May 26, 1979: Anita Ward, Sister Sledge, Slick, Eddy Grant, Pointer Sisters

Disco News

Billy Paul and The Jones Girls are now scheduled for UK release, but still no definite plan for The Force . . . Pye persevere with Poussez ‘Never Gonna Say Goodbye’ as their 12in choice despite it being the LP’s coldest cut; however, there’s a 12in remix due of Bennoit ‘Life Is Like A Samba’ . . . EMI’s Pete Dyos follows WEA’s Fred Dove by installing a 24hr ansaphone for use by mailing list jocks to register reaction reports, LP requests, etc . . . Salsoul and even Fantasy Records are rumoured as possible new neighbours for the YMCA, though it’s a tall tale to swallow . . . Heatwave’s Johnnie Wilder was hurt worse than was first thought in his Dayton, Ohio, car crash and is now suffering from paralysis: brother Keith and the band are meanwhile with him in Dayton, routining a stand-in for their US tour until Johnnie hopefully recovers . . . Watneys and Rank are promoting Schlitz malt liquor with a solo disco dancing competition, starting on June 7th with a heat and then local final at nineteen Rank venues, the winner of the final at Bournemouth’s Stateside Centre on Jul 5th getting a ten day US trip for two (including a visit to the Schlitz brewery in Milwaukee – hi, LaVerne and Shirley!) plus £250 spending cash, the finalists and even local runners-up all copping for a share of £3,000 total prize money . . . Dartford Flicks celebrates VE night (that’s Victory in Europe) on June 14th with a wartime fancy dress party, uniformed punters with the correct vintage coinage getting 200 pints of Charringtons beer at 1945 prices – er, wanna borrow my Winston Churchill records, Robbie? “This is YOUR victory, etc etc” . . . Vanguard Hand Tally Counters (or BPM Counters) are rubbish – mine broke after just three weeks! . . . Greg Edwards hasn’t stopped laughing since! . . . Wally Webb (Norwich Scamps) says he wishes he had a quid for every time his Christian name’s been mentioned on this page – but how often do we mention a Walter? . . . Paul Anthony (Birmingham Rum Runner/Sloopys/etc) is fed up with “student” types who “demand” Ferry and Bowie all night while he’s working out mixes like The Force into Anita Ward.

New Spins

ANITA WARD: ‘Ring My Bell’ (TK TKR 12-7543) (BNDA debut 4/14/79)
Smash-bound compulsively catchy little ditty on 8:08 12in gets everyone going ‘‘pwoo’’, “pwoo’’, “pwoo’’ along with the syndrum sound while fragile-voiced Anita innocently wails a perfect pop song (with some subdued bell chimes, of course), all skipping along at 127bpm. How could I have thought it dull the first time I heard it!?

SISTER SLEDGE: ‘We Are Family’ (Atlantic K 11293) (BNDA debut 2/10/79)
Immediately identifiable as the catchy companion to their ‘Greatest Dancer’ hit, this similar yet different 117bpm rolling jiggler is on limited 8:06 12in.

SLICK: ‘Space Bass’ (Fantasy 12YFTC 176)
Unavailable elsewhere in 7:05 12in form, this coolly pounding 130bpm bass churner originally appeared in edited form on a special Midem sampler LP, to be snapped up by UK jocks for its simple drive (with rattling rhythm, slick strings ‘n cooing chix) and – especially – a sizzling, searing electronic siren-type effect . . . which could do with some repetition.  Continue reading “May 26, 1979: Anita Ward, Sister Sledge, Slick, Eddy Grant, Pointer Sisters”

May 19, 1979: “Tory rule should improve bookings for up-market mobiles”

