Post-disco is a term to describe an aftermath in popular music history circa late 1979-1986, imprecisely beginning with an unprecedented backlash against disco music in the United States, leading to civil unrest and a riot in Chicago known as the Disco Demolition Night on July 12, 1979, and indistinctly ending with the mainstream appearance of house music in the late 1980s. Disco during its dying stage displayed an increasingly electronic character that soon served as a stepping stone to new wave, old-school hip hop, euro disco and was succeeded by an underground club music called hi-NRG, which was its direct continuation.
An underground movement of disco music, "stripped-down," and featuring "radically different sounds" took place on the East Coast that "was neither disco and neither R&B," This scene known as post-disco[nb 1] catering to New York metropolitan area, was initially led by urban contemporary artists partially in response to the over-commercialization and artistic downfall of disco culture. Developed from the rhythm and blues sound as perfected by Parliament-Funkadelic, the electronic side of disco, dub music techniques, and other genres. Post-disco was typified by New York City music groups like "D" Train and Unlimited Touch who followed a more urban approach while others, like Material and ESG, a more experimental one. Post-disco was, like disco, singles-driven market controlled mostly by independent record companies that generated a cross-over chart success all through the early-to-mid 1980s. Most creative control was in the hands of record producers and club DJs which was a trend that outlived the dance-pop era.
Other musical styles that emerged in the post-disco era include dance-pop,boogie, and Italo disco and led to the development of the early alternative dance, club-centered house and techno music.
Drum machines, synthesizers, sequencers were either partly or entirely dominant in a composition or mixed up with various acoustic instruments, depending on the artist and on the year. Electronic instruments became more and more dominant for each year during the period and dominated the genre completely by the mid 80s, apart from the odd electric guitar.
Darryl Payne arguing about the minimal approach of post-disco
The main force in post-disco was mainly the 12" single format and short-lived collaborations (many of them one-hit wonders) while indie record producers were instrumental in the musical direction of what the scene was headed to. The music that mostly catered to dance and urban audiences later managed to influence more popular and mainstream acts like Madonna, New Order or Pet Shop Boys.
The music tended to be technology-centric, keyboard-laden, melodic, with funk-oriented bass lines (often performed on a Minimoog), synth riffs, dub music aesthetics, and background jazzy or blues-y piano layers. For strings and brass sections, synthesizer sounds were preferred to the lush orchestration heard on many disco tracks, although such arrangements would later resurface in some house music.Soulful female vocals, however, remained an essence of post-disco.
Bridging the so-called death of disco and the birth of house, all this early-to-mid-'80s music lacks a name beyond drably functional and neutral terms like "dance" or "club music."
- Simon Reynolds, SPIN magazine
The term "post-disco" was used as early as 1984 by Cadence Magazine when defining post-disco soul as "disco without the loud bass-drum thump."New York Magazine used the word in an article appearing in the December 1985 issue; it was Gregory Hines's introduction of post-disco and electronic funk to Russian-American dance choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov "who has never heard this kind of music." AllMusic states that the term denotes a music genre in the era between the indistinct "end" of disco music and the equally indistinct emergence of house music.
Shortly after the "Disco Sucks" movement of disco bashing throughout the United States, American radio stations began to pay attention to other popular formats of music such as reggae, punk rock or new wave while top mainstream labels and record companies like Casablanca, TK Records or RSO went bankrupt. Since disco music had been on the way of [its] electronic progression, it split itself into subscenes and styles like Hi-NRG, freestyle, Italo disco and boogie. The last one is closely associated with post-disco more than any other offshoots of post-disco.
