Sheila B. Devotion ‘Spacer’ (greg wilson edit)
Never previously shared
Sheila was a French pop singer of the 60’s and 70’s who re-invented herself as a Disco diva, backed by B. Devotion (3 male singers / dancers, the B for Black), and released one of the true monstrosities of the Disco era, a cover of Gene Kelly’s musical standard ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ in 1977, which became a major hit throughout Europe. Her other UK hit, ‘You Light My Fire’ was also to be avoided like the plague – this was the type of music that eventually pulled Disco into the gutter.
Against this backdrop ‘Spacer’ came as quite a surprise – all of a sudden this Euro-Disco chancer was being backed by the hottest rhythm section on the planet. It sounded like Chic because it was Chic - Rodgers & Edwards were the writers and producers.
It was a Top 20 hit in the UK, and (with the exception of more specialist nights) a club favourite. I was still resident at the Golden Guinea in New Brighton, so it’s a track I played there. I was never a big fan of the verses, you can only remove so much of the cheese from the larder, and her voice grates on me in these parts, but the chorus has a great vibe, which more than made up for bits I wasn’t keen on – the backing, of course, is sensational.
This isn’t a track I would have even thought of playing again, purely because of the verses, but where there’s an edit there’s a way and, with all the attention Nile Rodgers has received in recent times, due to his prolific Chic touring schedule, his highly readable autobiography, and his Daft Punk association, it popped into my head as a possible re-edit earlier this year, so I knocked together a DJ friendly ruff, which I played out earlier this month as my final track at Giant, which was held in Peckham’s Bussey Building. It went down a treat and the mix is available to stream / download here on SoundCloud:
The verses have obviously gone, so it’s a mainly instrumental version I went for, bar the chorus lines – ‘he’s a spacer, a starchaser’ (once within the track and around and around until fade at end, with ample time to mix out). A main feature is the extended intro, my intention, a simple one, to build the on vibe of that wonderful piano and shaker prelude by looping it to a drawn-out 32 bars rather than its original 8, making it all the more magic when the beats, the bass, and Rodgers' addictive guitar riff roll in as they do - the extension also, of course, allows more time to mix in from an outgoing track if I want to take that option, but the long build, just on its own, has a real romance about it.
This Friday, as part of the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), I’ve been invited onto a panel hosted by Tommie Sunshine discussing Disco, alongside Nile Rodgers himself (and if that wasn’t enough, the other panellist is Giorgio Moroder!). Needless to say that I was bowled over to be asked to take to the stage in such esteemed company, and I’m very much looking forward to it. I briefly met Nile Rodgers at the hotel we both stayed at for Bestival in September, but I wasn’t aware of the ADE panel at that point.
Anyhow, in homage to the Chic mainman and his late great partner in rhythm, Bernard Edwards, I thought it would be nice to share this during ADE weekend.
Greg Wilson – October 2013
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