Disco News

Isley Brothers ‘Shout’ is getting so popular as a silly singalong at Chris Hill-type Funk Mafia gigs that RCA plan a 12in reissue of Parts 1 and 2 spliced together, their classic 1959 original version having been produced by none other than England’s own Mike Collier, of current Carlin Music/Flamingo Records fame! . . . Ian Dury backing tracks may well be remixed for an instrumental jazz-funk LP . . . Michael Jackson ‘You Can’t Win’, due on picture-disc 12in, has had to be withdrawn by Epic for legal reasons . . . Ashford and Simpson ‘Flashback’ is on Warner Bros. picture-disc 7in, though . . . Hudson People ‘Trip To Your Mind’ has definitely been remixed and restructured for future Ensign 12in . . . Tory rule should improve bookings for up-market mobiles – certainly, I’ve had lots since the election! . . . Edwin Starr was superb live last week at Watford Baileys, while Light Of The World lived up to high expectations despite playing nearly everything at 132bpm . . . Bournemouth’s recent all-dayer saw a stoical crowd suffering appalling sound, poor bar service and steam heat (though the “let’s get wet” water pistol brigade helped a bit!), the much-vaunted Village refit into the Stateside Centre apparently amounting to little more than new carpets and a sign over the burger serving hatch saying Walt’s Diner! Promoter Peter Matthews is now scouting for new non-Mafia jocks for future Purley fests . . . Dorset doesn’t have local radio so my brief holiday there meant listening to awful Radio One “new wave” (?) caterwauling and a repetitive rota of Ironhorse, Amii Stewart, Linda Clifford, Melba Moore, Pointer Sisters – who seemed to be on every show: if that’s what a lot of you have to put up with, no wonder the chart’s the way it is! . . . Chris Browne’s recent DJ contest at Elephant and Castle Charlie Chaplin’s was won by Jude Wolfe, now of Marble Arch Queen of Hearts, runners-up being Ian King and Larry Foster, the event attracting liggers Chris Brown (no “e”), Robin Nash, Sean French, John DeSade and various disco pluggers – but next to no punters! . . . Nikki Peck (Chatham Scamps) now writes the ‘Discopekin’’ [sic] page every Friday in the Kent Evening Post, and does the opening night next Thursday (24) at Oxford’s new Bogarts, St Clements . . . John Lewis, ever controversial, now says that jeans ARE allowed during the summer season at Brighton Metro! . . . Paul Anthony (Birmingham Rum Runner/Sloopys/Zoo) says he’s heavily into mixing at the moment despite obsolete equipment . . . Graham Bond and Martin Gibbon of the Ormesby (Middlesbrough) based Teesvalley Roadshow report an upsurge of interest in the North, yet again, for old Motown and 60’s soul.

UK Newies

Hot weather, sleepless nights, mobile gigs, radio programmes and a summer cold have prevented me from catching up with the large backlog of UK releases this week, sorry, but ones to look out for include:

REAL THING: ‘Can You Feel The Force (remix)’ (Pye 12P 105)

SISTER SLEDGE: ‘We Are Family’ (Atlantic K 11293) (BNDA debut 2/10/79)

EDDY GRANT: ‘Living On The Frontline’ / ‘The Frontline Symphony’ (Ensign ENY 26)

DANCE PEOPLE: ‘Dance People’ (Satril SAT 144T)  Continue reading “May 19, 1979: “Tory rule should improve bookings for up-market mobiles””

May 12, 1979: McFadden & Whitehead, Light Of The World, Ashford & Simpson, Edwin Starr, ABBA

