March 28, 1981: Sugar Minott, Burundi Black, Isley Brothers, Webster Lewis, Quincy Jones


‘BITTER SUITE’, the £5.99 CBS double album of jazz-funk classics has finally hit the streets (CBS 22082), full review next week . . . Heatwave’s Keith Wilder just bumped into me eating breakfast at a certain London hotel in the middle of writing this page, and amongst other things tells me that Johnnie is whizzing about in a special computerised wheelchair (with built-in stereo), which he handles like a motorbike using just his chin and neck muscles – look out for it on BBC TV’s ‘Tomorrow’s World’ . . . Mayfair Gullivers is accessible for Johnnie all on street level, so what with Rose Royce hanging out there last week and Heatwave this, its just like old times! . . . Arista’s imminent LP influx by such as Harvey Mason, Raydio, Phyllis Hyman appears to have been held back on import to coincide with UK release . . . Record Shack’s as yet unheard ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us’ disco mixer is evidently made up of legal cover-versions and is not a bootleg . . . SEDA’s Spring Disco Fair is between noon and 7pm this Sunday (29) at the Great Danes Hotel just off the M20 near Maidstone, with many name exhibitors . . . East Anglian DJ Assn members are largely of a mind to fragment the association into separate ones of more manageable size, and will decide on this at their annual general meeting on Sunday, April 12th at 3pm in Thetford’s Breckland Sports Centre . . . Carol Jiani ‘Hit ‘N’ Run Lover’ is not necessarily going to be on Champagne, despite early announcements . . . London’s Capital Radio lunchtime show could be getting more interesting again soon, say no more! . . . Honey Bee Benson (busy as a bee) now with stupendous success is partnering TISWAS’s equally lovely Sally James in the Sally James Roadshow, complete with Phantom Flan Flinger – book ’em but quick on 01-434 1861/2 from MPC’s Ronnie Ball! . . . Holly House Publications of 2 Holly Road, St Mary’s Bay, Romney Marsh, Kent TN29 OXB (030382 2983), have now produced a blank identity card for filling in by the DJ to make his roadcrew or similar look more official in their dealings with third parties (you could probably make one yourself for less than the 60p each/four for £2 cost) . . . Froggy has now moved on Thursdays to Hackney Marshes Flamingo’s . . . Van Martin, ex-Brighton Mr K’s/Rustington Smugglers Roost, is now resident at Blackpool Adam & Eve with Thursday his jazz-funk night – and the best crumpet in the North-West, he says! . . . Tom Holland, who with Miss Blue Note will be jazz-funking London’s notorious Venue on Sundays from April 26th, tips the up-coming Claudia Fontaine ‘Natural High‘ (JB 12in) reggaefication of Bloodstone’s oldie as a future hit . . . Tony Jenkins, no longer actively involved with Funktion, returns to the idea that started it all when he starts importing jazz-funk punters to Harrow Weald’s lavishly appointed Middlesex & Herts Country Club every Monday from April 27th . . . Mark Stuart (Southall Barberrettas) follows Greg Edwards in reviving Jeffree ‘Love’s Gonna Last‘ (US MCA LP) . . . Martin Platts (Blackburn), some of whose valuable comments would be more intelligible if I knew what he was talking about, like me uses the ’60s-reviving Euromedley oldie, Laurent Voulzy ‘Rockollection‘ (French RCA 12in) . . . Keith Black (Warwick) is in Kenya for a couple of weeks – don’t let the lions get ya! . . . Lindon T of Edgware’s Scorpion Sounds Roadshow, shops exclusively at Groove . . . Liz Bailey (Leicester) is upset by her current chart’s content, saying I’ll hate it, as it’s so mixed due to prevailing bad nightclub conditions – but I don’t know why, because even the pop stuff she’s included is at least GOOD pop stuff, and that’s all one can hope for . . . Nigel Porter however, recently moved from Reading to work in Leicester’s HMV Shop, finds that city has a glut of clubs all with exactly the same format and safe chart-orientated music policy, attracting very few punters mid-week yet unwilling to try anything different – in fact, says Nigel, the best disco is at Leicester Polytechnic, where all kinds of music are played, with no dress restrictions and a distinct lack of hostility (do you mean it’s a futurist club by any chance?!) . . . Steve Boley (Weston-Super-Mare Mr B’s) reckons Radio One is largely to blame for punters’ stagnant taste at the moment, as only the same very few disco records ever get played, so that on the odd occasion now that people do go out, the only tunes they know are these plus of course oldies – making new material difficult to break when the only chance it gets is probably one shot . . . I know what I like – I like what I know . . . KEEP IT GOOD!

