Just when you couldn’t get any more excited, I heard of a second life for an old label. When it comes to labels Tabu was one of those hit and misses since its 1976 humble beginnings. We all know SOS Bands “Take Your Time Do It Right”, which really was the impetus that brought the label into the big time.
However it really was the early years that Tabu put out some great stuff all of which are either out now, about to be released, or in 2014.
Recently I sat down with Marcus Brown aka Natosha “Queen Champagne” from the legendary House of La Face. The Debra’s as they came to be known dominated House Ballroom culture in Seattle nearly 25 years ago.
Some historians suggest we start creating social networks for dead people so that we don’t lose the rich history and the impact they had on the world and community, but more importantly so we don’t forget their names. Jim Burgess is one of those names. He was plucked from Atlanta and whisked to NY to start a club called 12 West. Later he went on to remix some of the most influential dance records of our time such as Linda Clifford’s “Runaway Love”, “Lover’s Holiday” by Change and “Here Comes That Sound Again” by Love-Deluxe. He also dabbled in production while collaborating and remixing greats like Alicia Bridges, Gregg Diamond’s “Bionic Boogie” and Candi Staton and Kiss.
I spent the better part of the weekend watching music documentaries, one of which was “The Godfather of Disco.” Mel Cheren was a music man at heart and began the seminal dance music label West End Records. West End, who’s tagline was “Where the Sun Sets and the Stars Rise,” was responsible for beginning the 12-inch vinyl single craze which is still the preferred format for many DJs to this day. The 12-inch single allowed artists to release longer versions of their songs with the added benefit of an improved audio signal.
Mel worked with his business partner and former lover, Michael Brody to open the Paradise Garage. The club and his label worked in perfect concert together to catapult the music of the time to it’s current disco status. West End would put out artists like Tanna Gardner which resident Paradise Garage DJ Larry Lavan would play throughout the night, sometime 3 or 4 times in one night. The next day, the enlightened club-goers would scour the city to find these new disco records.
When the AIDS crisis hit in the early 80’s and devastated the gay nightlife scene in New York, Mel gave up his role at West End. He then focused on raising money and awareness around the crisis. He sadly succumbed to the disease in 2007.
The full documentary is available on You Tube to stream. I recommend watching the full documentary with pen and paper at hand. You will want to take notes.