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Various Artists 

Disco Not Disco 2 (Strut)

Wednesday, Jun 19 2002
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In the late '70s and early '80s, while the rest of the world was boogie-oogie-oogieing to music by the Bee Gees and Evelyn "Champagne" King, adventurous DJs in New York were subverting the mainstream by playing edgier, punk-informed dance music. Spinning free-form psychedelic epics and rigid electro oddities, dance floor pioneers like Larry Levan paved the way for the Chemical Brothers and other modern club heroes.

Like its predecessor, Disco Not Disco 2 collects a handful of classics from the New York underground. However, while the first volume focused on live musicianship, this second compilation acknowledges producers who created their own sound worlds using advancing technology. Spanning the years from 1974 to 1986, the collection seamlessly blends forgotten club faves like Alexander Robotnick's modern-sounding "Problemes D'Amour" with more well-known fare like the Clash's "This Is Radio Clash." Covering artists from all over the Western world -- including Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and the U.S. -- Disco Not Disco 2 presents a unity of ideas not necessarily present at the time each track was recorded.

The album kicks off with Laid Back's "White Horse," a song to which countless modern dance artists owe a debt. With its lean production, alien blurps and bleeps, and huge bass line, the 1984 tune is a virtual blueprint for last year's smash Basement Jaxx album Rooty, as well as practically every recent production by the Neptunes (Britney Spears, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Mystikal).

Some of the more exciting numbers are from artists not normally associated with discos. When it was released in 1982, "This Is Radio Clash" seemed like an atrocity to the group's punk fans, but now it feels revolutionary. Legendary Kraut-rock act Can also appears, with a sinewy tune called "Aspectacle (Holger Czukay Edit)" from its self-titled 1978 album. The funky song fits nicely between the relentless sprint of Yello's "Bostich" and the loose spacecapades of Material's jazz-funk effort "Ciguri."

The freakiest tracks come courtesy of the Coach House Rhythm Section and underground oddball Arthur Russell. Coach House's 1977 trance-inducer "Timewarp" -- which was the work of Eddy Grant, who eventually scored a massive hit with "Electric Avenue" -- laid the groundwork for house music with its heavy, repetitious beat and spaced-out effects. Russell's "Let's Go Swimming" is equally hallucinatory and groundbreaking, with a bleary-eyed drums-and-effects bridge and synthesized vocals.

As new electro artists like Adult., Felix Da Housecat, and Miss Kittin burn up the clubs these days, Disco Not Disco 2 is the perfect place to see where these artists got their ideas. And as for the question of whether the music is disco or not disco, the answer is yes.

About The Author

Cory Vielma

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Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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