DAVID GRANT and Sketch of Linx have every reason to look chuffed (as well as cool), ‘cos ‘You’re Lying’ is climbing the US Soul chart while back home here ‘Intuition’ is proving that “Plan B” really can work for some people! Between rehearsing for a UK tour next month and hitting every club in town every night (or so it seems), they even managed a quick flying visit to the States to help their hit there. It’s the first of the new breed Brit-Funk sides to score Stateside, which should bode well for their excellent album’s chances in the market there too. Light Of The World, look to your laurels!


SUGAR MINOTT: ‘Good Thing Going’ (RCA RCAT 58).
Finally shaping up as the biggest reggae crossover in ages now it’s on a major label, this fabulously infectious simple little jiggly 0-79bpm 12” revival of an obscure Michael Jackson oldie is a Capital Radio smash request and interestingly was introduced to RCA by Rusty Egan.

BURUNDI BLACK: ‘Burundi Black’ (Barclay BAX 1).
As 25 Ingoma Drums from the Burundi region of Central Africa are pounding away with all their ethnic power, the 1971 addition of Mike Stephenson’s keyboard chords and now Rusty Egan’s ponderous electronic beat seems unnecessary – but thankfully the 167bpm 12in flip is just the drums on their own and is the side to use especially if mixing into the exactly similar Adam & The Ants ‘Kings Of The Wild Frontier’! I’ve been using this side for ten years now.

ISLEY BROTHERS: ‘Tonight Is The Night’ (Epic EPC A1122).
Absolutely gorgeous gently pulsating 48bpm edited 7in smoocher sung with beautiful vocal interplay and a lovely mellow sense of pent-up sleazy rhythm, the best track on their import album, flipped by the ultra-jittery smacking c.128bpm ‘Who Said?‘.  Continue reading “March 28, 1981: Sugar Minott, Burundi Black, Isley Brothers, Webster Lewis, Quincy Jones”

