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Music
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Various Artists

G.I. Disco

(BBE; US: 12 Oct 2010)

Hot Clubs of Germany

The most interesting cultural happenings occur at the boundaries, where different styles and ideas meet and mix in some sort of transgenic process. In that spirit, the deployment of American soldiers to bases in 1980s Germany has created some very danceable club mixes. The music belongs to the technology of the time. It is filled with funky, bass-heavy synthesizer sounds, electronic drum beats, and scratchy rhythm guitar lines. Like the fashions of the period, there’s a flashy cheesiness to it—one that expresses a smart-ass attitude and depth disguised as cynicism. But there is a brain and heart connected the body here.


Just listen to the mixtape Berlin DJs Kalle Kuts and Daniel W. Best (a.k.a. G.I.DISCO) have compiled. Their ears for the soul, funk, R&B, and disco of their youth allow them to create an instant party in a jewel box. Some of the songs are romantic slow jams, others snaky repartee, but combined, they offer the many moods of a night on the town somewhere in the lost landscape where African American G.I. and German lovers of that culture could meet and dance and….


This does not mean getting drunk and stupid, although no doubt, some of the pleasure must have been accelerated by alcoholic beverages. The music here demands one be physical enough to move on the dance floor. The sensual nature of the beats outweighs their exercise potential—the is club music not appropriate for the health club. In particular, the music makes your hips move more than your feet.


So when the singer raps about current events that may sound dated (such as The Timex Social Club’s “Rumours”) or unfortunately undated, as is self-evident in the Valentine Brothers’ “Money’s Too Tight To Mention” (later made popular by Simply Red), there is nothing out-of-date about the vibe. Sexiness precludes temporality. Let’s dance. Or as Cashmere says, “Let the Music Turn You On”.


Barbara Mason’s “Another Man” may be the timeliest song on the disc, considering current discussions about the American military and homosexuality. The narrator complains that the man she loves has been fooling around. Not only that, she says that “another man is beating my time / another man is loving mine”. Mason sings with a flippancy that makes her complaint funny more than poignant (e.g., “One time I saw him walking down the stairs/ and he was swishing more than I was” ). Thinking of the popularity of this almost seven-minute dance track at American army bases in Germany during the Reagan/Bush era gives the whole notion of Top Gun a new meaning.


The superficially straight songs like Surface’s “Falling in Love”, The Cool Notes’ “Spend the Night”,  and Wish featuring Rae’s “Touch Me” are so erotic that their sexuality transcends gender limitations. They are lustful incantations, come-ons of the most explicit sort without being pornographic. The Berlin DJs play the songs together here and recreate the hot ambiance of the clubs. The music can still make you sweat. Just play the disc and imagine that you are back in the clubs of ‘80s Germany. You will be transported.

Rating:

Steven Horowitz has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa, where he continues to teach a three-credit online course on "Rock and Roll in America". He has written for many different popular and academic publications including American Music, Paste and the Icon. Horowitz is a firm believer in Paul Goodman's neofunctional perspective on culture and that Sam Cooke was right, a change is gonna come.


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