The new electro-disco track "I Realized" by Jiva, backed by bass guitar, rhythm guitar, piano, horns, electronica, a vibraphone, and a constant disco beat, was the B-side of the 12" single "Stars", released by Giant Step Records. It was also included on Giant Step's compilation CD "Travelphonic 3".
Back in the late 1970s, the duo Baccara consisted of Spanish singers Mayte Mateos and Maria Mendiola. In 2000, Mateos teamed up with Cristina Sevilla as the New Baccara. In March 2004, Mateos and Sevilla, under the name Baccara, released the new disco track "Soy tu Venus" as a CD-Maxi. The song features bass guitar, rhythm guitar, strings, and a continuous disco beat. They performed the song at "Melodifestivalen 2004", the Swedish contest to choose the Swedish representative for the annual Eurovision Song Contest, during the semi-finals in Göteborg. Sevilla was replaced by Paloma Blanco at the end of 2004.
Also at the semi-finals in Göteborg was Fredrik Kempe with his new disco-pop track "Finally", from his April 2004 album "Bohème". After a slow piano-backed opening, the song gains a disco beat and bass guitar, then rhythm guitar and flowing violins. It reached number 18 on the Swedish Pop chart in late March 2004.
Another new song performed at "Melodifestivalen 2004" was "It's in the Stars", an electro-disco-pop song by LaGaylia Frazier. It got into the semi-finals in Karlstad.
Ultimately, none of the three aforementioned disco songs won the final Swedish title this year. They were included on the compilation CD "Melodifestivalen 2004: 32 Songs from the Swedish National Final", released in April 2004.
In January 2004 the Finnish band G-Litter released the disco instrumental "Diskossa" as the B-side of their last 12" single "Highway" on the record label Pingispong. "Diskossa" features bass guitar, rhythm guitar, electric violin, Rhodes piano, and a disco beat, and at times the violin playing reminds one of American country music.
The Brazilian band Banda Rod Hanna returned with their album "Discofesta 70's 80's Superhits 2". Their new tracks included a studio recording of their song "Pra você voltar" and live disco remakes of "Celebration" and "Ladies' Night" (originally by Kool and the Gang), "Young Hearts Run Free" (originally by Candi Staton), "Zodiacs" (originally by Roberta Kelly), "It's Raining Men" (originally by the Weather Girls), "I'm So Glad That I'm a Woman" (originally by Love Unlimited), "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" (originally by Frankie Valli), "I Am What I Am" (the song from the musical "La cage aux folles"), and, surprisingly, a live rock-disco version of "Bette Davis Eyes" (the 1981 hit by Kim Carnes).
The eclectic American singer Har Mar Superstar (real name Sean Tillmann) released the electro-disco-pop song "Body Request" in September 2004 on his album "The Handler".
Jason Forrest released the disco song "INKhUK" on his album "The Unrelenting Songs of the 1979 Post Disco Crash".
Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliott recorded a new electro-disco version of the 1976 Rose Royce classic "Car Wash". Known as "Car Wash (Shark Tale Mix)", it got some airplay on American and international radio stations and reached number 2 on the Australian Pop chart in October 2004 and number 4 on the British Pop chart in November 2004. The song was included on the soundtrack to the film "Shark Tale".
Barry Manilow's April 2004 album "2 Nights Live", recorded live in August 2002 at the New Jersey PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey, reprised his songs "They Dance!" and "New York City Rhythm" in full disco style with orchestration.
New disco-house releases during 2004 included "Deeper in Love" by Bobby and Steve featuring Barbara Tucker and Brian Chambers, "Just Let It Happen" by Danism featuring Rob Harris and Heidi Vogel, "Make You Happy" by Al Kent, "3am" by Bobby Blanco, "The Moon and the Spoon" by Hott 22, and "Celebration" by Lulu and the London Community Gospel Choir (a remake of the 1980 Kool and the Gang hit). "You Lift Me Up" by Norma Jean Wright, formerly of the group Chic, was remixed disco-style in the Pound Boys Main Mix and features a live horn section and live percussion. Alicia Keys' soul hit "You Don't Know My Name" was remixed disco-style by DJ Spen as the "Mutha Funkin' Keys House Mix".
