I've Had A Night Fever For 40 Years
November 12, 2017 12:28 PM   Subscribe

November 15, 1977 marks 40 years since the release of the Saturday Night Fever Original Movie Sound Track Album [YouTube full playlist]. The globally music defining album's run of hits actually started in 1975 when the Bee Gees released "comeback track" Jive Talkin' which reached the top of the charts in several countries and and was included on the album even though it was cut from the final film.

SIDE A:
[official video] was released as the second single from the album and topped charts around the world.
How Deep Is Your Love was the pre-release (first) single from the album, and it too topped charts all over the world.
Night Fever, the third single from the SNF soundtrack album, was also a mammoth hit around the globe.
More Than A Woman appears on the SNF album twice, the first time around by the Bee Gees. Never released as a single, it still hit #4 in Italy in 1978.
If I Can't Have You was a hit for Yvonne Elliman as the 4th single from the SNF album.

SIDE B:
Walter Murphy's A Fifth Of Beethoven had already been a number 1 hit a year before it was included on the SNF album.
Tavares also recorded More Than A Woman, and their version was featured in the film and was a US top 10 hit in its own right.
Manhattan Skyline was written by film composer David Shire.
Calypso Breakdown is the hefty track that ends this side, by Grammy award winner Ralph MacDonald.

SIDE C [yes, it's a double album folks]:
Night On Disco Mountain is one hell of a way to open the second LP of your movie soundtrack album. David Shire is to blame.
Open Sesame comes from Kool & The Gang.
The aforementioned, previously released Jive Talkin' is placed here.
Followed up by You Should Be Dancing, also by Bee Gees, another worldwide hit.
Boogie Shoes closes out this side. KC And The Sunshine Band had a minor hit with this years despite being released on an album years before the movie and soundtrack album were released.

SIDE D:
Salsation is another instrumental from David Shire.
K-Jee is a cover by MFSB of a 1971 song by The Nite-Liters.
The Trammps had a hit on their hands already with Disco Inferno but it took off worldwide after being included on the SNF soundtrack.

In addition to being the best selling movie soundtrack album of all time, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack had a run of chart-topping hits from its run, echoing hit tracks from before its release included on the album, that continues to influence the pop music today.
posted by hippybear (80 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
That side D seems pretty short - just three songs?
posted by Chrysostom at 12:38 PM on November 12


Disco Inferno is nearly 11 minutes long.
posted by hippybear at 12:42 PM on November 12 [16 favorites]


I hear "If I Can't Have You" and I am instantly seven years old again. That song was *everywhere*.
posted by crush at 12:50 PM on November 12 [9 favorites]


Great post!

*goes down to do another line off hippybear’s ass*

*sniff* GREAT POST
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:54 PM on November 12 [21 favorites]


As someone who grew up during this era, and still loves disco**, this is wonderful. I think I may still know how to do The Hustle from my local dance lessons, but if not, luckily I have YouTube to remind me.

**YES I SAID IT. It's unpossible to be sad while listening to disco.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 12:55 PM on November 12 [13 favorites]


*pretends to lose grip while hanging off Brooklyn Bridge*
posted by chococat at 1:10 PM on November 12 [3 favorites]


Although mostly a hard rock fan as a kid, after I saved my money to buy my first stereo I brought the SNF Soundtrack with me to try them out. Those Bee Gees tracks sound great.
posted by bongo_x at 1:15 PM on November 12


I've always prefered a slightly different form of nocturnal pyrexia...
posted by jim in austin at 1:21 PM on November 12 [2 favorites]


Truth be told, my original experience of this album was being hopped up on Hawaiian Punch on Saturday afternoons awkwardly holding hands with Nicole Taylor during couples skate while “How Deep Is Your Love” was played at the Roller Rink. But I do have distinct memories of watching my parents practice The Hustle in the living room before a night on the town.

