STARRY NIGHT AT AMERICA’S DISCO FORUM
“Disco ’76”, the First International Disco Forum, organized by Billboard magazine’s Bill Wardlow at New York’s midtown Roosevelt Hotel on January 20-23, was a star-studded affair.
Speakers included Van McCoy, Bob Crewe, Norman Harris, LaBelle, and many record company heads.
Performers included Bimbo Jet, the Reflections, the Salsoul Orchestra, the Trammps, Crown Heights Affair and Gloria Gaynor.
Amongst the observers were Hamilton Bohannon, Jeanne Burton, Tamiko Jones, Jonathan King, Capitol Records’s Joe Maimone and a whole host of other record company executives. And then there were several hundred disco DJs and assorted club owners, equipment manufacturers and record pluggers.
It’s doubtful whether the Forum spread as many ideas amongst all the participants as Bill Wardlow originally hoped it would. Many panel sessions got bogged down with the recurrent (and predictable) pleas from DJs – especially from the Midwest – for free promotional demo records.
However, the Forum was immensely rewarding on a man-to-man basis – and it was through talking amongst their fellow kind outside the main assembly room that most DJs must have swapped ideas.
In fact widely acknowledged as one of the best Forum sessions was the mobile disco session. Well-established mobile DJs seem to command much higher fees in America than here, $120 upwards being quite normal, although an Atlanta disco firm’s rate of $220 to $250 and more made everyone gasp.
There is a certain aggressive arrogance about many East and West Coast mobile jocks who refuse to bend to their audience’s tastes and supply only the current “disco” style of programming, but they do also teach their audiences the latest dances.
Having still only just scraped the surface, it looks like I’d better continue with more about Disco ’76 next week (when I promise the DJ Hot Line will return as well).
STATUS QUO: ‘Rain’ (Vertigo 6059133)
Everyone knows what to expect of a Status Quo single, and unlike many groups of similar stature the Quo deliver the goods every time. Good rockin’ get-it-on-and-don’t-forget-to-boogie raunch and roll.
LOUIS JORDAN: ‘Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie’ / ‘I Want You To Be My Baby’ (MCA 228)
Amazing! Partly instigated by yours truly, here’s the early rockin’ jazz combo’s 30-year-old boogie-woogie classic (even Bill Haley couldn’t better it), just in time to catch all you jitterbuggers. Try it, you’ll like it! 1953 flip’s frantic too.
GLENN MILLER: ‘Moonlight Serenade’ / ‘Sunrise Serenade’ / ‘Tuxedo Junction’ / ‘Pennsylvania 6-5000’ / ‘Sentimental Me’ / ‘In The Mood’ / ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ / ‘I’ve Got A Gal In Kalamazoo’ (from LP ‘A Legendary Performer’, RCA DPM 2065)
Pure bliss, this double album contains nothing but hitherto uneleased air-checks of Miller’s broadcasts from such romantic spots as the Glen Island Casino, many complete with dialogue to help set the authentic period atmosphere. What timing!
HENRY BUCKLEY: ‘Woman (I’m In Love With You)’ (Tropical AL 058)
Extremely powerful, this pretty and only slightly reggaefied thumper is pushed along by a great bouncy beat that’s absolutely right for today’s dancers. Should be the label’s second hit.
TOBY: ‘So Good (I Had To Come Back For More)’ (Rak 229)
With a solidly stomping clap rhythm and chanted lyrics, this dead simple and so effective pop funker sounds like another smash for Mickie Most. Shades of ‘New York Groove’, guys, so be prepared!
LOVING INFLUENCE: ‘Let Me Make You A Woman’ / ‘I’m Hooked On You’ (Penny Farthing PEN 907)
Surprisingly good double-sider, produced by Larry Page, it combines a fast and a slower hustler, sung by squeaky-voiced soulful Four Seasons-ish fellas.
DAVID BOWIE: ‘Station To Station’ / ‘Golden Years’ / ‘Stay’ (from LP ‘Station To Station’, RCA APL1-1327) (LP Billboard chart debut 2/28/76)
Bowie obviously goes to discos when in New York, as the last third or so of the title track (the ‘It’s Too Late’ part) is pure NY hustle! ‘Stay’ is more in the ‘Fame’ bag and the other you know.
CROWN HEIGHTS AFFAIR: ‘Every Beat Of My Heart’ (Polydor 2001623) (Billboard chart debut 10/4/75)
Originally unimpressed by this follow-up to the superlative ‘Dreaming A Dream’, I now love it having heard and – above all – seen it in context. The group are excitingly visual, never staying still for more than a moment, while this happily building romper features incredible phased cymbal hissing that cuts through everything.
DE BLANC: ‘Oh No, Not My Baby’ (Arista 35) (Billboard chart debut 12/27/75)
A Chris Hill fave for months, this hustling treatment of the Maxine Brown oldie is a happy bouncer with hit chances.
URSULA DUDZIAK: ‘Papaya’ (Arista 31) (Billboard chart debut 11/8/75)
Wukka-wukking fast hustler with mind-boggling scat vocal noises from Miss Dudziak, well worth investigation!
