March 31, 1979: Philly Cream, Beach Boys, Wardell Piper, Bunny Sigler, M

New Spins

PHILLY CREAM: ‘Jammin’ At The Disco’ (Fantasy 12XFTC 173) (BNDA debut 4/14/79)
Slightly slow, this dynamite 109bpm jogger vari-speeds up to make the running mix of the month when synchronised with Instant Funk (long version)! Ten thousand of the 6:45 import 12in have been over-stickered for UK sale, and at any speed it’s a killer on its own – building through chanting, chording and rattling (including steel drums) to some great tension-filled instrumental breaks.

BEACH BOYS: ‘Here Comes The Night’ (Caribou CRB 12-7204) (BNDA debut 4/7/79)
Pounding 133bpm pure disco on 10:42 12in with lots of different breaks, this pop killer took £33,000 and six months to make and is in fact their new LP’s version minus most of the vocals – taken out to please mix-minded US jocks (who some may think mad)!

WARDELL PIPER: ‘Captain Boogie’ (Midsong POSPX 42) (BNDA debut 4/14/79)
Powerfully stamping 130bpm 8:15 12in hits a sorta ‘Boogie Oogie Oogie’ groove before squawking chix emphasise it vocally even more so, but it’s all a lot rougher and rawer.  Continue reading “March 31, 1979: Philly Cream, Beach Boys, Wardell Piper, Bunny Sigler, M”

March 24, 1979: Report from Billboard’s Disco V Forum, New York (Part Two)

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.

Disco News

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)!

New Spins

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)”

March 17, 1979: “Vari-speed decks are vital if you want any flexibility in your mixing.”

Mix Master

Having to use fixed-speed turntables for my mixes on Capital Radio’s Best Disco In Town (broadcast Fridays at 11pm) has really brought home how vital vari-speed decks are if you want any flexibility in your mixing. Although with a chop mix you can go up and down the BPM speed scale without having to worry about getting out of synch, when doing a running mix on fixed-speed decks you are limited to just those records with the same BPM (some however do mix out of BPM if they have a sufficiently poly-rhythmic backing) . . . and the BPMs have to be exactly right!  Last week’s show featured a few mixes that are probably worth passing on – you’ll have to feel the best mixing points for your own floor situation, though. Produced by the same people, Chic ‘I Want Your Love’ and Sister Sledge ‘He’s The Greatest Dancer’ synch together perfectly during Chic’s instrumental part, then the strange strings bit two-thirds through Sister Sledge synchs nicely with Players Association ‘Turn The Music Up’ (the 12in seems to be 116bpm and not 120bpm as printed on label!) . . . the problem with this bit of cleverness being that you’re stuck with the same tempo for bloody ages! Chopping dramatically on the right beat, you can create far more excitement by going up and down the BPM scale in the sequence starting with Herbie Hancock ‘Tell Everybody’, FLB ‘Boogie Town’ (minus intro), Kleeer ‘Keep Your Body Workin’, pt. 2’, Narada Michael Walden ‘I Don’t Want Nobody Else’ (minus intro), Rick James ‘High On Your Love Suite’ (minus synthesizer intro), Real Thing ‘Can You Feel The Force’ (start after applause at the main fast beat) – you should spot the last three’s similarity of mixing points especially easily. With vari-speed decks, of course, you don’t have to worry about BPM at all.

The Disco Page will be back to normal next week.  Continue reading “March 17, 1979: “Vari-speed decks are vital if you want any flexibility in your mixing.””

March 10, 1979: Report from Billboard’s Disco V Forum, New York (Part One)

Four hundred quid and next to no sleep later, New York was certainly good fun last week, when a huge horde of disco business Britons descended on that city for Billboard’s Disco V Forum. In fact the consensus of opinion was that the actual Forum sessions were the least vital part of the affair, while the equipment exhibition was the most useful, and a statuesque 6 foot 1” young lady called Fern was the most stimulating. Say no more, wink wink, spare the blushes (thanks for the money, lads)!