We Americans, there’s a reason we don’t like to talk about the late 70’s very much. It’s easy to forget what a tremendously good pack of songs SNL was and how ubiquitous it was for a couple years before disappearing entirely save for a few Disco Stu jokes.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:30 PM on November 12 [5 favorites]


Erm, this is what If I Can't Have You should sound like. That, or through the AM radio of a 1971 Chevy Impala.
posted by eschatfische at 1:30 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


Also, don't forget that Grease is basically a SNF-era Bee Gees song with a guest vocalist.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:31 PM on November 12 [3 favorites]


This was the first R rated movie I saw - I snuck in with some friends. I had the cassette tape of the soundtrack, too, and listened to it constantly for a while.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:33 PM on November 12


It's important to realize when they're talking about a disco inferno, it is not an ACTUAL inferno. That would be the Towering Disco Inferno, which had a stunt Steve McQueen for the dancing sequences.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:42 PM on November 12 [4 favorites]


I haven't had anyone do coke off my ass in at least 30 years. You have no idea how happy this post has made me!
posted by hippybear at 2:19 PM on November 12 [11 favorites]


This is a supremely evocative album for me. I lived in a tiny rural community when this record set was released. I hated the movie. We saw it at the drive in. My mother kept covering straining her arms, turning and trying to cover our eyes. I didn't care much; ended up giving up and falling asleep in the back seat. My sister, though, was not so unaffected.

Follow the creek way down a twisty mountain road, miles from town. A three room shack (with outhouse and hand pump) housing five people. Cracks in the walls that the snow would blow in. My older sister would play this album set on endless repeat, endless longing in her eyes. For her birthday, she wanted, and somehow got, a satin disco outfit. Hands rough from chopping wood and carrying coal stroked the shimmering fabric. Above her bed, in the room she shared with her two little sisters, she hung the iconic Travolta poster. I don't recall if she ever had an event to wear the disco suit to. But she had the suit, and it hung in our room where she could see it, and she hissed her sisters away when they tried to handle this emblem of her dreams.

I think of her every time I hear one of these songs, and I remember her restless yearning. Night Fever always sounds lonely and full of longing to me, recalling my sister silent across the darkened bedroom, black satin gleaming in the moonlight, looking at a movie young man poised forever in the dance, gesturing starward, and this record over and over as awareness drifts into sleep.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 2:24 PM on November 12 [46 favorites]


Don't forget Slap Shot.
posted by lagomorphius at 2:32 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


I haven't EVER had anyone do coke off my ass. You have no idea how happy that fact has made me!

But seriously, this reminds me of where I was 40 years ago, working as sidekick/assistant to a 'wacky morning DJ' (who didn't do coke, but had pot deliveries made to the studio) and since he only played 3-4 records per hour, part of my job was making sure he didn't play the same song at the same time every morning. I also spent some time in the production studio editing the between-the-vocals parts of hit songs into 30-45 second instrumental 'bumper' music. The SNF soundtrack was a treasure trove, but I left for a 'real' radio job a few weeks after it came out and trained my replacement on 'bumper-making' with "You Should Be Dancing"...
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:34 PM on November 12 [2 favorites]


Burhanistan - you might like this recent cover of Grease by Matthew E. White and Flo Morrissey, it reminded me just what a great song it is.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 2:44 PM on November 12 [3 favorites]


I click on the link for "If I Can't Have You" and read "This video is not available" and I am instantly back to being fifty years old again. That song is *nowhere*.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:47 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


"How Deep Is Your Love" is one of those songs my sister and I have where one of us sings a few words, and the other is instantly, involuntarily there on the harmony.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:05 PM on November 12 [4 favorites]


Truth be told, my original experience of this album was being hopped up on Hawaiian Punch on Saturday afternoons awkwardly holding hands with Nicole Taylor during couples skate while “How Deep Is Your Love” was played at the Roller Rink

It's remarkable how much my earliest experiences of pop music owe to roller skating, even more so than eagerly awaiting American Top Forty every week. Given how formative roller-skating was to Gen-X, I suspect, it's a little surprising that our artists haven't celebrated it more as adults. Somewhat apropos, yesterday's AT40 rerun in Myville was November 1973 and I was surprised to learn that "Basketball Jones" actually charted.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:07 PM on November 12 [5 favorites]


Just sliding back in here to drop a link to Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night, which is the New York Magazine story that inspired the movie.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:09 PM on November 12 [10 favorites]


One of the prizes of my record collection is an AT40 box from '73.
I guess it's how the show came. A bunch of vinyl and sheets listing all the tracks and info.
posted by bongo_x at 3:10 PM on November 12 [2 favorites]


OMG!The cats HATE disco dancing but they are going to SUFFER tonight! Thanks!
posted by mightshould at 3:19 PM on November 12 [6 favorites]


I've never owned this album, but boy was this stuff all over the radio* at the time - to the point where all I have to do is see the titles for the songs themselves to spring unbidden into my brain. I'm off to cleanse my palate with some Zappa.