March 21, 1981: Soft Cell, Level 42, Spandau Ballet, Sun, Starpoint


QUINCY JONES ‘Ai No Corrida’ is due on 3 track 12in with ‘Stuff Like That’ while Capitol have scheduled 3 trackers by T-Connection, Mystic Merlin. Why didn’t they wait for the hot product like Sun, Cold Fire? . . . Alphonse Mouzon ‘By All Means’, ‘Do I Have To’ will be on Excaliber 12in next week . . . Disco Dub Band ‘For The Love Of Money’ has been slightly remixed and put out on white label extended 12in as by the Master Dub Band and Project Love Rescue (which never did hit on import) is about on Creole white label . . . Frank Hooker ‘Ooh Suga Wooga’ / ‘This Feeling (Remix)’ is now on good value US 12in and Jerry Knight ‘Perfect Fit’ on hard to get US 12in promo . . . Chris Hill turns out to be responsible for the great LOTW ‘Time’ remix, speeding up the original blending in newly recorded brass and guitar passages . . . Randy Brown on his nice new smoochy LP varied up to between 33 and 45rpm sounds exactly like another Randy Crawford . . . LA Boppers also have a pleasant new import LP (some of these I’m waiting for from the companies to review in comfort at home) hot new jazz sets including Jack McDuff (Sugarhill), Dave Pike (Muse – try ‘Swan Lake’), Kellis Ethridge (Inner City – try ‘Quickie Nirvana’) . . . Sharon Redd evidently sang on Front Page ‘Love Insurance’ a while back . . . David Bendeth’s upcoming ‘Make It Pop’ 12in flip is a remake of ‘Feel The Real’ remixed by Mr. Hill to incorporate snippets of three other tracks from his ‘Just Dessert’ LP, this concoction called ‘Just Demix’ . . . Chris Hill, Carol and myself had a gastronomic tour of ‘Good Food Guide’ restaurants last week (disguised as a gig at Whitehaven’s Whitehouse) . . . Knutsford David’s Place serving dynamite duck, Cockermouth Old Courthouse tasty Germanic fare, Gosforth Boonwood Inn incredible cream teas (with rum butter!) but one of the most memorable meals of my life was at world famous Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel near Pooley Bridge – only ultra rich superstars are welcome there though! . . . Cumbria does seem to have a lot of extremely good looking and surprisingly spare birds – and Dot does wear a nice pair of jeans (I hope the Alien appreciates ’em) . . . Porky pork scratchings are ‘more-ish’ aren’t they? . . . Level 42 meanwhile evidently turned in the best set ever at Mayfair Gullivers, the Bros Johnson-type bassist pushing guitar and keyboards (again, no sax) through completely self-penned, note-perfect material – wish I’d caught it . . . Roger Squire’s dXL 100 “mini” PA speaker, at under £100 measures only 10¼in x 12½in x 19½in but evidently packs a surprisingly beefy bass from four specially designed 4in full range chassis with special porting and a built-in Piezo horn . . . Galatrek Engineering (contact Ron Koffler on 0492-640311) have for the first time ever made a thermal flashing 13amp plug containing a solid state device which, without interference to TV / radio signals, makes anything up to 250 watts flash at a regular 1 on / 1 off timing (cost in quantity £1.50) . . . Funktion’s April 25th trip to Paris has been reduced in price to £49.95, and it seems Funktion is no longer at Mortons on Monday . . . Kev Hill (Brentwood 0277-221309), visiting Galway for the Easter weekend with a rugger team would like to know if indeed there are any soul discos in the area to visit, and if so would they like to book him for some London funk? . . . Glen Ross at Storthfield Country Club, Storth Lane, South Normanton, Derbyshire, plans a regular weekly live music night and would like to hear from interested bands (especially futurist) . . . Kev Howarth fuses jazz / funk / fusion at St Asaph Stables now Al Taylor has moved on . . . Dave Bumford of Newport’s Flashback shop (pipped to the post by Lady Di?) claims Beggar & Co ‘Help Me Out’ rips off Rufus ‘Live In Me’ more than Heatwave does and ‘Rising Sun’ cops the guitar riff from Blackbyrds ‘Rock Creek Park’ . . . Tricky Dicky has dirt cheap prices (US LP £4.50 UK 12in £1.80 for instance) at his shop opposite Mile End station. Disco Music, 391c Mile End Road, Bow, London E3 . . . Carol Jiani ‘Hit ‘N’ Run Lover’ is a big number one in all the gay orientated charts that have suddenly come in this week . . . Coati Mundi ‘Me No Pop I’ lyrics are worth a close listen! . . . James Brown’s Soul Syndrome Part 2 turns out to be very much the one take record rejects from his RCA set . . . ‘Body Music’ is by One On One and not One On Me, as misprinted last week . . . Eurovision entrant Bucks Fizz sound naggingly like ‘The Hucklebuck’, try singing it to their melody . . . Odyssey ‘Use It Up And Wear It Out’ from the vocal start to its halfway “wooh” mixes nicely between Freeez percussion and Manu Dibango’s sax . . . Bob ‘Scintillating’ Jones hopes the futurists do take over the majority of clubs to force the specialist jazz funk soul scene back underground and make it healthier as it’s been over promoted and made too readily available in recent times (but he doesn’t advocate Northern style cover up secrecy) . . . John Wieschhusen, Southampton University, ex Bootsies, echoes these thoughts saying now that futurist has changed from being an exciting underground movement to an overground craze, surely the hip thing to do is check out the less commercial jazz funk minority scene . . . Spring is busting out all over – and so is Carol Hill . . . KEEP IT FUNKY-ish!


“WHEN IT comes to love I’m the best, now are you sure you can pass my test?”

I lie of course, but it made you sit up, didn’t it? The words come not down the Transatlantic phone line, but from the song which brought about Sharon Redd’s third helping of fame, ‘Can You Handle It’.

On the Redd hotline, Sharon sounds surprised and delighted when I spill the beans on the single’s healthy pop chart progress over here.

