Various Artists: Nicky Siano's Legendary "The Gallery" The Original New York Disco 1973-1977

Before it got screwed up by greedy record labels and clueless club owners, disco was actually pretty awesome. The music was about freedom and love, and the original disco DJs would play anything (as long as it was good, sounded strong through the speakers, and fit the mood of the dance floor). Rock, soul, jazz, gospel, blues, even world music... it was all fair game for the great disco DJs.

Nicky Siano was (and is) a great disco DJ. When you listen to the music he put together on this disc, it's obvious that Siano cares about connecting with his crowd. It's obvious that he uses music as a way to reach out to every single person in the room. It's obvious that he understands how music can make us feel alive. This music is powerful and exciting, it's filled with truth and tolerance, and it makes you want to stand up and celebrate.

Really, if you think you hate disco, try this out. Chances are, the only reason you hate disco is because you've never heard disco. Pick this CD up, put on some headphones or crank it up in the car, and give your body up to the music.

Music: 4.5 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
There's not a bad song on here. Future house diva Loleatta Holloway demonstrates that disco, at its finest, was music of love, spirit, and power. The Pointer Sisters were an exciting and unique band at one point in time, as "Yes We Can Can" proves. "Exuma, The Obeah Man" by Exuma sounds like The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" mixed with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. There are classic Motown artists like The Temptations and The Supremes and soul stalwarts like Bill Withers and The Isley Brothers. If the album doesn't make you at least tap your foot, you might want to check your pulse.

Packaging: 5 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
The booklet is as good as the liner notes in a Smithsonian Folkways CD, but it's way more fun. It's like a guided tour through the disco that no one knows, but everyone -- at least everyone who loves music -- should know. The pictures alone have a great historical value, but the "essays" from Siano and dance music historian Tim Lawrence are what makes this package shine. Again, if you think you don't like disco, give this a shot; at least you'll start to understand what it is that you think you hate.

Listen if you like: house, electronica, R&B, civil rights, gay rights, music that makes you want to get up and dance.

If it were food, it'd be: An organic fruit smoothie from one of the handful of post-disco parties that still happen today.


bob_vinyl said...

Nice Billy Nichols reference. It comes from one of my favorite disco tracks of all time. People who aren't too thick-headed to let themselves appreciate this stuff will certainly find that the disco we hated wasn't really disco after all.

The Daily Breather said...

Whoa, thanks for pointing met o this one. Worth checking out. I've heard Dj's in their mid 40's now who used to play disco jams in about the 4am part of the party. Took us way back to before many of us were born. Say what you want about the DJ but when they can teach you history and piece time together in music then they have much respect.