Bombay Showcase

Grand old disco days

Hit duo:Disco duet Ottawan comprises Caribbean-born singers Jean Patrick Baptiste and Annette.  

On Saturday morning, I woke up with a Bappi Lahiri earworm. Of all his songs, it was his Ghayal number ‘Sochna Kya Jo Bhi Hoga’ . I wasn’t surprised. The previous evening at the Willingdon Catholic Gymkhana, Santa Cruz, the French-Brazilian pop group Kaoma had performed their 1989 super-hit Lambada . And this was where Bappi got that tune.

Kaoma’s performance was followed by the duo Ottawan, best known for their rabble-rousing ‘D.I.S.C.O’. So, if the first half was dominated by breezy Latin-dance pieces, the second was filled with disco tracks. The only problem was that the venue was only half-filled, and there were barely any youngsters.

With a newer line-up of artistes, Kaoma played a mix of Latino, salsa, samba, reggae and even jazz-flavoured tracks. Vocalist Corrine was brilliant, and dancers Maya and Reinaldo had everyone on their feet. The music was a mix of back-tracks, and live guitar and keytar (a keyboard strapped on the shoulders).

Ottawan featured later members Esther and Clarence. They began with ‘D.I.S.C.O’, and followed up with other known numbers like ‘Crazy Music’, ‘Hello Rio’ and a version of Gala’s 1996 song ‘Freed From Desire’.

The event was coordinated by Dereyk Talker, who has brought down the Bellamy Brothers and Boney M featuring original vocalist Liz Mitchell, besides tribute acts performing Elvis Presley, ABBA, Eagles and Eric Clapton songs. All the other events had been packed.

Still, this event was good enough to remind one of the grand old disco days of the 1970s and Latino-pop of the 1990s. At one point, disco had been a rage among youngsters. Boney M, ABBA and Donna Summer consistently used disco elements in their songs, but it was the Bee Gees who really created a sensation with Saturday Night Fever . The movie Thank God It’s Friday added to the craze.

Some songs from that era are evergreen. Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’, Bees Gees’ ‘Stayin Alive’, Donna Summer’s ‘Love To Love You Baby’, Carl Douglas’ ‘Kung Fu Fighting’, George McCrae’s ‘Rock Your Baby’, Boney M’s ‘Daddy Cool’, KC & The Sunshine Band’s ‘That’s The Way (I Like It)’, Chic’s ‘Le Freak’, Manu Dibango’s ‘Soul Makossa’, Michael Zager’s ‘Let’s All Chant’, Village People’s ‘YMCA”, Lipps Inc’s ‘Funky Town’, Cerrone’s ‘Love In C Minor’… the list is pretty endless.

Though the disco craze got over in the early 1980s, it was a huge influence on modern electronic dance music, including house and rave. Unlike today’s EDM, which is ruled by DJs using a variety of electronic effects, the old disco concerts focused on live vocals and instrumentation.

Disco was also used a lot in India, first by Biddu in the Qurbani hit ‘Aap Jaisa Koi’ and later in the Nazia Hassan-Zoheb Hassan album ‘Disco Deewane’. Bappi Lahiri was particular fond of it, doing the songs ‘I Am A Disco Dancer’ and ‘Disco Station’, among many others.

Latin-pop, associated with artistes like Gloria Estefan, Selena, Jon Secada, Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, Marc Anthony and Shakria, was huge in the 1990s.

Kaoma was one of the earlier acts, which created a sensation with ‘Lambada’, which is actually a dance style performed to a typical pattern of music.

Friday’s concert got back many memories from that era. Even before it began, many old pop and disco hits were played. They included Eruption’s ‘One Way Ticket’ which inspired Bappi Lahiri to make ‘Hari Om Hari’ . Well, the Bappi earworm stays, though it’s a different song now.

(Narendra Kusnur is a freelance music writer)


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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 5:08:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/grand-old-disco-days/article8546024.ece

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