80s Club Disco History and Chart
The entry of synthesizers and other electronic effects into the disco genre produced electronic dance music, including America’s Hi-NRG and Europe’s space disco. Italo disco’s influences include Italian producer Giorgio Moroder, French musician Didier Marouani, a couple of hits by the French drummer Cerrone, electronic and synthpop acts such as Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Telex, Devo and Gary Numan, and the early Hi-NRG albums of San Francisco producer Patrick Cowley with such singers as Sylvester and Paul Parker.
Although disco music was generally reviled and shunned in the English-speaking world during the 1980s, dance music was still popular in Europe. Italian disco DJ’s desire for new music was frustrated because new songs were imports and therefore too expensive. Italian producers and musicians then began to produce dance music, meeting the demand.
As with all musical styles, Italo disco incorporated different subgenres, overlapped with other styles, and evolved rather than appearing and disappearing, so there are conflicting points of view on what the “first” Italo disco record was and when the genre began. What can be said is that disco music was being produced by Italian producers since at least 1977. Italo disco often featured electronic sounds, drum machines, catchy melodies, vocoders, overdubs, and heavily accented English lyrics. By 1983, Italo disco’s instrumentation was predominantly electronic.
1982 and 1983 saw the release of three very similar tracks cited as influential in the development of house: the irony-laden “Dirty Talk”, “Wonderful” and “The M.B.O. Theme”, all by Klein + M.B.O., a side-project developed by Davide Piatto of the Italo disco duo N.O.I.A., with vocals by Piatto and Rossana Casale.
Although the genre was successful in Europe during the 1980s, it was never particularly successful in the United Kingdom, although several Italo disco songs did become hits there, such as Ryan Paris’s “Dolce Vita”, Clubhouse’s “Do It Again Medley”, Laura Branigan’s “Self Control” (a cover of the original by Raf), Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy”, Taffy’s “I Love My Radio”, Spagna’s “Call Me” and Sabrina’s “Boys”. Nonetheless, several British electronic acts such as the Pet Shop Boys, Erasure and New Order are said to have been influenced by the genre.
In 1983, there were frequent hit singles and many labels started up around this time. Such labels included American Disco, Crash, Merak, Sensation and X-Energy. The popular label Disco Magic released more than thirty singles within the year. It was also the year that the term “Italo disco” became widely known outside of Italy, with the release of the first volumes of The Best of Italo Disco compilation series on the German record label ZYX. After 1983, Italo disco was also produced outside of Italy.
Derivative styles: 1982–89
Canada, particularly Quebec, produced several remarkable Italo disco acts, including Trans X (“Living on Video”), Lime (“Angel Eyes”), Pluton & the Humanoids (“World Invaders”), Purple Flash Orchestra (“We Can Make It”), and Tapps (“Forbidden Lover”). Those productions were called “Canadian disco” during 1980–1984 in Europe and Hi-NRG disco in the U.S.