The symbiotic relationship between reggae and disco is one that almost defies classification. We might foolishly try and hazard a few hypotheses such as:
Two monolithic marvels positioning themselves squarely in the middle of the beating heart of the dancefloor?
Two much-maligned catch-alls that rumbled around the edges of the twentieth century, enthralling and appalling in equal measure depending on the varying skill levels and intentions of the practitioners?
Two touchstones of late night body music, unsurpassable when performed with love and passion and musical magic?
Certainly they remain forever linked, entwined under the metronomes of the drum and the bass, dancing us forever into an ever more dystopian future-shock. For this listener it’s the warmth and the beauty engendered by proper disco and rootsical reggae that really draws you in: bass tones underpinning the drums’ call to the floor, love and dancing and sufferation mashed together in the eternal oneness of the dance. Religion for those who like their gods to swing. Church for the (un)chosen. Which is a roundabout way of saying “Uh-oh, look out – Strut have another hot one!’ Quinton and the Strut crew have some of the finest ears in the business, seeking out the hits that never were and the bits that should have been huge: Risco Connection slot right into their roster.
Long time Loft favourite Ain’t No Stopping Us Now leads the charge: all bass-face blues power, rolling percussion, cooed backing vox – a certifiable Mancuso-endorsed slice of magic that’s been around forever and still slays it anywhere it’s played. Oof. Chic`s Good Times also gets the ramalama treatment: Toronto two-step via Kingston Twelve: tuff dub dynamics and soulful feels – perfectly realised and absolutely primed for the dancefloor. I’m Caught Up continues the switched-up covers: again the island-centric rolling percussion does the heavy lifting with the bass locked into the space / place – this is cosmic disco of the sweetest kind. There’s not a mis-step in sight, anywhere the needle drops you’re paid in full with lashings of soulful JA disco bombs, washed down with melodies made in Trenchtown and exported worldwide.
There’s a reason this stuff sounds so good after all these years, why it will outlive us all – and the reason is locked inside the groove that just won’t stop. Call it a lifeforce, call it a celebration that we’re amazingly even here at all – call it what you like – this listener has spent many years now loving it. Do yourself a huge favour and check it out: it’s the realest of all deals, the tuffest of all grooves, the slinkiest of the slinky. Unmissable.
The Risco Connection retrospective, Risco Version, is out now, on Strut.
You can hear some fine soulful musical selections from Cal Gibson, on the first Tuesday of every month, between 4 – 6PM UK time, on his Holy Rollers Radio Show, for Universal Rhythms. If you can’t catch it live, you`ll can find it archived here.