It starts by tracing the origins of contemporary dance music, it’s hard to know when to stop going back in time.
Dance of one kind or another has always been a part of life and, you could say, its origins date back far into history. However, we take the revolution that took place in the 1960s as a starting point.
Most of today’s dance sounds evolved from an ever-changing fusion of 1960s soul (which itself was born from rhythm & blues) and Latin jazz rhythms.
Due to the changing political climate in the early 1960s, mainly caused by the civil rights movement in the United States, black artists finally received the recognition they deserved for their contributions to music.
Not that they hadn’t made great music in the past – it’s just that most major labels had replaced white singers to cover the originals and turned soul classics into white pop.
It should be noted that during this period the most powerful person in recorded music was the label boss. It was he who decided what music the audience listened to and in general, if it did not meet his criteria, it did not happen!
It was only much later, when individuals were given the freedom to experiment with music, that disco music finally appeared. In the mid-1960s and early 1970s, major black music labels such as the Motown Group (Motown, Gordy and Tamla), Atlantic and Atco and Stax dominated the soul dance scene and then gave more freedom to individual producers and arrangers such as Holland, Dozier & Holland, Norman Whitfield, Arif Mardin, Tom Dowd, Jerry Wexler and Steve Cropper (of Booker T’s MGs) that creating new sounds would spread.
Early success Since the late 1950s, Atlantic released records that achieved some success by black artists such as the Drifters, The Coasters, Lavern Baker whose 1960 song ‘Bumble Bee’ has all the ingredients to be the first disco record (?), Solomon Burke’s classic “Everybody needs Somebody to Love,” which lay hidden for years until the Blues Brothers later covered it, and Ray Charles’ double-length “What’d I Say,” which spawned at least half a dozen cover versions while the Motown labels had also some success with the Miracles (“Shop Around,” “Mickey’s Monkey”), Little Stevie Wonder’s extended “Finger Tips,” and The Contours (“Do You Love Me”). The change in attitude in the 1960s allowed these and other labels to reach a much wider audience, bringing many black artists and groups such as Otis Reading, Aretha Franklin, The Four Tops, The Supremes, The Vandellas, Ike & Tina Turner and a whole host of others to reach a much wider audience.
One of the major influences in the formation of disco music was the Chess Records Group, although they rarely seem to get credit for this,
Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, Chess was a major player in blues and R&B (Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Bo Diddley, etc.) and remained so even after the rise of Atlantic and others .
However, in the 1970s they made a major impact through their offshoots Checker, Cadet and Neptune, in shaping the dance music of the 1980s.
One of the least mentioned but most influential people who brought dance music to a wider audience was Phil Spector. In the 60s he formed his own label “Philles Records” and released a slew of great dance tracks from artists like the Ronettes, the Crystals and Darlene Love.
He was also responsible for the classic Ike & Tina Turner multi-hit “River Deep, Mountain High”. At the same time there were many small labels, as there always have been, struggling to make a living and many classic songs coming out. Most of these were pure soul music, but gradually moved into one of two new directions: disco or funk.
Picking up the tempo The influence of the Motown sound and the uptempo Atlantic music of Wilson Pickett and others was used by these purist labels to add excitement and energy to soul music. This led to a much more frenetic brand of soul, bringing out the energy of the 60s and 70s, and spawning an underground wave of music known in the UK as Northern Soul.
This required a bpm of say 120 to 140, a good kicking snare drum and lots of hi-hat and percussion. In general, this seemed to be more open to female vocalists than funk (see later).
Good examples of this new sound were Edwin Starr’s 1968 hits “Agent Double O Soul” and “SOS, Stop her On Sight” made for the independent label Ric Tic.
Although much faster than most Motown sounds of the time, the overall production was so similar to their sound that Motown bought the label!
One of the factors that made this music stand out was the use of strings to increase excitement, and Ric Tic excelled at this with their house band, The San Remo Strings, and when Motown bought the label, the formula was transferred to the mainstream. production.
Of course, all the major labels had their own orchestras.
Written by: Focus Fantastic