August 23, 1980: Change, Ashford & Simpson, Shalamar, Minnie Riperton, Geraldine Hunt

ODDS ‘N’ BODS

Rose Royce ‘Pop Your Fingers’ is due on UK 12in, as is Rick. James . . . Starpoint ‘I Just Wanna Dance With You’ / ‘Get Ready Get Down’ / ‘Gonna Lift You Up’ is a 3-track 12in next week . . . Arista are calling Locksmith ‘Far Beyond’ by the new title ‘Chinese Funk Song’! . . . Showstoppers’ Caister weekender an October 10/11/12 is completely sold out but the later one on Oct 31/Nov 1/2 is only half sold so far, and instead of the full mafia features Froggy, Greg Edwards, Jeff Young, Brother Louie, Pete Tong, Mick Clark, Eric Hearn, Les Knott and more plus possibly Crown Heights Affair but certainly a similar star soul act . . . Tony Jenkins & Peter Byfield’s “moveable feast” Funktion club got off to a great start with 250 of their already 1000-plus members boogying at Battersea’s really plush Bennett last (and every) Tuesday, while this (and every) Wednesday the jazz-funk action takes over the similarly swank Marble Arch Dial 9, with other top and normally exclusive discos like the Embassy and Garden likely to become regular venues as well soon and a special party already fixed for the Playboy Club next month, this whole idea being so good as it fills a place on a normally slack night (details 01-352 7349) . . . Tom Wilson & JC have chucked out the DOR and concentrate (to their delight) on funkier disco at Edinburgh’s plush new half-million quid Oscars under the old Rutland Hotel in Princes Street, West End (thanx for the drink, Tom!) . . . Robin & Paul Wheeler’s new Jacksons in Clarence Street, Staines, opened last week with Mike Sefton (ex-Rumours / Harrow Tudors) mixing jazz aimed at an audience who’ve outgrown sweaty kids’ clubs every Thurs / Fri / Saturday, and it was Mike who two years ago started playing James Mason which recently got picked up from him by Chris Brown and subsequently the other mafiosi . . . Chris Brown’s ‘Family Album’ photo book is, he swears, really nearly ready! . . . Tony Monson discovered Ned Doheny when his assistants at Chelsea Disc Empire were playing the otherwise rather country-rock orientated old LP downstairs and the jazz track suddenly wafted up through the floorboards! . . . Sean French is raving over Roy Ayers ‘Ladies Of The Eighties’ (US Polydor 12in promo) . . . Key Hill (Brentwood) says Morrisey / Mullen ‘Cape Wrath’ from their 1978 LP is worth trying, Bob Jones (Chelmsford) now being on Jimmy McGriff ‘Please Don’t Take Me Out’ off the 1976 US Groove Merchant ‘Mean Machine’ LP . . . Paul Wiggy Wignall (Liverpool Oscars) thanks on behalf of other local jocks the girls at Rumbelows – Jan, Colleen & Lyn – for getting their import section going . . . Eric Hearn, how long since you saw me? . . . Richard Witcombe (Shepton Mallet) raves over Cardiff Broadcasting’s Sunday 7-9 pm 221m ‘Souled Out & Roots Rockers’ programme, bringing good music to all within earshot . . . Steve Dennis plans yet another DJ forum for Edgbaston Faces on Sunday, 19th October and says he’s aiming at doing something different but the topics for conversation look familiar . . . East Anglian DJ Assn members are pissed off with the up-coming BADEM exhibition not admitting DJs on the trade-only Sunday, expecting them to go with the public on the Saturday 6th September – a d I must say they have a point . . . Steve Dee, now president of the Thames Valley DJ Assn and funking High Wycombe’s Oak Room Suite every Thursday with either Tony Hodges or Chris Britton, says Lipps Inc was inescapable on Gran Canaria, as was a Spanish version of ‘One Step Beyond’ – urgghhh! . . . Nick Holloway. tanking Bermondsey’s Royal Fort on Sundays as well as Wally gigs other nights, wants good funk gigs even as unpaid warm-up (01-458 1551) . . . John Douglas (Braintree 0376-62070), delighted with his new cloud 9P console which features middle tone control, also wants a regular jazz-funk gig or residency . . .Jim Hunter, ex-Airdrie Club Marcos, now does Coatbridge Taggarts Disco . . . Noel Wright takes over from Chris Britton on the Pernod roadshow this weekend . . .


UK NEWIES

CHANGE: ‘Searching’ (WEA K 79156T)
Luther Vandross-sung smash soaring synthesizer burbled rattling and tapping 129bpm 12in bounder you’ve been waiting for (mixers note there’s a ½bpm drag at times), the tightly snapping spiky 126bpm ‘Angel In My Pocket‘ being chix-sung flip.

ASHFORD & SIMPSON. ‘Love Don’t Make It Right’ (Warner Bros K 17679T)
Bottled up bubbly 111-110-111 bpm 12in thudder lull of jittery excitement like a zappier Flack & Hathaway / Gladys Knight (it mixes well with ’em of course), the flip being 1977’s ‘Bourgie Bourgie‘ which I’ll BPM later as initial promo pressings are evidently faulty.

