LEGEND OF THE WOLF
WOLFMAN JACK, America’s most famous disc-jockey, is now probably even better known over here for his pivotal role in “American Graffiti” than for his shows on AFN. When he came to London last week to appear on Capital Radio it was my privilege to work closely with him (that’s us clowning for the cameras, right), and thus I was able to find out about a lot of his tricks.
When recording his syndicated shows, carried by hundreds of radio stations worldwide, the Wolf merely sits down with a running order list and puts his voice links on tape, without any music, leaving three second gaps between each link. An engineer then records the master tape. playing the records, running in the pre-recorded links, and slotting in other relevant “bits” that are already on cart, like the famous wolf howls (actually, a coyote). This explains why on the two “American Graffiti” albums the Wolf often crashes the vocals – he had no control!
Possibly the greatest surprise when watching the Wolfman at work is to see that all his incredible raps are in fact read from books. Wherever they go, he and his manager, Don Kelley, note down anything that inspires them. Don is then able to flip through piles of thick notebooks until he finds something apt for the music and mood of the moment. which the Wolf then transforms into a rap that sounds totally spontaneous. He also uses the notebooks to whap in time with the beat when rockin’ to Little Richard!
To change from his normal speaking voice into his maniacal radio style, the Wolf goes into a wheezing chuckle that gradually intensifies until it bursts out into his much copied growling rasp – which is full of amazing resonances. Even when wearing cans, at the mike he often puts a hand over one ear in traditional announcer’s fashion. A true AM jock, he likes lots of EQ, and sits well back while ranting and raving.
As well as radio shows, there are Wolfman Jack discos, syndicated on tape to locations that he and Don Kelley control. Because these are mainly in hotels, the music that they very carefully programme for each hour-long tape is angled to get bashful business men onto the floor, and each tape follows an almost scientifically proven formula. This includes a healthy quota of really big oldies, with one Latin cut per hour.
As well as all this the Wolf is the main presenter of America’s long-running “Midnight Special ‘ Rock show, plus he has his own lavish touring stage show that choreographs the history of Rock ‘n Roll radio, plus he’s had numerous songs written about him, plus . . . like I said, he’s the World’s most famous DJ.
From Peter Dunn: Coppercoins Country Club, Nr Haverfordwest, Pemb’s): Useful as a nice happy party record, MEL BLANC I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat (MfP Surprise Surprise FP 27) is especially good if just the main Tweety Pie verse is cut in, for unexpected shock effect. This and many more party goodies of a silly nature are available on cheap kiddies discs in places like W. H. Smith & Son – they’re worth trying.
NATALIE COLE: This Will Be (Capitol CL 15834)
Nat “King” Cole’s daughter is a merry young soul on this happy stamper (reviewed last week as an import), which much like Barbara Acklin’s Love Makes A Woman really does move like the clappers! Hopefully modern dancers can cope with the fact that it actually swings . . . and how! My fave of the month, if not year.
INNERVISION: Honey Baby (Be Mine) (Private Stock PVT 17)
An instantly catchy bass line makes the purposeful yet gentle rhythmic drive that fronts some impassioned harmonies and should win friends in a hurry. In fact, I’ve a hunch this could hit.
THE FATBACK BAND: Yum, Yum (Gimme Some) / Trompin’ (Polydor 2066590).
A lip-smacking treat for funky folk, this bouncy thumper may seem monotonous to others as the bass predominates in a very repetitive way. Spirited flip.
CHOCOLATE MILK: Action Speaks Louder Than Words (RCA 2592)
I didn’t appreciate the subtle secondary rhythms that make this otherwise slow synthetic thudder a funky dancer’s delight until Raymondo played it down at Gilly’s on Saturday.
ESTHER PHILLIPS: What A Diff’rence A Day Makes (Kuda 925)
Rage of the NY discos, Esther’s sophisticated warbling and fast wukka-wuks may not seem too British but the smooth strings and great erupting guitar break may sweeten the pill. It’s certainly grown on me.
