September 20, 1975: Bob Marley, Jack Ashford, B.T. Express, Trammps, Gary Toms Empire

As I did last week, I’m reviewing everything that’s come out this week which has any bearing on the disco scene. And as last week, I’m still wondering whether that’s what DJ’s want, or whether you’d be happy to let me exercise my critical judgment. Please write and tell me what you think.

New Spins

BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS: ‘No Woman, No Cry’ (Island WIP 6244)
Recorded live at their Lyceum gig, Bob and the boys’ mournful slowie is almost Dylanesque – which may help explain its enormous appeal to Capital Radio’s listeners, who have voted it up to No. 1 in the Capital Hit Line. More rock than reggae, so those unfamiliar with reggae have nothing to fear. Pity it fades early (3:50), though doubtless the LP cut’ll be longer.

JACK ASHFORD & THE SOUND OF NEW DETROIT: ‘Do The Choo-Choo’ (Parts 1 & 2) (London HLA 10507) (Billboard chart debut 7/5/75)
Archetypal disco sounds of the Hamilton Bohannon type, just made to be danced to. Basically instrumental, nothing to do with Archie Bell (or Little Eva).

B.T. EXPRESS: ‘Give It What You Got’ (EMI INT 515) (mentioned in Billboard column 7/12/75, Billboard chart debut 8/2/75)
Repetitive funky chanter, the US hit from their ‘Non-Stop’ LP. Presumably the equally big ‘Peace Pipe’ has been taken off the flip so it can be our follow-up; instead we get the sparse but spry ‘Happiness’ as coupling. 

TRAMMPS: ‘Hold Back The Night’ / ‘Tom’s Song’ (Buddah BDS 437) (Billboard chart debut 6/21/75)
Solidly whapping easy beat and Four Toppish effortless vocals give this the feel of a British hit. Is the attractive instrumental ‘Tom’s Song’ dedicated to Mr. Moulton of the celebrated disco mix?

GARY TOMS EMPIRE: ‘Drive My Car’ / ‘Love Me Right’ (Epic EPC 3611) (mentioned in Billboard column 7/26/75, Billboard chart debut 11/1/75)
Losers of the chart battle but possible disco winners with ‘7-6-5-4-3-2-1’, the Empire are back in style and blowing their hooters this time, as they give the Beatles oldie their very own rhythm-packed treatment. Lovely flip with Latin lope and Pete Wingfield-ish vocals.

JIMMY JAMES & THE VAGABONDS: ‘Whatever Happened To The Love We Know’ (Pye 7N 45524)
My old mate Jimmy gets well served on this happily bouncing whomper-stomper by a supremely confident Biddu production job.

SUE SHIFRIN: ‘All I Wanna Do’ (EMI 2343)
The New Seekers have indeniably left a void that MOR jocks find hard to fill. Here to help them is a mixture of Lyn Paul, Lynsey de Paul, Hurricane Smith’s sax player and a few “la-la-la”s . . . OK, but at least the old folks can dance to it!

FRED ASTAIRE: ‘The Wailing Of The Willow / City Of The Angels’ (UA UP 36013)
Brand new bossa-nova-ish swayer from ever-youthful Fred – this and the ‘My Kind Of Town, L. A. Is’ flip, should be of interest to easy listening crowds, especially if pre-announced.

DR. HOOK: ‘Only Sixteen’ (Capitol CL 1836)
Never thought I’d dig these guys, but now I love their affectionate treatment of Sam Cooke’s gentle classic. Great MOR.

CHRIS FARLOWE: ‘Out Of Time’ (Immediate IMS 101)
Like the ad says, “accept no substitute”. Immediate is now owned by NEMS, and this particular release can be ordered thru CBS depots (that’s just so your local unfriendly record store has no excuses).

JO JO BENNETT & MUDIE’S ALL STARS: ‘Leaving Rome’ (Cactus CT66)
Originally out about three years ago, this delightful lightly reggae-fied instrumental has a gorgeous melody topped off by twittering birds. Great to see it out again.