SHALAMAR: ‘I Owe You One’ (Solar SO12-11)
Although brighter in sound this jittery jaunty little smacker should synch in sensationally halfway through ‘Back Together Again’ except, unless it’s voltage fluctuation time again, the UK 12in pressing seems now slightly faster at 112bpm. No matter, it’s still bang in the currently trendy tempo bag!  Continue reading “August 23, 1980: Change, Ashford & Simpson, Shalamar, Minnie Riperton, Geraldine Hunt”

August 16, 1980: Cameron, Stacy Lattisaw, Rose Royce, Eumir Deodato, Coffee

ODDS ‘N’ BODS

Fatback ‘Backstrokin’ gets ’em rowing across the floor even more than ‘Oops’! . . . Gap Band’s s next 12in couples ‘Party Lights’ (remix), ‘Baby Baba Boogie’ . . . William DeVaughn (edited} and-Kurtis Blow (speeded up) are due on UK 12in soon . . . Roberta Flack ‘Don’t Make Me Wait Too Long’ Is 116- 117bpm on UK 12in now, and Lipps Inc ‘Rock It’ is evidently on 12in too in remixed LP version . . . Jane Hornsby continues Capitol’s DJ mailing list, also servicing UA, Bluenote, EMI America product . . . RCA now have Fantasy / Galaxy / Stax . . . Cuddles Canter & Jeff Young sit in for Robbie Vincent on Radio London for the next two Saturday morning soul shows . . . Incognito ‘Parisian Girl’ Is the latest “North London instrumental”, evidently a superior three-part thematic exploration with white labels due next week, while hot Japanese newies include Terumasa Hino ‘Send Me Your Feelings’ (Flying Dick LP), Yasuaki Shimizu ‘Get You’ (Yupiteru LP), Kanu Sukalagwun ‘Stand Up Please’ (Flying Dick LP), Kazumi ‘Gentle Afternoon’ (Alfa LP) — will there be no end to them? . . . Yellow Magic Orchestra’s latest LP has a hilarious version of ‘Tighten Up’ . . . George Benson ‘Moody’s Mood’ fans will find the 1952 original by King Pleasure, if they’re lucky, on ‘The Source’ double LP issued on Prestige eight years ago (it also has the cleaner 1960 remake) . . . Paul Clark (Brighton) is pleased his long-time tip Hugh Masekela & Herb Alpert ‘Foreign Natives’, from their ‘Main Event Live (At The Roxy)’ 1978 A&M LP, has finally pulled other South Coast jazz jocks . . . Brian Brindle (Chelsea Alibi), playing into of mid-‘70s Atlantic/Bluenote jazz oldies, tips Eddie Harris ‘Get On Down’ from the ‘I Need Some Money’ LP . . . Sean French & Tom Holland lake over downstairs at Mayfair Gullivers every Monday from September 1st, playing nothing but jazz with reduced admission . . . Gully’s sex maniac in residence, Jacko and his mate Feet are from South Herts-area tribe the Ugonauts, comprised completely of chefs! .. . Terry Lennaine couldn’t make it on the coach last Saturday, but 81 rather subdued Merseysiders at Gullivers Included Grasshopper, Nutcracker, Norman & Carol . . .  ‘Paul’ Davison (Sawston) says the Cambridge rowers are best (their University rowing record proves this), and they will continue to get splinters in their bums every weekend at Yarmouth until further notice! . . . Groove’s Chris Palmer is sunning it in St Tropez, while at home Surface Noise sounds best on radio but seems to be selling rather well thank you . . . Chris Dinnis (Exeter) sez local Exeter-Virgin record store stocks lotsa imports with crazy prices for genuine J-F jox, while Bob Jones (Chelmsford) sez Our Price — having bought out Harlequin —have lotsa cut-outs at crazy prices for anyone (like 50p for Kudu oldies) . . . Chris Hill & Carol, Jeff Young & Anne, and myself had a great time in Whitehaven and on Windermere last week, Chris and I demolishing 4lbs of freshly caught giant prawns at the Whitehouse and the next day gorging before and after speed-boating at the swank Langdale Chase hotel . . . Ernie Priestman’s wife Kathleen had a new baby Simone while Ernie was out with us water-skiing — congrats! . . . Caroll Birkett, ‘Miss Coal Queen 1974’ no less, flashed a lot at the Whitehouse, where TPK Electronics have installed a really flash new lighting control unit . . . I know two DJs who don’t deserve another mention for being oddly aloof . . . Jeff Young (who’s his Company anyway?!) has another nasty hospital story about certain vacuum cleaners and their painful “decapitating” effect on experimentally probing fellas — ouch! . . . London’s Charing Cross Road Sundown now has its new £200,000 lighting system working and it’s amazo, infos the Sunday Jewish Teenage night’s Gary Hirst . . . Old Bond Street’s notorious Embassy has new owners who are completely revamping the club, with reduced charter membership prior to re-opening next month . . . John Hicks & Robbie Collins successfully auditioned to join Terry Hooper, Larry Foster & Kevin Moxsam as the DJ roster at Ilford’s Room At The Top . . . Dave Jackson now does New Cross Gate’s Railway Tavern every night except Tuesday . . . Les Breen (mobile on Polegate 5879 and Jerry James of Brighton Bonsoir/Lancing Place are two more South Coast jocks sending jazz-funk charts . . . Bow Wow Wow and Adam & The Ants have-doubtless got pop jocks rummaging for their old ‘Burundi Black’! . . . Kelly Marie is truly so awful It ought to be in the DORC! . . . Roger Squire would appear to have a new shop . . . Phonogram’s John Waller says with a fine sense of irony that disco really is dead as nobody’s dancing to disco records except In nightclubs, nobody’s playing them except on record decks, and definitely nobody’s buyIng them except in record shops . . . KEEP IT YOU KNOW WHAT!


UK NEWIES

CAMERON: ‘Let’s Get It Off’ (Salsoul SAL12-4)
Randy Muller-prod / penned terrific tension-building 116-118-119-120-119 (piano/vibes)-120(outro)bpm 12in bounder mixes with vari-tuning between Teena Marie and Flakes, the less interesting 119-118bpm ‘Magic Of You‘ burbler on the flip leaving the now more timely heavy funk 109-111-112bpm ‘Funkdown‘ on LP (SALP-2).

