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”

July 12, 1980: One Way ft Al Hudson, Shakatak, Level 42, William De Vaughn, Dynasty

Odds ‘N Bods

Surface Noise’s Chris Palmer of Soho Greek Street’s Groove record shop is now compiling Radio Luxembourg’s import chart show (Fridays 9-11pm), which should give it more credibility . . . EMI’s disco dept (ie Gof Abbey) and lots more personnel have been made redundant from the end of the month, and Motown will move back to EMI’s Manchester Square offices . . . Jermaine Jackson ‘Burnin’ Hot’ is due on 12in this week . . . George Benson’s 12in LV B-side will be ‘The World Is A Ghetto’ / ‘Breezin’’ – is that hot or is that hot?! . . . Herb Alpert ‘Beyond’ on 12in evidently should indeed be printed 33 1/3rpm, making it 126-127-126bpm after all, though I think the B-side is at 45rpm . . . Isaac Hayes ‘I Ain’t Never’ is due again with original flip on UK 12in but now in its US promo extended 125-126-125(“go head”)-127bpm 10:26 remix . . . Narada Michael Walden ‘I Don’t Want Nobody Else’ / ‘You’re Soo Good’, Mass Production ‘Cosmic Lust’ / ‘Gonna Make You Love Me’, Sun ‘Space Ranger’ / ‘Hot Spot’ / ‘Quest’ will be on UK 12in ere long . . . Sadao Watanabe featuring Dave Grusin & Eric Gale is the latest Japanese digital recording to create a stir on JVC’s Flying Disk label . . . Herbie Hancock’s US 12in of ‘Go For It’ (US Columbia 43-11310) has a much extended ‘Stars In Your Eyes’ as flip . . . Ariola’s Erskine T has reserviced Delegation ‘Put A Little Love On Me’ from last Xmas, while EMI jocks have had a US Capitol promo 12in of Helen Reddy ‘Take What You Find’, a cool chugging 111bpm DOR thudder like Blondie singing current Cliff Richard . . . Motown’s 20th Anniversary is celebrated by the September 5th release of a special box set (which you’d better order now as it’s for immediate deletion) containing 20 double-sided Top 40 hit singles (40 titles), a badge plus the hitherto unreleased Marvelettes ‘Finders Keepers Losers Weepers’ (is that the Nella Dodds song?) c/w Kim Weston ‘Do Like I Do’ . . . PEEL’s latest sponsor-disc development is a flimsy 7in radio commercial advertising a cinema programme – but surely DJs would find it even more useful without backing music so that they could run the message over an instrumental break of their own? . . . Capital Radio’s Graham Dene and his producer Mike Childs are now travelling with me to New York on Sunday (I’m going more for fun than the forum, if Blackburn’s Martin Platts doesn’t object) – and did you catch the hysterical tape on Capital that put Graham and a stumbling lady phone-in contestant to the backing of ‘Je T’Aime’ with amazingly pornographic results?! . . . Alan Jewell (Finchley Road Les Elites) would have come to New York but will lose his day job if he does – oddly enough at Elite Motors (no relation) . . . Tony Jenkins (Mayfair Playboy) will be auditioning DJs for a new central London club, apply to him at 55 Greenacres Avenue, Ickenham, Uxbridge, Middlesex . . . Richard Lofthouse, 8 years a DJ at such Newcastle-upon-Tyne clubs as Julies, Playground & Grobs, is going mobile again with his jazz-funk Lofty’s Roadshow (Newcastle 681913/775401) . . . Kev James of au-pair fame is mobile on Wednesdays (such a busy night of the week) through PSD agency (01-267 7534), and says that as Mondays at Golders Green Great Expectations will soon be a Doctors & Nurses night (for real), he’ll give free tickets to any genuine nurses (and au-pairs) who can supply proof with an SAE at the 911 Finchley Road club . . . Iain Goodkind at Hendon’s Groove Line record shop now does Wed/Fri/Saturdays at Finchley Road’s redecorated Purple Pussycat (in Lithos Road), and reports Chic’s latest is a real floor-clearer . . . Kelly returns to jazz-funk Wigan Pier next Tuesday, flying up from Brighton Sherrys, his Mon-Saturday residency now which is getting a massive refit by Bacchus . . . John DeSade seems to be at Gravesend Wings every Thurs/Friday and Sheerness Woodys on Tuesdays . . . Northern club-owning Pete Stringfellow’s new plush Stringfellows next to Peppermint Park in St Martins Lane evidently has a jacket & tie policy, which may prove too provincial for the type of smart fashion-conscious Londoners it might otherwise attract . . . Wild Walt Brown (Surbiton) of the zany DJ style can be seen in the odd High Street on the back of a Ford Ranchero playing hillbilly music and extolling the virtues of Kentucky Fried Chicken, much to people’s amazement! . . . Sean “Slimline” French celebrated his birthday at the Royalty last Saturday, then with Tom “No Buns Please” Holland and Martin Collins (who’s skinny anyway) came to Gullivers to see James “Thin Man” Hamilton and Fatman Graham “Call Me Cuddles” Canter (who let the side down rather) . . . Jo Field, now helping on Glen Olds’ import stall in Hemel Hempstead and Hatfield markets, warns Sean French that eggs on toast are fattening!



