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Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I finally got my hands on Vince Aletti's amazing book The Disco Files. It was originally only available via but now can be found in better bookstores. I got mine at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square. Kinda pricey for a paperback at almost $40.00 but it's chock full of information. A veritable disco bible.

Disco Files was edited by Frank Broughton & Bill Brewster who brought us their own phenomenal disco history book Last Night a DJ Saved my Life which I reviewed in a blog quite a while back. Vince Aletti is currently the Photography editor of New Yorker magazine but back in the day he wrote a column for Record World magazine entitled Disco File. In this column he wrote about new releases not unlike the dance column in Billboard magazine later written by Brian Chin, Bill Coleman, Larry Flick and others. He also was in regular contact with many of the most important d.j.'s of the period and printed their Top 10 lists and a national Top 20 compiled from these lists.

Some of the early contributors include John Luongo reporting from various clubs in Boston, Larry Levan from when he was spinning at Reade Street, Walter Gibbons from Galaxy 21, Bobby Guttardo from Infinity, Tom Savarese from 12 West, Jay Negron and Paul Salari from The Playhouse in the Bronx and many other important early Disco pioneers.

The early part of the book is particularly interesting because it documents how the 45 rpm 7" single was first used by DJ's. Some had the vocal versions on side A and the instrumental on side B or Part I on one side and Part II on the other. So DJ's had to be creative with two copies to extend the dancing experience. Album tracks started to be replaced by the first PROMO 12" singles in 1975. As these wider grooves provided for better and louder sound. There were even a few, now rare 45 rpm singles without the large hole in the middle like in this otherwise unavailable extended mix of Tavares classic from 1975 It Only Takes a Minute which I have in my Ebay store. Click the title of this blog to have a look.

Use of imports were also quite prevalent by DJ's always prepared to wow an audience with something fresh. Now it's simply become the standard for all successful DJ's to spin a great deal of imports. Also the first dj record pool in New York started by the Loft's David Mancuso began in June 1975 and featured Vince Aletti on it's board of directors. Many artists actually performed for these DJ's or did a meet and greet in the office. Some included Faith, Hope and Charity, The Ritchie Family and the then new artist Donna Summer.

One of the crucial disco records of 1975 was The Jacksons Forever Came Today which has remained virtually unknown to their pop audience. Between their 1974 smash Dancing Machine and their first singles on Epic in 1976 the Jacksons had a dry period on the U.S. pop charts.


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