STACY LATTISAW: ‘Dynamite’ (Atlantic K 11554T)
Forcefully thudding 116-115-116(intro)bpm 12in chugger with piping vocal and some crunchingly punctuating explosion noises towards the end will mix with Teena Marie and Fatback if you’re lucky.

ROSE ROYCE: ‘Pop Your Fingers’ (Whitfield K 17674)
Freakily introed exciting 0-121(intro)-122-123bpm 7in jiggly ‘Car Wash’ clapper with brassy blasts chops nicely out of Ritz.  Continue reading “August 16, 1980: Cameron, Stacy Lattisaw, Rose Royce, Eumir Deodato, Coffee”

August 9, 1980: NY Disco ’80 report, “Keep It Funky”, Level 42, Sun, Mtume, Rhyze

NY DISCO ‘80

New York’s disco/soul WBLS radio may still be winning the ratings battle but out in the clubs the energy has definitely dropped, with once exclusive names now practically touting for business at any time other than the busy weekends. Where disco was once a lifestyle this comes as a depressing fact of life.

Studio 54, until recently closed, now opens just on Fridays and seems to be attracting a largely black crowd, possibly due to its new black owner, the svelte pyjama suit and sombrero-sporting Michael Stone. Lacking a liquor licence (but then New York’s best, Paradise Garage never had one), the club now has a more enjoyable atmosphere than in the era of poseurs even if the music on offer remains much unchanged. The converted theatre setting has been slightly revamped although the same variety of backdrops and flashing light columns drop down from the high ceiling amongst the dancers, new additions being extra articulated neon panels overhead and a huge rather ugly mechanised walkway-topped gantry that slides forward through the old proscenium area to form a stage.

Also in an old theatre with similar backdrop variety, Xenon makes much play of its spectacular laser effects. This club last year was adamant in its refusal to grant admission to a group of British disco personalities, but was only too keen to grab 12 dollars a head while it still could In 1980. The only feature of slight interest was Rick James getting DJ John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez to play his new album and clearing the dangerously empty floor of its Wallys in the process. Still, it was a Monday!

Jellybean actually seemed to be jocking all over the place, and was at The Electric Circus for much of the week too. The disco floor here is naturally divided with lights into a three ring area and the DJ booth is housed inside half a merry-go-round. Interestingly, despite much talk of rock’s in-road into US discos, a live band playing on another floor at the Circus had zero audience while the disco was comfortably populated (new wave, rock and Merseybeat oldies are big in LA though, but then . . . I mean, LA!).

Froggy and his friend Owen Jailler, when they weren’t looking at smutty books, spent much of their nights chasing after New York’s best mixing DJ, Larry Levan, who was not due at his regular Paradise Garage gig until the Friday we had set aside for Studio 54. Consequently Froggy and Owen experienced the heavy black drugs-orientated scenes at Manhattan’s Melons and New Jersey’s Zanzibar, at both of which Larry was making celebratory appearances on winning Billboard’s disco DJ award again.

My own observations then on this trip are based mainly on Jellybean’s style, which naturally involved no talking at all. His big tricks seemed to be chopping very loudly into the long tension-building intros of Kano ‘I’m Ready’ and Diana Ross ‘I’m Coming Out’, possibly mixing two copies of each to prolong the excitement which typically got all the athletic young men throwing their arms In the air and going “ooh!”. His running mixes were consistently faultless, but the constant excitement without any respite from the brighter end of the disco music spectrum got to be a bit wearying. It was the sound rather than tempo that stayed bright and zingy, it being noticeable how he was having to use oldies due to the lack of suitable newbies when taking the tempo very fast.

Of the current material used not o by Jellybean but by other jocks I heard, and In addition to records mentioned In passing on this page over the last two weeks, the much repeated material included obviously Stacy Lattisaw, SOS Band, Change ‘Searching’, less obviously George Benson, Raydio ‘For Those Who Like To Groove’, Gap Band, especially France Joli, Kurtis Blow, Dynasty, plus Voyage ‘I Love You Dancer’, Chaka Khan ‘Clouds’, Two Tons O’ Fun ‘Got The Feeling’, Flakes, Everlife ‘Superhero’s Theme’, and — mixing really effectively wherever I went — Rod ‘Shake It Up (Do The Boogaloo)‘.

Temporarily fired with enthusiasm on my return to London, I loaded up my disco boxes with some of the ones I wouldn’t normally carry but in fact have yet to use any of the zingy ones here, because, let’s face it, London is London . . . thank god!


KEEP IT FUNKY

Some jocks seem to have been getting the wrong end of the stick about my little slogan, taking it to mean that variety in the music they play is bad and monotony is the Ideal to aim for. Far from it.

“Keep It funky” followed on from my double-edged “Disco is dead” – which (a) pointed up the stupidity of that remark from uneducated media when clearly disco as a concept was not dead, and (b) sarcastically expressed the hope that crud “disco” disco music was indeed dead — the “funky” slogan thereafter referring to the music that for the most part has become the dominant disco sound AND NOT to the need for DJs only to play that sound.

Pure zingy “disco” was fun for a while but the surfeit of “disco” tripe that that then flooded the market is what gave the word a bad name. If there’s going to be a main type of music identified as disco, let’s for goodness sake — KEEP IT FUNKY! Funk, soul and jazz have roots, pure “disco” had none and largely suffered the consequence.

Now this is not to say that I only want to hear from specialist funky jocks, or about the specialist funky records that ordinary DJs are using in amongst their regular programme of sounds. I personally play a huge range of music on mobile private party gigs (the “vinyl junkie” tag is true), and I think it is important to reflect — without necessarily going into too much detail — what records are being danced to in addition to the current funky stuff, otherwise a generation of DJs will grow up totally unequipped for the real world should they ever get a general gig.

