“Disco Inferno” (The Trammps, 1975)

by Jamie

Ok- finally getting around to making my next pick.  Let me start by saying that this is NOT where I thought this would go.  I had a bunch of 80s tunes lined up but when you came out with an 80s dance track that says, “Wait. Hold my beer.  Watch this” to others 80s dance music (still can’t believe I don’t remember ever hearing that song!) I had to go in another direction.  My plan was to move it forward in time and pull out something from this millennium.  And then this happened:

Sometimes the mix just leads you to a place that you need to go.  Hear me out.  But to do this right, get your phone out and (if you haven’t already) build your Epic Dance Trax playlist with the first 3 tracks and then put the “Disco Inferno” 10 min saturday night fever soundtrack version in at number 4.  Now- let “Hit that perfect beat” run out and forward to “Disco inferno”.  BAM!  you’ve gone from “I feel love”, 10 min of trancy, funky, bassline grooving to the slightly more upbeat and funky “You make me feel (might real)” to a higher bpm groover “Hit that perfect Beat” and now transitioning back to a straight bassline groover.   A bassline that you could literally dance all night to.  Cue up the 10 min version and lets break it down:

  • Opening.  Is there a more recognizable 1st beat?  “I can name this tune in 1 note!”
  • That bassline tho.  Close your eye and listen for a second to the first few minutes.  The foundation of good dance music but is a bassline that you connect with.  But to make it special, you need something interesting going on out front.  True to this era of ensemble funk bands, this track has it all- horns, funk guitar, lead voice, backup singers.  its all happening.  Its like eating an ice cream sundae with all kinds of toppings.  “Yummy…this is really good ice cream!  Ooooo- whats that? Hot fudge? Nice…..oh wait, is that a cherry? Tast-EE….” Something new every few seconds all while enjoying the basic foundation.
  • 2:34.  Lead singer blows the roof off his vocals.  He was hinting at this a little earlier, but really shows off the pipes here.  An adrenaline boost for dance floor and then back to the groove and little more vocal flexing
  • 3:30.  Into the dance section.  Funk guitar backing to help the dancers get a little fonky with some call and response with the vocals.  
  • 4:20.  Wait.  What?  another guitar? Oh yeah.  Funky guitar solo over the top of a funk rhythm guitar backing.  RAD.
  • 5:40.  Lead vocal comes back.  Talking to the dance floor.  DJs- take note.  THIS is how to talk to the crowd.
  • More call and response vocals
  • Don’t forget to listen to the guitars
  • Did I mention the horns?  Notice how the trumpets alternate with the blaring trombone sound at times.  Happens throughout the song but you can hear it around 7:30
  • 7:50.  Hammond organ FOR THE MF WIN YALL!!  
  • Funky electric guitar sound or synth behind the organ sound?
  • 9:30ish.  Just adding in all the instruments.  A veritable funk olio.  
  • 10:10.   aaaaaannnnndddddd we’re back.  40 seconds of the base melody/sound to take us out

While its not electronic, its certainly a dance track.  Came out it originally in 1976 and hit #1 on disco chart, #9 on black singles chart but only #53 on billboard.  Then got to #11 after being released on the SNF soundtrack and playing a key role in the movie about white disco dancing.  Seems about right….

There are better disco tracks and better dance tracks, but this one fits into the slot in this set.  I also love listening to this thinking about what it would be like to be in a club listening to them play this live for 15 to 20 min. Not to get grumpy ol’ man on this thread, but the original DJs had a live band to get their sounds from!  (When you come back, we should see if we can get a night at the sea monster on the 45th.  they have a house funk band that is exactly like this.  a great experience.) Additionally, “I feel love” feels like it owes something to this track a propos the ice cream sundae analogy.  So.  there it is.

Final comment- I always thought it was the Tramp.P’s.  Nope.  Its the Tram. Mp’s.  Live and learn.

Important links:

1st disco scene in SNF:

wiki on the song:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco_Inferno

wiki on the trammps (surprisingly sparse…)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trammps

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