Tag Archives: Ritchie Family

Disco 1975

If you see Patti LaBelle today, wish her a happy birthday.

Nineteen seventy-five was a pivotal year for disco music. The genre was still very young; the name “disco” as a reference to the music genre was coined just two years earlier by journalist Vince Aletti. Disco music crossed over into the mainstream with more frequency, yet was not as ubiquitous a presence on the pop charts as it would become in the ensuing years of that decade. Artists who had their first top 40 singles in 1975 include Gloria Gaynor and KC and the Sunshine Band. In December of 1975, Donna Summer made her first appearance on the Hot 100 when “Love to Love You Baby” made its debut, having already been a smash in the clubs. The Bee Gees updated their sound in 1975 with “Jive Talkin’,” which became their first top ten single since 1971. Ben E. King, who had hits in the early 1960s as a solo artist and as the lead singer of The Drifters scored his first top ten pop hit since 1961’s “Stand By Me” with the funky “Supernatural Thing.” As the lead singer of the trio named after her, Patti LaBelle scored her first top ten hit in over a decade with “Lady Marmalade.” Veteran acts such as Frankie Valli, The Temptations, The Miracles, The Isley Brothers and Esther Phillips filled the dance floors. And it was in 1975 that the world was doing the hustle.

Today’s playlist is made up of forty disco gems from 1975.

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It’s African American Music Appreciation Month And I Need To Dance!

On May 31, President Obama issued a proclamation declaring June 2016 as African American Music Appreciation Month. The designation has actually been around since 1979, when President Carter commemorated the cultural and financial contributions of music made by African Americans at a reception at the White House. Back then it was Black Music Month, an idea conceived by music industry executive and radio personality Dyana Williams and her husband, Kenny Gamble.

You may not know Gamble’s name, but you know his music. The co-founder of Philadelphia International Records with Leon Huff, Gamble and his music partner have written and produced hits for Diana Ross & the Supremes and the Temptations, Dusty Springfield, the Jacksons, the O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Jerry Butler, Archie Bell and the Drells, the Three Degrees, Joe Simon, MFSB, Billy Paul, the Soul Survivors, Teddy Pendergrass, the Intruders, Lou Rawls, People’s Choice and the Jones Girls.

Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party celebrates African American Music Appreciation Month with twenty dance floor packers, kicking off with a few of Gamble and Huff’s gems.


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

‘Cause when the train of thought gets off the track
The engineer, naturally, starts pullin’ back

I started meditating three weeks ago. Actually, I started meditating again three weeks ago. I’ve tried it before in fits and starts, but never made it past one month.

Much has been written about the benefits of meditation, which is why I continue to try. According to a graphic on the website Art of Living, meditation reduces ageing, helps one appreciate life more, increases one’s attention span, improves metabolism, and “helps you have a good night sleep.” I put that last phrase in quotes so you know the poor grammar is the fault of the creator of the quoted chart, not me. This person also wrote that meditation “keeps your stress-free.” Clearly it also makes you words. Meditation also “adds more hours to your day,” which I didn’t think was scientifically possible. Meditation may also keep one from making snarky comments about someone else’s Benefits of Meditation graphic, so I’ll keep trying.

I do guided meditations. A calm voice tells me what to do, and while I try to do what the calm voice says, my mind jumps all over the place. The sessions go something like this:
“Take a deep breath in through your nose.”
(inhale) I’m congested. I need to go to CVS and pick up more Claritin. I hate CVS.
“Now exhale through your mouth.”
(exhale) While at CVS I should get a flu shot.
“Gently close your eyes and feel your weight on the chair.”
I need to go to the gym. When I’m done meditating I’ll do some cardio.
“Scan down your body and notice, but don’t judge, any points of tension or discomfort.”
My eyes are so itchy. I wish I knew what medication to use, but when I asked the doctor last week, she told me what not to put on my eyelids, the opposite of the answer I was seeking. I’m not going back to her again. I don’t like this health plan. I wish I could have kept the doctor I’ve been seeing since 2004. I need to go back to my old health insurance. Not Anthem Blue Cross, as they are the worst, but Blue Shield, who aren’t great, but I can deal with them.
“Breathe in and out through your nose, counting each breath. One in, two out, until you reach ten. Then start again. Focus on your breath.”
One. Two. I hope this meditation is done soon. I have a blog post to write. What should I write about today? It’s Friday so the playlist is dance songs, but what about them?
“If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath and your counting.”
Oh, yeah. Three. Four. I have to go to the bank. Oh, and I need to bring the car back to the body shop. Why is there a warning light on when I start the engine? I just got the car back after being without it for six weeks. There shouldn’t be any issues. I’ll go to the body shop and then CVS. I hate CVS. Why is customer service such a challenge? Is it so hard to tell me how long I need to wait to pick up my prescription? Is it so difficult to pick up a tube and slap a sticker bearing my name on it? I don’t get it. I don’t think there’s another pharmacy I could use on this health plan. I hate this health plan. I hate CVS. I hate this doctor. I hate having to go back to the body shop. I hope this meditation relaxes me and changes this mind set. Oh, yeah. Five. Six.
“Now let your mind be free to do whatever it wants. If it wants to think, let it.”
Umm, this is ironic. Nothing is coming to mind. My head is devoid of thought. Wait. That is a thought. Thinking about not thinking about anything is still thinking. It’s a waste of thought. I should think about something more important while given this opportunity. But what? Nothing is coming to mind.
“Congratulations! You’ve completed another day in your meditation journey. Open your eyes, stretch, and contemplate how far you’ve come.”
I hate CVS.

I’m not ready to give up meditating just yet, but you know what activity clears my mind and makes me feel good? Dancing!

doggies + Hues Corp

This week’s dance playlist kicks off with The Hues Corporation’s other hit, their follow-up to the perennial “Rock the Boat,” the all-but-forgotten “Rockin’ Soul,” from which the lyric that opens this blog post is taken. Have a great weekend!


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It’s Barbra Streisand’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Around ten years ago I took up boxing. Not as a career, but as a form of exercise. I’d never watched a match on TV – too violent for my tastes. The idea to give it a try came from my trainer at Crunch Gym. Not my first trainer – he seldom showed up for our appointments. Not my second trainer, an asshole who ignored Crunch’s slogan “No judgments” and mocked my appearance throughout our sessions, while bragging about how he once made a female client of his cry. It was the idea of my third trainer at Crunch, the actor who often called me as I was five minutes from the gym to tell me he won’t make our session as he was still at an audition. Yes, that trainer. He showed up for our appointments around 60% of the time, which was better than my first Crunch trainer. He introduced me to boxing. I learned the upper cut, the cross, the jab, the duck, some other thing that involved me not getting punched in the face, and kicks. It was great exercise, especially on those days when I came to Crunch after a frustrating day at work. I’d punch that bag like I was seeing the face of one of the assholes with whom I worked. It got out the tension and got me into great physical shape.

I dumped that trainer once I decided a 60% show-up-for-your-job rate was inadequate for my aggression-releasing needs. I continued sparring with the fourth trainer Crunch assigned me, that is when he wasn’t flirting with the female clientele or taking weights from the floor and stuffing them in his duffle bag so as to build up his home gym.

When it came renewal time I left Crunch and their lot of unprofessional trainers and signed up at 24-Hour Fitness. Though it is literally a few steps from my home, I didn’t go to the location in West Hollywood, whose equipment, like its clientele, was old and decrepit. I went to the Hollywood location, where I was assigned a trainer who was so good, we worked out together for a few years. He introduced me to that hot actor who I later saw as a defendant on Judge Judy. He won his case. A few years later the West Hollywood location of 24-Hour Fitness closed for three and a half months. It reopened with fresh new equipment and fresh new customers, though oddly, it still was not open 24 hours, at least not in a single day.

