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Got to be real: Krystal Klear’s 10 disco classics

Written by FACT Team on Wednesday, March 21

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Disco is not dead. And Krystal Klear is at least part of the reason why.

The Manchester DJ, a resident at Hoya:Hoya alongside Illum Sphere, Jon K and more knows his stuff, but he’s no disco bore – sure, he’s as fastidious and passionate as any respectable digger in his continual quest for rare and overlooked vinyl, but his primary concern is always the dancefloor. He loves disco because he knows that when handled right, it’s the ultimate party music.

Increasingly accustomed to being blown away by his DJ sets – not to mention his terrific FACT mix and original productions for Eglo and All City – we thought we’d glean some insider knowledge from KK and ask him to talk us through 10 disco records that he couldn’t live without. A man as appreciative of raw, minimal groove-loops (Skye’s ‘Ain’t No Need’) as he is of exuberant musicality (Gerrard Mallory’s ‘Lay It Down On Me’), he’s the ideal guide to the genre’s dynamic ’76-’84 golden era.

“I feel it’s necessary to explain beforehand that of course these records are listed in a random order,” he warns. “It would be an impossible task for me to chart my favorite of any genre in the world because there’s so much out there, but regardless, here’s a ten track selection of rare and known disco gems. Enjoy.”

DOUBLE EXPOSURE
‘EVERYMAN’
(SALSOUL, 1976)

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I included this in my XLR8R mix recently and for very good reasons. With most disco tracks things can get quite frantic from the get-go, which makes mixing them a task, but ‘Everyman’ has a solid 4/4 beat to it that gives you enough time to get it in and get the other track out. Double Exposure were a huge part of the disco circuit; they tore it up with the release of their first full-length in 1976, with its hit singles like ‘Ten Percent’ and ‘My Love is Free’. Worth checking the Tom Moulton mix of ‘Everyman’ although I prefer the Walter Gibbons. And yes this is the sample for M&S’s ‘Salsoul Nugget’.

SKYE
‘AIN’T NO NEED’ (DANCE MIX)
(ANADA, 1976)

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I won’t lie to you – I don’t know as much about the origins of this record as I’d like to. But what I do know is that it’s one of my absolute all-time favorites and one track that will get me going no matter what mood I’m in. I’ll never forget hearing Theo Parrish play it at Plastic for its full 5 minutes (considering it’s a groove loop that can be a struggle at some parties) and me just losing my mind; Ryan Hunn then filled me on the track and since then I’ve rinsed it out. If its ever on Discogs let me know, cause it’s a fucking rare tune to own the original of.

DELEGATION
‘HEARTACHE NO.9′
(MERCURY, 1980)

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Still keeping them disco strings alive late into the disco era on this one. Ken Gold on the production – he produced most of Delegation’s stuff as well as Billy Ocean, Ritz and so on, and I find that on all their records you can hear his sound coming through strong from the string coordination to the weighty mixdown. Naturally heavy stringed disco tunes can be disregarded but the guitar riff and heafty bassline on ‘Heartache No.9′ make it a nice hybrid between funk and disco.

CHANGE
‘MIRACLES’
(ATLANTIC, 1981)

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Title track of the album of one of my favorite groups. Formed in Italy in the 1980s by Jacques Fred Petrus and Mauro Malavasi, with the idea – I think – to have different guest vocalists and session musicians on each record, hence the name, Change. Change opened the door slightly for a young vocalist named Luther Vandross (never heard of him? Neither have I…) and went to on to use some of the greatest musicians and vocalists around throughout out their tenure, including Jocelyn Brown. ‘Miracles’ is your straight up disco banger… from James Robinson’s vocals to the subtle synth stabs this track is a belter. Nightmare to mix though.

ROY AYERS
‘CHICAGO’
(UNO MELODIC, 1983)

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I still always find it crazy that this track contains so many proto-house elements while the track is named after its birthplace… Anyway, Roy Ayers’ ‘Chicago’ is the perfect example of a great tune to change the vibe, especially if you wanted to make the transition in a set to house or even just take it down a bit. Huge tune and considering how well-known ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’ is, highly underrrated.

GERARD MALLORY
‘LAY IT DOWN ON ME’
(PRELUDE, 1982)

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As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a melody junky… Chord progressions, riffs, harmony – it doesn’t matter what it is, if there’s one that catches me I’m fucked (trust me, I’ve tried to argue how Willow Smith’s ‘Whip My Hair’ has sick progressions too many times). This track is by no means like Willow Smith but it was a chord progression that grabbed me. I could be wrong but I think Mallory was the lead singer of Active Force then decided to release this solo number on Prelude… Don’t know much about him or how this record came about, but it’s a serious tune and the chorus is sick. Produced by Michael Stokes who did all the Enchantment stuff.

CHERI
‘STAR STRUCK’
(VENTURE, 1982)

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I got this record thanks to the goodness of the man Billy Goods at Funkmosphere a few years back in L.A. –  the A-side of this 12″ (‘Give It To Me Baby’) dropped and I needed to know what it was. When I asked Billy after his set he walked inside the came out and handed me the 12″ and told me to keep it (which I couldn’t believe) and told me the B-side is worth checking out… And it so was. Cheri also sang ‘Murphy’s Law’ which came out on Venture too – the group’s line-up changed for this record though. The opening chord sequence sets it off then the bass drop kills it. Check the A-side too.

GIORGIO MORODER
‘I WANNA ROCK YOU’
(OASIS/CASABLANCA, 1979)

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Off the classic E=MC² album, home to that famous J Dilla sample, this record is the embodiment of everything Moroder – from the classic vocoder drops and 8-bit synths to the 2-note arpeg bass lines, this record screaaaaaams hi-NRG. Great track to play out too, because not only is the sequence set up for the mix, the drums are locked and the chorus generally gets a great crowd reaction.

BLACK IVORY
‘MAINLINE’
(BUDDAH, 1979)

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I think if there’s a disco tune to best describe Hoya this might be it… Only cause I know it’s a favorite of myself, Jon K and Illum Sphere. This was brought back to my attention recently by Jon when we were getting some bits together for the clash. I bought a few of the Black Ivory 12″‘s when I was a scamp sampling on my MPC but never really utilised the gems when playing out, which is kinda ridiculous… [Leroy] Burgess and [Leonard] Adams being involved together in something is like Steve Jobs and Jesus making the new iPhone. ‘Mainlines’ is just one of those tunes that embodies everything good about disco but projects it with great subtlety and not making it too Sylvester, if you get me.

CHERYL LYNN
‘GOT TO BE REAL’
(COLUMBIA, 1978)

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I know its possibly one of the most renowned disco tunes of all time – from Marks & Spencer ads to possibly every feel-good chick flick ever made but I can’t deny it being not only one of the first disco tunes I heard as a lad on one of my dad’s cassette comps but also one of my favourites. That chord formation sets me off every time. Absolute crowd-pleaser and regardless of whether folks think its “cheesy” or whatever I don’t give a fuck…tune’s a banger and I’ll always play it.

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