Something ultimately harmful seems to be happening – something that needs a warning before it gets totally out of control.
Over the last month or so, the disco market has become saturated with product. The type of music released on singles in this country has dramatically changed, so that material appealing to disco audiences now dominates. “Heavy” groups have practically vanished. MoR has become beatier, teenybopper acts and straight pop purveyors are less in evidence.
In America, which is in the throes of an enormous “disco” boom, this trend could be expected. In fact, it is amazing to see how few of the really big disco hits actually go on to make a sizeable impression on the national Top 100 there. Which is the point of my message here . . .
A hell of a lot of good disco records are coming out here – far too many! Very few of them are going on to the sort of success that they deserve. Disco DJs, radio programmers and even record reviewers are so swamped with potentially useful singles that they haven’t a chance of being able to break more than just a few.
OK, so record producers have discovered that a market exists which they can aim for when concocting their creations (and a surprisingly large number of the disco singles come from Britain and Europe). But, please fellows, ease up before you kill the goose that lays those golden eggs! A look at the British Top 50 shows that disco reaction can definitely make Pop hits, but another look also shows that there is only so much room for disco records.
Ease up before there’s a backlash, as is beginning to be the case in the States. In fact, ease up before it’s too late.
BRASS CONSTRUCTION: ‘Movin’’ / ‘Changin’’ (from LP ‘Brass Construction’, UA UAS 29923) (LP mentioned in Billboard column 1/17/76, Billboard chart debut 1/24/76)
From possibly the biggest selling import album of all time, now out here, these two eight minute plus tracks are almost as unremittingly funky as they are when done live. Terrific!
THE ROYAL SHOW BAND: ‘The Hucklebuck’ (Irish EMI IEMI 5038)
A mind-reading plugger from EMI Ireland has sent me this re-issue of the Brendan Bowyer-led showband’s 1965 smash, an infectious party-type styling after Chubby Checker’s twisted treatment of the late ’40s dance tune.
FRANK SINATRA: ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ (Reprise K 14420)
Pity it’s the applause-riddled live ‘Main Event’ cut, but even so this is great quickstepping stuff.
BETTE MIDLER: ‘Strangers In The Night’ (Atlantic K 10729) (Billboard chart debut 2/14/76)
Bette’s trendy “disco” treatment is still good for the old folk, while her ‘Samedi Et Vendredi‘ flip has that Tabou Combo sound.
GEOFF MULDAUR: ‘Livin’ In The Sunlight (Lovin’ In The Moonlight)’ (Reprise K 14421)
Maria’s hubby has authentic ’20s-type fun with this happy Henry Hall-style silliness.
JOHN INMAN: ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ (DJM DJS 645)
A fine – if faster alternative to Henry Hall’s famous 1932 version (which is still available on World Records LP SH 172).
JOE BOB’S NASHVILLE SOUND COMPANY: ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ (Capitol CL 15857)
Less powerful than their great ‘In The Mood,’ though a good segue out of ‘Bump Bounce Boogie’ even so. The flip’s ‘Take The “A” Train’ is possibly stronger.
BONEY M: ‘Baby Do You Wanna Bump’ (Creole CR 119)
Prince Buster’s ‘Al Capone’ goes disco with a title change and zingy new rhythm!
HOT CHOCOLATE: ‘Don’t Stop It Now’ (Rak 230)
Predictable as crushed cacao seeds.
10CC: ‘I’m Mandy Fly Me’ (Mercury 6008019)
Ruthlessly edited from the LP though it is, this slowie’s an obvious smash.
LEROY HUTSON: ‘Feel The Spirit (In ‘76)’ (Curtom K 16702) (Billboard chart debut 2/7/76)
Lovely synthetic melody, cooing chix and hustling rhythm.
GENE PAGE: ‘Wild Cherry’ (Atlantlc K 10727) (mentioned in Billboard column 3/20/76)
Subdued ’60s brass, softened by ‘shoo-be-dooing’ chorus, whistling, strings and general MoR lushness.
PIERO UMILIANI: ‘Mah-Na-Mah-Na’ (EMI INT 519)
Original version of a much-sought 1969 movie theme – nagging nonsense noises, pure Easy Listening.
THE ALLAN BERNARD LITTLE BIG BAND: ‘Twelfth Street Rag’ (Destiny DP1)
Useful fun-filled Dixieland reading of the party fave.
CHANTER SISTERS: ‘Band Of Gold’ (Polydor 2058699)
Freaky stereo intro to an incredibly inventive revival that deserves to hit big.
LINDA LEWIS: ‘Baby I’m Yours’ (Arista 43)
Clumsy build-up to a US-recorded hustling treatment of Barbara Lewis’s oldie.
