Various Artists

Disco Classics [Varese]

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Disco Classics might not be the first port of purchase for many disco fans. Those wanting more than the 20 tracks here will want to plumb for Rhino's Disco Box, or the multi-volume Disco Years series, while those who want just one compilation might be disappointed by the absence of any major '70s disco hits by the Bee Gees, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, K.C. & the Sunshine Band, and Van McCoy. It's nevertheless a wide-ranging offering of huge, medium, and moderate disco hits from 1973-84, some of them not over-anthologized. There are, should you be wary of scaring your party guests by playing something they haven't heard a million times, a number of mega-smashes, including Walter Murphy's "A Fifth of Beethoven," Anita Ward's "Ring My Bell," B.T. Express's "Do It ('Til You're Satisfied)," Silver Convention's "Get Up and Boogie (That's Right)," Carol Douglas's "Doctor's Orders," and Irene Cara's "Flashdance...What a Feeling." Less familiar, and providing welcome variety, are 5000 Volts' frantic "I'm on Fire," Santa Esmeralda's one-shot disco cover of the Animals' "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," Musique's lewd "In the Bush," and Polly Brown's almost-pop "Up in a Puff of Smoke." And no party would be complete without the Michael Zager Band's "Let's All Chant," with its immediately recognizable, not to say irritating, high-pitched rising rhythmic chants, repeated ad infinitum. Some might say First Choice's 1973 single "Armed & Extremely Dangerous" is stretching a little in advance of the disco era, but it's worth stretching boundaries to make room for a song with at least as many roots in early-'70s Philly soul as early disco.

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