RAY WILLIAMS: ‘It’s Been A Long Time’ (Vasko 53)
Initially put off by the packaging, I was totally floored on hearing this. Instead of the dreadful pub singer the blurb suggested, composer/producer/performer Ray turned out to be the most truly soulful singer I’ve heard this year. Surrounded by a stunningly soulful sound of incredibly intense purity and simplicity, Ray turns the clock back to the old Goldwax sound of the mid 60s, as he tenderly emotes an achingly felt slowie that positively drips with blues feelings. If you’re a soul fan from way back, don’t on an account miss this, or Ray’s similar 1974 slowie, ‘Growing Old’. This guy is great.

GEORGE HARRISON: ‘You’ (Apple R 6007)
Nice MOR appeal on Hari’s Spector-ish new churner, even if the lyrics are a bit disjointed.

MORRIS ALBERT: ‘Feelings’ / ‘Come To My Life’ (Decca FR 13591)
Brazilian Morris is huge worldwide with this romantic late-nite slowie, and he should go over well here too. Expect an easy listening breakout, at least. Flip’s fine, too.

BARBARA LYNN: ‘You’ll Lose A Good Thing’ (Oval 1006)
A 1962 smash for the ‘Oh Baby’ gal, this bluesy sax-backed slowie is perennially popular with West Indians and is already getting plays aplenty in black clubs. It’s effective enough to cross over, so try it.

JACKIE LEE: ‘Do The Temptation Walk’ / ‘The Shotgun And The Duck’ (Contemporaries CS 9035)
Well, I remember Pete Stringfellow waving Jackie Lee’s album cover about on one of my visits to his King Mojo Club in Sheffield back in 1965 . . . was that the birth of Northern Soul? ‘The Duck’ could certainly claim to have started it all, and this follow-up to it was probably just as influential. A classic coupling.

BILL HARRIS: ‘Uptown Saturday Night’ (Part 2) (Warner Bros. K 16586)
OK, I’ve turned it over, and now I can see why Glasgow’s Judge Jay has been raving about it – the flip continues as a ‘Night Train’/’Disco Stomp’-type inventory of funky US place names.

GREYHOUND: ‘Dream Lover’ (Transatlantic BIG 529)
The guys who played at Mick’s wedding do a pop-reggae version of Bobby Darin’s oldie that’s fine in its way.

BUSTER PEARSON: ‘Ain’t It Groovy’ (K&B KB 5514)
Straightforward reggae of no great inventiveness.

BLACKBYRDS: ‘I Need You’ (Fantasy FTC 117)
Lively and rather too obvious bouncy chanter, edited down from their ‘Flying Start’ LP.

SOUL ON DELIVERY: ‘Hustle (Dance Of The Day)’ (Decca F 13601)
Commendably American-sounding instrumental that does that job denoted by the title, produced here by Mike Vernon and Pip Williams.

ELEVENTH HOUR: ‘Hollywood Hot’ (20th Century BTC 2215) (mentioned in Billboard column 7/5/75, Billboard chart debut 7/26/75)
Bob Crewe’s group are hotter than hot in US discos with this ponderous medium stomper. Simple stuff that works.

SUSAN CADOGAN: ‘Congratulations’ (Klik KL 604)
Lee Perry-produced reggae slowie that should go over big at West Indian weddings! I’d rather hear this than her pop things, any day.

TRAPEZE: ‘On The Sunny Side Of The Street’ (Warner Bros. K 16606)
Unorthodox rockified treatment of the evergreen, it might work at jolly MOR gigs.

DIZZY HEIGHTS: ‘Don’t Be Down On Me’ / ‘Someone Somewhere Is Waiting’ (Philips 6006478)
Going over great at the Gold Mine, Canvey Island, this perky girlie group shuffler is winsome and sweet, while the instrumental with phonecalls flip sounds like a ‘Hot Buttered Soul’ backing track.

SNOOPY DEAN: ‘Lady, Lady, Lady’ (Seville SEV 1006)
Nice sound even if not much substance to this lazy soul swayer.

