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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Box Set Reviews > The Disco Box

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Various Artists

The Disco Box (Rhino R2 75595) 1999

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Copyright 2000   PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved. Revised: August 05, 2015.

Description:
Disco has gotten a bit of a bad rap over the years.  You had the hard rock "Disco Sucks!" Nazis in the late 70s (they still exist in the year 2000, listen to Everclear's single "A.M. Radio") who made the music go deep underground, popping up over the years under other names like synth-pop, techno, rap...  Even the proponents of the music acknowledge that it was mostly just about getting high or getting laid.  Well, who the hell cares?  The fact is, and this is the only thing that matters, much of this is still damn good music. 
What's Good About It?
This has all the usual suspects, "I Will Survive," "Boogie Oogie Oogie," "We Are Family," "Good Times," et al, and while those are terrific songs, they are far from the best stuff on here.  Those don't even touch the smooth dance groove spun in Carol Douglas' "Doctor's Orders" and Candi Staton's "Young Hearts Run Free."  If you like your dance music a little more down and dirty, wrap your body around Disco Tex & the Sex-O-Lettes (a group of drag queens doing live dance music) shakedown "Get Dancing."  "Shame Shame Shame" by Shirley & Company (the same Shirley who sang "Let the Good Times Roll" back in the fifties) is teeth-chatteringly good booty-bumpin' jam and does not deserve its relative obscurity... interesting but strange trivia fact, in 2001 David Bowie acknowledged when he and John Lennon wrote "Fame" in 1975, they were trying to copy "Shame Shame Shame."  There are dozens of dance classics with only a few clunkers on the whole set.
What's Bad About It?
Most of the fourth (and last) disk really is pushing the term "Disco."  The last song on the box set should be "Funkytown."  Stuff like Kool & the Gang's "Celebration," Patrice Rushen's "Forget Me Nots" and Freeez's "I.O.U." aren't disco, they are just soul dance music.
What's Missing?
I know that it must have been impossible to license, but you can not ever tell the history of disco music without having any songs by the BeeGees.  It would be like trying to talk about the history of rock without mentioning Presley or the Beatles.  On a more personal note, Rhino did a great job of tracking down almost every significant jam, but how could they miss Odyssey's "Native New Yorker" or Santa Esmerelda's "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood?"
PopEntertainment.com final grade: A- 
Nearly wall to wall booty bumpin' magic.  Very few slow spots.   A party in a box.

David Strohler

Copyright 2000   PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved. Revised: August 05, 2015.

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