January 27, 1979: “Disco jocks are now thinking more than ever before about mixing their records.”

Where once there were few disco charts, now weekly it seems more and more publications are jumping on the disco bandwagon and printing their own charts . . . with an inevitable workload increase for those DJ’s who kindly contribute returns and make them all possible. Just so that you know it’s worthwhile in case you’re one of these and are having to make a choice, Record Mirror’s long-established national disco airplay chart is considered accurate enough for the PRS to use in future as the basis for royalty payments to composers whose work appears in it! It may not be the most exciting chart, but it’s hopefully (with your help) the most authoritative – and longest? This week’s is the first to be compiled, not without teething problems, on RB Research Ltd’s computer, from nearly 200 DJ returns. We’re not exactly short of contributors, but more “hip”-type ones are still needed. John “No Jeans” Lewis (Brighton Metro) actually counters my last plea for contributors with the thought that “MoR merchants” are surely more typical of the disco scene: this may be true, but most seem so unadventurous in their programming that they might just as well send in the BMRB top thirty (which is not to knock the job they’re doing). The truest remark comes from Terry Emm (Dunstable): “the hip jocks are laziest because they’re always in record shops searching for new hip product.” On the nail, Terry! These are the jocks who, now that most major DJ’s are spoon-fed with free UK product, actually still go out and pay money for imports which, depending on the reaction they then get, may eventually get issued here – and sent out for free – months later. Don’t knock ‘em, they’re doing all the work.

Record Mirror may not have been the first to feature Beats Per Minute, but it’s certainly created the biggest stir.

Record companies are now starting to list BPM’s on their releases (in fact I seem to be doing the timing for a lot of them!), radio jocks have suddenly taken to doing BPM-locked running mixes on air, and – most important and my main intention – disco jocks are now thinking more than ever before about mixing their records.

Even jocks who understood the principle and had been happily mixing by ear for years have found the BPM info invaluable if only because it reminded them of mixes they might otherwise not have thought of. Graham Gold (Southgate Royalty / Greenlord Champers) reports for instance, “thanks to your BPM chart, that was the most together set I’ve ever done!”

Other DJ comments include Doctor John (Telford & Stafford Disco-Tech) “your BPM info has been masterful”; David Emery (Newcastle upon Tyne Scamps) “congratulations – your BPM has finally sealed the gap and put Record Mirror right into the number one spot, making it the only paper of any genuine use to decent DJ’s”; Alan Donald (Rothesay) “give yourself an award for being the most helpful columnist in the business”; John Lewis (Brighton Metro) “congratulations on promoting a stupid fad which helps to gloss over microphone inadequacies usually displayed by these so-called “hip” DJ’s – God help you if you need to tell customers that the venue is burning down!”

Yer what?!? Well, why shouldn’t someone who hasn’t got a good voice DJ too . . . I’ve been managing without using a mike except for important announcements ever since (gulp!) 1963, so I’d hardly call mixing a stupid fad!

There has been a revolution in the last year that you may or may not have noticed, but as mobile jock Grahame Goodyer (New Milton) rightly reports, “I’ve been operating for nearly five years now, playing for every taste, and have noticed recently that pure disco music is now much more accepted by the older generations – you should see them boogie to ‘YMCA’, Dan Hartman and the like”.

It may have been the Bee Gees that did it, but – whatever – the world does seem to be beating time to a new sub-conscious tempo, and that tempo is disco. All of a sudden those old rock and pop proven standards so loved by MoR jocks sound, sadly, very tired and out of date – and worse, often now don’t work. The record business, far from deserting disco for punk as I once predicted, has discovered that these two musical forms make a twin-pronged attack on the sales charts without needing radio support, and the disco side of the business is busier and more sophisticated than could previously ever have been imagined.