Brazilian record producer and fusion jazz pioneer Eumir Deodato, well aware of current trends in American underground music, turned around the career of a failing funk music group Kool & the Gang by adopting and pursuing a light pop-post-disco sound that not only revitalized the band's image but also turned out to be the most successful hits in their entire career.B. B. & Q. Band (Capitol) and Change (Atlantic) acts' creator Jacques Fred Petrus, an overseas hi-NRG Italo disco music record producer, reflects on his decision to shift from conventional disco music to post-disco "[our] sound changed to more of a funky dance/R&B style to reflect the times." French-born songwriting duo Henri Belolo and Jacques Morali, creators of the successful Village People act, moved their former disco act Ritchie Family to RCA Victor to release their next album co-produced by funk musician Fonzi Thornton and Petrus, I'll Do My Best, which mirrors their radical musical shift. On the West Coast, especially in California, a different approach lead to a different sound. Dick Griffey and Leon Sylvers III of SOLAR Records, who pioneered their own signature sound, produced Ohio-based group Lakeside's album Rough Riders which already displayed these new trends and, "instrumentally demonstrates economic arrangements (featuring brass, keyboards and guitar)," as noted by Billboard, praising the album. A watershed album of post-disco was Michael Jackson's Off The Wall, produced by Quincy Jones, which helped establish a direction of R&B/dance music and influenced many young producers who were interested in this kind of new music.
Disco in Europe remained relatively untouched by the events in the U.S., decreasing only in Britain, but this was mostly because of the emergence of the new wave and new romantic movements around 1981, and continued to flourish within the Italo disco scene although the interest for electronic music in general was indeed growing.
Unlike in the United States, where anti-disco backlash generated prominent effect on general perception of disco music, in Britain, the new-wave movement initially drew heavily from disco music (although this association would be airbrushed out by the end of 1979) and took many elements from American post-disco and other genres, thus creating a characteristic scene.M's 1979 "Pop Muzik" was a prime example of this, topping the charts at both sides of the Atlantic that year. According to Billboard, American post-disco was merely a crossover of different genres, while focusing on the electronic and R&B overtones, whereas jazz-funk was a crucial element of the British post-disco scene that generated musicians like Chaz Jankel, Central Line or Imagination.
Compare "Open Sesame" (1976) with "Celebration" (1980) by Kool & The Gang, "Boogie Wonderland" (1979) with "Let's Groove" (1981) by Earth, Wind & Fire, "Shame" (1978) with "Love Come Down" (1982) by Evelyn "Champagne" King and "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty" (1976) with "Give It Up" (1982) by KC & the Sunshine Band.
|Year||Song||Label||Artist||U.S. Dance ||U.S. R&B ||U.S. Pop ||U.S. M.R. ||U.K. Pop|
|1979||"I Wanna Be Your Lover"||Warner Bros.||Prince||#2||#1||#11||-||#41|
|1980||"Celebration"||De-Lite||Kool & the Gang||#1||#1||#1 ('81)||-||#7|
|"He's So Shy"||Planet||The Pointer Sisters||#26||#10||#3||-||-|
|"And the Beat Goes On"||SOLAR||The Whispers||#1||#1||#19||-||#2|
|1981||"Let's Groove"||Columbia||Earth, Wind & Fire||#3||#1||#3||-||#3|
|"Get Down on It"||De-Lite||Kool & the Gang||-||#4||#10||-||#3|
|"Pull Up to the Bumper"||Island Records||Grace Jones||#2||#5||-||-||#12|
|1982||"Everybody"||Sire, Warner Bros.||Madonna||#3||-||#107||-||-|
|"Forget Me Nots"||Elektra Records||Patrice Rushen||#2||#4||#23||-||#8|
|"It's Raining Men"||Columbia Records||The Weather Girls||#1||#34||#46||-||#2|
|"Last Night a DJ Saved My Life"||Sound of New York||Indeep||#2||#10||#101||-||#13|
|"Love Come Down"||RCA||Evelyn King||#1||#1||#17||-||#7|
|"You Can Do Magic"||Capitol||America||-||-||#8||-||#59|
|1983||"Holiday"||Sire, Warner Bros.||Madonna||#1||#25||#16||-||#2|
|"Give It Up"||Meca||KC||-||-||#18||-||#1|
