Various Artists

Disco Discharge: Gay Disco & Hi NRG

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As explained by Disco Discharge series annotator Alan Jones, author of Saturday Night Forever: The Story of Disco, there is no “real definable difference” between “just disco” and “gay disco,” though the latter’s mid to late-‘80s outgrowth, Hi-NRG, is easier to recognize through its quicker and heavier pulse, as well as its bold (often to the point of searing) synthesizer runs. On one hand, songs with overtly gay narratives, like Boys Town Gang's “Cruisin’ the Streets,” are no-brainers. On the other, gayness was no prerequisite for making gay disco; in fact, three songs here were produced by Bobby O., a known homophobe (who, despite this, would later assist the Pet Shop Boys, the producers of Liza Minnelli's “Losing My Mind,” disc one’s closer). And it’s not as if the material here was embraced exclusively by the gay crowd. Laura Branigan's “Gloria” came one spot away from topping the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., while Kano’s supremely kitschy but irresistible “It’s a War,” along with just about everything else recorded by the Italian group, left a major impression in Detroit clubs packed with a mix of the city’s teenagers. This is actually one of the series’ most sonically varied volumes, and it also contains some of the lengthiest epics, typified by the 13-minute “Cruisin the Streets” and Macho’s “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida”-length reading of the Spencer Davis Group's “I’m a Man.”

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
8:36
2
6:52
3
17:35
4
6:20
5
7:40
6
6:48
7
8:57
8
7:18
9
7:00
blue highlight denotes track pick