Who Produced Disco Music?

Prior to 1978, Disco music was dominated by black musicians, however in the aftermath of Saturday Night Fever, disco invaded radio as well as the singles charts. Major labels had to try to change their sound in reaction, and mainstays of the rock world such as The Rolling Stones, Bowie, Elton John, Chicago, Rod Stewart started putting out disco influenced material, subsequently launching disco to global popularity, as had happened with Rock and Roll in the 60s.


Since the early 70s there were many labels who had been making Disco music, the most famous of these was Motown in Detroit. Having provided for years a counterpoint for the dominant Rock music through Soul and R&B, they moved to Hollywood in 1972 in order to continue to increase the popularity of the sound which they had made, the so called ‘Motown’ sound, with its particular melodic structure, arrangement and vocal lines. Disco music has its origins in the early ‘Motown’ Soul and R&B sound.  Among the famous artists who have recorded with Motown are: * The Jackson 5 with Michael & Jermaine Jackson * Marvin Gaye * The Commodores * The Contours * Stevie Wonder * Smokey Robinson & The Miracles * Rick James * The Temptations * Tammi Terrell * The Four Tops * Martha Reeves & The Vandellas * Gladys Knight & the Pips * Diana Ross & The Supremes * The Undisputed Truth * Rare Earth * Jr. Walker & the All stars * The Isley Brothers * The Marvelettes * Mary Wells * Dina Rae. 


Another famous label dedicated to disco music was the 20th Century Records in Los Angeles. It recoded “Loves Theme” by Love Unlimited Orchestra and it welcomed Disco because of its popularity and its high record sales. The song was snubbed by many radio presenters and was driven mainly by people from New York. It also marked a change in the music of Disco, and the major separation from the Soul music of the 60s, as greater orchestration and the use of strings and woodwind began to push Barry White, London Symphony Orchestra, Edwin, Star, Love Unlimited Orchestra, Sammy Davis Jr. and many others up the charts. 


Casablanca records of Los Angeles was created by Neil Bogart in 1973 after leaving Buddah Records. It launched the career of Donna Summer, The Four Tops, Angel, The Village People and Parliament. PolyGram acquired a 50% stake in in 1977 and subsequently bought the remaining half for $15 million. Following this the label had released hits with Lipps Inc. and Irene Cara, however it folded in 1984.


The American Record Label the home of the “Philli Sound”, founded in 1971 by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. Adding basses to the soul of violins, xylophones as well as a strong rhythm created the groove that came to characterise the Philli disco sound. Among the famous artists who have recorded for them are * MFSB * Patti Labelle * Archie Bell & The Drells * Jerry Butler * The Ebonys * Jean Carn * The Intruders * Dick Jensen * The Jones Girls * McFadden & Whitehead * Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes * The O’Jays * Billy Paul * * Teddy Pendergrass Lou Rawls * Dee Dee Sharp * Bunny Sigler * Gideon Smith * The Three Degrees * Dexter Wansel * Johnny Williams * The Whitehead Bros * Talk of the Town * Phyllis Hyman * Love Committee * The Force * Frantique * The Trammps. 


Other labels that produced important artists of the disco music were: the TK Records in Miami and the Sea studios in NEW ORLEANS. 


Meanwhile, in San Francisco some gay record companies, began to devote themselves solely to Disco. The most important were: the Megaton and Moby Dick. In particular, they were famous for the kitsch and quirky character of its productions. 


Finally a word on Salsoul Records from New York, founded in 1974 by brothers Joe and Ken Cayre and Stanley and Joe Bataan. the name is a portmanteau of Salsa and Soul, and was a sub-label of Caytronics, a label that produced mainly Mexican and Latin American music. Among major artists to record with SalSoul were  * Aurra ** Carol Williams * Edwin Starr * Donna Summer * Inner Life * Instant Funk * Jocelyn Brown * Larry Levan * Loleatta Holloway * Rafael Cameron * Skyy * Charo * and one of the co-founders: * Joe Baatan *. 

Among the products to be mentioned * Salsoul Orchestra (A backing band for the label that had hits from 1974 and 1982 composing fusions of genres such as Funk, Soul and Latin music)


Posted on

31 March 2022

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