Disco News

Donna Summer is on red vinyl 12in this week, while also on 12in now are Herbie Hancock (really!), Cher and evidently Barry White ‘Sha La La’ . . . Leif Garrett is on US 12in at 5:39 . . . The Force is, amazingly, not scheduled for UK release – the CBS thinking being that if people want it they can always buy it on import . . . Joe Thomas will be out here though, as will LP’s by B. Baker Chocolate Co, John Tropea, Hubert Laws – but unscheduled are Billy Paul, Jones Girls, Splendor, Tyrone Davis . . . May 18th release includes Gary’s Gang ‘Showtime’ 12in, Brainstorm ‘Hot For You’ 12in, Skyy ‘First Time Around’ 7in; May 25th includes the badly delayed Carrie Lucas ‘Dance With You’ 12in, Michael Jackson ‘You Can’t Win’ picture-disc 12in, Patti LaBelle ‘Music Is My Way Of Life’ 12in, Anita Ward ‘Ring My Bell’ 12in, Slick ‘Space Bass’ 12in (not actually available anywhere although hot on promo already); June 1st includes Joe Thomas ‘Make Your Move’ 12in, Jackie McLean ‘Dr Jackyll & Mr Funk’ remix 12in, Teena Marie ‘I’m A Sucker For Your Love’ 12in, Manhattans ‘Here Comes The Hurt’ 7in . . . ELO ‘Shine A Little Love’ (Jet), currently out but unreceived by press time, combines their usual sound with a positive disco beat rather effectively . . . Fred Dove’s disco dept is now at WEA Records, PO Box 59, Alperton Lane, Wembley, Middx HAO 1FJ (01-998 8844) – which may be alright for West London jocks but I for one will miss my weekly Southern Comfort! . . . Martin Starr and other Bristol jocks are forming a DJF-affiliated Bristol Disco Pool aiming its membership towards the more adventurous DJ’s who can break records without radio play (this policy being the Pool’s priority), so Avon hipsters should contact Bristol Disco Pool, c/o Smiths, Prince Street, Bristol 1 . . . Southgate Royalty start a special Teenage Soul Boogie night next Wednesday (16) with Froggy funking the 14-18 age range from 7:30-10:30pm weekly, soft drinks only – Froggy by the way, so taken by my BPM stopwatch, tried drilling holes in his so that he could hang it round his neck, and it hasn’t worked since! . . . Wally Webb (real name Walter) has had to change his Tuesday Heavy Rock night at Norwich Scamps over to his normal disco format due to a total swing in even the Heavy fans’ taste . . . Terry Hooper is now joined by Steve Price at Ilford’s Room At The Top, with Curia Sorrell in the Penthouse Suite, the funk oldies currently being featured every night . . . Polystar’s “Boogie Bus” Dancers cavort this week at Manchester Civic Hall (Thursday), Liverpool Hollywood (Friday), Southport Tiffanys (Saturday) . . . Dave Rawlings (Basingstoke Maxwells) is plagued every Saturday Funk Night by a Record Mirror-reading regular called Robbie Vincent (real name – with birth certificate to prove it) who insists every week on “helping” with the club’s lighting: Dave politely wonders if he could go and bother some other jock on a Saturday night! Dave also wonders how many other namesakes of Robbie Vincent, Greg Edwards, Chris Hill or even James Hamilton (gee, thanx!) there are in discos throughout the country – the mind boggles!

UK Newies

MCFADDEN & WHITEHEAD: ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’ (Philadelphia Int’l PIR 13-7365) (BNDA debut 4/7/79)
Well, here on unlimited £1.99 10:45 12in it is, the irresistible happily swinging and swaying 113-116bpm singalong smash which snuck up on everyone to become the biggest import that our UK Disco chart has ever seen!

LIGHT OF THE WORLD: ‘Midnight Grooving’ (from LP ‘Light Of The World’, Ensign ENVY 133)
Sexy soft “don’t stop – keep on” intro soon hits a rapidly jiggling 133bpm 6:17 groove that keeps the same simple lyric idea and is so similar to ‘Swingin’’ that it chop mixes in and out perfectly – as witness the antics of all the lucky funk jocks who’ve had this on promo for weeks!

ASHFORD & SIMPSON: ‘Flashback’ (Warner Bros. K 17345T)
Solidly thudding but lightweight 114-120bpm comes-and-goes hustler with Bee Gees/AWB-like squeaky harmony sound (almost!), flipped by the funkier lurching sparse 124bpm ‘Get Up And Do Something’ on limited colour-sleeved 12in.  Continue reading “May 12, 1979: McFadden & Whitehead, Light Of The World, Ashford & Simpson, Edwin Starr, ABBA”

May 5, 1979: “I am not condemning anyone for being a Wally”

Several mobile and pop-orientated jocks have been commenting that this page is neglecting their needs by concentrating so much on records which will only appeal to a limited number of urban club-goers. Let me set the score straight.

