Where To Start With... Giorgio Moroder
Along with Kraftwerk, there are few other artists or producers that could claim to have had a greater influence on the development of electronic music than Giorgio Moroder, but while the German pioneers became household names throughout the 1970s and 80s, the moustachioed Italian producer often worked away from the limelight and, despite having won three Grammys for his work on soundtracks to films like Flashdance and Top Gun, had spent most of the last two decades in retirement. But then he got a call from Daft Punk, and everything changed.
One of several collaborators on the French duo's 2013 album Random Access Memories along with the likes of Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams, Moroder was surprised to find himself narrating the story of his own life on one of the album's tracks, a nine-minute tribute to his achievements named 'Giorgio by Moroder' in which the veteran producer details his early life as a struggling musician, his introduction to the Moog synthesizer and his chart-topping work with Donna Summer.
The Daft Punk track sparked a wave of interest in Moroder's work and he suddenly found himself getting calls asking for everything from remixes for Coldplay and Lady Gaga to DJ sets and live shows. Before long RCA had offered him a new recording contract and next week (June 15th) will see the release of Déjà Vu, his first new album since the 1985 collaboration with Human League frontman Phil Oakey that produced the hit 'Together in Electric Dreams'.
Three decades on from his last venture into the charts, Moroder's new album features a host of special guests including Kylie Minogue, Sia, Charli XCX, Kelis and Foxes, among others. As you might expect from someone who made his name creating shimmering disco anthems, Déjà Vu is squarely aimed at the dancefloor and tracks like 'Right Here, Right Now' and the tongue-in-cheek '74 Is The New 24' combine Moroder's trademark pulsating synths with a fresh house music sound that's just as much at home in the clubs of Ibiza as it would have been at New York's famous Studio 54.
You can check out the video for '74 Is The New 24' below and while you're waiting for the album to arrive next week, we've put together a list of five tracks as an introduction to the career of one of dance music's most important producers.
Although Giorgio Moroder is heavily associated with the disco scene of the 70s, his early records mainly featured lightweight, bubblegum pop and it wasn't until his third album, 1972's Son of My Father, that he really began to have any kind of chart success, and even then it was a cover version of the album's title track by Chicory Tip that provided the producer with his first UK No. 1. However, tucked away at the end of the record is this little gem, which most people will probably recognise as the track sampled by DJ Shadow on the track 'Organ Donor' from his 1996 debut Endtroducing...
'Love To Love You Baby'
Moroder's first real hit came courtesy of his partnership with vocalist Donna Summer, a then-unknown model and part-time backing singer living in Munich where Moroder had built his first studio. Initially intended as a rough demo, Moroder liked the sound of her voice so much he ended up using her take on the final version. The single initially performed poorly when released in the UK, although it did slightly better in Europe, but that all changed when it found its way to Casablanca Records boss Neil Bogart.
Moroder received a phone call at 3am on a Friday night from the record company boss asking if he could do an extended mix because, according to Moroder's production partner Pete Bellotte: "Bogart was having an orgy at his house, there was a lot of coke going on and, to use his own language, they were all 'f***ing to this track' and the crowd there had him replay the song over and over again.” Moroder and Bellotte duly obliged and the 18-minute song became a smash hit in the clubs, hitting No. 2 on the UK singles chart despite being banned by the BBC as a result of the record number of 'simulated orgasms' performed by Summer on the track (22, if in case you were wondering...)
'I Feel Love'
Probably still Donna Summer's best-known hit, 'I Feel Love' was the track that propelled Moroder to the big time and cemented his reputation as a pioneering producer. It was the first disco track to be produced completely electronically, using a Moog synthesizer and drum machines as the basis for the iconic track.
It was a game-changer. 'I Feel Love' was quite literally the birth of techno music and the techniques employed for the first time here to synchronise the instruments together have been copied and replicated in pretty much all electronic music ever since.
In another first, Moroder's 1979 album named after Einstein's theory of relativity was reportedly the first entire album to be produced solely using electronic instrumentation. Its title track was sampled by legendary hip-hop producer J Dilla on his mixtape The Shining, which was in turn re-used as the beat featured on a track of the same name by Chicago rapper Common.
As the final track on the album, the original track features Moroder using a vocoder to read out the album's credits, even thanking the girl responsible for making the tea and coffee during the recording sessions.
After the popularity of the disco scene had waned, Moroder spent much of the 1980s turning his hand to soundtracks and his compositions for the big screen include the title track from Flashdance and Berlin's 1986 chart-topper 'Take My Breath Away', featured on the soundtrack for Top Gun. He also worked extensively with his protege Harold Faltermeyer on the soundtrack for Beverly Hills Cop and even contributed two tracks to the soundtrack for Brian De Palma's 1983 gangster epic Scarface.
His first soundtrack work though came in 1978 when he composed the score for Alan Parker's film Midnight Express and it's a track from this, 'Chase', that we've chosen as our final pick.