Lots of peo­ple all over the world loved dis­co dur­ing its hey­day but few ever took it to their hearts the way the gay com­mu­ni­ty did.  It was tru­ly their music and they devot­ed them­selves to it with a fer­vor than no one else could match.  Thus, it was no sur­prise that when dis­co dis­ap­peared from the pop charts that it would find a wel­com­ing home in the gay clubs.  They con­tin­ued to nur­ture and devel­op the sound, soon spawn­ing its built-for-speed, elec­tron­ic vari­ant Hi-NRG, and they con­tin­ue to play a vital role in its suc­cess.

With this his­to­ry in mind, it should be no sur­prise that gay-dis­co com­pi­la­tions are plen­ti­ful in the dis­co music world.  A notable recent entry in the field is Pink Pounders, which was released as part of the ongo­ing Disco Discharge com­pi­la­tion series ear­lier this fall.  The intrigu­ing title is an English expres­sion that refers to the gay community’s will­ing­ness to sup­port the busi­ness­es and artists that cre­ate the things tai­lored to their needs.  The music busi­ness is obvi­ous­ly a favorite of the­se “Pink Pounders” and this 2-disc set fol­lows in the foot­steps of Disco Discharge’s ear­lier Gay Disco & Hi-NRG set to take the lis­ten­er deep­er into this fas­ci­nat­ing sub­gen­re of dance music.

The first disc mix­es pro­to­typ­i­cal gay dance fare from the late 1970’s/early 1980’s with more tra­di­tion­al instru­men­ta­tion  with full-on elec­tron­ic dance tracks from the glo­ry days of Hi-NRG.  On the ear­lier tip, stand­outs include “Hot Leather” by the Passengers, a pulse-pound­ing Italian effort that off­sets its throb­bing elec­tron­ic rhythms and syn­th lines with chirpy girl-cho­rus vocals and caf­feinat­ed horns, and “Boys Will Be Boys” by the Duncan Sisters, with the soar­ing vocals of the ladies cut­ting a swath through a dense­ly-orches­trat­ed stom­per of a back­ing track.  In the Hi-NRG are­na, Patrick Cowley’s “Lift Off” com­bi­nes trance-y synths and amus­ing­ly campy rock­et­ship sex-metaphor lyrics while Pia Zadora & Jermaine Jackson’s absurd­ly delight­ful “When The Rain Begins To Fall” is a new-wave-styled slice of dance fever that cranks the gaudy emo­tion­al­ism and BPM’s up to camp-clas­sic lev­els.

The major­i­ty of disc two is devot­ed to 1980’s fare and is thus dom­i­nat­ed by syn­th-dri­ven fare.  That said, it nev­er becomes dull because all good gay dis­co has a focus on melod­ic hooks and bright melodies: for instance, “My Forbidden Lover’ by Tapps milks a cou­ple of can­dy-coat­ed syn­th hooks for all they are worth while Virgin’s “Only You” is the kind of effer­ves­cent hook-machine that would have made Stock Aitken and Waterman jeal­ous.  Other win­ners on the sec­ond disc include the daz­zling camp/sci-fi dis­co opus “The Ultimate Warlord” by The Immortals (dig that vocoder!) and Patsy Gallant’s “From New York To L.A.,” a glo­ri­ous high-camp melo­dra­ma with a beat about a singer who for­sakes love for fame.

There’s much more going on in this set than can be dis­cussed in a con­cise review — like the pres­ence of “Shake It Up,” a fun bit of min­i­mal­ist syn­th dis­co by moon­light­ing John Waters star Divine — but lis­ten­ers can rest assured that remain­der of the selec­tions are thought­ful­ly cho­sen and care­ful­ly pro­grammed by series mas­ter­mind Mr. Pink.  As usu­al for this series, it sticks to 12-inch ver­sions and album-length cuts so fans don’t have to wor­ry about being sub­ject­ed to stingy sin­gle-edits of any tracks.  The infor­ma­tive lin­er notes from Alan Jones offer intrigu­ing info on every track, cap­ping things off in high (camp) style.

In short, Disco Discharge: Pink Pounders is a fun set and a must for any­one who wants to learn about this dis­tinc­tive sub­gen­re of dis­co.  Seriously, the Pia Zadora/Jermaine Jackson teamup alone makes it worth­while.