Will a ’70s Themed Freestyle really work?

The more my ’70s freestyle playlist grows, and I get closer to my eighty song target, the more I wonder if it will work. Will it be just boring after a while. I recently attended a Motown & Soul Class Night at Buckingham DJ-ed by Marc Forster where the music went down a storm. I would actually describe the playlist as more Motown and ’70s Disco, and it featured a lot of tracks already on my own song list.

Good omen then, until I considered that the ’70s tracks were mixed in with ’60s Motown tracks that have a different sound. The mix of the two genres kept you interested – you didn’t know what would come next. Before I indulge myself in a little self doubt, I must add one track to my list that I’d missed. Feel the need in me by The Detroit Emeralds proved a real floor filler and I must have it on my list.

The search for variety sends me back to the chart listings

While researching Part 4 I came across a website that lists the best selling tracks of each year. Delving in to 1970, 1972 and 1976 I came up with some good finds, so I decided to go back and look around at other years. Hopefully I’d find tracks, that would offer some contrast to the disco hits that currently dominated the list.

1971 doesn’t fill me with confidence

A first glance at the list of Top 100 hits for 1971 doesn’t feel me with much confidence. The best selling track was Dawn’s Knock three times. Now I know I had a fun dance to it at my ’70s adventure at Arden Hall (see link below) but could I see myself playing it to a packed hall? Looking down the list it didn’t get much better. Clive Dunn was at 5 with Grandad and The Mixtures were at number 7. Now I don’t recall The Mixtures, but sadly I do remember their Push bike song! If you want to know just how bad 1971 was it was the year Benny Hill had the fifteenth best selling song with Ernie!

Rod and Maggie save me

There were some Motown and Soul hits in 1971, but remember I was looking for none disco hits. Thankfully I was saved by Rod Stewart and Maggie May. This song, that made Rod Stewart as a solo artist, was Britain’s second best selling song in 1971 (can you believe Knock three times beat it). The song has a 50 second intro that would need to be edited out, but once it gets going it has a strong if gently paced beat. This is an iconic ’70s song and I’m sure it will go down well.

I find a gem hidden away at No 86

Apart from the American disco hits 1971 was proving to be a barren year for modern jive dance music, but at No 86 was Carole King’s It’s too late. Carole King is considered on of the greatest song writers of her generation so I thought I’d investigate. It’s too late is a wonderfully piece of music but its just not a dance track. In one last desperate attempt to find something from 1971 that wasn’t disco, I looked on YouTube to see if there was a remix of King’s famous hit. There was and I think it works. It has all the flavour of the ’70s with Kings beautiful voice but a stronger backing track makes it very jive-able. See what you think.

I’d better time travel to 1979

Realising that there was little more to inspire me in 1971, I moved on to 1979 at the other end of the decade. Perhaps here I would find more tracks, that would offer some variety to counterbalance the dominance of American disco hits. As I opened up the chart my eyes couldn’t help but go to the fifth best selling song. Here’s a song I had to have. Sadly its another piece of disco music, but its perhaps the most iconic song of the ’70s. This track, beloved of Hen Party Karaoke sessions, is a great piece of dance music, and I’m surprised it doesn’t ever get played at modern jive events – perhaps it’s too cheesy. Well lots of things about the ’70s are cheesy, so I’m putting Gloria Gaynor’s I will survive on the list.

Something great that’s not Disco

Just below I will survive at No 8 is Blondie’s Heart of glass. I think I’ve danced to this before. Not surprising when you listen to its lovely mellow but well defined beat. This is a perfect choice for my ’70s playlist and its not American Disco! Blondie were originally seen as pioneers of America’s New Wave and Punk scenes, but by the time of Heart of glass they had crossed over to be a main stream pop act.

I hit the jackpot with a rhythm stick

1979 is turning out to be a great year, for sitting at No 11 is one of the greatest pieces of British dance music ever created. I was there when this monster of a dance track hit the dance floors. Listening to it again, I can recall connecting with the tracks funky backing track – I’d never heard home grown musicians create such an hypnotic sound.

Hit me with your rhythm stick is one of the best loved songs from this era, if only because of the rightful respect given to Ian Dury. The lyrics are some of the most original ever penned – In the wilds of Borneo, and the vineyards of Bordeaux. Eskimo, Arapaho, move their body to and fro – but its the tight backing track that makes it the master piece it is now considered to be. It’s underpinned by an amazing piece of bass playing overlaid with a distinctive guitar riff. Piano and organ add to the compelling rhythm, and when the first long note of the sax solo kicks in you know you are listening to a special piece of dance music.

While I’ll add the three minute version to my playlist, I’ve embedded a seven minute long live version, that gives you a chance to really appreciate the contribution the musicians made to this iconic ’70s track.  The person who created the amazing bass line is Norman Watt-Roy, considered to be one of the gods of his trade. The breath taking sax solo, where two saxophones are played simultaneously, was attributed to Davey Payne. I can’t wait to dance to this again.

No room for another cheesy hit

We were all obviously having a party in 1979, because it was also the year of The Village Peoples’  YMCA. This is even more cheesy than Gloria Gaynor’s anthem to wronged women, so I’m going to pass on it. Instead I’ll pick another track from 1979 that just manages to squeeze under the ‘I’m to cheesy for this playlist’ bar. The Bee Gees were at the height of their fame when they recorded Tragedy. Sadly we all  tend to remember the Steps cover from 1999, but the original is a worthy addition to the list.

I’m lovin’ 1979

1979 is proving to be a rich vein of tracks that will offer some relief from to the mainly American Disco hits I’d found in previous lists. This is also the year of Queen’s Crazy little thing called love. This track is actually proving to be a bit of a modern jive classic. It has a Rock ‘n’ Roll feel but is still great to modern jive to.

We have to have a proper Abba track

The ’70s will be forever associated with Abba, and it was a pity that their version of Dancing queen wasn’t fast enough to make the list, but Gimme Gimme Gimme (a man after midnight) from 1979 is just perfect. One of Abba’s best loved songs this track has a really strong beat. One wonders if Benny and Borg deliberately mixed it for the dance floor, and that probably explains why it already gets plays at modern jive freestyles.

One last look at the 1979 Top 100 List

1979 has proved to be a goldmine for tracks, so let me take one last look at the Top 100 List. There at No 47 is The Tourists I Only Want To Be With You. This song, which was Annie Lennox’s first appearance in the pop charts, is another perfect ‘Non Disco’ track. The Tourists took the Dusty Springfield ballad and gave it a more Rock ‘n’ Roll feel. The result is a dynamic dance track – it’s going on the list right now!

Yes there is enough variety to make a ’70s Freestyle fly

I started this seventh episode of my search for a ’70s playlist wondering if there was enough variety of style to keep the dancers interested. After digging out ten more tracks, I’m confident that the freestyle won’t be just a load of disco tracks. I’ll use the next instalment to look at 1978. Hopefully I’ll find more ‘Non Disco’ tracks hidden away. Yes, I’m beginning to believe that my idea of a ’70s Freestyle will fly.

Use the Quick Links below to read more about my ’70s Freestyle Project

’70s Playlist Part 1: My idea for a ’70s themed freestyle inspired by Sylvester’s You make me feel (Mighty Real) and the first ten tracks.

’70’s Song List: I’m constantly adding to the song list as I dig around the ’70s dance music vaults

Ceroc Arden Hall Freestyle: This review includes tracks from the ’70s Second Room

The Funk Hour: A review of Vince Silva’s Funk Hour set packed with ’70s gems