CONCERTS, DANCE COMPETITIONS, TV SHOWS, AND OTHER EVENTS
The "Best Disco in Town 2004" tour came to the U.K. between October 8 and 16, 2004. The artists were Boney M, Chic, the Three Degrees, Candi Staton, Evelyn "Champagne" King, the Emotions, and the Pointer Sisters. The concerts were held in the following locations: at the Manchester Evening News Arena on October 8, at the Wembley Arena in London on October 9, at the Plymouth Pavillions on October 12, at the Sheffield Hallam FM Arena on October 14, at the Birmingham NEC Arena on October 15, and at the Brighton Centre on October 16.
The "Discomania" tour arrived in many American cities during 2004. Each concert featured live performances by K.C. and the Sunshine Band, the Trammps featuring Earl Young, the Village People, and Evelyn "Champagne" King. Venues included: the Chastain Park Ampitheatre in Atlanta, Georgia on June 5, FleetBoston Pavilion in Boston, Massachusetts on June 8 (sponsored by Boston's Star 93.7 FM), Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 11, the Tower City Ampitheater in Cleveland, Ohio on June 13, the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 10, 2004, and the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey on July 30-31, 2004. Such hits as "Shame", "Disco Inferno", "Macho Man", and "Shake Your Booty" were played. On August 14, 2004, the same artists along with Martha Wash played at the "K-BIG 104 Disco Fever 3" concert at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California. On December 14, 2004, the Village People, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, and the Trammps again got together for an event billed as "Christmas Inferno" at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Disco artists who performed live in concerts, apart from tours, during 2004 included, among others, Chic, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, France Joli, Tavares, BsB Disco Club, Banda Rod Hanna, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and K.C. and the Sunshine Band.
"Disco Project: Flow to the Groove" was presented at the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance during four performances on April 23, May 1, May 6, and May 14, 2004. The show featured seven modern dances set to 1970s disco and soul music. The disco songs heard during the performances were Donna Summer's "MacArthur Park", Meco's "Wizard of Oz" medley, Cheryl Lynn's "Got to be Real", K.C. and the Sunshine Band's "Get Down Tonight", Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", and Peaches and Herb's "Shake Your Groove Thing". The slow song "Always and Forever" by Heatwave was also played.
"Van McCoy: 25th Year Legacy Tribute" was held July 31, 2004 in Washington, D.C. at Theodore Roosevelt High School with performances by Melba Moore and Herb Fame of Peaches & Herb, plus hustle dancers and more. The event remembered the 25th anniversary of the death of Van McCoy, whose disco songs had included "The Hustle" (1975), "Party" (1976), "Keep on Hustlin'" (1976), and "Disco Movies Medley" (1977).
The semi-finals and finals of the Van McCoy Open Hustle Championships were held April 3, 2004 at the 2004 International Hustle and Salsa Competition, following regional dance contests across the USA in previous months. Winners were selected in such categories as "The Van McCoy Professional" and "The Van McCoy Amateur".
The Disco America Dance Championships took place June 11-13, 2004 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center.
The 1st Annual Dance Music Hall of Fame Ceremony took place at Spirit in New York City on September 20, 2004. The event featured live performances by Evelyn "Champagne" King, Kurtis Blow, Fonda Rae, James "D-Train" Williams, and others. Henry Stone, founder of TK Records, was awarded "The Board of Directors' Special Award for Lifetime Achievement". The artists inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame that night were Barry White, Donna Summer, and the Bee Gees. Producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, DJs David Mancuso, Larry Levan, and Tee Scott, and remixer Tom Moulton were also inducted. Five classic dance records were inducted: the disco tracks "Don't Leave Me This Way" by Thelma Houston, "Shame" by Evelyn "Champagne" King, and "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" by Sylvester, plus the non-disco tracks "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer and "Love is the Message" by MFSB.
