Hamilton Bohannon was an American musician best known for the disco hit “Let’s Start the Dance” (1978).
Other compositions of note include “I Remember” (1981, the basis for “From: Disco To: Disco”, 1996), “Me and the Gang” (1978, the basis for “Get Get Down”, 1999), “Truck Stop” (1974), “South African Man” (1975) and “The Beat (Part 2)” (1979).
His instrumentals have a mesmerizing repetitiveness and a lack of violins which went down well with the people who liked to dance but were not into the kitsch of disco.
De Benedictus was part of the New York dance music scene which was centered around two discotheques: the Paradise Garage and the Loft. I leave out Studio 54 on purpose.
I believe I told this story before, but for many years I hunted Antwerp flea markets for vinyl. My prey were records played by DJ Larry Levan at the New York discotheque Paradise Garage.
I was assisted in my hunt by a internet list of records I had found in 1996. You can find that list of 1100+ records here. I printed it and tried to learn the names by heart and started hunting.
At the time, I was already a fan of house music. I listened to radio shows by Pierre Elitair and the guys behind Liaisons Dangereuses. But now, finally, I found the antecedents of that kind of hedonistic nightlife music.
I gradually delved deeper, learning which labels to buy (Salsoul, West End, Prelude), which producers to focus on (Patrick Adams) and which artists to follow (Arthur Russell).
Where had this fascination with dance music come from?
I don’t know.
I remember when I was in my early twenties, walking along the Meir, hearing “Rotation” by Herb Alperts, and being intrigued by this music which could not be heard on the radio.
This world continues to fascinate me.
Michael de Benedictus role in that world was short and modest but large enough for me to document his legacy during a couple of hours on a lost coronavirus afternoon.
In the course of my research following his death, I found that Belolo was co-responsible for a horrifying version of “Aquarela do Brasil” by the Ritchie Family, and for the kitsch classics “Y.M.C.A.”, “In the Navy”, and “Go West” by the Village People.
However, it is Break Machine’s record “Street Dance” (1983) which I want to bring your attention here. A personal favorite, of however questionable taste it may appear to be.