February 14, 1976: New York Disco Forum special, part 3

This week’s column includes the first mention of the new 12-inch single format, in Hammy’s review of B.C.G. – Sweet Talk.

Disco ’76, the recent Billboard-organized Disco Forum in New York, failed to come up with any new ideas during its formal panel sessions thanks to poor stage management and bad PA equipment supplied by the Roosevelt Hotel — the sessions never ran to time and were usually all but inaudible.

British equipment manufacturers and suppliers would have benefited by attending or exhibiting at the Forum. Had Roger Squire turned up for the panel that he was due to sit on, he would have done an immense amount of business. This being only the first Forum to be held in the States, exhibitors were wary (as they were before our own NADJ events became established).

Of the 30 manufacturers’ exhibits on show, few items of equipment were as well designed as their UK counterparts although as part of the apparent “bigger is better” belief that is widespread amongst US disco operators, there were indeed some extremely powerful speaker horns and amplifiers on display.

One of the gimmicks of the New York DJ style is to use vast bass horns, separately amplified, to emphasize certain passages of music, and likewise to bring out the sizzling cymbals through clusters of radiating miniature tweeters suspended over the dance floor.

The most eye-catching exhibits were the three competing video projection systems, all of which transmit three invisible beams of red, blue and green onto screens of up to 15 feet in size, on which they superimpose to produce full colour giant TV pictures. Video cassettes available include packaged soul shows from TV, specially created disco music programmes, and star performances including David Bowie.

For more about the Forum, see my full report in this month’s Disco Mirror.

And to finish off, let’s hope that more disco names from Britain will be there next year.


New Spins

BILLY PAUL: ‘America (We Need The Light)’ / ‘People Power’ / ‘Let’s Make A Baby’ (from LP ‘When Love Is New’, Philadelphia Int’l. PIR 69207) (mentioned in Billboard column 12/20/75, Billboard chart debut 1/3/76)
Two straight disco tracks that are getting NY radio plays too, while the Chris Hill-tipped last track is more as you might expect from Billy, and embarrassingly near the knuckle for many.

LOVE SOUNDS: ‘Ebb Tide’ (Pye 7N 45487)
Out here a year ago, this dreamy ‘n creamy Tony Hatch disco treatment of Frank Chacksfield’s old US biggie is currently getting NY action as an import – a fact which might surprise Pye!

BATAAN: ‘The Bottle’ (Epic EPC 3818) (mentioned in Billboard column and chart debut 1/11/1975)
Huge a year ago, this Salsoul version of Gil Scott-Heron’s tune was a NY hit and still sounds great – if late! – today.  Bouncily hustling instrumental.

RAMSEY LEWIS: ‘Spider Man (What’s The Name Of This Funk)’ (from LP ‘Don’t It Feel Good’, CBS 81006) (Billboard chart debut 1/17/76)
Funky stuff with chanting and synthetics, already big in the clubs here and still hanging on in NY.

CATE BROS.: ‘Union Man’ (from LP ‘Cate Bros.’, Asylum SYL 9030) (Billboard chart debut 1/3/76)
Roger Chapmanesque vocal and a funky-cum-hustling rhythm are giving this pair of Steve Cropper produced white brothers a NY disco hit.

ESTHER PHILLIPS: ‘For All We Know’ (Kudu 929) (mentioned in Billboard column 1/24/76)
Rapidly released here but many NY disco DJs think that this formularized up-dating of the lovely “We may never meet again” oldie is too much like a parody of the disco sound for even them to play.

OLIVER SAIN: ‘Party Hearty’ (Contempo CS 2081)
Although the B side here, this bouncy instrumental is a US soul hit.

JOHNNY WAKELIN: ‘Reggae, Soul And Rock ‘N Roll’ (Pye 7N 45552)
Effective funky thump beat and simple lyrics about the international disco brotherhood.

HENRY MANCINI: ‘The Pink Panther Theme’ (RCA 2569)
New version (very much like the old) which could be an amusing insert for voice-overs.

