Guest Mix: Classixx’s ‘Disco Deviations’

By Marion Hodges

Disco doesn’t suck — and Classixx prove it with a tasty and esoteric exclusive mix. Photo by Renée Parkhurst

Y’all, disco is IN. Now, you might be asking yourself: “Was disco ever out?” Never around these parts, that’s for sure. 

That goes double for quintessential LA nu-disco duo Classixx, who’ve been among the oft-misunderstood genre’s fiercest proponents since their late-aughts debut. 

We are thrilled to present their ambitious new mix, “Disco Deviations,” spotlighting the widespread but underexplored phenomenon of mainstream rock and pop artists from the mid-’70s to early ‘80s who lined up to cut disco records. 

Sound familiar? Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, and Lizzo are just a few on the long list of 2020s pop stars seemingly on a mission to enshrine the Billboard Top 100 within a massive mirrorball. (Though, a more organic trajectory than… whatever was happening here.) And yet, there was a time not too long ago when disco and Top 40 pop very rarely mixed. While artists like Classixx and their contemporaries (think: De Lux, Poolside, Holy Ghost!, etc.) have stayed dropping objective bangers non-stop, one had to be playing to a very specific crowd to know for sure that any of their tracks could fill a dance floor. Even when disco ruled the 1970s pop charts, there would always be an element of friction between it and the establishment.

Disco is historically Black, queer, leftfield, and avante-garde, per its late 1960s roots as an offshoot of Philadelpha soul. It was the dance music underground of the ‘70s, eventually capturing a wider cultural imagination à la wildfire-esque rumors of what was going on behind Studio 54’s velvet ropes. It’s unsurprising that the dominant acts of the pre-disco time (mostly rock bands) would either be tempted or pressured into trying their hands at some four-on-the-floor magic. For the most part, the public saw through the trend-chasing (obvious exceptions aside), and largely rejected the mixed results of these experiments. But time softens all, and plenty of the material to come from this late ‘70s free-for-all slaps.

So let’s partake in some revelry, shall we? Not only does “Disco Deviations” include everyone from Edgar Winter to Nico getting into the groove, but it features the debut of “Rock The Casbah (Classixx Disco Deviation Dub),” which makes its public debut on FREAKS ONLY on Oct. 26 — and is now available as a FREE download via Bandcamp.

Now, without further ado, Classixx’s Michael David and Tyler Blake break down this exclusive slice of strange disco heaven in their own words: 

What started as a personal playlist and joke among our close friends, has turned into one of our favorite self-indulgent projects in a while. We bring you “Disco Deviations!” 

Understanding the era is important to the mix. The theme is based on a very specific moment in music history when rock bands and other legacy artists found themselves locked in the studio making disco records as a way to stay relevant, appease their labels, feed the marketplace, and maybe even their own interests (in some of the better cases) during an emerging disco dance music craze. 

The material would vary drastically in quality and authenticity. Some offerings would become instantly recognizable classics, while other songs would sink into obscurity. We happen to love all of them for varying reasons.

The tracklisting below in no way attempts to sum up the full scope of the moment, but it does shed some light and includes some sweet tunes. We were also able to find The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” multi-tracks and make a dub to round out the mix!

Disco Deviations
The Eagles – One of These Nights
The Rolling Stones – Dance Pt. 1
The Osmonds – I, I, I
Wayne Newton – You Stepped Into My Life
Van Morrison – Dweller on the Threshold
Cat Stevens – Was Dog a Doughnut?
Joe Cocker – Fun Time
Crosby, Stills & Nash – Dark Star
Jim Morrison – The Ghost Song
The Police – Voices Inside My Head
Bad Company – Untie the Knot
Edgar Winter – Above and Beyond
Smokey Robinson – And I Don't Love You
Nico – Heroes
The Hollies – Draggin’ My Heels
Neil Young – Computer Age
KISS – Sure Know Something
Yes – Owner of a Lonely Heart
Huey Lewis & The News – Exodisco
America – You Can Do Magic
The Clash – Rock The Casbah (Classixx Disco Deviation Dub)
Aretha Franklin – Only Star

Vibe hard with this glitter-encrusted-party-plunge, and catch Classixx mixing it up live at the Novo in Los Angeles on Thursday, Nov. 3 (alongside Franc Moody and Masha Mar) and at Schimanski in Brooklyn on Friday, Nov. 4.