Fuck Calvin Harris, Larry Levan invented disco. Yeah, you can credit at least a dozen people with the creation of the relatively ephemeral fad that swept New York and Comiskey Park in the late 70s and early 80s: Giorgio Moroder, Frankie Knuckles, Sal Abatiello, Tony Manero, Disco Stu. But for the purposes of this blog post, we’ll give it to Larry Levan, the DJ mastermind behind New York’s Paradise Garage, the spot that served as the prime incubator for disco, house, and the dance party as we currently conceive it.
I’m not sure how I didn’t catch the recording of the Paradise Garage’s second anniversary (1979) when it leaked about six weeks ago, but I finally wrangled it this weekend. Credit goes to Isodisco for dropping gems on us that Mobb Deep would probably loathe. Originally a radio broadcast recorded by Lenny Fontana on his father’s reel, the tape was transferred to DAT in the early 90s and eventually to the slightly muddy MP3 you hear today. Pay no mind, the funk bleeds through all levels of distortion. And don’t get caught in the usual “disco sucks sentiment.” This was pop music at its finest: fun, danceable, soulful, and as organic as Whole Foods in contrast to the normal swill that we currently consume.
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