Dimitri from Paris: A Night at the Playboy Mansion

Dimitri from Paris
A Night at the Playboy Mansion

Disco ain’t dead, to begin with. Oh, it was off the radio for a few years, and the slew of movies Hollywood threw up (and I do mean threw up) in the wake of Saturday Night Fever might seem to have hammered a few nails into the coffin. Plus, we had that delightful, and arguably at least partially racist, “Disco Sucks” movement, in which records were broken and actually burned at public rallies. You know, in many countries, they know to be concerned when creative works-of any kind-are deliberately destroyed. But that’s getting kind of heavy, isn’t it? To get back to my point: Disco’s impact was in fact keenly felt throughout pop music. Some of the greatest groups of the new wave era, like Human League, ABC, and the Thompson Twins were openly and unabashedly influenced by the genre. Of course, that was only a few years after the end of the ’70s. But the reverberations are still felt today. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at what’s on the charts.

Rap? The classic rap record “Rapper’s Delight,” considered by most to be one of the first, is based on (or completely ripped off from, depending on how you want to look at it) “Good Times,” a late peak of the disco era, by Chic-as was hard-rock band Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust.” Pop? I assume I don’t have to go very far to prove to you that Britney Spears and her ilk are the Anita Wards of their day? Ah, but I sense some of you are thinking, what about rock? Good, old-fashioned rock? Well, Don Henley’s on the charts again for the first time in years (I’ll be reviewing his new album soon for PopMatters, he plugged). Does anyone remember what one of his biggest hits was? That’s right: “All She Wants To Do Is Dance.” Disco Don. And as someone once said: The DJ break is to late 1990’s/early 2000 rock what the drum solo was to 1970’s rock. Don’t even get me started on the “electronica” connection.

So: Disco never died. It just changed its clothes and entered the witness protection program. Which brings me, albeit slowly, to this CD. Though it is credited to a single name, it is in fact a various artists compilation. Dimitri, a Turkish-born DJ living in Paris didn’t sing, play, or write any of the songs, but selected and mixed them together is a nonstop, hour-and-15-minutes-plus long collection.

The idea, as you probably guessed, is to evoke the title of the album, on an evening around oh, say, mid-1977. Although most of the tracks are, on average, from the early ’90s, they are for the most part very much of a piece with that earlier era.

The perception of what a night at the Playboy mansion is like, now but especially then when it was at its peak, is somewhere that no matter when you dropped by, there was a party going on. Where there was always something to do on the floor, and it wasn’t always dancing. A time when drinking was respectable-who would be seen without a little Vodka and Coke (a’ Cola or aine)? Where exotic men and women (but mostly women) came together (insert your own double entendre here). Wealth and power and opulence. Made Frank Sinatra look like a shoe salesman when it came to debauchery.

At least that’s what I think it was. I wouldn’t know. I was six.

This album might sound good if you’re having a party-some of the licks are excellent-but one thing the ’80s children of Disco and others had over their grandparents was more substantive lyrics and songs that sounded as good on the Walkman as they did on the dance floor. There is nothing like that here-its dance floors all the way. Be so advised. If you’re throwing a party like the kind I described above, here’s your soundtrack. And if you are throwing such a party, I can be contacted through the link in my name above.