Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Various Artists, Disco Boogie Vols. 1 & 2, Selected and Mixed by Walter Gibbons

The cover of this two CD collection has “Selected and Mixed by WALTER GIBBONS” in large letters prominently displayed and “Disco Boogie” in a smaller typefont set off to the disco boogieside.  After having listened to them, I’m guessing that when these albums were first released it was “Disco Boogie” that got the big hype and Walter Gibbons was mentioned peripherally if at all.  For the most part this comes off as a quickie designed to cash in on the disco craze of the mid ’70s.

The ideas behind the set were great; the execution, not so much.  First, get one of the renowned DJs from the 1970’s underground New York dance scene to compile and mix dance music.  Then give him what looks like free access to the Salsoul Records catalog.  Finally, have him construct roughly 20 minute sets of music by combining segments of songs into medleys.  It could have been great.

It isn’t.  Gibbons was known for his fondness for drums and percussion and he was the first of the downtown DJs to extend drum breaks for unbelievable lengths of time by cuing back and forth between two copies of the same record.  He was also known for his very high level of technical ability.  Extending a drum break in real time by cuing back and forth between records is not easy to do and Gibbons was a master at it.  His interest in drums is evident on the “Disco Boogie” medleys as percussion is often high in the mix.  Given his interests and reputation you would expect Gibbons to segue from one song to the next with smooth and creative drum breaks.  Occasionally this happens but for the most part the transitions between songs in the medleys range from awkward to awful as tunes of different tempos and pitches are just kludged together.  I was just about to give up on the whole thing as a complete waste of time and money when I came to the last medley on Volume 2.  (On my copy of the CD, the volume numbers on the CDs are the reverse of the numbering given on the insert on the back of the CD case.  The volume I’m calling “Volume 2” is the one labeled as such on the CD, not on the insert.)  The last medley is mostly pretty good – interesting songs that are well sequenced and well connected – and it makes you realize how good the whole thing could have been.

There are moments of interest scattered here and there throughout both CDs and the final medley realizes some of the promise of the ideas behind this project but overall “Disco Boogie” is an opportunity lost.

For a much, much better collection of Walter Gibbons remixes, check out Jungle Music.

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07/24/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

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