February 23, 1980: “Disco in Los Angeles is awful”

Odds ‘N Bods

Greg Davies’s Disco Forum has yet to happen as this was written, but panelist Fred Dove has already gone on record saying that WEA’s disco promotion is no less successful since he cut his list from 360 DJ’s to just the elite few whose audiences are open to new material . . . Chris Hill was chuffed to find a 25 cent copy of the Rhythm Makers’ (early GQ) ‘Zone’ 12in at LA’s Record Depot . . . Sean French neither snored nor nodded to sleep, but the good buddy could be heard to mutter “breaker breaker one nine”! . . . Dartford Flicks holds a dance contest on Fridays through March for ordinary kids into their own funky steps and not the choreographed acrobatics that so often get called disco dancing – although Colin Hudd will have the appalling Ian Moore on hand to show how the pros don’t do it! . . . Motown are rightly re-promoting Smokey Robinson ‘Cruising’, currently huge in the US pop chart . . . Chris Britton has encouraged High Wycombe’s Venus Records shop in the Octagon to stock imports selected from his Tuesday playlist, with immediate results, while Mark Clark infos that every Wednesday at Abingdon Charters the Newbury Disco Centre sells all the latest jazz-funk from a record bar . . . UK limited 12in editions so rarely find their way to specialist stockists that it’s little wonder imports are now so important to the real disco market, which record companies mistakenly suppose is to be found in chart return record shops . . . Dave Middleton reports that Bletchley’s Bear Jazz bunch are finding venues hard to come by, which may explain their coach trip to Slough this Friday (22), details for funk fans from Scott Evenden on 0908-72982 (day) / 75391 (night) . . . Erik Jack’s Life Entertainment Services (0243-863840) successfully placed Stuart Barton as the DJ on the QE2 for Caribbean and world cruises, and could have some summer season work for others in the near future (so note the number) . . . Teesvalley Roadshow (Redcar 475854) say the street strike is hitting discos hard in the North-East, but they themselves tour Germany at Whitsun and need a few more dates . . . Scott Wilson is back at Tony’s Cellar Bar Euro-disco in Edinburgh on Fri/Saturdays . . . Big Phil and the mob at Whitehaven’s Whitehouse are pleading with A&M to release Gato Barbieri’s original ‘Theme From Firepower’ . . . Steve Wiggins (Barry Rugby Club), despairing of ever getting on Sally Ormsby’s DJ list after seventeen reply-less letters, wants at least to see a pic of the lady in Cheesecake Corner – how about it then, Sal? . . . Adrian Webb of the Wonderful World of Webb’s Wonder Tours won a thousand bucks during a quick detour to Las Vegas from LA, and last year discovered a similar bundle of “hot” money stuffed under a chair in his New York hotel room – anyone would think he didn’t make enough owning Southgate Royalty! . . . Capital Radio’s Roger Scott, the world’s biggest Beach Boys fan, had the shock of his life when reclusive Brian Wilson stepped out of a lift right in front of him just over the road from our hotel! . . . Los Angeles is so behind musically that expatriate Dick Sheppard of the Towards 2000 mobile disco and store actually reads about US releases in Record Mirror before he hears them in LA – where so many oldies get played that you could almost believe that disco is dead.

It never rains in Southern California, but it pours, it really pours! Pan Am 121 landed at LAX, we were whisked away in a 9-door hatchback to the Avenue Of The Stars, and awoke next day (last Monday) to sweltering sunshine and the temperature in the 70s. Bright colourful flowers blanketed the ground, palm trees spouted everywhere and nearly everything was in leaf. February in Los Angeles. Wednesday was the day that the rains came down. And Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday too. Not that it was continuous on every day, for in fact we were able to do Disneyland half dry half wet and Knotts Berry Farm completely dry. As I drove our air-conditioned and completely power assisted Chevrolet Caprice down Sunset Strip on Saturday night, firemen were clearing the mud slides from the road that had tumbled off the overhanging escarpment of the Hollywood Hills, and on Sunday when we turned up the coast from Santa Monica the roads to Malibu were blocked. Even the unreal environment of the ridiculously pretty Beverly Hills was marred by burst embankments and ruptured fences. It had been wet, certainly, but to us it hadn’t seemed THAT wet. However in Southern California, the weather is good enough for long enough to encourage reckless architecture, and similarly hot enough to create cracks in concrete which then cannot contain water when it comes. If this was a disaster area, or even just the worst that the weather can do, then it’s no bad place to spend a week in winter. Continue reading “February 23, 1980: “Disco in Los Angeles is awful””

