December 27, 1975: Manu Dibango, Fela Kuti, Hugh Masekela, Tabou Combo, Chuck Jackson

New Spins

MANU DIBANGO: ‘Makossa Music’ (Creole CRLP 503)
I’ve had a bundle of Afro, Salsa, and Dub albums sitting in my drawer waiting to be reviewed, and never the space on the page for them.  Thank goodness for Christmas!  If you’re in a position to play great music like these ethnic sounds you’re a lucky DJ indeed, for although superb to dance to they remain unknown amongst the British majority. Manu Dibango caused a stir in funky clubs a few years back with his terrifically rhythmic ‘Soul Makossa’ (lead track here), which must have inspired the Fatback Band amongst others.  This virtual “Best Of” album has many of the saxophonist’s goodies such as ‘Oboso’, ‘Kata Kata’, and ‘Pepe Soup’, some of which may be a bit fast but are worth it for the lead track alone.

FELA RANSOME KUTI & THE AFRICA 70: ‘Gentleman’ (Creole CRLP 502)
Side one is the title track, and that is the goodie here.  After a bit of skippable doodling it suddenly erupts into a bouncing, leaping, joyful throbber, with hollow booming bass behind a brassy front line.  Jazzy and subtle, but infectiously happy as hell!

MASEKELA: ‘The Boy’s Doin’ It’ (Casablanca CBC 4005)
Now living in America, trumpeter Hugh Masekela has forgotten his jazzy leanings on this Afro-Funk outing, much of which futures that ‘Street Dance’ type of rhythm.  Title track’s a slow funker, while ‘Excuse Me Please’, ‘Ashiko’, and ‘Mama’ have more bounce to the ounce. 

TABOU COMBO: ‘8th Sacrement’ (Decca SKLR 5227)
Completely foxed by its origin when reviewing their ‘New York City’ single, I now know that the Tabou Combo de Petionville are from Haiti, although this live album (containing the single) was recorded at a concert in New York City itself, where of course they are considered to be Salsa stars.  Their rhythms keep rollicking and throbbing along more in the style of Nigerian Juju (type of High Life) music and they make much use of accordion and rapidly played almost Shadows-ish guitar sound over the perpetually jumping percussion.

Import Picks

CHUCK JACKSON: ‘I’m Needing You, Wanting You’ (All Platinum AP 2360)
While in Britain Chuck’s singing ‘I’ve Got The Need’, in the States he’s doing his needing in a slower, more seductive way.  Starting with a sexy homecoming rap, he slides into this Moments-penned & prod smoocher like a sweeter-singing Isaac Hayes, as he suggests to his lady that they slip upstairs before their friends come around.

MARTHA VELEZ: ‘Aggravation’ (Sire SAA 722)
Back in about ’69 Martha cut an album over here penned by Mike Vernon (as is this) which, good in itself, spawned a single that to my mind remains the best ever version of ‘Tell Mama’.  So I’m glad to hear her again on this bouncy bit of gritty funk, which whomps along without being quite another mother.

NOTATIONS: ‘It’s Alright (This Feeling)’ (Gemigo GMS 0503)
Penned/prod by the Jackson & Yancy team of Natalie Cole fame, this vocal group’s happy dancer has indeed got much of ‘This Will Be”s sprightly swagger, although the instrumentation is very different.  Somehow also the group itself sounds as if it’s made up of lots of Barry White’s.

There was no Disco Top 20 this week, since the space was taken up by various year-end charts.  A year-end disco chart wasn’t among them, so I’ve decided to create a list of the top 20 songs in the four months of charts I’ve posted so far.

01 KC & The Sunshine Band – That’s The Way (I Like It) – Jay Boy
02 Roxy Music – Love Is The Drug – Island
03 Drifters – There Goes My First Love – Bell
04 People’s Choice – Do It Anyway You Wanna – Philadelphia Int’l
05 David Essex – Hold Me Close – CBS
06 George McCrae – I Ain’t Lyin’ – Jay Boy
07 Fatback Band – Yum Yum (Gimme Some) – Polydor
08 Maxine Nightingale – Right Back Where We Started From – United Artists
09 5000 Volts – I’m On Fire – Philips
10 Natalie Cole – This Will Be – Capitol
11 Esther Phillips – What A Diff’rence A Day Makes – Kudu
12 Rod Stewart – Sailing – Warner Bros.
13 Jim Capaldi – Love Hurts – Island
14 Trammps – Hold Back The Night – Buddah
15 Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing – Rak
16 George McCrae – It’s Been So Long – Jay Boy
17 Dee Clark – Ride A Wild Horse – Chelsea
18 Hello – New York Groove – Bell
19 Stylistics – I Can’t Give You Anything – Avco
20 Four Seasons – Who Loves You – Warner Bros.

Appeared in Billboard:
#1 (mentioned in Billboard column 7/26/75, Billboard chart debut 9/13/75)
#4 (mentioned in Billboard column 6/14/75, Billboard chart debut 7/5/75)
#7 (Billboard chart debut 7/12/75)
#8 (Billboard chart debut 4/3/76)
#9 (mentioned in Billboard column 10/25/75, Billboard chart debut 12/6/75)
#10 (Billboard chart debut 9/13/75)
#11 (Billboard chart debut 6/21/75)
#14 (Billboard chart debut 6/21/75)
#19 (mentioned in Billboard column 5/24/75)
#20 (Billboard chart debut 8/23/75)

Songs mentioned in “DJ Hotline”:

BAND OF THE BLACK WATCH: ‘Dance Of The Cuckoos’ (Spark)
MIRACLES: ‘Love Machine’ (Tamla Motown) (mentioned in Billboard column 10/4/75, Billboard chart debut 10/11/75)
CHUCK JACKSON: ‘I’ve Got The Need’ (All Platinum)
JOHN CONTEH: ‘The Boxer’ (Boxa)
LOUIS JORDAN: ‘Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie’ (MCA)
GEORGE & GWEN MCCRAE: ‘I’ll Do The Rocking’ (President)
REAL MCCOY: ‘Twist And Shout’ (Route)
TRAMMPS: ‘Hooked For Life’ (Atlantic) (Billboard chart debut 8/16/75)
O’JAYS: ‘I Love Music’ (Philadelphia Intl.) (mentioned in Billboard column 10/11/75, Billboard chart debut 10/25/75)
DERRICK HARRIOT: ‘Eighteen With A Bullet’ (Trojan)
SHANGHAI: ‘Candy Eyes’ (Thunderbird)
STEELEYE SPAN: ‘Ali Around My Hat’ (Chrysalis)
APPLEJACKS: ‘Mexican Hat Rock Twist’ (London – LP cut)
L.T.D. EXCHANGE: ‘Money Mad’ (RCA – US import)
CLEVELAND EATON: ‘Chi-Town Theme’ (Black Jazz – US import)
KOOL & THE GANG: ‘Spirit Of The Boogie’ (Polydor)
JIMMY CASTOR BUNCH: ‘Bertha Butt Boogie’ (Atlantic)
EARTH, WIND & FIRE: ‘Shining Star’ (CBS)
MIKE OLDFIELD: ‘In Dulci Jubilo’ (Virgin)

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