Back in 1975 when this page took on its present shape, I concentrated more on the mobile and MoR side of the music than on the club type of funk, because that was obviously an accurate reflection of its readership then.

This approach was largely misunderstood, although several notable successes were scored (such as the revival of ‘Let’s Twist Again’ and ‘In The Mood’) which I like to think we influenced. At the time I was still heavily involved in doing MoR-type mobile gigs (despite starting out in the ‘60s as a soul pioneer), but I got tired of passing on my own well-proven MoR tricks to zilch response from other jocks.

Something else also happened – the disco boom exploded, to the extent that so much outright “disco” product was released each week that there physically wasn’t room to cover the normal pop material too. But, as we all know, MoR jocks usually only play pop material once it’s become well established, so why bother to predict the pop hits ahead of time? Oldies (depressingly, always the same old oldies at that) and the pop biggies seem to be the mobile and MoR merchants’ tools of trade.

Happily a new breed of disco DJ has appeared over the last few years, ready to experiment with jazzier music which as yet may still be a minority taste but is consistently making its force felt even in the pop charts.

However, to turn to last week’s UK Disco chart (this being written prior to compiling the current chart), it is possible to see some amazing developments. Although compiled from about 200 DJ returns, last week’s chart shows perfectly the range of those returns.

McFadden & Whitehead, top of most import-orientated DJ charts, reached number 24 while – as usual – the first 23 places were dominated (with just two exceptions) by pop crossover disco hits. Fine, in itself, but those 23 records were virtually the only records that the majority of non-import-orientated DJs appeared to be playing! Even such obvious Wally fodder as Boney M, Eruption, Peaches & Herb, Kandidate and Bee Gees were barely represented in the Breakers below number 90.

No, instead of playing even the new pop hits, the bulk of Britain’s DJs seemed happy to go droning on with the same records they’ve been using for weeks . . . to the extent that Chic, Village People and Gloria Gaynor actually went UP again!

This evidently narrow spread of DJ interest has left the rest of the chart wide open for the more adventurous jocks to have a field day. There are enough of these jocks to make a very relevant contribution (Spyro Gyra at number 90 was in 12 DJ charts, for instance, while Eugene Record at 30 had 31 DJs – not a very wide gap, really), especially as this minority group of jocks are actually playing a larger selection of records than the pop DJs.

To be sure, the top 25 or 30 places in the disco chart show what are the genuinely big hits, but apart from Village People, Gloria Gaynor, Three Degrees, Beach Boys and (possibly) Sylvester, all of these hits made their initial impression in the disco chart due to the import-orientated jocks. It was then a slow drawn-out battle while the Wally jocks upcountry gradually dropped the previous set of dated disco hits and added these – at the same time the import jocks were finding the next generation of hits.

OK, so your audiences are slow to respond to new sounds, and your local shops don’t stock anything that’s not been on Top Of The Pops, BUT . . . don’t dare say that this page neglects your interests. The mainstream type of DJ, playing a general range of music to a musically unsophisticated audience, is still in the vast majority and in many cases is doing a demanding job extremely well.

I am not condemning anyone for being a Wally, ‘cos Wallys are just nice, totally ordinary, unimaginative, regular people like nearly everyone else. We’re a nation of Wallys. Wallys have the power. Some of the music mentioned on this page today will be the Wally music of tomorrow . . . or the day, if not month or two, after! However, please don’t blame us for being ahead, and interested in a more adventurous audience too.