February 16, 1980: Brothers Johnson, Narada Michael Walden, Alton & Johnny, B.T. Express, Jimmy Messina

Odds ‘N Bods

‘Motivation’ / ‘Extract’ is the double-A newie by Atmosfear due on Elite this week . . . Earth, Wind & Fire ‘In The Stone’ is due on 12in next week, followed by an extended UK-only 12in of Prince ‘Sexy Dancer’, while Slave and Trussel are both overdue now . . . MCA should have shortened War ‘The World Is A Ghetto’ by editing the intro as now without the ending it never reaches the best bits . . . Azymuth ‘Jazz Carnival’ is called just ‘Carnival’ in the US as radio is frightened of the full title – whereas without the ‘Jazz’ it probably wouldn’t have hit here! . . . Del Richardson’s naggingly familiar ‘Lady With The Red Dress On’ (Concept), recently reviewed reggae 7in, is awfully like ‘Perfidia’ . . . Bristol’s Just 4U move base to the Turntable Club this Friday (15), Martin Starr & Dennis Richards funking till 3am and then returning on Saturday at noon for their Just 4U 100 Club afternoon jazz-funk session, Dennis dancing with the recently mentioned Switch dance team (bookable on 0272-694156/771209) . . . Bristol’s many mentions on this page are not a joke, by the way, as some skeptics seem to think! . . . 10 year old Claire Bowman, clad in leopard leotard, danced to victory at Maidenhead Skindles’ recent Sunday afternoon kids’ disco talent contest . . . Bournemouth Soul Centre record shop will be promoting a couple of jazz-funk nights throughout the summer season, should that influence your holiday choice . . . I’m writing before the Funk Mafia trip to Los Angeles so I don’t know if Sean French does snore, but I bet that he NODS off to sleep (that was an “in” joke, understood by thousands in the South!) . . . David Bendeth of ‘Feel The Real’ fame, currently popping into various London clubs for PA’s, played on Musique’s ‘In The Bush’ amongst many others . . . La Pregunta means “the question” in Spanish, all you ‘Chameleon’ fans . . . DJF-affiliated and all other DJ Associations are invited to the DJ Federation’s governing council meeting on Tuesday 4th March at 10am in Buck’s Head Hotel, Stranraer, Scotland (now then – don’t all rush!), details on 01-341 2785 – and incidentally, the DJF seem to think that the worrying PRS mobile DJ licence (which you may recall I purposefully ignored) is indeed unnecessary in all but the rarest of freak occasions (question answered, Chris Bolus?) . . . Tim Taylor (Bishop Auckland) says ‘Nellie The Elephant’ supports his Purple Haze roadshow as it and snatches of “day-o” from ‘The Banana Boat Song’ or laughter from ‘The Laughing Policeman’ break up the monotony of unending Wally requests . . . Tom Wilson (Edinburgh Parrot Cage) wonders if nervous butterflies get people in their tummies! . . . Chris Dinnis (Exeter) raves about ATV’s ‘Tiswas’ and I have to agree – it’s fatal to watch if, like me, you’re in need of sleep on Saturday morning! . . . CBS’s Loraine Trent thinks it’s funny to joke so convincingly about someone’s drinking problem that half a dozen horror-struck DJ’s brought it to my attention . . . Minimixes this week include Patrice Rushen’s opening half synched into Players Assn 12in, or Bunny Mack mixed into Osibisa, synched into Miriam Makeba’s original ‘Pata Pata’ or Phyllis Hyman chopped at the rhythm break into the rhythm break halfway in McFadden & Whitehead ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’, both Phyllis or McF & W then chopping perfectly into Candi Staton ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ . . . Disco tied with Beautiful Music as the top format on New York radio for the last part of 1979, but paranoia about “disco” still reigns ¡n the States. Disco is dead, long live Soul, Funk & Jazz!

