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"Soul Makossa" Ushers In the Disco Era (July 22, 1973)

220px-Manu_dibango1 SoulmakossaDuring the summer of 1973 Cameroon-born saxophonist Manu Dibango's Soul Makossa became the first "disco" record to enter the top 40 of Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart (peaking at #33).  A song with African rhythms and tribal incantations ("ma-ma-ma-sa, ma-ma-ma-kosa"), its mainstream success was a bit of surprise.  Since then a long list of artists have sampled parts of the song, the most popular being Michael Jackson's Wanna be Starting Somethin' (1982) and Rihanna's Don't Stop the Music (2007).     

 

A year passed before disco songs began appearing regularly on top-40 radio playlists.  For the most part they had a more accessible "pop" feel than Makossa - Gloria Gaynor's Never Can Say Goodbye; Rock the Boat by Hues Corporation; KC & the Sunshine Band's That's the Way I Like It; and Vicki Sue Robinson's Turn the Beat AroundBillboard published its first "Disco Action" chart in autumn 1974.  

 

Gay_discoThese mainstream dance hits were popular in gay clubs as well, but there was a list of "parallel" hits that never made it beyond gay circles, making them even more cherished - songs like Cocomotion, Spank, Puff of Smoke, I Need a Man, Hot Shot, and Hold on to My Love

 

Click here for a more in-depth account of Soul Makossa and its place in the disco-dancing pantheon. 

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