THE SUNSHINE BAND: ‘Rock Your Baby’ (Jay Boy BOY 104) (Billboard chart debut 10/18/75)
With an even bigger beat than George McCrae’s vocal version, KC’s kids give the multi-million-selling tune a socking instrumental treatment that’s disco dynamite!

JULIE: ‘One Fine Day’ (Tom Cat TOM 1) (mentioned in Billboard column 11/15/75, Billboard chart debut 11/22/76)
Arranged by Harold “Baby Face” Wheeler – which should be pedigree enough – this gaily romping new hustle version of the Chiffons’ oldie is lotsa fun and just right!

THE BOOGIE MAN ORCHESTRA: ‘Lady, Lady, Lady’ (Contempo CS 2082) (Billboard chart debut 7/5/75)
Big in US discos, the slow starting lush ‘n lovely theme becomes a bouncing piano-led hustler somewhat like Andre Gagnon’s ‘Wow’, with a vocal version B-side.

KOKOMO: ‘Use Your Imagination’ (CBS 3917) (Billboard chart debut 4/10/76)
Produced by Florida’s Brad Shapiro, the British soulsters’ newie is one of those irresistible leaping fast funky flyers, authentic in every way and likely to be their first overdue hit.

THE PEARLS: ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’ (Private Stock PVT 47) (mentioned in Billboard column 2/7/76, Billboard chart debut 2/28/76)
Out here just after its US release, the British girls’ super-speedy hustling treatment of the lovely oldie comes complete with sizzling cymbals.

V.I.P. CONNECTION: ‘Please Love Me Again’ (Creole CR 115)
To a terrific steadily hustling rhythm this instrumental – with – cooing just cooks along with hissing hi-hats and perfect disco instrumentation.  Check it out.

ROBERT PALMER: ‘Give Me An Inch’ / ‘Pressure Drop’ (Island WIP 6272)
Standout track on his great ‘Pressure Drop’ album, this lovely gradually building blue-eyed soul swirler is pulsatingly subtle, while the flipside title track – a Maytals oldie – has that reggae rhythm and is already a funky club fave.

BECKETT BROWN: ‘Nobody Else Will Do’ (RCA 2650)
Impressively different, this Paul Phillips production gives smoky-voiced Beckett an intriguingly churning rhythm, plenty of tension and pent-up excitement.

RONNIE LANE’S SLIM CHANCE: ‘Don’t Try ‘N Change My Mind’ (Island WIP 6258)
With mandolins amidst the moody backing, Ron’s great mid-tempo lurcher is full of a sinister jollity that makes his best since ‘How Come’.  I love it!

MFSB: ‘Get Down With The Philly Sound’ / ‘Brothers And Sisters’ (from LP ‘Philadelphia Freedom’, Philadelphia Int’l. PIR 69208) (Billboard chart debut 12/6/75)
My lists of NY disco hits keep getting cut short, so to continue with some typically Philly sounds, these are indeed the big disco tracks from this album.


Import Picks

B.C.G.: ‘Street Talk’ (20th Century TC 2271) (mentioned in Billboard column 1/24/76, Billboard chart debut 1/31/76)
In an unprecedented move, this new Bob Crewe Generation instrumental-with-voices has been issued in demo form as a 12” 45 with three different “sides” (editions), running at 9:22, 4:22 and 6:08 – each length being respectively for DJs, Pop 40 and FM radio play. A good gimmick that’s already helping the otherwise slightly uninspired hustler.

BLACK BLOOD: ‘Chicano’ (Mainstream MRL 5574) (mentioned in Billboard column 11/1/75, Billboard chart debut 1/17/76)
Due out here soon, the ex-Japanese Afro-funksters now go Puerto Rican-Mexican on this powerful Latin rhythm chanter. As I guess they’re in fact European, they seem quite versatile!

THE DUPREES: ‘Delicious’ (RCA PB 10407) (Billboard chart debut 11/8/75)
The veterans are bang up to date on their fast hustling thumper, arranged by Bobby Martin and produced by Jerry Ross (who, little heralded, helped start the modern Philly Sound by partnering with Kenny Gamble in the 60s).

