A Touch Of Class Still Sucks!
A Touch Of Class
s a teenager, I remember finding it irreconcilable that any discussion of disco music could ever be couched in terms other than the ones applied to its basest, most nakedly cash-grabbing novelty singles; you probably couldn’t have paid me enough to admit that there was any fundamental difference between “Disco Duck” and “Kiss Me Again.” This hardly makes me unique—some might say that the Chicago White Sox once subsidized a celebration of thousands of people sharing my same pubescent mindset with decidedly unsexy results—except for the fact that I was a teenager during the Clinton administration, meaning even a decade and a half after disco’s alleged demise, disco’s perceived stupidity was still pervasive enough to leave a generation of listeners suspicious and wary.
It’s tempting to say that disco’s become more sophisticated in the ensuing decade and change since my balls dropped, but anyone who’s paid the genre even the slightest shred of attention can state categorically that that’s not true. We may be better equipped to tell the sincere genre explorations from the one-off chart campaigns but, in the end, all we can do is hope for the best in separating the gloriously stupid from the vacuously stupid. Of course, this task isn’t exactly challenging, especially since we’ve got outfits like Brooklyn’s A Touch Of Class compiling their in-house production and remixing efforts explicitly for our convenience. If you ever wanted to hear some disco music that sounds ridiculous and great in equal measures, one need exert oneself no further than picking up a copy of A Touch Of Class Still Sucks! and walking towards the register. It really is that simple.
But caveat emptor: you really do need to be prepared for some unalloyed ridiculousness. Keep in mind that we’re talking about a compilation of the label which broke the Scissor Sisters by releasing their gloriously what-the-fuck-tastic cover of “Comfortably Numb,” a track wholly representative of ATOC’s aesthetic method of obliterating any semblance of tastefulness with a shock-and-awe campaign of flamboyance. (I totally mean that in the most complimentary way imaginable.)
It helps, of course, that ATOC’s talent for arranging their songs seems to run right down to their marrow; it’s certainly a lot easier to enjoy a song like Waldorf’s “Erlkonig,” which takes its lyrical cues from a Goethe poem and blares out lines like “My son, why cover your face in such fear / You see the elf-king, father is near!” with a nigh-imperceptible degree of irony, when you’ve got a bassline or a breakdown as merciless as the ones contained therein. More importantly, they know when not to mess with a song’s preexisting dynamics, as made evident by their rework of Services’ “Element of Danger” which wisely adds little to the song beyond a triumphantly gauche breakbeat ripped straight from the Prodigy’s “Firestarter.”
I realize, of course, that to characterize a record as “ridiculous” does it a substantial disservice, especially when the record in question comes complete with both an admirably consistent focus and an unbridled enthusiasm rarely seen in any genre these days. But a reviewer’s job is to prepare the reader for the journey on which a record’s about to take them, and I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to make you aware of the potential for monolithic embarrassment contained within A Touch Of Class Still Sucks!’ seventy-six minutes. Just keep in mind that it’s probably just as productively mortifying a musical experience for that pretty young thing over in the corner, and also that it’s not about to catch feelings if you break the ice by laughing at its existence. You might also try dancing to it, though.
Reviewed by: James Cobo
Reviewed on: 2007-04-05