A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘disco

[MUSIC] Twelve music links: Beatles, Annie Lennox, Shakespears Sister, Céline Dion …

  • There is now a play expanding on the urban legend–is it?–that the Beatles came close to being reunited in a meeting in an Eastern Townships library divided by the Canadian-American border. CTV reports.
  • The Annie Lennox-curated exhibit “Now I let You Go …” at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art sounds amazing. The New York Times reports.
  • This Guardian feature on the reunification, after two and a half decades, of Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit in Shakespears Sister made me very happy.
  • Céline Dion seems to be in the middle of an interesting sort of renaissance. Why not a headlining appearance on Carpool Karaoke? VICE reports.
  • CTV News profiles the Summerside-born and Montréal-based electropop fiddler Denique, gaining praise for his innovative music and videos.
  • Noisey recently reported on an interestingly different early version of the Beyoncé song “Sorry”.
  • Dangerous Minds shares footage of a 1977 Bryan Ferry concert in Japan.
  • Vice provides readers with an introduction and overview to the best songs of Elton John.
  • Vice did readers the service of providing readers with an entry point into the discography of PJ Harvey.
  • Le Devoir looks at the phenomenon of K-Pop.
  • Josh Terry at Noisey makes the accurate point that the decision of the Chicago White Sox to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Disco Sucks riot, given the racism and homophobia of that movement, is a bad misstep.

[MUSIC] Five music links: Queer pop, Charli XCX, Comiskey Park disco, Eurythmics, decline of albums

  • Noisey recently took a fun look at the representation of queerness in American pop music, by Hailey Kiyoko among others.
  • Charli XCX sounds like someone I should listen for. Noisey reports.
  • JSTOR Daily reports on the factors, including homophobia, that led to the 1979 Comiskey Park riots that heralded the fall of disco in the United States.
  • Adam Mason at Popmatters recently made the case, after their LP reissues, of the importance of the Eurythmics. I agree with this line of argument entirely.
  • Alan Cross made the argument that, with new digital technologies, the album as a unit of music makes little sense. Instead, singles and playlists will take its place. Global News hosts the argument.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • James Bow calls for an end to the US-Canada Safe Third Country agreement prohibiting people coming from American soil from claiming refugee status in Canada.
  • D-Brief reports on the vast array of man-made minerals appearing in what is now being called the Anthropocene Era of Earth.
  • Dangerous Minds notes the efforts of the Disco Preservation Society to preserve DJ mixes from 1980s San Francisco.
  • Language Log takes issue with Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s argument that cryptographers, not linguists, would be needed in Arrival.
  • The LRB Blog notes impunity for murderers of civil society activists in Honduras.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen talks about Joyce Gladwell’s autobiography Brown Face, Big Master.
  • The NYRB Daily celebrates the work of Hercules Segers.
  • The Planetary Society Blog is skeptical of the Space X plan to send tourists past the Moon by 2018.
  • Supernova Condensate lists 8 things we know about Proxima Centauri b.
  • Towleroad reports on new walking tours being offered of gay London.
  • Arnold Zwicky engages with a California exhibition comparing paintings with movies.

[URBAN NOTE] “Once Upon A City: Glamour, disco transform suburban North York”

Writing in the Toronto Star, Janice Bradbeer describes the perhaps too-brief episode of the Inn on the Hill, disco-themed staycation retreat in North York.

It was a swinging place that attracted the rich and famous, as well as the average Torontonian.

The Inn on the Park, which opened in May 1963, featured what it said to be Canada’s first disco, Café Discotheque. “Killer Joe” Piro, a famous dance instructor, was brought up from Manhattan to teach guests to do the frug and Watusi when the disco opened in 1964. The discotheque promised “indigo mood music and pulsating rhythms” for its patrons.

The $4 million Inn on the Park resort rose up at the northeast corner of Leslie and Eglinton Ave. E., in what was then considered a suburban wasteland.

It was the start of the trend toward staycations, where the middle class could travel 15-minutes from downtown to an oasis for some R & R. The Inn on the Park, surrounded by parkland and set on a small hill, offered tennis, 6-hole golf course, heliport, shuffleboard, two swimming pools and skating in winter. There was also something new known as a “health club” called The Fitness Institute, headed up by Canadian fitness expert Lloyd Percival.

