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John Morales: The M&M Mixes (BBE)

John Morales: The M&M Mixes (BBE)

Recently I have been reading some interesting political histories of disco: how anti-gay and anti-black elements (notably in white radio and rock culture) conspired to kill the music, and how the combination of cocaine, money and the hijacking of the culture by the Studio 54 types ripped the music away from its roots. When all those factors...

Various: Alice Russell; The Pot of Gold Remixes (Little Poppet)

Various: Alice Russell; The Pot of Gold Remixes (Little Poppet)

This may well be for a minority audience for a few reasons: not as many people liked UK soul singer Alice Russell's late 2008 album Pot of Gold quite as much as I did (but seemed to like her Auckland gig a whole lot more than me, I quit out of despair). And this is a double disc of remixes of those album tracks by the likes DJ Vadim, Mr Scruff,...

Freda Payne: Band of Gold/Contact/Reaching Out (Edsel/Triton)

Freda Payne: Band of Gold/Contact/Reaching Out (Edsel/Triton)

Although it was slightly ambiguous about who had failed on the wedding night, it is Freda who says her new husband should come back and "love me like you tried before". And so we might guess . . . This was interesting and slightly saucy stuff -- was he gay or impotent? -- but the sexy Payne from Detroit turned it into a hit in...

Vanessa Daou: Joe Sent Me (Daou)

Vanessa Daou: Joe Sent Me (Daou)

My dad always used the phrase "Joe sent me", it was the old password to get into illegal bars and speakeasies and the implication was that you were gaining access to the illicit, and therefore rather seductive, world on the other side of the door. Vanessa Daou's breathy, sexually-fuelled electronica offers an entry to that kind of...

Van McCoy: The Hustle (1975)

Van McCoy: The Hustle (1975)

So how long does it take to write a song? James Taylor says he wrote Steamroller Blues in as long as it took to scribble the words down, but maybe that doesn't really count -- especially if you've heard Steamroller Blues. If you look at the credits on some current r'n'b songs and see the artist's name alongside that of the four producers...

ROBIN GIBB INTERVIEWED (2010): To Bee Gee, or not to Bee Gee

ROBIN GIBB INTERVIEWED (2010): To Bee Gee, or not to Bee Gee

Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees – younger brother of Barry and twin to Maurice who died in 2003 – is on the road again, this time singing the Bee Gees' classics as a solo artist. And he's done it before. Forty years ago in fact when he briefly quit the band after their Sixties fame (half a dozen chart-topping singles) and was...

Various Artists: Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah; 70s New York Disco (Backbeats/Triton)

Various Artists: Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah; 70s New York Disco (Backbeats/Triton)

Some music -- even from the first few bars -- is time-specific. The merest whiff of a particular drum sound and guitar can conjure up rockabilly of the Fifties, and some beats plus swooping strings or a horn part can just scream "disco" at you. In that case, this 11 track compilation is unnecessarily subtitled because you get its...

Blonde Redhead: Penny Sparkle (4AD)

Blonde Redhead: Penny Sparkle (4AD)

This album by the US-based trio (Italian-born Montreal-raised twins and a Japanese singer, here with a keyboardist and a Moog player) arrived late last year but is timely to now address given they will appear at the forthcoming Laneway Festivals in New Zealand -- and what an enticing, dreamy and dim-the-lights collection this is to persuade you...

Various Artists: Riddim Box (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

Various Artists: Riddim Box (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

Perhaps just a heads-up for DJs and samplers on this one? Here be a double disc of UK underground and dancefloor tracks which should pull the punters to a spot under the mirrorball: chipping electro-bleep from MJ Cole (Volcano Riddum); lo-tech beat merchant NB Funky with the title piece; the slightly squelchy (Tubby T's Ready She Ready given...

Donna Summer, Bad Girls (1979)

Donna Summer, Bad Girls (1979)

In musical arguments, as with political ones, the area of grey between the black and white can be as big as the other two combined. History books say you were either a Beatles or a Stones fan, but my friends and I liked them both -- and the Four Tops, the Dave Clark Five, Lou Christie, Sam the Sham, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Roy Orbison...

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