Blisspop Disco Fest Playlist Week 2: Italo Disco & Boogie

Ahead of Blisspop Disco Fest starting August 31st at the 9:30 Club and U Street Music Hall, Blisspop contributors Aeron Premo and William Creason talk about some of their favorite Italo Disco & Boogie records.


Kano – “I’m Ready” (1980)
The claps and burbling bassline that open “I’m Ready” will more than likely instantly register a DC connection in most listeners: the bass riff is the basis for Tag Team’s 1993 Jock Jams conquering “Whoomp There It Is”.  “I’m Ready” is so much more with diving synth pads, vicious bassline builds, and sizzling vocoder work.  An Italo classic that hasn’t lost an ounce of power in the last 38 years. William Creason



Red Dragon Band – “Let Me Be Your Radio” (1980)
From the opening infectious polyrhythm to the bleating horns this one-off single from a one-off band lifts off like a rocket.  Despite being recorded in New York, evident from the energetic sound that matches NYC post-punk peers like Liquid Liquid, “Let Me Be Your Radio” was issued only in Italy. The great, bizarre chant “I’m your radio – radio show” (what?) only adds to the fun. William Creason



Lustt – “Pillow Talk” (1983)
Not all Italo tracks were produced by Italian or German artists — a healthy number of quality tunes came from Canada, in particular this cover of Sylvia’s 1973 soul classic. The BPM is raised several notches for this version and has one of the most driving arpeggiated synth bass lines you will hear in an Italo track. Suzanne Stevens’ vocal is perfectly matched to the arrangement and provides a warm contrast to the synth bass. Truly an underrated gem. Aeron Premo



My Mine – “Hypnotic Tango” (1983)
This track has not aged one bit since its release. With a funky backbeat, vocals alternating between spoken and sung styles, and a swampy proto-techno synth bass line, “Hypnotic Tango” is a captivating slice of dancefloor goodness. And just listen to the chorus. Oh, that chorus has got to be one of the best ever written. “Look on the floor and all is spinning round”. Yes, all should be spinning round when a track is this good. Aeron Premo



Ryan Paris – “Dolce Vita” (1983)
This track does an incredible job of slowly drawing the listener in. It starts with a strong synth bass line that slowly gives way to a fade-in of the rhythm synth line. But it is the prominent twinkling synth hook that really makes this tune. Easily as hooky as any pop song and totally made for listening in a dance club, a cocktail bar or in a car with the windows rolled down, “Dolce Vita” made quite an impact upon release and remains a favorite Italo standard.Aeron Premo



Boogie Picks

The Armed Gang – “All I Want” (1982)
Producer Maurizio Sangineto, aka Sangy, recruited three American soldiers stationed at the Army base in Vicenza, Italy to sing on this addictive uptempo track. There are so many prominent elements that shine during “All I Want” — the Earth, Wind and Fire-esque vocals, the crunchy and funky guitar solos, the sharp piano hook. The brief key change also takes this track to another level and is one of the coolest transitions ever cut to tape. Truly an energetic and mood-boosting tune. Aeron Premo



Chemise – “She Can’t Love You” (1982)
The key elements — the drums and three-chord keyboard progression — stay constant throughout, but they lay down a strong foundation for a sassy vocal. With lyrics built around a classic theme that many listeners can relate to — about how the singer can be a better lover to that man than the woman he is with — “She Can’t Love You” is a boogie track that has managed to stay fresh all these years and still cause a stir on the dancefloor. Aeron Premo



Khemistry – “I Can’t Lose With The Stuff I Use” (1982)
Here is an absolutely excellent boogie single from the underappreciated DC R&B act Khemistry from their lone self-titled album.  Al Johnson’s keyboard motifs paired with Khemistry’s three vocalists send this uptempo stomper into the stratosphere.  For many years this album was out of print in America but in 2010 it was reissued by the Boston label Get On Down.  The full album is worth your time! William Creason



Yasuko Agawa – “L.A. Night” (1984)
Japanese singer Yasuko Agawa’s prime boogie cut “L.A. Night” first appeared on her album Gravy in 1984, but started to hit Western record bags when it was licensed by the UK label Bluebird in 1986 and was released as a 12” single.  Despite being a Japanese production, the drum machine rhythm, slinky bassline, and cool vibes drip with Los Angeles humidity as the sun sets.  The call and response chorus place this tune firmly into one of the most joyous celebration of L.A. William Creason



Rene and Angela – “I’ll Be Good” (1985)
Before going on to successful solo singing and production careers, Rene Moore and Angela Winbush recorded several boogie classics as Rene and Angela, with “I’ll Be Good” being one of their most well-known as well as one of their best. The beat and the synth bass get the track off to a great start and create an icy vibe. Then you bring in the confident vocals of Moore and Winbush and you have a track that always manages to have everyone wonder what that song playing is. Aeron Premo