BARBRA STREISAND: ‘Shake Me, Wake Me (When It’s Over)’ (CBS 4027) (mentioned in Billboard column 11/15/75, Billboard chart debut 11/29/75)
Slightly over-done churning hustle beat revival.
FRANKIE AVALON: ‘Venus’ (Polydor 2001631) (Billboard chart debut 1/17/76)
Philadelphia’s finest reprises his ’59 hit with hustling hi-hats – lovely, but maybe more radio than disco.
JAMES FOUNTAIN: ‘Seven Day Lover’ (Cream CRM 5002)
Good gosh almighty Lord, UHH! In fact this William Bell production is genuinely good and worth getting by Soul fans both Southern and Northern.
ISAAC HAYES: ‘Groove-A-Thon’ (from LP ‘Groove-A-Thon’, ABC ABCL 5155)
Aptly-titled 9:48 marathon funky groove.
RONJI SOUTHERN: ‘I Just Wanna Dance’ (UA UP 36069)
Pierre Tubbs gives American Ronji a great bouncing funky hustle rhythm that grooves on into a Part 2 flip.
LEROY BROWN: ‘Real Love’ (EMI 2399)
Pretty light rhythm thunker in the Al Matthews bag.
JESS RODEN BAND: ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’ (Island WIP 6286)
Randy Newman’s hilariously kinky love swig is wordy but should cut through via this bottom-heavy sinister semi-slow roller.
DAVID NICHOLSON: ‘Getting A Little Lonely’ (Polydor 2058680)
Punchy Pop harmonies with a good Neil Sedaka beat.
CHRIS SPEDDING: ‘New Girl In The Neighbourhood’ (Rak 232)
Buddy Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away’ meets ‘Viva Bobby Joe’ and ‘The Batman Theme’ . . . hah – sussed!
MIKE BERRY: ‘Tribute To Buddy Holly’ (Polydor 2058700)
Modern remake of his 1961 classic, similar but minus the Joe Meek touch, this was a recent Netherlands hit.
DONNY GERRARD: ‘A Woman, A Lover, A Friend’ (Rocket PIG 17)
Soulful slowie, like a male ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’.
RAINY DAYS: ‘Party’ (Seville SEV 1009)
Hissing hi-hats rool, OK?!
ANACOSTIA: ‘All I Need’ (CBS 3742) (Billboard chart debut 9/27/75)
The ex-Presidents hustle along.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE: ‘Nursery Rhymes’ (Philadelphia Int’l PIR 4064) (Billboard chart debut 11/8/75)
Gruff-voiced sparse slow funk.
IODI: ‘Querida Mom’ (Argentinian EMI 1244)
Setting the cat among the pigeons, here’s a simply terrific import from Argentina! Combining perfect American hustle ingredients with Eastern influences, Marvin Gaye vocal sounds, stomping rhythm breaks and freakout guitar, it’s an inventively frothy delight that deserves release here, there and everywhere. Definitely a US smash if it gets out there.
BILLY COLE ORCHESTRA: ‘Mystic Mood’ (Recreational and Educational Enterprises, from G. Francis, 12 Canary Avenue, Kingston 11, Jamaica)
And another! This beautifully lush and sophisticated Easy Listening instrumental smoocher is credited to Zap-Pow as composer, yet it bears no relation to conventional Jamaican music. Be warned, it really is just straight Easy Listening, and truly lovely.
SOUL CHILDREN: ‘Finders Keepers’ (Epic 8-50178)
Meanwhile, back in the States, this old-fashioned Don Davis-produced Soul pounder is currently Sam and Dave-ing round about the halfway mark on the R&B chart.
MONDAY AFTER: ‘Merry-Go-Round’ (Buddah BDA 512) (mentioned in Billboard column 1/3/76, Billboard chart debut 1/31/76)
Here’s a Tom Moulton-mixed two-parter that’s climbing the Soul Top 30. A bright and breezy cymbal sizzler, it’s typically characterless despite some impassioned wailing from the guys in the group.
TOM SCOTT: ‘Uptown And Country’ (Ode 66116)
Featuring gospel-type organ by Richard Tee and slipper slide guitar by Hugh McCracken, this bouncing rhythm showcase for the sax-playing LA Express leader is enough of a hustler to go disco in a big way. Here, Jr Walker fans should love it.
THE SELECTORS: ‘Rock Back’ (Reggae RE 003)
Evidently a new dance, this rhythm and the chanted lyrics have a simple but peculiar power that is immediately grabbing. Not necessarily another ‘Dat’, but well worth checking.
BANDIT: ‘Money Money’ (Grounation GRO 2023)
Funky instrumental treatment of the O’Jays’ ‘Ship Ahoy’ album track, rather good.
