One time, while at a bookstore in Calgary, I recall perusing through a volume on The Top 100 Greatest Canadian Albums, wondering, hoping perhaps, that they'd have something to say on Gino Soccio's "Outline" (1980, RFC/Celebration) somewhere in those 100 albums. After flipping through page after page after page, hoping to find something, then flipping back to the table of contents just in case I had missed something; sadly, no dice. How there would be nothing on an album like "Outline," possibly one of the most revered albums to come out of the booming Montreal disco scene on a list of 100 great Canadian albums, not at #1, #57, or even #99 felt like a pretty bold omission (among many others, it seems). While any list that positions itself as 'definitive' is always prone to biases, the prevailing mythology of Canadian music being what it is - unwaveringly tied to the Neil Youngs, Joni Mitchells, Guess Whos and various other white guys in rock bands, its omission wasn't exactly a surprise, but surely something of an injustice.
As far as Gino Soccio goes, in spite of being behind what have to be some of the greatest disco records to come out of Canada, his story and whereabouts have been, for quite some time, one of the great mysteries in disco. Amid rumours that the man had gone crazy, that he had retired to a quiet life working for the government, embittered by the music business (at least this is partially true), one dedicated fan even went so far as to launch a search campaign of sorts to find out. Not long ago, partially through the efforts of that fan's campaign, Gino showed up on YouTube, posting a few unreleased tracks (one of them dating back to the early 2000s). Though still very much an enigma, there was little from the man himself as to what ever happened to him, what prompted his exit from the music business or what he'd been up to ever since.
Just recently, Toronto musician Jered Stuffco, (one half of DVAS) took things a few steps further and completed a story on Gino for the latest issue of Waxpoetics (#55 - with Daft Punk on the cover). Most likely Gino's first published interview in at least a couple of decades, Stuffco talked not only to Soccio himself, but to other major players in his career and in the disco business of the day - RFC founder Ray Caviano (a casualty of the disco fast lane, but still alive!), John Driscoll of Quality Records, producer Peter Alves, and vocalist Erma Shaw. While the man doesn't compromise his current anonymity; the piece, apparently in the works for two years, goes further than just about anything else out there in revealing who he his, his unwavering evangelical passion (to take the article's description) for disco, and some of the personal struggles and music business excesses that put an end to all of it.
Though the man appears to have been burned by the business, whether or not he ever does anything else musically, as one of the brightest producers to emerge from the disco scene, at a time when many had begun to write it off, he will always have a solid place in disco and among disco's devotees. Read through to the very end for what is probably one of the greatest quotes on disco from one of its prime practitioners.
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VINCE ALETTI'S DISCO FILES (WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 4, 2009)
DISCO DELIVERY #46: GUY LAFLEUR - LAFLEUR! (1979, UNISON SPORTS) (SATURDAY OCTOBER 27, 2007)
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CATEGORIES: CAN-CON DISCO, INTERVIEWS, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO..