Rosy Ross Top Ten
Rosy said “This Top Ten is an attempt to express the dizzying highs and the bittersweet lows (often at the same time) of disco sentiment. It was seriously hard to shortlist, and I’ll prob be mulling it over weeks later.”
Hercules and Love Affair – Blind.
ANOHNI’s voice is sublime and Andy Butler’s lyrics and arrangement classic disco; a lament of sorts, set to twinkling synths, driving bass and ecstatic horn melodies. It’s introspective and it’s a sing-along. Loving that first H&AF album taught me something about the history of club music and the queer, black and latinx communities that produced and danced to disco music – life has never been the same since.
Late Nite Tuff Guy – One Nite in a Disco.
You-just-can’t without referencing Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards and the countless loving edits and remixes of Chic and Sister Sledge songs. This chuggy reimagining of ‘He’s the Greatest Dancer’ is completely bewitching and far, far too cool for school. LNTG will recalibrate your appreciation of the classics if you’ve been feeling overexposed.
Taana Gardner – Heartbeat (Club Version).
From the album: Larry Levan’s Classic West End Records Remixes Made Famous At The Legendary Paradise Garage – which I found at Reckless, in fact. I gave it to a friend for his birthday and I sort of regret it, because every single song on it is insane! This one’s a sexy slow burner, set to an actual heartbeat rhythm. Taana Gardner’s voice is one in a billion, and, like every tune touched by Larry Levan, the sound is iridescent. One for your very best speakers.
Plustwo – Melody.
An italo classic. There’s a significant amount of bad italo to pick though, but when you find the good ones they are SO good. This very lovely track is a lesson in how to dance and sing through the yearning. And who’d’ve thought that helium balloon/chipmunk vocal effect could be so… affecting?
Sally Shapiro – I’ll Be By Your Side (Tensnake Remix).
Can’t do a disco sentiments Top Ten without Sally Shapiro, the Swedish, italo-inspired band which released a number of sugary, synth pop heart melters with belting euro basslines. Tensnake slows things down a tad, drawing out the icier sounds that Scandi disco does so well, and making the synth lines shimmer in sympathy.
Faze Action – Magic Touch (FA Paradise ’89 House Mix).
Edging into the balearic zone here – a genre that learned a thing or two from disco about pitting dreams vs. reality. I first heard this at Pike’s in Ibiza, where the louche, international disco spirit is very much alive and kicking. The piano-driven melody is so compelling and occasionally winds through my dreams at night, beckoning me back to the dancefloor.
Patrick Cowley – Kickin’ In.
I was introduced to Patrick Cowley through his mind-blowing remix of I Feel Love. He was a great composer, a synth wizard, and his back catalogue covers all sorts of moods, genres and soundscapes. This track is full throttle disco, irresistable, and encapsulates that special anticipation of a night out dancing, and the ecstasy that can be released across a room of people dancing together.
Dinosaur – Kiss Me Again (alternate mix/B side).
This Arthur Russell/Nicky Siano-produced version is my favourite. The song is about infatuation and madness. It’s dark magic. All the disco elements are there, but closing in on you, as though the vocalist is confiding in you with her face just a bit too close for comfort. Listen out for the “shoop”. So, so good.
Hypnolove – La Piscine.
This song is so very very French disco, with cute chorus, flutey bits and flirty everything. The vocals are breathy and sweet, but there’s a sting in the tale – it’s actually about a poolside break up, and she knows exactly what she’s doing. Sometimes you need a bit of salt or citric acid in the cocktail.
Grace Jones – La Vie en Rose.
Grace, Grace, forever! Perhaps not an obvious selection from her formindable repertoire, but this song – originally performed by the incredible Édith Piaf – means something like ‘life seen through rose-tinted glasses’, and is about the intoxicating power of being in love. Released in Europe in 1945, after another war, there’s an underlying sense that this relief and happiness can’t last, and Grace’s delivery and the nostalgic bossa nova version doesn’t shy away from the bittersweet truth. And that’s disco.