UK Newies

ONE WAY FEATURING AL HUDSON: ‘Pop It’ (MCA MCAT 619) (‘Do Your Thang’ BNDA debut 6/28/80)
Skippable freaky phone ringing intro to a great sparsely smacking perky 113-114bpm heavy bass thumper that works well out of Tom Browne and ‘Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll’ before mixing on perfectly into Denise LaSalle ‘I’m So Hot’, amazingly on 3-track 12in flipped by the previously 7-inched but now full 115-114-115-116bpm ‘Do Your Thang’ and 110-112-114bpm ‘Copy This’ – the import album’s three hottest tracks!

SHAKATAK: ‘Steppin’’ (enquiries to Les McCutcheon, 0602-410055)
On unidentified moody white label and well worth finding, this lovely lazily swaying classy instrumental 99bpm 12in jazz piano jogger obviously has ‘The Groove’ in mind as though much slower it unnecessarily keeps stopping almost too often for comfort. Similar quality jazz (nothing amateur about these) are the flip’s two tracks, the skipping 131-130bpm ‘Killing Time’ and atmospheric dead slow 31bpm ‘Lumiere’. Are they British or American?

LEVEL 42: ‘Love Meeting Love’ (Elite DAZZ 5)
UK-recorded musically ambitious if naggingly derivative mellow flowing and swaying 99-95-100-101bpm 12in vocal jogger with bubbling synth ‘Rise’-like beat at times and jazzy piano intensity building from the break, sax taking the lead on the flip’s longer 100-99-100-101-102-101bpm instrumental love version – the whole effect being rather Lonnie Liston Smith meets Gato Barbieri. Early crackly pressings are being recut so there aren’t many copies about yet.  Continue reading “July 12, 1980: One Way ft Al Hudson, Shakatak, Level 42, William De Vaughn, Dynasty”

July 5, 1980: George Duke, Gladys Knight & The Pips, B.T. Express, Locksmith, Rick James

