This page takes so long to compile that, as mentioned before, by the time I’d typed it, then flown the Atlantic and boogied all night, I’d been up for 66 hours . . . the result you can see above, where snap-happy David See caught Froggy and myself quietly crashing while Chic bombed badly at New York’s Roseland Ballroom! Unfortunately I didn’t get much more sleep during the week of the Billboard Disco Forum V, so that the above picture also explains in part why last week’s page was rather lacking. Sorry!
Anyway, rather than continue my report on the scandal and fun to be found in NYC a fortnight ago, I’d better concentrate on the harder facts. Froggy is actually a good starting point, as he was the only British DJ to attend the Forum purely as a DJ . . . and he came back totally converted to American disco mixing! Although he didn’t pay all the enrollment dues, the trip still cost him £350, which he found to be money well spent. “It’s given me more knowledge about the American scene and equipment – the lighting effects are fantastic – and it’s totally changed my thoughts on mixing. I didn’t take it seriously until I heard it over there. Although I was against them at first, I think vari-speed turntables are now definitely of value, and I can’t wait to get my own. The mixes were brilliant!”
Chris Hill was attending the Forum as both DJ and Ensign label representative, and advisor to Southgate Royalty entrepreneur, Adrian Webb. In Chris’s usual outspoken way, he found the Forum’s panel discussions a waste of money but the exhibition part of the event a real eye-opener. “It took just a visit to New York to convince Webb that the Royalty was a toilet and did need upgrading!” Adrian’s reply was more restrained (if enigmatic). “Terrific, we are in a go situation. Hic! No, seriously, they’ve got good hardware but we’ve got the best DJ’s in the world. If enough DJ’s apply to us at the Royalty, we will do a package deal tour for the next Forum in July, getting a plane, hotel rooms and so on, making it easier for British jocks to attend.” Adrian’s expansive mood could be explained by the fact that he’d discovered 750 dollars (presumably hot money) stuffed under a chair in his hotel suite!
Also club-owners, Paul and Michael Berrow of Birmingham’s Rum Runner (frequent visitors to New York) likewise found the trip worth while. Michael explained, “The cost of our trip is a drop in the ocean when one considers our budget for lighting and sound over the next 12 months. Now we’ve seen everything available.” Paul added, “We should have brought our electrician with us, and a DJ. The British scene has a lot to offer the Americans, and vice versa. The combination of both talents could well develop a great new disco concept.”
So, the hardware and DJing aspect of the Forum seem to have been worth the effort for club owners and DJ’s, but how about for record company people? Henry Hadaway of Satril did not find it worth going to as a convention. “It was not very well organized, the place was badly planned, and I heard very little product. However I did meet several important people, and I still believe it’s a good thing but needs better planning.”
This opinion may not be shared completely by Carlin’s Mike Collier, Miracle’s Pete Waterman or Magnet’s Tilly Rutherford, who were busily beavering away doing record deals left right and centre . . . but more often than not were to be found in the lavish top-floor Hilton suites where US record companies were entertaining the delegates. In fact, you could go to these permanent parties without having to enroll for the Forum, and of course this is where the real business was initiated, if not went on.
Bad news for DJ’s, though, was that free promotional record hand-outs were few and far between this time: fair enough for US jocks who have record pools for distribution of the product that they might otherwise have picked up, but not so fair for foreign visitors hoping for hot vinyl.
What about the Forum’s exhibition as a showcase for British hardware? Pulsar of Cambridge’s popular Derek Saunders was exhibiting their products with both Lights Fantastic and MGM, Pulsar’s US distributors, and reported, “The main surprise was we had people from Hong Kong, France, Germany, Australia – I didn’t think it would be so international. Otherwise it’s been business as usual.” Lasertronics of Westgate-on-Sea’s Mike Geary sold two Laserwriters and set up six new dealerships, adding “There’s no way we can compete with the Americans when you look at the technology they’ve got, but we do fill and have exploited a hole in the market with our small machines.” John Golding, though English, has actually set up his Ultra-Volta Discoware firm in Gilbertville, Massachusetts, as he realises that the very effective fluorescent plastic jewellery he makes will have a far larger market in the States – yet he ended up at the Forum by arranging for Adrian Webb to have a UK dealership!
So, in a variety of ways it’s obvious that the Disco Forum is worth attending . . . not the least of which being the great fun that’s to be had. More about that next week, when we reveal more about the certain Miss Ferne Kaps (a real party pleaser!), the clubs, lights, noise and events that were there to be enjoyed.
British DJ Micki Gee broke the 1,176 hour marathon DJing record last Monday and raised £15,000 for retarded kids at Odal’s in Reykjavic, Iceland (so that’s what they do during the long winter nights!) . . . Giorgio and Ritchie Family are now on 12in, while Sylvester and Beach Boys are due on 12in this week . . . WEA’s 12in plans include Lamont Dozier ‘Boogie Business’ / ‘Going Back To My Roots’, Eugene Record ‘Magnetism’, Gino Soccio ‘Dancer’ / ‘Dance To Dance’, Dennis Brown ‘Ain’t That Lovin’ You’ and a US remixed Doobie Bros. . . . Wardell Piper is due next week on Midsong 12in (POSPX 42), while Miracle revive Blair ‘Night Life’ and Brainstorm ‘Lovin’ Is Really My Game’ on 12in in two weeks . . . RCA reissue five 12in Disco Direction Classics on April 6, including Shalamar ‘Uptown Festival’ for the first time commercially . . . London Organisation of DJ’s presents a Jocks Night Out on Monday (26) at Streatham Bali Hai, aimed at fellow DJ’s and their friends, with such as Chris Hill and Greg Edwards socialising – but despite what the ads say, I myself will not be there . . . Manor Park’s Ere For Music disco dept reopens on Saturday (24) . . . Thames Valley DJA meet this Sunday (42) at noon in Farnborough Sports Centre’s Recreational Suite, with several disco pluggers attending . . . Mike ‘Doc’ Hayes (Wellington 2613) is acting secretary of the new Taunton DJ Assn and needs prospective members . . . King Enri, turning on South Londoners at Lewisham’s Chequers record store, wants more evening residencies (call 01-852 3900 in office hours) . . . Robbie Collins now funks Charing Cross Global Village every Friday / Saturday, while Dave Rawlings is resident at Reading Rebeccas every Tuesday / Wednesday . . . Liverpool’s Greg Wilson (New Brighton Golden Guinea) currently sports a really authentic 1963 Merseybeat hairstyle (fringe brushed across but not TOO long at back and sides)!
ARPEGGIO: ‘Love And Desire’ (Polydor POSPX 40) (BNDA debut 12/16/78)
Dynamite exciting smash-bound 130bpm backbeater has quavering catchy high-pitched vocals, driving rhythm and “stun-gun” syndrums, all on full-length 7:34 12in. Hot on import, huge in New York, it’ll be the next really big one here.
NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN: ‘I Don’t Want Nobody Else (To Dance With You)’ (Atlantic K 11269) (BNDA debut 4/14/79)
Monstrous import out now in full 6:30 12in form, the powerfully thudding backbeat jumper – crossover funk at its best seems to be 128bpm on edited 7in although the original US 12in is 126bpm.
WINGS: ‘Goodnight Tonight’ (Parlophone R 6023)
So now McCartney goes disco, for that’s what this relaxed subtle 124bpm roller really is! With lots of interesting changes, including a flamenco-type break, it keeps on chooglin’ and should be the rejuvenating smash he needs. Continue reading “March 24, 1979: Report from Billboard’s Disco V Forum, New York (Part Two)”