Ten days and usual dose of jet lag later, your Record Mirror reporter is back from the New York Hilton-held Billboard Disco Forum VI with more news than there’s room to print.
Where to start? Well, name checks first. The UK contingent included DJ’s Froggy and Fatman Graham Canter, Phonogram’s John Waller, EMI LRD’s Ray Edwards, Polydor’s John Perou and Theo Loyla (the latter not arriving till the Saturday’s first Laker flight), Pye’s Dave McAleer and Alan McLachlan, Bocu Music’s Howard Huntridge and Ian Titchener (both known for other DJ roles too), BBC Radio One producer Tony Hale, US born but Leeds Warehouse-owning Mike Wiand – these in various combinations being the crowd I personally moved with while also in evidence were DJ Simon Pollock, producer Ian Levine and Island’s Erskine Thompson (who was supervising a Manu Dibango recording session in NY). In our different groupings we ate, drank and clubbed together.
Yup, clubs! The opening night of the Forum’s evening entertainment at the Roseland Ballroom, set up as a special disco for the occasion, we were unimpressed by Sister Sledge and then moved up a few blocks to 54th Street and the world-famous Studio 54. They certainly know how to manipulate publicity – the place is nothing very special.
Suspended mirrored and lightbulb-covered columns rise up and down over the dancefloor so that sometimes they drop in amongst the dancers, while horizontally-mounted prismatic mirrors spin overhead to reflect bright strobe-like lights.
Frankly I’m not too keen on naked torsos, freckled bony shoulders, cropped balding heads, unhealthy-looking women trying to look young, over-laboured freaks and middle-aged men who ought to know better – so I can’t be said to have found the place thrilling. The music was permanently fast until with a laboured creak it suddenly dropped down – to be greeted with widespread relief – into James Brown, but I did enjoy it when the DJ did my own segue out of Atlantic Starr into Harvey Mason.
Studio 54 has only become notorious by being hard to get into (they even refused late-arriving Billboard vice-president Bill Wardlow!), whereas Paradise Garage sets out to achieve less, yet achieves so much more.
On the seedier side of Greenwich Village on King Street, the Garage is literally that. Massive trucks are parked downstairs as you climb through a small door and head towards the carpark ramp that’s now the dimly-lit way up to the first-floor club.
Basically gay (though less noticeably so these days), the place is a juice bar serving no alcohol and limited (again not so noticeably) to over-25s. It is always packed, doesn’t close till mid-morning, and is the most exciting club in the city . . . thanks largely to its incredible sound and DJ Larry Levan’s superb mixing . . . it is possible to stand two inches away from the speakers’ massive ports and have an ordinary conversation, while your hair gets a blow-wave from the air pressure being pumped out! In fact the sound is loudest at the centre of the dancefloor, which used to be in almost permanent darkness except for some dazzling sweeps of the spinning, helicopter lights, but on this visit there were fewer helicopter effects in use and more regularly flashing vertical pencil beams.
In the juice bar a fountain spouts the juice for you to catch in a cup, while bowls of fresh fruit, nuts and sweets are all there for free too. Last time this room featured movies projected against the end wall – I saw ‘Fantasia’ and ‘Mahogany’ – but on this visit they weren’t in evidence. The music is a great mixture of the usual NY disco sounds but tempered by a more soulful element, the crowd being much more black than white. Well, that’s all the room for this week – more next.
