WBMX – The Imports Heard In The Mixes

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Imports/Italo-Disco Heard On WBMX Mixes

Imports, what were they? What made DJs stand in line and pay twice as much for them as for ‘domestic’ 12-inch singles?

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Well, from a DJ perspective, ‘imports’ were the music that came from overseas and the songs used in the mixes back in the day had a unique sound all to themselves, a sound house borrowed a bit from.

Here in Chicago, we played mostly the Italian imports or ‘Italo-Disco‘. As director of content for WBMX and other historical sites, Sal Amato said

it was hard to tell [sometimes] where a song originated because it would become so ‘licensed’ overseas that by the time we got it here, we may not have known if it was originally a German release licensed to an Italian label that licensed it to a UK label (unless you had access to the walking knowledge base – Frank at Importes Etc, he could tell you the time the track was mastered!

The sound we played here mostly came from Italy throughout the early to mid ’80s. DJs and fans of the music heard in the clubs and mixes on WBMX would stand in line at Loop Records, Importes Etc., Babyo’s, Hot Jams, Lorraine’s, Hip House, Gramaphone, Dr. Wax, Barney’s and more to get these songs on vinyl that were only available at “DJ Stores”.

As techno became a stronger force at the end of the decade, we’d see much of the non-domestic product come from Belgium and the Benelux countries whereas the Breakbeat and UK house sound came directly from London, with Italy holding its end up for house music.

While many of these tracks were imports, some were licensed here in the States and became huge club hits. Some of those included Taffy’s “I Love My Radio” which was licensed by Emergency Records. Fun Fun was picked up by TSR Records for select releases including Color My Love and there were others.

Below you’ll find the most used songs in the mixes throughout the years that were known as the ‘imports’ heard in the ‘mixes.’


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