Long before there was a disco inferno, the genre was finding its footing in the clubs of New York in the early 1970s as a reaction to the ascendancy of heavy rock and the marginalization of dance music. Those early, heady days of disco are being chronicled by the U.K.’s BGP label (part of the Ace Records family) with the August 29 reissue of the seminal 1975 compilation Disco Gold.
Those only familiar with Scepter Records from the sweet soul of The Shirelles, Dionne Warwick and Maxine Brown might be surprised to find the familiar logo on Disco Gold. (The founding of Scepter is currently being depicted eight times a week in the musical Baby, It’s You! on Broadway.) Scepter's owner Florence Greenberg tapped into the nascent disco market when she hired Tom Moulton to do some of his earliest remixing for Disco Gold.
BGP notes that “in New York in the early ‘70s, clubs such as the Sanctuary and the loft parties run by David Mancuso were creating a more open, mixed (both racially and sexually) dance scene, created in part by the loosening of social mores.” The notorious Sanctuary was housed in a church on West 43rd Street and according to Peter Braunstein of The Village Voice, “epitomized the post-Stonewall era, when gay men had won the right to dance intimately together without worrying about the police. But the early gay discos were not only pleasure palaces, they were also sites of liberation free from the prying eyes of the suspect straight world.” Disco was the voice and sound of that liberation.
And Tom Moulton (born 1940), a former fashion model and record biz employee for King, RCA Victor and United Artists, had an instinctive ear for what would work on a club dancefloor. He’s credited with creating the concept of the remix, the 12-inch extended single and the continuous-play LP side, and Ground Zero of the Moulton movement is his Disco Gold. BGP’s reissue contains the entire original album plus five cuts from Disco Gold Volume 2. It soon became clear that the appeal of disco was widespread, and indeed, it caught the ear of a wider audience, but not before evolving further. These early tracks epitomize the formative sounds of disco, and the original tracks are the work of a number of great and familiar songwriters.
What were Tom Moulton’s Disco Gold picks? Just hit the jump! We’ve also got the full track listing and pre-order link!
Among Moulton’s selections were Patti Jo's "Make Me Believe In You" and “Ain’t No Love Lost,” both produced and written by Curtis Mayfield, the Independents' "I Love You Yes I Do," with Chuck Jackson as producer (not to be confused with Scepter’s recording artist Chuck Jackson of “Any Day Now” fame!) and Bobby Moore's "(Call Me Your) Anything Man," one of disco's earliest cuts. Philadelphia soul, the lush strings and orchestrations of which became integral to many disco hits, is represented by George Tindley’s duo of songs, “Wah Tu Wah Zuree” and “Pity the Poor Man,” produced by John Madara and Len Barry, and arranged by Bobby Eli. (For those curious, the tracks not included from Disco Gold Volume 2 are Banzaii's "Chinese Kung Fu," Bimbo Jet's "El Bimbo," and The Chequers' "Undecided Love.")
Florence Greenberg sold Scepter Records in 1976, by which point disco had already reached the mainstream and was aiming for the stratosphere. (The Hues Corporation’s 1974 chart-topper “Rock the Boat” was one of the earliest, most successful disco records, and by 1976, classic artists were reshaping their sounds to the new beats, such as Diana Ross with that year’s “Love Hangover.” The following year brought Saturday Night Fever to the world, but The Bee Gees had already begun flirting with disco on 1976’s Children of the World.)
If you’re ready to relive the early days of disco with the incredible remixes of Tom Moulton, you can pick up Disco Gold: Scepter Records, Tom Moulton and the Birth of Disco beginning August 29 in the U.K. and September 13 on our shores. Amazon’s domestic pre-order link is not yet active but should be working soon!
Various Artists, Disco Gold: Scepter Records, Tom Moulton and the Birth of Disco (BGP, 2011)
- Wah Tu Wah Zuree – George Tindley
- We’re On The Right Track – Ultra High Frequency
- Make Me Believe in You – Patti Jo
- I Love You, Yes I Do – The Independents
- Ain’t No Love Lost – Patti Jo
- Pity the Poor Man – George Tindley
- Arise and Shine – The Independents
- Needing You – Clara Lewis
- Breakaway – Ernie Bush
- Waterbed – LTG Exchange
- Mud Wind – South Side Movement
- (Baby) Save Me – Secrets
- (Call Me) Your Anything Man – Bobby Moore
Tracks 1-8 from Disco Gold, Scepter SPS-5120, 1975
Tracks 9-13 from Disco Gold Vol. 2, Scepter SPS-5125, 1975