The song comes from her anonymous and hot debut album, due here at last next month, but Sharon is anxious not to overplay its disco aspect.

“There’s something for everybody on the album. It’s more laid back, easy listening, not so funky. The next single will be more pop-orientated, I don’t want people just to think of me as the superdisco queen.”

That may be the image that’s been cultivated of late, but Sharon’s background is more varied and more interesting. She grew up in Virginia and landed on several of the familiar squares on the showbiz monopoly board – classical voice training, church choir and talent contests. Her family was already in showbiz and Sharon delved into acting. A lead role in the Australian stage version of ‘Hair’ brought on her own Aussie TV series and as the singing side of her career developed, she worked with Lou Rawls, Patti LaBelle and Helen Reddy.

By this time her name was sounding familiar to more people and she received a call from Bette Midler, it led to five years as one of Bette’s three Harlettes, and to Miss M kindly describing Sharon’s singing as “sleaze with ease”. Then one night CBS knocked on the stage door with three ballpoint pens and a contract for the Harlettes.

Record success never happened for the trio sans Bette, but Sharon kept herself busy and known. In 1980 she was offered the lead vocal on a song called ‘Love Insurance’. The band was Front Page, just for the record, which was a big US disco hit. She was offered a follow-up, but by that time Prelude Records had stepped in.

She’ll be starting another LP in late summer. And whatever else happens, she’ll be ready. On her third time around, Sharon Redd can handle it.


SOFT CELL: ‘Memorabilia’ (Some Bizarre HARD 12).
Dynamite bass driven 134bpm white label 12in futurist disco bounder with a vaguely Stones-ish (or Spencer Davis) hit keeps trucking along with great electronic effects and is the most impressive thing I’ve heard this week and it really IS a disco crossover!

LEVEL 42: ‘Love Games’ (Polydor POSPX 234).
Mike Vernon produced snappy bass and meshing guitar build ominous jittery atmosphere on excellent haunting 0-106bpm 12in as electronic keyboards smooth the way for lush but tense vocal lines in their best effort yet, the bubbling jazzy 0-102-99-101bpm instrumental ‘Forty Two‘ flip being much more specialist. On white label now. It’s out next week.

SPANDAU BALLET: ‘Glow’ (Reformation CHS12 2509).
So, this is their attempt to get funky – a bounding bass-pushed 0-135bpm 12in rattler with jiggly guitar, it’s certainly compatible disco (try especially mixing the percussion break), but it ain’t exactly Bootsy Collins. And how come the printed BPM is again so wildly out?  Continue reading “March 21, 1981: Soft Cell, Level 42, Spandau Ballet, Sun, Starpoint”

March 14, 1981: Light Of The World, Heatwave, The Scratsch Band, Arni Egilsson, Mel Sheppard