UK Newies

THE BROTHERS JOHNSON: ‘Stomp!’ (from LP ‘Light Up The Night’, A&M AMLK 63716) (BNDA debut 2/23/80)
Double dynamite produced by Quincy Jones and largely penned by Rod Temperton, both fresh from their Michael Jackson triumph – and this set is similarly strong! Also on 7in, the full 6:24 of ‘Stomp!’ “rocks” from a subtly laid-back intro to build powerfully into a whamping stamping 119½bpm piledriver that’s gonna stomp through our minds for the months to come.

NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN: ‘Tonight I’m Alright’ (Atlantic K 11437T) (BNDA debut 12/22/79)
Now indeed on 12in, this terrifically exciting “rock” smacker is still a deceptive 124(intro)-121-126(clapping)-123(instrumental)-122bpm.

ALTON & JOHNNY: ‘Hang On In There Baby’ (Polydor POSP 118)
Johnny Bristol’s original smash remixed for 97-98bpm 7in with Alton McClain added so that she duets with the old vocal, the instrumental version on the flip featuring lovely jazzy sax from George Young.  Continue reading “February 16, 1980: Brothers Johnson, Narada Michael Walden, Alton & Johnny, B.T. Express, Jimmy Messina”

February 9, 1980: Tony Rallo & The Midnite Band, Narada Michael Walden, Jocko, Leon Haywood, Bobby Thurston

Odds ‘N Bods

Michael Jackson ‘Rock With You’ is amazingly on 3:20 7in-length 12in (Epic EPC 13-8206) with the long 128 bpm ‘You Can’t Win’ added to ‘Get On The Floor’ to make a 12:00 flip . . . Zkiffz ‘(I Wanna) Boogie With You’ is now on 12in (UA 12BP 332) with a sexy “hit me with your sticky dick” continuation, while the GQ ‘Standing Ovation’ 12in version does average 126 bpm but actually runs at 127-125-126-125-126 bpm . . . Stop ‘I Can Feel It’ will be Calibre CABL 101 from any day now . . . RCA have won UK rights to Salsoul, so it’s back to base for them again . . . Sunday sees a mass exodus of Funk Mafia to Los Angeles for a week long treat, travelers including (along with various womenfolk) Chris Hill, Robbie Vincent, Froggy, Sean French, myself (looks like I’m sharing with Sean this time – hope he doesn’t snore like Fatman!), Stan Barrett of Canvey Goldmine, the Southgate Royalty mob, and even Capital Radio’s Roger Scott, the excuse for the trip being Billboard’s Disco (sorry – dance music – the chickens!) Forum but the actual objective being Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Universal City, the Beach Boys and a darned good time! . . . Greg Davies’s Disco Forum ’80 will cost a lot less, £2 only in fact, tickets from him at 11 Hampton Close, Wilstead, Beds MK45 3DA, the 8pm event being on Tuesday, February 19th at Stevenage Bo Jangles Club . . . Soho’s Groove Records, who will be selling imports at Stevenage, have made a commercial for Capital Radio play using (with permission) Bobby Thurston’s ‘Check Out The Groove’ . . . Mark Clark (Wokingham King Of Clubs) suggests Merry Clayton’s lovely slow ‘When The World Turns Blue’ is merely her over Joe Sample’s ‘Melodies Of Love’, while Froggy points out that Sharon Paige ‘Tonight’s The Night’ is the same song as One Way ‘Tonight’, on the flip of ‘Music’ . . . US of A ‘Bodysnatching’ was evidently put out with the wrong mix, though the new one’s no better . . . Candido’s new album has caused widespread disappointment among DJs . . . Roger St Pierre’s promotion company has now lost Ian Titchener, who with brother Nick has joined Barry McCloud to form Rush Release (01-669 0327/659 2701) for promotion, PR, press – they all only want your mailing list, huh, Roger?! . . . London’s LODJ Assn meet at 3pm this Sunday (10) in the Model Railway Club, Keen House, Calshot Street, Kings Cross, discussing microphones and hospital radio . . . North West Mobile DJ Assn (Bolton 53677) could be the answer for many jocks from Lancaster to Merseyside, Manchester and mid-Cheshire – they’re two years old and affiliated to the DJF . . . Polydor/DJF’s Theo Loyla and journalist Jerry Gilbert are starting an invitation-only monthly drinking session – sorry, meeting – for disco decision-makers because, as Jerry says, “most of the people who matter I see only about four times a year – and three of those are in Gullivers at 2am” – yes folks, the notorious Mayfair club may sometimes be maligned but it is the most influential in the country, considering who meets there! . . . Ronnie Laws ‘OTBA Law’ synched out of the “come on” chick in Al Hudson ‘You Can Do It’ and Michael Jackson ‘Rock With You’ vari-synched out of Prince ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ last half are the killer mixes this week! . . . Whispers are number 5 in London’s best sellers this week – remember now, it’s 1980 and DISCO IS DEAD!

