There is a saying ‘I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like’. I guess we could extend that to: ‘I don’t know much about music, but I know what I like’ as well.
I am always for the lookout for new music to be put on my iPad which provides a musical background to most of my weekends as I do the usual chores. So inevitably I heard the hype about the new Daft Punk album and I thought that I may want to hear if anything took my fancy.
As someone who gave up keeping up with music around 1987, I didn’t really think that Daft Punk had much to offer. The only songs I remembered were Da Funk (which had a video which for some reason irritated me) ‘One more time‘ and ‘Around the World‘. (where this time I loved the choreography in the video). The music was initially appealing, but it’s repetitiveness I think would drive me up the wall if it was on shuffle on the iPad. I always thought this music was designed for dance parties (something that I never been to, or interested in) where the repetitiveness is part of the deal.
So I went on youtube and searched for ‘latest Daft Punk single’ and ‘Get Lucky’ came up. Immediately from its first notes I recognised the music immediately, it was a disco song. A good one, an intelligent one, but it was late 70’s disco to me.
And this is music that I know, as a middle aged 52 year old. Because this was the music that was played on commercial radio in my late teens – and then I hated it. Probably because it coincided with an unhappy period of my life, struggling as a young fat teenager just after migrating to Australia. But the most listened Top 40 radio station in Sydney at that time was 2SM (sister station to 3XY in Melbourne) and disco was played quite a lot.
It was when I was able to come to Melbourne and start listening to 3RMIT-FM, later to become 3RRR during my HSC year that I discovered music that I liked, like Buzzcocks, Talking Heads, XTC etc. Disco was for the commercial pap radio.
Later in life, as the personal negative connotations of disco evaporated I was able to enjoy it ‘ironically’ such as my 30th birthday party where there was a bit of disco played.
So it was quite a surprise when I heard ‘Get Lucky’. It sounded almost straight from 1975. Of course my uneducated ears may be wrong. Someone who knows about modern music, Pete Paphides talks about the new Daft Punk album in his blog and titles the post thus: “It’s not actually a disco album per se.”
……it’s a love letter to the disco era, a sometimes poignant memorial to the unquenchable optimism of pre-Aids dance music – but not actually a disco album per se.
Dear People Who Seem Convinced That It’s All Been Done Before. Listen to Get Lucky. Then go back to your record collection and try and find a song that really sounds like it. I tried it the other week. I pulled out all of my Chic records. I pulled out Diana Ross’s Upside Down. I pulled out Sheila B. Devotion. None of them scratched the itch that Get Lucky scratched. The deep, foetal bass of Get Lucky couldn’t have been laid down in a pre-techno era. The gradual mutation of the vocal melody into robot-ecstasy – I haven’t heard that on any other record of the era.
Which is fair enough. I haven’t the depth of knowledge that Paphides has, however my brain reached for its databank of music and immediately went to ‘Shame Shame Shame’ by Shirley & Co.
What got me to think about the song is the constant back rhythm of a strummed guitar which goes 1-2..3-4….1-2….3-4 for the whole song, which is something that ‘Get Lucky’ does as well.
The same strummed guitar, and a song that feels that it also shares a similar chord progression is ‘Shake your booty’ by KC and the Sunshine band.
I reckon that someone, somewhere is going to do a mush up of these two songs, which will be interesting.
What it is also interesting is that these two songs, were released in 1975 and 1976 respectively, which is basically the same time when the two Daft Punk musicians were born.
For me, well it is cathartic. After all this year I can enjoy disco as a 52 year old and feel OK about it. Even sharing it on ‘cloud’ with my 13 year old son. Who would have thought.