In the early ’70s, a teenage DJ named Nicky Siano traveled the space-wise dancefloor of David Mancuso’s Loft, before launching his own Gallery. (Gallery kid Larry Levan later levitated Paradise Garage.) Despite acid, balloons, and the food bar, the Gallery wasn’t always totally blissed-out. In the booklet included with his new Soul Jazz Records compilation Nicky Siano’s Legendary the Gallery, Nicky describes an innovative sound design, logically based on and evolving with the rooms and scenes he performed in as the feast moved around NYC.
The Gallery opened in the summer of ’73. Couch-potato arena rock ruled. Not waiting for a “new” radio hit formula, club DJs and dancers (especially blacks, Latinos, gays) were among those who chose to carve fresh heat from the vinyl beast. And The Gallery, despite some mid-’70s copyrights, is mercury still rising, through scientifically selected, crosstown funk, soul, and one gospel song (as such): Gloria Spencer proclaims: “I got it! I don’t understand it! I got it!” A jet blasts (like, “Amen!”) out of Exuma’s “Obeah Man.” The Temptations lay down the “Law of the Land”: “You might not like who you are, but you better start. ‘Cause you sure can’t be nobody else.” But the music spins like a roulette wheel. Meanwhile, turns out that Bonnie Bramlett’s “Crazy ‘Bout My Baby” is crazy like a tambourine and a fox, shaking in wait for that slowhand dobro.
Other adepts, like Loleatta Holloway, Bobby Womack, Bill Withers, the Isleys, and Undisputed Truth, also make the most of prior knowledge and surprise. Without waiting for the remix: These are original (full-length) LP tracks and seven-inch singles. Yet great breaks burst out of (and roll through) good grooves, good songs. Often.