Hot Chocolate ‘Going Through The Motions’ is on 12in after all (12RAK 296), while David Naughton ‘Makin’ It’ is finally on commercial 12in (RSOX 32) and Me And You ‘You Never Know What You’ve Got’ switched to Laser 12in (LAS 8T) . . . David Naughton got his TV series after making some popular Dr Pepper soft drink commercials at the same time as appearing in ‘Hamlet’ on Broadway – versatile lad! . . . Pye launch a series of ‘Disco Duplex’ double albums, gatefold packaged in hinged die-cut sleeves showing the new Discovatin’ label comprising two four-track segued 45rpm 12in discs giving full LP length but 12in clarity all for the £4.80 cost of a normal LP, the ‘Get Down On The Floor’ debut set (DISC 01) featuring Real Thing ‘Can You Feel The Force’ / (remix), Gene Chandler ‘Get Down’ / Players Association ‘Turn The Music Up’, Two Man Sound ‘Que Tal America’ / Martin Circus ‘Disco Circus’, Daddy Dewdrop ‘Nanu Nanu’ / Edwin Starr ‘Contact’ – phew! . . . Van McCoy died three weeks ago after feeling unwell in the studio while Hugo & Luigi were extending and overdubbing his old ‘The Hustle’ for future 12in reissue . . . Stargard have made the logical label change to Whitfield . . . CBS’s Greg Lynn is taking a Disco Pool roadshow around the country to meet mailing list jocks by invitation only at central venues, starting this Friday at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Julie’s and including most major cities . . . Trojan invite bona-fide DJs to call Sharon on 01-969 6651 for a free copy of Symarip ‘Skinhead Moonstomp’ provided they promise to play the reggae oldie ten times a night! . . . Satril’s Greg Buccheri (of broken axle fame) says that the upcoming Dance People LP and single deserve DJ attention and so he needs extra influential for his jocks list – write Greg at Satril House, 444 Finchley Road, London NW2 2HY . . . Stephanie Mills caused a commotion at a record shop LP-signing session when an unanticipated crowd of 3,000 turned up, the police pushed them into line, and 30 were injured when the shop’s window shattered under the pressure . . . East Anglian DJ Assn recently voted not to re-affiliate with the DJ Federation (GB) for a number of fairly footling reasons which seem to boil down to a dissatisfaction with overworked DJF secretary Tony Holden’s preference for making phone calls instead of writing time-consuming letters . . . Honey Bee Benson, representing Copenhagen’s IDEA agency, will be offering three months’ work at a top Oslo disco to worthwhile competitors in a mobile DJ contest being held at Gloucester’s Leisure Centre and Tiffanys, the winner getting £500 worth of equipment from organiser Barry Brown of Barry’s Disco Centre (Gloucester 421126) . . . Bob Jones, as well as Chelmsford Dee Jays every Wednesday, now funks Braintree’s Barn on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, while Dave Else reports that since he and some friends undertook to promote their own Wednesday and Friday funk nights at Guildford’s Bridge (in the Wooden Bridge on Woodbridge Hill) the crowd has grown dramatically . . . Chris Browne (spinning funk) and Gavin Breck (MoR) each jocked for 25 hours non-stop at Victor Lownes’s lavish 25th Anniversary Playboy party, which included a 25-hour outdoor roller disco too, the whole evidently being like a kind of upper-class Caister! . . . Steve Walsh, having vanquished his Peterborough-based namesake, now will represent the South of England against the North’s Colin Curtis (or maybe Bill Swift) at another battle of the giants in Peterborough’s Fleet Leisure Centre on August 24th . . . Robbie Collins (Robert Allwork, phone 01-520 7547) still needs gigs or residencies . . . Radio Medway soul jock Tony “Shades” Valence was revealed on Monday’s BBC 1 ‘Nationwide’ as a secret collector of rock ‘n roll stars’ discarded socks! . . . Radio 1 ‘Discovatin’’ producer Tony Hale is practising his pinball technique following a marathon match at New York’s Tribeca disco with Brass Construction’s Mickey Grudge, Randy Muller and myself! . . . Leeds Warehouse owner Michael Wiand managed to get a seat next to David Frost on his Concorde flight back from New York – can we expect a Frost Report on discos soon? . . . Preston Clouds celebrated their £150,000 reopening by issuing special Hangover Packs containing eye-mask, Alka-Seltzer, Anadin, Band-Aids and an Eau-de-Cologne brow-cooler! . . . Chelmsford’s YMCA in Victoria Road re-opened last Saturday after a £70,000 refit with Roger Carr running the disco as before . . . Paul Gough (Hartlepool Gemini) says he finds our disco chart a great help when selecting album tracks – which is good to hear, as we take great trouble to list them in order of popularity, and would like all chart contributors to do likewise instead of just jotting down “EWF LP” or similar . . . David Steinberg, US TV funny man, has the final word (and Forum catchphrase): “Get OFF!!!”
LOVE DE-LUXE: ‘Here Comes That Sound Again’ (from LP ‘Again and Again’, Atlantic K 50585) (BNDA debut 6/30/79)
The new Gino Soccio of this New York trip, the British-made girlie group 115bpm plodder seemed awfully ordinary in its UK 12in form earlier this year but as a remixed (and already deleted) US 12in or this longer LP side it cuts through with a chillingly monotonous effectiveness when mixed and played through New York quality disco equipment – it was certainly hard to avoid! Could be the time is right to try it again here, too.
ROSEBUD: ‘Have A Cigar’ (Atlantic K 11185) (BNDA debut 4/14/79)
Remixed for 12in from their ‘Discoballs / A Tribute To Pink Floyd’ 1977 LP (which I tipped at the time as having specialist appeal), this jumping 138bpm Europop girlie group racer is now huge in the States, and could be catchy enough for Amii Stewart fans here finally too.
A TASTE OF HONEY: ‘Do It Good’ (Capitol CL 16085) (BNDA debut 8/18/79)
Great slinkily grooving low 104bpm “sleaze” thumper on 7in here but hot in NY and much better on US promo 12in – which I couldn’t get, curses! Continue reading “July 28, 1979: “Studio 54 certainly know how to manipulate publicity – the place is nothing very special.””