Disco devo­tees know that one of the key appeals of this gen­re is its wild unpre­dictabil­i­ty.  Those who shrug it off as a repet­i­tive, for­mu­laic music have obvi­ous­ly not looked beyond the top-40 hits to explore its extremes, which are many and mind-bend­ing.  The rea­son for this is sim­ple: D.J.‘s and dis­cothèque patrons alike expect­ed a steady and diverse stream of pro­duct to suit their end­less-groov­ing needs and this led pro­duc­ers to try an end­less­ly array of styles and gen­re-blend­ing exper­i­ments to keep up with the demand.

As a result, there’s a breath­tak­ing amount of styl­is­tic diver­si­ty hov­er­ing above that thud-thud-thud beat every­one asso­ciates with dis­co.  If you want to get an idea of how far its gen­re-blur­ring bor­ders extend, the recent Disco Discharge: Mondo Disco pro­vides a nice thumb­nail sketch of all the mad sci­en­tist-style exper­i­men­ta­tion that was going on at the time.  This two disc set amass­es a series of 12-inch mix­es and full-length album ver­sions that cov­er a head-spin­ning array of styles under the dis­co ban­ner.  In the process, it gives you a sense of the bound­less pos­si­bil­i­ties that were being thrown around like par­ty favors dur­ing the genre’s hey­day.

Disc one favors Eurodisco sounds, with a cou­ple of U.S.-style tracks thrown in for vari­ety.  Patrick Juvet’s per­co­lat­ing, heli­um-voiced “Got A Feeling” starts things on a high-camp note and from there the disc jumps from coun­try to coun­try and style to style with total aban­don: Gepy & Gepy mix lounge lizard bal­ladry with perky elec­tro-rhythms on “Body To Body,” Who’s Who take us on a sitar-tinged Eastern dis­co odyssey with “Hypnodance” and Supermax deliv­er what could be ter­med ‘trib­al-prog-dis­co” with the deliri­ous­ly bizarre “African Blood.”  Other killers on this disc include a lav­ish Philly dis­co treat­ment of “Bourgie Bourgie” by John Davis & The Monster Orchestra and the pop-mys­ti­cism of Boney M’s “He Was A Steppenwolf,” a good exam­ple of the sur­pris­ing­ly exper­i­men­tal non-sin­gle fare tucked away on their albums.

Disc two main­tains the eclec­tic bill of fare estab­lished on the first disc.  Technique’s “(Looking For Someone To Love) Tonight” starts things off beau­ti­ful­ly, a lush slab of midtem­po “sleaze dis­co” with pil­low-talk vocals and a sleepy-eyed roman­tic mood.  From there, the disc cov­ers a lot of dif­fer­ent ter­ri­to­ry.  For instance, Passengers’ “The Last Romantic” and Liquid Gold’s “My Baby’s Baby” rep­re­sent Eurodisco at its boun­ci­est, most bub­blegum extreme.  Elsewhere, a rare instru­men­tal ver­sion of Voyage’s “Souvenirs” and Azoto’s “San Salvador” show off the soar­ing, exot­i­ca-crazed end of the sound and Disco Circus’ “Over And Over” brings elec­tron­i­ca and prog-rock touch­es into he mix.

And the afore­men­tioned high­lights aren’t the only ones on Mondo Disco.  In fact, the most rev­e­la­to­ry track on the entire set might come from old-time croon­er Andy Williams: his 1979 redux of his old favorite, the vocal ver­sion of the the­me from Love Story,  is no mere dis­co cash-in.  In fact, it takes the gen­re to its most over-the-top lim­its, with pro­duc­er Bob Esty pil­ing on orches­tra­tion and boom­ing bursts of tym­pa­ni as Williams gives his oper­at­ic all to sell the trag­ic sto­ry­line.  It’s exact­ly the kind of under­ground cult fave this series was designed to unearth and the major dis­cov­ery on this set.

In short, Disco Discharge: Mondo Disco is anoth­er strong entry in this reli­able series and a great illus­tra­tion of disco’s inher­ent diver­si­ty.  If you’re in the mar­ket for a good new dis­co comp, this one will do you right and take you many dif­fer­ent places in the bar­gain.