Hence, the DORC . . . but not enough DJs are listing general non-specialist hits in their chart returns. I’m sure a lot of you are playing ’em so let’s hear about ’em too! And if you’re one of the lucky minority who does play at specialist funk-jazz gigs, keep your charts coming as well. Let’s face it, there’s room for them all.

Send your charts (at least a Top 20 or more if possible), written on your own paper (there are no printed forms), so that they arrive mid-week to James Hamilton, Record Mirror, 40 Long Acre, London WC2E 9JT — and remember that any dates or info enclosed will not be published until the week after the one you’ve aimed for.


ODDS ‘N’ BODS

Morgan Khan, with big money behind him, and three brand new companies (including a label whose still secret name you’ll love!), is off to the States to tie up product and generally spread the news about his promotion service, which looks likely to monopolise R&B releases even from many major UK companies (and that’s not the half of it) – hmm, I wonder, will PRAT regret losing this “brat”?! . . . Tony Jenkins of Mayfair Playboy Club funk fame end Peter Byefield have formed ‘FunktIon’, a club with a difference for up-market jazz-funk fans — starting nest week (12), members (£5 charter, £10 once 500 have joined) get the discounted use of Battersea’s Bennett every Tuesday with Tony & Alex Anders spinning jazz just for them, nobody else admitted, plus regular funk parties every six weeks at other exclusive London discos similarly taken over specifically for the night – details from Funktion, 3 Cale Street, London SW3 (01-352-7349) . . . BBC-TV filmed at Soho’s Groove record shop last week as evidently they think of Jean there (neither little or old) as ”the little old lady from Greek Street” who knows all about funky music, this plus stuff about Jean’s little boy and his hit records for showing on ‘Nationwide’ within the next month . . . Surface Noise — and it Is a pity It’s too darned fast after all (at in fact 130bpm) – will be on Groove Production instead of WEA for the entire run, pressed and packaged by WEA, who believe In the smaller label’s street vibe, man . . . Cameron ‘Let’s Get It Off’/’Magic Of You’ is on US 12in now . . . Chris Hill and the Mafia currently love ‘To Prove My Love’ from Ned Doheny’s year-or-more-old Japanese CBS Sony LP, Ned being AWB’s sometime writer . . . Ingram ‘Mi Sebrina Tequana’ (US H&L LP) Is Chris’s other big oldie still, while Bob Jones says ‘Foot Loose’ from Morrisey/Mullen’s 1977 ‘Up’ LP (Embryo/Atlantic’ SD 536) Is a killer fast jazz-funk dancer . . . CBS’s Loraine Trent (to whom Terry Hooper owes £5) will launch Earth Wind & Fire’s upcoming new double LP called ‘Faces’ appropriately at Edgbaston’s Faces with DJ Steve Dennis in October . . . Greg Edwards’ photo last week didn’t get printed quite as lull length as the original, which got pretty near the knuckle — or something! . . . Peter Young now starts his 9 am Saturday morning London chart show on Capital with the first hour given over to hot newies but with strong soul slant, adding even more to the station’s disco orientation at weekends . . . London Is noticeably ahead of and funkier than the rest of the country to judge between local and national sales charts, incidentally (so what else is new?!) . . . Rob Harknett (Harlow) says it’s getting so difficult to buy records outside the Top 75 in his area that he couldn’t even get Diana Ross — but someone’s been stocking it since though, surely! . . . Andy Greg, playing good disco and some jazz-funk (despite earlier saying his crowd shun it) around Loughton, infos the local Discocity shop at 27 The Broadway stocks current Imports . . . ‘Paul’ Davison (Sawston Black Bull on funky Fri/Sundays), excited by a recent trip to the North-Eastern US, reports that out-of-the-way Johnson City’s Power & Light disco there has a carpet-covered DJ booth full of luxuries like TV games, CB units, beer freezer and other home comforts — but makes no mention of decks or records (who needs ’em!) . . . DJ doyen of swinging sixties (he taught Lulu how to dance when jocking at the Bag O’Nails for instance), Al ‘Needles’ is now very welcome as floor manager at Mayfair Gullivers, where the doors were actually closed last Friday it got so full . . . Steve Lockwood (Huddersfield) seems proud that the West Yorkshire Assn of DJs chart he compiles has long been headed by the appalling Kelly Marie, while Glenn Ross (South Normanton Storthfield Country Club) says he’s often asked for it as ‘My Heart Beats Like A Drum’, and Russell ‘Arbie’ Burtonshaw (Retford MAYC) says let’s hope It sinks without trace — no such luck I fear . . . Larry Foster (Ilford Room At The Top) has been giving the Wallys some fun with Tom Jones ‘It’s Not Unusual’ and Bud Flanagan ‘Who Do You Think You’re Kidding Mr Hitler’ – goodies both, I agree . . . Chic ‘Le Freak’ must be a contender for the modern equivalent of ‘Simon Says’ or ‘Sugar Sugar’ surely, to judge from recent gigs where upper class sprigs do depressingly like real “disco” disco still . . . Rolling Stones would have been at 50 and only the next three DORC hits in the Disco 90 had they been included . . . Alan Jewell (Finchley Road Les Elites) slavishly copies all this page’s BPMs (plus he does his own) into a cross-indexed notebook so that he’s ever ready for gigs when not using his own records . . . I just memorize ’em! . . . Anthony Nutting (Stafford), not a DJ, thinks it’s a pity I stopped listing record timings as well — frankly everything else takes too long to do, and timings only cluttered the reviews even further . . . Hiroshi Fukumura needs careful enunciation — you WHAT your mother? . . . MU strike being over and TOTP due back, doubtless consistently selling soul music will get swamped again by TV-generated higher pop sales, ending much of our recent mini disco boom . . . KEEP THE FAITH, right on now!