JAY & THE TECHNIQUES: ‘Number One-derful’ (Event EV 228) (Billboard chart debut 1/31/76)
The pumpkin pie guys are stirring up disco action again with a catchy Levine and Brown ditty that’s also produced by Jerry Ross.

SYLVERS: ‘Boogie Fever’ (Capitol 4179)
The brothers and sisters Jackson Five-type family group’s fast-rising hit is a thumping bass propelled bouncer with more teenage than disco appeal.

PINKIES: ‘Porto Rico’ (Philips 40802) (Billboard chart debut 9/13/75)
Appropriately big in Puerto Rican discos, this appears to be the original of the UK-issued Tropical Band version, which actually sounds snappier.


UK Disco Top 20 – February 14, 1976

01 01 Miracles – Love Machine – Tamla Motown
02 NE Four Seasons – December 1963 – Warner Bros.
03 05 A Wing & A Prayer Fife & Drum Corps – Baby Face – Atlantic
04 03 Donna Summer – Love To Love You Baby – GTO
05 06 Sound 9418 – In The Mood – UK
06 11 War – Low Rider – Island
07 07 Osibisa – Sunshine Day – Bronze
08 16 O’Jays – I Love Music – Philadelphia Int’l
09 02 Fatback Band – Do The Bus Stop – Polydor
10 19 David Ruffin – Walk Away From Love – Tamla Motown
11 NE George McCrae – Honey I – Jay Boy
12 20 Faith, Hope & Charity – Just One Look – RCA
13 09 Ralph Carter – Extra, Extra (Read All About It) – Mercury
14 04 Barry White – Let The Music Play – 20th Century
15 RE Gloria Gaynor – How High The Moon – MGM
16 NE Electric Light Orchestra – Evil Woman – Jet
17 12 Paul Davidson – Midnight Rider – Tropical
18 NE Glenn Miller – Moonlight Serenade – RCA
19 NE Fire – Oh That’s My Man – Jay Boy
20 NE Bob Dylan – Hurricane – CBS
NE = new entry; RE = re-entry

Note: The Four Seasons – December 1963 becomes the first track to debut inside the Top Five.

Appeared in Billboard:
#1 (mentioned in Billboard column 10/4/75, Billboard chart debut 10/11/75)
#3 (mentioned in Billboard column 10/4/75, Billboard chart debut 10/11/75)
#4 (mentioned in Billboard column 9/27/75, Billboard chart debut 10/4/75)
#6 (mentioned in Billboard column 9/13/75)
#8 (mentioned in Billboard column 10/11/75, Billboard chart debut 10/25/75)
#9 (mentioned in Billboard column 11/15/75, Billboard chart debut 11/22/75)
#10 (Billboard chart debut 12/20/75)
#11 (Billboard chart debut 1/24/76)
#13 (mentioned in Billboard column 11/15/75, Billboard chart debut 12/6/75)
#14 (mentioned in Billboard column 12/20/75, Billboard chart debut 3/13/76)
#15 (mentioned in Billboard column 8/23/75, Billboard chart debut 9/13/75)


Songs mentioned in “DJ Hot Line”:

TOM CLAY: ‘What The World Needs Now Is Love’ / ‘Abraham, Martin & John’ (Mowest)
DONALD BYRD: ‘Change’ (Blue Note) (mentioned in Billboard column 10/18/75, Billboard chart debut 10/25/75)
THE DISCO SOUND OF ANDRE GAGNON: ‘Wow’ (Decca) (Billboard chart debut 1/17/76)
JESSE GREEN: ‘Nice And Slow’ (EMI) (mentioned in Billboard column 4/24/76, Billboard chart debut 5/1/76)
JACKIE ROBINSON: ‘Moving Like A Superstar’ (Pye) (Billboard chart debut 3/20/76)
RICHARD HEWSON ORCHESTRA: ‘Love For Hire’ (Splash) (mentioned in Billboard column 2/7/76, Billboard chart debut 2/28/76)
BROOK BENTON: ‘Mr. Bartender’ (All Platinum)

Next week: A slew of imports reviewed a few weeks ago get released in the UK, Hammy reveals what Tom Moulton did before becoming a remixer, and a certain continental group makes its first appearance in the column!

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