CHEQUERS: ‘Rock On Brother’ (Creole CR 111)
Modish instrumental, kinda like a theme in search of a movie.

AL SOUTHERN: ‘Puttin’ It Down (To The Way I Feel About You Girl)’ (UA UP 36014)
UK sweet slowie, structured Stylistically, but minus the high notes.

UK Disco Top 20 – September 20, 1975

01 01 KC & The Sunshine Band – That’s The Way (I Like It) – Jay Boy
02 02 George McCrae – It’s Been So Long – Jay Boy
03 10 Al Matthews – Fool – CBS
04 NE 5000 Volts – I’m On Fire – Philips
05 03 Stylistics – I Can’t Give You Anything – Avco
06 06 Banzaii – Chinese Kung Fu – Contempo
07 07 People’s Choice – Do It Anyway You Wanna – Philadelphia Int’l
08 14 Fatback Band – Yum Yum (Gimme Some) – Polydor
09 04 Rod Stewart – Sailing – Warner Bros.
10 NE Calendar – Hypertension – All Platinum
11 05 Ritchie Family – Brazil – Polydor
12 NE Carl Malcolm – Fatty Bum Bum – UK
13 11 Jimmy Bo Horne – Gimme Some – RCA
14 17 Ralph Carter – When You’re Young And In Love – Mercury
15 NE Hamilton Bohannon – Happy Feeling – Brunswick
16 NE Natalie Cole – This Will Be – Capitol
17 NE Esther Phillips – What A Diff’rence A Day Makes – Kudu
18 RE Hello – New York Groove – Bell
19 09 Bimbo Jet – El Bimbo – EMI
20 08 Moments – Dolly My Love – All Platinum
NE = new entry; RE = re-entry

Appeared in Billboard:
#1 (mentioned in Billboard column 7/26/75, Billboard chart debut 9/13/75)
#4 (mentioned in Billboard column 10/25/75, Billboard chart debut 12/6/75)
#5 (mentioned in Billboard column 5/24/75)
#6 (mentioned in Billboard column 6/28/75, Billboard chart debut 7/5/75)
#7 (mentioned in Billboard column 6/14/75, Billboard chart debut 7/5/75)
#8 (Billboard chart debut 7/12/75)
#10 (Billboard chart debut 5/17/75)
#11 (mentioned in Billboard column 7/5/75, Billboard chart debut 7/12/75)
#13 (Billboard chart debut 7/12/75)
#14 (mentioned in Billboard column 6/14/75, Billboard chart debut 7/5/75)
#16 (Billboard chart debut 9/13/75)
#17 (Billboard chart debut 6/21/75)
#19 (mentioned in Billboard column 5/3/75, Billboard chart debut 5/10/75)

Songs mentioned in “DJ Hotline”:

EXECUTIVE SUITE: ‘When The Fuel Runs Out’ (Polydor)
KAY-GEES: ‘Hustle Wit Every Muscle’ (Gang – US import)
MIKE HARPER: ‘I’m Crying’ (Retreat)
B. T. EXPRESS: ‘Discotizer’ (EMI LP cut)
GEORGE BENSON: ‘Supership’ (CTI – US import) (Billboard chart debut 5/17/75)
POINTER SISTERS: ‘How Long (Betcha Got A Chick On The Side)’ (ABC)
BROTHERS: ‘Are You Ready For This’ (RCA – US import) (mentioned in Billboard column 4/5/75, Billboard chart debut 4/12/75)
SILVER CONVENTION: ‘Fly Robin Fly’ / ‘I Like It’ (Magnet) (mentioned in Billboard column 7/19/75, Billboard chart debut 8/2/75)
ERUPTION: ‘Let Me Take You Back In Time’ (RCA)
BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS: ‘No Woman, No Cry’ (Island)
ABBA: ‘S.O.S.’ (Epic)
BLACKBYRDS: ‘I Need You’ (Fantasy)
REAL THING: ‘Watch Out Carolina’ (Pye)

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