James Hamilton’s first Disco column: June 28, 1975

Hello again

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!

From obscure to unlikely

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? 

Four Bimbos bounce in

The summertime smash of ’75 – that’s ‘El Bimbo’ by Bimbo Jet (Columbia OC006 12957).

Already a multi-million seller all over the Continent, and still on most European charts, this catchy wah-wah propelled synthetic instrumental is going to be heard by holidaymakers this year whether they know what it’s called or not.

It’s currently the most inquired-about record on Capital Radio and in discos it’s bigger than ‘The Hustle’ in the States. In fact, until its release here last week, British discos were importing American pressings to play!

As was to be expected, other record companies have been quick to issue their own cover versions – so far also out are treatments by Paul Mauriat (Philips 6009571), Dag & The Moogaloos (Sonet SON 2061) and El Greco (Pye 7N 25686), of which the first two are good in their own rights.

However, the original by Bimbo Jet has to be the hit, and has already had great reaction at my own gigs.

Once it’s established here, you may find that two copies are useful as the flipside Version 2 with Spanish vocal interjections makes a great segue to prolong the groove. Hasta la vista, huh?!

Incidentally, there’s nothing blatantly Spanish about the A-side at all, so don’t expect your usual Continental jollity . . . this is more like Barry White (who’s also big in Europe).

New Spins

Battle of the whistle

RIMSHOTS: ‘7-6-5-4-3-2-1 (Blow Your Whistle)’ (All Platinum 6146304)
There’s a battle looming over this Roger (Cookaway) Cook-penned stomping chanter, in which a gang of girls exhort you to do the obvious. The US hit is by GARY TOMS EMPIRE (Epic EPC 3441), but even with advantage of a 5:08 long disco version B-side its messier arrangement is likely to lose here to the punchier Rimshots, who thump along more cleanly. Also, the Rimshots have been cleverly promoted by Phonogram with cheap plastic whistles sent to all the key dee-jays. Payola lives?

MAJOR LANCE: ‘You’re Everything I Need’ (Pye 7N 45487)
My own fave of the week, Major’s got a great creamily clomping Al Green-type Memphis beat going, thanx no doubt to co-producer Al (MGs) Jackson. This I can’t stop playing – hope it hits you that way too. Instrumental version on flip.

THE MOMENTS: ‘Dolly My Love’ (All Platinum 6146306)
Faster than ‘Girls’, with a fashionably busy rhythm track, this may be less sexy but could give those bare-chested guys an across-the-board ‘Sing Baby Sing’-style hit as they croon and coo a simple lyric over subdued wukka-wuks and solidly thudding happy backbeats. Instrumental version on flip.

BOBBY WOMACK: ‘Check It Out’ (UA UP 35859)
I hate to suggest it, because it’s what he’s all about, but if Bobby’s voice was less raw and authentic this could be the one to put him into the Barry White market. Great buoyantly bouncy rhythm, pretty melody, superb soul singing.

CRYSTAL GRASS: ‘Crystal World’ (Philips 6009633)
Already known to many of you, this Continental import (like ‘El Bimbo’) gathers admirers whenever it’s played. Funky instrumental work with bits of background singing, it’s extra nice in stereo, with Norman Whitfield-inspired effects.

LYN PAUL: ‘It Oughta Sell A Million’ (Polydor 2058602)
The new ‘I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing’ . . . and all MoR jocks know how popular that one used to be. Automatic response at my own gigs, a very useful record.

LYNSEY DE PAUL: ‘Rhythm And Blue Jean Baby’ (Jet 755)
With a bass line not unlike ‘Bend Me Shape Me’ and some sexy stop/starts, Lynsey makes straight happy pop noises that sound fine to me, though Roger (over a million a day) Scott hates it. If I get the chance to try it this weekend I’ll give you a reaction report next time.

THE BIDDU ORCHESTRA: ‘Summer Of ‘42’ (Epic EPC 3318)
That lovely Michel Legrand movie theme started off slow and then speeded up with slurping cymbals and pounding rhythm in the Barry White manner. Biddu’s the ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ producer and knows how to make it sound right, even if maybe a little bit too fast for the old folks. Flipside’s ‘Northern Dancer’ is exactly what it says it is, and should find as many if not more friends.

THE SOUL FOX ORCHESTRA: ‘Thumb A Ride’ / ‘Ain’t No Soul’ (Black Magic BM 106)
Recent recordings with that old Mira/Mirwood churning sound – excellent of their type, both sides will do well up North but deserve to spread South too.

Straight From The States

SUGAR BILLY: ‘Sugar Pie’ (Fast Track FT 2503)
Welcome back to an old feature that checks out hot US singles that are only available in the UK on import at the time of writing. First off, this fast churning beater has much to commend it to dancers up North. Billy’s phrasing is straight out of the past while the wah-wah and whistles are very today, and the frantic mixture’s just fine for everyone. Uh, hey hey!

MICHAEL JACKSON: ‘Just A Little Bit Of You’ (Motown M 1349F)
Produced by Brian Holland, Michael’s back with his hit-making ways on this cleverly arranged medium temp sparkler that clomps along in bright and breezy Motown style. Yeah, it’s the James Carmichael arrangement that does it.