After a sleepless weekend of getting last week’s page written, I arrived in New York on Monday evening, and went straight into a gargantuan spread at the amazing Gallaghers Steak House just over the road from the Roseland Ballroom. The Roseland, like a half-size Purley Top Rank was the world-famous venue for the Forum’s live music entertainment, and inside the specially disco-fied room we soon found the exuberant British contingent led by Chris Hill, Southgate Royalty-owning Adrian Webb, Froggy, Biddu and his rather Debbie Harry-hairstyled wife Sue, Polydor’s Theo Loyla, CBS’s Greg Lynn & Malcolm Jones, Miracle’s Pete Waterman, Magnet’s Tilly Rutherford, Island’s Erskine T, Funk Funktion’s Roger St Pierre & Sally Ormsby, Satril’s Henry Hadaway & Greg Gregory, Carlin Music’s Mike Collier, Lorraine Lewis (ex-EMI) and Rokotto-managing Murdo Wallace.

In no time we were chanting “wall to wall, carpet” as Edwin Starr souled his latest hit, and then we substituted “extra extra, read all about it” to words of his new ‘H.A.P.P.Y. Radio’ (which coincidentally he was composing down at Mayfair’s Gullivers on his last UK visit). Edwin however sounded fine, which cannot be said for the appalling Chic, who died the death – partly through poor amplification. Then we all piled into buses to head out across the towering Brooklyn Bridge for Flatbush where Casablanca Records, with much sought little stick-on camel badges as invitation, were hosting a roller disco party at the Empire Rink to promote their new star, Cher. Doing anything to get a hit, the society column queen was zipped around the rink by some steadying supporters, while her ‘Take Me Home’ disco effort was expertly mixed so’s you couldn’t notice into Donna Summer’s greatest hits. The jock at the rink was brilliant, but although the place was still crowded with skaters in the middle of the night, few were actually dancing as they roared around. So much for roller disco? Back at the Gotham Hotel, I set my Aiwa stereo radio/cassette to record WKTU (Disco 92) and hit the pillow for the first time in 66 hours.

Tuesday dawned late for many, but it was the first real day of the Forum at the Hilton Hotel. A must for most of the British contingent was the afternoon’s discussion panel about disco DJ mixing techniques. Here we pulled a popular “funk mafia” trick, by suddenly standing up with ready-prepared scorecards to cause a bigger sensation than the very respectable running mix by Jim Burgess of ‘I Will Survive’ into ‘At Midnight’. Amongst the tricks of the US style that we learnt about were the “flanging” effect, like phasing, of playing two copies of the same record, in exact synchronisation, and the method of playing two copies slightly out of synch to get phasing and echo effects, but with each record split balanced to opposing sides of the stereo speaker image – Roy Thode of New York’s Ice Palace demonstrated this using Instant Funk to perfection. However, the session was badly marred by continual squabbles about the Forum’s bad organisation, lack of mikes for the audience, and general untogetherness. Of the DJ’s making up the panel, though, it must be said that their use of the microphones provided for them merely underlined the fact that American DJ’s quite simply CAN’T, rather than don’t want to, use mikes when jocking.

Interesting stuff, huh? Well, sorry it’s got to end there, but the real meat of the week’s happenings will be revealed next issue.

Note: The second part of this report was actually printed a fortnight later, on March 24th.

Disco News

Sparky & Wendy beat 40 dancers to survive for 50 hours at Bristol Assize Courts’ all-weekender marathon competition, while the dancing skill competition was won by Derek after already doing 30 hours non-stop (same length as Martin Starr jocked – losing his voice!), the bash raising over £1500 to ‘Save Some For The Children’ in hospital . . . Terry Betts of the gay guys ‘n gals Lemmons in London’s Westway, normally candlelit Fri/Saturday, has a rollerskating competition on Thursdays with £250 grand final in six weeks . . . Mike Davidson funks Liverpool Hollywood in Duke Street every Thurs-Sunday, operating a club mailing list for members with discounted records, hairstyling and concert coach parties . . . Bournemouth’s Village complex has shut for a major refit and renovation, opening before the summer season . . . Dartford Flicks, the funk venue with Studio 54 pretentions, goes – gulp! – rock ‘n roll on Tuesdays to the boppin’ beat of the Wild Wax crew . . . Island’s new disco division is headed by Erskine T with Eon Irving, their Inner Circle & Gibson Bros hits soon to be joined by Roundtree . . . Hamilton Bohannon’s ‘Cut Loose’ LP, reviewed on import last week, is out here as SRM 18702, while the title track on 12in is Mercury 9198082 . . . Patrice Rushen ‘Hang It Up’ is now on longer Elektra 12in remix . . . Joneses ‘Sugar Pie Guy’ classic from ‘75 has been remixed into 6:29 12in form for Mercury rerelease soon.