As someone on television might have put it, “we have the technology – now let’s use it”, disco records, especially 12-inchers, tend to feature steady rhythm intros and breaks (some now eyen have “eye-cue” scrolling bands pressed in the vinyl to show each break point), all of which is meant to make mixing easier. A long version 12in is not intended to be played right through from beginning to end, the extra length is to allow you more choice in where to mix out of it . . . or, indeed, into it. You can play the bit out of it . . . or, indeed, into it. You can play the bit that suits your mix best. This is the music that is being purpose-built for DJ’s to use, it’s the beat that the public wants, it’s the tool of our trade. All I’ve been trying to do is make sure that you know how to use your tool in the way that the maker intended!

Next week I’ll feature several mixes sent in blocks, but in the meantime I suggest that you arm yourself with the last few back-issues of RM and transfer the applicable BPM’s to your own records (write ‘em on sleeve or label – I find the latter most useful), then arrange the records in order of BPM speed and start looking for the best segue sequences.

Remember that the BPM only indicates the number of beats per minute and cannot account for the actual rhythm, which of course can vary greatly despite a similar seeming BPM rating. Practice makes perfect, so experiment – bearing in mind that you’ll be playing the expertly blended result to a hard-dancing public, who will expect a punchy hit-packed programme without too many tricky flights of fancy. If you’re among the majority of jocks still using fixed-speed turntables, this BPM style of mixing should make life a lot easier, but should not be followed mechanically, like I’ve said before. Use your ears, and have fun!

Disco News

Deborah Washington is evidently on 12in, but Bob Marley is now not on 12in after all . . . Andy Gibb ‘Shadow Dancing’ is of course 102bpm and not 120 as misprinted last week . . . Lorraine Lewis, much missed, has left EMI LRD disco promotion . . . Barbara Randolph ‘I Got A Feeling’ maxi 7in is out next week with original old Tamla Motown label and olive-coloured sleeve! . . . James Brown, Isaac Hayes, Cheryl Lynn are also due then on 12in, Gold Bullion Band on 7in, while Caroline Crawford 12in is out soon too . . . Jersey jock Alex Anders – real surname Szedmaky Glendinning! – (St Peters Mermaid) and mate Michael Lee Musgrove (St Helier Skyline) spent the night at Mayfair Gullivers before jetting to Bermuda for their Record Business Disco Forum prize holiday at the Bermudian Hotel . . . Panache Music Publishers have tested an unplaced white label 12in of their Classical Mechanics ‘Woman Of Ice’ by mailing it to all DJF (GB) member jocks . . . pooh-poohed in some quarters, but is Gary’s Gang really the return of Mr Glitter?

New Spins

GENE CHANDLER: ‘Get Down’ (20th Century BTCL 1040) (BNDA debut 11/18/78)
Already enormous on import, the terrific bouncily burbling 117bpm funky bumper is now on 8:14 pink vinyl 12in with plenty of thudding rhythm breaks – all visually cued with scrolled bands (except the pink vinyl doesn’t exactly help!) – which mix beautifully in front of Herbie Hancock!

DONALD BYRD: ‘Loving You’ (Elektra K 12381)
Dynamite official 12in B-side, this 111bpm girlie group-sung bumpy 7:20 swayer slots perfectly over Instant Funk’s instrumental break – it’s even got the same chord progression for the first 38 secs! – and has consequently exploded with hip jocks, eclipsing the remixed ‘Thank You For Funking Up My Life’ A-side.

SEA LEVEL: ‘(Sneakers) Fifty Four’ (Capricorn POSPX 28)
Steadily thumping subtle cool 120bpm guitar jazz-funk instrumental jitterer, huge on import LP, is now due here on 6:40 12in . . . and is another that mixes perfectly out of Instant Funk’s instrumental break!  Continue reading “January 27, 1979: “Disco jocks are now thinking more than ever before about mixing their records.””

January 20, 1979: Herbie Hancock, Edwin Starr, Mick Jackson, Peaches & Herb, Zulema

Last week’s exhaustive Beats Per Minute listing was so long that unfortunately part of it had to be cut out – and the bit chosen just happened to be half the 132bpm section, one of the currently hottest! So, together with some new additions, here is that complete section again.

