31 December 2009

Disco Inferno - The Trammps

It's 1976, a full year before Saturday Night Fever would tell you where to go when the record was over, a full year before Studio 54 began to fill up with the celebrities of the era. The Trammps, one of the original disco bands, down in Philadelphia, were about to release their defining single, the one song for which they would be most remembered. Not their first single, no - there was 1972's Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart and 1973's Love Epidemic. But Hold Back The Night and That's Where The Happy People Go weren't inducted into the Dance Music Hall Of Fame in 2005, were they?

The Trammps are better than just Disco Inferno, of course, but every band needs an anthem, a favourite song that excites the fans and keeps the royalties coming in when the imperial phase has ended. It was released with a b-side of You Touch My Hot Line on 7" and 12" by Atlantic Records, and there is even a ten-minute version on the Disco Inferno album. Rumours abound concerning an unreleased twenty minute version, mixed together by Tom Moulton, for the hardcore fans.

If you're wondering why, out of all the singles released by The Trammps, Disco Inferno should be the one to make it big, then you probably need to look at the soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever. Then there's the cover versions, including Cyndi Lauper's version on the soundtrack to A Night At The Roxbury, with accompanying single release. Oh, and Tina Turner - as if we could forget Tina, and her 1993 release with added Beatmasters remixes. There are other versions, of varying quality, and even Madonna decided to have a go at singing the lyrics from Music over an instrumental version of the song. 'Music Inferno', apparently.

As for the lyrics, apparently we're in a large discotheque in which 'the boogie' presumably reaches critical mass and begins to explode. Before you know it, everyone's getting completely out of control, there's some form of chain-reaction and woomph, everybody's becoming rather hot under the collar. They're probably dancing in a really outrageous way, that kind of thing, Halston dresses and Qiana shirts melting left right and centre due to the friction. Oh, it's easy to mock, I know; it's hardly as if anyone's going to imagine it's about a real fire - clearly it's a sort of metaphor, although not a particularly good one at that. You may now look erudite.

Actually, if you've ever seen Phoenix Nights, there is a delightful scene with an over-the-top fire safety inspector, who has received a letter concerning a fire which he reads out to show the severity of the situation. As he reads, it becomes obvious that he is reading the lyrics to the song, entirely convinced it describes a real event. 'Burn baby burn, disco inferno, burn that mother down,' he intones dramatically, adding 'Another kiddie orphaned there.' Ah, the genius of Peter Kay.

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