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.
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!).
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””