Fuse One ‘Grand Prix’ / ‘Double Steal’ will be on UK 12in by the end of the month . . . Shakatak’s album is not in fact due until May, despite what Record Shack say . . . Champagne are releasing a UK Jazz-Funk compilation LP containing brand new remixes of Inversions ‘Mr Mack’, Funk Masters ‘Love Money’, Powerline ‘Double Journey’, Rah Band ‘Slide’, Not James Player ‘ Friends Again’ . . . CBS are going with that Dutch ‘Stars On 45’ cover version of ‘Bits & Pieces III’, concentrating on the Beatles section on 7in (which despite the European accents is likely to be a pop smash here . . . Chi-Lites ‘Have You Seen Her’ is now on US 12in (20th Century-Fox/Chi-Sound TCD 122) . . . Surface Noise’s previously released output has been compiled into an LP in Portugal, but it’s not for import as Chris Palmer is making a proper album here . . . Funktion follow their first all-niter with another at Brighton Top Rank on Friday 27th March, a pyjama party starring Chris Hill, Froggy, Sean French, Jeff Young, Tom Holland, Chris Brown . . . Ensign are making a TV pilot show at Canvey Goldmine on Sunday (15) with all their UK artists (LOTW, Beggar & Co, Incognito – well, that’s the groups – Ray Carless, Rudy Grant, Eugene Paul) as a sort of Brit-funk version of ‘TOTP meets Soul Train’, audience only by invitation but these are available from Chris Hill at the Goldmine this Saturday . . . Second Image’s first ever public appearance last Wednesday at Mayfair Gulliver’s was marred by local bikers battling, but otherwise showed the snappy dressers to be good at both slow jazzy numbers and flashy fast bumpers, the highlight being an audience participation acappella, which was their own exciting treatment of ‘Mysteries Of The World’ (running into ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’) being an especially strong highlight, as by the end the crowd was cooking . . . Gullivers on Saturday then held the Jazz Sluts (possibly soon to be regulars at the club) where they delivered a fluid guitar-led instrumental set inspired by Lee Ritenour / Dave Gruisin with Latin overtones, was made interestingly different to their Tuesday night set by lack of sax . . . Capital Radio’s Greg Edwards is trying to make people aware of the distinct difference between funk, jazz-funk and black product record shops are currently stocking, the poor Funk Masters ‘Love Money’ is an example (does it pretend to be anything other than cheap and cheerful Greg?) . . . Steve Dennis plans another DJ masterclass in Birmingham’s Faces for Sunday 4th October . . . Gary Woodford (how about some charts?) has started an Under-18s Sunday jazz-funk club at Harrow Leisure Centre, £1 membership having to be obtained in advance (details 01-866 9688) . . . Brighton Metro has closed for conversion into Busbys II, re-opening 27th April . . . Liverpool’s local hospital broadcasting station Sunshine Radio is hoping to move into new studios soon and could do with some sponsors . . . Mike Davidson (Liverpool Hollywood) can currently be seen walking around town in a fluorescent orange coat made of nylon carpet material with yeti boots to match – but why? . . . Staines Fusion Few plan such surprises in their forthcoming Caister fanzine as sexy poses by Carol Hill (inspired by Paula maybe?) and the wonderful world of Mrs Dickenson’s budgie! . . . Linx had a great stylish video on TISWAS – and ‘Intuition’ doesn’t appear to have been the problem to programme that many jocks initially thought, to judge from their massive chart leap! . . . Sugar Minott was way ahead as the winner of Capital Radio’s People’s Choice vote, with Heatwave a strong second . . . Jack Wood (Huddersfield Johnnys) honeymooning with Sylvia in the smoke and checking out Gully’s last week was chuffed to pick up Chick Corea ‘Central Park’ 12in promo from Our Price (what, them again?) . . . Victor Feldman’s latest jazz set is likely to set you back by as much as £20 . . . Funkadelic, with an import LP on L.A. International (LAX for short) are a splinter group formed by three original members who had fallen on hard times recently after being sacked and have equal rights to the name . . . Rufus’s import LP featuring Chaka Khan is very dull . . . Polydor have James Brown’s Soul Syndrome Part 2 LP, recorded at the same venues as Part One . . . Barry Lee Martin charts Nat King Cole ‘Let There Be Love’ and Nina Simone ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ . . . Don’t Look Now goofed last week – it was Teddy Pendergrass who ran off with Marvin Gaye’s wife and not the other way around! . . . Brian Blyth would like to see a reggae chart on this page, but to my regret very few jocks seem to list reggae, because no-one stocks it? . . . Richard Walmsley wants the timings of records mentioned – and listings to include, but with BPM’s as well this would become too cluttered, not to mention the time it takes to ‘time’ a record! . . . Richard Hart (Wells–Next–The–Sea) amongst other sick ditties says “If you want to wake up with a smile on your face, go to bed with a coat-hanger in your mouth!” . . . March 1963 was the era of Little Eva’s ‘Let’s Turkey Trot’ and the month I became a Disco DJ . . . KEEP IT GOOD!


LIGHT OF THE WORLD: ‘Time’ (Mercury MERX 64).
Astoundingly good marathon 126-125-124-125-126-125-124-125 (outro)bpm 12in remix really IS a remix (and how!) with added jittery guitar intro and many brass breaks, it all sounding like a cross between Players Association ‘Turn The Music Up’ and now especially Crown Heights Affair ‘Galaxy Of Love’ (both of which can be mixed in and out of it). Serviced on white label, this may not be in many shops yet.

