Is disco forgotten?
It would be cultural mayhem if it was, the building blocks of modern pop, EDM, and Hip Hop, ignored by everybody except producer miners mining it for current pop hits isn’t fair.
Well, that won’t happen if Luis Mario O. Rizzo, the leader and executive producer of The Legends Of Vinyl, has anything to do with it. Even as these musicians, DJs and popstars of the 70s and 80s grow older, Luis brings them back to honor them and allow us to watch them perform. On Tuesday night the likes of D Train, Change, Lottie Dah, and more, show us why we are here: the glorious, musical hedonism, the pure joy of dance, the world now gone where music superseded and upended the pop firmament was in fact still here, in front of our eyes.
Luis sees his position, as a man who started DJing at the age of seventeen, as one of less remembrance and more that of preservation: the names and places that made up disco as it morphed from nightclubs to the Hot 100, set in place not so it is musty but so it remains vibrant.
At last year’s Awards (here), the cost of the pandemic in loss of life to members of the Hall Of Fame was as terrible as you’d expect and while the show was spectacular (it was an honor to see Phil Hurtt, so important as part of the Sound Of Philadelphia), and it was proof of the social and cultural importance of LOV (Legends Of Vinyl), it was still sad…
In 2022 LOV moved into the 80s with a rock and roll sighting (Lou Gramm of Foreigner fame) and an accent on Freestyle, a reference to forms of dancing as personified by Katie Marlow, the dancer and choreographer who feels ageless, and crafted the hugely important aspect of disco freestyle, disco was utilitarian: it was there for you to use… to dance to.
But let’s start at the beginning.
I arrived too early. I was to interview recipients before the show for a video that will certainly be released at some point and advised that there would be a Met game at nearby Citi Field that would make it slow reaching Queens Theatre in Corona Park. At four o’clock in the afternoon I arrived and immediately I ran into both Cyre and her agent Hector Leguillow (who worked as Office Manager- Agent – Roadmanager for Ralph Mercado, a name well known to Latin Pop fans for his brilliant Labor Day concerts where you could see everyone from Tito Puente and Celia Cruz to Elvis Crespo… on the same night at MSG, and who I am hoping to interview for us) and Crown Heights Affair…
My friend SohoJohnny Pasquale arrived around five and joined by a cameraman who wired me up introduced me to the various artists and whom I performed short interviews with. I have been friends with the legendary Pasquale who has the social skills I tend to lack and who made sure I met everyone.
I spoke with Susan Maria Gonzalez of Company B, Instant Funk -who were the band of choice for everyone from The O’Jays to Curtis Mayfield before hitting the big time for themselves, an erudite and intelligent Lou Gramm who explained life after streaming, but I couldn’t find D-Train. My two biggest must sees of the night were D-Train and Brenda K. Starr, sadly Brenda couldn’t be there and D-Train (aka James Williams) was but I couldn’t find him; I asked Soho’s advise and he suggested I don’t worry. When we went into the Queens Theatre itself, I found myself sitting next to him for the duration.
It is easy to pinpoint the differences between the two LoVs I had previously seen, in 2019 and 2021 they occured in nightclubs, in 2022 we were in a theatre. If we lose something of the freewheeling, disco vibe what we gain is very important: it became what it is, a tribute and while there was a lot of loudness and table hopping in the past, in the confines of the theatre the audience were enthralled by, well, enthralling stories.
Hokis Pokis performed the Star Spangled Banner and Dan (Pooch) Pucciarelli lead us in the Pledge Of Allegiance.
The evening’s second musical number was Laurie West at her sexually charged best…
Lottie Dah is a scenemaker par excellent and she was brilliant everytime I’ve seen her, if she is ever playing around time please make sure I know, I would love to see a complete performance
Lottie was followed by the five awards for DJs for Billy Ouellette, Eddie Dilollo, Ernie Lombardi, Ray Connors, and Tito Ramirez, who might agree upon one thing: the work they did lead directly to the EDM pop resurgence of the 2010s making huge money for the David Guettas and Calvin Harris though to quote DJ and LoV member of the board Roy B, nobody was in it just for the money…
After the intermission Steve Bogen gave an inspiring speech that cut through everything and rested on the honor of times gone by followed by Hall Of Fame recipient Katie Marlow who performed a spectacular pas de deux… And then Cyre brought the house down with an amazing “Last Chance”
The 8th award of the night went to the bass brilliant BB&Q with the song of the evening, “On The Beat”… the song is an exercise in metaphysics and self-fulfilling prophecy, it demands you dance and dance you shall… I prefer it to Chic’s “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” which is about as high praise as possible.
As mentioned, I was sitting next to D-Block, who knew every band and every word, and whose enthusiasm was infectious when he could stop for a moment from having his peers ask him for selfies.
Joe Harris joined SohoJohnny in giving Instant Funk their award and during their “I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)” I would have been happy to hear them jam all night… they reminded me of Funkadelic though no one else could hear it.
The Icon Award went to Patrick Adams and let me use a crib sheet: “He was known primarily for his production, songwriting and engineering work on the New York-based Salsoul Records, Prelude Records and major record labels as well as his associations with various recording artists such as Black Ivory (1970s), Inner Life, Jocelyn Brown Loleatta Holloway, R. Kelly, Keith Sweat, Teddy Riley, Salt-N-Pepa, Leroy Burgess and bands (The Universal Robot Band, Logg and Musique). In addition, Adams worked with rap, hip-hop/R&B and dance/club acts such as Coolio, Cathy Dennis, Keith Sweat, Teddy Riley, R. Kelly, Eric B. & Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa and Shades of Love. He owned and operated PAPMUS (Patrick Adams Productions Music) in New York City…” Amazing, right? In some ways this is LoV reaching the age of hip hop and we hope to see more of it next year.
If everybody was stanning D-Block, D-Block was stanning Crown Heights Affair, and a major difference in moving from the 1970s to the 1980s is that the 1970s recipient tended to be retired. That wasn’t true last night… these were working musicians and Crown Heights Affair was a ball of energy.
Hokis Pokis returned for a song and Lou Gramm, who was very gracefully all evening, speaking to everyone who wanted to shake his hand, which translates to everyone, became the first inductee for rock n roll while (as I believe Al) pointedly noted that he had not been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of fame for either Foreigner or solo and LL Cool J had. If only for having a hard rock voice that leads the way, Al is correct, and so is LoV and he deserves to be in the hall of fame .
Change -the American-Italian disco band won next and performed a sparkling song
And finally, though before a final au revoir from the Hall and inductees, we get to take the D-Train, James Williams, who was nothing short of electrifying singing with so much power and determination and plain beauty: D-Train used to play football and he has the stamina you might hope for even after all these years. He brought us howling to our feet with “”You’re the One for Me”… but why write when a picture tells the story?
And that’s it for 2022, Luis had promised that every year would be better than the one before and for certain, this one was the best to date. And let’s leave the last word to Frances Joli from the 2019 awards: “For all of you who said ‘disco sucks’? Go fuck yourself…” Amen and goodnight.
helped solidify Tony Orlando and Dawn’s place in pop music history.
Busted to the side
an easier separation in seasons as the summer of 2023 failed to prove itself musically
has never quite caught on in the USA
Jean making a name for himself and SZA stealing it
a pretty solid starter kit
the song of the summer that wasn’t one
Sinatra remained his aloof, superstar self
my list syncs up pretty well with the 1979 Village Voice Pazz and Jop
a special collection