Brass Construction were the big discovery of the very first Billboard Disco Forum back in early ’76, so (having got to know them in the meantime) I have had an extra kick from the fact that each of my last two visits were made all the better by the guys in the group taking me to their own favourite out-of-the-way night spots. Big famous discos are all very well, but for a night out with friends you can’t beat a neighborhood club.
In February they took me to Le Cocu, on East 55th Street, which while basically a French student and au-pair type of club becomes on Thursdays an almost exclusively black rendezvous when DJ Emile Sanon spins a mixture of Latin and funkier disco. The place most reminded me of Mayfair Gullivers. It’s not a particularly large room but nevertheless the dance floor boasts a dazzling array of twirling helicopter lights, pencil beams and a mirror ball. Friendly and fun, with great music – the Latin element prompting Dexter, Costa Rican pal of the group’s Mickey Grudge, to promise me he’d send me tapes of a six hour Latin programme that’s evidently a must on radio every Sunday. I’m still waiting!
This July visit, Mickey along with Randy Muller and their respective ladies took myself, Radio One’s Tony Hale and EMI LRD’s Ray Edwards to Tribeca on North Moore Street down near the Holland Tunnel. Built on several layers, the spacious ground floor bar looks down two levels to the dance floor at the back, with two fat columns rising from the dance floor with greenery growing from the top at ground floor height. However, down on the dance floor, these columns tower upwards more like the rocket ships in ‘Moonraker’, while the intermediate floor forms a gallery – all this being on quite a small, cramped scale. None of which concerned us, for while the jock played Village People to keep the kids amused (it was a refreshingly young hetero audience), the menfolk of the party retired to the games room to be beaten (embarrassingly consistently!) by yours truly at pinball. Maybe the hours spent on the old machine in Capital Radio’s canteen weren’t wasted after all!
The Sunday of this visit, Brass Construction’s Joe Wong sacrificed six hours of driving time to ferry a crowd of us in his vast Cadillac Eldorado to and from a barbecue Mickey Grudge threw for us at his home out on the South Shore of Long Island. Not far from the perimeter of Kennedy Airport, his flat in a tower block condominium cluster is an amazing 1½ hour drive from central Mahattan, yet still in New York. The route goes under the Verrazano Bridge of Travolta film fame, while on the way we decided against calling in for a snack at Joe & Mary’s Italian-American Restaurant in nearby Brooklyn – Joe and his guest Carmine Galante had not made a good ad for the food, splashed bloodily across the front pages two days earlier. The food at Mickey’s was terrific, sweet succulent ham and exotic sausages served hero-style in French loaves, but hardly a barbecue as cooked in the kitchen and eaten on a balcony fourteen stories up, and shrouded in deep fog. Many thanks though, Mickey (and Joe), it was really great. Later I looked in at a Brass Construction recording session in producer Jeff Lane’s studio above Studio 54.
Discotek 79, BADEM’s big equipment exhibition at London’s Bloomsbury Centre Hotel near Russell Square, is running from Tuesday 11th to Thursday 13th and switches from trade-only to public admission at 5pm on Wednesday 12th. Look out for Record Mirror’s stand at Discotek 79, it’ll give you a buzz! . . . John Lewis (Brighton Metro) reports local DJ opinion as favouring a boycott of WEA product in retaliation against the mailing list suspension – but surely WEA’s reason is that the mailing list’s DJ’s don’t create hits anyway? . . . Pye’s Dave McAleer has seen the light and renamed the Disco Dept as the R&B Division to embrace jazz-funk, sophistisoul, Latin & reggae as well – which to many minds always have been Disco here . . . CBS’s Greg Lynn is the latest disco plugger to hint at cuts to come . . . US record companies now are gearing product that they hope will break in roller-discos, of which there are evidently thousands – though we’d probably call ‘em roller-rinks (and I seem to remember enthusing three years ago about DJ Paul Nice’s NY-style mixing for the rollerskating sessions at Edmonton’s Picketts Lock Leisure Centre!) . . . Dave Towry-Coker