' mentality prevailed in the record industry, John and Sergio were routinely elongating the disco hits of the era into 11-12 minute opuses. Astonishingly, as this FACT Magazine article points out, they were doing all this at a time when editing a track meant literally getting a razorblade out and chopping up reels of tape.
But that wasn't the extent of their abilities. The pair were famed for their remixes - and I use that word in the literal sense. Unlike most remixes we hear today, which are often essentially a brand new track with just snippets of the original remaining, M&M actually took the original elements of the song and put them back together again in a different order and. This often resulted in louder, more prominent drums and more breakdowns/build ups - elements geared towards club use. They would often add extra percussion, employing bongos, congas and bells to reflect their Latin roots.
Accumulating a vast body of work, Morales still DJs and produces today, and has mixed legends such as Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Jocelyn Brown, Candi Staton, Loleatta Holloway and CHIC.
Here's a few of my favourite M&M mixes.
There's a number of different M&M versions of this stone cold classic from Candi, but this recently re-released 2014 Dub of 'Young Hearts' turns it into an 11 minute epic:
John also remixed a track which has become one of my all time favourites - Inner Life's 'Caught Up (In A One Night Love Affair)'. For me this track perfectly walks the line between melancholy and euphoria:
The M&M mix of 'Get It Up For Love' from Tata Vega is a must for any self-respecting disco DJ: