60 More Classic Dance Hits Of The 70s (Connoisseur Collection 1991)
This three CD compilation was one of the first CD box sets I ever bought, thrilled to replace my 7″ and 12″ vinyl collection of many of these classic tracks. I continually regret my decision to chuck away the vinyl but this has been a purchase which I have played consistently over the years. I also bought its companion release, the inevitably titled 60 Classic Dance Hits in this new indestructible format – but it rotted. In the early days of CD there was a chemical reaction which occurred between the CD in its case and the paper inserts and it went a horribly browny-gold colour on both sides and became unplayable. This fate did not totally escape this collection but it has just gone the funny colour of the front of the discs which hasn’t, thankfully, effected its playability. There are, true, a number of tracks which I have on other CDs, but a number which I only have on this collection. I think twenty-eight years on the damage would have been done by now so I think I’m fairly safe.
I think this is a little different from many dance/disco collections as it has a very British bias. The sleeve notes contain the UK chart positions (that saved me a bit of time) and a number of them were hits only in the UK and were by UK artists. There’s a fair share of the big American names with songs that we might expect to see on disco compilations but these were probably more evident on the earlier collection. Here, we dig a little deeper to include reggae, northern soul, slow dances as well as the more obviously disco tracks which do span the decade but with the greater majority coming from the mid/latter years. With these essential compilation CDs it is important to know what tracks can be found on them so here you will find them listed with their highest chart position (UK/US) if released as a single and links if I have more information on the artist elsewhere on the blog. I’ll pick out a handful of tracks to give a flavour of what makes these CDs essential.
2. Disco Nights (Rock Freak) – G.Q (1979) (UK#42, US#12) (also on “Native New Yorker“)
3. He’s The Greatest Dancer – Sister Sledge (1979) (UK#6,US#9)
6. Whodunnit- Tavares (1977) (UK#5, US#22)
7. You See The Trouble With Me – Barry White (1976) (UK#2)
8. Is This A Love Thing – Raydio (1978) (UK#27)
9. Boogie Nights- Heatwave (1977) (UK#2, US#2) (also on “Disco Classics“)
12. You’re My Everything – Lee Garrett (1976) (UK#15)
13. Yum Yum (Gimmee Some) – Fatback Band (1975) (UK#40)
A delicious squelchy bassline on this highly likeable slab of street funk. The lyrics are absolute nonsense about liking ice cream and cornflakes yet the rhythm and feel of the track makes it cool and just a little startling when we heard it first back in 1975. The first of their 6 UK Top 40 hits they perhaps were never as hard-hitting as this again, softening the sound and upping the commercial feel on bigger hits such as “Do The Spanish Hustle” and “I Found Lovin'”. The Fatback Band always had potential for me to be a funk supergroup but were unable to find pop chart success in the US. They had quite a few fine moments and this is one of them.
15. We Are Family – Sister Sledge (1979) (UK#8, US#2)
16. Good Times – Chic (1979) (UK#5, US#1)
17. Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton (1976) (UK#2, US#20)
Up there amongst the greatest disco tracks of all time, this combines southern soul and subtle country and western influences (especially in the lyrics) with disco music and a sheer uplifting danceability which is nothing short of genius. Candi puts in a great vocal on this track which was produced for her by Dave Crawford who propelled her into the big time. It’s a great song of independence and empowerment. Lyrically, I always smile at the couplet “Encourage the babies every time they say/self-preservation is what’s really going on today“. Candi knows some very articulate babies! Not even “I Will Survive” deals with a toxic relationship, which was the source of this song, in such an uplifting way. Further collaborations between Candi and Crawford were equally positive but did not have the depth of this song and did tend to sound like “Young Hearts.” It has scored chart placings for Candi on the UK on two separate occasions in 1986 as a re-mix and most successfully in 1999 as a re-recording when it got to number 29 when Candi was hot again thanks to her participation on the club classic that will never fade away “You Got The Love”. In 2018 Candi released her 30th album, appropriately titled “Unstoppable”.
18. Take That To The Bank- Shalamar (1978) (UK#20)
A pair of dancers from the US TV show “Soul Train” put together by the producers after session singers of the same name scored first time off with a so-so Motown medley “Uptown Festival”. Jeffrey Daniel and Jody Hewitt joined forces with vocalist Gerald Brown on an extended financial metaphor of a song which despite their much greater success worldwide in the 80’s for me ranks alongside “A Night To Remember” as my favourite of theirs. There have been personnel changes over the years with Brown being replaced by Howard Hewitt in their golden period and Daniel and Hewitt still perform alongside Carolyn Griffey, daughter of the man instrumental in putting the group together in the first place. Co-written and produced by Leon Sylvers, it would have been a great track for his already established family act The Sylvers who had scored a US#1 in 1976 with their track “Boogie Fever”. Instead it became the second of 11 UK Top 40 hits for Shalamar.
19. Galaxy Of Love –Crown Heights Affair (1978) (UK#24)
20. Do What You Wanna Do – T. Connection (1977) (UK#11)
The biggest and best track from this group from the Bahamas who got big local success and moved to Miami and TK records to join the sunshine sounds of labelmates KC and George McCrae. This is a track which has improved with age and still sounds like a relevant piece of disco funk. This was the big hit of their debut album “Magic” and they recorded three more albums for the label before moving to Capitol in the early 80’s where unfortunately their commercial sales continued to dwindle.
1.Now That We’ve Found Love – Third World (1978) (UK#10)
2. Can You Feel The Force – The Real Thing (1979) (UK#5) (also on “Disco Classics“)
3. Disco Music (I Like It) – J.A.L.N Band (1976) (UK#21)
4. Hi Tension – Hi Tension (1978) (UK#13)
The Brit-funk movement kicked into action in 1978 with this extremely likeable funky track which put lie to the perception that British soul and funk music was inferior. This North London band added a bit of a Caribbean feel to the mix with a hint of steel drums over an explosive ear-worm of a chant. The group at times consisted of Phil Fearon who would go on to have hits in the 80’s leading pop-soul combo Galaxy and Courtney Pine joined them on tour. Their one album was released on Island Records and I actually thought they were going to be huge. I bought this single and played just as much the ballad B-side “Girl I Betcha” which had an Earth Wind and Fire feel and was confirmation to me that there was talent in this group. Both their UK hits, this name-checking opener and the follow-up are included on this CD. Follow-up “The British Hustle” was a little late in cashing in with the original dance craze which gave hits for the standard, the Spanish and Latin variations but reinforced the Britishness of the enterprise and gave them a higher chart position reaching number 8. Both tracks were as good as one another and I think there was a considerable amount of untapped potential to this group which perhaps should have demanded a longer term investment from their record company.
5. Dancing In The City – Marshall Hain (1978) (UK#3)
6. Silly Games- Janet Kay (1979) (UK#2)
7. Reggae For It Now – Bill Lovelady (1979) (UK#12)
8. Uptown Top Ranking – Althea & Donna (1977) (UK#1)
9. I Love To Love- Tina Charles (1976) (UK#1)
We knew Tina’s voice from the 5000 Volts hit “I’m On Fire” and from those cheapie Top Of The Pops cover versions where she was used as a session singer before making her big breakthrough with this Biddu composition and production. I thought Tina Charles was great in 1976, a worthy successor to the girl stars of the 60’s and when this topped the charts you’d have to go back to 1968 and Mary Hopkins’ “Those Were The Days” to find the previous British solo female chart-topper. Biddu had scored a chart-topper with Carl Douglas and the Kung-Fu craze and some hits with his own orchestra but with Tina he had his muse and began a couple of years of a run of hits which sold well worldwide but couldn’t crack the US. This was her biggest and best track, the slight gender shift of the man who only wanted to dance whilst the girl wanted to canoodle made it appealing and the song itself is so catchy and performed superbly. I’ve seen Tina perform this and her other hits a few times over the years reminding me of the girl in the floppy cap I always had a bit of a crush on when I saw her on “Top Of The Pops” in 1976.
10. Queen Of Clubs – KC & Sunshine Band (1974) (UK#7)
Their five US pop number 1’s would have to wait to begin clocking up until the following year but we Brits lapped up this debut hit in 1974 and I could argue the case for this being their best ever track. Stabbing staccato brass gives it a real urgency, KC’s vocal is convincing and it also contains the (uncredited) magnificent falsetto of George McCrae hot on the heels of his own debut chart-topper. Maybe not as sunshiny as some of their biggest hits but this really helped establish the Miami sound. In the US they really were one of the big singles group in the second half of the decade, in the UK they had to wait until 1983 for their sole number 1 “Give It Up” which sounded lacklustre compared to their big 70’s hits.
11. You Sexy Thing – Hot Chocolate (1975) (UK#2, US#3)
12. Get Up And Boogie – Silver Convention (1976) (UK#7, US#2)
13. It Only Takes A Minute – 100 Tons & A Feather (1976) (UK#9)
14. British Hustle – Hi Tension (1978) (UK#8)
15. Reach Out (I’ll Be There) – Gloria Gaynor (1975) (UK#14)
16. Dance (Disco Heat) – Sylvester (1978) (UK#29, US#19)
17. From New York To LA – Patsy Gallant (1977) (UK#6)
At one time nicknamed the “Canadian Disco Queen” Patsy is a one-hit wonder in the UK known really only for this delightful slab of very pop influenced disco. This always reminds me of a stand-up comedy act Pam Ann who is still going strong but who used to be a regular crowd puller in Brighton and London in the 1990’s. As might be guessed by her name Pam’s comedy was cabin crew based, she wears a stewardess’ uniform and mercilessly rips apart the many airport staff who flock to see her show. As a finale she would perform to this song in roller boots, which sounds odd, but was something I always found really quite affecting, actually, the hairs are sticking up on the back of my neck thinking about it. I always liked this song anyway but now every time I hear it I can’t get the vision of a trolley dolly in uniform twirling around the stage and dance floor of whatever venue she was performing in.
From NY to LA. From Patsy to Pam Ann
19. Footsee – Wigan’s Chosen Few (1975) (UK#9)
20. Reaching For The Best – The Exciters (1975) (UK#31)
2. Baby Don’t Change Your Mind – Gladys Knight & Pips (1977) (UK#4)
3. Here I Go Again – Archie Bell & The Drells (1972) (UK#11)
After the first surge of success with the Philadelphia International label it would seem a bold move for the Three Degrees to change direction from that smooth Philly sound. The fact that they were always credited in the UK press of being a favourite of Prince Charles kept them in the headlines and a move to the European Ariola label saw them pairing up with Giorgio Moroder which relaunched the group and gave them another four UK Top 40 hits to add to the 7 from their first phase of their career. Their biggest hit “When Will I See You Again” was full of the warmth of Sheila Ferguson’s vocal but this feels chilly and even slightly tempestuous as Sheila unleashes the powerful blast of her vocal, sweetened not by Moroder’s icy production but by Valerie and Helen’s backing. The girls had gone uptempo before with their contribution of their US #1 with MFSB but with this disco track they had become once again relevant and contemporary.
5. Win Place Or Show (She’s A Winner) – The Intruders (1974) (UK#14)
6. Come On Over (To My Place) – The Drifters (1972) (UK#9)
7. Girls – The Moments & Whatnauts (1975) (UK#3)
8. Feel The Need In Me – Detroit Emeralds (1973) (UK#4)
9. That’s The Way I Like It – KC & The Sunshine Band (1975) (UK#4, US#1) (also on “Rhythm Divine 2“)
10. Funky Nassau- The Beginning Of The End (1971) (UK#31, US#15)
11. Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry (1976) (UK#7, US#1) (also on “Disco Classics“)
12. Disco Stomp- Hamilton Bohannon (1975) (UK#6)
This is a track I have never seen on any other compilation. I even had a best of Hamilton Bohannon CD where it didn’t even feature, amazingly as this was his biggest UK hit. Bohannon is a noted percussionist and the drums feature heavily on this thuddingly funky track. Vocally he does little more than mention the places where everyone is doing the disco stomp but the whole thing feels hypnotic and certainly unlike anything that was in the charts at that time.
13. I Love Music – O’ Jays (1976) (UK#13, US#5)
14. If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me) – Staple Singers (1974) (UK#34, US#9)
15. If You Don’t Know Me By Now – Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes (1972) (UK#9, US#3)
16. I’ve Been Lonely So Long – Frederick Knight (1972) (UK#22, US#27)
17. I Wanna Get Next To You – Rose Royce (1977) (UK#14, US#10)
Those of you who still, after all these years, think that Rose Royce was a female artist rather than a group need to take a listen to this achingly beautiful ballad. Gwen Dickey, who had powered her way through tracks such as “Carwash”, “Wishing On A Star” and “Is It Love You’re After” is relegated to the background here as Kenny Copeland excels with an Eddie Kendricks inspired vocal. Producer Norman Whitfield, best known for his work with The Temptations, wrote this for a love scene in the movie “Carwash”. Lyrically, it touches on the same delusional male approach of “Just My Imagination” and it ranks among Rose Royce’s very best and one of Whitfield’s best compositions and productions.
19. This Will Be – Natalie Cole (1975) (UK#32, US#6)
An incredible debut single, this is sheer joy from the very first notes and introduced a vocalist who was exuberant and ready to make her mark from the off. I loved it from the very first time I heard it, not even knowing it was by the daughter of my Dad’s favourite singer whose work I knew very well. Comparisons were made to Aretha, but I actually never heard Aretha with this much verve and optimism. If it resembles anything it is Barbara Acklin’s “Love Makes A Woman” but this is so much more infectious. I bought the single and pretty much wore it out. I was given the debut album for Christmas and did much the same thing to that (weirdly I have never bought that album “Inseparable” on CD to replace that vinyl copy). The call and response ending gives it a real gospel feel with Natalie the lead singer doing battle with Natalie on background vocals but it is the song’s swinging love for life which always hits home. You could tell that hers was going to be a significant career, in no way at this stage following in her father’s footsteps but obviously having learned so much from him in terms of vocals, phrasing and a jazz sensibility which could all be put to use on this very contemporary debut.
20. Right Back Where We Started From – Maxine Nightingale (1977) (UK#8, US# 2)