Following the launch of our impending series of alfresco events we're calling 'El Verano del Disco', we thought we'd compile 5 of our favourite records to play outdoors, next to the pool, in the sun, cocktail in hand... you get the picture.
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Since Love Come Down's inception 3 years ago, there's been a handful of songs that we've kept coming back to again and again. Find out which tracks made the top 5 Love Come Down Anthems and why...
In the digital age, where everybody (us included) is a DJ, it's very rare that you'd hear a song with a tempo change in the middle. Most modern tracks are rigidly tempo locked, perfect to DJ with but not exactly pushing any boundaries.
In the 70s and 80s, however, there was a trend of producers and artists utilising the tempo change as a powerful tool to add impact in the middle of the track – in some cases changing the mood completely. Here's 3 examples of tracks we love which do just that:
Diana Ross 'Love Hangover'
Perhaps the most obvious choice, this Diana classic starts off as a slow burning, sultry ballad. The tightly mic'd vocals are very much front and centre, as if Ms. Ross is whispering directly in your ear. Then, at around the 2.40 mark, it transforms into a full power disco stomper, complete with massive Earl Young-esque open high hats and a bouncy bassline. Great stuff (and even better, re-edit king The Reflex has recently provided us with a DJ friendly version!).
The Chi-Lites 'My First Mistake'
Now here's where things get interesting. This absolute barnstormer of a track will be best known by most younger readers as one of the two tracks sampled by legendary DJ David Morales on his track 'Needin' U' - a house music anthem and a UK top ten hit in 1998. The original, though, is an incredible piece of work. Beginning as a mid-tempo funk track, 'My First Mistake' has a smooth, horn and string laden intro that essentially acts as a 2 minute build up. Then, the track explodes into what can only be described as complete fire. Insanely catchy vocals, a horn solo, string flourishes left, right and centre – plus listen out for the brilliant baritone male voices in there singing 'bet you bet you bet you' as low as humanly possible.
Taana Gardner 'When You Touch Me'
Perhaps a little more obscure, we discovered this Taana Gardner (of 'Heartbeat' fame) track because it's a Larry Levan production (of course) and features on various compilations, including this great West End Records retrospective mixed by Masters At Work. As the newest of these three tracks, it probably has the most 'kick' production-wise. The beginning is again very sultry, probably inspired by 'Love Hangover', but when the tempo change comes in the track pre-empts house music, transforming into a total banger complete with massive kick drum and four-to-the-floor hats. Plus is comes in at over 10 minutes long!
Before I really started getting into disco records, I might have known one Change song. 'Change Of Heart', with its 80s production from Minneapolis based Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis is perhaps their signature tune, and a great one at that (we particularly like the Dr. Packer Rework). But they're not one-hit wonders.
Earlier this month, they released 'Reach For The Sky: The Change Anthology' - a full set of remastered, extended versions taken from their formidable back catalogue. It's the perfect way to showcase some of their work prior to the aforementioned 'Change Of Heart' album from 1984.
Formed in Bologna, Italy in 1979 by businessman Jacques Fred Petrus and producer/songwriter Mauro Malavasi, Change looked to Chic for inspiration. Like their heroes Nile and Bernard, the pair opted for a behind the scenes role, concentrating on creating high quality backing tracks at studios in Italy that would then be sent over to the US to have vocals added. Like Chic, that meant the band featured a revolving door of musicians and singers and a distinct European feel.
One thing's for sure – they knew how to pick a vocalist. Debut album 'The Glow Of Love' featured two lead singers: a then relatively unknown Luther Vandross and the more established Jocelyn Brown, who had previously found fame singing for Musique on their hits 'In The Bush' and 'Keep On Jumpin', and would go on to great things with Inner Life.
The album's first single was 'A Lover's Holiday', which is a great place to start with Change if you're one of the uninitiated. The most popular version of this track is actually a remix by NYC based DJ and producer Jim Burgess, who was known in the 70s as one of the premier disco selectors and played at prestigious clubs such as the Paradise Garage:
Two more singles followed. 'Searching', led by a very familiar bassline, was a nice showcase for Vandross, but it was the third single and title track 'The Glow Of Love' that really cemented Change's place in disco history. A timeless song that oozes class, 'The Glow Of Love' is a perfect example of a track that counteracts the cliched, Saturday Night Fever-inspired archetype of the disco sound. We'll overlook the fact Phats & Small sampled it, for now:
Follow up album 'Miracles' came in 1981, and with it another couple of fantastic singles. 'Paradise' features potentially the most to-the-point bass guitar intro of all time:
After that came 'Hold Tight', a slower groove that isn't perhaps as dancefloor friendly but still has a lot to offer:
1982's 'Sharing Your Love' doesn't contain much of note, but 'This Is Your Time', released in 1983 (remember when bands used to release an album a year? Nor do I.) led with the title track. 'This Is Your Time' is typical of the Change sound - Italo disco production stylings with Chic-esque backing vocals where the lyrical focus is on going to a club:
From the same album there's also 'Got To Get Up', a sparse, slow-burner that has a lot more space between the elements than most other Change tracks:
And so we come to 1984, and 'Change Of Heart' itself. Undoubtedly a great track, but certainly not the only song Change should be remembered by.