Unfortunately, there was no boxing at 24-Hour Fitness. While at a local smoothie ship I saw a business card for a boxing coach who did private training at his home. He converted his unattached garage (is that the right word – unattached? I mean detached, right? Either way, you get my drift – his garage was not attached to his house.) into a boxing ring. He used to be a professional boxer and was a model as well. Our sessions were great, and not just because he’d say goodbye to me each week with a kiss on the lips, his heterosexuality be damned. Once he kissed me on the neck. Why did I stop seeing him? No recuerdo. Maybe it had something to do with a mental ward.

I’ve had one or two trainers and taken some boxing classes since then, but they weren’t as much fun. Something was missing, besides the kisses. Still, if one were to put me in a boxing ring today with Barbra Streisand, I think I could take her down. It’s not that I have a desire to punch Barbra Streisand, nor do we have a bout on the books. I’m saying this as a poor segue into mentioning her 1979 film The Main Event, in which she portrayed a boxer manager/perfume magnate.

The film re-teamed Barbra Streisand with Ryan O’Neal, seven years after their film What’s Up, Doc? What’s Up, Doc? is a great movie. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly suggest you do, even if you’re not a fan of Barbra Streisand. Especially if you’re not a fan of Barbra Streisand. You’ll see a whole other side of her in this movie. Ryan O’Neal is great. Madeline Kahn made her feature film debut in this movie. How can you go wrong with Madeline Kahn? Austin Pendleton is in it. Kenneth Mars is in it. A lot of people are in it. I think I’ll host a viewing of it at my condo. Let me know if you’re around and interested. You should be interested.

I never saw The Main Event. Critics panned it, but the public enjoyed it. I have the soundtrack album, which includes the hit single “The Main Event/Fight.” Three times – the 45 mix, the 12-inch mix, and as a ballad. The latter is solely the song “The Main Event.” “The Main Event/Fight” is a medley. “The Main Event” was written by Paul Jabara, whose writing credits also include Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” and The Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men” (on a side note, does anybody know if Chaka Khan is okay?) and Bruce Roberts, whose writing credits also include Laura Branigan’s “The Lucky One” and that Jeffrey Osborne song that goes “Can you woo woo woo?”. “Fight” was written by Jabara and Bob Esty. Esty’s writing credits also include Cher’s “Take Me Home.”

Babs + Winston

“The Main Event/Fight” is, with the Donna Summer duet “No More Tears (Enough is Enough),” my favorite Barbra Streisand single. I like my boxing coaches kissy and my Barbra Streisand songs peppy.

Today Barbra Streisand turns 73 years old. “The Main Event/Fight” kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Billboard magazine’s first disco chart was published in October of 1974. Its #1 song was “Never Can Say Goodbye” performed by Gloria Gaynor. That record stayed on top for four weeks, soon crossing over to the pop chart, where it peaked at #9.

An eighteen-plus minute medley of “Honey Bee,” “Never Can Say Goodbye” and “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” reached #2 on the Disco chart in early 1975, leading to Gaynor being named “Queen of the Discos” by the National Association of Discotheque Disc Jockeys in March of that year.

Six more top ten disco hits followed in 1975 and 1976, but then her fortunes dried up. Her sole entry on the Disco chart in 1977 reached only #38. Her next charted disco single was over a year later, and peaked at #24. By this point, Donna Summer was the new Queen of Disco. Summer was also crossing over onto the pop chart, while Gaynor’s sole top 40 pop single was “Never Can Say Goodbye.” She failed to crack the Hot 100 in 1976 and 1977.

Her record company, Polydor, reached out to producer Dino Fekaris and asked him to produce for Gaynor a cover of the Righteous Brothers track “Substitute,” then a recent hit overseas for a group called Clout.

