It was really only a couple of years, from the zeitgeist-altering success of Saturday Night Fever to the notorious Comiskey Park Disco Demolition‘s galvanizing of backlash, that disco was overwhelmingly pre-eminent in pop culture, but for those two years, my god, it was assertive. It seemed like pretty much every above-ground musical and nonmusical artist had to somehow nod to disco, whether or not that artist had even the slightest prior obeisance to the dance floor. Popular artists of all stripes, from punk prime movers Blondie, to blues-steeped British Invasion-era stalwarts like the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart, to country rockers the Eagles, to metal’s most brazen buck-chasers Kiss, all released disco songs, or at least adopted disco’s production strategies. And then by 1980 it was like it never happened, though of course, if there was ever indeed a “battle” for the charts between disco and rock, rock’s “victory” was definitely pyrrhic, as today’s pop radio norms are much deeper in disco’s debt.
That resolute fad had plenty of absurd expressions, some of them actually really funny in hindsight. One truly baffling example was when, in 1979, the goddamn BEACH BOYS of all bands capitulated, releasing the shamelessly pandering 12” single “Here Comes The Night (Remix).” Produced by band member Bruce Johnston for their preposterous last-ditch attempt at late ‘70s relevance L.A. (Light Album), it clocks in at over ten minutes. To be exact, it’s a 10:42 litany of unexceptional four-to-the-floor beats and kitchen-sinked disco tropes that have almost nothing to do with the original song, which appeared on the Beach Boys’ middling 1967 album Wild Honey. Here’s that original:
FAR from their best work, but not utterly terrible. Like its predecessor Smiley Smile, Wild Honey was conceived and released in the immediate aftermath of the implosion of SMiLE, and though it’s enjoyable enough, the band’s failure to follow up Pet Sounds with anything of like quality left their rep in the crapper, so sales were poor. One can only guess as to why “Night” was the song they decided to disco up. Maybe it was because the let’s-fuck lyrical content fit with disco’s hedonistic character? It just seems like it would have made more sense, since they were pandering for sales anyway, to remix a song that had been popular in the first place. It didn’t even work. L.A. was poorly received, and from there the Beach Boys began their descent into Mike Love’s traveling no$talgia act. I will say this for “Night,” though: it may be the one Beach Boys song to feature a vocoder, and of that, I vigorously approve.
Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘The Ethel Merman Disco Album’
Disco-tastic Italian Beatles medley from 1978 will melt your brain!
Worst Led Zeppelin cover of all time? Disco duo Blonde On Blonde cover ‘Whole Lotta Love,’ 1979