London’s Horse Meat Disco is today’s biggest disco champion, a label, DJ collective, and, first and foremost (gay) club night, held Sundays in an underground niche in Vauxhall. They’ve been promoting this most hedonist of genres long before it (re)claimed current cred, and their tours have made their name with dancers worldwide. This is their second mix CD, a stunning survey of sleazy, whacked out disco bombs, released by quality vintage boogie purveyors Strut.
What defines Horse Meat’s approach to disco, as opposed to that of latter-day hipsters, is their fondness for the extravagance and cheese so central to the original movement – lengthy brass and string solos, and all the vocals, are left in, rather than chopped out in the service of tasteful ‘rhythm edits’. Almost all the tracks here are vocal numbers, and all of those feature divas, from the soaring histrionics of First Love to the droll Blondie-esque Cyclades. Leonore O’Malley’s ‘First Be A Woman’ lays down the feminine focus early, urging self respect and sexual restraint to a backing straight from Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’. Such control however is soon thrown to the floor, like a bothersome g-string, on Bravo’s shamelessly lewd ‘Touch Me Now’, and the innuendo of Elektra and Tara Butler’s ‘Feel’s Good (Carrots and Beets)’. Scherrie Payne’s ‘I’m Not In Love’ hints at early house with extended bongo treatment, Lourett Russell Grant’s ‘Hot to Trot’s adds Italo bleeps and spare rhodes chords, and El Coco’s ‘Afrodesia’ fizzes and fractures like Weather Report fusion.
But Horse Meat’s agenda is best summed up in big, long, hard tracks, prime disco like Stephanie Mills’s ‘You Can Get Over’, a brazen self-adoration anthem, endless cocaine lines lifting the melody ever higher, the lyrics increasingly solipsistic, the brass ever louder. It all ends with the obligatory keep-on-dancing number, here ‘Don’t Say Goodnight’, First Love’s paean to keeping the shutters drawn, one more kiss. Irresistible.