Monday, August 25, 2014

I am a Closet Disco Dancer: Los Amigos Invisibles and "Vivire Para Ti"

I have a secret. A dirty little secret that I keep way down in the depths of my psyche. It's a secret I tell no one, because I'm afraid that to do so would ruin my reputation, cause all my friends to leave me, and leave a black mark on my life that would never be erased. Up to this time I've never written it down, I've never fully spoken it. But let this just be between you and me, dear reader.

...I like disco.

There. I've written it. It's out there. Ever since I heard that driving steady drumbeat, the bass lines that were a tamed version of funk, and that minimalist electric guitar accompaniment, I like disco. I didn't really care who was singing or not, it was the instrumentation and arrangements that interested me. To me, it was a mix of the unbridled sexual energy of funk crossed with something that could be danced with a partner - a kind of ballroom style funk. And I ate it up. Le Freak by Chic, Donna Summer, A Taste of Honey and Boogie Oogie Oogie, all of these I really enjoyed. I still can't hear a disco beat today without tapping my feet, and sometimes even smiling. Even a Bee Gees song will do it for me.

But I can't give myself away. I have to tamp down my instincts and pretend, along with everyone else, that I hate disco. That I consider it an abomination of music, nothing that any sane, discriminating music fan would listen to. Yet disco is making its own insidious comeback. Witness Daft Punk and Get Lucky. Witness the continuing popularity of songs like We are Family by Sister Sledge and everything by Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive. And I don't think disco ever died overseas.

Today's song, Vivire Para Ti by Los Amigos Invisibles, is testament to that. Known for disco, acid jazz and funk mixed with Latin rhythms. Los Amigos Invisibles formed in the 1990s in Venezuela as an alternative to the hard rock, metal and punk that was popular in Caracas as the time. They exploded in the club scene in Caracas after their debut album was released and convinced a wide variety of people that one could dance to other types of music than salsa and merengue. In 1996 they were signed to David Byrne's Luaka Bop label after he found and listened to a CD they had planted in a record store in New York. They relocated to New York City and recorded a new album, The Venezuelan Zinga Son, Vol. 1, which is considered their masterpiece. After fulfilling their contract with Byrne's label, they started their own label and released a series of records, culminating with Commercial in 2009, which won a Latin Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. Post-Grammy, they have released Not So Commercial, an EP of outtakes from Commercial, and in 2013 they released their latest album, Repeat After Me. Vivire Para Ti is from their Grammy winning album Commercial, and when released it debuted at #1 on the Venezuelan charts. This version was recorded live in a radio station studio in Seattle.

You can bet I it on and am private and alone, of don't tell anyone...