*Mel Cheren on the cover of his autobiography
*Larry Levan at work
The disco documentary Godfather of Disco screened at Reeling this week, and its tender portrait of West End Records‘ owner and co-founder Mel Cheren was befitting a man responsible for nurturing the gay and black communities at the Paradise Garage. Director Gene Graham astutely gave Larry Levan a good portion of screen time, with photos and stories that illustrated his influence and wide spread admiration. The DJ, musician and producer died in 1992, and his story is essential when trying to describe what was happening in New York City between 1976 and 1987. Levan’s genius and foresight is obvious every time his songs are spun and sampled today without the need for remastering. As a DJ, I’m amazed at how well those beats and bass lines fit in between tracks that just came out this week. In the post show Q & A, Graham spoke of his mission to try and show the side of disco that wasn’t focused on Studio 54. He had picked up Cheren’s autobiography Keep on Dancin’ – My Life at The Paradise Garage, and saw a history and legacy that broke the dance floor way ahead of House, Techno and Dance Rock. That was way more interesting to Graham than celebs having sex and doing drugs on roller skates in balconies, blind with the high of exclusivity. Cheren’s story is that of a gay owned and operated record label and club that catered to its own community of gay, black music fans. What could be better than that?
Here are some fine examples of Larry Levan’s remix work-
Pick up the book at amazon.com
Buy West End Records and Larry Levan music at itunes