Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night: Brooklyn Disco 1974-75

❉ Bob Stanley’s latest Ace Records collection covers the early stages of the NY disco scene.

“Whether this music makes you want to dance may be a subjective thing but there is definitely nothing over-stylised or predictable on this compilation. “

Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night, the new Bob Stanley compilation on Ace, covers the early stages of the disco scene that sprang from the Brooklyn and Queens boroughs of New York in the mid ’70s and nicely complements Bob’s recently published Bee Gees book.

The title of the compilation comes from the long-form article written by Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom writer Nik Cohn. It’s an article he wrote for New York magazine detailing a few days in the life of disco scenester and Al Pacino wannabe ‘Vincent’. The article would famously become the film Saturday Night Fever where ‘Vincent’ was played by John Travolta strutting his stuff to the music of the Bee Gees. Read Stanley’s brilliant Bee Gees book to discover how they made the fascinating transition to that disco sound.

It’s interesting that Nik Cohn introduced and sold his article as a factual account of the scene because, as Stanley notes, most of it was fictionalised. Cohn had visited the 2001 Odyssey club, initially having been scared off by the behaviour of its clientele before ever entering the club. Whilst witnessing a fight, Cohn spotted a cool figure in the background and fleshed out a backstory for the character using his imagination and his experiences of meeting certain ‘faces’ on the British mod scene.  Cohn contrasts the “living for the weekend” ’70s disco crowd with the hippie “lets blow our minds and change the world” attitude of the ’60s and saw it as a return to the youth culture of his beloved ’50s.

Bob writes, “This compilation is the soundtrack to Cohn’s story, a score for the underground clubs of Brooklyn and Queens that played R & B, soul and Latin beats to people who lived for the weekend. Disco before it was rationalised, over-stylised or predictable.”

The other key writer of this scene is Vince Aletti.  Aletti wrote about and chronicled the “state of the dancefloor” in his regular column for the trade magazine Record World – articles which have been published in book form in The Disco Files.

Speaking at the famous rock writers convention in 1973, Aletti had predicted (whilst talking about Stevie Wonder) “black music and a ‘white’ studio technique will bring about a great resurgence in DANCING.”

Whether this music makes you want to dance may be a subjective thing but there is definitely nothing over-stylised or predictable on this compilation.  Some tracks to highlight – Welcome to the Club by Blue Magic with its sweet vocals and bittersweet lyrics seems to be a keystone track and the essence of disco. You can’t Hide Love by Creative Source sounds like a disco version of Fifth Dimension – not surprising as, according to Bob’s track by track song notes, both groups have the same genesis.

I Can’t Move No Mountains is a powerful soul ballad from Margie Joseph whilst Night of the Wolf (tema del lupo) by Al Foster aka Ivano Fossati is an eerie, Italian, flute-based instrumental that according to Bob’s sleeve notes also became a northern soul standard despite its prog origins.

We also get brilliant tracks from Jimmy Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks and Betty Everett, political disco in the shape of John Gary Williams’s The Whole Damn World is Going Crazy and absolute classic tracks such as Supernatural Thing (Part 1) from Ben E King and Wake up Everybody featuring a Teddy Pendergrass vocal for Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.

It’s all superbly packaged as usual with an excellent booklet and a front and back cover featuring the original low-key James McMullan artwork from the Nik Cohn article. A beautiful cover with not a mirrorball in sight.

❉ Various Artists: ‘Tribal Rites Of The New Saturday Night(Ace Records CDCHD 1618) released 26 May 2023 by Ace Records, RRP £111.70. Click here to order directly from Ace Records. Also available on vinyl: Tribal Rites Of The New Saturday Night, LP (£27.00)

 James Collingwood is based in West Yorkshire and has been writing for a number of years. He currently also writes for the Bradford Review magazine for which he has conducted more than 30 interviews and has covered music, film and theatre.  His Twitter is @JamesCollingwo1

Become a patron at Patreon!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.