Pet Shop Boys, Critically (1)

As a follow-up to our lengthy series of conversations (in 2010 and earlier this year) about Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry, Alfred Soto and I embark on a similar excursion into all things Pet Shop Boys. Over a series of who-knows-how-many discussions, we will delve into the music and the guiding aesthetic behind our mutually-agreed-upon favourite synth-pop duo of all time (better than Erasure, better … Continue reading Pet Shop Boys, Critically (1)

Zappa (14): “Dance Fever”!

I noted in my last post that the footage of Zappa on Deney Terrio’s “Dance Fever” had been removed from YouTube. Managed to find a version anyway — hideous quality, but pretty cool nonetheless. Frank appears on the panel (“I thought they were very sincere and I gave them a 96”) with “disco mama” Doris Roberts and one of the sons from “The Waltons.” American … Continue reading Zappa (14): “Dance Fever”!

Interview with Frank Owen

At Spin, writing the Singles column, you were sounding the horn about dance music. Did you go in there with that as a mission? At the time that was definitely it. Nobody treated dance music seriously at all. Melody Maker was wall-to-wall rock ‘n’ roll when I arrived. It was only by a lot of fighting with editors – a lot of fighting – and by the fact … Continue reading Interview with Frank Owen

Pet Shop Boys vs. Rock Critics (1986)

“When the subject of critics arose, Tennant just laughed. ‘I love to give them a hard time,’ he said in an interview here. ‘In America, I proudly go around and say to these critics that we’re a disco group. I know they hate disco. We kind of rub their faces in it. ‘I don’t like the way they turn up their noses at dance music. … Continue reading Pet Shop Boys vs. Rock Critics (1986)

From the Archives: Writing About Dancing (2001)

Writing About Dancing: Disco Critics Survey By Scott Woods (March 2001) “He tried pretending a dance is just a dance/But I see.” — “Let the Music Play,” Shannon (1983) Cineaste magazine recently ran a feature called “Film Criticism in America Today: A Critical Symposium,” in which they asked 24 well-regarded movie critics five questions primarily about the frustrations and rewards of writing movie criticism. It dawned … Continue reading From the Archives: Writing About Dancing (2001)

The Magnificent Dance

“To the fiercest Clash fans, rockers till death, ‘The Magnificent Dance,’ with its tipsy percussion and Chic bass humming ‘bumm bumm (pause) tn-m mana-ma” for a groove — aided by ABSOLUTELY NO LYRICS — may have been The Magnificent Sellout. But not to me. I licked up its irregularly splattered percussion, I let its bass flickers use my body to write on the floor. This … Continue reading The Magnificent Dance

Synthesized austerity

But in Continental Europe, a style of disco developed that was notably more synthesized and austere, often sleazier or chillier or just plain sillier, than its U.S. counterpart. In other words, if rock fans building vinyl bonfires at White Sox games thought disco sounded inhuman, replacing musicianly perspiration and heart with icy technology and repetition, Eurodisco proved their point. Europe was farther from the nexus … Continue reading Synthesized austerity