January 17, 1976: Four Seasons, George McCrae, Tropical Band, The O’Jays, Jesse Green

New Spins

FOUR SEASONS: ‘December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)’ (Warner Bros. K 16688)
Celebrating possibly their first meeting with Dawn, the guys get enthusiastic on a mid-tempo stomper that is crammed with grow-on-you appeal.  Should be huge.

GEORGE MCCRAE: ‘Honey I’ / ‘Take This Love Of Mine’ (Jay Boy BOY 107)
Two trax from his last album, and the flip is my old fave happy romper!  The hit side is similar to his usual style, with its long intro and familiar format.

TROPICAL BAND: ‘Porto Rico’ (Bradleys BRAD 7535)
Like a breath of fresh air, this sparkling instrumental has heavy disco rhythm and synthetic lead spiced by Latin brass, scat-singing chix, and deep-voiced gent intoning the title.

O’JAYS: ‘I Love Music’ (Philadelphia Int’l. PIR 3879)
Better late than never, provided import and album sales haven’t done irreparable harm to its chances, this US and UK disco biggie is a fast hustling cymbal sizzler that builds and builds.

JESSE GREEN: ‘Nice And Slow’ (EMI 2386)
Possibly another ‘One Woman Man’, this low-key little bouncy hustler has elements of George McCrae amidst its own jolly sound.  Expatriate Jamaican, Jesse has backed Jimmy Cliff.  Check him out.

TINA CHARLES: ‘I Love To Love’ / ‘Disco Fever’ (CBS 3937)
Getting her own back on Donna Summer?!!  Tina, voice of 5000 Volts, is higher-pitched than before on this well-defined hustling thumper, prod by Biddu.  Frantic flip has the man’s ‘Jump For Joy’ feel, and it could be bigger.

AFRIC SIMONE: ‘Ramaya’ (Galaxy GY 103)
Already getting disco action, this lurching Afro-rock chanter features click-singing Afric, catchy chix, throbbing rhythms, and electronic whip-cracks.  From France.

BOB DYLAN: ‘Hurricane’ (CBS 3878)
Almost a Steely Dan feel to this accelerating beater, with its great chorus line.  Yeah, Dylan does disco!  Pity about the expletive deleted.

ELTON JOHN: ‘Grow Some Funk Of Your Own’ (DJM DJS 629)
The most obvious cut on ‘Rock Of The Westies’, yet this to my mind terrific fast churner must be too complex or something as whenever I’ve tried it the dancers lose interest.

DONNY & MARIE OSMOND: ‘Deep Purple’ (MGM 2006561)
Already top of Capital Radio’s Hitline, this sure smash will be good MOR if you can’t find the 1963 Nino Tempo & April Stevens original, which it copies so slavishly.

DICKIE GOODMAN: ‘Mr. Jaws’ (Private Stock PVT 44)
A well-kept secret, this the original US smash cut-up is indeed now out here.  Quite funny and commendably close to the movie’s plotline.

RALPH CARTER: ‘Extra, Extra (Read All About It)’ (Mercury 6167 286)
Well-tried simple lyrics and a flyaway tempo help young Ralph, the world’s youngest self-made millionaire (he used to do McDonalds hamburger commercials).  Exciting if trite.

B.T. EXPRESS: ‘Peace Pipe’ (EMI Int’l. INT 518)
Originally coupled with ‘Give It What You Got’ as a double-sided US hit, this “hunka chunka stick it up your jumpa” funka is probably a bit old now for the clubs.

JAMES BROWN: ‘Hot’ (Polydor 2058642)
Huge as an import in the funky clubs, this belatedly is Mr. Brown’s much-discussed rip-off of Bowie’s ‘Fame’.

RON BANKS & THE DRAMATICS: ‘(I’m Going By) The Stars In Your Eyes’ (ABC 4090)
Beautiful and truly soulful vocal group slowie, cleverly linked to a zodiac sign idea.

Much tipped already, this pounding disco instrumental is spoilt only by an off-key chick’s occasional vocal – otherwise it’s brassy rhythm all the way, with quite a catchy melody.

EVELYN THOMAS: ‘Weak Spot’ (20th Century BTC 1014)
Co-prod in Chicago by Ian Levine, this sounds more like an authentic Northern dancer than the real thing!  Backing track flip.

BILBO BAGGINS: ‘Back Home’ (Polydor 2058667)
Noisily blatant but effective pop.

HUSTLER: ‘Money Maker’ (Firefly/A&M AMS 5004)
Quo-type stomping pop-rock.