Fekaris was a staff songwriter at Motown Record for almost seven years before the company let him go. Determined not to let that career setback derail him, Fekaris got together with his songwriter and production partner Freddie Perren, who also had a stint at Motown, and wrote a song about getting over the fear of the unknown and surviving what life throws at you. They wanted a woman to record the track, but didn’t have anybody in mind. They decided to give the song to the next diva they work with. That’s when Polydor called with the Gaynor gig.

As requested by her label boss, Gaynor recorded “Substitute” to be the A-side of her next single, but the song about survival, which she recorded to be the record’s B-side, really resonated with her. Besides her career troubles, she recently lost her mother and fell on stage while performing, which required her to undergo spinal surgery and spend six months in the hospital. She recorded the tracks wearing a back brace.

“Substitute” was released in the fall of 1978. It failed to make the Hot 100.

One night around that time, Studio 54 DJ Ritchie Kaczor flipped over “Substitute” and played its B-side. The patrons ignored it that first time, but Kaczor kept playing it. Eventually, it became the club’s most popular cut. Soon, all New York City clubs were playing the track.

In November 1978 Vince Aletti wrote in Record World magazine that this song “is Gaynor’s very best work in years…delivered with such relish that one can’t help but get caught up in the emotion.”

In Boston, disco radio DJ Jack King played the single’s B-side and reported that “my listeners went nuts!” Seeing the response this song was getting, Polydor reissued the single with “Substitute” as the B-side. The A-side was now the anthem “I Will Survive.”

Winston + Gaynor
In January 1979, “I Will Survive” returned Gloria Gaynor to #1 on the Disco chart, where she remained for three weeks. In March of that year the record hit #1 on the Hot 100, where it also stayed for three weeks. It went on to become a smash around the world.

At the 22nd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony on February 27, 1980, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” won for Best Disco Recording, the only time that award has ever been given, over Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?,” Earth Wind & Fire with The Emotions’ “Boogie Wonderland,” and then Queen of Disco Donna Summer’s Bad Girls.

“I Will Survive” kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. A recent news story inspires the song selection that kicks off this week’s playlist.

Have a super weekend!

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Ebola is now in the US. Isis is on its way. Unarmed civilians are getting shot by law enforcement officials. Civil wars, mass kidnappings, volcanoes, a new Lenny Kravitz album. It’s a scary world!

I got my flu vaccination earlier this week, so I have one less thing to worry about. There is a movement against the flu vaccine, but the flu is mighty unpleasant and can lead to death. I’d rather go on living and enjoying my life with a little mercury in my system than deal with chills, fever, a runny nose, a sore throat, muscle pains, a severe headache, coughing, and/or fatigue. If I wanted to be in that much pain I’d listen to the new Lenny Kravitz album.

Though I get my flu shot every year, the needle always scares me. This year the doctor used a very small needle. I barely felt it and I’m happy to say I suffered no side effects. I feel great and energized, which is great because it’s Friday and I need to dance.

Big_Love_singleThe cover art can be obtained from Warner Bros. Records.

We’ll kick off this week’s dance playlist with the only Fleetwood Mac song to make the US dance chart, “Big Love.” The track was written, co-produced and sung by FM’s Lindsey Buckingham, who turns 65 today.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

In 2003, Rhino Entertainment moved me from New York City to Los Angeles to head up their Licensing department. I miss Manhattan’s energy and fashion sense and anything-at-any-hour way of life, but most of all, I miss my friends. And I miss our Bad Movie Days.

Not only do I love a good bad song; I also enjoy a good bad movie, as do a core group of my friends. We would meet at either my place or Kathy’s place every few Sundays and stay in, even if it was beautiful outside, and enjoy Glitter or Staying Alive or Body of Evidence, followed by a second feature, usually Showgirls.

Unlike a bad song, which I can enjoy in my solitude, a bad movie usually is more enjoyable with company. I’m not sure I would be able to sit through Skyscaper, in which Anna Nicole Smith starred as a hostage negotiator, if I didn’t have my friends with me to razz the screen, particularly during the scenes where Anna Nicole walked past an office and the film would dissolve to a flashback sequence of the time she had sex on that office’s desk.

