The below ‘Camp Dance’ tracks listed have been selected by John Napier, musician and resident DJ at Jugend Klub – a monthly night of post punk, synth pop, new wave, italo disco, E.B.M. and other guilty pleasures held at the Victoria, Birmingham.
John explains his choices: “This is not exactly a top 10 people will be that familiar with. I imagine if Heart FM did a similar sort of list we’d get Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and such-like but we’ve heard those songs so much over the course of our lives I thought it might be nice to give some of the unsung heroes of camp dance music a look-in. So here are ten of the most joyously camp party tunes ever, and not a Weathergirl in sight (sorry ladies!).”
1. Telefon Boys – Get Up Get Up
Almost every other Italo Disco group of the 80s had the word ‘boys’ in their name, needless to say gay clubs were integral to this scene of which Telefon Boys are a perfect example. All pulsing synth bass and minimal Kraftwerk style production, this music is very physical. It has no desire to make you reflect on the greater issues of life, its function is to make you dance.
2. Boytronic – Brylliant
You can hear the Pet Shop Boys all over this song. Indeed, the “Sweats” (as they’re known to their fans) were big fans of this sort of electronic European dance music (German in this instance). Speaking in an interview with Record Mirror in December 1985 Neil Tennant explains:
“A lot of the records we like are Italian. The other thing about Euro Disco records is that they always sound like they’re cheap to make. I think that’s their appeal. They’re a bit like punk records – they go in and get very excited by the most banal sounds…”
3. Gary Low – You Are A Danger (Romeo Erotic Remix)
More Euro Disco now, this time from Italy. Gary Low’s 1982 hit ‘You Are A Danger’ has been given a reworking here by L.A. duo, Romeo Erotic. The melodies and synth lines are really banal and there’s a ludicrous whistle sound that may be hard for some ‘serious’ music fans to swallow. It has, however, got one of the best drops in history, never fails to shatter the dancefloor (in a good way!) whenever played.
4. Bang! Bang! – Shoot The Model (teen remix)
Is that David Bowie singing?! Unfortunately, no. I think if it had been it would have rather confused his fans. Cock Rock Guitar? Euro Disco beat? I don’t know how, but this track just works. A gloriously happy sound juxtaposed with some very ambiguous lyrics.
5. Ten City – That’s The Way Love Is
House music has always been rooted in gay culture. In fact, most early house DJs in Britain (before the genre really exploded into the mainstream) used to DJ in gay clubs as these were the only venues open-minded enough to accept this new and refreshingly un-macho music.
6. Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk – Love Can’t Turn Around
This was the song credited with bringing House music into the mainstream. Before this was a hit House music was mostly just an underground scene. This track (actually an Isaac Hayes cover) made the UK top 10 in 1986 and their performance on Top Of The Pops is one of the most exuberant and ridiculous things I’ve ever seen!
7. New Order – Fine Time
This track was heavily inspired by the band’s visit to the party island of Ibiza and the new Acid House music filtering into the Hacienda, the Manchester club in which New Order were financially involved. Bernard Sumner’s boyish vocals give it an endearing naivety and the synth lines are straight-up Euro Disco.
8. Pet Shop Boys – Heart (Dance Mix)
It wouldn’t be right to have a list like this and not include these guys. Apparently, the boys originally wrote this song for Madonna but having finished it decided it was frankly too good to just give it to someone else, even the biggest pop-star in the world. In the end I think they were proved right. Its hard to imagine how Madge could have improved on this version. Glossy, catchy and slightly bizarre – classic Sweats.
9. Clio & Kay – Keep On Dancin’
This is one of the most perfect pop songs I’ve ever heard, its like the track Neneh Cherry never got round to making with Madonna. The lyrics aren’t particularly sophisticated but the female rapping and bouncing beat make it a joy to listen to.
10. Pineapples – Come On Over
I love the voice on this song. Its the most unashamed pop croon I’ve ever heard. It has none of the angst of Rock ‘n’ Roll or cool of Hip-Hop, its just some fun-loving Europeans singing about sex. It also contains the immortal lines “Come on closer you’re really turning me on / Come on closer you won’t be wrong” – hardly Morrissey but who cares?
Part 2 is available to download (along with other FREE mixes) at the Jugend Klub blog.