The disco-themed musical "Oh! What A Night" continued its success during 2004 with performances in the British towns of Newcastle upon Tyne, Reading, Northampton, Canterbury, Cambridge, Cheltenham, Croydon, Peterborough, Weymouth, Nottingham, Eastbourne, Salisbury, Ipswich, Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester, High Wycombe, and Bournemouth. The show's plot was set in 1976 and featured live singing of over 35 disco classics -- including "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now", "I Will Survive", "Celebration", and "Young Hearts Run Free" -- accompanied by choreographed dancing and exciting acting. It starred Kid Creole and Hazel Payne. The live band consisted of five players, led by musical director Chris Taylor. The musical was also performed in Denmark during September and October 2004. The appearance at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle was declared the last-ever performance in Britain. Meanwhile, the Australian version of "Oh! What A Night" arrived in Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne from February to April 2004, starring Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge, Chris Pickard, and Tee Jaye.
"Ugly Disco" took place at the Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, New York on the night of March 26, 2004. It featured live music by the United Booty Foundation and the Skycoasters, plus a live DJ spinning top disco radio hits of the late 1970s. Rochester's Village Guys made a special appearance. There was also a dance contest, costume contest, and trivia.
The PBS television special "My Music: Superstars of Seventies Soul" debuted in March 2004. Put together by executive producer T.J. Lubinsky and his team as a fundraiser for PBS, it features live performances by many disco, soul, and funk artists, including disco performances by Tavares (with "Heaven Must be Missing an Angel"), the Trammps (with "Disco Inferno" and "Hold Back the Night"), McFadden and Whitehead (with "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now"), George McCrae (with "Rock Your Baby"), Maxine Nightingale (with the Motownesque "Right Back to Where We Started From"), and Sister Sledge (with "We Are Family"), all backed by live orchestration. It is worth noting that this was John Whitehead's last concert appearance before his untimely death. The footage comes from concerts held December 17 and 18, 2003 at the Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A DVD of these performances was made available, as was a CD "Superstars of Seventies Soul: Live" (August 2004). The CD contained "Hold Back the Night", "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now", "Rock Your Baby", "Right Back to Where We Started From", and "We Are Family".
This special was followed by a PBS fundraiser centered around disco, "My Music: Get Down Tonight - the Disco Explosion", also executive produced by Lubinsky. It debuted across the USA on December 4-5, 2004 after a premiere on NJN in October 2004. The majority of the footage was taped on August 17, 2004 at the Asbury Park Convention Hall in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The program opened with K.C. and the Sunshine Band performing "That's the Way (I Like It)". There followed Luci Martin and Norma Jean Wright ("The First Ladies of Chic") singing "Le Freak", Wild Cherry playing the funk hit "Play that Funky Music", "Cousin" Brucie Morrow's interview with Martin and Wright, the Trammps playing "Disco Inferno", Leo Sayer with "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing", and clips of previously-recorded video from the Spinners with "Working My Way Back to You", the Commodores with "Brick House", and the Sylvers with "Boogie Fever". Next, Heatwave played "Boogie Nights" at Asbury, and it was followed by Brucie's interview with Leo Sayer, then classic clips of Andrea True Connection's "More, More, More", Alicia Bridges's "I Love the Nightlife", and Vicki Sue Robinson's "Turn the Beat Around". Asbury footage resumed with "Boogie Oogie Oogie" by A Taste of Honey and Frankie Valli and friends with "December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)", followed by Brucie interviewing K.C. After this, the show paid tribute to the 1977 film "Saturday Night Fever" with a classic clip from "How Deep is Your Love" by the Bee Gees, a clip of Karen-Lynn Gorney talking in 2004, a clip of Robin Gibb talking in 1978, a clip of the Bee Gees singing "Stayin' Alive", and then an Asbury disco version of "If I Can't Have You" performed live by Yvonne Elliman. The Hues Corporation revived "Rock the Boat" at Asbury. Next came video clips of the TV show "The Electric Company" and Irene Cara performing the electro-dance hit "Flashdance" at Asbury. Footage recorded in New York of the Village People singing "YMCA" came next, then brief clips of recent performances held elsewhere by Frankie Valli of "Swearin' to God", Anita Ward with "Ring My Bell", and Carol Douglas with "Doctor's Orders". A classic film clip of Gloria Gaynor with "I Will Survive" was shown, and then Tavares sang "More than a Woman". Next up was a classic film clip of Shirley and Company with "Shame, Shame, Shame", then McFadden and Whitehead with "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" from the "Superstars of Seventies Soul" special, then Peaches and Herb with "Shake Your Groove Thing", then Brucie's interview with Irene Cara, Martha Wash singing "It's Raining Men", K.C. and the Sunshine Band with "Get Down Tonight", and finally a classic film clip of Donna Summer singing "Last Dance". Most of the Asbury footage was backed by live orchestration.