I can enjoy a bad musical on my own. While my friends enjoyed Grease 2, with its extended production number about bowling, they were not as enamored as I am of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Still, when I watched Mamma Mia on HBO alone in my Los Angeles condo, I knew my friends would share my joy at this amazing cinematic feat, particularly when Pierce Brosnan sang “S.O.S.”

One of my favorite bad movies is Can’t Stop the Music. It stars the Village People. I’ll let that sink in before I go on. Ready? It also stars Bruce Jenner, in a cropped t-shirt and Daisy Dukes. And Steve Guttenberg and Valerie Perrine, with “special guests” (as they are billed in the credits) The Ritchie Family. The Ritchie Family, whose hits were “Best Disco in Town” and “Brazil,” get “special guest” billing. That’s how amazing this movie is. But wait, there’s more! The film was directed by Nancy Walker. Ida Morgenstern. Rosie, the Bounty Paper Towel shill. That Nancy Walker. Now you know you’re in for a treat.

Before I get into the movie, let me make clear that I LOVE The Village People, and not in a I love bad music way. I unabashedly enjoy their music. Not just the hits singles; there are Village People album cuts that have five stars in my iTunes library. I love this movie’s theme song.

As for the rest of the movie, well…. It’s sort of about the formation of the Village People, though 90 minutes into it you may ask “Will there be a plot anytime soon?” Then you’ll ask “Why is a Village People movie more than 90 minutes long?” We see the group’s auditions. I would have hired the guy in the blue jumpsuit who sang “Macho Man.” That said, I can’t deny the leatherman, whose profession we learn is toll collector at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (talk about a macho man!), sings a mean “Danny Boy.” We see the guys shoot a commercial for milk. We see..I’m going to lift a line from this movie’s Wikipedia entry – “Initially reluctant, Helen seduces Steve with her kreplach and before long they’re negotiating the T-shirt merchandising for the Japanese market.” We see them perform for an ecstatic crowd in San Francisco (oh, um, spoiler alert. That’s how it ends.) Best of all, we see a “Y.M.C.A.” production number as envisioned by Busby Berkeley and Esther Williams while vacationing on Fire Island.

Every Friday is dance music day on Tunes du Jour. Today we kick off the playlist with the timeless “Y.M.C.A.” Because it is still LGBT Pride Month, I made our dance party extra gay. Twirl!

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“Go West” a/k/a It’s Gay Pride Weekend And We Need To Dance!

Winston + Village People
In 1979, the Village People released “Go West,” a celebratory disco romp whose message to listeners in the know was “go west, young man, to San Francisco, a utopia for gays.” The lyrics included “Together we will love the beach / Together we will learn and teach.” And “I love you, I know you love me. I want you happy and carefree / So that’s why I have no protest when you say you want to go west.”

San Francisco was a popular gay destination and in 1977, home to the nation’s first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk.

In 1993, Pet Shop Boys released their cover of “Go West.” They kept all the Village People’s lyrics and they kept the dance beat, yet their version has a tinge of melancholy.

The duo’s Chris Lowe explained “When the Village People sang about a gay utopia it seemed for real, but looking back in hindsight it wasn’t the utopia they all thought it would be.”

Tunes du Jour readers – join me as we go back in time and look at the evolution of a gay dance classic.

Disco music was born in the early seventies in black, Hispanic and gay clubs. As explained in The Queer Encyclopedia of Music, Dance and Musical Theater, “Perhaps no other popular art form is more closely identified with gay culture than disco and dance music. Gay men in particular adopted the intense, loud, thumping 4/4 beat of the dance music predominantly at the bars and discos that were among the few places where they could openly express their sexual identities in the 1970s and 1980s. As the musical backdrop for generations of gay men who came of age is such venues, dance music became inextricably connected with the gay experience.”

Disco really hit the mainstream in 1977 with the release of the film Saturday Night Fever, based on a magazine article. The film’s soundtrack album became the biggest-selling album of all time in the United States, a record it held until Michael Jackson’s Thriller surpassed it.

