The Seventies are over and now many interested parties are eagerly trying to make out that the era of disco is dead and that “dance music” – which seems to boil down to 2-Tone’s product – is the sound of now. This may well be so for a large portion of the population, but historical perspective can put these assertions in their place. Would you call the Rolling Stones a disco group? You most certainly would not, yet the Stones are almost undoubtedly the most danced to group of recent years . . . at parties, pubs and other environments that are not necessarily disco clubs.
Club music, whether the public likes it or not, has ever since the early 60s been orientated towards black soul music. There seems little reason to suppose that this will change just because there’s a new form of energetic pop music on the charts. The fact that this new music draws some of its inspiration from past disco formats of the 60s does not make it compatible with the rhythms and conventions of modern disco. Mobile DJ’s, pubs and some specialist venues will or do already feature it with obvious relief, but just as there have always been a vast majority of DJ’s who have to play a wide variety of music to keep their general public happy, there will continue to be a minority of jocks working in a club environment where disco is distilled to its purest soulful form.
Why is soul equated with disco? The pattern has been set since the Twist gave way to the early Motown, Stax and James Brown of the original Mod era discotheques, and the name of the place became synonymous over the years to the type of music danced to within it. Maybe the term “disco” should be dropped altogether, so that we can revert to calling soul by its own name, and not confuse it with other species of dance music. This could make sense – except soul is so often not soulful, and in itself now a misnomer!
Once again the spotlight hits the podium, Tony Holden’s video camera begins to turn and a stream of substitutes step up to accept other people’s awards . . . yes folks, it’s the Hammy Awards for 1979!
LABEL OF THE YEAR: MCA, for discovering after the year was already half over that good disco music and even jazz if issued on 12in can and indeed does sell.
RECORD COMPANY OF THE YEAR: CBS, including Philadelphia International, Epic, TK, Tappan Zee, Blue Sky who put out so much product that the good stuff HAD to hit (and would have done so anyway).
RUNNERS UP: Pye, for starting well with 20th Century and Vanguard and then returning with Sugarhill and AVI (not forgetting Pye itself), RCA, for having the courage to stick with their 12in policy and release a lot of product when much of it (on RCA, Solar, 20th Century, Prestige, Milestone) did not cross over to big sales despite disco success.
ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY: CBS, for putting on 12in only what they think needs the sales impetus, WEA, for getting burned by their mass 12in LV release and subsequently deciding that all we want is Chic anyway (if you can find a dealer who bought enough albums to qualify for a 12in quota).
IMPORT OF THE YEAR: Lonnie Liston Smith ‘Space Princess’ (US Columbia 12”).
12IN OF THE YEAR: Crusaders ‘Street Life’ (MCA).
ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Edwin Starr ‘It’s Called The Rock’ (20th Century 12”).
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO: The Village People (who qualify for a gold record of their rendition of the New York telephone directory).
LP CUT OF THE YEAR: ‘Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush’ (Kiddicraft LP ‘Children’s Party Songs & Games’).
7IN OF THE YEAR: Er . . . who plays anything on 7in anyway (unless it’s on CBS)?
MARKETING PLOY OF THE YEAR: Fantasy getting Slick ‘Space Bass’ onto UK 12in before it was available in any other commercial form anywhere.
RUNNER UP: Mercury ditto with Kurtis Blow ‘Christmas Rappin’’ and insisting against De-Lite’s wishes that Kool & The Gang ‘Ladies’ Night’ should be on 12in here in order to sell.
DISCO PROMOTION PERSON OF THE YEAR: Ray Edwards, better known as Raymondo, who while working for EMI-LRD did more to promote disco in general (regardless of record label) amongst radio station personnel than anyone else.
RUNNERS UP: All my mates who I know and who know me, but excluding the so-called disco promotion people whose only contact has ever been a piece of typewritten paper enclosed with their product.
TREND OF THE YEAR: The “rock” dancestep rhythm.
EVENTS OF THE YEAR: Showstopper Promotions’s soul weekenders.
THERE’LL ALWAYS BE AN ENGLAND: Chris Hill.
SCOTLAND LOVES TO LOVE YOU BABY: Donna Summer.
TELL IT LIKE IT IS: Greg Lynn (CBS), for a classic quote.
IT PAYS TO INCREASE YOUR WORD POWER: Morgan Khan (Pye) and Fred Dove (WEA), for knowing what they want to say but not always how to say it.
SERVICES TO THE POST OFFICE OVER AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY: Glenn J. Simpson.
GOLDEN HANDSHAKE: Garrell Redfearn (MIF – which stands for Make It Funky, incidentally – and Disco magazine), for keeping the faith despite everything yet sadly saying a tentative goodbye.
A LARGE BRANDY AND COKE: Fatman Graham Canter (Mayfair Gullivers).
JOCK OF THE YEAR: Froggy, for being violently and unreasonably opposed to US-style mixing until his first visit to New York in February, since which he has done such an about turn that he is now virtually its biggest exponent (a little travel can broaden your mind!).
THAT’S ALL VERY WELL BUT: Dr Hook ‘When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman’ (Capitol), Bellamy Brothers ‘If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body’ (Warner Bros.), Cliff Richard ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ (EMI), Roxy Music ‘Dance Away’ (Polydor) . . . which by being universally applicable to general audiences were, certainly for me, the MoR crossover hits of 1979.
Well, that lot should give some people something to think about. See you next year! Continue reading “December 29, 1979: The Hammy Awards for 1979”