On May 11, 2004, the American TV talent-show "American Idol" revisited disco with a "Disco Night" with guest judge Donna Summer. That night, contestant LaToya London sang "Don't Leave Me This Way", Fantasia Barrino sang "Knock on Wood", and Diana DeGarmo sang "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)" and "This Is It". On May 12, 2004, all the competitors joined together to sing a medley of Donna Summer hits, including "Bad Girls" and "Hot Stuff", and Donna herself sang "Last Dance" and "MacArthur Park".
During the broadcast of "Melodifestivalen 2004" in Sweden, the instrumental introduction to Dan Hartman's "Vertigo/Relight My Fire" was used as the theme song. In the third semi-finals, recorded March 6th, the intermission performance was a disco medley lasting more than ten minutes, performed by major Swedish artists including Pernilla Wahlgren, Kayo, Charlotte Nilsson-Perrelli, Richard Hager, and Cotton Club, with a disco ball in attendance, plus players on bass, drums, and horns, and a three-member choir wearing afros. The medley consisted of "Disco Inferno" (with Kayo), "Blame it on the Boogie" (with Wahlgren), "September" (with Hager), "I Will Survive" (with Nilsson-Perrelli), "Bad Girls" (with Kayo, Wahlgren, and Nilsson-Perrelli), "Stayin' Alive" (with all), "You Should be Dancing" (with all), "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" (with all), and "That's the Way (I Like It)" (with all).
A Bacardi television commercial aired during 2004 had Patrick Hernandez's "Born to be Alive" playing in it.
A 2004 television commercial from Areva played "Funkytown" by Lipps Inc.
The movie soundtrack to "Shrek 2" (2004) included the 1979 disco hit "Funkytown" by Lipps, Inc. The voice-over cast of the movie sang a cover of the Trammps' "Disco Inferno" to promote the Wal-Mart-distributed extras (including a party CD).
The "Hello Kitty Roller Disco Playset", sold in the USA during 2004 in Hello Kitty stores, includes a rolling disco mirrorball and stage to accompany the four included Hello Kitty characters.
MGA Entertainment's "Bratz Formal Funk Super-Stylin' Runway Disco" (2003) won "Girl Toy of the Year" at the 101st American International Toy Fair in New York City on February 14, 2004.
"Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970-1979" by Tim Lawrence was published by Duke University Press in January 2004. It traces the early days of disco and nightclub culture, starting with such milestones as David Mancuso's first Loft party in February 1970, and concludes with reflections upon disco's decline in the USA in the second half of 1979.
"Billboard's Hot Dance/Disco 1974-2003" by Joel Whitburn was published by Record Research Inc. in January 2004. It compiles most top-100 charting disco and dance tracks since the inception of a "Disco Action" chart in Billboard Magazine on October 26, 1974. The magazine's "Disco Top 80" chart (the name it went by as late as 1981) was renamed "Dance/Disco Top 80" in 1982, and the word "Disco" was dropped entirely in 1983, reflecting the near-disappearance of disco music by that time.