|"Billie Jean"||Epic||Michael Jackson||#1||#1||#1||-||#1|
|1984||"Caribbean Queen"||Jive||Billy Ocean||#1||#1||#1||-||#6|
|"Let's Dance"||EMI||David Bowie||#1||#14||#1||#6||#1|
|"Cool It Now"||MCA||New Edition||-||#1||#4||-||#43|
|"Dr. Beat"||Epic||Miami Sound Machine||#17||-||-||-||#6|
|"I'm So Excited"||Planet||The Pointer Sisters||#28||#46||#9||-||#11|
|1985||"Into the Groove"||Sire, Warner Bros.||Madonna||#1||#19||-||-||#1|
|"Chain Reaction"||RCA Records||Diana Ross||#7||#85||#66||-||#1|
|"Object of My Desire"||Elektra||Starpoint||#12||#8||#25||-||#96|
|1986||"Rumors"||Jay||Timex Social Club||#1||#1||#8||-||#13|
|"Ain't Nothin' Goin' on But the Rent"||Polydor Records||Gwen Guthrie||#1||#1||#42||-||#5|
|1987||"Rhythm Is Gonna Get You"||Epic||Miami Sound Machine||#27||-||#5||-||#16|
During the late 1990s and throughout the 2000s, electronic and, especially, house musicians were influenced by post-disco. Some of these musicians are: Daft Punk, a French house music group, adopted elements of post-disco, disco and synth-pop into Discovery. Another artist, Les Rythmes Digitales, released a post-disco/electro-influenced album, Darkdancer.Canadian music group Chromeo debuted in 2004 with the album She's in Control. Similar Los Angeles-based musician Dâm-Funk recorded Toeachizown, a boogie- and electro-influenced album released in 2009. Another band called Escort, who hails from New York City, surfaced on the post-disco and post-punk revival scenes around 2006. The story about Escort appeared on New York Times in November 2011.
Contemporary compilation albums featuring post-disco and electro artists (e.g. Imagination, Level 42, Afrika Bambaataa) include The Perfect Beats series (volume 1-4). Another compilation series are Nighttime Lovers (volume 1-10) and the mixed-up album titled The Boogie Back: Post Disco Club Jams.
Particular psychedelic soul artists like Sly and the Family Stone liked to push the boundaries of conventional music by employing what was to be a precursor to synthesizer, electronic organ. Multi-instrumentalist Stevie Wonder was one of early artists venturing into the realms of analog synthesizer after impressed by the work of T.O.N.T.O. Expanding Head Band, an influential multinational electronic music duo of sound designers: "How great it is at a time when technology and the science of music is at its highest point of evolution, to have the reintroduction of two of the most prominent forefathers in this music be heard again. It can be said of this work that it parallels with good wine. As it ages it only gets better with time. A toast to greatness... a toast to Zero Time... forever." With an increasing growth of personalized synthesizers on the market they were becoming more commercially available and easy-to-use, especially those produced by Roland Corporation. One of their first users was an cutting-edge artist George Clinton and his Parliament-Funkadelic collective project. Funk rhythms, psychedelic guitars, synthetic bass-rich lines, the particularly melodic endeavor and music minimalism of P-Funk. Brooklyn Transit Express member Kashif, noted for his use of bass synthesizer during the group's tour, later went solo as a record producer and began crafting funk-influenced songs for Evelyn "Champagne" King that shown a minimalism-akin approach, the disregard of disco music arrangements, and affiliation to the method of "one-man band" previously paved through by Wonder. Other spheres of influence include the move from pioneering DJs and record producers to release alternative mixes on the same single, so-called dub mixes. DJ Larry Levan implemented elements of dub music in his productions and mixes for various post-disco artists, including his own group The Peech Boys. Musically, there was a search for out-of-mainstream music to derive new ideas from, most commonly blues, and other styles like reggae, etc. were also incorporated.
Sinnamon's "Thanks to You", D-Train's "You're the One for Me", The Peech Boys' "Don't Make Me Wait" -- all these songs and its attributes and trends of post-disco later influenced a new "never-before-heard" music style. The House music.