Odds ‘N Bods

George Benson ‘Give Me The Night’ will be on 12in LV here (the year’s last LV, says WEA’s Fred Dove somewhat cryptically) . . . Gayle Adams ‘Stretch’ In Out / ‘Plain Out Of Luck’ is on UK 12in next week, followed later in the month by Rhyze, Jean Carn . . . Diana Ross ‘Upside Down’ will be remixed for UK 12in (but will it be the original Chic mix?) . . . Stanley Clarke’s UK 12in in a fortnight features ‘We Supply’ / ‘More Hot Fun’ / ‘Together Again’ . . . Ben E King ‘You’ve Only Got One Chance To Be Young’ official A-side, which noticeably nobody is playing, is being re-pressed with a brighter new cut . . . Rokel’s next hit after Bunny Mack should be Jimmy Senyah ‘Weakness For Your Sweetness’, a great mid-teens BPM scatting jazzy chugger with Edwin Starr-arranged brass, due in three weeks . . . Rick Clarke ‘Potion’ is the latest UK-recorded moody white label 12in, and possibly the worst to date – some people will play anything! . . . RCA’s merger with PRAT makes for interesting possibilities – somehow the “brat from RATCRAP” has a better ring than “CARPART”! . . . Liverpool would seem to have an import stockist at last, Eric Hearn reporting that all the records he plays at the Timepiece and Cagneys being available from Rumbelows in Whitechapel . . . Paul Clark (Brighton Mr K’s every Thursday – where T-shirts but no jeans are allowed) says Brighton’s HMV store has ‘Live At The Roxy’ for £2.60 . . . Catford & Lewisham’s Chequers record shops are distributing a South London/North Kent-orientated ‘Disco News’ broadsheet put together by Steve Cane (Catford Governor General on Fridays), Robert Sawyer (Beckenham Tites/Bromley Road Squire) & King Enri (Lewisham/various) . . . Billboard’s latest Disco Forum VIII is at New York’s Sheraton Centre Hotel from Monday 14 to Thursday 17th July, the depleted British contingent so far as I can tell being Froggy, Morgan Khan, Leeds Warehouse owner Mike Wiand and most probably myself – yes, it IS worth going over for, for the fun and not the forum itself (why else would I keep going?) . . . I’m not sure I’ll go to any New York discos with Morgan Khan though! . . . Norman Scott says London’s Charing Cross Road Sundown is finally getting a full US-style lighting set-up costing £30,000, a motorised full-size cinema screen already being in place . . . Chris Duke returns next month from Germany, where he founded the British Forces DJ Assn (he’ll start a British branch here), and is looking for suitable potential club premises in the Peterborough area and would also like to hear from East Midlands jocks – so, Steve Allen and others, write to him c/o Armoury flight, RAF Gutersloh, BFPO 47 . . . Chris also nicknamed his top six DJs in Germany “the NAAFIA”! . . . Leeds-based black group Clique were rather good at Gullivers last week, with an interesting mixture of 2-Tone-type twinned saxes, Hi-Tension rhythm, reggae numbers, excellent extrovert showmanship and the best amplified sound I’ve heard in that club – but their own material could be stronger . . . Stephanie Mills married Shalamar’s Jeffrey Daniels recently, with gospel’s James Cleveland officiating . . . I hope all soul fans with a sense of history saw last Thurday’s superb BBC2 film about veteran tapdancers Bunny Briggs, Howard “Sandman” Sims and – especially Chuck Green (of legendary Chuck & Chuckles), shot at Harlem’s Smalls Paradise and outside the Apollo (my old stamping grounds in ‘64), it was literally nostalgia on legs! . . . Colchester Embassy Suite has a jazz-funk weekender next Sat/Sunday (12/13) with John Douglas, Gary Soul, Chris Tyler, Andy Starr, Bob Jones plus Sean French (Sat) & Chris Brown (Sun), tickets £2 per day or £3.50 for both . . . Alan Donald does Rothesay Paddle Boat every weekend, and amazingly reports that Donna Summer is not in his chart! . . . Mike Allin, now jazz-funking Hemel Hempstead Scamps on Fri/Saturdays, says Mario Viola does a great Eddie Waring – this is true! . . . Kev Hill (Brentwood 0277 221309/0268 703625) wants more jazz-funk work, especially in clubs . . . Rudy “Rapper” Gilpin is now mixing at Chelsea Click (ex-Country Cousins) . . . Edgbaston Faces gives free entry before 10pm to anyone wearing a Faces Funky Profile badge, which must be good business . . . Ian Hay and twenty dancers had a sponsored 25 hour marathon disco in aid of handicapped children at Cleethorpes Clouds last weekend . . . Mark Clark & Tony Barton’s Back Chat roadshow did Playboy chief Victor Lownes’ marathon party last Sunday . . . Paul Gough funks Hartlepool Gemini and due to pressure of work has actually given up his day job – he’d like to thank record companies who have helped, and also says Prince Philip Mitchell’s old ‘I’m So Happy’ (US Atlantic LP) is el monstro . . . Gary Allan now calls Liverpool McMillans the “home of the gnomes” following his appeal for people to take their garden gnomes out for the night . . . Andy Greg and the Loughton locals in Essex think Liquid Gold are great . . . Kev Rousell (Margate Sounds Sensational mobile) finds that early Boney M and Village People hits are still his saviour when confronted with a totally non-funky crowd who don’t even dance to Top 40 hits . . . I‘ve somehow managed to avoid playing anything by Boney M except for the instrumental intro to the ‘Rasputin’ 12in! I actually did a party for A&M’s foreign executives last week, which didn’t take off until I hit a ‘60s soul groove – though Jerry Moss (the M of A&M) dug the doo-wops having started by promoting the Crests’ ‘16 Candles’! – anyway, one disco segue worked well with the Wallys: Chic ‘Le Freak’ into Donna Summer ‘Bad Girls’, synching outro into Lipps Inc. ‘Funkytown’, second break into Baby ‘O ‘In The Forest’ into Odyssey ‘Use It Or Lose It’, chopping into (surprisingly) Lonnie Liston Smith ‘Give Peace A Chance’ . . . Alan Jewel (Finchley Road Les Elites) mixes Odyssey out of Philly Cream ‘No Time Like Now’ . . . Frenchie sez to look out for Bishop’s Head Ensemble ‘Samba Of The Semen’, big in the North-West . . . Fatman Graham Canter (Mayfair Gullivers), drooling over the Dells’ forthcoming ‘I Touched A Dream’ smoocher (US 20th Century), says “all my ladies prefer me fat and cuddly” – however he seems envious of my lean meat and water diet’s rapid result . . . Nick Bardell (Buckden) writes a good paraphrase doesn’t he? . . . Millie Jackson’s ‘Not On Your Life’ ends with a nice line to startle people with as a stab – try it and see! . . . KEEP IT FUNKY, STAY SLIM!


UK Newies

GEORGE DUKE: ‘Brazilian Love Affair’ (Epic EPC 13-8751)
Monster left-field jazz-funk smash in the Azymuth tradition, this rattling and tapping Brazilian bounder builds on slightly slower 12in through 61/123-125-126bpm to a terrific exciting 127-131bpm bass, percussion and piano last half.

GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS: ‘Taste Of Bitter Love’ (from LP ‘About Love’, CBS 84178) (BNDA debut 6/14/80)
Absolute killer of a credibility-restoring 108-110-108bpm pent-up jogging smacker in the Roberta & Donny style has been huge for mafiosi and will eventually be on remixed 12in – but get this now!

B.T. EXPRESS: ‘Give Up The Funk (Let’s Dance)’ (Calibre 503) (BNDA debut 4/19/80)
4-track 12in containing two songs in different versions, this great funkily burbling chugger in a slightly fast 116bpm “original” and much slower 112(intro)-113bpm longer “remix”, the jauntily pushing variety-filled ‘Does It Feel Good’ staying at 117bpm for both editions.  Continue reading “July 5, 1980: George Duke, Gladys Knight & The Pips, B.T. Express, Locksmith, Rick James”