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  • My Euro Disco Top 100

  • 1. Seduced - TERREZ, Power ©1986



    2. Let's All Dance / Time After Time - BORNEO, LAURENS ©1987



    3. Lady Valentine/ Give Me The Night - MONTE-KRISTO, RCA ©1985



    4. Tonight - MICHAEL BEDFORD, ZYX ©1987



    5. Wait Baby Wait - TALKIN' FOG, ZYX ©1988



    6. I Wanna Wake Up With You / Melody D'amour - FACTS & FICTION, ZYX ©1986



    7. One Night In Love - JOY PETERS, ZYX ©1987



    8. What My Heart Wanna Say - ROGER MENO, ZYX ©1986



    9. No More Vision - SLY & HUNTER, Fantasy International Records ©1986



    10. More Than A Dream - ALISON YASOU, ZYX ©1988


    Click to view My TOP 100

    Most music fans prefer to include Euro and Italo Disco in one term - Eurodance, High Nrg or Euro Disco for the sake of simplicity. Personally, I disagree. Yes, Italy is in Europe, but the difference in music is quite significant, just ask any Italo-nerd.

    The main differences are in compositions, vocals and other musical details. I personally prefer the Italian productions for their originality, forward thinking, imaginative experimentation and a great atmospheric feel. Need I mention its obscurity? Yes, I like obscure things. However, Euro Disco captured my attention before Italo Disco, probably because it was more mainstream than Italo, thus more accessible at that time.

    Euro Disco followed the fate of Italo: a quick rise in popularity for several years and almost instant death caused by rising of House music and Hip Hop. Most European countries caught the "new wave fever" in the early 80's, known as New Romantics. European New Wavers were led by the Italians, who extensively experimented with the synthesizers in search of a new dance sound, recorded a remarkable number of songs. Each country added their own regional flavor to the sound, often shamelessly sampling the hottest tunes of the month. Unfortunately, most of this music is very scarce and hard to come by. I compiled the list of such regional "flavors" to your delectation and included obscure and more commercial acts and hit singles.

    The German School: Since the late 70s the Germans were churning quality dance schlager filling up dance floors all over Europe. The range of music was wide: from Silver Convention and Supermax who found their own unique style, to cover-bands like Boney M, A La Carte, Chilly and Gilla who played re-styled covers of popular songs of the 60's and 70's. One noteworthy fact: Dschinghis Khan (now considered to be the cheesiest Disco band of all time), also released a few successful dance LPs, setting a stage for their quick replacement by an upcoming wave of new sound - Euro Disco. One of the preeminent German dance music producers Luis Rodriguez (co-producer of Modern Talking), started his career from writing a few schlager for Chilly ('79 Come to LA" LP).

    To me personally, the music came to a new turning point with the release of "Face to face, heart to heart" by The Twins. This seminal work (that failed to become a hit in charts) by the German duo later became an Electro classic anthem, sampled and re-sampled hundreds of times by various artists.

    The Germans often imitated creativity of Italians. However, they added polish and ultra-commercial flavour to their songs, known at that time as Disco Fox style. In spite of the fact that most of their 80's music sounded a lot like the tunes from a marching band, there were a number of very fine and original productions.

    The most successful, uniquely original, prolific and at the same time the most hated act that played Disco Fox music was Modern Talking. Whether you love them or hate them, one has to admit that Dieter Bohlen (lead composer and TV personality) really understood what people wanted to dance to. Dieter's successful 4/4 formulaic template coupled with an escalating series of great hooks really worked!

    Top 10 Mainstream Euro acts:

    1. Modern Talking
    2. Bad Boys Blue
    3. Pet Shop Boys (they might be in the league of their own)
    4. Erasure (same said as for P.S.B.)
    5. Blue System
    6. Fancy
    7. Mike Mareen
    8. Silent Circle
    9. C.C. Catch
    10. Alphaville

    Mike Mareen

    Mike Mareen, 1986

    M.T. had a number of aliases, protégés and just plain imitators (C. C. Catch, Chris Norman, Les McKeown, Ryan Simmons, Lift Up etc.). After selling millions of records, and releasing five golden discs, MT finally broke up in 1988, leaving a legacy of music and quite a large group of music fans that hated their guts.

    It is an interesting fact worth mentioning that German cumulative production of Euro Disco hits quite possibly exceeded the production of all other countries counted together.

