But that didn't stop disco nights from springing up at every dance club in every town in the '90s. And while disco's heyday may have passed us by for the second time, that's not about to stop disco acts from eking out a living on nostalgia tours (coming soon to a casino near you!). This week brings one of those tours to Tucson.
The Disco Mania tour comprises once-mega-platinum acts KC and the Sunshine Band, The Trammps featuring Earl Young (which means Young is the only remaining member), Martha Wash and Evelyn "Champagne" King.
Headliners KC and the Sunshine Band were lumped into the disco movement largely because they came along in the '70s, and because you could dance to their music. But go back and listen to that music again, and you'll hear what is essentially a groove-based, horn-heavy R&B band; which is to say, the music holds up far better than most disco acts. It's also easy to forget just how huge these guys once were: Though the disco era was replete with one-hit wonders, the group scored no less than five No. 1 singles: "Shake, Shake, Shake (Shake Your Booty)," "Get Down Tonight," "That's the Way (I Like It)," "I'm Your Boogie Man" and "Please Don't Go." Other notable hits included "Boogie Shoes," "Yes, I'm Ready" and "Keep It Comin' Love," which hit No. 2 on the pop chart.
As ubiquitous as it was, it's hard to believe that The Trammps' contribution to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack--king shit among disco albums--"Disco Inferno," which forever etched the anthemic cry of "burn, baby, burn" into our collective consciousness, never even hit the Top 10 (it peaked at 11). Like KC and his boys, the group leaned heavily toward R&B, emphasizing soulful harmonies that earned them something extremely rare for a disco act: critical praise.
You may not recognize the name Martha Wash, but you know at least two of the songs to which she lent her considerable vocal talents (even if you despise them both, as we do). As half of the '80s duo the Weather Girls, Wash scored a hit with the gay-club anthem "It's Raining Men." (Bonus bit of useless trivia: The song was co-written by Paul Shaffer.) She later went on to perform vocal session work, most notably for C+C Music Factory's 1991 hit "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," though you may have never known it: She was uncredited and replaced in the music video by a model, due to her less-than-svelte figure.
Though she continued to have success on the R&B charts through the late '80s, Evelyn "Champagne" King is best remembered by the masses for her first hit, "Shame," which hit the Top 10 and was recorded when she was only 16 years old.
Disco Mania hits Casino Del Sol's Anselmo Valencia Amphitheatre, 5655 W. Valencia Road, at 7 p.m. next Thursday, Aug. 12. Advance tickets are available for $60 (gold circle), $45 (pavilion) and $30 (lawn) at all Ticketmaster locations, online at ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 321-1000. For more information, call 883-1700 or visit avaconcerts.com.
Grand Champeen may not be from the Midwest--they're based in Austin--but their sound would have been right at home in Minneapolis in the '80s. And like the aforementioned bands, they've largely earned their considerable reputation based on their rousing live shows. We caught 'em in their hometown at this year's South By Southwest, where they charmed the pants off the masses (in one case, literally) with a show-closing trio of choice covers: Alice Cooper's "Long Way to Go," Thin Lizzy's "Cowboy Song" and the Stones' "Rocks Off."
Miss Grand Champeen at your peril when they open for Greyhound Soul at 9:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Cover is $4. For more information, call 798-1298.
Stan Ridgway performs next Thursday, Aug. 12 at City Limits, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road. Mark Insley opens the show at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $10 at the venue, all Ticketmaster outlets, online at ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 321-1000. For more information, call 733-6262.
The Starlite Desperation perform Wednesday, Aug. 11 at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Openers Young Heart Attack and Love Mound kick things off at 9:30 p.m. Admission will run you a fiver. Questions? That number again is 798-1298.