HEATWAVE: ‘Jitterbuggin’ (GTO GT 13-290).
This heavily thudding jolting 112bpm bumper always was THE cut for me from ‘Candles’ and now it sounds really strong on beefy 3-track 12in, with the resonantly booming 0-119-114bpm ‘Goin’ Crazy‘ strutter which drops into a quieter doodle before returning slightly slower, and the previously unissued jerky convulated 0-117½bpm ‘Wack That Axe‘ jiggler. The added 12in volume works wonders.

THE SCRATSCH BAND: ‘Your Place Or Mine?’ (Groove/EMI 12 EMI 5154).
Any similarity to Surface Noise is unavoidable as Chris Palmer’s behind this too, and it’s his best since ‘The Scratch’ (with one “S”!). A bass jolted smooth 0-111-110bpm 12in jazzy bumper, the vocal A-side with sax solo is less incisive than the really powerful piano played 111-110bpm instrumental which mixes nicely out of Coati Mundi.  Continue reading “March 14, 1981: Light Of The World, Heatwave, The Scratsch Band, Arni Egilsson, Mel Sheppard”

March 7 1981: Freeez, Whispers, Firefly, Free Expression, Futurism (“a direct continuation of disco”)


ALPHONSE MOUZON is now widely available and selling like hot cakes not only on US PAUSA but also German Metronome, and looks likely for UK release quite soon too . . . Marvin Gaye ‘Pride’ has been extensively remixed for UK 12in and a remix of ‘Flying High’ will be the Freeez follow up . . . RCA have picked up Sugar Minott ‘Good Thing Going’ and Excaliber add Leprechaun ‘Loc It Up’ . . . Firefly’s import hit in its original less good Italian ix on Mr Disco LP was titled ‘Love And Friendship’, while, not widely known, K.I.D. are from Italy too . . . Heatwave’s imminent 3-track 12in includes 1977’s previously unissued ‘Whack That Axe’, but only ‘Jitterbuggin’ and ‘Goin’ Crazy’ will be on the 7in . . . ‘Gangsters Of the Groove’ and the similarly Rod Temperton penned ‘Live in Me’ off Rufus’s old ‘Masterjam’ album are remarkably alike – and I see that at the time I said the latter was indeed slightly Heatwave like . . . WEA’s Fred Dove, consistent winner of my Hammy Award as disco plugger of the year, has decided that WEA can sell records without the help of this page and while the dubious logic behind this experiment must remain his prerogative, its very regrettably obvious that I in turn cannot review or mention records I haven’t been sent (whatever their label) – this strange situation having come about because of my liking the Freeez album which Fred doesn’t (mainly due to the way it charted when Grover Washington didn’t) and because this the disco page tends to concentrate on danceable music only . . . I hope the few jocks left on Fred’s mailing list are sufficiently influential to let the entire country know what records WEA currently have that are hot and on release and I’m only sorry I won’t be able to tell you about them myself – still there are plenty of other companies with product and if WEA can get along without us we can doubtless get along without WEA . . . Funktion are promoting an overnight coach trip to Paris’s dazzling Le Palace disco with hotel and sightseeing tour for £55 inclusive on Saturday 25th April, details from Funktion Ltd, 3 Crooked Billet, London SW19 (01 946 2433) . . . South Eastern Disco Assn’s ‘SEDA 81 Spring Disco Fair’ is at the Great Danes Hotel near Maidstone (end of M20) on Sunday 29th March afternoon, the previous night at the same venue being a SEDA disco party with Theo Loyla, Steve Maxted, Nikki Peck etc. SEDA details from 01-302 4590 . . . Billboard plan no further disco forums, which does away with a great excuse for visiting the States on business expenses . . . Chris Hill with myself, various Backstage Bitches and other companions, visits Whitehaven’s Whitehouse again this coming Wednesday (11) . . . A&M have started mailing promos again to selected jocks, but as they’ve no specific disco department they don’t want people ringing up . . . Donna Summer ‘I Feel Love’ has been issued by the US Disconet subscription service in an overdubbed re-orchestrated remix that’s reportedly dynamite, but beware of an inferior bootleg remix which is evidently atrocious . . . Barry Lee Martin (Maidstone 41607, evenings) is booking club work tor Kent based disco-funk group Pro-Fusion