As disco became a major commercial force, many rockers, including The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and Kiss, turned to the genre to score some of the biggest hits of their careers.

In June of 1978, the Village People entered the pop top 40 with their first crossover hit, “Macho Man.” Hard as it may be to believe, most people at that time had no idea they were gay, despite the costumes and despite song titles such as “Hot Cop,” “San Francisco,” “Sodom and Gomorrah,” “Key West” and “Fire Island.” Everyone in the whole family enjoyed their second hit, “Y.M.C.A.,” where one can “hang out with all the boys.”

In March of 1979 the group scored their third hit single in under a year – “In the Navy.” The U.S. Navy considered using it as a recruitment theme. Said a Navy spokesperson, “The words are very positive. They talk about adventure and technology. My kids love it.”

During the Seventies San Francisco remained a popular destination for gays. A report by Alfred Kinsey in the early 1970s found: “San Francisco is generally considered the best city in the U.S. for homosexuals. It was partly due to the city’s ‘tradition of tolerance.’ Another factor was the city’s size and geography, as it is smaller and less residentially dispersed than New York or Los Angeles, which made it “more conductive to a tightly knit homosexual community.”

In March of 1978 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed “the most stringent gay rights laws in the country.” Elsewhere in the U.S., the few existing gay rights laws were rapidly being repealed.

In June of 1978 San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade drew approximately 350,000 marchers.

On May 21, 1979, Dan White, the assassin who killed gay rights leader Harvey Milk as well as San Francisco’s mayor, was sentenced to only seven years and eight months in prison. The verdict led to massive riots in that city in which demonstrators burned a dozen police cars and more than 160 people, including 50 policemen, were injured. This happened just days after the Village People released their follow-up to “In the Navy,” “Go West.” Suddenly, San Francisco didn’t seem as peaceful and idyllic as it does in that song.

A few weeks later, a disc jockey from a Chicago rock radio station hosted an anti-disco demonstration at Comiskey Park between two baseball games in a double-header. Tens of thousands of people brought disco records to be set ablaze in center field while the crowd chanted “disco sucks.” I’d posit that this was in effect an anti-gay anti-black demonstration by white heterosexual rock fans.

Authors Andrew Edelstein and Kevin McDonough agree. In their book The Seventies they wrote “If you were a white, heterosexual teenage male who preferred to wear jeans and a t-shirt and sit passively at a stadium-size rock concert, then disco could be an especially threatening experience.”
After the Comiskey Park demonstration, disco quickly went back underground and was heard primarily in gay clubs. It soon came to be called house music and hi-nrg.

It should be noted that while rock fans tried to kill disco in the U.S., it stayed popular in the U.K., Europe, and elsewhere in the world.

The 1980s brought about the rise of the so-called Moral Majority in the United States. Not coincidentally, it also brought the scourge that came to be known as AIDS, which initially hit the gay population hardest. Homophobia contributed to a delayed response by the government.

Ten years into the AIDS epidemic there was still no sign of an effective treatment or cure.

In 1992 the British duo Pet Shop Boys were invited to perform at an AIDS fundraiser. Chris Lowe came up with the idea to do the Village People’s “Go West.” He played the record for his singing partner, Neil Tennant, who called it “ghastly” and “awful.” He got more into it when he thought about what he and his partner could bring to it, including the addition of “a big choir of butch men.”

A year later, the Boys released their studio recording of the song, complete with the big choir of butch men. In the context of the AIDS pandemic and the devastation it caused, particularly to the gay population, the song “Go West” takes on a different meaning than it did in 1979. As the website Shmoop puts it, “The sunny utopia the Village People had once sung of was literally full of sick and dying people; hospital beds in San Francisco were full of dying patients and there seemed to be no end in sight.”

