Heritage playlist: Disco

This summer we were due to host the king of disco Nile Rodgers & CHIC for two massive shows on Bristol Harbourside. The concerts will instead be taking place next summer, so in the meantime we decided to look back through the archive and celebrate Colston Hall’s long association with the party-starting, era-defining movement that is disco.

Thanks to National Lottery Heritage Fund’s support for the transformation of Colston Hall, archivists Aitor, Louise, Debbie and Grecia have found some memorable times that disco pioneers have played at Colston Hall and compiled a dance-floor-ready playlist of some of their favourite songs by these artists.

Listen to the playlist below, and read on to find out more about the artists and the times they performed at Colston Hall. Is the greatest disco tune ever ‘He’s the Greatest Dancer’, ‘Street Life’ or ‘A Night To Remember’? Let us know your favourite on Twitter.

To listen to more of our Heritage playlists and find out more about the history of Colston Hall, visit our Heritage section.

Hot Chocolate
Performed at Colston Hall:
3 Apr 1978
Song: Everyone’s a Winner

“Every 1’s a Winner” is the third single from the 1978 Hot Chocolate album of the same name.  The band became a big success in the disco era of the mid-1970s by combinaing high production standards, the growing confidence of the main songwriting team of Wilson and Brown, and tight vocal harmonies.

George Benson
Performed at Colston Hall: 25 May 1978
Song: The World is a Ghetto

A former child prodigy, Benson first came to prominence in the 1960s, playing soul jazz and launching his career alternating between jazz, pop, R&B singing, and scat singing. “The World is a Ghetto”, written and performed by War in 1972, was released by Benson in 1978 as a single for his album In Flight, and is a great example of how Jazz can mix with disco beat.

Third World Band
Performed at Colston Hall: 25 Jun 1979
Song: Now That We’ve Found Love

In their early days they played primarily in Kingston’s hotels and nightclubs and (along with The Wailers) supported The Jackson Five when they played at the Jamaican National Stadium. “Now That We’ve Found Love”, a cover version of The O’Jays, is their most succesful hit and combines perfectly the up tempo disco beat with a jamaican reggae foundation.

The Spinners (Detroit)
Performed at Colston Hall: 9 Apr 1975
Song: I’ll Be Around

The Spinners are an American rhythm and blues vocal group that formed in Ferndale, Michigan, in 1954. After a few commercial unsuccesful years, were they even worked as roadies for other bands in the Motown label, they enjoyed a string of hit singles and albums during the 1960s and 1970s, particularly with producer Thom Bell.

Sister Sledge
Performed at Colston Hall: 9 Apr 1975
Song: Love Don’t You Go Through No Changes On Me

Sister Sledge is an American musical vocal group from Philadelphia consisting of sisters Debbie, Joni, Kim and Kathy Sledge. The siblings achieved international success at the height of the disco era.

Kool and the Gang
Performed at Colston Hall: 1 Nov 1981
Song: Ladies Night

“Ladies Night” marked the rise in popularity of Kool and the Gang. The song was a play on the once popular promotion known as “Ladies Night”, employed by bars and clubs in order to attract more female customers, in order to draw a larger number of male clientele.

The Three Degrees
Performed at Colston Hall: 5 May 1982
Song: The Runner

The three Degrees is an American ongoing female trio. Whilst the group has had 15 different members over the years, the group has always been a trio. “The Runner” was one of their top hits, making it to the Top 20 in the UK.

Performed at Colston Hall: 9 Nov 1982
Song: Down on the Street

Shakatak is a jazz-funk currently active English band. Even though the group’s genre might not be that of Disco, there are various elements of this genre employed in their songs; something common during the 80’s post-disco era.

Performed at Colston Hall: 3 Dec 1982 and 25 Mar 1985
Song: Right in the Socket

While initially created as a disco group, Shalamar eventually became better known as a R&B group. In spite their change in style, disco undertones can still be found in their music.

Hot Chocolate
Performed at Colston Hall: 18 Dec 1983
Song: Disco Queen

Alongside “Emma”, “Disco Queen” was the group’s first major international hit, form their debut album “Cicero”. Whilst the group had a resurgence in the early 80’s, it eventually disbanded in the late 80’s.

Tina Turner
Performed at Colston Hall: 10 Feb 1984
Song: Disco Inferno

Tina Turner’s “Disco Inferno” is a cover of the 70’s disco band The Tramps. Turner’s music went to through a brief disco phase in the 70’s, during which she often covered “Disco Inferno”. She, however, quickly change style after failing to reach the top charts.

The Crusaders
Performed at Colston Hall: 16 Sep 1984
Song: Street Life

The Crusaders was an American jazz fusion group popular in the 70’s. Like many bands in the 70’s, The Crusaders incorporated disco rhythms to various of their songs, as a result of the popularity of the genre during that decade.

Sister Sledge
Performed at Colston Hall: 24 Sep 1984
Song: He’s the Greatest Dancer

“He’s the Greatest Dancer ” was written and produce by the leaders of the famous disco band Chic: Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. This was the first big hit for the sisters, who up till then, had been at the record label for four years without a hit. They were thinking about leaving when Edwards and Rodgers took them on and produced their first album.

Village People
Performed at Colston Hall: 29 Apr 1985
Song: Ups and Downs

The Village People were named after Greenwich Village, the centre of the New York gay scene. By 1985 they had moved (somewhat unsuccessfully) into the new romantic movement, but disco is what they are known for!

Kid Creole & the Coconuts
Performed at Colston Hall: 27 Jul 1985
Song: He’s not such a bad guy after all

Kid Creole and the Coconuts had a distinctive sound – fusing disco with and Latin American, South American, Caribbean, and Calloway styles, influenced by August Darnell’s Bronx upbringing.

Kool & the Gang
Performed at Colston Hall: 11 Oct 1994
Song: Celebration

“Celebration” was released as a single in 1980 by Kool & the Gang from their album Celebrate!. It was the band’s first and only single to reach number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. It reached number one in the UK, and remained in the charts for 13 weeks.

Rose Royce
Performed at Colston Hall: 22 Oct 1996 & 9 Sep 1998
Song: Car Wash

Used as theme of the 1976 motion picture ‘Car Wash’, the song of the same title Rose Royce’s most successful single and the lead single from their debut studio album, the ‘Car Wash’ soundtrack. It reached number nine in the UK Singles Chart.

Performed at Colston Hall: 9 Sep 1998
Song: Use It Up and Wear It Out

“Use It Up and Wear It Out” is a song by Odyssey that was released as a single in 1980. It was originally released as the B-side of “Don’t Tell Me, Tell Her”. Released as an ‘A’ side in the UK, it became a no. 1 single and became Odyssey’s most successful single on the UK Singles Chart spending two weeks at the top of the charts.

Performed at Colston Hall: 14 Nov 1999
Song: A Night To Remember

A much bigger hit for Shalamar in the UK than the US, “A Night to Remember” reached number five on the UK Singles Chart.
It is famously associated with the introduction of the Moonwalk dance by Shalamar member Jeffrey Daniels on ‘Top of the Pops’ in June 1982.

Scissor Sisters
Performed at Colston Hall: 22 Oct 2012
Song: Ooh

Forged in the “scuzzy, gay nightlife scene of New York,” in 2001, Scissor Sisters sway towards pop rock, glam rock, nu-disco, and electroclash. The disco element in their music was strongest in their 2006 second album ‘Ta Dah’, which this track is from.

Scissor Sisters, Mon 22 Oct 2012

Supported by

The Transformation of Colston Hall and The Lantern Project are supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund;  the leading advocate for the value of heritage and the largest dedicated funder of heritage in the UK.

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