Disco News

John Luongo’s Real Thing remix reviewed last week is NOT actually available in the new A-side vocal version yet, the import US Epic 12in only featuring his instrumental flip – but Pye are doing a double-A UK 12in next week with both vocal and instrumental remixes back-to-back! . . . Pye’s new disco plugger is Sue Winter, while at Motown the new disco girl is Noreen Allen as Les Spaine is now Head of Promotions (off hats!) . . . Fred Dove fans will soon have to trek out to Alperton when WEA’s disco dept moves offices . . . RCA’s recent advertising jumped the gun (and may actually have lessened some DJs’ interest in imports supposedly out here), but now finally available on UK 12in with full colour sleeves are the already reviewed Richard T Bear, Vicki Sue Robinson and – imminently – Carrie Lucas . . . EWF/Emotions ‘Boogie Wonderland’ is confirmed at 129-131 bpm . . . BPM freaks may find the Vanguard-made Hand Tally Counter a useful way of clicking off the beats in time to their stopwatch – it gives a four digit read-out (set it to 9999 so that you then hit 0000 at the same time as starting the watch), available at stationers (though surprisingly not Rymans) for about £5.31 . . . Nick Halliday is starting a mail order service for current imports, sent return of post where possible on receipt of payment, the £4.75 LP and £2.75 12in prices including both VAT and postage – cheques made payable to him at Down Grange Farm, Winchester Road, Basingstoke RG22 4ET . . . DJ Federation officers continue as Theo Loyla (Chairman), Tony Holden (Secretary), Dougall DJ (Treasurer) and newly elected Mike McLean (PRO) . . . Polystar’s continuously mixed ‘Boogie Bus’ album is being promoted by a troupe of spectacular Boogie Bus Dancers, this week at Wigan Tiffanys (Thursday), Manchester Rafters (Friday) and Rochdale Tiffanys (Saturday), the campaign eventually moving South along with the TV ads . . . Liverpool’s Timepiece returns to funk with Eric Hearn at the helm on Fri/Sat/Sundays, and all-nighters every last Saturday in the month . . . Gary Allan (Liverpool McMillans) played Easter bunny (randy rabbit?) recently by dressing like Bigwig and hopping about to ‘At The Hop’, much to the delight of his regulars (now known naturally as Gary’s Gang!), while Honey Bee Benson (Gloucester Tiffanys) donned a bunnygirl suit – to find the Easter Monday male funkers were more into her pom-pom tail than the music . . . Paul Stewart reports that jazz-funk is alive and struggling at Belfast’s Glenmachan Hotel every Friday, but he needs a better crowd . . . Dave King spins the hits amidst choking smoke and exciting lighting (pin-spots and helicopters) every Thurs/Fri/Saturday at Blackpool’s new Top Floor Disco, above Jenks Bar in Talbot Square . . . Terry Hooper, busily auditioning DJs, says Ilford Room At The Top has its liquor licence for another year but there’s an adjourned hearing for its music and dancing licence on May 16th . . . Gary Glitter ‘Superhero’ (GTO) is now on 12in (gasp!).

UK Newies

HUDSON PEOPLE: ‘Trip To Your Mind’ (Hithouse HIT 1)
Out a while, this privately pressed limited edition 9:58 12in has created a stir among rarity-minded jocks and really is worth finding as it’s a good solidly professional fast grooving 133 bpm UK funk racer with booming bass, jazzy guitar and brass and a bit of cool singing to start with before the instrumental excitement builds up power. There’s now talk of Ensign releasing and possibly remixing it.

HEATWAVE: ‘Razzle Dazzle’ / ‘Birthday’ (GTO GT 248)
‘Ain’t No Half Steppin’’-type 95 bpm lurching jiggler on 7in, completely overshadowed by the lovely semi-slow 58 bpm flip which has a jazzily tripping sophisticated lilt and a wailing harmony climax.

DONNA SUMMER: ‘Hot Stuff’ (Casablanca CAN 151) (BNDA debut 4/21/79)
On 12in in the States but I don’t know about here, this is the stolidly thudding 121 bpm chugger reviewed as an import last week. It’s certainly a welcome style switch, though still kinda pop.  Continue reading “May 5, 1979: “I am not condemning anyone for being a Wally””