Disco Not Disco

Disco Not Disco: Postpunk, Electro, & Leftfield Disco Classics 1974-1986

You can't quite peg that underwhelming feeling of 'meh' from this third Disco Not Disco compilation to the economic law of diminishing returns, much less sequel-itis. The first installment of the series, as curated by DJs Joey Negro and Sean P. in 2000, introduced a new generation to the spiny and rubbery outer reaches of disco-punk created by the likes of Ian Dury, Yoko Ono, and space cowboy (as well as frat-boy fave) Steve Miller. It also brought to light the neglected works of avant-garde composer/discophile/AIDS-victim Arthur Russell, whose sumptuous and inscrutable disco tracks from Volume 1 ("Kiss Me Again," "Tell You Today" and "Schoolbell/Treehouse"), remain beatific some 30 years on.

Russell also provides an example of why seven years on, Disco Not Disco has scant relevance. In the wake of the first volume, we have seen the ascent of 21st century disco-punks like the Rapture and LCD Soundsystem and the reformation of Gang of Four, while reissue cottage industries have snatched up the likes of Russell (some six discs' worth and counting) and any other negligible act from '78-'82 who ever deployed "angular" guitars and stumbling basslines (see Acute, Soul Jazz, Kill Rock Stars, etc.). So while tracks from the likes of Delta 5, Konk, James White & the Blacks, Maximum Joy, and Liaisons Dangereuses are serviceable cuts, each band has had their own retrospectives released in the intervening years. Hearing them as compiled here, it makes Disco Not Disco—much like the genre name itself—sound like a retread.

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