For years, my friend Bryan has been kicking around the idea of a pizzeria discotheque, which would essentially combine two of his favorite things and house them under one roof for an all-night assault on epicurean dance floors. And although he’s given me permission to lift the cover off his vision for all of the Wax Poetics reading audience to see, I’ve never really played the role of dream killer in listening to his ruminations over the past decade or so. At least not until now, because I seriously doubt he’s going to give up his day job and bury himself in debt by pouring resources into a nightclub called “Another One Bites the Crust.”
But disco pizza is always the first thing I think of when I look at the cover of Buari’s Disco Soccer, picturing the staunch Ghanaian activist and music pioneer and his topless companion in complementing “6” and “9” shorts and pants, sharing a slice against the refulgent backdrop of the hottest pie party in town. Prior to the album’s release, you could pretty much combine “disco” with anything for a hit, so why not soccer? It was the most popular sport on the globe outside of the United States, and Sidiku Buari himself was a superb all-around athlete, living at the time in New York City, where the New York Cosmos—buoyed by a three-year stint from Pelé—had just won the 1978 North American Soccer League Soccer Bowl.
Disco Soccer, the album, has moments of supreme Afro-disco intensity—“I’m Ready,” “It’s What’s Happening,” “Hard Times”—but “disco soccer,” the concept, was not quite as sound. It was described as a new dance craze, but unfortunately, was more of a gimmick than anything else. Buari—who idolized James Brown, studied music and business in the States, and served as president of Musicians Union of Ghana—recognized such and later apologized for the content of some of his U.S.-produced recordings. “We were being childish,” Buari told Ghana’s Joy FM radio in 2002. “The producers wanted commercial music to make money, but now we don’t want the [younger musicians] to make the same mistakes we made those days.”
Hopefully, I can keep Bryan from doing the same. 1979’s “Disco Demolition Night” at old Comiskey Park in Chicago—the pinnacle of disco disgust—was bad enough, but a disco pizza demolition night? The horror is unimaginable.