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Why was disco ignored by british musicians?


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Old 15-11-2012, 12:17
mushymanrob
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Yeah, im harking back to the punk/post punk era in british music, 1976-83.

It seems strange to me, that whilst disco was popular with the masses in the late 70's, it seems to have been totally ignored by british musicians highlighted even more so when you consider 79-82 were arguably the time when our charts were at the most diverse. from memory i can only think of the cheese merchants who used the disco style , mixed with pop, to produce anything slightly british disco-ish . (the nolans for eg).

whilst our inovative cool bands were either furthering punk, heavy metal, electro, two tone/ska, new wave, disco was ignored allowing the american acts to dominate that scene.

but what did impact on our home grown music scene was funk, the cooler, technically superior, style of dance based music. jazz funk in particular was highly popular in the clubs i went to in the early 80's. funks influence too can be seen in many tracks from spandau ballet, to abc, associates to blue rondo a la turk. captain sensible from one of punks most creative acts released 'wot'? almost a rap over a funk beat. several of our pop acts even tried rapping (wham rap? modern romance 'queen of the rapping scene' etc).

it just seems odd to me, that in this time of innovation, creativity, burgoning club/dance scene that british musicians seem to have ignored disco. is it any wonder that i hold the position i do regarding discos impact on the uk music scene.
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Old 15-11-2012, 13:32
soundstory
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The only person I can think of is Tina Charles, but she was pretty much the only Disco singer I can think of
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Old 15-11-2012, 14:17
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Elton John delved into Disco with "Victim of Love".
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Old 15-11-2012, 14:53
mushymanrob
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The only person I can think of is Tina Charles, but she was pretty much the only Disco singer I can think of
exactly, cheesy caberet style pop rubbish. we had so many great innovators in that era, why did none seemingly embrace disco? there was a ready market for it.

Elton John delved into Disco with "Victim of Love".
i think you can find the odd example, but it was by and large ignored.

the explosion in creating electronic music took off 1980-82, acts embraced funk, gary kemp went on record as saying "we play funk" (i remember that well because at the time i wasnt fond of funk).

funk, jazz funk, reggae, ska, rockabilly, all impacted on british musicians, the evidence is there in the charts in the early 80's. so why no disco? i know the disco sucks movement in america killed it pretty much overnight, but when did we ever do what we didnt want to? this was the era of rebellion, anything goes, do anything you wanna do, creativity, experimentation, and variety. and this was the pre-house era.
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Old 15-11-2012, 15:18
rachelgata
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The only reason I can think of is that disco was very much allied to a US "scene". and whilst the music became popular over here with listeners and entered popular culture via such things as Saturday Night Fever, there was never a specific scene over here. There wasn't an identifiable hub of disco culture over here, like NY's Studio 54 or the San Francisco gay scene.

Perhaps also it could be argued that disco was quite short-lived in its purest form and by the time it had become popular over here, "serious" British artists had moved onto funk and electro as that was seen as more innovative.

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Old 15-11-2012, 15:44
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Queen did an entire album that was disco influenced (Hot Space in 1982), and they got nothing but crap for it. I always thought it was pretty good. You can listen to the entire album here.
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Old 15-11-2012, 17:10
mushymanrob
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The only reason I can think of is that disco was very much allied to a US "scene". and whilst the music became popular over here with listeners and entered popular culture via such things as Saturday Night Fever, there was never a specific scene over here. There wasn't an identifiable hub of disco culture over here, like NY's Studio 54 or the San Francisco gay scene.
good point, but then again id ask why not? as disco was popular in the late 70's as the sales stats highlight. there was obviously a market for it, so not only british musicians seem to ignore it, but no club took it up and became the focus, the hib as you put it, for british disco...
Perhaps also it could be argued that disco was quite short-lived in its purest form and by the time it had become popular over here, "serious" British artists had moved onto funk and electro as that was seen as more innovative.

it could be argued that pure punk was short lived too, but it was still popular for a decade after its initial burst.

hmm... but disco was popular here before funk and electro, 1980 being the turning point (pre 80 disco was popular, post 80 funk and electro became popular).

Queen did an entire album that was disco influenced (Hot Space in 1982), and they got nothing but crap for it. I always thought it was pretty good. You can listen to the entire album here.
i guess its down to personal taste as to whether or not 'hot space' was any good. to disco fans i suppose it was, but it didnt appear to appeal to queen fans, and queen themselves dropped disco after that. (i stand to be corrected on that though, as i didnt listen to queen, so am surmising off the info ihave).
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Old 15-11-2012, 18:15
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Electric Light Orchestra dabbled, as did the Bee Gees with perhaps the quintessential disco anthems - 'Saturday Night Fever' and 'Stayin' Alive'
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Old 15-11-2012, 19:30
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Something must be lost in translation here but Hot Chocolate, The Average White Band, The Bee Gees, The Real Thing, Heatwave (US guys who made it in UK), Pigbag, A Certain Ratio, 23 Skidoo, Cabaret Voltaire..all indulged in disco to different degrees during that period and most of them are British and pretty damn good.
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Old 15-11-2012, 22:06
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I have an idea which may or may not have merit, as I wasn't alive then and am not a disco aficionado.

Disco, to my mind, was propagated by DJs rather than the musicians themselves - most of the work was done by producers and session musicians, with some recognisable singers on the top. The disco "experience" didn't necessarily involve live music at all, so British DJs just used the US and European records they could get hold of.

I think the same is true for certain genres of techno and other electronic styles.
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Old 15-11-2012, 23:15
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The music that I used to dance to down at the disco back in the mid to late seventies was nearly all black american singers and bands.
Like a poster said above disco and its music did originate from the gay scene in San Francisco.
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Old 15-11-2012, 23:33
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even the stones went disco
same thing for rod stewart
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Old 15-11-2012, 23:44
stud u like
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Your disco needs you.
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Old 16-11-2012, 08:01
mushymanrob
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Electric Light Orchestra dabbled, as did the Bee Gees with perhaps the quintessential disco anthems - 'Saturday Night Fever' and 'Stayin' Alive'
true, the beegees were the only big player though, the only act to sell, however, according to the guiness book 'saturday night fever' WASNT a beegees album! it is not listed as such. and its success back in the late 70's highlights my point... because dispite its success, british musicians ignored it.

Something must be lost in translation here but Hot Chocolate, The Average White Band, The Bee Gees, The Real Thing, Heatwave (US guys who made it in UK), Pigbag, A Certain Ratio, 23 Skidoo, Cabaret Voltaire..all indulged in disco to different degrees during that period and most of them are British and pretty damn good.
awb? not aware of them doing disco, hot chocolate created pop, some with a disco flavour but they werent disco. the real thing created disco style pop, true, but that was one act whos chart reign was over before disco reached its zenith.
im not aware of the others creating disco and they certainly didnt bother the charts with it.

I have an idea which may or may not have merit, as I wasn't alive then and am not a disco aficionado.

Disco, to my mind, was propagated by DJs rather than the musicians themselves - most of the work was done by producers and session musicians, with some recognisable singers on the top. The disco "experience" didn't necessarily involve live music at all, so British DJs just used the US and European records they could get hold of.

I think the same is true for certain genres of techno and other electronic styles.
then it begs the question, why didnt british dj's create disco? where were our session musicians and producers?

even the stones went disco
same thing for rod stewart
'went' disco? 1 or 2 disco style tracks doesnt = 'went disco'. its not in doubt that some acts employed some disco elements, but compared to those who DID go for a reggae or funk influence, those who dabbled with disco are in a large minority.
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Old 16-11-2012, 10:23
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Depends what you think disco is.

The music journalist Andy Fyfe once described Genesis in Q Magazine as "disco dads" regarding their 1986 album Invisible Touch.
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Old 16-11-2012, 10:30
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Pet Shop Boys came just after that period.
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Old 16-11-2012, 12:02
soundstory
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Pigbag, A Certain Ratio, 23 Skidoo, Cabaret Voltaire..all indulged in disco to different degrees during that period and most of them are British and pretty damn good.
They did?
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Old 16-11-2012, 12:22
mushymanrob
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Depends what you think disco is.

The music journalist Andy Fyfe once described Genesis in Q Magazine as "disco dads" regarding their 1986 album Invisible Touch.
that was obviously a derogitory remark... lol.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco
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Old 16-11-2012, 13:02
Finny Skeleta
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whilst our inovative cool bands were either furthering punk, heavy metal, electro, two tone/ska, new wave, disco was ignored allowing the american acts to dominate that scene.
I think you've answered your own question there.

At that time Britain was producing some excellent music that was a product of and reflected the social and economic climate of the time.

Compared to what we had going on disco seemed like cheap, plastic escapism rooted in a world that didn't exist in Britain in 1977. Ok, there was a market for it here as evidenced by the sales but there was virtually no creative reason for UK artists to embrace the style at what was a very fertile creative time for music in this country.
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Old 16-11-2012, 13:28
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disco sucks
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Old 16-11-2012, 13:32
Alrightmate
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Were Hot Chocolate Disco?
The Real Thing?
The Three Degrees?