New Spins

VILLAGE PEOPLE: ‘In The Navy’ (Mercury 6007209) (BNDA debut 4/7/79)
Adding sailor suits to their stagewear, the boys clap ‘n holler an instantly catchy 127bpm singalong romper that’s also due on remixed 12in – for UK release this time, unlike the ‘YMCA’ remix!

INSTANT FUNK: ‘I Got My Mind Made Up’ LP (Salsoul SSLP 1511) (‘I Got My Mind Made Up’ BNDA debut 1/27/79)
Only the British LP has this full 9:40 113bpm US disco remix version of the title track, plus its 6:00 soulfully jumping fast 128bpm ‘Crying’ flip, while other warm cuts include the applause-spiced jazzy 128bpm ‘Wide World Of Sports’ instrumental and long P-funkily introed 119bpm ‘Dark Vader’ bumper. They’re better heard on record than seen live.

GEORGE BENSON: ‘Love Ballad’ (Warner Bros. K 17333)
Beautifully scat-sung ‘n plucked bouncy 112bpm mid-tempo driving jazz skipper, deceptively fast though slow seeming on 5:15 12in.  Continue reading “March 10, 1979: Report from Billboard’s Disco V Forum, New York (Part One)”

March 3, 1979: Gibson Brothers, Grey & Hanks, FLB, Mantus, Peggy Scott

As you read this, I am over in New York attending Billboard’s Disco Forum – mixing (physically!) with all the jocks, producers, pluggers, manufacturers and other members of the world-wide disco industry who have similarly converged for four days on New York’s Hilton Hotel for what promises to be the best Billboard bash yet. If you remember, I made it over to their first forum three years ago, but have not had time to attend any subsequent shows. Next week you can read all the relevant news on this page in RM.

Disco News

Instant Funk’s UK LP, due now, contains the full US 12in version of ‘I Got My Mind Made Up’ . . . Herbie Mann ‘Superman’ is now on UK 5:53 12in (Atlantic LV 18), while Crackin’ ‘Double Love’ 12in is due in a month . . . Joe Simon and Don Ray are now not due in shops on Polydor 12in until March 16, when Arpeggio ‘Love And Desire’ is also scheduled . . . Tilly Rutherford helms the new Magnet disco dept, with Joanna Kochen still the DJ’s contact, while Lettice has left Arista and Dave McAleer returns from RCA to Pye in next to no time . . . Bob Jones has convinced Chelmsford Dee-Jays to let himself and Paul Gratue funk the joint every Wednesday with imports only, while the Bob ‘n Paul funk team also now do Seven Kings Cauliflower every Tuesday (Hornchurch Kingswood having lost licence) and have a Kingswood Revival Night at Rayleigh Crocs on Thursday next (8) . . . Thames Valley DJA’s new secretary is funky Frank Smith of the Moving Sound roadshow, on Ashford (Middlesex) 42587 days / 52659 nights . . . South Wales DJA’s secretary is Paul Baccara, recently moved to 12/14 Stuart Terrace, Pontyclun CF7 8AF (Llantrisant 224217) . . . David Emery, ex-Newcastle Scamps, will jazz-funk anywhere with his Discotrax outfit, on (0632) 813797 . . . Ilford’s famous Room At The Top is the latest venue to appeal for their late-night licence to be renewed, and Terry Hooper badly needs favourable support for the club from responsible citizens.

New Spins

GIBSON BROTHERS: ‘Cuba’ (Island 12WIP 6483) (BNDA debut 4/7/79)
Dynamite – the most exciting record of the moment is a madly happy catchily chanted jumping salsa skipper of 7:42 12in with a cleanly zapping 122bpm backbeat and a backing behind the Latin rhythm that’s just like Karen Young’s ‘Hot Shot’! Instrumental flip’s useful for mixing, but try running Lonnie Liston Smith’s Latin break over this and then into Gonzalez!

GREY & HANKS: ‘Dancin’’ (RCA PC 1458) (BNDA debut 1/20/79)
Simple but powerfully effective creamily clomping 122bpm hustler on 6:54 12in, now maybe overshadowed by Gary’s Gang and GQ but still almost in that compulsive class, reaches a frantic “dance dance dancin’” climax.

FLB: ‘Boogie Town’ (Fantasy 12FTC 168)
Fat Larry’s Band as well, with an exciting hot import galloper on 7:41 12in with skippable 116bpm intro before the vocoder and brass whip things up at 126bpm. Continue reading “March 3, 1979: Gibson Brothers, Grey & Hanks, FLB, Mantus, Peggy Scott”