Gaelic disco king serves up retrospective collection of his finest floorfillers
Marc Cerrone is a French disco producer.The French disco producer if we’re being picky. With a career spanning five decades and clocking up sales in the high tens of millions, he began life as a drummer in a band called Kongas, before ditching the sticks to strike out under his own name in 1976.
Nigh on 30 albums down the line, we get this double CD catch-up that brings together 36 Cerrone productions dating back to his Kongas days. Curiously, the cover features a young lady who is clearly trying to tie her shoe laces without bending her legs. Tricky business. Different times and all that, but Cerrone seems intent on reaffirming his rep for erring on the side of softcore. One of his biggest hits, 1979’s ‘Love In C Minor’, makes ‘Je T’Aime’ sound like a CBeebies theme tune, while pretty much all of his 70s album sleeves have to be seen to be believed (try ‘Cerrone’s Paradise’ for starters).
Get past the sorry-ass sexist shite and much of ‘The Best Of Cerrone Productions’ is well worth a listen – as a whole raft of French dance music artists will attest. Ask Daft Punk or Bob Sinclar and neither will be slow to name Cerrone as a major influence (Sinclar worked directly with him in 2001), while the likes of Run DMC, LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, BDP and Mark Morrison have all used samples of his work over the years.
As such, there’s many a moment that seems pretty familiar on this collection of predominantly string-soaked disco rompers. When the opening track, 1978’s ‘Got To Have Lovin’’ (a Cerrone co-write with fellow disco don, erm, Don Ray) reaches the obligatory breakdown and a repetitive rising keyboard lick kicks in before a smooth funk bass joins the party, it is really not far away from Daft Punk’s ‘Aerodynamic’. Daft Punk, incidentally, straight sampled Cerrone’s 1976 magnum opus ‘Supernature’, slowing down the synth melody for ‘Veridis Quo’.
For the most part, Cerrone deals in enjoyable by-numbers disco, the exception being ‘Supernature’. It sticks out like a sore thumb here. That he made a record this forward-looking in the mid-70s is impressive. His label at the time, Altlantic, weren’t much keen on the track, but were proved very wrong indeed, as it was a monster hit. Had Cerrone continued down that route, who knows what we’d have been looking at today.
While this is clearly an album aimed squarely at Cerrone newbies – and it will no doubt prove a voyage of discovery for hip hop/baguette beat fans – the shame is that pretty much everything here is an edit. The original of the previously mentioned Don Ray track clocks in at an almighty eight minutes, with a break stretching over more than two minutes. This version is a mere four-minute edit.
To hear this material as the disco god intended would have been a treat indeed. Here’s hoping someone plans to release a compilation of the full versions in the near future.