*Note for the youngsters: Imagine everyone in the country being forced to choose between only a very small set of Spotify playlists, curated by someone else, each playing a limited set of songs over and over day after day, to the point where you're sick of even the songs you like; but it's extremely difficult to find something different to listen to instead. And many many people seemed to be fine with that status quo.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:40 PM on November 12 [7 favorites]


One of the prizes of my record collection is an AT40 box from '73.
Yes, that was how they distributed most of the 'syndicated' radio shows in the 'old days' (except for shows on a 'radio network' that had direct wires going into each member station for the hourly newscasts, and you had to record them on your station's tape machines if you wanted to air them at another time). I got to handle a few of the 'AT40' discs, but was told the station was REQUIRED to send them back to the syndicator within a couple weeks of broadcast. So what you have is not just rare, it's ILLEGAL!!!
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:53 PM on November 12 [2 favorites]


Heh. No offense Greg_Ace, but you gotta add the corollary of imagining every time someone mentioned liking some of the songs played on the radio, some avid collector would be compelled to impress upon the listener the superiority of Captain Beefhart, The Velvet Underground, punk music, or Zappa, among others. Sides were taken, lines drawn, and heaping servings of disdain were enjoyed by all.

When it comes down to it, I'll take team disco over team Zappa for this round, though I reserve the right to switch allegiances should my own favorites from the esoteric side of the ledger be placed in opposition.
posted by gusottertrout at 3:57 PM on November 12 [3 favorites]


I hated this when it was new since I was an obnoxious rockist white teenage boy who hated disco at the time but I've come to appreciate it since. I saw the movie for the first time a few years ago and was surprised that it's as much of a 70s gritty urban drama as it is a dance movie.
posted by octothorpe at 3:59 PM on November 12 [5 favorites]


Imagine everyone in the country being forced to choose between only a very small set of Spotify playlists, curated by someone else, each playing a limited set of songs over and over day after day, to the point where you're sick of even the songs you like; but it's extremely difficult to find something different to listen to instead.

I had records.
posted by bongo_x at 4:08 PM on November 12


How did you know which ones to buy?
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:12 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


Grover was my gateway, but in time, I learned to appreciate the original. As for the movie itself, it was much better and much more serious than I had expected it to be. The kids olds are alright! Who knew?
posted by Capt. Renault at 4:17 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


How did you know which ones to buy?

By listening to WLIR.
posted by lagomorphius at 4:20 PM on November 12


Grover was my gateway

For those unfamiliar, time to learn how to Count in disco
posted by roger ackroyd at 4:21 PM on November 12 [4 favorites]


Night On Disco Mountain is one hell of a way to open the second LP of your movie soundtrack album.

The little funky cooldown section at the end is one of my favorite things ever.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:24 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


That's fine for you lagomorphius, but not everyone had that option - not by a long shot. Nobody I knew in my homogeno-suburbia youth was even aware there was something else. I didn't have anyone to argue with even if I'd cared to, and I caught a lot of shit for having different tastes (I got seriously into jazz thanks to my 9th-grad band teacher), so I learned to just keep my musical preferences to myself.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:24 PM on November 12


Millions hated Disco, but liked The Bee Gees. You'd have to have been there to understand how that's even possible. Also, Chuck Mangione.
posted by Beholder at 4:36 PM on November 12 [6 favorites]


Amazing how sometimes people are in the right place at the right time. The Bee Gees weren't even involved with SNF until post-production -- during filming, Travolta was dancing to Stevie Wonder (Superstition? it has the same tempo and chords as Stayin' Alive) and Boz Scaggs (the producers wanted to use "Dirty Lowdown" for the movie but were turned down).
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:38 PM on November 12 [2 favorites]


Millions hated Disco, but liked The Bee Gees.

Looking back on it now, disco music was a helluva lot better than I remember it seeming at the time (I was in high school). I think a lot of people conflated the music, which was great, with the scene, which was superficial and sleazy as fuck.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:43 PM on November 12 [4 favorites]


David Shire is to blame.

He did the badass intro for The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, and so I can forgive him anything.
posted by Capt. Renault at 4:44 PM on November 12 [3 favorites]


This is a supremely evocative album for me.