Import Picks

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL: ‘Bump Bounce Boogie’ (Capitol 4187)
From the country-loving band’s American album, ‘Texas Gold’, this brassy big band boogie is slap bang in the middle of the Jitterbug groove that’s getting so big.  With Andrews Sisters-type vocals and madly happy playing, it sounds totally authentic and – as I’ve already proved – it really works!

JOE BOB’S NASHVILLE SOUND COMPANY: ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ (Capitol 4182)
This indeed is the country strings-dominated band whose ‘In The Mood’ was such a success for me last year, indirectly helping to start the whole Jitterbug thing.  Their newie is another Glen Miller swinger (given a female chorus this time) which is almost as good, while on the flip they even do ‘Take The A Train’, which is certainly useable too.

NEIL SEDAKA: ‘Breaking Up Is Hard To Do’ (Rocket PIG 40500)
From his ‘The Hungry Years’ album, Neil’s new US hit starts out with a snatch of his original 1962 recording before it fades away and he launches into a dead slow piano-backed treatment that somehow manages to make the song sound like ‘Since I Fell For You’.  It’s lush ‘n lovely, and makes an intriguing smoocher – especially minus the giveaway intro.


FOLLOWING ALL the publicity about the Jitterbug, World War II
fashions and In The mood, Many DJs must be wondering what the hell we’re going on about.

It’s no good just sticking on a record of In The Mood and expecting everyone to respond to it automatically. As any experienced DJ will know, you need a sense of dynamics to be able to judge the pacing and mood of both your show and your audience. For instance, just last Saturday at a fairly tricky music biz party I finally got the biggest positive reaction when, amongst all the funky stuff, I suddenly slipped into my segue sequence of Blue Danube, Singing In The Rain, Thank Heaven For Little Girls, Whatever Will Be Will Be, Wonderful Copenhagen, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Looks Looks Looks and – but of course – SOUND 9418’s In The Mood (UK). Pure MoR, and so (seemingly) out of context that its very unexpectedness is what made it seem fresh . . . and freshness is the main reason cited by such as Chris Hill for the success of his Jitterbug sessions at normally funky venues.

The problem is probably best illustrated by Anthony Allan (Speakeasy, Wakefield), who acclimatised his audience to In The Mood by surrounding the SOUND 9418 record with mystery by running a competition for four nights to see if anyone could guess that in fact JONATHAN KING was behind it. (Nobody could, and there was a lot of muttering and mumbling when he revealed the truth!) After this build-up, Anthony left the record to take its chances with the rest, although at first he slipped it in with a few instrumentals for fear of it not going down. In fact it went down very
well, so that later on he threw caution to the winds and played it during a normal segue run.

In Anthony’s own words: “To my utter amazement they treated it with the same enthusiasm they would a normal new disco record. It’s going down so well in fact that the big boss Ted Sharp, who incidentally used to play rugby for Wakefield professionally and in 1964 was the heaviest rugby player in the world, came up with the suggestion that we do a night of Ballroom
Dancing – and from the feedback that we’ve had so far there are quite a lot of kids interested. So it looks like you’ve done it again, you old rogue.”

Er – hum! Thank you Anthony. Well, there you are – not only Jitterbug sessions but Ballroom Dancing too, all started by DJs latching onto something so old that it’s fresh and different. Just like the Twist!