John Whitehead, a singer, producer, and songwriter, was killed on May 11, 2004 at age 55. With Gene McFadden he sang on the disco hits "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" (1979) and "I Heard it in a Love Song" (1980), as well as the lesser-known disco tracks "Do You Want to Dance?" (1979), "Don't Feel Bad" (1980), and "This is My Song" (1980). Whitehead and McFadden produced the disco hit "Pick Me Up, I'll Dance" for Melba Moore in 1978. The two teamed up with Victor Carstarphen to produce the 1975 disco song "The Soul City Walk" for Archie Bell and the Drells. Disco lyrics that they co-wrote included "Prayin'" for Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (1979), "Bad Luck" for Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (1975, with Carstarphen), "The More I Get, the More I Want" for Teddy Pendergrass (1977, co-written with Carstarphen), and "Only You" for Teddy Pendergrass (1978, co-written with Carstarphen).
Izora Rhodes Armstead, one-half of Two Tons of Fun (later known as the Weather Girls), died September 16, 2004. Armstead with Martha Wash released the disco songs "Earth Can Be Just Like Heaven", "Just Us", "Do You Wanna Boogie...Hunh?", "I Got the Feeling", "Make Someone Feel Happy Today", and "One Sided Love Affair" in 1980. But the duo is best known for their 1982 electro-dance smash "It's Raining Men", by which time they were known as the Weather Girls. In 1982 they also released the disco songs "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair" and "Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man This Christmas)". In 1995 they covered Heatwave's "Boogie Nights" in disco style and Rod Stewart's "Do You Think I'm Sexy" in electro-dance style. Armstead also sang on Sylvester's 1978 disco album.
Bert Reid, a tenor saxophonist and vocalist with the Brooklyn, New York-based band Crown Heights Affair, died December 12, 2004 at age 48. He co-wrote the band's 1976 disco track "Far Out" as well as their 1979 disco tracks "Number One Woman" and "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" and the 1980 disco tracks "You've Been Gone" and "Use Your Body and Soul". Reid also co-produced Unlimited Touch's 1980 disco hit "I Hear Music in the Streets".
Edmund Sylvers of the Sylvers died March 11, 2004 at age 47. He was the lead singer on the group's disco hit "Boogie Fever" (1976), and also sang on "Hot Line" (1976) and "Any Way You Want Me" (1977). He also helped write the lyrics of the Sylvers' songs "Is Everybody Happy" and "Dance Right Now", both of which appeared on the group's 1979 album "Disco Fever".
George Reginald Williams, Jr., lead singer of the doo-wop/soul group the Tymes, died July 28, 2004 at age 69. Their disco breakthrough was the 1974 hit "You Little Trustmaker".
Rick James, the funk singer, died August 6, 2004 at age 56. He is remembered in the disco world for his disco-funk hit "You and I" from 1978 from the album "Come and Get It", as well as for his later funk favorites "Give It to Me Baby" and "Super Freak" and his 1985 electro-disco track "Glow", the last American disco hit of the 1980s. James also produced Teena Marie's 1979 album "Wild and Peaceful", including her disco track "Don't Look Back".
Richie Puente, a core member (singer, clarinetist, and percussionist) of the band Foxy, which released five albums and hit in 1978 with "Get Off", died July 18, 2004 at age 51.
Syreeta Wright, an R&B singer, died July 6, 2004 at age 58. Her disco songs included "Love Fire" (1980) and "Go for It" (a duet with Billy Preston, 1978).
We also lost a great radio show this year. "Disco Magic", billed as "The World's Most Sophisticated Radio Show" and celebrating "The Grand Symphony Orchestra Sound of the Disco Era 1974-1979", had its final broadcast on June 25, 2004. It was hosted by Dr. Rob Mercadante on WTCC 90.7 FM in Springfield, Massachusetts every Friday from 12noon to 2pm Eastern time. It played continuous sets of disco hits and obscurities. Theme songs on "Disco Magic" included snippets from "The Bull" by the Mike Theodore Orchestra and "Two Hot for Love" by THP Orchestra.
Copyright ©2004 K. A. Brook, all rights reserved.