now features the ready-mixed US Disconet subscription-only 12in medleys (and other gay NY fodder) at the Monday roller-disco in London’s Covent Garden Jubilee Hall . . . David Bendeth of ‘Feel The Real’ import fame, though now working in Canada, is really from the Essex end of East London and used to gig regularly at the Speakeasy – shock, horror, gasp! . . . Cliff Richard ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ is 111 bpm, if you’re interested . . . Archie Bell ‘Strategy’ is due soon, but the Jones Girls’ follow-up will be ‘You Made Me Love You’ and not the already proven ‘Life Goes On’ LP track . . . Sarsie (01-980 2517) is looking for a new East London funk venue (emphasis on FUNK) following trouble with the kids at his last one – why can’t they behave? . . . Clive Southwell, who now adds weekends from Fri-thru-Monday at Angel Islington’s Blue Coat Boy to his gigs, reports the two far and away most popular requests at the recent Teen-Ex ‘79 teenagers’ exhibition were Slick ‘Space Bass’ and Jacksons ‘Shake Your Body’ . . . Decca’s Robert Blenman, fresh from accompanying Radio Luxembourg’s Roadshow, reports that South-Western DJs find disco product hard to get in local shops and have to contend with Wally requests – so what else is new? . . . Gary Oldis (Newton Aycliffe Gretna Green) is disgusted at the power of the (local) press following a recent visit to his club by a reporter who observed healthy disco activity through the bottom of a glass and went away to write lurid headlines about lechery and sex amongst the teenage set . . . Teesvalley Roadshow’s recently mentioned smart printed leather keyrings, handed out in place of business cards, have already brought in six extra bookings . . . David Emery (Newcastle) sez my plug for his promotion organizing service brought an immediate first day result, with Central Line’s agent ringing him to arrange local gigs – so you see it really does make sense to appear on this page! . . . Dave Else (Guildford Bridge) suggests funky silliness with Brother Bones ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ – the Harlem Globetrotters’ old training song – which gets ‘em skipping all over the joint: only trouble is, ya gotta find it, as it’s on 1952 Oriole . . . Iain Borg & Trevor “Rasta” Chapman (Croydon Foxy) are briefly funking Malta at St Paul’s Bay Regals and The Villa Rossa – and their anticipation of Wally fodder being needed too is only half-confirmed by the just-returned Rus Phillips (Manor Park Ere For Music), who says it’s very “disco” but with some cool clubs there as well . . . Rus also kicks off a sorta Jox Yockettes finale: “I approached a Maltese DJ and asked ‘have you got Spyro Gyra?’ – he replied ‘why, does it show?’!” . . . Gary Allan (Liverpool McMillen’s): “A recent disco chart in the Daily Star made me realize I’d been introducing Diana Ross’s newie wrongly – they listed it as ‘The Boff’ (which is US slang for…)” (Enough! -Ed.) . . . Neil Fincham (Dunbar Goldenstones – and Monday late-niters at Gullane Old Clubhouse): “best request of the week – punter appears on stage, ‘can I have a request?’ ‘Sure, what?’ ‘Will you stop the music suddenly for about ten seconds so I can watch everybody looking silly?’ Answer unprintable.” (Thank God! -Ed.) . . . Sterling Vann (Bethnal Green Tipples): “Wally import newsflash – ‘Saturday Night Fever’ for imminent UK release! Latest Wally hit – ‘Polly Wolly Doodle’!” . . . Tom Wilson (Edinburgh Rutland): “Did you hear about the Irishman who had an artificial leg fitted? – his Wellie rejected it!”
DAVID BENDETH: ‘Feel The Real’ (Sidewalk 12SID 113)
Currently the disco chart’s biggest import, this gradually building 122-125 bpm 12in jazz-funk jiggler humps along with laid-back vocals suddenly spurting into a catchy staccato hook over the Canadian-based English guitarist’s chunky rhythm drive.
MIROSLAV VITOUS: ‘New York City’ (Warner Bros. K 17448T)
Much sought jazz-funk collectors’ item from ‘76 finally on 12in, the freaky 133 bpm bass burbler will have specialist appeal only but should go like hot cakes! Pity my copy’s warped.
MATUMBI: ‘Point Of View’ (MR 12RIC 101)
Madly catchy 120-124/62 bpm jaunty reggae 12in with an almost Dr Buzzard-like fascinating harmony echo effect and strange brass, likely to be huge. Continue reading “September 1, 1979: David Bendeth, Miroslav Vitous, Matumbi, Eddy Grant, Bobby Rush”