For me too. When the album came out I was seven years old and my parents had recently divorced. It must have been one of the first weekends when I was staying at my dad's place without mom, that I have the following memory:

Whenever Boogie Shoes came on, I would slip on my dad's size 13 shoes (approximately 4 times larger than my feet) and begin to do a ludicrous disco dance across the kitchen floor. It made him laugh during a period in our lives when things were not so cheery, so thanks KC and your goofy Sunshine Band.
posted by jeremias at 5:20 PM on November 12 [7 favorites]


Boz Scaggs (the producers wanted to use "Dirty Lowdown" for the movie but were turned down).

This is news to me. I liked SNF/Bee Gees OK, but I've never rewatched the entire movie nor do I seek out the music.

If Boz Scaggs had been involved, I'm sure I would own a VHS tape and CD of the movie and I would have the soundtrack on vinyl, tape, and CD.


Related: I don't know jack about men's fashion, but I don't remember seeing white suits on men other than Tom Wolfe prior to SNF. That's what my first husband wore at our 1978 wedding. (And he looked so good.)
posted by she's not there at 5:24 PM on November 12 [2 favorites]


Nice article here on the making of SNF, including Travolta's getting into shape and learning how to dance for the movie, movie critic Gene Siskel's obsession with it (he outbid, dig it, Jane Fonda for the white suit at an auction), and Nik Cohn, who'd written the allegedly nonfiction story for New York magazine that the movie was based on, admitting years later that he'd made it all up.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:24 PM on November 12 [6 favorites]


You ain't got to be so bad, got to be so cold
This dog eat dog existence sure is getting old
Got to have a Jones for this
Jones for that
This runnin' with the Joneses, boy, just ain't where it's at, no, no
You gonna come back around
To the sad, sad truth, the dirty lowdown

Scaggs' Silk Degrees album was thisclose to being lumped in with the Disco Craze, and being in the SNF soundtrack would have left him forever "disco-labeled". Instead, his backup band left him and formed the group Toto, which contributed to him being labeled "yacht-rock". You can't win. At least not in the '70s...
I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who
Put those ideas in your head
I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who
Got you thinking like that, boy

posted by oneswellfoop at 5:46 PM on November 12 [6 favorites]


My contribution: Chris Tucker's description of what happened when he was hanging with Michael Jackson and the two of them went to meet Barry Gibb.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:49 PM on November 12 [4 favorites]


One of the prizes of my record collection is an AT40 box from '73.

Is it a box of singles and an accompanying record of Casey's narration? I have a few records of Robert W. Morgan's programs, but somehow I imagined that AT40 would've been shipped as tapes in those days.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:13 PM on November 12


Sesame Street Fever is great, but you still have to hear Cookie Monster doing Barry White: Me Going to Munch You, Munch You, Munch You
posted by jonp72 at 6:20 PM on November 12




If it's like what I saw, it's the songs and Casey together on 12-inch 33s, each side representing a half hour of show minus commercials, with the commercial breaks marked off with several-seconds pauses like individual tracks on a regular 33.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:37 PM on November 12 [2 favorites]


There was a TV special on the Bee Gees recently where it was revealed (if I'm not mistaken) that they wrote all the songs for the movie over a weekend.
posted by Clustercuss at 6:57 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


I've been enjoying watching SNF with first time, generally young, viewers several times over the last several years, because their impression is that the movie is some kind of happy, feel good musical of some sort. I suspect they're expecting Thank God It's Friday or something akin to Grease. SNF turns out to be a dark and gritty downer accented with an impressive soundtrack and eye catching dance sequences. It's amusing, and kind of sad, how the movie's reputation seems to have been made into something it never was, based on the music and dance bits.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:33 PM on November 12 [4 favorites]


Simply awesome. Iconic. And Barry Gibbs is simply incredible .
posted by davidmsc at 9:05 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


If it's like what I saw, it's the songs and Casey together on 12-inch 33s, each side representing a half hour of show minus commercials, with the commercial breaks marked off with several-seconds pauses like individual tracks on a regular 33.

What he said.
posted by bongo_x at 9:47 PM on November 12


I've been enjoying watching SNF with first time, generally young, viewers several times over the last several years, because their impression is that the movie is some kind of happy, feel good musical of some sort. I suspect they're expecting Thank God It's Friday or something akin to Grease. SNF turns out to be a dark and gritty downer accented with an impressive soundtrack and eye catching dance sequences. It's amusing, and kind of sad, how the movie's reputation seems to have been made into something it never was, based on the music and dance bits.

