Monday, November 2, 2009

Week 23: Hi-NRG

This week I've got a mixtape of one of my personal fave genres: Hi-NRG. This was a style of disco that developed in the late 1970s-early 1980s in San Francisco, New York City, and London. Primarily a gay bar staple, Hi-NRG predicted rave culture in a lot of ways: it was a faster, harder, more synth-driven form of disco, tailor-made to the club drugs in fashion at the gay discos where it developed: cocaine, LSD, amphetamines, poppers, quaaludes, ecstasy, and really just about anything else (but those were the biggies).

As New York Hi-NRG DJ / remixer Casey Jones said in David Diebold's book Tribal Rites, “It was a druggy sound. It was an ‘up’ sound. The whole scene in San Francisco at the time pretty much revolved around ‘up’ drugs. The entire gay disco scene has in fact, since the mid to late seventies, been influenced by music which would complement their drug highs.”

For better or worse, a lot of the clich├ęs that permeate both dance music and gay music were really invented in this era (the down-up-down-up eighth-note bassline; the use of bizarro sweepy synth noises as transition devices; the whole concept of "synth stabs"—those short little synth notes on the off beat—which would later evolve into "putting a donk on it"; and the general upward shift in dance music tempos since the disco era, to name a few). I've started this tape with the tune that solidified the genre's name, and taken it from there. Enjoy!

Chrissy's Year of Mixtapes Week 23: Hi-NRG
  1. Evelyn Thomas; High Energy (Record Shack Record)
  2. Romance f. Jessica Williams; Tie Me Down (Harem Records)
  3. Paul Parker; Right On Target (Megatone Records)
  4. Patrick Cowley; If You Feel It (Megatone Records)
  5. Carol Jiani; Hit 'N' Run Lover (Moby Dick Mix) (Moby Dick Records)
  6. Jessica Williams; (They Call Me The) Queen Of Fools (Passion Records)
  7. Marcia Raven; Catch Me (I'm Falling In Love) (Passion Records)
  8. Hazell Dean; Searchin' (I Gotta Find A Man) (Ian Levine Remix) (Proto Records)
  9. Miquel Brown; So Many Men So Little Time (Record Shack Records)
  10. Sheryl Lee Ralph; In The Evening (Chrissy Re-Edit) (The New York Music Company)
  11. Earlene Bentley & Sylvester; Stargazing (Record Shack Record)
  12. Evelyn Thomas; Masquerade (Record Shack Records)
  13. Nina Schiller; Without Your Love (R.E.M.I.X.) (Moby Dick Records)
  14. Sylvester; Don't Stop (Megatone Records)
  15. Tina Fabrique; Alive With Love (Prism Records)
  16. Liquid Gold; Don't Panic (Polo Records)
  17. Modern Rocketry; I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone (Megatone Records)
  18. Charade; Break Me (Hi-NRG Mix) (Passion Records)
  19. Climax Orchestra; Interaction (LSD Mix) (Challenge Records)
  20. Sylvester & Patrick Cowley; Do Ya Wanna Funk (Megatone Records)
  21. Modern Rocketry; Thank God For Men (Chrissy Re-Edit) (Megatone Records)
  22. Scherrie Payne; One Night Only (Megatone Records)
  23. Loverde; My World Is Empty (Without You) (Moby Dick Records)
  24. Richie; Whip Up The Dancefloor (Hot & Sticky Mix) (Challenge Records)
  25. Diebold & Co.; US NRG (Aerobics High Impact Mix) (Megatone Records)
  26. Sylvester; Lovin' Is Really My Game (Remix) (Megatone Records)
NEXT WEEK: Ghettotech.


  1. Another awesome mix. I <3 Hi NRG.

    Me & my girl like to play your mixes loud and have a dance party while cooking dinner. I'll try and dig up some jockey shorts for authenticity this week.

  2. I love hi-nrg. I love that fact that it's both real disco and a horrible synthetic parody of disco. I love the fact that it strips out all the funk and replaces it with the machine sound of synths and drum machines. I love the fact that it's confrontationally camp and gay, but often disguised as mainstream pop. And I think most of all, I love it because it's the hardest music to love - if you like disco it's too electronic, if you like electronic dance music it's too cheesy, if you like cheese the tunes aren't well enough know, and if you like crate digging for obscure music then you'll be hitting real disco (or italo, or early house, or a million other things) before you'll ever think of picking up a hi-nrg 12", leaving more for me...

    Thanks for the mix :)

  3. Thanks for the mix, will save and share.

  4. I remember being interviewed for David's book. I had a copy for a year before I loaned it out and never got it back. I've since moved on from disco/Hi-NRG - spinning. mixing/editing (Disconet) and reporting (Dance Music Report). BTW, I was NYC-based. Although I did a gig once at Trocadero Transfer around 1983, I never lived in SF. This mention has actually gt me thinking that I should add pictures/discography/reminiscences, etc. to my Facebook account recalling my days as a club DJ and remixer. It was fun reading this entry. Thanks for the memories! Casey Jones

  5. Wow--really cool to hear from you. What's the link to your facebook page?

    Thanks for the correction--I'll fix it in the post :)