31 – BILL SUMMERS: ‘All I Want’ (US Prestige LP)
40 – THREE DEGREES: ‘Woman In Love’ (Ariola 7”)
42 – ODYSSEY: ‘Quiet Star’ (42/84) (US RCA 12”)
59 – BOB JAMES: ‘Touchdown’ (59/118) (Tappan Zee LP); LONNIE LISTON SMITH: ‘Quiet Moments’ (59/119-61/121) (US Columbia 12”)
90 – BOBBY CALDWELL: ‘Down For The Third Time’ (TK 7”)
108 – JAMES BROWN: ‘Sex Machine’ (Polydor 12”)
109 – DOBIE GRAY: ‘You Can Do It’ (US Infinity 12”)
111 – BLACKBYRDS: ‘Rock Creek Park’ (111/55) (Fantasy LP); DONALD BYRD: ‘Loving You’ (US Elektra 12”)
114 – BROTHERS JOHNSON: ‘Ain’t We Funkin’ Now’ (to 116) (US A&M 12” remix)
115 – BLACKBYRDS: ‘Happy Music’ (115/57) (Fantasy LP)
116 – BILL SUMMERS: ‘Straight To The Bank’ (US Prestige 12”)
118 – EDDIE HORAN: ‘The Dancer’ (US HDM LP); BOB JAMES: ‘Touchdown’ (118/59) (Tappan Zee LP)
120 – STANLEY COWELL: ‘The Stoker’ (US Galaxy LP); JAMES WELLS: ‘My Claim To Fame’ (to 127) (Pye LP)
122 – GARCIA’S SUPER FUNK: ‘I Didn’t Know That You Could Dance’ (US TK 12”); GREY & HANKS: ‘Dancin’’ (US RCA LP)
124 – BLACKBYRDS: ‘Gut Level’ (Fantasy LP); LONNIE LISTON SMITH: ‘Space Princess’ (to 127) (US Columbia 12”); RON LOUIS SMITH: ‘Party Freaks Come On’ (US Sunshine Sound 12”)
126 – JAMES BROWN: ‘For Goodness Sakes Look At Those Cakes’ (Polydor 12”); NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN: ‘I Don’t Want Nobody Else’ (US Atlantic 12”)
127 – GARY’S GANG: ‘Do It At The Disco’ (US Columbia 12”); TRAMMPS: ‘Soul Bones’ (US Atlantic 12”)
129 – LEIF GARRETT: ‘I Was Made For Dancin’’ (Scotti Brothers 7”)
131 – ARPEGGIO: ‘Love And Desire’ (US Polydor LP)

132 – AMANT: ‘If There’s Love’ (US TK 12”); AQUARIAN DREAM: ‘Fantasy’ (Elektra LP); ROY AYERS & WAYNE HENDERSON: ‘Heat Of The Beat’ (Polydor 12”); BEAUTIFUL BEND: ‘Make That Feeling Come Again’ / ‘Ah Do It’ (US TK 12”); CLASS: ‘Get Your Chic Together’ (instrumental) (US TK 12”); CROWN HEIGHTS AFFAIR: ‘I’m Gonna Love You Forever’ (Mercury 12”); JOHN DAVIS & THE MONSTER ORCHESTRA: ‘Ain’t That Enough For You’ (Miracle 12”); JOE FARRELL: ‘Night Dancing’ (Warner Bros. 12”); FOXY: ‘Get Off’ (TK 12”); GANYMED: ‘It Takes Me Higher’ (Creole 12”); HI-TENSION: ‘Unspoken’ (Island WIP 7”); AL HUDSON: ‘Spread Love’ (ABC 12”); LORRAINE JOHNSON: ‘Learning To Dance All Over Again’ (to 134) (US Prelude LP); MANDRILL: ‘Having A Love Attack’ (US Arista LP); MANTUS: ‘Freestyle Rhythm’ (US SMI 12”); MUSIQUE: ‘Keep On Jumpin’’ (CBS LP); FREDA PAYNE: ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ / ‘Happy Music’ (Tower 12”); QUARTZ: ‘Beyond The Clouds’ (Pye 12”); REAL THING: ‘Can You Feel The Force’ (Pye LP); KING SPORTY: ‘Fire Keep On Burning’ (US TK 12”); DONNA SUMMER: ‘MacArthur Park’ (Casablanca LP); THREE DEGREES: ‘Giving Up, Giving In’ (Ariola 12”); TWO MAN SOUND: ‘Que Tal America’ (Miracle 12”); ZULEMA: ‘Change’ (London 12”)

