Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The worst disco sleeve of all time?

Wandering the streets of Peckham this evening I came across a box of records outside a house, mostly 1970s and 1980s and mostly not very good. I did pick up a 12" Scritti Politti single though (The Word Girl) and Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Welcome to the Pleasure Drome. Oh and 'The Hit Squad - Nightclubbing - over 60 minutes non-stop disco'...

This is a 1983 compilation from the last days of disco, with some decent tracks on it such as Freez's Arthur Baker-produced Brit-funk classic IOU. But that cover, designed so it says by Shoot that Tiger! with an illustration by Paul Cemmick... It's not that it's a bad picture - motorcycle emptiness chic would have been quite acceptable in the period in, say, 2000AD magazine or on a heavy metal sleeve. It's just so not disco. OK obviously there was a whole leather queen gay iconography at the time, but this is more Mad Max than Kenneth Anger. What were they thinking of?

It was released on Ronco records, which I believe focused on TV advertised compilations.


W. Kasper said...

Speculation, but by early 80s there seemed to be a vague correlation between disco and images of urban decadence/apocalyptic gang culture (The Warriors, Bronx Warriors, Mad Max, Escape From New York, endless cop/vigilante movies). The kind of associations Reaganism used in its propaganda.

Perhaps tied to Reaganism, it might also have been an attempt to re-brand disco as white and macho after the 'disco sucks' campaign, and its racist/homophobic elements.

Transpontine said...

Good points, probably were trying to butch it up a bit though you wonder who they had in mind when they were designing it - because it's basically a rock aesthetic for a non-rock record.

W. Kasper said...

Maybe teens who'd be worried about peer pressure? Those kinds of records seemed aimed at kids without strong opinions on music. They'd always be in houses where people only had a handful of records.

Michael Jackson's MTV-breaking megahit 'Beat It' comes to mind: Gang imagery, masculinity anxieties, butch/camp tensions, urban decay, Van Halen riff/solo etc.