Various Artists

Billboard Top Dance Hits: 1977

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In 1977, dance music was heading towards a peak level of popularity thanks to the success of rising stars like Donna Summer and a soon-to-be mega-hit film called Saturday Night Fever. As a result, producers and record labels all over the world were churning out disco epics by the dozen. Several notable picks from that stellar year are assembled on Billboard Top Dance Hits: 1977. Since this compilation was assembled from dance charts and not the pop charts, it contains a nice blend of familiar classics and lesser-known tunes that would only be known to fervent dancefloor devotees. In the familiar category, there's the infectious "Disco Inferno" by the Trammps and the easygoing groove of "Got to Give It Up -- Part 1" by Marvin Gaye. These tunes are reliable fun, but it's the rarities that really make the set worthwhile. The top dazzler in this arena is "Girl Don't Make Me Wait" by cult disco diva Pattie Brooks, which takes a Leon Huff soul song and transforms it into a ten-minute Eurodisco symphony complete with swirling strings and a flamenco guitar. Another interesting curio is "Hold Tight" by Vicki Sue Robinson, a rhythmic slice of disco layered with spacey synthesizer noises that, surprisingly enough, was written by Bread frontman David Gates. The major quibble with this set is that it too often uses single versions of these songs when they had the space to include the lengthier versions of these songs that were actually played in discotheques. Notable omissions in this area include the influential dance-mix available for Summer's "I Feel Love" and the killer album version of the Trammps' "Disco Inferno." Despite these oversights, Billboard Top Dance Hits: 1977 is still a solid collection whose value is further enhanced by an informative set of liner notes that include dance-chart placings and plenty of background information on each song. It is a worthwhile CD for anyone who wants to explore disco music beyond its pop chart success.

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