The Dark Side of Disco vol. 1 is a well thought out double LP (vinyl only) compilation of early 80s tracks on an anonymous label. Contained are songs that tie in with the punk disco sounds of Brooklyn's DFA label and Trevor Jackson's London label Output Recordings. There are three very well known tracks and nine less known cuts. For me, the lesser known cuts are the gems.
Noticing that the sleeve call this "vol. 1," I sure hope that more compilations in this series appear. I only knew four of these songs, and really like almost all of the tracks. The well known tracks are presented in different versions than usual, except for the Talking Heads track.
- Human League - Don't You Want Me (Extended Mix) This version is almost completely instrumental. The only vocals are "Don't you want me baby" repeated near the end. Even if you are tired of the original version, you will be able to listen to and enjoy this one.
- Dominitriz - The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight I have read references to this track for ages but had never heard it. The overall sound is a little similar to early 80s Zoo Records band Lori & The Chameleons, or current NYC band Crossover. There are male and female vocals, and interesting electronic sounds in a very pop sounding track.
- Alexander Robotnick - Problems D'Amour (dub) An instrumental with a 4/4/ dance track beat and a clicky electronic percussion sound. I have read references to this track as well, though I can't see any reason for people raving so much about it. It is a good cut, but not one of my favorites on the LP.
- Yazoo - Situation (dub) I knew this song from way back when it came out. I have always thought that Moloko sounded like an updated Yaz. The version of Situation (one of their best known songs) is really excellent. It has a solid beat, some cool electronic sounds, and the distinctive vocals of Alison Moyet. For those of you who have never heard of this duo, they started out as Yaz and later changed their name to Yazoo. Vince Clarke was a founder and songwriter for Depeche Mode. You can hear their sound in Yazoo, but with female vocals.
- Yello - Bostich At times sounding like the influence for current bands like Green Velvet or Mount Sims, Yello feature male vocals right up front, and lots of percolating synths. Bostich is an enjoyable track, particularly the main verse vocal, which reminds me a little of the Ultravox song Young Savage.
- Lime - On The Grid (re-mix dub) Another fave. In fact, maybe my favorite on the LP. On the Grid is a monster by this early 80s Canadian electronic disco duo. The staccato pulses of the sequenced synth are counterpoint to a solid beat, with synthetic horn flourishes. There are some male vocals near the end, but basically it is an instrumental. This one sounds like it influenced David Carretta It moves!
- New Order - Blue Monday (12inch mix) This track is hugely inspirational, though personally I would have preferred to have this tracks slot on the record occupied by a forgotten artist whom I had never heard of.
- Ramm - Sparke the Universe Italian post-disco artists Klein & M.B.O. were Tomas Ramirez Carrasco and M. Boncaldo. The track has lots of male vocals and a sound that could easily be seen as an influence for bands such as Playgroup. This song is exactly what I hoped this compilation would give me - great tracks by artists I had never heard.
- Klein & M.B.O. - Dirty Talk Dirty Talk is an Italian disco track that charted in many places throughout the world in 1982. It is an instrumental with lots of percussive subtleties and variations, except for one - the steady 4/4 beat that rolls along like a juggernaut. You can hear how bands like Soft Cell were influenced by this.
- Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime I would have left this one out. Everyone knows this cut, and no one is going to buy this LP just because it is on it. If I had never heard Once in a Lifetime I would be praising its inclusion here, but I doubt that anyone who may buy this record hasn't heard this one many times already.
- A Certain Ratio - Kether Hot Kneves An instrumental with the classic punk-funk sound of slapped bass and snappy beat sounding like it is right out of the Chic song Good Times. A Certain Ratio flirted with various sounds in the same way that 23 Skidoo did.
- Loose Joints - Shoot the Pump A vocal track that is early hip-hop, with a street tale and lots of wild energy. Mick Jagger tried to rip off this feel in the Stones song Miss You, but Keith didn't give an Isley Brothers styled guitar solo like we have hear, and the sheer craziness and enthusiasm of this cut are hard to match by anyone.
It will never cease to amaze me how much good music there is to discover if you have an open mind and ear.