James Hamilton’s first column: June 28, 1975

Gee, but it’s great to be back home! Has it really been ten months?

Welcome, anyway, to this, the first of a regular weekly page devoted to fax & info for regular disco DJs, dancers and super sharp record freaks in general.

Just to give it all some credibility, I’d better explain where I’m coming from. I’ve been a discotheque DJ myself for over 13 years, having started out as a club jock in London and New York. During the mid-60s my main interest was soul music – and, in fact, when I was doing the weekend allniters at Soho’s The Scene in ‘65/’66 I played nothing but Northern Soul . . . on its first time around!

When I went mobile in 1968 I soon saw that an all-soul policy was too restricting, and also that as most other mobile discotheques were aimed at the kids it would make sense if I set out to win over an older age group. Older audiences, incidentally, are usually richer and more appreciative of the trouble you take. Consequently I now tend to play to very mixed age groups, for which I carry a vast range of music. There are even occasions when I don’t play a single current chart record – mainly because modern music really does sound so dull in comparison with the sort of crazy “party” music I’ve made my specialty.

This is an aspect of disco dee-jaying that I hope this page, with your participation, will bring out into the open. There are – or ought to be – huge differences of approach to dee-jaying in a club and on a mobile date. In a club you know that the audience has paid to be entertained by the musical specialty of that club, whereas at most private parties the audience is totally uncommitted. Thus in a club it would be suicide but at a mixed age probably a sensation if you managed to work in a knees-up or Scottish reel, for instance.

Let’s hear from you, the dee-jays, about some of the more lunatic records that you to liven up your presentation. Every week we’ll run a hot tip with a suggestion about record sequences or other tricks that work for you. To kick it off, try this!

When you’ve misjudged and the disc you’re playing isn’t going over well, turn it to your advantage. Don’t just fade the record out: switch off the deck and let the disc grind to a halt as you start the next one. You’ll get a laugh!

Together with the first weekly Disco Page, here is the Record Mirror’s very first National Disco Chart, compiled from the returns of all the disco dee-jays who recently registered as contributors to it.

It was obvious from the very first glance at all the completed chart forms that Van McCoy’s ‘The Hustle’ would come out on top . . . but then that could have been predicted anyway, right? What is really interesting is that amongst all the more usual current chart names, some of the contributing DJs have placed really quite obscure or unlikely records. All the submitted charts make interesting reading, so let’s see what some of the less likely records are.

Dougall DJ of Twechar, Kilsyth in Scotland earns my respect for including Pete Wingfield’s great doo-wop cum sweet soul parody, ‘Eighteen With A Bullet’ (Island WIP 6231), which if it isn’t a hit here will certainly be one in America, where the music trade jargon will mean more to the radio-listening public. Dougall DJ also includes A Raincoat’s ‘I Love You For Your Mind Not Your Body’ (EMI 2289), which is almost as witty although in a totally different musical style, this being kinda Roxy/Sparks/Harley-type staccato and modern . . . and good.

Pete Brown of Seasons Discotheque from Wembley, Middlesex, is right on the spot in my estimation – he’s got ‘El Bimbo’ at number one already (as an import)! As he’s evidently well into the soul sound – listing such as the Brothers, Joe Bataan, Earth, Wind & Fire and Miami – I wonder if he realised at the time that Bimbo Jet are Spanish?  Continue reading “James Hamilton’s first column: June 28, 1975”