UK NEWIES

LEVEL 42: ‘Love Meeting Love’ (Polydor POSPX 170).
Throbbing synth undertow and jazzy piano with derivative languid vocal on lovely UK-recorded flowing 100-99-101-102bpm 12in jogger, originally on Elite, mixes well With Ramsey Lewis ‘Hell On Wheels’, the longer 101-100-101-102-103-102bpm ‘Instrumental Love‘ B-side version being led by Gato Barbieri-style sax.

SUN: ‘Space Ranger (Majic’s In The Air)’ (Capitol 12CL 16157).
Jauntily bubbling smoothly harmonised 125bpm soul canterer with splurging synth effects and classily constrained instrumentation reminiscent of a less raucous GQ, on extremely pleasant 3-track 12in with the gently jittery 113bpm ‘Hot Spot‘ jogger and more angular steadily jolting 113bpm ‘Quest‘ instrumental, none of which really raise a sweat.

DENNIS BROWN, SLY & ROBBIE: ‘Sitting And Watching’ (Taxi TAXI 100).
Jamaica-pressed amazingly effective dead simple 81bpm 12in reggae roller with great wailing harmonised humming and a beat that’s somehow just right for getting lost in — hard to explain, but It’s a grabber! Tom Holland’s been turning everyone on to it, so see if you can find one too.  Continue reading “August 9, 1980: NY Disco ’80 report, “Keep It Funky”, Level 42, Sun, Mtume, Rhyze”

US singles reviews, 1969 to 1974

While we await new transcripts of the 1980 disco pages and charts, some of James’s earlier U.S. singles review columns for Record Mirror are being added to this blog, as a limited selection has recently come to light. Links to these columns will be added to this post, as they are published.

March 15, 1969: Dionne Warwick, Tyrone Davis, Stevie Wonder, The Rascals, Richie Stevens etc.

March 22, 1969: David Ruffin, Tommy Roe, Mama Cass, Sarah Vaughan & Billy Eckstine, Judy Collins etc.

April 26, 1969: Booker T. & The M.G.s, The Ronettes, Glen Campbell, 5th Dimension, Crazy Elephant etc.

May 3, 1969: Canned Heat, Vikki Carr, Marv Johnson, Billy Butler, Gene Chandler & Barbara Acklin etc.

August 2, 1980: Surface Noise, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Locksmith, Ramsey Lewis, Rick James

Editor’s note: as we have now caught up with our backlog of transcribed columns, future updates to this blog will be somewhat less frequent. 

Odds ‘N Bods

Polydor picked up Shakatak (evidently the correct spelling) and Level 42 for imminent release . . . Surface Noise acetates reached an influential few last weekend, the surprise Tom Browne-starring slow ‘Love Groove’ flip generating most interest . . . Queen ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ (possibly the next single now) astounded everyone at Gullivers, mixing powerfully between Raydio and Gap Band, and Tom Browne and ‘Bounce Rock Skate Roll’ – it’s really that funky! . . . Randy Crawford’s next will be ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’ / ‘Blue Flame’ . . . Erskine T wants to assemble a strong rock-orientated DJ mailing list, so well-established rock jocks send your full details to Erskine Thompson, Arista/Ariola, 49 Upper Brook Street London W1Y 2BT . . . Denis McCarthy of Southall won the £100 first prize at Erith 2001’s recent dance contest . . . Nikki Peck guests on David Brown’s BBC Radio Medway disco show this Friday (1) at 7pm . . . Loz Becket (Swinton) of Radio Barnsley says it’s Britain’s longest running hospital broadcasting service (over 22 years), while Jamie Crampton (Bushey) of Watford Hospital’s Broadcasting Service wants to play the patients our Disco Top 20 and wonders if he’ll get on company mailing lists if he does – highly unlikely, I should think! . . . Gary Allan reports lots of visitors at Liverpool McMillians just to see the gnome . . . Steve Dee writes from Gran Canaria (somewhere in the Atlantic) to say, “so far so good, nothing has caught fire . . .” . . . er, Steve, isn’t it volcanic? . . . Kelly jazz-funks Brighton Sherrys every Wednesday, other nights he’s more generally disco-orientated with oldies Thursdays, pop chart-toppers Fridays and midnite Motown medley Saturdays, weekends being “party” time . . . Dennis Lilley’s Jupiter disco spins mainly RM disco chart material at Kilmarnock’s Garrick Court Hotel Thurs-thru-Sundays . . . Paul Armor, who approves highly of my “Hit Numbers” feature, jocks Thurs/Saturdays at Bowness Bay’s Aquarius with picture window views of Lake Windermere and invites all visitors to come up and say “hi!” – so it’s a pity he won’t be there this Monday as, after the big Whitehaven Whitehouse alldayer (see Sunday details in Disco Dates), “JR” Priestman is giving the Hill-Hamilton-Young party a picnic on his Windermere yacht! . . . Alan Hughes (Worcester) reckons that, after EMI’s Mystic Merlin hit, the redundant Gof Abbey must be feeling pretty bitter – more likely he’s been hitting the bitter (or something), to judge from his performance outside Gullivers following an EMI ex-staffers’ party last week! . . . Kev Hill recommends Brentwood’s Bulls Wine Bar in Kings Road as yet another of that growing breed who play good jazz tapes . . . New York notes now: ‘The Blues Brothers’ movie should wow new mods and old soul fans here, its amazingly lavish comedy-cum-chase plot paying affectionate tribute to mainly ‘60s soul music with James Brown as a holy-rolling preacher in front of the Chaka Khan-led James Cleveland choir, Aretha Franklin singing ‘Think’ at Matt Guitar Murphy while John Lee Hooker and other Chicago blues greats play outside in the street, Ray Charles backing a display of ‘60s dance crazes, Cab Calloway reprising his ‘30s “hi-de-ho” heyday, MGs Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn as band members (the band even dress like Dexy’s/Madness), while Twiggy and even ‘Close Encounters’ director Steven Spielberg get small roles in this ‘Animal House’ follow-up! . . . Chris Hill joins me in raving about the hilarious ‘Airplane’ which sends up all those ‘Airport’ films, plus I saw Stanley Kubrick’s horrific ‘The Shining’, while Broadway shows I caught were Mickey Rooney & Ann Miller in ‘Sugar Babies’, ‘A Day In Hollywood/A Night In The Ukraine’, and a spectacularly staged if simplistic show at legendary Radio City Music Hall . . . Brass Construction’s Mickey Grudge & Joe Wong bought me a late-nite pizza, Randy Muller threatened to name a forthcoming tune after me, and Cameron seemed like a nice kid . . . Channel J on New York’s cable TV at 11:30pm every Tues/Wed/Thursday is taken over by Ugly George who videos big breasted ladies after first accosting them in the street and persuading them to strip, after which Robyn Bird’s ‘Hot Legs’ features porno movies and a live sex phone-in! . . . Grace Jones seemed to be everywhere, all the time, but then New York DJs love her . . . Brooklyn’s Ozone Layer disco runs a bus trip out to a country club this Sunday for sports, silly games and dancing – the US equivalent of an alldayer or weekender? . . . Martin Platts (Blackburn) should note I was on my (jolly spiffing) hols and didn’t attend the actual disco forum at all (from all accounts it was even worse than usual), although as ever the lobby and Roseland entertainment were ideal meeting places and the event a useful reason for everyone being there . . . Billboard’s next disco forum, one a year from now on, is set for New York in March – and I’ll probably be there! . . . US DJs are clamouring for the UK 12in remix of Prince ‘Sexy Dancer’ . . . King Pleasure ‘Moody’s Mood For Love’ (now done by George Benson) remains one of New York’s perennial anthems on hipper radio stations . . . WBLS Radio’s Saturday night uninterrupted mixing session was a bit zingy but for a superb synch between Denise LaSalle ‘Try My Love’ and Teena Marie ‘Behind The Groove’ . . . KEEP IT FUNKY!