The new post-disco sound was flourishing among predominately New York City record companies, including West End Records, Prelude Records, Tommy Boy Records, SAM Records, and others. Most of them were independently owned and had their own distribution but some particular mainstream labels, notably RCA Records, were too, responsible for popularizing and capitalizing on the new sound.
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Short sample of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", a song that appeared on Michael Jackson's album Thriller.[nb 3]
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Although there is no exact point when post-disco started, many synthpop and electronic musicians of that time continued to enhance the raw minimalist sound, while focusing on synthesizers, and keyboard instruments. As noted by Payne, drum machines also played an important part in the urban-oriented music in general.
While disco music was in its heyday, the horn and string sections were a main component of disco and pop songs. This sound is also called disco orchestration. However, some of the musicians and producers dropped the lavish sound of orchestra completely, which attributed a new direction of dance music.
After the success of Quincy Jones-produced album Off the Wall and other semi-mainstream urban-oriented music groups like Lakeside, other disco music groups either dissolved or adapted the new sounds (e.g. The Whispers, The SOS Band, Inner Life, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Shalamar in the U.S.; Nick Straker Band, and Freeez in UK). Other musicians influenced by post-disco include Stacy Lattisaw, Kurtis Blow, and George Duke.
Golden age post-disco era, where post-disco sound entered mainstream. However most of the musicians were mostly successful on the other charts, beside Billboard Hot 100.
The most significant post-disco album is Michael Jackson's Thriller, which also became the most best-selling album of all time.Larry Levan and the NYC Peech Boys recorded proto-house number "Don't Make Me Wait". New bands and musicians of the era appeared, including Imagination, D. Train, Skyy, Aurra, Komiko, Vicky D, Rockers Revenge, Dayton, and Unlimited Touch.
During this era, post-disco was at its highest peak. Meanwhile Madonna's commercially successful debut album was released, which was produced by Reggie Lucas of Mtume and Jellybean, another producers of this movement.
It also began to interfere with garage house and freestyle music, thus successfully shaping post-disco into electro. This change could be also heard in breakdancing- and hip-hop -themed movies like Beat Street and Breakin'.
During this era, post-disco had been dissolved in various music fields and scenes, including
As the post-disco reached its climax, overdubbing techniques as recorded by Peech Boys and other early-1980s artists were almost omitted by then and replaced by synthpop variants instead. The movement survived as a post-disco-freestyle crossover music that spanned Raww, Hanson & Davis, Timex Social Club, Starpoint and Miami Sound Machine.
The 1980s post-disco sounds also inspired many Norwegian dance music producers. Some rappers such as Ice Cube or EPMD built their careers on funk-oriented post-disco music (they were inspired for example by dance-floor favorites like Zapp and Cameo). Also Sean "Puffy" Combs has been influenced by R&B-oriented post-disco music in an indirect way.
Boogie (or electro-funk) is a post-disco subgenre with way more funk influences that had a minor exposure in the early to mid-1980s. Sean P. described it as "largely been ignored, or regarded as disco's poor cousin -- too slow, too electronic, too R&B... too black, even."
Another post-disco movement is merely connected with post-punk/no wave genres with fewer R&B/funk influences. An example of this "post-disco" is Gina X's "No G.D.M." and artists like Liquid Liquid, Polyrock,Dinosaur L, and Disco Not Disco  compilation album. This movement also connects with dance-oriented rock; Michael Campbell, in his book Popular Music in America defines that genre as "post-punk/post-disco fusion." Campbell also cited Robert Christgau, who described dance-oriented rock (or DOR) as umbrella term used by various DJs in the 1980s.
