As you are probably aware we love all things disco and funk, well in the early 80s (and some of the very late 70s) the two became ever-present in numerous post-disco songs and synth heavy funk tracks, the sub-genre produced some of the greatest party bangers and rare grooves from the last century. Here's our list of fifteen essential tracks, but there are so many more to enjoy from these artists and others we could not include (such as Cheryl Lynn, Kool and the Gang, The S.O.S. Band, Mary Jane Girls...ah why did we restrict ourselves to fifteen, it's not fair). Enjoy the songs in the playlist TLG's Early 80s Disco Funk on our spotify account trouvelagroove, or read through the article for some context and checkout each video. If you can't be bothered to read our work or follow us on Spotify then just use the player below, it's fine we won't be offended...
Update 27/09/17: Now available on Apple Music too.
Luther Vandross – She’s A Super Lady (1981)
Marcus Miller playing one of the greatest basslines ever, this is not well-known enough. From Luther Vandross’ debut album Never Too Much. Luther doing his thang showing off his vocals, but the bassline is just something else, and great backing vocals. A perfectly crafted funky disco song.
Evelyn “Champagne” King – Love Come Down (1982)
Party banger, everyone will recognise this one. We still don’t quite get the “Champagne” middle name but she is obviously a glamorous woman. Instantly recognisable guitar and chorus, essential listening.
Fat Larry’s Band – Be My Lady (1982)
From the excellent album Breakin’ Out, not as well-known as their hit ‘Act Like You Know’ but the instrumentals on this are perfectly blended to form an absolute belter. There’s sexy basslines, funky guitars, naughty synths, and the chorus is bloody catchy.
Skyy – Here’s To You (1980)
A band who somehow went under the radar, this is a brilliant disco funk song that deserves some appreciation, from their Skyyport album in 1980. It’s irresistibly funky and feels very similar to later CHIC or Change tracks, we challenge you not too boogie down to this one.
Patrice Rushen – All We Need (1982)
Whilst she may be most famous for her hit ‘Forget Me Nots’, Patrice Rushen has a great back catalogue of disco and funk songs, this comes from the album Straight From the Heart. You should also check out her great 1979 disco album Pizzazz, the track ‘Haven’t You Heard’ is a forgotten classic.
Jocelyn Brown – Somebody Else’s Guy (1984)
Jocelyn Brown has an amazing voice with a lot of sassiness throughout this song. This is the full 12-inch version which has some wicked instrumentals and had to be included as essential listening for 80s Disco Funk.
Change – Hold Tight (1981)
Change are a band that do not seem to be as well-known as they should be. Inevitably comparable to CHIC, the band featured Luther Vandross on lead vocals during their first album The Glow of Love, but due to contractual reasons he only features on this album, Miracles, as a backing vocalist. You should listen to both of these albums, some of the best disco funk around.
Teena Marie – Behind The Groove (1980)
Despite being on the Tamla Motown label, this is not northern soul. It featured on her album Lady T, some of her other works included Rick James in numerous roles, including as a producer for one (the pair were lovers, and falsely rumoured to have had a child together).
The Fatback Band – I Found Lovin’ (1983)
This number has synths galore throughout, and is another famous classic that had to be on the list. We were lucky enough to see these guys immediately after we arrived at Bestival 2016 and they were a bloody brilliant way to kick-off our weekend.
Shalamar – Don’t Try To Change Me (1982)
Shalamar seem to be one of those bands that have songs everyone knows, yet people don’t remember the band name. They had plenty of hits through the 70s and 80s that are instantly recognisable, this is one of our personal favourites. They are also touring if you’re interested, you should be.
Booker Newbury III – Love Town (1983)
‘Everybody, bring your body, to Love Toooooown’, okay Mr. Newbury III we’ll do exactly that. The mans voice make us immediately think he’s a cool cat, and they are strong vocals. A bit of a one-hit wonder, but who cares it’s an absolute banger.
Delegation – Put A Little Love On Me (1979)
Delegation are one of our favourite bands, period. Their album Eau de Vie is a masterpiece of disco funk, with excellent production that you just can’t dislike; they are one of the originators of this style. Nearly every track on this album is phenomenally good, always worth a listen.
Oliver Cheatham – Get Down Saturday Night (1983)
You may know the song from a 2003 remix called ‘Make Luv’, which is a great version, but the original is far superior. Coming from his 1983 album Saturday Night, some listeners may remember this from a very unexpected comedic dance scene in the dark science fiction movie Ex Machina.
D-Train – You’re The One For Me (1982)
Here’s another band who had a similar sound to previous artists mentioned like Delegation and Skyy, with a slightly more electronic vibe. D-Train were a duo, one of whose members produced the album, Hubert Eaves III.
Narada Michael Walden – I Shoulda Loved Ya (1979)
Narada Michael Walden may have been another one-hit wonder, although he had some other great underappreciated songs, as well as producing numerous material (including I Knew You Were Waiting by Aretha Franklin and George Michael). However he is most famous for creating this stonker of a tune, you almost definitely know it. If you don’t know it, then get acquainted and you can thank us later.