Disco would have a bet­ter rep­u­ta­tion with pop music fans if they heard more of the good stuff.  Those who dis­miss it as mind­less pap usu­al­ly have a knowl­edge of the gen­re that begins with “YMCA” and ends with “Disco Duck.”  All the real­ly good stuff was played in the clubs, where d.j.‘s could exer­cise the kind of qual­i­ty con­trol that the radio sta­tions sel­dom used in explor­ing the gen­re.  Even today, going to a vin­tage dis­co night at a club where a good d.j. works is the best way to expe­ri­ence the highs of the gen­re.

And if you can’t go to a good vin­tage dis­co night, the next best thing is check­ing out a com­pli­a­tion of mixed-set dis­co curat­ed by a skilled d.j.  England’s Horse Meat Disco col­lec­tive pro­vides both of the­se ser­vices: they’ve been tour­ing reg­u­lar­ly from their home base and also releas­ing mixed com­pi­la­tions.  Horse Meat Disco III is the lat­est exam­ple of their approach to dis­co and, as usu­al, it offers a dis­tinct and per­son­al­ized tour through the gen­re.

Disc 1 is what the group calls their “peak time” selec­tion and is devot­ed to uptem­po mate­ri­al that cov­ers a wide range of mate­ri­al from the 1970’s to today.  Good vin­tage mate­ri­al on this disc includes a main­ly instru­men­tal edit of the clas­sic Eurodisco groove “Sweet Dynamite” by Claudja Barry and Raphael Cameron’s “Together,” a nice slab of elec­tro-groove from the ear­ly 1980’s that blends funk-band instru­men­ta­tion with the kind of bop­py synths you might asso­ciate with ear­ly break­danc­ing tunes.

The mod­ern mate­ri­al on disc 1 includes a very angu­lar take on Talking Head’s “Born Under Punches” — remade by Fuzz Against Junk — and Leftfield Wobble’s “Grapevine Boogie,” which plucks Gladys Knight’s vocal from “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and recasts it again­st a min­i­mal­ist elec­tron­ic back­drop.  Everything blends well on this disc and it also boasts a real­ly amaz­ing dis­cov­ery in “You Never Loved Me,” a throb­bing vin­tage dis­co track from Ava Cherry, ses­sion singer and ex-lover of David Bowie.  She sings her heart out, adding melo­dra­ma to a track that sug­gests Philly Soul musi­cians col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Munich Machine.

Disc 2 offers a “sleaze” mix designed for the wee hours of the morn­ing.  There’s some great ethe­re­al mate­ri­al in play here: Idris Muhammed’s “For Your Love” is an ele­gant orches­trat­ed track (amaz­ing use of strings here) with light elec­tro under­pin­nings and Rose Lauren’s “American Love,” a silky, syn­thed-up Eurodisco opus with a grand­ly melo­dra­mat­ic lead vocal.

Elsewhere, Marcel King’s “Reach For Love” has a grace­ful, soar­ing melody that is clev­er­ly off­set by stut­ter­ing rhythm gui­tar hooks and Fever’s “Told You Not To Mess With Him” is a taut midtem­po groover that makes effec­tive use of dub-style echo on the har­mony vocals.  Another killer find on the sec­ond disc is “Lovemaker” by Wham (not the George Michael group), a lush­ly orches­trat­ed bal­lad-with-a-beat that throws in a sur­prise, Burundi-drummed break­down.

Both discs play well from end to end, ben­e­fit­ting from styl­ish, skill­ful­ly thought-out beat mix­ing and a num­ber of well-craft­ed edits on the var­i­ous tracks by Horse Meat Disco’s dif­fer­ent d.j.‘s.  The one down­er here is the lack of a non-mixed disc of tracks but get­ting two discs’ worth of mix­es for the price of one is nice trade-off.  Simply put, this col­lec­tion is a good way for dis­co fans to fur­ther their edu­ca­tion on the gen­re and is also mod­ern enough to appeal to adven­tur­ous music lovers who want to dis­cov­er what dis­co is real­ly about.  Either way, the lis­ten­er is in good hands with Horse Meat Disco III.