UK Newies

TONY RALLO AND THE MIDNITE BAND: ‘Holdin’ On’ (Calibre CABL 501) (‘Burnin’ Alive’ BNDA debut 1/5/80)
Huge and hopefully hit-bound ultra-catchy “ba de ba da”-scatted jittery 118 bpm 12in jazz-funk jumper due imminently on Pye’s new Disco label. Although irritatingly speeded up from the LP’s 116 bpm, it does at least now equal La Pregunta! For added value, the more “commercial” catchily counting through rhythmically similar 125 bpm ‘Burnin’ Alive’ is flip.

NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN: ‘Tonight I’m Alright’ (from LP ‘The Dance Of Life’, Atlantic K 50678) (BNDA debut 12/22/79)
From the smash import Michael Jackson-ish set, this dynamite exciting “rock” smacker whaps through a deceptive 124(intro)-121-126(clapping)-123(instrumental)-122 bpm and is due on 12in, whilst out on US 7in for ages has been the bass-bumped hypnotic jiggly rolling 118-114-115-114 bpm ‘I Shoulda Loved Ya’ “rock” clapper. The other hot cuts are the chugging chanted 126-124-127-124-125 bpm ‘You’re Soo Good’ thudder with yowling guitar and disjointed 121-120 bpm ‘Lovin’ You Madly’ basher with long clapping breaks.

JOCKO: ‘Rhythm Talk’ (Philadelphia Int’l PIR 13-8222)
Veteran rock ‘n roll radio DJ does a real rapper’s delight over a remade 114 bpm backing track to ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’ – and thankfully the useful instrumental version is still on the flip. Up slightly in speed from the US pressing, it should now synch with the early part of McFadden & Whitehead’s original and will be big on its own in any case.  Continue reading “February 9, 1980: Tony Rallo & The Midnite Band, Narada Michael Walden, Jocko, Leon Haywood, Bobby Thurston”

