Almost inevitably, when I meet with clients for weddings and other events where I’ve been hired to DJ, and I ask what kind of music they like and dislike, they say “…and no disco.” But after digging a little deeper, what usually comes forth is that they really don’t want to hear the same half-dozen chestnuts that were played to death on Top 40 radio in the waning days of the ’70s: “Y.M.C.A.,” “Dancing Queen,” “Shake Your Groove Thing.” Nobody in their right mind truly hates Donna Summer, Michael Jackson, or Grace Jones, all artists who flourished during (and after) the disco era.
As in any genre, there are tons of great disco records that flew under the radar. I’ve been a fan of underground disco for decades now, but I’m still constantly discovering gems that previously escaped my attention. Sometimes I learn about them from cool blogs like American Athlete, but more often I unearth “new” disco records the same way I discover any artist: via friends and respected colleagues. So whenever the four-man London collective known as Horse Meat Disco drops a new mix CD, my ears prick up immediately.
The brand new Horse Meat Disco III features over two dozen vintage and contemporary gems spread across a pair of CDs, all of it seamlessly mixed for maximum dancing pleasure. While there are some names KEXP listeners will probably recognize—Sylvester, Dimitri from Paris, legendary jazz percussionist Idris Muhammad—almost all of these selections are pretty obscure, albeit undeservedly so. Bumping to the ebullient grooves of Suzi Q’s “I Can’t Give You More” or the dizzying cover of Talking Heads’ “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) by Fuzz Against Junk, or winding down with Two Tons of Fun’s sweet and simmering “Just Us,” I imagine the fastest way to make anyone think twice before they insist they “hate” disco is to let the Horse Meat boys take them out for a spin. Give a listen to the downloadable 32-minute HMD “mini-mix” below and see if you don’t agree.
DJ El Toro hosts the variety mix show on Wednesday nights from 9 PM to 1 AM on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle and kexp.org. His column-slash-rant, Weird At My School, appears infrequently on the KEXP Blog. Please follow DJ El Toro (aka Kurt B. Reighley) on Twitter!