Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Night Disco

Aretha Franklin Paul Hardcastle Exposé
Kool &  the Gang Patti LaBelle
Clockwise: Aretha Franklin; Paul Hardcastle; Exposé; Patti LaBelle; and Kool & the Gang.

If you were planning to go out dancing on a Friday night in 1985, these are some of the songs you would be guaranteed to be shaking you groove thang to. I would know, for while living in New York City, I might have been known to go out on the occasional weekend. I might slip out to dance a little at The Monster in the West Village, or maybe a few other clubs. Sure, I was more likely to be found at the Marie's Crisis or the Duplex, standing around sipping a drink when the piano bar was at full throttle, but there were a few times. Don't trust me? So, I consulted the Billboard Dance chart for 1985, and discovered these were the top songs of the year. I'll start with the #5 song of the dance year, sung by the Queen of Soul, Miss Aretha Franklin. Her Freeway Of Love is just a fun delight, and one song I definitely remember having fun to on the dance floor with some friends.

The #4 song for the year was by an English musician and composer best known for his sizzling synthesizer tracks. Paul Hardcastle also could combine politics with his art, as he did with Nineteen. The song, a statement on America's involvement in the war in Vietnam and the soldiers who returned from it, became an international dance hit. Hardcastle had other dance hits, as well as success in the smooth jazz genre.

If you wanted a smooth R&B sound, you didn't have to look further than the great sounds of Kool & the Gang. The group first formed in the Jazziacs in the early 60s, devoting their talents to making jazz. By 1969, they became Kool & the Gang, and began moving in the direction of R&B. Fifteen years later, they were still making great music, and had the #3 dance song for 1985, Fresh.

In 1984, Miami disc jockey and producer Lewis Martineé went about to make a dance band. He found Sandra Casañas, Alejandra Lorenzo, and Laurie Miller and called the group X-Posed. The group had a big club hit withPoint of No Return. That lead to the band being signed by a big label. As they recorded their first album, the label decided to go in a different direction, and Ann Curless, Jeanette Jurado, and Gioia Bruno became Exposé, the new name for the group. And here they are with the #2 dance song for 1985.

From the start of her career, it was impossible to put Patti LaBelle's talent into one category or another. The Philadelphia native first came into the public eye as part of the supergroup LaBelle with Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash. Their performance of Lady Marmalade remains unequaled. In the late 70s, the group disbanded and Patti started making a solo career. And in 1985, she had the top dance song of the year with New Attitude, her first hit since LaBelle. It also went into the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. Go Patti!


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