Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Various Artists, Nicky Siano’s The Gallery

Along with David Mancuso and Francis Grasso, Nicky Siano was one of the great DJs who founded the underground dance scene in New York in the early 1970s that would sianoeventually produce both disco and house music.  Siano opened and DJed at The Gallery, one of the most revered of the early underground dance clubs.  “Nicky Siano’s The Gallery” collects 16 tracks that Siano played regularly at the Gallery.

One of the things Siano was know for was the wide range of music he played and this collection well illustrates that diversity including tracks by The Isley Brothers, Bill Withers, The Temptations, Bonnie Bramlett, The Pointer Sisters, The Bar-Kays and many others.  Listeners unfamiliar with the roots of New York dance music in general and disco in particular may be suprised at the near absence of songs with the familiar disco sound.  Siano’s taste’s may be broad but his focus was always clearly on the dancefloor and every tune on this collection is designed for dancing. 

The CD comes with an excellent booklet that contains an essay about Siano and the Gallery by Tim Lawrence the author of Love Saves the Day (reviewed at Tuned In To Music here) along with a much longer essay by Siano that discusses, among other things, the sound systems at the Gallery along with some discussion of each of the tracks included in the collection.  The booklet is good enough to serve as a model for how these things ought to be down.

When you put together a collection like this you have to solve a difficult problem:  Do you present the extended versions of the songs that were played on the dancefloor, or do you present edited versions in order to give the listener more songs for the money.  The problem is particularly acute for a collection like this where, on the one hand, Siano was famous for the range of music he played, while on the other hand his and The Gallery’s legacy is about dancing first and foremost.  The compilers chose range at the expense of competeness; almost every track on the CD is a radio or album edit or an extended dance floor version that is faded out before it’s over.  Although I can see good reasons for both approaches, I did not like listening to the truncated versions and the more times I listened to the disc the more annoying it got. 

As far as I know, this is the only collection of its kind so unless you want to find set lists from the club and then track down individual songs from multiple sources it’s your only choice if you want to hear what Siano was doing at the Gallery.  Too bad about the edited songs.  The quality of the booklet is a clear indication that the producers of the collection took it seriously.  They should have lavished the same attention on the music and given us a double CD with full versions of the songs.  Nicky Siano and The Gallery certainly deserved it.

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07/13/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

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