JIMMY HELMS: Don’t Pull Your Love (Pye 7N 45503)
I still think this is rather mundane and messy but can see why its dully thudding rhythm has picked up so much support in discos.
BETTY WRIGHT: Ooola La (RCA 2596)
Far from her best, Betty’s newie is yet another variation on the TK rhythm, quite fast and nicely bright ‘n breezy.
TAVARES : It Only Takes A Minute (Capitol CL 15832)
The O’Jays must be feeling very flattered – or, to put it another way, if you liked Back Stabbers you’ll like this!
BOBBY MOORE: (Call Me Your) Anything Man (Pye 7N 25691)
Bobby (not the Rhythm Ace) is another whose disco hit didn’t hit me at first. Thought of as a slowie in a funky situation it works well indeed, though I still think there are plenty better.
BARRY BLUE: If I Show You I Can Dance (Bell 1452)
Barry forsakes his clever Beach Boys impressions for a return to his first hit’s Graeco stomping sound, full of Eastern Mediterranean jollity. Fine if it sells.
ROCKIN’ BERRIES: Lonely Summertime (Satril SAT 101)
Not immediately obvious, this is another of those UK blue-eyed soulsters that seem to appeal to me so much these days. Delicately constructed with Four Seasons-ish bits, it’s a light and airy gentle clopper.
ISAAC HAYES: Chocolate Chip (Vocal/Instrumental) (ABC 4076)
Rating raves from some, Ike’s return is a bit messy to my mind.
Straight from the States
JOE BOB’S NASHVILLE SOUND COMPANY: In The Mood / String Of Pearls (Capitol 4059).
The main reason for last week’s look at other potential Mistys from America, this lead-off review was of course the one that got left out! Anyway, here are two of Glen Miller’s best-loved classics given a massed strings, steel guitar and finger-pickin’ treatment that is truly sensational. In The Mood especially swings like mad and is a must. No MoR jock should be without it. Try it, you’ll like it. Etc, etc. Get the idea?
B. T. EXPRESS: Give It What You Got / Peace Pipe (Roadshow RD 7003)
From their new Non-Stop album and destined to be their first thru EMI in September, these two trax just keep cookin’. On top the funky rhythm’s got bounce while flipside those Injun wardrums start the faster more jagged groove.
TYRONE DAVIS: A Woman Needs To Be Loved (Dakar DK 4545)
Gruffly growling Tyrone has a searing Soul style that can strike home hard especially on powerfully felt slow rollers such as this beauty. Almost another When A Man Loves A Woman.
DEE CLARK: Ride A Wild Horse (Chelsea CH 3025)
Dee, of Raindrops and many other hits fifteen years ago, sounds his closest to the charts for a long time with this medium lolloper that showcases this amazing high-pitched range in occasional exciting bursts, a bit like the TK things.
UK Disco Top 20 – August 30, 1975
01 01 Stylistics – Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love) – Avco
