Showstopper Promotions’ trail-blazing All-Weekender at Caister’s Ladbrokes Holiday Camp in Norfolk this last weekend was a seaside frolic that will linger fondly and funkily in many people’s memories for a long time . . . at least until the next one, in October! The brain-child of Robbie Vincent (who, appropriately as it turned out, sported a witty ‘Caister Escape Committee’ sweat-shirt), the funky fun began on Friday evening and continued with silly games and competitions right through to Sunday afternoon.
Something between 3,500 to 4,000 kids arrived ready to boogie, and the atmosphere was incredible. This was real escape, with virtually anything goes being the order of the day. Music was split between two large halls and a smaller retreat (which I never actually got to!), with a rota of star jocks doing alternating sets.
Obviously there was the strawberry-blonde dyed Chris Hill, but for many the high spot was Greg Edwards’s expert mixing session on the final afternoon. Hill’s rabble-rousing almost got out of hand when two nice young girls were shy about airing their breasts on stage and he literally threw them back into the crowd. If you must have nudity, Chris, how about employing a professional next time, so everyone’s happy? That nasty moment apart, he did his usual Funk Party rally act, rapping this time over McFadden & Whitehead’s ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now’ . . . which was played so often it was silly.
Sean French proved to be the dark horse among the DJs assembled there – an endearingly ungainly mover, Sean has been growing in stature as a crowd-pleasing funk jock and was much talked about over the weekend. This is not to belittle the fine funk jocks like Chris Brown, Tom Holland, Jeff Young, Froggy, and of course Robbie Vincent himself, all of whom lived up to their reputations.
Robbie’s special Wally contest was won by a guy in stacked heels, flares, satin jacket and curly wig, who fell about in Ian Moore style – but for me the winner was the truly obnoxious Glen Crimmens (17) of Ilford’s Lacy Lady, who poured beer all over himself, threw chairs, flashed porno pix and actually ate two Village People records! Wot, no piss drinking? The Lacy’s Funky friar did well though, he stood still to begin with, really dumb, thinking about it, then smeared the judges with snot!
Despite this free and easy atmosphere, there was no real trouble until the last day, when a security guard thought some kids from Hemel Hempstead were misusing a fire extinguisher and got clobbered for his trouble. This led to the police setting up roadblocks for the kids’ minibuses, and then started a great exercise in public relations whereby anyone with out-of-date tax disc or dodgy tyres got pulled in by the police as they left the camp to go home. Escape Committee, indeed! All those going by bus congregated around the gate and cheered everyone getting nicked, which in time defused the well meant but stupidly conceived situation.
With so many kids on the loose it was an amazingly well-behaved gathering for the whole weekend, everyone being there for fun, music and the company of kindred spirits. The real holiday camp spirit was raised by such silly contests as digging up buried treasure on the beach, a “Soul jog”, “drag race” (yes, nothing to do with street machines!), and the usual fancy dress dances.
Saturday’s big fancy dress ball ended with a mass side-to-side shuffle and unaccompanied chanting to ‘Now That We Found Love’ segued into ‘I Love Music’ . . . though at other times it was decidedly ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now’ that became the new anthem. The final Sunday afternoon farewell ended with Sections One, Two and Three of the crowd competing against each other in the usual way – except the team work is really sophisticated now, each section capable of doing something different in counterpoint to the others. Suddenly it was ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and the Monty Python theme, ‘Liberty Bell’, and everything was over.
Why, you may ask, didn’t I plug this amazing event in advance? Quite simply, the word had spread so fast on the grapevine when it was first announced some months ago that there were no tickets left, even then. The planned Caister Reunion All-Nighter at London’s Empire Ballroom (the previously hinted-at venue) has been refused a licence by the police at Whitsun, but now Showstopper Promotions hope to get one for the August Bank Holiday. Meanwhile, with a warning to CBS’s Greg Lynn to stay clear of Irish rock stars, and a big hi to Dee, I leave you with the weekend’s catchphrase . . . Gertcha!
CBS Records are very grudgingly introducing unlimited 12in editions at £1.99 but still think the format is merely a chart-place gimmick of no real value, their sales director even going on record saying “I’d rather it would all just go away and we could sell small black things with holes in the middle for the sake of the music on them” – Dear John Mair, it’s for the sake of the music (like bass response and clarity) that the 12in came into being . . . Billy Preston & Syreeta ‘Go For It’ (12TMG 1139) is due this week on brown vinyl 12in for a Motown first – it’s also in the new US-style 12in sleeve which features the US Motown label’s map of Detroit . . . RCA start releasing 20th Century product this week, with Edwin Starr’s ‘H.A.P.P.Y. Radio’ (very ‘Headline News’, Northern fans!) due on 12in any day now . . . Chris Michael Browne’s DJ contest finals are next Tuesday (1) at Elephant & Castle Charlie Chaplin’s, with judges set as disco pluggers John Waller, Fred Dove, Ray Edwards, plus Capital producer Mo Stone (really?), DJ Gavin Breck and probably myself . . . Nick Halliday (Basingstoke) kindly sent me Meco’s ‘Superman’ on 12in – having tried to get rid of it twice as a spot prize! . . . Graham Gold (01-570 7531) has funk, will travel – and needs more residency nights.
EARTH, WIND & FIRE WITH THE EMOTIONS: ‘Boogie Wonderland’ (CBS 12-7292) (BNDA debut 6/2/79)
Given an exclusive UK preview at Caister (where unchecked turntable speed makes my provisional reading of 129-131bpm approximate only), this 8:20 12in finds the guys n’ gals joining forces for an urgent fast strutting full-tilt stamper with staccato chanting from the chix and smoothing strings over the chugging brass, all very exciting and enthusiastically received.
GQ: ‘Make My Dream A Reality’ (from LP ‘Disco Nights’, Arista ARTY 169)
Actually proving to be far from watered-down in comparison with the title track hit, this great 122bpm soul stormer has indeed got similar elements but is a much more powerful song . . . rather than just a disco workout. Due on full 6:22 12in in a fortnight, it’s here joined by the also hot 130bpm ‘This Happy Feeling’ and a dynamite revival of Billy Stewart’s ‘I Do Love You’ smoocher.
TATA VEGA: ‘Get It Up For Love’ (Motown 12TMG 1140) (BNDA debut 4/14/79)
Now indeed on 5:56 12in with the annoying slow centre section edited out, this intensifying 122bpm jittery swayer hangs together better than the LP version and should get even bigger. It’s double-A flipped by the 6:01 churning 124bpm clomper ‘I Just Keep Thinking About You Baby’. Continue reading “April 28, 1979: Caister Weekender report, Earth Wind & Fire with The Emotions, GQ, Tata Vega, Raydio, Gino Soccio”