Isn’t it ironic that while Van Halen fans were killing disco, they were embracing a sound from their favorite rock band that wasn’t too far off from it?
My gripes about the whole “disco sucks” era and rock-ist music fans (c’mon Mike, you were a toddler!) thankfully has no bearing on my feelings about the rock music presented as an antidote to the Saturday Night Fever sound. “Dance The Night Away” is one of VH1′s (holy shit, I just realized what I did there) best songs. It’s just fucking fun. How can you not smile when hearing David Lee Roth squeal his way through the melody? How can you not grin when Michael Anthony pops up to sing those signature chorus harmonies? Those two had to have been grinning like idiots when they recorded the song (to say nothing of the perpetually grinning Eddie Van Halen…I don’t think Alex Van Halen has smile muscles), even if there wasn’t drugs, alcohol and women in the studio…given that this was Van Halen in 1979, I’d have to imagine there were lots of all of those things.
NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…
Andre Cymone has long been in the shadow of his childhood roommate/former bandmate Prince. Even though the two split with some beef in 1981, Prince slid “The Dance Electric” over to his homie a few years later. Released in the afterglow of Purple Rain’s success (summer ‘85), “Electric” became Cymone’s only top ten R&B hit. Kind of a shame, he deserved better. Although I can’t imagine he’s too mad. After making three solid albums as a lead artist, Andre jumped behind the doors and produced jams for Pebbles, Adam Ant, Jermaine Stewart and most notably, Jody Watley.
“The Dance Electric” is immediately identifiable as coming from the Purple Universe. The Linn Drum gives it away. It’s got a hazy, post-apocalyptic feel musically, and a (very, very slightly) pre-apocalyptic feel lyrically. “It’s almost time to go” Cymone intones, and thus establishes “Electric” as a (slightly more ominous) spiritual cousin to P’s “1999”. Hopefully, the end days are this funky. Prince’s original version (included on the recent Purple Rain reissue) is almost identical.
“Dance Floor” by Zapp, (1982) : Killer electro-funk, perfect for doing the worm.