The other day I wrote about music delivery and formats (CD, LP, streaming) and how these often influence music creation. This latest installment of Vox’s always excellent Earworm series flips this around. The video documents how the 12” single filled the need of ‘70s club DJs requiring songs with more time to groove and at higher fidelity than a 7” or LP track could deliver.
Here are a few quick thoughts on the video:
- People tend to forget how long disco — and club culture — was an active underground movement before its mainstream overload. Some of the early dates in the video may surprise some. And though not strictly ‘disco,’ David Mancuso’s first Loft party was in 1970, as an early benchmark.
- Can we note how cool it is that some contemporary DJs like Questlove and Orlando’s DJ BMF often go back to playing 7” vinyl sets, just as Nicky Siano once did? Not only is this throwback an homage and a connector to the past, but I think one becomes a better DJ — learning techniques to apply to modern digital methods — by stripping the practice down to its roots.
- Paul Morley, appearing in the video, has a place in 12” history not mentioned in the piece. He was a co-founder — alongside Trevor Horn — of ZTT Records and an original Art Of Noise member. Morley’s input was mainly in the label’s image, branding, and writing the grandiose label copy and manifestos that accompanied each release, but he certainly had a say in the label’s groundbreaking music direction. One element of that direction: ZTT 12” mixes weren’t merely extended versions. These were complete reworks of the original songs, with new instrumentation, drum tracks, and even extra vocals. This type of remixing is normal in dance music now — a simple extended version is a rarity — but, in ZTT’s time, it was a radical technique. I’m not sure if any label was doing these types of remixes before ZTT. My favorite ZTT rework/remix? This one for Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Rage Hard” which takes the listener on a tour of the “strange world of the 12”.”
- I would have loved to have heard “I Feel Love” for the first time with fresh, unprepared 1977 ears. Brian Eno’s initial reaction was probably shared by many.