Various Artists

Sounds of the Seventies: '70s Dance Party, 1978-1979

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Annotator John Morthland refers to the period 1978-1979 as "the waning years of disco," which is certainly true, even though, conversely, dominated as they were by the Saturday Night Fever phenomenon, they also brought the style of dance music to a new peak of popularity. It is appropriate that Time-Life Music's Sounds of the Seventies series devotes three volumes to the period, beginning with this one, continuing with one devoted to the single year 1979, and finishing with one for 1979-1981. Taken together, they contain most of the major disco hits of the time, missing only the Rolling Stones' "Miss You" (which no doubt was unavailable for licensing) and the Bee Gees' Saturday Night Fever tracks. But the long shadow of the movie and the Gibb brothers does fall on this album, which begins with one of the movie's songs, Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You," written by Barry, Maurice, and Robin Gibb, and ends with the three brothers joining their young sibling Andy Gibb on "Shadow Dancing." In between, the listener is treated to the continuing success of Donna Summer (the Academy Award-winning movie theme "Last Dance") and the emergence of the major performers Chic ("Dance, Dance, Dance [Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah]") and the Village People ("Macho Man"). The Village People were arguably as much a comedy act as a musical group, even though their songs have retained the camp attraction they had at first. Though well-programmed, this album illustrates one of the reasons why disco had reached its "waning years": There is a sameness to the sound, as opposed to the more varied styles of dance music in the immediately preceding period. Nevertheless, it will be hard for anyone to listen to this collection without getting the urge to hit the dancefloor.

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