UK Newies

SURFACE NOISE: ‘Dancin’ On A Wire’ (Groove Production GP 102T)
Officially due next week but Soho’s Groove will have copies on Friday (01-439 8231), this frantically flying 129bpm 12in leaper with wheezling synth, Hi-Tension-ish chanting, beefy sax and rattling percussion break seems far too fast until you realise it’s the all-happening polyrhythmic excitement giving this effect and in fact it’s on a par with George Duke in tempo. The superb heavily bashing slow 39bpm instrumental ‘Love Groove’ jazz jogger flip is seared on sax by Mel Collins and joined halfway by Tom Browne’s equally hot horn.

GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS: ‘Taste Of Bitter Love’ (CBS 13-6890) (BNDA debut 6/14/80)
Unexpectedly rushed out on the heels of their belated ‘Landlord’ 12in, this sensational catchy Roberta & Donny-type jiggly jogging 109-110-109bpm 12in smacker is gonna be a smash! In fact nearly everything on UK release this week is exceptionally strong.

LOCKSMITH: ‘Unlock The Funk’ (Arista ARIST 12364) (BNDA debut 9/6/80)
Bass-heavy monotonously driving 115-116-117bpm funk chugger mixes well with ‘Cameosis’, but the 3-track 12in flip’s snappier 114bpm ‘Far Beyond’ is far more infectious with a great Chinese-style gibberish “get the hung lung tung sung child up” chant and more variety in its brightly funky beat (which mixes sensationally out of ‘I Shoulda Loved Ya’ and into ‘On The One’, while the frantically racing 138-139bpm ‘Backjack’ burbler has all the jazz jocks on it.  Continue reading “August 2, 1980: Surface Noise, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Locksmith, Ramsey Lewis, Rick James”

July 26, 1980: George Benson, Queen, Jean Carn, Hiroshi Fukumura, Loleatta Holloway