Disco News

Camberley Frenchies have a Wally Night with Bee Gees music and other ghastly fun on Sunday, Feb 4, while on Friday, Jan 26, Chris Hill has a St. Trinian’s Nite at Southgate Royalty – fancy dress desirable at both, of course! . . . Froggy starts a small over 18’s soul club this Thursday (18) at Ilford’s Cauliflower pub hall, members only, pub hours, 75p to get in . . . Rudy “Minimix” Gilpin now spins ‘em downstairs on the pop floor at Gulliver’s in Mayfair’s Down Street – supposedly a promotion for him! . . . WEA plan a total 12in blitz in coming months – my lips have to be sealed re details, sorry – but you’ll be amazed! . . . Donald Byrd’s US 12in will be out here next week, for starters, and Supermax’s ‘Lovemachine’ is due on 12in too . . . Boney M. ‘Dancing In The Streets’ will be on remixed US 12in soon . . . THP ‘Two Hot For Love’ LP, reviewed on import last week, is due here now on Rocket (TRAIN 2) . . . Ian Dury is out now on a same-length 12in, while Mankind ‘Dr. Who’ is available on black, blue, grey, green, brown or clear vinyl! . . . Brothers Johnson ‘Ain’t We Funkin’ Now’ has been remixed for 7:30 US 12in, and Leif Garrett is on 6:53 US 12in as well as picture-disc UK 7in . . . Sea Level is out next week, Paradise Express and Gaz on Feb 9, all as 12in – but we must wait until March for Gary’s Gang (which CBS are dangerously close to putting on Dan Hartman-sized 7in unless we all insist otherwise) . . . I hope all true soul fans managed to see Sunday’s South Bank Show film about the black South African music scene – much of the gospel-ish vocal group music and the setting in which it was performed was quite astonishingly like the American equivalent of say fifteen years ago.

New Spins

HERBIE HANCOCK: ‘You Bet Your Love’ (CBS 12-7010)
Worth the wait and already exploding, it’s dynamite steady 118bpm stamper with wailing Stevie Wonder-ish vocoder vocal, catchy chix chorus (the big pop hook) and a terrifically happy rhythm-shifting instrumental drive. Fight for the 8:06 12in, as the 3:56 7in hardly gets going.

EDWIN STARR: ‘Contact’ (20th Century BTCL 2896) (BNDA debut 11/18/78)
Already huge and totally compulsive easily rolling 130bpm rhythm rattler with catchy clapping, synthesizer spurts and good old Edwin gruffly extolling eye-to-eye . . . CONTACT! – on hit-bound 7:21 pink vinyl 12in.

MICK JACKSON: ‘Weekend’ (Atlantic K 11224)
Infectiously romping 116-119bpm thumper has his Stevie Wonder-type vocal sound and bags of bouncy pop appeal. Should smash.  Continue reading “January 20, 1979: Herbie Hancock, Edwin Starr, Mick Jackson, Peaches & Herb, Zulema”

January 13, 1979: “All the currently played disco material arranged by number of Beats Per Minute”

