Freddie Matthews writes from London: Come on be serious now, Scottish born Adam Richard Wiles, or Calvin Harris, as he’s known in the music industry, absolutely did not create Disco. Anyone who suggests this should be shot down by the tight, white suited Disco gods in zebra skin platform shoes and hunted down like a dog by the king of 70s Disco cool, John Shaft.
Disco actually had its origins in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the psychedelic communities of New York City. It was pioneered by NYC DJ of that era, Dave Mancuso, in a members’ only dance club called The Loft. Acts like Isaac Hayes and Barry White were said to be performing what became some of the earliest Disco as early as 1971. The rest is history, Disco for me evokes memories of Donna Summer, The Bee Gees and The Jacksons who in turn would make way for classic artists such as The Village People, ABBA, Boney M and, although you might say it was under the Motown banner, there was also a form of Disco here too from Diana Ross with or without The Supremes.
What then has Calvin Harris ‘really’ got to do with Disco? Well, he certainly got the music industry talking when he named his 2007 debut album, I Created Disco. Honestly, he did anything but create any form of Disco known to man but his tracks were dance floor smash hits. So are we to assume that by Disco he actually means dance or movement on a dance floor? That may well be the case. At that stage of Calvin’s music career he was a mere DJ and not until his next album would he make a massive move on popular music, as we knew it.
In 2009 Calvin Harris released the Ready For The Weekend album. It was his second but this time around he started to perfect his formula. It was much more of a dance music affair while he also got some PR assistance in the form of Dizzee Rascal appearing on one of the album’s biggest hits, Dance Wiv Me.
You may well wonder where I’m going with this article. My point is, what makes a club DJ into a musician? I mean I’m a drummer, I have played in bands all my life, whether it’s jazz, lounge, rock or an indie band. I can pick up my drum cases, all 10 of them but not all at once of course, and head off to rehearsals and subsequently gigs. How then can a DJ possibly think that he is a musician? He cannot possibly do this.
It’s great ‘radio’ music and may well also be a hot in clubs but are DJs ever musicians? Yes, I suppose the two could be seen in a similar light as they also need to practice mixing for hours on end as I did as a young drummer but record decks are not musical instruments. Is it time they were? I’m a traditionalist when it comes to music but there is a school of thought that says that record decks are as difficult to master as many musical instruments. I’m sorry but for me it’s just wrong.
So what of Calvin Harris? He has just announced details of album No.3, to be called ’18 Months’ and due for release in the final quarter of this year. However this time around he hasn’t just enlisted the odd British music name, he’s loaded the album with some of the most influential names in the business. The hit list includes; Kelis, Rihanna, Example, Nicky Romero, Ellie Goulding, Tinie Tempah, Florence Welch, Dizzee Rascal, Ne-Yo and Ayah. You may know some, none or all but either way this is a PR’s dream on both sides of the Atlantic.
It will certainly be one of the hottest album releases of 2012 but perhaps for all the wrong reasons. Does Calvin Harris honestly have raw talent or is he just another DJ mixing things up to create an end product that was never really his to start with?