February 2, 1980: Michael Jackson, GQ, Bunny Mack, Ronnie Laws, Cheryl Lynn

Odds ‘N Bods

‘Center City’ remains a collector’s item 12in as, after all that, it’s only the Fat Larry B-side on promo copies (at 2bpm slower than reviewed, ‘Here Comes The Sun’ being 1bpm faster) . . . Pye’s brand new black product label Calibre launches soon with Tony Rallo ‘Holdin’ On’ and has picked up Stop ‘I Can Feel It’ from Elite . . . Whispers hit last week’s London sales chart (non-disco) at a massive number 15! . . . Patrice Rushen’s 12in checks in at 130-129-130-129-128 (piano on)-127bpm, Roy Ayers at 113½-114bpm, Brass Construction ‘Shakit’ going down 1bpm . . . Mercury retain De-Lite for two more years and have a new Crown Heights Affair LP at the end of Feb . . . Light Of The World, Jocko, Narada Michael Walden are due on UK 12in next week, Slave and a Gap Band 3-tracker (‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ / ‘Steppin’ Out’ / ‘Oops!’) the week after . . . Shalamar ‘Right In The Socket’ is on 12in only, the 7in edit being just for radio . . . Grey & Hanks ‘Now I’m Fine’ is set for UK 12in in March, but no LP plans yet . . . I’m sworn to secrecy, but Arista have interesting plans for promoting GRP jazz product, about which certain select DJ’s will doubtless be hearing shortly – and it’s good to see Phyllis Hyman on Radio One’s main playlist, too . . . Merry Clayton ‘Emotion’, reviewed last week, is of course Webster Lewis’s ‘Give Me Some Emotion’ which Fatman loves so . . . Glenn J Simpson, having built up a largely mobile/youth club DJ mailing list, is now in a lather as his Sponsor-Disc idea is attracting cigarette and alcohol advertisers who require airplay outlets in licensed clubs and pubs: jox from these are all invited to apply for inclusions on his list now, at Public Eye Enterprises Ltd, Penthouse Suite, Town Centre House, Merrion Centre, Leeds LS2 8LY . . . Rusty Egan, well known sessions gorilla with various power pop combos, has been offered a thousand bucks a week to jock at New York’s Mudd Club, but doesn’t think it’s enough . . . Darryl Hayden (01-898 1127) will set fire to himself in aid of Cambodian refugees at any London area club for a £30 donation, following his blazing Lambeth Bridge leap . . . Paul Clark (Brighton 698699) is after Sussex area funky gigs prepared to take him plus a coach-load of lunatic followers . . . Blackpool’s Pete Haigh & Frenchie have teamed up to form the solidly funky Stateside Connection, bookable on Cleveleys 824156 . . . Norman Scott is cock-a-hoop over gay club Bang’s continued success in face of stiff opposition down Charing Cross way, while Tony Jenkins could be taking his Anthony’s soul club to Heaven on Sundays soon . . . Southampton University’s Bootsies soul club (Union Ballroom every Friday) made more money than any other social activity on campus last year . . . Chris Britton reports the Saturday crowds at High Wycombe Tuesdays come mainly from London as the locals only like his pop nights . . . Dave Hipperson’s Maximum Axis (01-207 0179) supplied an impressive array of disco gear for Record Mirror’s 25th Anniversary party, an event that made me nostalgicize about RM’s old Mod style-setter, Norman Jopling, without whom so much would not be as it is now: first to write about the Stones, instigator of the “Great Unknowns” soul star feature and much more, his “America Awakes” US reviews column was taken over by myself exactly eleven years ago . . . Garrell Redfearn has now completely closed his MIF production company . . . Loraine Trent’s remarkable CBS newsletter, in which she was quite staggeringly indiscreet about a DJ’s drinking problem, proved a big talking point last weekend and won her the Bitch Of The Year award eleven months early . . . 1980, remember at all times (and tell ‘em at Pye, RCA, Mercury & WEA!), is meant to be the year that disco died – if disco is dead, I hadn’t noticed!

UK Newies

MICHAEL JACKSON: ‘Rock With You’ (Epic EPC 8208)
Great insidious lazy 115 bpm 7in “rock” swayer, already huge on import and LP, usefully flipped by the jerky hiccupping strangulated 124 bpm ‘Get On The Floor’.

GQ: ‘Standing Ovation’ (Arista ARIST 12328) (BNDA debut 3/1/80)
Michael Jackson-like urgent 126 bpm backbeat canterer with an interesting “diddle de da” rhythm arrangement, due on 12in, is catchier than one thinks at first.

BUNNY MACK: ‘Let Me Love You’ (Rokel SD-RK 09)
Absolutely dynamite 125-126 bpm afro-reggae throbber like a cross between ‘Jingo’ and ‘Frontline Symphony’, the 124-125 bpm ‘Love You Forever’ instrumental B-side version possibly being even better.  Continue reading “February 2, 1980: Michael Jackson, GQ, Bunny Mack, Ronnie Laws, Cheryl Lynn”