When the Inn on the Park closed its doors in 2004, staff recalled who had passed through the Inn — and not just the average Joe who wanted a taste of the good life.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 12, 2016 at 6:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Big Picture shares photos of motorbike racing in South Africa.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the stellar weather that planets of red dwarf stars might encounter.
  • Dead Things looks at two genetic studies which complicate the narrative of humanity’s spread.
  • Dangerous Minds shares the infamous anti-disco night of 1979 that spelled the end of the genre in North America.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers how one makes a home among strangers.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the UKIP MP claims the sun is responsible for the bulk of the Earth’s tides not the moon, and reports on a Kentucky judge who says gays ruined straight men’s ability to hug.
  • Language Log looks at changing patterns of language usage in Japanese.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money mocks the cosmic perspective of Gary Johnson.
  • The LRB Blog reports from devastated Lesbos.
  • Maximos62 maps the smoke from this year’s Indonesian fires.
  • The NYRB Daily shares vintage photos from mid-1960s Cuba.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on a recent tour of NASA facilities.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on a call for a single Circassian alphabet, suggests a Russian initiative to use sufism to unite Russian Muslims will end badly, and argues that Russian criticism of language policy in post-Soviet countries is linked to geopolitics.

[VIDEO] You Spin Me Round at Honest Ed’s

Touring Toronto with my visiting parents today, in the basement of Honest Ed’s I came across Jessar’s Disco Spinlite in action, a sphere 15 centimetres in diameter and using a 25 watt bulb, UPC 6211396706320.

"You spin me round" #toronto #honesteds #disco #spinlite

I also took a video of it, playing below now on automatic loop for full effect.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 29, 2015 at 10:45 pm

[LINK] “Long live disco”

I largely approve of Dorian Lynskey’s Guardian article arguing that, whatever it’s called, disco is a dominant strain in pop music.

To understand the scale of disco’s triumph you have to appreciate the magnitude of its initial rise and fall. Pop music has always been susceptible to fads but disco’s imperial phase is the closest it has ever got to the irrational exuberance of a stock-market bubble. Between July 1977 and August 1979 30 out of 38 US Billboard No 1 singles were disco records, whether by titans of the form (Chic, the Bee Gees, Donna Summer), canny dilettantes (Blondie, the Rolling Stones) or corny opportunists (Meco, with his glitterball Star Wars medley). The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack remains the seventh biggest-selling album ever made. Passengers on the bandwagon included KISS, the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Ethel Merman and the Cookie Monster.

At the same time it was hated: by older black artists who resented the way it replaced the muscle and grit of funk with a mindless, frictionless groove; by punks who saw it as crass, bubbleheaded capitalism incarnate; by macho rock fans who believed its effeminacy was infecting even some of their favourite artists; by pundits who made it a cultural lightning rod for their growing angst about national decline and America’s place in the world. In a telling coincidence, the summer of 1979, when baseball fans trashed disco records at Chicago’s Comiskey Park and the Knack’s My Sharona ousted Chic’s Good Times from the top of the Billboard chart, also saw the launch of Jerry Falwell’s ultra-conservative lobby group The Moral Majority. And of course some people hated it, as people tend to, simply because it was everywhere.

To Chic’s Nile Rodgers the backlash “felt like it was racism, like it was book-burning”, but a more potent driver than prejudice was embarrassment. To some longstanding opponents it might have been too black, too gay, too European or too female, but it only lost the public when it became too naff. The industry’s attitude was, roughly, let us never speak of this again. “Disco was dead by 81,” says pioneering house DJ Frankie Knuckles. “Overnight it went from disco to country-and-western and heavy rock. The industry was trying to get 360 degrees from what was going on the day before and they didn’t want anything that in the slightest way resembled disco.”

Knuckles and the other gay African Americans who invented house music began the process of rescuing disco from its own excesses by stripping away the cliches and reconnecting it with its subversive counter-cultural roots. Tough and electronic, house was disco in the raw. Years later the house producer Gusto looped a sample of Harvey Mason’s Groovin’ You over a drum machine and pointedly called the result Disco’s Revenge. But disco bounced back quickly in the mainstream, too, just with a different identity and updated production. Michael Jackson’s Thriller retained the lessons he learned on Off the Wall while Madonna approached Nile Rodgers to produce Like a Virgin. Like beneficiaries of a musical witness relocation programme, Billie Jean and Into the Groove were disco records in all but name, as were the early Hi-NRG productions of Stock Aitken Waterman. “No one has named the dominant trend in 80s music because they’re afraid to: it’s disco, and all the critics know it,” wrote proud fan Bentley Boyd in 1987. “They know it and fear it. It is the strange uncle who lives in the attic and can’t be acknowledged.”

This was the strange thing. Disco had so thoroughly reconfigured pop that even as some of the biggest musicians of the 80s assimiliated its tenets – the synthetic four-to-the-floor beat, the celebration of dancing and community, the dominance of black and female artists, the hints of sexual ambiguity in someone such as Prince – audiences regarded their music as a different entity because nobody was wearing polyester jumpsuits and employing a Barry Gibb falsetto. It was just a matter of time before the spectre of ridicule passed and the continuum became more obvious.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 2, 2013 at 2:00 am