The good doctor is also immensely productive, with scores of reworks on offer - many of which are commercially available.
Always adding some serious weight to the low end, Dr Packer's edits are quickly turning into an essential part of our playlists here at Love Come Down. Here's 3 of our favourites:
Dr. Packer 'Can't Figure Out'
This edit introduced me to the cracking original from Skipworth & Turner called 'Thinking About Your Love':
Dr Packer 'Magic In Your Eyes'
Another one that introduced me to a track I was completely unaware of, a lost classic from The Circle City Band: 'Magic':
Dr Packer 'Cranium'
An edit of one of Prince's dirtiest tracks - 'Head'. You can't go wrong:
When I'm DJing, there's only one CD that I never leave the house without: Prince Ultimate.
You may scoff that it's a Greatest Hits collection, but this is Prince we're talking about. Both discs are great, but Disc 2 is where this compilation really becomes a cut above your usual 'Best Of'. It's all about extended, 12" Prince.
The only gripe is that there's so many incredible tracks from Prince's 'purple patch' (1979's Prince through to 1988's Lovesexy) that had to be cut. 'When You Were Mine', 'Erotic City', 'Bambi', 'Take Me With U' and 'I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man' are all absent, amongst many others.
In the words of the great man: "So many hits, so little time."
Prince is the dream we all dreamed of. His music can be played in any context, to any crowd. If you have Prince Ultimate with you, you're sorted.
At a house music night? You can drop Prince.
DJing a wedding? There's countless options.
Hip-Hop or RnB night? No problem.
Playing a rock night? You can still play Prince (Ok, ok - this isn't on Prince Ultimate but it should've been)...
Need an incredible last-song-of-the-night option? It's on there.
It goes without saying that you can play Prince at a disco night. The man effortlessly fits into almost every genre - mainly because he is a genre unto himself.
Pitchfork have coincidentally posted an interesting article about '80s disco as part of their 'Pitchfork Essentials' series.
It's a genre and era that's central to Love Come Down's music policy and general ethos, so have a read:
There's also a 10 song playlist of tracks to listen to (which Apple Music users can sync to their phone). Look out for the Chemise and David Joseph tracks (they're bangers) as well as Larry Levan's definitive version of 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough', of course!
Check it out, and meanwhile standby for an announcement regarding our next party shortly...
Although not strictly an artist in his own right, DJ and Producer Lawrence Philpot - A.K.A. Larry Levan - is one of the most important people to have ever been a part of the disco scene.
Late Nite Tuff Guy's edits are some of the best around. Always adding his trademark 'muscle' (i.e. BIG drums) to classic tracks, he never fails to provide more modern sounding, yet respectful versions of some of the biggest party tunes in history.
It's been a genuine struggle to choose my favourite (the guy's prolific, there are 40+ edits on his soundcloud!), but I'm going to go with this... his slow burn take on the much edited all-time-disco-mega-hit 'I Want Your Love' from Chic:
Greg Wilson is one of the greatest disco DJs to have ever come out of the UK. His history is incredible, and despite a large (20 year!) career break that lasted until 2003, he remains a huge source of inspiration for us. Greg is massively eclectic and always ahead of the game with the best edits - the most recent live set on his Soundcloud features a Kendrick Lamar edit as the second track!
Plus, his blog - 'Being A DJ' - is a must read.
I always try and catch him when he comes to London, and his sets at Glastonbury are legendary. His closing set on the Genosys stage at the 2013 festival is still one of the defining disco sets I've ever witnessed. Anybody who drops 'Inspector Norse' at 6am on the final day of the best festival in the world is alright by me!
Needless to say, a Greg Wilson DJ set would be a dream booking for us.
Check it out below, and the accompanying blog-post about his first experience of Glastonbury is definitely worth a read.
It always surprises me that there's a seemingly endless supply of great 80s disco/boogie tracks, all of which seem to have amazing extended versions. There's nothing better than a proper extended version, and the specific mixes always have faintly ridiculous names.
Yesterday I discovered this: Gayle Adams 'Love Fever'. Despite what the YouTube title says, this is actually called the 'Mastermix' (!) - although 'Special Disco Version' was also a popular name of the era. So much so that former LCD Soundsystem members James Murphy and Pat Mahoney named their DJ duo just that.
Here it is then, 7 minutes 52 seconds of amazing 80s drum machine sounds and diva vocals...
There's only one track we need to post right now, this song says it all...