Dance-pop is a dance-oriented pop music that appeared slightly after the demise of disco and the first appearance of "stripped-down" post-disco. One of the first dance-pop songs were "Last Night a D.J. Saved My Life" by Indeep and "Love Come Down" by Evelyn "Champagne" King, whereas the latter crossed over to Billboard charts including Adult Contemporary, while peaking at number 17 on the pop chart in 1982. Another crossover post-disco song was "Juicy Fruit" by Mtume, peaking at number 45 on the Hot 100 in 1983. Same year also saw the release of Madonna's eponymous album that incorporated post-disco, urban and club sounds. British variation of dance-pop, pioneered by Stock Aitken Waterman, was more influenced by house and hi-NRG and sometimes was labeled as "eurobeat".
Italo disco is a disco subgenre, influenced by post-disco, hi-NRG, electronic rock, and European music. Originally music mostly played by Italian musicians, but it soon made its way to Canada and United States. One of the earliest post-disco-oriented groups were Klein + M.B.O. and Kano, while New York-based Bobby Orlando was located abroad.
|2000||VA - Disco Not Disco||Strut||compilation|
|2002||VA - Disco Not Disco 2||Strut||compilation|
|2002-2008||VA - Opération Funk Vol. 1-5
(mixed by Kheops)
|mix album, compilation|
|2004||VA - Choice: A Collection of Classics
(mixed by Danny Tenaglia)
|Azuli||mix album, compilation|
|2004-2009||VA - Nighttime Lovers Vol. 1-10||PTG||compilation|
|2008||VA - Disco Not Disco 3||Strut||compilation|
|2009||VA - Night Dubbin'
(mixed by Dimitri from Paris)
|BBE||mix album, compilation|
|2009||VA - The Boogie Back: Post Disco Club Jams
(compiled by DJ Spinna)
|BBE||mix album, compilation|
|2010||VA - Boogie's Gonna Getcha: '80s New York Boogie||BreakBeats||compilation|
By now "dance" was a loaded word for me. The Disco Sucks backlash had given me a post-traumatic-stress-like disorder, and I'd vowed not to write any songs with that word in them for a long time. I was shamed out of using a word--"dance."
House music is a form of post-disco dance music made popular in the mid-1980s in Chicago clubs..."
"In terms of its song repertoire, DDR is rooted in disco and post-disco forms such as techno and house. But DDR can be read as the ultimate postmodern dance experience because the game displays various forms of dance imagery without stylistic or historical continuity (Harvey 1990, p. 62,...)
Glossary: techno - post-disco dance music in which most or all of the sounds are electronically generated
Synthesizers of every description, drum machines, and plain old electric keyboards began making MFSB and other human rhythm sessions nonessential to the recording process. For producers, a control-oriented bunch, this was heaven. No more rehearsals. Low session fees. An artist who envisioned himself as a future Stevie Wonder--the first great one-man synthesizer band--could express his creativity in the basement or the bathroom.
Disco Business > An Art Unto Itself: Programming of Mobiles - ChicagoMissing or empty
This sweetly sexy come-on was a perfect post-disco r&b smash landing at #3 on the pop chart.
SOLAR (...), which grew out of an association between promoter Griffey and Soul Train host Don Cornelius, released a string of post-disco hits that included Shalamar's "The Second Time Around" and the Whispers' "And the Beat Goes On."
Patrice Rushen's postdisco classic Forget Me Nots
"The band's -Peech Boys- ambient-tinged post-disco epics like "Don't Make Me Wait" and "Life is Something Special" are notable for their cavernous reverberance and dub-deep bass. Peech Boys were on the cutting edge of the early-eighties New York electro-funk sound like D-Train, Vicky D, Rocker's Revenge, Frances [sic] Joli, and Sharon Redd, labels like West End and Prelude, and producers like Arthur Baker, Francois Kevorkian, and John "Jellybean" Benitez.
Kurtis Blow may not have been 100 per cent proof Bronx hip hop, but his early records helped set the style in post-disco dance music.
[Unlimited Touch] weren't disco, and they weren't exactly straight-up R&B; like their Prelude labelmates D Train, Unlimited Touch combined the two forms into what is often referred to as post-disco.