Artists Who Should Have Resisted the Disco Urge

In the Disco era, certain artists inhabited the genre and were defined by it (Donna Summer, KC & The Sunshine Band) while others found success with it as just one phase of a varied music career (Diana Ross, ABBA). A few great bands made the Disco world a cooler place just by dropping by for four or five minutes (The Stones, The Grateful Dead). Then there’s one more category of artist: those who never should have bothered dipping a toe into the water. I’d like to ridicule recognize a few artists of the Disco Movement who really put the emphasis on the second word of that phrase…

The Miracles: “Love Machine” (1975)

Two years after Smokey Robinson left the Miracles for a solo career (taking his songwriting skills with him) the band, then fronted by the legendary (not) Billy Griffin, released this piece of proto-disco dog-doo, which actually was a #1 single. I can’t explain how that happened. I mean, you could dance to it I guess, but it’s hard to ignore one of the dumbest lyrics ever committed to vinyl.

Barbra Streisand (with Donna Summer): “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” (1979)

This sounds like just another well-constructed Donna Summer dance track, one which didn’t need Babs’ hyperbolic wailing. Don’t get me wrong, Streisand is a great singer. But “Evergreen” is more her thing. She and dance music don’t need each other.

Mercifully, I’ve given you the link to the short version, although it might not seem like it.

Bette Midler: “Married Men” (1979)


Charo: “Dance a Little Bit Closer” (1978)

“Loco! Loco! Loco!…”

No argument here.

Normally I wouldn’t say this about a woman who looks like Charo, but I prefer to see her play the guitar.

Seems like slumming for her. This song and video are full of suck.

ELO: “Last Train to London” (1979)

Actually, Jeff Lynne’s disco-infused 1979 Discovery album isn’t terrible. And I’m not purist enough or hypocrite enough to dismiss his incorporation of disco elements into rock, since I rather like his eclecticism in borrowing from classical music to create the ELO fusion of sound–disco was just another ingredient to toss into the stew. I think I just never forgave this album for not being Out of the Blue II.

Natalie Cole: “I Love You So” (1979)

Natalie did give us a few soul gems early in her career. “I Love You So” is not one of them.

The Originals: “Down to Love Town” (1976)

The Originals too gave us a couple classic ballads in the early 70’s. They had a nice throwback, pseudo doo wop sound. Then Disco hit, and they recorded “Down to Love Town”. It was their last chart hit. Sometimes it’s better to go out on your own terms–in this case, as a good soul ballad group rather than a bad disco group.

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