THE CREATIVE AND THE RECEPTIVE: ‘Skin Tight – Too Tight’ (Tropical AL 060)
Inspired by the Ohio Players, this organ-led instrumental has a strong steady rhythm with wide appeal.
JOHN HOLT: ‘I’d Love You To Want Me’ (Trojan TR 7975)
Almost a Pop hit, John’s light reggaefication of Lobo’s oldie is far from ethnic and could go MoR.
NORRIS WIER: ‘Pump The Pump’ (Grounation GRO 2033)
The title refers to the bass voice’s line in the Gladiolas/Diamonds oldie, ‘Little Darlin” – which this in fact is, minus lyrics! Great fun.
HORACE ANDY: ‘Nice And Easy’ (Attack ATT 8117)
Melodic falsetto hustling reggae.
MICHAEL ROSE: ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’ (Oval 1008)
Natty Dred Locks, that’s who – and not Joe Dassin, despite the ‘Indian Summer’ sound.
OWEN GRAY: ‘I Say “Super-Jaws”’ (Horse HOSS 122)
Borrowing slightly from the Seven Seas tune, the veteran ska star does a soulful semi-slowie about the big fish.
UK Disco Top 20 – March 13, 1976
01 01 Tina Charles – I Love To Love – CBS
02 02 Four Seasons – December 1963 – Warner Bros.
03 06 Fatback Band – Spanish Hustle – Polydor
04 10 Billy Ocean – Love Really Hurts Without You – GTO
05 04 Stylistics – Funky Weekend – Avco
06 03 O’Jays – I Love Music – Philadelphia Int’l
07 11 Status Quo – Rain – Vertigo
08 NE M. & O. Band – Let’s Do The Latin Hustle – Creole
09 NE Glitter Band – People Like You – Bell
10 17 The Who – Squeeze Box – Polydor
11 NE Gallagher & Lyle – I Wanna Stay With You – A&M
12 NE 20th Century Steel Band – We’ve Got To Work To Stay Together – UA
13 NE Be-Bop Deluxe – Ships In The Night – Harvest
14 NE Sharonettes – Broken Hearted Melody – Black Magic
15 16 Louis Jordan – Choo Choo Ch’Boogie – MCA
16 08 Pluto Shervington – Dat – Opal
17 RE Manhattan Transfer – Tuxedo Junction – Atlantic
18 NE Eddie Drennon & B.B.S. Unlimited – Let’s Do The Latin Hustle – Pye
19 NE C. W. McCall – Convoy – MGM
20 18 L. J. Johnson – Your Magic Put A Spell On Me – Philips
NE = new entry; RE = re-entry
Appeared in Billboard:
#1 (Billboard chart debut 3/13/76)
#3 (mentioned in Billboard column 12/20/75, Billboard chart debut 12/27/75)
#4 (Billboard chart debut 4/3/76)
#6 (mentioned in Billboard column 10/11/75, Billboard chart debut 10/25/75)
#12 (mentioned in Billboard column 8/28/76)
#18 (Billboard chart debut 9/20/75)
Songs mentioned in “DJ Hot Line”:
20th Century Steel Band: ‘We’ve Got To Work To Stay Together’ (UA) (mentioned in Billboard column 8/28/76)
The Glitter Band: ‘Makes You Blind’ (Bell) (Billboard chart debut 8/21/76)
Eddie Kendricks: ‘He’s A Friend’ (Tamla Motown) (mentioned in Billboard column 1/3/76, Billboard chart debut 1/24/76)
PIONEERS: ‘Feel The Rhythm’ (Philips)
HAMILTON BOHANNON: ‘Bohannon’s Beat’ (Brunswick) (mentioned in Billboard column 12/13/75, Billboard chart debut 1/17/76)
Asleep At The Wheel: ‘Bump Bounce Boogie’ (Capitol)
Dr. Feelgood: ‘Back In The Night’ (UA)
Linda Thompson: ‘Ooh What A Night’ (Magnet) (mentioned in Billboard column 10/25/75, Billboard chart debut 1/17/76)
Butterfly: ‘Crazy Legs’ (Thunderbird)
BUNNY SIGLER: ‘Girl Don’t Make Me Wait’ (London)
DALIDA: ‘J’Attendrai’ (Decca)
RHYTHM HERITAGE: ‘Disco-Fied’ / ‘Boogie Down’ (ABC – US import LP cut)
PARLIAMENT: ‘Mothership Connection’ (Casablanca – US import)
JIMMY JAMES & THE VAGABONDS: ‘I Am Somebody’ (Pye) (mentioned in Billboard column 9/27/75, Billboard chart debut 11/1/75)
Next week: Hammy reviews more oldies, while the upper half of the chart remains static despite seven debuts and two re-entries.