02 04 George McCrae – It’s Been So Long – Jay Boy
03 03 KC & The Sunshine Band – That’s The Way (I Like It) – Jay Boy
04 05 Linda Lewis – It’s In His Kiss – Arista
05 02 Typically Tropical – Barbados – Gull
06 10 Moments – Dolly My Love – All Platinum
07 NE Rod Stewart – Sailing – Warner Bros.
08 NE Ritchie Family – Brazil – Polydor
09 07 Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony – The Hustle – Avco
10 18 People’s Choice – Do It Anyway You Wanna – Philadelphia Int’l
11 06 Bimbo Jet – El Bimbo – EMI
12 11 Bee Gees – Jive Talkin’ – RSO
13 RE Biddu Orchestra – Summer Of ’42 – Epic
14 09 Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Delilah – Vertigo
15 08 Gary Toms Empire – 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Blow Your Whistle – Epic
16 14 Linda Carr & The Love Squad – Highwire – Chelsea
17 RE Gloria Gaynor – All I Need Is Your Sweet Lovin’ – MGM
18 RE MFSB – Sexy – Philadelphia International
19 19 Hello – New York Groove – Bell
20 RE Calendar – Hypertension – All Platinum
Roger Daltrey – Walking The Dog – Polydor
Billy Ocean – Who’s Little Girl Are You – GTO
Banzaii – Chinese Kung Fu – Contempo
Hamilton’s Disco Top 10
1 Joe Bob’s Nashville Sound Company – In The Mood – US Capitol
2 KC & The Sunshine Band – That’s The Way (I Like It) – Jay Boy
3 Stylistics – Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love) – Avco
4 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – All I Have To Do Is Dream – United Artists
5 Susan Maughan – El Bimbo – Ember
6 Roger Whittaker – The Last Farewell – EMI
7 Ritchie Family – Brazil – Polydor
8 Showaddywaddy – Heartbeat – Bell
9 Clive Baldwin – Now It’s Paul McCartney etc. – Mercury
10 Natalie Cole – This Will Be – US Capitol
Hamilton Bohannon – Happy Feeling – Brunswick
Jim Reeves – You Belong To Me – RCA
Innervision – Honey Baby (Be Mine) – Private Stock
DJ HOT LINE
. . . THE Drifters-ish BILLY OCEAN Whose Little Girl Are You (GTO) is getting picks-a-plenty. Mark Rymann (Porthcawl) started it and it’s now charted by Les Aron (Bali Hai, Bognor Regis), Peter Greig (Route 66 Discos, Plymouth), and Ray “Rosko” Robinson (Tiffany’s, Leicester) . . . Ray has a bee in his bonnet about some other UK Soulsters too, LEROY BROWN One Woman Man (EMI), JIMMY HELMS Don’t Pull Your Love (Pye), ERUPTION Let Me Take You Back In Time (RCA), plus he has a beef about being on no mailing lists despite unanswered letters to many record companies . . . GEORGE BAKER SELECTION Paloma Blanca (Warners) another with plenty of picks, from such as Jon Taylor (Crocker’s, Norwich), Steve Ingram (DJ Enterprises, Weybridge) . . . Chris Sang (Hove) and many others point up the mistake whereby although their charts have nearly all been mentioning RITCHIE FAMILY Brazil (Polydor), the accountants who compile our Disco Chart have somehow credited all the votes to the dreaded other version . . . MELISSA MANCHESTER Midnight Blue (Arista), a smoochy tip from Barry “Percy” Evangeli (Golders Green) . . . Jeff Buntin (Hull) has been super sharp and alerts that last year’s (NEW) SETTLERS She Didn’t Forget Her Shoes (York YR 218) is a rougher production but much stronger disco sound than the REPARATA Shoes (Polydor/Contempo) . . . ALEX HARVEY Gang Bang (Vertigo) still going down great at the Poseidon in Glasgow for Tom Russell – which probably figures! . . . Dr. John (Newport, Salop) picks faves JEANNE BURTON Nobody Loves Me Like You Do (Seville) and NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND Dream (UA) . . . Tony Hadland (Reading) gets in on the act with PRINCE BUSTER Al Capone (Blue Beat) and ELVIS PRESLEY Jailhouse Rock (RCA) as goodtime oldies . . . BENNY BELL – that’s BELL, not HILL, please – and his Silly Shaving Cream (Vanguard) a looney toon for Dave Singleton (Irlam, M/C) . . . suitable by the sea, GLITTER BAND Love In The Sun (Bell) keeps ’em sizzling for Pete Graham (sunny Worthing), while Weymouth’s gone funky with Alex Henderson playing CALENDAR Hypertension (All Platinum) . . . PEOPLE’S CHOICE Do It Any Way You Wanna (Phil. Int) and FATBACK BAND Yum Yum (Polydor) at the Victoria Bars . . . keep dancing!