This week the full UK Disco Top 90 now joins other charts in the expanded chart section on page 30, where it will in future always appear . . . leaving more room for reviews ‘n’ stuff on this page!  In its place for this issue only, you see alongside a rating of just about all the currently played disco material arranged by number of Beats Per Minute (a few imports I don’t have bpm info for, but they’re all that’s missing).  Cut out and treasure this piece of paper, as for just 18p you have purchased a reference work that in its closest American counterpart would cost you something like £120!  The American system of monthly up-dated computer printouts on all their bpms, Disco Beats, really only relates to the very different US market.  This listing, which took me many days to complete, duplicates very few of those US bpm ratings that are common to both countries – as many of the US bpms I found not to tally with my own computations.  Some will be the same, of course, but then an accurate bpm will be the same whoever computes it.  Remember, when mixing and using bpms as a guide, that you must use your ears as well!  The other major change which is about to happen is that from next week the Disco Chart will be computed using RB Research Ltd’s special computer, so all the resulting chart positions will be arrived at automatically.  It is vital that the hipper, import-orientated funk-jazz jocks keep me supplied regularly with charts . . . as otherwise we’ll be swamped by the Middle of the Road merchants!  All types of disco DJs are invited to contribute, but the so-called “hip” ones do seem to be laziest!

Listing in order of Beats Per Minute (bpm) of all disco product currently in use by chart-contributing DJs:  Continue reading “January 13, 1979: “All the currently played disco material arranged by number of Beats Per Minute””

January 6, 1979: To BPM Or Not To BPM

To BPM Or Not To BPM

Starting this issue as we intend to go through 1979, all significant record reviews will in future feature the Beats Per Minute (bpm) as an aid to the ever-increasing number of jocks who mix between records with similar rhythms. This week also, although not a regular feature, the entire Disco Top 90 and its various “breakers” sections indicate each title’s bpm rating . . . so I suggest that you keep this issue handy if you can’t transpose the bpm info onto your record sleeves immediately.

Next week there will be a listing of all currently in-use product grouped together in order of bpm speed, so that all the titles at 130 bpm will be noted, followed by those at 131 bpm, etc. Really useful, huh? I hope so!

To work out your own bpm timing for any type of record, all you need is a stopwatch (of the type with a sweep second hand is best) and – making sure your deck is at the spot-on correct speed – tap your foot in time with the record’s main bass beat. When you’ve got the feel of the rhythm, hit the stopwatch start button on a beat/tap and start counting “nought, one, two, three – etc” for either 10, 15, 20 or 30 seconds, depending on which length of time it takes for a beat to fall as closely as possible onto one of those time divisions. Say you got 20 beats in 10 seconds, multiply 20 by 6 (to bring the 10 secs up to a minute) and you find you’ve got 120 Beats Per Minute. Likewise, multiply your 15 secs total by 4, the 20 secs total by 3 or the 30 secs one by 2. It sometimes helps to have several tries at different timing lengths to get a really accurate result (and don’t forget that not all drummers use a metronome or tape loop yet!), while it’s a good idea to check the bpm discrepancy between different sections of the same record, as some get faster or slower.

However, having worked out the bpm ratings for all your records, don’t think that just because two have the same surface tempo similarity they will make a perfect mix from one to the other – you must use your ears as well! Beats are one thing, but rhythm and attack are dictated by the rest of the instrumentation, by the key and vocal sound. Also, don’t be afraid to jump up or down the tempo scale, as a smoothly blending sequence of all the same speed gets dull without some dynamics being injected into it – we’re not all New York hustlers here!

To do a synchronized mix, running in one beat on top of another, or to do a chop mix, cutting from one to another on the beat, you also need to have a feel for the musical progression: it’s useful to tap your foot in time with the rhythm and count off to yourself the beats in each bar of music – “one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four” – so that the new record will slot neatly into the one being played. Best of all, though, is to have a set of variable speed decks, with which you can then alter the record’s speed to suit the mix – taking, say, something from 124 bpm up to 131 bpm (not that with variable speed decks you’re particularly aware of the bpm rating, as you’re mixing purely by ear). If, with variable speeds, you do want to check the bpm at which something is playing, then you can quickly get a rough idea by checking it against your wristwatch’s second hand in the same way as when doing a proper bpm.

Finally, the reason why so many of today’s disco records – especially on 12in – have a thumping instrumental intro and rattling rhythm break about two thirds of the way through should be obvious . . . they’re making it easy to mix! (Gah, penny’s dropped!)

Also, in this issue, we start again a review section for disco imports. The chart has become increasingly import-orientated in recent months, proving that many jocks can’t be bothered with what the UK companies may or may not decide to release. To quote Capital Radio’s Mike Allen, who runs 1979’s answer to the old Rosko road show, “you have to buy imports because the days of using UK issues are over – by the time something is out here, it’s ancient history!”

Disco News

Dave McAleer, known to many for Pye’s old Northern soul series, is now Black Product and Disco Manager at RCA . . . Caroline Crawford ‘Coming On Strong’ / ‘A Nice Feeling’ is due on Mercury 12in this month while Decca are coupling Hamilton Bohannon’s old ‘Foot Stomping Music’ / ‘Have A Good Day’ on full-length 12in soon . . . General Johnson, Mandrill, Afro-Cuban Band and Raydio are the next Arista 12in batch in about four weeks . . . Gonzalez ‘Haven’t Stopped Dancin’ Yet’ is belatedly hitting in US on Capitol 12in remix . . . Phil Salter (Manchester) and Roger Harold (Tunbridge Wells) both info that the Funkadelic 12in that they bought on UK issue has an 11:13 Part 1 and 5:35 instrumental Pt 2 – so, sorry if my earlier info was misleading, but I did get it at WEA’s own Xmas party! . . . Fatman Graham Canter and Froggy’s Roadshow funk Southgate Royalty this Saturday (6), when Bournemouth Village sees the return of previous residents Andy (Radio One) Peebles and Clive B Dearsley . . . Richard “Tricky Dicky” Scanes had 2000 records ripped off in South London a week before Xmas, but as some WEA 12in promos were numbered it may be possible to trace where the villain unloaded them: have you recently obtained any of these on 12in with the following rubber-stamped numbers – Rod Stewart (0009), Ashford and Simpson (00013), Funkadellc (00056), Goody Goody (00013), Chaka Khan (00092), Curtis Mayfield (00088), Chic (00099)? If so, please tip off Dicky at 01-551 1987 . . . London’s LODJ Assn meets this Sunday (7) at 4pm in the Blue Coat Boy pub near Angel tube to learn about technical matters from Brian Davies . . . Tony Holden of the DJF(GB) (0734-882794) is running a master diary to prevent any clashes in the dates for planned DJ events, so contact him early on if you’re organising anything like an exhibition or DJ meeting . . . Colin Hudd now funks Dartford Flicks in Kent Road every Fri/Saturday, while Danny Wilde is newly resident at Bristol Vadims in Clifton’s Queens Road, and Greg Davies info’s that Stevenage Bo Jangles has a new sound and laser lighting system . . . Dave Middleton (0908-76079) needs a hall in Milton Keynes for his projected Monday night soul disco but can’t block-book council property: can anyone help?

New Spins

DAN HARTMAN: ‘This Is It’ / ‘Countdown’ (Blue Sky CBS 12-6999)
Far better in its continuous 14:12 LP and promo 12in form, the ‘Countdown / This Is It’ track has been cut in two with the blinder 6:45 latter part made plug side and more exciting 7:05 first part put on the flip of both 12in and edited 7in (SKY 6999). Similar to ‘Instant Replay’, the 133 bpm stormer’s a great mixer (try it out of Edwin Starr) and deserves to be heard in full: why don’t CBS do right by Dan (and us) this time at least?  Think how many they’d sell if this and the full ‘Replay’ were on 12in back-to-back!

BLONDIE: ‘Heart Of Glass’ (Chrysalis CHS 12-2275) (BNDA debut 4/14/79)
Dynamite 5:50 117bpm disco remix 12in powers along like a heavier slowed-up Donna ‘I Feel Love’ crossed with Rod’s ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’, and is sure to smash pop.

LAKESIDE: ‘It’s All The Way Live’ (RCA FO 1382)
Stolidly thumping 7:17 funky 12in chanter shifts up from 118 to 120bpm and chop mixes nicely in front of Shalamar (skipping very start).  Continue reading “January 6, 1979: To BPM Or Not To BPM”