I'm old, have never seen SNF despite knowing the soundtrack so well, and this was my impression too. It may have been my impression until yesterday.
posted by bongo_x at 9:49 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


mightshould: OMG!The cats HATE disco dancing but they are going to SUFFER tonight! Thanks!

You bring them Saturday Night Fever, they give you Cat Scratch Fever. That's the Chicago way.
posted by dr_dank at 10:03 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: I haven't had anyone do coke off my ass in at least 30 years.
posted by Wordshore at 10:20 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or is ha omg these super-white voices harmonize about "Jive Talkin'" kind of, I dunno, appropriative?

Ah well, it’s an integral part of the rich history of American popular music I guess.
posted by egypturnash at 10:46 PM on November 12


Some thoughts on re-listening:

It sounds *expensive*: everything that cues that feeling on a record - the notion that everything has been polished and re-worked obsessively in terms of scoring, choosing every musician - (Wikipedia lists about 30 but it sounds like twice that many), getting the best performance from everybody and mixing. Somebody was willing to commit way more cash to production than might be the case for a typical movie soundtrack - and that risk sure paid off.

When I first heard this music, I remember people saying that the Bee Gees must be gay because they sang in high voices (my defence: I was 11). So it is interesting - thinking of a musical era when so many artists who are now recognised as gay passing themselves off as straight - that the Bee Gees are dominating an iconic gay album with songs that are explicitly about women in their lyrics.
posted by rongorongo at 2:11 AM on November 13 [2 favorites]


Stayin' Alive topped the charts on the day I was born, which is nice, because that's exactly what I've been doing ever since. (And yes, I know this means my own 40th is approaching, but it's still a few months away. The music stayed in the charts well into 1978).
posted by easternblot at 3:06 AM on November 13 [3 favorites]


I was working archeology that summer and the hour drive to the dig was done listening to the old Ford truck AM radio. The rotation was sooo BeeGee and SNF that we decided that eventually "beegee" would become the generic name for radio. "Hey, turn down that beegee, I'm studyin' here!"
posted by Chitownfats at 7:08 AM on November 13


It was an amazing movie, I saw it more than once. Maybe even once with my grandparents, not sure. I do know that my gran gave me a pair of tight-fitting fuchsia-pink overalls that I wore when there were dances at the local schools (I was far too young for going to an actual disco). One of my big regrets is that I didn't keep those overalls for my daughters.

The culture wars between the different youth cultures then were really aggressive, but everyone I knew saw the movie, because it wasn't so much about disco as about the gritty urban life we all knew, even on the other side of the ocean.
posted by mumimor at 9:15 AM on November 13


I'm tempted to reveal publicly that I do own and like the SNF soundtrack, but I'm still afraid that, if I do, Arthur P and a variety of other WRIF staff would show up at my door and revoke my D.R.E.A.D. card.
posted by The World Famous at 9:46 AM on November 13 [1 favorite]


God. Born December of 72 so when this thing was blowing the hell up I was five years old, and the plaster was just starting to really solidify in my brain and personality and holy Hell did this record do a number on me. I still think "If I Can't Have You" is among the most gorgeous songs ever recorded. Those Gibb boys (and company!) were so good at throwing down some wistful, heartbroken melodies in the midst of a groove.

Two things I'd like to offer: Emotion by Samantha Sang, another Bee Gee penned number (I mean, it IS the Bee Gees with Samantha Sang on lead), same precise era (was a hit in spring of '78), and if it plays some of the same tricks as the best Bee Gees disco stuff well, hell, it still works like a charm.

And then also by Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra. Mercy. I can remember laying on the shag carpet on my folks' living room floor, listening to this one, crying, because it was just so beautiful. This came out a few years earlier, I guess, but is certainly cut from the cloth that Manhattan Skyline used to such success on SNF. I guess this was on the stack of "disco" records that I listened to, endlessly.

I was so hurt and bewildered when everyone decided they hated disco a few years later. As a ten year old I had to betray and bear false witness against some of my favorite music. I'm still sorry about it.
posted by
dirtdirt at 9:47 AM on November 13 [2 favorites]


I was so hurt and bewildered when everyone decided they hated disco a few years later. As a ten year old I had to betray and bear false witness against some of my favorite music. I'm still sorry about it.

