ODDS ‘N’ BODS
No Odds ‘N’ Bods this week.
LAST YEAR ended as it began with Kool & The Gang safely sitting at the top of the disco chart, but any impression this may give that there has been no change in the disco world would be entirely misleading. For a while at the start of the year it looked as if black/disco-orientated music was about to enjoy an unprecedented boom, because, far from the much ballyhooed futurist/new romantic material dominating the pop chart, in the lull before the storm there was one incredible week when more black records were in the national chart than at any other time before. However, as predicted, it wasn’t long before white kids (who actually are in the majority!) discovered the new white dance groups were made up of kids like themselves with whom it was more interesting to identify, and by the time that these groups put their emphasis on fairly funky rhythms rather than futurism for futurism’s sake, the big split was inevitable. The big crossover disco-pop hits have always tended to be rather faster than the soul dance hits, because the majority of the population can’t actually dance and so need to hear something fast to make them believe they’re having a good time, which meant that the fast futurist hits not only were thought of as straight pop but also brought other pop records into play, much to the evident relief of a large proportion of the population. Now a lot of these people were out of work or at least unable to afford as many nights out as before, having to rely on the radio to hear their music during the week. Radio One is still the most influential station in the country, and as this only plays a few token black records there was not much chance for people to get acclimatised to anything other than the current pop playlist. With fewer people going out there were fewer gigs, which resulted in fewer DJs with the money (or the need) for as many new records as before. As the year wore on, the disco hits that would previously have been expected to cross over into the pop chart failed to do so. At the same time, egged on by a fanatical minority of tribal fans, the jazz-funk DJs who once had enjoyed the power to break new material were now searching out obscure ultra-specialist jazz oldies (known as “hard tackle”) to compensate for a general softening of the current US jazz-funk scene. This had also been predicted, as in the States the radio outlets for jazz had been severely diminished. In searching out and playing complex oldies, the DJs and their dwindling audiences seemed hell bent on creating a new Northern Soul like scene. As the disco scene contracted it also fragmented, with clubs (either themselves or by letting in outside promoters) putting on specific types of faddish music on certain nights of the week. Doowop, ’60s psychedelia and other styles enjoyed a brief limited vogue, but all too often it seemed that all the clubs in a town followed each other in doing the same thing on the same night. The latest way of filling an otherwise empty club and at least making a small profit is to charge admission and then sell drinks at a break-even 25p. All is not gloom and despondency, though. Visionary entrepreneurs like London’s Tony Jenkins successfully continue to pack out one-off special events at up-market venues whose locations are a closely guarded secret known only to the “right” people. Chris Hill’s ‘Back To The Clubs’ tour during the autumn created a very real excitement with the aim of putting an emphasis back on local venues rather than people just turning out for the big alldayer / nighter / weekender events (however he attracted a caravan of fans who followed him from club to club as if each gig was just such a major event). Possibly most important though, was the growth of Britain’s own home-grown dance music, whether black or white. Whereas in 1980 only two UK acts topped the disco chart, Linx and Surface Noise, last year there were five British-based chart-toppers — Eddy Grant, Freeez, Spandau Ballet, Modern Romance and Central Line. Far more musical experimentation is going on here than in the States, where it often seems that black dance music follows one of three formulas, so that it does make sense to wrap up by saying — cliched though this may be — our future lies in the hands of our own musicians.
LINDA TAYLOR should finally break through as a result of the new album that Productions Chris Palmer is currently recording by her — the first of three scheduled in a new deal for release in the States on Prelude. To judge from an incomplete rough mix, every cut’s just dripping with class, the ultimate killer likely to be ‘You And Me Just Started’. Linda meanwhile appears to be gigging as one of Ray Shell’s Street Angels.
EARTH WIND & FIRE: ‘I’ve Had Enough’ (CBS A13-1959).
Cleanly smacking brassily blasting 117-118-119bpm jittery strutter squeakily clucked in typical style to make a strong if maybe not quite so monstrous follow-up, on 3-track 12in with a previously unreleased full length version of the moodily rumbling and jiggling instrumental 101-102- 106bpm ‘Kalimba Tree‘, and a rather messy 124bpm remix of ‘Let’s Groove’ – certainly not worth getting excited about.
YVONNE GAGE: ‘Garden Of Eve’ (Atlantic K 11708T).
Excellent strictly “disco” chick wailed big beefy resonantly thrumming 114bpm 12in rollingly tugging jolter with electronic twiddles and ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ bass break. Full of enough crossover appeal to hit here.
WHISPERS: ‘In The Raw’ (Solar K 12597T).
Totally typical somewhat stark slightly fluctuating but basically 114-115bpm 12in smacker somehow lacking the body of their past triumphs, although I must concede it’s growing on me (but then I was the one who didn’t originally rate ‘It’s A Love Thing’!), the flip’s gorgeous soulfully tripping lush 37/74bpm slow ‘Small Talkin‘ however being my favourite cut off their new album. Continue reading “January 30, 1982: “The majority of the population can’t actually dance and so need to hear something fast to make them believe they’re having a good time””