dj hot line

WING AND A PRAYER AND FIFE & DRUMS CORPS: Baby Face (Atlantic) is shaping up to be a monster – it’s hot for Mark Rymann (South Wales clubs), Steve Day (Chingford), Les “Godfather” Spaine (Time Piece, Liverpool), Ray Robinson (Tiffany’s, Leicester), Doctor John (Disco Tech, Telford) . . . likewise, LARRY PAGE ORCHESTRA: Volare (Penny Farthing) is big for Steve Day, Peter Greig (Route 66 Disco, Plympton), Garry D. Sprott (Edinburgh) – although Anthony Allan (Speakeasy, Wakefield) goes with the AL MARTINO version (Capitol) – and rapidly rising is the RICHARD HEWSON ORCHESTRA: Love For Hire (Splash), tipped by Doctor John, Colin McLean (Acas Club, Hamilton), Anthony Allan, Les Aron (Life Disco, Bognor Regis) . . . Mark Rymann now swings to SOUND 9118: In The Mood (UK) along with many of the above DJs, and even Chris Hill (Gold Mine, Canvey Island) admits to having used it! . . . Chris Hill’s jitterbuggers this week are WOODY HERMAN: Woodchopper’s Ball (MCA), JIMMY LUNCEFORD: My Blue Heaven (MCA), ANDREWS SISTERS: Beat Me Daddy Eight To The Bar (MCA) and COMMANDERS: Hors D’Oeuvres (US Decca / MCA) – not surprisingly, MCA are in fact readying a special disco sampler album of jitterbug, boogie and swing . . . PERCY FAITH: Summer Place ’76 (CBS) much liked by many, including Tom Russell (Kirkintilloch) . . . RALPH CARTER: Extra, Extra (Mercury), JOHN CONTEH: The Boxer (Boxa) and B. T. EXPRESS: Peace Pipe (EMI) picking up tips from combinations of the above, as are O’JAYS: I Love Music (Phila Int) . . . LOVE BITE: Killer Jaws (Magnet) is tasty for Steve Ingram (DJ Enterprises, Weybrldge), Colin King (Blue Room, Sale) and Ashley Eatly (Ashley’s Disco, Ferryside) . . . Ashley also quotes the advice of Capital Radio’s Peter Young for DJs to “Be yourself, be totally natural – no matter what happens, keep on smiling” . . .  PENNY McLEAN Lady Bump (EMI) has been huge for Colin McLean, who’s joined by Pete Robins (Bacchus Discos, London) in tipping OSIBISA: Sunshine Day (Bronze), and by Paul Anthony (Rum Runner, Birmingham) and Steve Day in tipping AFRIC SIMONE: Raymaya (Galaxy) . . . this Thursday 15th at the Lord Nelson in London’s Holloway Road I play all the US Teen Dance Crazes, and next Thursday 22nd I play all the old instrumental greats – so make it a date to come Cruisin’ on by!

star tip

ROD “KING” Schell (Carlisle) is keen to get across the idea of co-operation between live groups and discos when the two appear together. Rod endeavours to complement live acts instead of competing with them, to the extent that he helps with their equipment and then often gets to use their superior p. a. ‘s.

I myself always take trouble to light up groups so that they look good, and then I operate the lights as they play. Furthermore, I’ve found that a good gimmick is – when possible – for the group to start their set by continuing live with the same tune that I’m playing, which I fade as the group pick it up.

UK Disco Top 20 – January 17, 1976

01 02 Fatback Band – Do The Bus Stop – Polydor
02 01 Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing – Rak
03 16 Sailor – Glass Of Champagne – Epic
04 06 Impressions – First Impressions – Curtom
05 03 Chubby Checker – Let’s Twist Again – London
06 05 Silver Convention – Fly Robin Fly – Magnet
07 04 David Bowie – Golden Years – RCA
08 11 Paul Davidson – Midnight Rider – Tropical
09 08 Miracles – Love Machine – Tamla Motown
10 09 Roxy Music – Both Ends Burning – Island
11 10 Trammps – Hooked For Life – Atlantic
12 18 Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody – EMI
13 — ABBA – Mamma Mia – Epic
14 re Small Faces – Itchycoo Park – NEMS
15 12 Tymes – God’s Gonna Punish You – RCA
16 15 Barry White – Let The Music Play – 20th Century
17 19 George & Gwen McCrae – I’ll Do The Rockin’ – President
18 07 Chuck Jackson – I’ve Got The Need – All Platinum
19 re Hello – New York Groove – Bell
20 re Biddu Orchestra – Exodus – Epic

james’ top ten

1 BABY FACE, Wing & A Prayer Fife & Drums Corps (Atlantic)
2 IN THE MOOD, Sound 9418( (UK)
3 MIDNIGHT RIDER, Paul Davidson (Tropical)
4 LET THE MUSIC PLAY, Barry White (20th)
5 WIDE-EYED & LEGLESS, Andy Fairweather-Low (A&M)
6 DO THE BUS STOP, Fatback Band (Polydor)
7 GIMME SOME, Jimmy “Bo” Horne (RCA)
8 LOVE ROLLERCOASTER, Ohio Players (Mercury)
9 DISCO BELLS, Walter Murphy Orch (US Major)
10 LOVE TO LOVE YOU BABY, Donna Summer (GTO)

1 BUMP BOUNCE BOOGIE, Asleep At The Wheel (US Capitol)
2 SUMMER PLACE ’76, Percy Faith (CBS )
3 CHATTANOOGA CHOO CHOO, Joe Bob’s Nashville Sound Company (US Capitol)

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