    Other important producers from Germany were Cay Hume (K.B.Caps), Axel Breitung, Hendrik & Hartmann team, and, of course, Mike Mareen. Mike Mareen is one of the few European artists who has been present for weeks with various songs in the American Billboard Charts

    In the early 90's Bernhard Mikulski, the owner of ZYX, purchased the entire catalogue of Italo Disco music from Severo Lombardoni, an embattled with lawsuits and bankrupt founder of Discomagic Records.

    Major German record labels releasing Euro-Disco: ZYX, Hansa, Ariola, Polydor, Coconut, Metronome, DA

    USA - After a sudden backlash against Disco music in the United States, a New Yorker Bobby Orlando and the San Francisco's own Patrick Cowley (1950-1982) redefined the sound of High Energy Dance music using synthesizers. I feel comfortable stating here that these two musical giants are the forefathers of HiNrg music as we all know it. Regrettably, the information about Patrick Cowley and Bobby O is rather scarce.

    Read P.Cowley's biography here, painstakingly compiled by his dedicated fans and friends.

    Read about Bobby Orlando on the web site of my German friend Markus Breidbach.

    I also highly recommend you to read my interview with Tony Marinello, who was Bobby "O"s composer and long time friend.

    Hip Hop music was more appealing to the ears of American teens, spawning an underground styles like Electro funk, or Electro Hip Hop.

    There were very few interesting records that came out from USA in Euro Disco style. There are several noteworthy, but obscure records by Nick John, released in Austin, Texas (who would have ever guessed?). His maxi singles "Lost in a dream" and "All I want is you" in mid 80's recently have been discovered by European collectors and became sort of a "cult" records for the magnificent synths and bass line.

    It is important to mention these three US-based companies for their great contribution to promotion of Euro Disco in the USA and worldwide: Razormaid (still active DJ Remixing service founded by Joseph Watt), HotTracks (founded by Steve Algozino) and a Granddaddy of all remix services, Disconet, a NY based outfit founded by "Capt." Mike Wilkinson and operated in 1977-1990.

    United Kingdom - It is very important to acknowledge Stock Aitken Waterman, sometimes known as SAW, a songwriting and record producing trio for their influence on Euro-Disco music. SAW had great success during the mid-late 1980s and early 1990s with many of their productions. The three can be considered to be the most successful songwriting and producing partnership of all time, scoring over 200 top 40 UK hits in the mid 1980s to early 1990s.

    Stock, Aitken & Waterman

    (From left to right) Pete Waterman, Matt Aitken
    and Mike Stock

    On January 15, 1984, shortly after meeting Aitken and Stock, Pete Waterman asked them to work with him and his recently formed production company, Pete Waterman Limited (PWL). At the same time, Mike Stock and Matt Aitken had decided to give up their cabaret band and focus on breaking into the music industry as songwriters and producers.

    Their initial style was Hi-NRG with a cover version of "You Think You're a Man" by Divine (#16 UK July 1984) and "Whatever I Do" by Hazell Dean (#4 UK July 1984). They struck gold in March 1985 when "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" by Dead Or Alive, featuring a vocalist Pete Burns, reached number one in UK.

    1987 was the year that Stock Aitken Waterman began the transition from trendy underground producers to untrendy mainstream hitmakers. Numerous artists benefited from the Stock Aitken Waterman magic touch.

    Pete Waterman set up the PWL label known for its fabulous remixes. 1988 was possibly the most pivotal of their career. This is the year that Mike, Matt and Pete became just as (If not more so) famous as the artists performing their songs, and truly launching the era of the super-producer. Pete Waterman teamed up with Liverpool-based independent radio station City FM to present a weekly show, called "The Hitman", where he played mainly SAW and PWL records, often months prior to release.

    They typically worked by writing the songs, recording the music and then bringing in a singer solely to record the vocal track. Their prodigious, production line-like output led to them being referred to as the hit factory and attracted criticism from many quarters. Notwithstanding the criticism, SAW's prolific work made a tremendous impact on Euro-Disco as we remember it today.

    Additional reference about SAW here.

    Two major acts emerged during the early 80's in UK - Pet Shop Boys and Erasure. There are pages and pages written about those two mega-successful groups from UK there is no need to regurgitate it again here. I just want to mention that those two acts still enjoy the following that exceeds in size the entire fan group for the musical genre itself.