Odds ‘N Bods

Morgan Khan is the “brat from PRAT” no more, the atmosphere of the Pye/RCA RATCRAP merger making it a logical step for him to resign last week (amidst an evident outcry from PRAT’s R&B licensors), but unlike others in this currently troubled time he has some sensational plans (really) which should result in a giant leap for black music before very long when all can be revealed – although it’s safe to say now that his enthusiastic devotion to hard work will be earning respect rather than resentment in the future . . . Surface Noise’s new ‘Dancin’ On A Wire’ was not in fact completed by last weekend so the anticipated acetates obviously didn’t appear then . . . Al Jarreau ‘Distracted’ turns out to be on full UK 12in . . . Fatback ‘Backstrokin’ is due on UK 12in this week . . . Stacy Lattisaw’s next will be ‘Dynamite’ early next month . . . Teena Marie’s I’m A Sucker’ remix is only the flip of her 12in, the 7in being ‘Aladdin’s Lamp’ . . . MCA’s current 12in releases presumably do exist as I haven’t actually seen ‘em myself yet (Ray Still please note) . . . Aurra ‘When I Come Home’ has had a killer bass-heavy remix by Larry Levan (US Dream DG 705), and Community People ‘Education Wrap’ has re-emerged in basically instrumental form as ‘Education Rock’ (US Delmar Int’l) . . . Camberley Frenchies’ Robin Nash and Paul Wheeler open their club Jacksons in Staines soon, with pure jazz Thurs/Fri/Saturdays and a Sunday Californian ‘Cruising’ oldies format, aimed up-market (but of course!) . . . Steve Dee’s regular Brix residency near High Wycombe was completely destroyed by fire recently, he then went to check a venue he was due to appear at in the autumn and the next day – well, you all know what happened to that, it was Alexandra Palace! – and so now Steve’s sunning in the Canaries and hoping his answering machine (0494 443508) will be full of much needed bookings on his return . . . Chris Britton is touring the East Coast’s disco pubs, clubs and holiday camps with the Pernod Summer Road Show next month, when similarly Stuart Gensian promotes Crocodillo sparkling wine in slightly swankier spots around East Anglia . . . Martin Collins, despite happy funkateers, was ordered to play more commercial music at Ware Beckets and told the management that maybe they needed a commercial DJ instead – still, he had fun filling in for Froggy at the Royalty last Saturday . . . Froggy had fun buying records at New York’s Downstairs Records last Saturday at just about the time Martin was depping for him . . . Nicky “The Zit” McKenzie has a new position under Cuddles Canter – jocking downstairs at Mayfair Gullivers, that is! . . . Tom Browne was evidently good value doing club PA’s here, playing along on his horn . . . New York’s black disco-goers were a disappointment as they seem to have forgotten what good music is although they greeted Raydio and the Gap Band with excited whoops . . . Chris Hill, now back from his US travels, sent a postcard saying “in four weeks in the US you learn to live without a lot of things, but I’ve got a real Jones for your RM page – WHATZ HAPPENIN’? I saw the June 28 copy and I know it by heart!!”



UK Newies

GEORGE BENSON: ‘Give Me The Night’ (Warner Bros. LV40) (BNDA debut 7/12/80)
Smash-bound 110bpm monster like a slower ‘Stomp’ now on 3-track 12in with the old lovely stop-start 0-115-113-0-116-119-0-119(first vocal)-0-120-119-0-120-123-0bpm treatment of War’s spurting ‘The World Is A Ghetto’ with George scatting over his guitar, and the gorgeous prettily jogging delicate 82-81bpm ‘Breezin’’ instrumental guitar picker.

QUEEN: ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ (from LP ‘The Game’, EMI EMA 795) (BNDA debut 8/9/80)
New York’s hottest disco newie last week thanks to a US Elektra 12in promo circulated to key jocks, this you may misguidedly dismiss as DOR until hearing that amazingly it’s a bass-heavy ‘Good Times’-structured, 110bpm funk bumper compatible with many current disco hits – I kept hearing it played very loud and mixed with Raydio ‘For Those Who Like To Groove’, for instance! Check it.

JEAN CARN: ‘Was That All It Was’ (Philadelphia Int’l PIR 13-8840) (BNDA debut 12/22/79)
Loosely structured somewhat doodling yet tension-filled languidly smacking superb subtly building strangulated 114-116bpm 12in wailer speeds up only towards the end and, while passionately loved by its fans, never got as big on import as it deserved to be.  Continue reading “July 26, 1980: George Benson, Queen, Jean Carn, Hiroshi Fukumura, Loleatta Holloway”

July 19, 1980: George Benson, Jermaine Jackson, Baby ‘O, Teena Marie, Narada Michael Walden

