red-headed stepchild in the house of love (djmermaid) wrote,
red-headed stepchild in the house of love
djmermaid

I'm in trouble now

I just found out that WEST END RECORDS is on freakin' beatport!

Uh-oh.

I found a track there that I have been looking for for YEARS, ever since Garth dropped it into one of his gorgeous sunrise sets (in a filthy, cold warehouse, but nevermind that) back sometime in the '90s!!!!! (yes, that's 5 !s)

It's an instrumental, and it took me until this year to learn the title of the track, and who did it. Then, I sadly discovered it was only available on vinyl. For a while, that was that - but it has been haunting me. Yesterday, I very nearly ordered it from West End's web site (despite not owning a turntable, and being well aware of how much hassle it would be to get it onto a CD, the too-old-to-be-new, too-new-to-be-old format on which I DJ.) For some reason, I had an intuition to check out beatport, even though I'd thought they only had new stuff (and indeed, all the West End stuff is listed as either Deep House, House, or Chill - despite them offering Larry Levan and Tom Moulton mixes (!!!) Taana Gardner's classic tracks, etc.)

Actually, it's probably just as well that there's not a "disco" category - or a disco version of beatport! This is gonna cost me enough money as it is. %-) However, I do love paying for only the tracks I want, and getting them at a decent bitrate with no stoopid DRM BS attatched!

So I browsed around and filled up my "crate" with a few other yummy goodies, and downloaded a few promising sounding tracks from their free section. Woot Woot!

I do have a few niggly critiques of the site (it'd be nice to be able to see the track length without loading the sample, for one thing) but the samples do load fast and they are nice and long so you get a pretty decent idea of what you'll be getting, even if it isn't a familiar track.

Wish me luck! Self-restraint has never been my strong suit.


In other awesome DJ news, I got a comment from Derrick Love, the DJ who was spinning at the Paradise Disco party on Fryday nigh as we were leaving. He very generously told me who did the version of "Don't Leave Me This Way" that I ran back in to dance to (and it is surely the original!) He also mentioned that he is doing a *free* party on the 21st, which will feature electro-funk, freestyle, boogie, and other early '80s music - sounds like a good time!

I have a friend who dislikes what he considers "nostalgia music" (so he naturally takes a rather dim view of disco - though I did notice some ass-shaking coming from his general direction at the Paradise party - which, to be fair, he said he enjoyed more than he expected to.) I can see his point... to a point. I also think there is much value in the past, because the present (and the future) are built on the foundations of what has happened before. Plus, I just plain love a lot of this older stuff, and I have yet to see an expiration date printed on any of my music!

His analysis is also rather specific to the gay clubbing community, so retro music (especially pre AIDS era music) has a layer of political meaning attached to it that I understand, but that doesn't enter into my appreciation of music as much - I just love it for itself. I totally get that yearning for the pre-AIDS days can go too far and become reactionary - but I don't really mix a lot of intellectualizing into my musical appreciation. I just like what I like, yo. ;-)

That said, we kinda shifted places as far as our analysis of Fryday's Paradise Disco party. I've had a great time at Tubesteak Connection, Bus Station John's weekly party which focuses on "bath house music" of the later '70s and earliest '80s, and the politics do not really enter into it for me. (I'm more disturbed by the crappy sound system they have.) He is uncomfortable with the fetishization of the bath house culture, which I do certainly understand. This issue was not really present at the (mostly het-ish) party last Fryday. I, on the other hand, felt a bit discomfited by the name "Paradise Disco" - clearly a nod to the legendary Paradise Garage - and it caused me to be much more aware of anywhere the party might fall short.

Taken on it's own, it was an awesome night, filled with smiles, fun, the classic ~120 bpm disco that I LOVE, and a very tight disco *orchestra* which knew it's shit and dished the grooves up hot and fresh.

Taken as a comparison to the Paradise Garage, however... well, that's gonna be a tough one. It was a lot like a decent club from Back In Teh Day, but the PG was the gold standard of clubbing (at least in NYC) and that is a tall fucking order.

If you want to hear for yourself what I'm on about, check this out:

http://www.amazon.com/Larry-Levan-Live-Paradise-Garage/dp/B00005QFLB

It is a double CD of Larry Levan spinning live at the Garage, lovingly remastered by Tom Moulton. The story is that someone had this set on a reel tape, and gave the tape to Larry's mom at his funeral. She kept it for a long time, then eventually gave it to Mel Cheren (cofounder of the Garage and owner of West End - see, this IS all related!) who had it remastered and released it.

Now, I will be the first to admit that the mixing is NOT 100% flawless - however! The musical selection is top-notch, and there are a lot of hot mixes in there (especially considering that most disco was recorded by live orchestras, with live drummers.) Until Giorgio Moroder came along with his sequencers behind Donna Summer's vocals and created the roots of techno, that was what you had to work with - live drummers, who might speed up and then slow down, making it maddeningly difficult to mix! Forget about beatmatching for most of it - even the better DJs were mostly just slip-cueing (which consisted of cueing the incoming track up to the point where the beat starts, having the tempos as close to synched as humanly possible, and then letting the new track start and quickly mixing out of the old track.) Backspins come in handy here too, as I'm sure you can imagine (if you have bothered to read this far!)

ANYway, the stuff Larry was doing was AMAZING, especially given the technical limitations of the time, and his ability to read a room and select music to take the dancers on a journey is the stuff of legend. So calling your party "Paradise Disco" is creating quite the high expectation for it - at least in the minds of anyone who knows their disco history.

So while my friend was able to look at the party from a more neutral place, I was hyper aware of any shortcomings I noticed. I realize that this isn't exactly fair, and I tried to keep this filter of mine from affecting my review of the night - because honestly, it was one of the best disco nights I have ever been to (I was sadly too young to even attempt to sneak into clubs in the '70s.)

I can say that I am wholeheartedly happy that disco nights (plural!) are happening now. I absolutely MUST get off my ass and record a demo so I can get behind the decks some time! (Then who is going to have the bright light of critique shining in her face?! Well, a lot of it will come from me myself, as always, so at least I'll be prepared.)

My beatport stuff is finished downloading, so I should call it a night.

In conclusion: DISCO LIVES! ;-)
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