YAMBU: ‘Sunny’ (Montuno Gringo MG 8003) (mentioned in Billboard column 9/20/75, Billboard chart debut 10/4/75)
This great disco treatment by a jazzy bunch of Latin instrumentalists has been copied vocally but somehow less freshly by the tune’s originator, Bobby Hebb (Laurie LR 3638), who’s actually lost the chart race this time around.
JON-WITE GROUP: ‘Theme From “A Summer Place”’ (Cenpro CEN 45007) (Billboard chart debut 11/22/75)
Probably the theme’s original disco treatment, this is much faster than Percy Faith and has the melody carried by synthesizer and soprano sax over frantic rhythm.
BARBRA STREISAND: ‘Shake Me Wake Me (When It’s Over)’ (Columbia 3-10272) (mentioned in Billboard column 11/15/75, Billboard chart debut 11/29/75)
Hard to believe, but Barbra sings Holland-Dozier-Holland to an archetypal cymbal-sizzling hustle backing, and getting soul radio plays! Still, she’s better than Bette Midler’s unfortunately flat and draggy disco rendition of ‘Strangers In The Night’.
HANK CRAWFORD: ‘I Hear A Symphony’ / ‘I’ll Move You No Mountain’ (from LP ‘I Hear A Symphony’, Kudu KU 26) (LP mentioned in Billboard column 2/7/76, Billboard chart debut 2/14/76)
The jazz saxman goes blatantly disco on these Creed Taylor-produced rhythmic hustlers, title track of course being the Supremes’ oldie. Eric Gale plays guitar, as he did on Van McCoy’s original ‘Hustle’.
JEFF EVANS: ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’ (Grandstand HK 401) (Billboard chart debut 1/31/76)
The old tear-jerking nostalgic war-horse is another unlikely oldie to go disco, but it really works!
THE PEARLS: ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’ (Private Stock PVT 1140) (mentioned in Billboard column 2/7/76, Billboard chart debut 2/28/76)
The British beauties are right in the NY disco groove on their romping revival of yet another lovely oldie.
James’ Top Ten
Following last week’s New York disco chart compiled by Alez Kabbaz, this week’s comes from Renta Santa star and jitterbugging champion, CHRIS HILL – mainly because I haven’t had a chance to try all my own New York goodies in a dancing situation yet.
1 INSIDE AMERICA, Juggy Jones (Contempo )
2 MOVIN’/CHANGIN’, Brass Construction LP (US BA)
3 SPANISH HUSTLE, Fatback Band LP (US Event)
4 I LOVE MUSIC, O’Jays (Phila Int)
5 LET’S MAKE A BABY, Biily Paul LP (Phila Int)
6 WOODCHOPPER’S BALL, Woody Herman (MCA)
7 KING PORTER STOMP, Benny Goodman LP (RCA)
8 CHANGE (MAKES YOU WANT TO HUSTLE), Donald Byrd LP (Blue Note)
9 HAPPY MUSIC, Blackbyrds (Fantasy)
10 LETS GROOVE, Archie Bell & the Drells LP (US TSOP)
1 UNION MAN, Cate Bros LP (Asylum)
2 SLICK EDDIE, Sonny Stitt LP (US Cadet)
3 I’M NOT IN LOVE, Dee Dee Sharp LP (US TSOP )
AMONGST SEVERAL suggestions from Jimmy Mack (Backstreet Roadshow, Sheffield), one in particular stands out. Jimmy has built a siren into his console which he sounds before announcing “Last orders”, “Time” and “Drink up “.
As well as scaring the hell out of everyone it makes sure that they hear, and also impresses the landlords who employ him. By announcing “Last Orders” on time and without having to be told. Jimmy so impressed one landlord in fact that he is now recommended to everyone who books the pub’s room. I just hope your watch never runs fast, Jim!
UK Disco Top 20 – February 7, 1976
01 02 Miracles – Love Machine – Tamla Motown
02 01 Fatback Band – Do The Bus Stop – Polydor
03 08 Donna Summer – Love To Love You Baby – GTO
04 05 Barry White – Let The Music Play – 20th Century
05 06 A Wing & A Prayer Fife & Drum Corps – Baby Face – Atlantic
06 09 Sound 9418 – In The Mood – UK
07 17 Osibisa – Sunshine Day – Bronze
08 03 Sailor – Glass Of Champagne – Epic
09 18 Ralph Carter – Extra, Extra (Read All About It) – Mercury
10 07 Chubby Checker – Let’s Twist Again – London
11 16 War – Low Rider – Island
12 04 Paul Davidson – Midnight Rider – Tropical
13 19 ABBA – Mamma Mia – Epic
14 14 Small Faces – Itchycoo Park – NEMS
15 13 Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing – Rak
16 RE O’Jays – I Love Music – Philadelphia Int’l
17 RE R & J Stone – We Do It – RCA
18 20 Roxy Music – Both Ends Burning – Island
19 12 David Ruffin – Walk Away From Love – Tamla Motown
20 NE Faith, Hope & Charity – Just One Look – RCA
NE = new entry; RE = re-entry
No “DJ Hot Line” this week.
Next week: Hammy talks about the equipment on display at Disco ’76, and we get a debut at #2!