Odds ‘N Bods

Surface Noise’s next will be ‘Dancin’ On A Wire’ – expect acetate promo reaction by the weekend! . . . PRAT are rushing Flakes ‘Sugar Frosted Lover’ . . . Locksmith’s UK 12in due imminently is ‘Unlock The Funk’ / ‘Far Beyond’ / ‘Blackjack’ – whew! . . . Johnny Hammond’s 1975 cut ‘Los Conquistadores Chocolates’ off the deleted US Milestone ‘Gears’ LP runs 0-120-122-124-126bpm and is grabbing jazz jocks . . . CBS’s Loraine Trent (who’s bet Ilford Room At The Top’s Terry Hooper £5 that the Manhattans go Top 50 pop) says DJ association secretaries requiring the fortnightly CBS New Releases info sheet should call her on 01-734 8161 . . . US Philadelphia International have reactivated their TSOP label, transferring to it the O’Jays, McFadden & Whitehead, Jean Carn, MFSB and adding the Stylistics . . . Graham Dene dropped out to go to Nice instead, while Morgan Khan & Dave McAleer stayed behind to bite their nails during the RATCRAP merger, leaving Froggy, his roadie Owen, Mike Childs and myself to fly out last Sunday on Air India to New York . . . Froggy’s so keen to get back into Studio 54 he’s hired grey morning suits complete with toppers to make Owen and himself look suitably “freaky”! . . . Noel Wright (Ware Beckets on Fri/Sat), just returned, says disco isn’t dead in New York but from what they’re playing it might just as well be . . . I’m more interested in Broadway this trip, actually . . . Mass Production & Bobby Thurston plus lotsa jox are the attraction at Skegness National Funk Day on August Bank Holiday Monday . . . Pete Haigh & Frenchie (Caton Scarthwaite on Mondays) take a “funk cruise” on Ullswater on Thursday 31st . . . Colin Day, currently playing a vastly varied range of music at the Royal Bugatti in Luxembourg (which he says is even more of a DJ’s paradise than Switzerland), returns to the Birmingham area for the month of September and wants some funky gigs then (UK agent 0905 423842) . . . Mark Tarna & Martin King both run video-featuring roadshows giving a TOTP effect with cameras on the audience as well as live hit clips, available via Tony Rivers’ Hove-based Spectrum agency (0273 776642) who also book such regular HM names as Wild Walt Brown, Honey Bee Benson, Stuart Hughes and Southern Counties National Roadshow . . . Nikki Peck funks Sittingbourne Marteen’s for over-21s on Thurs/Fridays and under-18s on Tuesdays – presumably it’s tough luck if you’re 19 or 20? . . . Steve Dennis (Edgbaston Faces), disappointed so far by the standard of his Wednesday world hula-hoop championship competitors, will be fronting the Peter Stuyvesant Disco Roadshow touring major cities with a 12-strong dancing troupe named Body Talk . . . Gary Oldis & Dave Weir now share the week at Aycliffe Gretna Green . . . Gary Hirst (Mayfair Samanthas) gave regular club visitor Marvin Gaye and his band each a flashing “disco visor” and got tickets in return for Marvin’s Venue show – where they all wore the visors on stage . . . JJ Jackson of ‘60s ‘But It’s Alright’ fame is recording again with some of Marvin’s band backing him . . . CJ Carlos (Soho Hombre De Bahia) was asked if he’d sell his Odyssey LP there and then by yet another bozo foreigner, who handed over 10 quid and then literally went to take the record off while it was still playing! . . . Capital Radio’s Peter Young obviously got the soul bug sitting in for Greg Edwards, as his Saturday night midnight-4am show now follows Mike Allen’s audience-grabbing jazzier forerunner by being extremely funky . . . Mike incidentally says unequivocally that this page is “a fact of life”! . . . Kev Hill (Brentwood) reports that Brick ‘Push Push’ is good for rowing, and he’s noticed a resurgence of what was called “the dog” – perhaps “shirtlifter shuffle” would be better now?! . . . Andy Greg (Loughton), whose punters are very particular about what they dance to and shun jazz-funk or reggae, nevertheless has a game where ten “funkateers” stand in the middle of the floor doing a tricky arm movement to the intro of ‘Oops Up Side Your Head’, the best getting a request played (most popular being Frank Hooker) . . . I’m sorry, I’ll read that again . . . Frenchies celebrated its 3rd anniversary at Camberley Cambridge Hotel last Sunday . . . Cuddles Canter has discovered the first band to play Mayfair Gullivers after he started there in ‘76, the Du Blanc Orchestra/Starfire, included now present members of Shalamar, Lakeside & Dynasty – and they were good then too . . . Cuddles’ companion Nicky McKenzie has an everlasting zit (ouch, that hurt Nicky!) . . . Paul “Wiggy” Wiall (Liverpool Oscars) wants the world to know that Merseyside jocks don’t necessarily play Liquid Gold, Nolans or even Kelly Marie (ugh!) . . . Russell “Arbie” Burtonshaw (Retford MAYC) says as surely Liquid Gold is disco for most it should therefore at least be allowed into the Disco 90: well, if it had been included it would have peaked last week at 43 and now ties at 56 – so surely its DORC position better reflects its true stature? . . . Billboard’s Disco Top 100 now features a lot of new wave/DOR titles at the bottom end – of the nineteen last week none got higher than 40 (the Clash ‘London Calling’) and most being below 70, this latter being where our DORC entries would figure if incorporated into the UK Disco 90, so isn’t it still better to separate ‘em out? . . . Theo Loyla should note that as a 12 year veteran of mobile gigs I don’t need his advice, the sad fact being that today’s pop hits have a narrower appeal than say five or more years ago, making MoR mobiles less easy to do using current records (hence the occasional change of “rock” to “rubbish” in DOAC!) . . . Britain interestingly seems to be returning to the once dated-seeming though still popular in the US heavy funk soul sound, what with Tom Browne, Cameo, BT Express and Gap Band being so big here . . . 2-Tone’s decline and the lack of TOTP has reaffirmed the steady sales power of black music, making the chart funkier than when disco was “alive”! . . . UK record companies are such sheep, slavishly following every trend – be it disco, mod, heavy metal; right now they’re all into sacking people . . . Nick Bardeil (Buckdefl) says, yes, he does write a good paraphrase! . . . Gullivers had its best night ever with record entry and takings last Friday – who said disco was dead? . . . KEEP IT FUNKY!



UK Newies

It’s been an “excruciatingly dull” week for imports, to quote Groove’s Chris Palmer, with nothing new worthy of review, but meanwhile back in Britain . . .

GEORGE BENSON: ‘Give Me The Night’ LP (Warner Bros. K56823) (‘Give Me The Night’ BNDA debut 7/12/80)
Quincy Jones-produced sensational set, largely penned by Rod Temperton and featuring Lee Ritenour on second guitar, the monster 110bpm title track (like a slower ‘Stomp!’) being due on 12in next week, others being the subduedly angry 124bpm ‘Off Broadway’ instrumental skipper, lushly jogging 114/57bpm ‘Love X Love’, scatting 118bpm ‘Dinorah Dinorah’ instrumental, lovely 30/60bpm smooching of King Pleasure’s classic ‘Moody’s Mood’, AWB-ish 51/103bpm ‘What’s On Your Mind’ slowie, swaying 39/79bpm ‘Midnight Love Affair, and a brace of atmospheric old Heatwave smoochers, the 0-22-44-bpm ‘Star Of A Story (X)’ and 37bpm ‘Turn Out The Lamplight’.

JERMAINE JACKSON: ‘Burnin’ Hot’ (Motown 12TMG 1194) (BNDA debut 4/5/80)
Simpler than ‘Serious’, this powerfully smacking 119bpm 12in smash has as you surely know been huge on LP for months.

BABY ’O: ‘In The Forest’ (Calibre CABL 505) (BNDA debut 4/26/80)
Thunderously rattling and jumping 126bpm 12in Latin party leaper is already huge on import and should be another Odyssey as it’s well established especially with MoR and Wally crowds.  Continue reading “July 19, 1980: George Benson, Jermaine Jackson, Baby ‘O, Teena Marie, Narada Michael Walden”