All is forgiven!
Just as you cannot be sad and listen to disco, you also cannot hold a grudge, so come on back.
Listen to it, and love it, and just keep on dancin'.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 10:40 AM on November 13


SNF inspired a whole lot of imitations in Bollywood. My teens were spent watching this awful crap. Here is a sampler

Mithun Chakraborty- I am a Disco Dancer

Rishi Kapoor -Hum Kisise Kum Nahin- medley.

Another Mithun from Disco Dancer.

I can go on. But SNF spawned a whole lotta crap from Bollywood to Tollywood to Kollywood. Stuff still gives me nightmares.

But when I watched SNF for the first time after coming to this country; I realized how gritty, low-life and dark it really was. I appreciate it a lot more now.
posted by indianbadger1 at 10:52 AM on November 13 [2 favorites]


Is it just me or is ha omg these super-white voices harmonize about "Jive Talkin'" kind of, I dunno, appropriative?

Interestingly, the song that and it sort of morphed into "jive talkin". So, some appropriation there, sure, but not really any more than white people saying "gimme the funk" or something in their music.
posted by
Burhanistan at 10:52 AM on November 13


(I accidentally a link because Edge is a stupid browser)
posted by Burhanistan at 11:07 AM on November 13


Looking back on it now, disco music was a helluva lot better than I remember it seeming at the time (I was in high school). I think a lot of people conflated the music, which was great, with the scene, which was superficial and sleazy as fuck.

True. Disco music wasn't regarded as cool back in high school, but as someone interested in electronic music, there were some pretty nifty synth textures and production trickery in the disco mixes. Moroder was a kinda cult figure, and I later developed an appreciation for the work of Arif Marden, who helped make that Bee Gees sound.

SNF turns out to be a dark and gritty downer accented with an impressive soundtrack and eye catching dance sequences. It's amusing, and kind of sad, how the movie's reputation seems to have been made into something it never was, based on the music and dance bits.

Wow, I really avoided seeing the movie when it came out, as I've always preferred gloomy Foreign Films. My buddy finally forced me to watch it on VHS in the early 1990's, and I was quite surprised and impressed.

*Note for the youngsters: Imagine everyone in the country being forced to choose between only a very small set of Spotify playlists, curated by someone else, each playing a limited set of songs over and over day after day, to the point where you're sick of even the songs you like; but it's extremely difficult to find something different to listen to instead. And many many people seemed to be fine with that status quo.

I've argued that AM radio in the 1970's had interesting playlists with a diverse mix of genres, until the virus of AOR programming infected it.
posted by ovvl at 11:09 AM on November 13 [1 favorite]


I was 8 when this film/soundtrack came out. Didn't see the movie until I was 20, in one of my college classes—and was shocked, because the movie was terribly dark, and Donna Pescow didn't play such horribly-used characters on TV!—and I didn't buy the soundtrack until later. It's OK. I wouldn't listen to this album by myself. It's party music as far as I'm concerned, though back in the day, some of my little pals from school and I would harmonize to "How Deep Is Your Love" on the bus that took us home.

When this came out, though, my guardian, who'd just turned 30, had recently converted from (not really practicing) Baptist beliefs to being an apparently hard-core fundamentalist Pentecostal. While we didn't have to dress in the severe head-to-toe modesty that some did, we were not supposed to participate in secular culture, and I hid my school bus singalongs from her. However...

If any of the Bee Gees stuff from that album was on TV, she just HAD to watch because that meant seeing Barry Gibb. There was straight lust in her eyes when she looked at the man. I had never seen that in her, ever. And once SNF's moment had passed, she never acted that way again until "Jump" came out in 1984 and she got the hots for David Lee Roth. Although, to be fair, Barry was one hell of a good-looking son of a gun, even with all the hair. I vastly prefer his late 60s look, myself.

So, anyway, I do remember the "Stayin' Alive" video wherein the Brothers Gibb strut down those mean Bay Ridge, Brooklyn streets. I saw it a lot in '77/'78!
posted by droplet at 11:11 AM on November 13 [3 favorites]


Ahh, the late 70s. That was when I used to bike out to the Sunday morning swap meet and buy old 60s albums for a quarter. And that was when radio for me became limited to CBC in Canada and NPR in the U.S. Greg_Ace got it exactly right -- the restricted repetitive playlists on even album-oriented FM stations killed my enjoyment of anything they touched. I couldn't even listen to Steely Dan's Aja for 20 years. As a quick exercise in understanding what was going on, just compare these two billboard charts of #1 songs:

1967 (/files/www.billboard.com/archive/charts/1967/hot-100)
1977 (/files/www.billboard.com/archive/charts/1977/hot-100)

If you picked the second list for your desert island songs, well, I'll just have to go risk the sharks and swim to the other island.

