December 20, 1975: Barry White, Martha Reeves, Elton John, Mike Dorane, Kandidate

New Spins

BARRY WHITE: ‘Let The Music Play’ (20th Century BTC 2265)
Confusing intro about “one ticket please” and “yeah, she’s the one”, then the ole croaker gets to groaning “ooh, ooh aughh” as only he can.  Whether it’s the oddly suppressed female squeals or the way in which he keeps fading behind multi-layered swirling strings I know not, but something about this I find strangely disturbing.  Anyway, there’s an easy beat thudding away from the outset, which should prod dancers into action.  Flipside instrumental starts slow before eventually becoming recognizable.

MARTHA & THE VANDELLAS: ‘Jimmy Mack’ / ‘Third Finger, Left Hand’ (Tamla Motown TMG 599)
Already a hit twice, this stomping Holland-Dozier-Holland reissue from ’67, with its equally popular slightly slower flip, is Tamla’s way of greeting Martha Reeves on her UK tour.  It remains good, but her new product is the solo ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher’ (Arista 36), on which she gets gritty with a TK-type treatment of the Jackie Wilson classic, which should work for some without necessarily going pop. 

ELTON JOHN: ‘Step Into Christmas’ (DJM DJS 230)
Reggie’s Xmas offering only got to number 24 the first time out a couple of years ago – and I seem to remember it dying the death whenever I tried it at gigs back then.  Not one I’ll be playing with confidence this time, though maybe times have changed.

MIKE DORANE: ‘Tell Me Baby’ (Horse HOSS 115)
With all instruments multi-tracked by Mike, this Pete Wingfield-reminiscent rewrite of ‘Cherry Pie’ makes an oddly effective semi-slow swayer of offbeat charm.  Something for Ruben & The Jets to hum on their way home!  Reggae reading of ‘You Keep Me Hanging On‘ makes a good flip, too.

KANDIDATE: ‘I’m Coming (Wait For Me)’ (Vulcan VUL 1006)
Strong TK-type feel to this UK-produced hunk of Jamaican pop-funk that sounds punchy enough for chart candidacy.  It speeds up with bongos, but maintains it’s simple “I’m coming – ooh” chorus line.  Very nice.

BARBARA JONES: ‘Slim Boy’ (Attack ATT 8114)
Uh-oh!  Here’s a female answer version to Carl Malcolm’s ‘Fatty Bum Bum’.  If it’s not too late, there’ll be room for it amongst all the others.

TRAMMPS: ‘Hooked For Life’ / ‘It’s Alright’ (Atlantic K 10664)
New 1975 product from the Philly group, this schlurping cymbal Tom Bell-type beater has some great soulful singing, but for me (and not so much for discos) it’s overshadowed by the truly great gospelly flip, which really shows off their raw vocal style to perfection.

JOHN WILLIAMS: ‘Theme From “Jaws”’ (MCA 220)
Emphatically not a dancer, this superbly sinister instrumental used in part as an insert could well make anyone who’s seen the movie go wide-eyed and legless!

STOLEN PROPERTY: ‘Low Rider’ (Live Wire SON 4012)
Good sound-alike cover of War’s US smash, which unaccountably is still not out here.

Import Picks

RIMSHOTS: ‘Do What You Feel’ (Parts 1 & 2) (Stang ST 5065)
The ‘7-6-5-4-3-2-1’ hitmakers are back with a great funky fast number penned/prod by the Moments, in which the only vocal is the repeated invitation to “do, do, do, do what you feel”.  The sound is really thick and full, with All Platinum rhythm whomping along much faster than usual and only some doodling flute cutting through.  Exciting stuff that does it to it.

CROWN HEIGHTS AFFAIR: ‘Every Beat Of My Heart’ (De-Lite DEP 1575)
It’s a tough task to top the great ‘Dreaming A Dream’, and the Affair this time don’t even equal it.  A galloping hoofbeat rhythm dominates this instrumental-with-voices romper, which speeds along with “phased” cymbals hissing in the slipstream.

EARTH, WIND & FIRE: ‘Sing A Song’ (Columbia 3-10251)
Soul’s elemental supergroup are immediately recognizable on this solidly chugging thumper, which trips along most funkily while they all do their famous harmony work over the driving percussion and brass.  Maybe a bit short on catchy hook lines, though the rhythm’s what’ll sell it.

1984 And All That

SOME DISTURBING correspondence has been sent me by Colin Rae (Psycho Sound Discotheques, Croydon), one of whose disco units encountered “Big Brother” monitoring devices at two separate venues within the London Borough of Lambeth. Everyone must have heard about decibel monitoring devices which cut out any electronic power source that gets “too loud”, but these particular cut-out systems were a bit different.