I'm sure we had a few British acts who did Disco.
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Old 16-11-2012, 13:34
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What about
Liquid Gold - Dance Yourself Dizzy
Kelly Marie - Feels Like I'm In Love
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Old 16-11-2012, 14:02
soundstory
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I think you've answered your own question there.

At that time Britain was producing some excellent music that was a product of and reflected the social and economic climate of the time.

Compared to what we had going on disco seemed like cheap, plastic escapism rooted in a world that didn't exist in Britain in 1977. Ok, there was a market for it here as evidenced by the sales but there was virtually no creative reason for UK artists to embrace the style at what was a very fertile creative time for music in this country.
I think that sums up things well
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Old 16-11-2012, 15:10
pmw_hewitt
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i guess its down to personal taste as to whether or not 'hot space' was any good. to disco fans i suppose it was, but it didnt appear to appeal to queen fans, and queen themselves dropped disco after that. (i stand to be corrected on that though, as i didnt listen to queen, so am surmising off the info ihave).
Unfortunately, the disco fans rejected it, too. Queen essentially took the same approach as Bob Dylan did on Bringing It All Back Home - the controversial new "style" took up Side A, whilst Side B was closer to their standard sounds. Even so, Queen attempted to make their sound "funk" and disco, whilst retaining their glam rock edge. Some of it works, such as Back Chat, but it was rejected by both sides as sounding too much like the other. Freddie Mercury would be on the receiving end of this six years later as well when he released his Barcelona project with Montserrat Caballe.

It also didn't help Queen that, whilst Freddie and John Deacon were enthusiastic about the sound, Brian May and Roger Taylor certainly weren't, with Taylor publicly blasting the album at the time.

It's an alright album, far better than its reputation suggests but not an instant classic either. The main problem with Hot Spsce is that it was both after its time (disco was out of fashion at the time) and before its time (Michael Jackson, a fan of the album, would meet huge success in the following year with Thriller, which similarly blended disco, funk and rock). But it hurt Queen enough that they took a year off and never gigged in the United States again.
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Old 16-11-2012, 17:26
mushymanrob
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I think you've answered your own question there.

At that time Britain was producing some excellent music that was a product of and reflected the social and economic climate of the time.

Compared to what we had going on disco seemed like cheap, plastic escapism rooted in a world that didn't exist in Britain in 1977. Ok, there was a market for it here as evidenced by the sales but there was virtually no creative reason for UK artists to embrace the style at what was a very fertile creative time for music in this country.
id agree with this assesment, although commercially it does seem like an opportunity lost.

Were Hot Chocolate Disco?
The Real Thing?
The Three Degrees?

I'm sure we had a few British acts who did Disco.
no, hot chocolate were pop, soul pop, they were long established before disco with some very fine tracks.
the real thing question has been answered
the three degrees were american!

What about
Liquid Gold - Dance Yourself Dizzy
Kelly Marie - Feels Like I'm In Love
what about them? one hit wonders that cashed in on the disco sound but dispite their success, like american disco, failed to follow through.

yes there were a few exceptions, yes there were some disco influenced tracks by uk artists, but again, compare uk acts who dabbled in disco with uk acts who dabbled in reggae, ska, rap, funk, and my question stands firm.

Unfortunately, the disco fans rejected it, too. Queen essentially took the same approach as Bob Dylan did on Bringing It All Back Home - the controversial new "style" took up Side A, whilst Side B was closer to their standard sounds. Even so, Queen attempted to make their sound "funk" and disco, whilst retaining their glam rock edge. Some of it works, such as Back Chat, but it was rejected by both sides as sounding too much like the other. Freddie Mercury would be on the receiving end of this six years later as well when he released his Barcelona project with Montserrat Caballe.

It also didn't help Queen that, whilst Freddie and John Deacon were enthusiastic about the sound, Brian May and Roger Taylor certainly weren't, with Taylor publicly blasting the album at the time.

It's an alright album, far better than its reputation suggests but not an instant classic either. The main problem with Hot Spsce is that it was both after its time (disco was out of fashion at the time) and before its time (Michael Jackson, a fan of the album, would meet huge success in the following year with Thriller, which similarly blended disco, funk and rock). But it hurt Queen enough that they took a year off and never gigged in the United States again.
fair comment
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