The spread of AIDS led to a rise in gay activism, which is acknowledged in a verse the Pet Shop Boys added to their version: “There, where the air is free, we’ll be what we want to be / Now, if we take a stand, we’ll find our promised land.”

Of this record, Wayne Studer, in his book Rock on the Wild Side, a collection of songs by or about gay males, wrote “As the Boys do it, ‘Go West’ becomes an eerily uplifting disco dirge, both happy and sad at the same time. Extraordinary.”

Both the Village People’s and Pet Shop Boys’ “Go West” failed to cross over to the Top 40 of the U.S. pop charts; however, both were hits in the dance clubs, with the Pet Shop Boys version going to #1 on the U.S. Dance Club chart. The Pet Shop Boys version did make the top ten pop charts in the U.K., Germany, France, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Australia.

It was around this time that Neil Tennant, the duo’s usual vocalist and lyricist, came out, to the surprise of nobody.

“Go West” was the second single released from the group’s fifth album, Very, an album that is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. The opening line of the book’s write-up is “Though the Pet Shop Boys had always been really gay, Very was their first really, really gay album – and their first U.K. number 1.”

Very produced four top ten club hits in the U.S., including two #1’s – “Go West” and “Can You Forgive Her?”

In 2008 Australian web-site SameSame polled their listeners to find the “gayest songs of all-time.” Pet Shop Boys’ “Go West” came in at #6. The Village People’s “In the Navy” was #18, their “Macho Man” was #16, and their “Y.M.C.A.” was named the second gayest song of all-time, kept from the top spot by ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.”

Pet Shop Boys’ album Very made Out magazine’s list of the Gayest Albums of All-Time. It also made British music magazine Q’s list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. It has sold over five million copies worldwide.

Where has “gay music” come since the release of Very? Here are two interesting facts: the very first openly gay artist to have a #1 album in the U.S. was Adam Lambert, and that happened just two years ago. One year earlier, a song went to #1 on the U.S. pop charts and stayed there for six weeks – a song that explicitly called on gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders to love who they are, ‘cause baby we were born this way.

As for the key players in my story, Pet Shop Boys have sold over 50 million records worldwide, had twenty-two top ten hits in the U.K. thus far, and won Outstanding Contribution to Music at the 2009 BRIT Awards, England’s equivalent to the Grammys. Their most recent album, 2013’s Electric, hit #3 on the UK album chart. It included the single “Vocal,” a top three club hit stateside.

The Village People still tour with three of their original members. They have sold over 100 million records.

Despite the efforts of some folks, disco, while suffering some setbacks, didn’t die. As a matter of fact, one of last year’s most popular hits was Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” a disco-influenced record featuring guitar work by Nile Rodgers of the seventies disco band Chic.

Similarly, despite the efforts of some folks, the LGBT populations, while suffering some setbacks, continues to make great strides toward equality and respect.

Should you attend this Sunday’s Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood, or any Gay Pride Parade this season, you will hear coming from many floats disco and house music, for that is the soundtrack of our movement.

I wish all my readers a very happy Pride. Dance!

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

The 1970s were all about Star Wars and disco. One man had the brilliant idea to combine the two. Is it an overstatement to call Meco Monardo a genius? His disco version of the Star Wars score was a #1 hit in 1977.

That’s his only top ten hit where he is credited as the artist; however, Meco arranged the horns on Tommy James and the Shondells’ smash “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” played the trombone on Diana Ross’ classic “I’m Coming Out,” and, alongside Jay Ellis, Harold Wheeler and Tony Bongiovi, produced Gloria Gaynor’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” and Carol Douglas’ “Doctor’s Orders.”

He revisited the Star Wars connection in 1980 when he released Christmas in the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album, which includes the holiday evergreen “What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)” and “R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which features vocals by Tony Bongiovi’s second cousin John (who later dropped the “h” from his first name and changed the spelling of his last name. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.)

As it’s Friday, our playlist is designed to get you dancing into the weekend. It’s Meco’s birthday, so we’ll start with his track that encapsulates the seventies.

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