SYLVIA: ‘Pussy Cat’ (Vibration VI 536)
“Miaou” go Sylvia and her gentleman friend, to an appropriately slinky yet clunky rhythm backing, and the breathy pair get to scratchin’ each other’s backs . . . until a dog goes “woof”. Good fun, and the pressing’s OK for once.

LOLA FALANA: ‘There’s A Man Out There Somewhere’ (RCA PB 10267)
The black movie star and ex-Playboy nudie, Lola sounds beefy on her self-penned gritty growler as she thunders on about the man out there who can turn her on. Brassy and good.

LEON HAYWOOD: ‘Come ‘An Get Yourself Some’ (20th Century TC 2191)
The mellow moonlighter gets himself some steel drums and a slightly Staples Singers sound on this chattering rhythm semi-slow meanderer from the R&B Top 30.

UK Disco Top 20 – June 28, 1975

01 Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony – The Hustle – Avco
02 Hamilton Bohannon – Disco Stomp – Brunswick
03 Stylistics – Sing Baby Sing – Avco
04 Tony Camillo’s Bazuka – Dynomite – A&M
05 Disco Tex – I Wanna Dance Wit Choo – Chelsea
06 Blackbyrds – Walking In Rhythm – Fantasy
07 10cc – I’m Not In Love – Mercury
08 Hot Chocolate – Disco Queen – Rak
09 Retta Young – Sending Out An SOS – All Platinum
10 Status Quo – Roll Over Lay Down – Vertigo
11 Kay-Gees – Get Down – Gang
12 Gary Glitter – I’m Back With The Boys – Bell
13 Whatnauts – Soul Walking – All Platinum
14 Gladys Knight – The Way We Were – Buddah
15 Doobie Brothers – Take Me In Your Arms – Warner Bros.
16 Bimbo Jet – El Bimbo – EMI (Import)
17 Kenny – Baby I Love You – Rak
18 Jimmy Castor Bunch – Bertha Butt Boogie – Atlantic
19 Slade – Thanks For The Memory – Polydor
20 Bill Haley & His Comets – Rock Around The Clock – MCA

1 Sister Sledge – Mama Never Told Me – Atlantic
2 Wings – Listen To What The Man Said – Capitol
3 Crystal World – Crystal Grass – Philips

Hamilton’s Disco Top 10
1 Ray Stevens – Misty – Janus
2 Rubettes – Fo-Dee-O-Dee – State
3 Doobie Brothers – Take Me In Your Arms – Warner Bros.
4 Showaddywaddy – Three Steps To Heaven – Bell
5 Barry White – I’ll Do For You Anything You Want Me To – 20th Century
6 Stylistics – Sing Baby Sing – Avco
7 Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony – The Hustle – Avco
8 Disco Tex – I Wanna Dance Wit Choo – Chelsea
9 Status Quo – Roll Over Lay Down – Vertigo
10 Retta Young – Sending Out An SOS – All Platinum

1 Bimbo Jet – El Bimbo – EMI (Import)
2 Lyn Paul – It Oughta Sell A Million – Polydor
3 Elton John – Meal Ticket – DJM
4 Wings – Medicine Jar – Capitol (LP)

3 thoughts on “James Hamilton’s first Disco column: June 28, 1975”

  1. One of those coincidences ‘Dougal DJ’sending his tunes in 20 years before ‘DJ Dougal’ was one of the top names on the Happy Hardcore scene – not that I was ever into that although I had the ‘interesting’ experiences of walking through the happy hardcore rooms on the way somewhere else in the last of the old multiroomed and music styles raves in the mid 90s.


  2. Fantastic! I remember it well, reading this first Disco column in Record Mirror. As a 15 yr old stuck out in the sticks this was one of the lifelines to the music I was becoming increasingly crazy about. Living in a totally white working class community in 1975 there was no other person I knew who was into the same music/bands & singers. I felt like a total alien trapped in a glam rock and heavy rock nightmare. James Hamilton was my saviour. I wish he was still around so I could thank him for the amazing service he provided. Looking back at this chart it all seems rather naive and simplistic dominated by pop sounds that could be heard on the radio. Following this blog is a fascinating exercise in tracking the developing disco scene in the UK and the changing tastes of the public and the establishment of a dedicated tribe of disco/dance music fans. Record Mirror, Black Echoes & Blues & Soul were the publications I devoured in those far off times. This blog really is a time capsule that captures the zeitgeist of the times. We can see in real time how records that are now regarded as iconic dance classics were first introduced to the UK public and Hammy’s initial personal response- not always glowing! I collected every edition of RM from Feb 1975 until the end of 1985. When I moved out of the family home when I got married my dear old mum couldn’t wait to throw them all out before I had time to get round to take them with me! I still haven’t forgiven her. At least now thanks to the Internet I can access a large number of them in full. Love the blog, it gives me an opportunity to wallow in nostalgia for a few minutes on a regular basis. Thanks for taking time to share this info on the net! It’s greatly appreciated.


  3. What a great read!! I started going to clubs about this time. I then started DJing about 1978 in Birmingham and eventually got mentions, and charts featured by James around 1981, he mentioned me when he began to recognize the New Romantic movement (I think he first labeled it ‘Urban Cowboy’!? It was an honour to make his columns, and a pleasure to meet him along the way! A true legend!!


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