When Disco embraced New Wave

A genuine New York City expression

W- 2020/02/01-02


As “American Gigolo” screened on Friday, February 1st, 1980, a phenomenal smash hit single was on the spread: ‘Call Me.’ The main theme song of Paul Schrader‘s movie soundtrack was a composition by Italian disco producer Giorgio Moroder with Deborah Harris (Blondie) on vocals, who also took the chance for writing the lyrics.
The song had a diversified release in three different record companies, attending length and language used for the singing. The original and most extended version came from the original soundtrack by Polydor. Chrysalis went for the 7″ and 12″ formats. Finally, the Disco label Salsoul Records offered a Spanish version of the song with lyrics written by Buddy and Maru McCluskey.
Blondie‘s front-woman claiming ‘Call Me‘ in Italian, French, and Spanish on the bridge of the original English-language version was an exultant exercise of multilingual sophistication. The song made its way up on the home lists and abroad very rapidly. It reached number one for six consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot Hundred chart until Lipps. Inc smash hit ‘Funkytown‘ knocked it off. It was time when Disco was rushing to the peak, tagged as commercial, and considered as “what people want to hear.”

Blondie’s ‘Call Me’ single 7″cover (Chrysalis, 1980)

After ‘Heart of Glass,’ track included in the 1978 album “Parallel Lines,” ‘Call Me,’ was the second # 1 hit single for Blondie on the domestic charts. Both runs were in disco flavor and had a growing time-line of controversy to the band. Aroused from the New York explosion of new wave, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were involved in the alternative move placed south of Washington Square as much as seduced for the funkier sound of the disco beat. Blondie revolted the CBGB‘s audience when decided to include a rendition to Donna Summer‘s ‘I Feel Love‘ at the Blitz Benefit Concert in May 1978. For the first time, the crowd split in two at the famous venue, with a majority wooing how a punk turned a new wave band dared to play a disco number. That was a daring crossing-over, but the spirit of the city had already step further in that direction, liquidizing barriers since 1976.
At the time, these were the main options for the night: Southbound, straight to whitey punk-rock Saturday-night-kicks at CBGB‘s, or Mudd Club. The other one was to turn right from Christopher St. down To Hudson Square. That implied other Lower Manhattan venues, specifically, for black music lovers, way apart from the Bowery: The Larry Levan‘s temple, The Paradise Garage, unfortunately, nicknamed as the “Gay-rage.” Of course, Palladium and the infamous Studio 54, but those were on restricted access. What Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager did with their club was to normalize a living trend for avoiding prejudice, taking all kinds of options from dark no-go places to the lights of Broadway. The proposal of Le Clique, the nightly extravaganza moving from place to place, full of clowns, burlesque artists, punks, strippers, and acrobats going wild, finally took a definitive location. It improved in a Downtown old theater, restyled as a selective venue for a free-minded glamorous jam. They were “la creme” of avant-everything followed by a multitude of wannabes standing at the door.
The song ‘Call Me‘ brought attention from the screen to the streets, wrapped up with images of a mistreated professional until then in movies (a male prostitute involved in a politic thriller). New wavers were to call for Disco’s demise. The music industry believed the phenomenon of Disco ought to turn into Dance, as one of revitalizing ingredients for rock, and tagged it as D.O.R. (Dance Oriented Rock). Ironically, on the same weekend ‘Call Me‘ took off for glory, Studio 54 closed down due to legal problems. In some way, ‘Call Me‘ aired what the rutilant club did for the city’s night-life, a ground-breaking for the indulgent Xing instead of parceling options over the square map. It is from where everything came. A synthetic path followed through the years by bands like Liquid Liquid, LCD Soundsystem Blondie kept it with ‘Rapture,’ adding rap on the bridge. Another genuine N.Y.C. expression.

Oneohtrix Point Never – Good Time OST [Warp]

Bail The Incarcerated

Bail Out The Incarcerated

‘Good Time. Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’ is out through Warp Records, as the movie arrives in the USA theaters.

Preceded by Soundtrack Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Oneohtrix Point Never (Daniel Lopatin) releases the thirteen tracks of his original score for the film directed by brothers Ben and Joshua Safdie. ‘Good Time’ is a crime thriller starring actor Robert Pattison (as Constantine ‘Connie’ Nikas) who tries to bail his brother (Benny Safdie as Nick Nikas) out of prison following a bank robbery. Casting completes with Taliah Webster, Barkhad Abi, and acclaimed actress Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The first advanced track was ‘The Pure And The Damned,’ a singular take on the score that gave an impressive baritone emotive core by Iggy Pop’s featured vocals. But the real tone of the OST came weeks later with ‘Never Leaving The Park.’ A synth loop connected with an ambiance nuance plugged on Krautrock keyboards effects like Edgar Froese would do. As we go further in the listening, it gets more involved in way back sounds with arpeggiated lines of synths and an apparent predisposition to make way for flavoring progressive rock mode Steve Hillage. By the way, there’s music descriptional glow related to some well-remembered sci-fi titles like ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Terminator,’ which is to say, Vangelis and Brad Fiedel. Few industrial thumps, finely chopped over melodies, hints of the peculiar way synth-pop electro that ruled some 80’s TV series bring up ‘Miami Vice Theme’ resound, snatches of film dialogue and recognizable field sound from NYC enriches for the rest the whole thing. But all this going backward material is intentional and has a purpose.

There are two ways of scoring a film: music narrative mirrors the action or creates one that works divergently, in a contrasted way. The latter is the most difficult; it implies known references to be efficient and some implication from the audience to get the right plugs to be connected. If it accomplished, it’s rightful. ONT did it this way.

First of all, ‘Good Time’s goes back to the Massachusetts producer early work, the time of the trilogy he released on cassette and CD-R. He worked on synthesizers music and commonly 80s new age themes and devices to make albums like ‘Betrayed In The Octagon’ (2007, Deception Island), ‘Zones without people’ (2009, Arbor) and ‘Russian Mind’ (2009, No Fun). He got the ideas, but tech tools weren’t as advanced as now. He’s feeling liberated from that imprisoned frustration to come back to that works with the appropriate tech level and upgraded skills.

‘Good Time’s cinematography tends to capture a parallel site for the psychological thriller. The action goes in a rush of street runnings, art-designed close-ups like television trash sequences, everything immersed in jail fights and drug culture. This factual tension has a witness that speaks for itself aside, out of focus, in any given shot. It’s a luminescent presence along weird sounds that make NYC streets a sci-fi environment suggested by music.

But most of all, Safdie brothers new movie pays homage to those anti-hero films of the 70s, from ‘Mean Streets’ to ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ to name a few. Characters defining a spiral down to hell with every of their decisions taken. At this point, it matters to remember where the long guitar solos did go as well as prog rock and where the stubborn German electronic pioneers had to stop, except Kraftwerk. Everything is up and for good in Oneohtrix Point Never score.

After seven albums of shape-shifting electronics, ‘Good Time’ is the fourth score composed by Oneohtrix Point Never, the first for Sadfie brother’s filmography. He debuted in film-score in 2007 with a short film by Justin Lerner, followed by ‘The Bling Ring,’ film directed by Sofia Coppola in 2013 (scored with Brian Keitzell) and ‘The Partisan,’ by Ariel Kleiman in 2015.