Pick of the Week
“Boogie Wonderland”, Earth Wind and Fire (1979)
A disco staple tonight.
You may not like disco, but EWF’s music - this was well-crafted. It blended an underlying funk with Latin, African, & R&B, added a horn section and produced a very big sound that was perfect to dance to. Nothing too deep lyrically, which was typical of disco, but that is not what disco was after. It was about dancing.
Steve Dahl was a DJ in Chicago. He hated disco and even made a parody of Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy”, he called “Do You Think I’m Disco”.
Steve was the instigator, in the uprising against disco that occurred in the late 70’s. “Disco Demolition Night” that happened June 12, 1979 in Chicago, was supposedly the “emblematic moment of the anti-disco crusade”. It was organized by Steve who was an album-rock oriented DJ, who was fired from a radio station when he refused to play the new format “All Disco”. As a promotional gimmick Dahl devised a scheme whereby patron could get in the ball game for a reduced rate of 98 cents in exchange for a disco record that would be put in a large crate. The crate would then be put in center field and blown up by Dahl.
This whole event backfired: With the smell of marijuana in the air and beer-swilling fans throwing LP records like Frisbees it was chaos. Sometimes the records struck other spectators as the madness continued. Some of the spectators threw beer and firecrackers. Dahl, dressed in army fatigues led a chant of “disco sucks” and then blow the crate of disco records rigged with explosives up. The explosion tore holes in the field as a small fire started. Fans erupted on to the field, some burning banners, some wandering aimlessly. The riot squad finally arrived to clear the field after much damage was done to the stadium and equipment damaged or stolen. Dahl had long escaped in a jeep out the center field gate.
Disco was a non-violent, and most of the time, a non-contact sport. It was not about revolution or war or anti-establishment. It was just about having fun, dressing loudly and dancing...or skating or walking or driving...whatever made you happy.
Earth Wind & Fire was founded by Verdine and Maurice White. Maurice had been a session drummer for Chess Records long before forming EW&F in 1973. From then till the late ‘80’s the band continued to produce albums. Their first big break came with the 1975 album “That’s the Way of the World”; spawning the hits “Shining Star” and the title track. 1977’s “All N’ All”, produced the modest hits “Serpentine Fire”, “Fantasy” and a surprising hit with a cover of the Beatles “Got to Get You Into My Life”. The single and my favourite EWF hit “September“ was also that year. On the fast track at the height of disco, ’79 was a great year for them with “After the Love Has Gone” produced by David Foster and most discoeey of all “Boogie Wonderland” - the same year as “Disco Demolition Night”.
You may not like disco but you can’t help but tap your fingers when this one plays on the radio. Long live disco! Sorry Steve Dahl.