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Super Disco Breakathon

by Chuck Eddy

Super Disco Breakathon

About this playlist

If you visit the Wikipedia page "List of Hip-Hop Albums Considered to Be Influential," the oldest tallied there is the 1979 first edition of a misspelled and mis-punctuated series called Super Disco Brake's. The vinyl compilations came out on Paul Winley Records, a label actually dating back to the late '50s, when Winley's brother was doo-wopping for The Clovers. His godmother was Moms Mabley; his songwriting partner was organist Dave "Baby" Cortez. In 1976, Winley released an LP by the Harlem Underground Band, with George Benson on guitar. Within a year or two, South Bronx DJs were mixing a break from one of its cuts, "Smokin' Cheeba-Cheeba," to be rapped atop.

Thus eye-opened -- and seemingly oblivious to copyright concerns, and urged forward by his rapping daughter Tanya aka "Sweet Tee" -- Winley sensed a market and started gathering other tracks with percussive portions that early hip-hoppers coveted. The "Disco" in the title of Super Disco Brake's was misleading; there was some (from Cerrone and Jimmy "Bo" Horne, for instance), but there was actually way more funk (from The Meters, James Brown and Rufus Thomas) as well as other beats from all over: soul singer-songwriters like Gil Scott-Heron and Curtis Mayfield, rocking R&B eccentrics like Jimmy Castor and Dennis Coffey, crossover jazzers like The Blackbyrds and Grover Washington Jr., studio-drummer concoctions like the Incredible Bongo Band, sundry polyglot Caribbean/Cameroonian/Euro-Latin entities of indeterminate genre (Manu Dibango, Barrabas, The Beginning of the End, Chakachas).

This playlist, tapping all six Super Disco volumes through 1984, samples each of the above. To keep grooves rarer, West Indian Brits Cymande and Detroit funk obscurities New Birth get two cuts each, and James Brown-related acts are held to one -- The JB's' "Blow Your Head." Two Winley ladies show up at the end. And every selection gets down on the one.

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