Friday, January 15, 2010

Teddy Pendergrass and the Birth of Disco

Sad to hear of the death of Teddy Pendergrass this week, aged 59. Among his many musical achievements was a critical role in the birth of disco. In 'Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco', Peter Shapiro argues that The Love I Lost by Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes (Philadelphia International records, 1973) - with Pendergrass on lead vocals - was the first disco record proper:

'Along with the Temptations 'Law of the Land', 'The Love I Lost' marks the birth of disco as a genre of music; it is the beginning of the codification of disco as a style rather than the taste of whatever DJ happened to be playing at that time. This was hardly the fault, or the intention, of Gamble, Huff, and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. It was just that they had hit upon the epitome of dance music: the hissing hi-hats, the thumping bass sound, the surging momentum, the uplifiting horns, the strings taking flight, lead singer Teddy Pendergrass's over-the-top gospel passion working as sandpaper against the honeyed backing vocals... While drummer Earl Young basically created the next two decades of dance music with his snare pattern and hi-hat work on 'The Love I Lost' it was perhaps Pendergrass taking gospel sermonizing to new levels of excess that really marked disco as a separate entity from soul'.

See also: Guardian Obituary.

1 comment:

Abi said...

Cool blog title :)