Various Artists

Disco Fire

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As cheesy as K-Tel compilations can sometimes be, the chunky double LP Disco Fire is a delicious exception. Released in 1978 at the height of the disco craze, these two discs not only satisfied the die-hard clubber, but probably titillated the sensibilities of Middle American moms and dads who hitherto had relied on Solid Gold for their weekly fix. But with compilations like this, disco could become an all-night affair for anyone. K-Tel packed some of disco's greatest across four sides, all plucked from the top of the charts and delivered in one neat package, complete with a double-photo spread inside the gatefold that not only demonstrated how to do the Hot Chocolate, but also advertised Let's Disco, the label's own disco dance instruction book. But gimmicks and smarmy steps aside, what really matters in the end is the music. And this compilation truly delivers. Culled from the heap of hits that littered 1976 through 1978, Disco Fire recreates a night at 54 with ease. From the classic beats of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love," Chic's "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)," and the Trammps' "Disco Inferno," to the histrionics of Meco's "Star Wars Title Theme and the ubiquitous love fest of the Michael Zager Band's "Let's All Chant," there is a little something for everyone. Santa Esmeralda's disco-fied take on the '60s standard "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" really should be heard to be fully appreciated. The German electro popsters Boney M, meanwhile, kick in their irreverent hit "Ma Baker," proving that history doesn't have to be confined to the classroom. Dig a little deeper and Disco Fire also gives up two surprising gems. Parliament brings the funk to the floor with "Flash Light," while jazz-funk hero Roy Ayers shines with a horn-heavy but light-spirited "Running Away."

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