As Colin Rae wrote to the Borough officer responsible (and I quote only in part) :

“During a family wedding reception of sixty-five people a request was made to play Y Viva Espana. The unsuspecting family started to clap their hands, when an orange light began to flash and although the DJ tried to stop the people from clapping it was too late. The mains power was cut, the music stopped and the family stood confused in mid-clap. Five seconds later the power came on causing voltage surge and possible damage to our equipment.

“I realise only too well that complaints have been received from
neighbours because of excess noise and I am in sympathy with them, but surely the caretakers you employ to guard your property during these celebrations should be used in place of and not as well as these Secret Police tactics?”

The reply from the Premises Management Officer was affable and eminently reasonable, agreeing that the “Big Brother Secret Ear” was installed only following so many complaints that the venues were nearly closed to all functions which played music.

Although I, as must be most DJs, am totally against any unreasoning interference with my disco presentation I reckon if faced with a decibel monitor attached to my equipment I could adapt to it. However, this new monitor is not attached to the equipment – it would seem to operate from an open mic that picks up all ambient, unmusical noise as well. It is totally out of the control of the DJ.

Let’s hear from any other DJs who have experienced difficulties with this or the other type of monitoring device.

dj hot line

FIRST PRIZE for honesty must go to Paul Anthony (Rum Runner, Birmingham), who says of QUEEN: Bohemian Rhapsody (EMI) that it clears the floor – but is most requested! . . . Paul’s still going with VAN McCOY: Good Night Baby (Avco), which really should have been the A-side . . . Dave Watson (Boss Discos, Leeds) opines that SYD LAWRENCE: In The Mood (Philips) beats all others into the ground and starts riots at his gigs . . . forget my fave JOE BOB’S NASHVILLE SOUND COMPANY version, as Jonathan King has dreamt up a brand new treatment of In The Mood (in which I must confess I will have an interest) that when released in January could be a world-beater . . . CHUCK JACKSON: I’ve Got The Need (All Platinum) record of the week for Anthony Allan (Speakeasy, Wakefield) and charted by Colin King (Tiffany’s, Wigan), who revives JERMAINE JACKSON: The Bigger You Love (Tamla Motown) and tips E.L.O.: Evil Woman (Jet) .  . . ROXY  MUSIC: Both Ends Burning (Island) a hot flash from Peter Greig (Route 66 Disco, Plympton), who also tips TT ROSS: Last Date (Polydor).

star tip

TRULY a topical tip this week, from “Dirty Harry” Park (Geordie Pride II Roadshow, Wallsend, Tyne & Wear). Harry suggests that resident DJs in particular could benefit by copying Chris Hill and should try taping their own Renta Santa / Mr. Jaws type of cut-up. If they use their regulars, pub manager, local team and such-like as the characters in their script, they’ll find that it gives a nice personal touch and involves the audience in the show.

UK Disco Top 20 – December 20, 1975

01 01 Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing – Rak
02 05 Chubby Checker – Let’s Twist Again – London
03 09 Fatback Band – Do The Bus Stop – Polydor
04 03 Silver Convention – Fly Robin Fly – Magnet
05 06 Roxy Music – Love Is The Drug – Island
06 02 Maxine Nightingale – Right Back Where We Started From – United Artists
07 04 Stretch – Why Did You Do It – Anchor
08 09 Jim Capaldi – Love Hurts – Island
09 17 Leroy Brown – One Woman Man – EMI
10 re Tina Charles – You Set My Heart On Fire – CBS
11 re Tymes – God’s Gonna Punish You – RCA
12 08 Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody – EMI
13 16 Impressions – First Impressions – Curtom
14 10 Hello – New York Groove – Bell
15 — Sailor – Glass Of Champagne – Epic
16 — David Bowie – Golden Years – RCA
17 — O’Jays – I Love Music – Philadelphia Int’l (US import)
18 re Trammps – Hold Back The Night – Buddah
19 11 John Asher – Let’s Twist Again – Creole
20 — Chuck Jackson – I’ve Got The Need – All Platinum

james’ top ten

1 WHITE CHRISTMAS Pasadena Roof Orchestra (Transatlantic)
3 HAPPY XMAS (WAR IS OVER) John & Yoko (Apple)
6 SLEIGH RIDE Ronettes (Phillies)
8 JINGLE BELL ROCK Max Bygraves (Decca)
9 JINGLE BELLS Pat Boone (London)

1 DISCO BELLS Walter Murphy Orchestra (US Major)
2 WHITE CHRISTMAS The Tonics (Magnet)

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