The quality does vary, but there are definitely more disco delights than dancefloor duds
A treat for lovers of the obscure and the esoteric here, as Belgian label SDBan Records serve up a collection of 30 disco cuts that emerged (if only briefly) out of their country's underground scene in the 70s and 80s. And when they say "underground", they mean underground: very few of the artists here even reached as far as having a full-time music career, and the 30 tracks presented are culled from the fruits of 10 years' crate-digging in local flea markets and charity shops.
Looked at in one way, then, this is essentially a collection of also-rans and non-starters. But to dismiss it as such would be a mistake, because you'd be overlooking the fact that, in any given musical movement or period, the tracks which fall by the wayside are often those that are just a little bit too inventive or out-there for their own good. Disco being no exception.
Accordingly, while this collection certainly features several tracks which are just that little bit too derivative of well-known US hits, or haven't moved on hugely from the cheesy Europop its makers were probably more comfortable with, it's also replete with little musical oddities like Venus's Strange How You Move, a slice of Spanish guitar-driven proto-Balearica from 1983, or Carl Watson's King Kong from 1975, a wigged-out psych-rock-funk meltdown that comes on like the bastard child of Frank Zappa and Rare Earth. Or even Cora Corona's brave, if ultimately less than successful, crack at operatic tribal disco on Jungle Love, which genuinely doesn't sound like any other record I've ever heard. And that's not to mention tracks like CC Band's Be My Love Tonight, which does owe a big debt to US productions of the era but sounds pretty damn fine all the same.
Undoubtedly something of a hit-and-miss affair at times, this is nonetheless a highly rewarding listen for those who like to dig a little deeper for their dancefloor pleasures.
Words: Russell Deeks
Release date: 16 November
Review Score: 8