I could have picked '78 vs. '68, but that #1 song that held through the fall is so telling about what the music business was like then.
posted by morspin at 1:01 PM on November 13


SNF turns out to be a dark and gritty downer accented with an impressive soundtrack and eye catching dance sequences. It's amusing, and kind of sad, how the movie's reputation seems to have been made into something it never was, based on the music and dance bits

Well, there was a sequel...
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:10 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


I took a girl to the sequel for a date!
posted by thelonius at 1:23 PM on November 13


I think I was also too young to see it - I thought Annette was handing Tony a bunch of sugar sachets when they came out of the coffee shop.

Took me decades to live that one down.
posted by humph at 1:43 PM on November 13


Me too thelonius! It didn't go well...
posted by YoungStencil at 2:41 PM on November 13


In 1977 my mother and I went to see the movie. We usually went to see Ingmar Bergman movies, and heard this was a grim slice-of-life film based on a magazine article about aimless youth. We were, as you can tell, a little unworldly and didn't know that John Travolta was bad and wrong or that disco was bad and wrong: we LOVED the Bee Gees. Therefore, it seemed to us a great idea to buy the double album for my 16-year-old brother for Christmas. I will never forget the look on his face when he unwrapped the album. We knew we had horribly miscalculated, but we didn't know how or why. I STILL like that album.
posted by acrasis at 4:27 PM on November 13 [3 favorites]


Nice article here on the making of SNF,

Which uses lower case l's for 1's. That made my day.
posted by bongo_x at 8:17 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


SNF turns out to be a dark and gritty downer accented with an impressive soundtrack and eye catching dance sequences. It's amusing, and kind of sad, how the movie's reputation seems to have been made into something it never was, based on the music and dance bits

Well, there was a sequel...


Speaking of the movie's reputation changing over time and sequels, there was also another movie that came out of Saturday Night Fever, Tony Manero, which is all too aware of the distance between the darker elements of the film and its legacy. It was made by Pablo Larrain, who's most recent film was the excellent Jackie.

The Film Comment review captures this pretty well:
Kitsch has so thoroughly enveloped Saturday Night Fever in the three decades since its release that the film’s ultimately despairing conclusions seem to have disappeared from view below a glittering disco-light pulse, as nostalgia discourages engagement with its actual narrative. Of course this despair was likely invisible even to much of its original audience. Tony Manero finds its protagonist, Raúl Peralta (Alfredo Castro), haunting a rundown movie theater playing Saturday Night Fever, gazing up at the screen like a pilgrim in ecstasy, parroting words in a language he can’t actually speak, his body gyrating in carefully studied imitation of John Travolta’s disco-dancing fluidity. We are in Santiago, Chile in 1978, five long years into institutionalized terror under Pinochet, but Raúl seems undaunted by circumstance, immersed as he is in his process of transfiguration. We catch him entering the theater long after the film’s started and we can assume he leaves before it’s over. Perhaps he’s never stayed to the end, and imagines a finale in which Tony Manero triumphantly dances his way out of Brooklyn and his dead-end life of banal jobs, a stiflingly Catholic family of Italian immigrants, and inane tribal violence—to become a star. That might explain why Raúl, 52, poor and illiterate, wants, quite literally, to become Tony Manero.

Here's the trailer for it, but don't be fooled by the pull quote calling it a comedy. There isn't much funny about it at all other than in the darkest sense of the term. There's nothing "feel good" about it. It's a really impressive movie, but definitely not for everyone.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:11 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


It is good that two of the current active threads on MetaFilter are 40th anniversaries of albums which are somewhat different.
posted by Wordshore at 3:07 AM on November 14


It is good that two of the current active threads on MetaFilter are 40th anniversaries of albums which are somewhat different.

And still nothing on Rattus Norvegicus. Alas...
posted by gusottertrout at 3:24 AM on November 14


So I've had the baseline for "Stayin' Alive" stuck in my head for three days because of this thread. Make it stop. Please.
posted by octothorpe at 12:59 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


You should be all set if someone around you needs CPR, then. (Last I got trained, one of the suggestions for proper chest compression timing was to do it to the beat of that song.)
posted by rmd1023 at 1:09 PM on November 14


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