    Euro disco in UK as well as USA was pegged as "gay music". Such status could hardly help the popularity of this genre in the masses.

    Obscure topnotch Euro Disco acts from UK are Shooting Party, Hit List, Check It Out, Paul J. Qualey and, of course, the work of an outstanding remixer Phil Harding for PWL record label.
    UK record labels releasing Euro-Disco: Loading Bay, Almighty, Record Shack, PWL

    Pier Perpall

    Pier Perpall

    Canadian School was also very successful and more in-tune with the new European sound than its southern neighbor (USA). Since the early 80's Canadians wrote some terrific tunes, recently rediscovered by European collectors of Electro-clash sound. One of those obscure performers was Pier Perpall (pictured left) the author of Pluton & Humanoids, "Roller-Dancer – World Invaders – Keep Doing That Thing – Crème soufflé" 1981, "Da-Da-Da" 1982, Purple Flash "We Can Make It".)

    Allan Coelho and his band Tapps made a mark with their "My Forbidden Lover" in '83. Coelho also co-produced a number of Canadian dance records (Cyndy Cee "Starting over" etc.)

    Obscure five-star Canadian releases: Ray Vista "Don't Let It Go", Michael Prince "Dance your love away", and especially Terrez "Seduced".

    Canadian record labels: Boulevard records, Canadian Power label headed by Vincent DeGiorgio, LES DISQUES DIRECTION, Neige

    Humphrey Robertson

    Humphrey Robertson

    Swiss school - mostly represented by these record labels: Fresh Music, Fantasy International, Champagne Music, and Match. Almost all of the Swiss Disco had a really great sound: from the most most popular two-hit-wonder Jules and prolific Fresh Color, to the extremely obscure Sly & Hunter "No More Vision". Most of those records were written and produced by the Italians. Call me an Italo snob, but I sincerely believe that such unique collaboration between the Italians and the Swiss helped to shape the music to subtle perfection.

    The most successful producer from Switzerland for Euro disco was Humphrey Robertson (pictured right) and Gutze Gauschi, who are still active these days with Hypersound Production.

    The most obscure Swiss singles: Paul Diamond "Call back", Mr Freaky "Out of my mind", Sly & Hunter "No more vision", Ryan Dalmini "She's My love"

    The Dutch school is known for its love of space-synth music. Laserdance and its creator Michel Van der Kuy, and Rofo and his mega hit "Flashlight on a disco night" are the two best representatives of this genre. Holland has always been a hotbed for Italo disco music with a large and loyal base of fans. There is no surprise that Euro disco has strong roots in Holland, and probably the largest number of DJs, mixers and remixers anywhere else in the world.

    Dutch record labels releasing Euro Disco are also abundant: Ramshorn, Made Up, Streetheat etc. The trademark of the Dutch school of Euro disco is a use of vocoders, inspired by Belgian Telex "Moscow Discow", German Kraftwerk, or perhaps Ben Liebrand's year mixes intros.

    The obscure five-star Dutch track - Sauvage "Do you want me?", written and sung by Michiel vd Kuy, sporting the sleaziest record sleeve I've ever seen, and a great Vocoder version on B side.

    Top 10 Obscure Euro acts:

    1. California - Volerei
    2. Buckingham Palace - Give me your name
    3. Ray Vista - Don't let it go
    4. Talkin' Fog - Wait Baby Wait
    5. Sly & Hunter - No More Vision
    6. Mr Feaky - Out Of My Mind
    7. Noe Willer - Toi Femme Publique
    8. Palmer - Computer Guy
    9. TeaÊs - Captain Terra X
    10. Drion - Lady Valentine

    The French school - the French kept mostly to themselves and very little of their Euro Disco influenced music leaked through the borders. However, in spite of their musical isolationism, the French composed some of the most original Euro Disco music at the time. The best representative is Jean Luc Drion and his fabulous projects Monte-Kristo and Magazine 60.
    Obscure five-star French school tracks: Tony Alessi "Sensation", Noe Willer "Toi femme publique" (also covered by an Italian Ven Uto), Rudy "Different Words", Tanay "Just one more night", Klassik "Rainbow friend", David Lucio "Time to try", Mad Matrix "Men Alone".
    Major French record labels releasing Euro-Disco: Flarenash , Koka, In The Mix.

    Euro Disco from Spain, Greece, Sweden, Polish School, Russian School - soon to come!

     
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