so that they can get experience prior to approaching record companies – they’re cheap to any offers? . . . Robbie Dee (Billercay 51540 between 4-6pm) would love some London funk gigs as he’s left Southend Quills due to frustration . . . Chris Britton has moved downstairs at Watford Baileys having successfully switched the Juliets room to jazz-funk, much to his regret as now Noel Wight is reaping the benefit! . . . Ian Turner (Colwyn Bay) is highly critical of EMI’s recent DJ auditions at Oldham Romeo & Juliets . . . Rob Harknett (Harlow) reckons he could have been the cause of a UFO sighting reported by the local paper – he was judging his new Tutor II’s beam strength by projecting a space fantasy wheel on to low mist at use time, two miles from the sighting point! . . . Erick -Jack (Bognor Regis) was checking out the disco scene recently in Athens, where the night he arrived it snowed – for the first time since 1954! (still it could have been an earthquake) . . . Larry Foster (Ilford Room At The Top) reckoned without Caister selling out, as now he plans to challenge Isle of Wight weekender tribes to a dancing showdown – so look out as the range of dances he can choose from includes the Neckache, Backache, Lurch and Son Of Lurch (er, whatever happened to my Transylvania Twist?) . . . Steve Goddard, resident at Stepney’s non dancing Old Rose pub slightly off the beaten track on the highway, recommends Boz Scaggs ‘Miss Sun‘ (CBS) as the epitome of the type of “disco plodder” he finds ideally suited to pubs . . . Steve Walsh is the bouncing father of a proud baby girl . . . Graham Gold (01-951 3285 afternoons) wants a buyer for the Rudi Gilpin-built deck unit from Champers with Citronic stereo mixer, graphics EQ, SP24 Mk IV decks and room for larger vari-speed units, at £250 ono . . . Peter Lee (Liverpool Indiana Club in Berry Street) has, like Graham and myself at Mayfair Gullivers, revived Uncle Louie ‘Full Tilt Boogie‘ (US TK 12in) . . . Tom Wilson (Edinburgh Oscars) wonders how many of our DJ readers have CBs, and what their handles are (that’s a big ten-four Supersoul!) . . . Sheena Easton really got clobbered by the flan flinger on TISWAS! . . . Jo Field (Hemel Hempstead) says Eddie Russ ‘Zaius’ mixes nicely out of Atmosfear ‘Dancing In Outer Space’ from the end of the latter’s central break . . . DORC has been extended to 30 places this week as so many pop hits are cropping up in disco charts now . . . DJ chart contributors remember, you’re doing nobody any favours in the long run by listing material you’ve merely received in the mail if it isn’t actually working on the floor — and as I’ve said before, I prefer to hear from DJs who actually go out to find their material rather than waiting for it to come through the letterbox . . . Ian Thomson (Melrose), who should try mail order for those hard to get imports (hard to get in Scotland that is) wonders how the UK Disco 90 is compiled: it is not a sales chart, but an “airplay” chart based on reaction from dancers as judged by the DJs — who may or may not be good judges of this but at least know what they’ve played that week and list it accordingly, and hopefully KEEP IT GOOD!


ONCE you’ve licked the label, it’s pretty hard to peel it off. It was Freeez themselves who called their music “new wave jazz funk”. Now they can cock one snook apiece at the people who’ve rushed off with preconceived ideas about that term, just by waving this week’s charts under their noses. They show that, as the “newer” soul scene in London continues to broaden, Freeez are floating confidently at the deep end.

John Rocca, percussionist, vocalist and producer with the band, had a thing or two to say over a (southern, unfrozen) pint in a Victoria pub. In particular about a bum review in another august journal: “they thought we should have had something saying ‘Margaret Thatcher is an old hag’ as a title, but it’s new wave as in new wave jazz funk.” Andy Stennet, keyboards player, was similarly annoyed. “Their criticism was that we shouldn’t be using tracks like ‘Caribbean Winter’ and ‘Sunset’ if we’re a new wave band. To me, what’s new wave about it is not the social side of it, necessarily, it’s the music side.”

‘Southern Freeez, speed 45, has already crossed over, under, sideways and down, and ‘Southern Freeez’, speed 33, has already established itself as one of the freshest, most authoritative LPs in the genre for a long time. It all comes as a distinct second chapter in the life of the band. Early last summer a spunky instrumental of theirs called ‘Keep In Touch’ flirted with the 50 for a week and scaled greater heights on the disco list. The band sold the single to Pye, who didn’t take up the option on the second release, and it went under.

In any case, the band were in some confusion. Rocca said: “We were going the wrong way, we were leaving Freeez and trying to make money.” In the first instance, the band’s formation had had a lot to do with Bluey, an ex-Light Of The World member. Andy Stennet had come and gone from the band too. He remembers: “We made a tape and went round a few companies. They were all saying ‘Jazz-funk is out’.” (“That was the year of disco is dead,” chipped in John). “So we walked out, me with me Wurlitzer on me back. I just thought things weren’t happening and got myself a regular job. I regretted it.”

John continued the story: “After we did the ‘Keep In Touch’ record, Bluey decided it wasn’t going right. By the time we got to the second single, we’d more or less split. We were using a different keyboards player at that time and he went off to finish his degree in France, We gave Andy a ring, and he came back.”

Disillusioned with Pye, the band finally came across, and got on swimmingly with Beggars Banquet, of whom they speak very highly. They sold them the album, pressed some pre-Christmas copies, and by the time we’d all woken up again in the New Year, the buzz was too loud to ignore.

These guys sound as excited as the people buying their record, because they know they’re part of a new feeling in funk but they don’t know exactly where It’ll lead them.

Andy: “It would be very nice to still provide the commercial side of it as well, but to really experiment, and get some sort of aggressive, hard playing. I look forward to that.” Us too, chaps; they’ll be gigging soon too and if you only know the single, just listen to them widen your ears. Freeez are set up for a long spell. PAUL SEXTON


BERNARD WRIGHT, 16-year-old piano prodigy whose import ‘Nard’ album has just gone Top 30 in the disco chart, is like Tom Browne from the Jamaica neighbourhood of New York’s Queens borough on Long Island – and it was Tom Browne who brought him to the attention of GRP’s Fave Grusin and Larry Rosen when using him as an accompanist on his debut ‘Browne Sugar’ LP.

Bernard began aged four playing with toy musical instruments before his mother gave him a miniature Magnus organ and aged eight (presumably as long ago as 1972) he gave up the music lessons that were meant to teach him rudimentary music theory as he found them incompatible with his favourite Kool & The Gang funk, which is what he really wanted to play! Instead he became the youngest member of the pre-teen Junior Firebolts.
Aged 13 he toured with Lenny White, then played keyboards for a couple of theatrical productions, and now he has his own solo album reflecting a lifetime’s influences.


THE WHISPERS: ‘It’s A Love Thing’ (Solar SOT-16).
Skippable but distinctive synth tones intro this thunderously smacking 0 – 117 – 118 -119bpm 12in smash-bound chunderer with cheerful catchy vocals and, as has been proved beyond question, real grow-on-you appeal. Initially ignored in the South, it took Northern jocks to establish its potential before it swept throughout the land spearheading the currently re-emerged Solar groove along with Shalamar and Lakeside.

FIREFLY: ‘Love (Is Gonna Be On Your Side)’ (Excaliber EXCL 506).
Shopgirl aimed import smash simple ‘Good Times’ structured 114 – 113 – 114bpm 12in thudder starts with a bass bumped groove before filling out with Euro vocals and then dropping into a guitar scratched long break which builds back up (part of this break being tagged onto the start of the re-edited B-side version in typically tampering Morgan Khan style) . . . and it’s amazing how many jocks have picked up on my original mixing suggestion to synch it between KID and ‘Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now’. (This, Mystic Touch, some 7in Hit Numbers are 1bpm faster than anticipated, which could indicate voltage fluctuations somewhere).

FREE EXPRESSION: ‘Chill-Out!’ (Vanguard VSL 5019).
Terrific powerful bass synth boomed heavy slow driving 108 – 107 – 108bpm 12in funk thudder with some greasy jive talk between grunting beat emphasising chant and squealing sax.  Continue reading “March 7 1981: Freeez, Whispers, Firefly, Free Expression, Futurism (“a direct continuation of disco”)”