January 26, 1985: T.C. Curtis, Little Benny & The Masters, Eugene Wilde, Change, George Benson

ODDS ‘N’ BODS

THAMES VALLEY DJ Assn’s Sunday (27) 2-7pm Disco-Ex at Sunbury’s Kempton Park has 32 major disco exhibit stands, followed 7-12pm by Shownite 85 with the Cool Notes and Black Lace live plus PAs including hopefully Chaka Khan, Sade & Wham! . . . Saturday (26) Capital Radio sponsors the Kensington Commonwealth Institute’s one day 10am-5.30pm seminar Rock ‘N Roots at which panels (Charlie Gillett seems heavily involved) will discuss with audience participation all sorts of black music topics, including pirate radio (I’m going along with the Solar-FM guys) — £5 tickets (£2.50 unemployed/student) from Capital or the Commonwealth Institute . . . North Wales DJ Ian Turner (Llandudno 79404) is after artistes willing to appear at a PA-style concert on Sunday March 17 at Llandudno’s 1,200 seat Arcadia Theatre in aid of the Feed The World Ethiopia campaign, at which he hopes Bob Geldof will be star guest . . . Ballymena DJ Davy King reveals that the elusive Modern label is an offshoot of Northern Ireland’s Emerald Records and available from Solomon & Peres, 120 Coach Road, Templepatrick, Co Antrim (9486-32711) alternatively Davy himself can supply any desperate jocks with copies of the label’s great John Anderson Big Band ‘Glenn Miller Medley’ on 0266-41374 after 6pm (check for N. I. dialling code) . . . London picked up Barrington Levy ‘Here I Come’ for rush release as of now (LONX 62) . . . Fourth & Broadway’s “go go” compilation seems to be on hold, their first release from Washington DC’s DETT label now being Redds & The Boys ‘Movin’ And Groovin‘ . . . Dave Clark (Barking Chains) reminds us the Jimmie Gray produced Kirk ‘Sweet Legs’ Thorne rap of ‘Mr Magic’ was previously on Champagne/DJM’s 1981 compilation LP ‘Premixture‘ . . . Dave McAleer, nowadays behind labels like S.O.U.N.D. and Crystal City, is looking for new black dance music acts and song writers — send demos and details to him at 38 Wharncliffe Gardens, London, SE25 6DQ . . . Wokingham Mark One record shop’s Mark Clark reports the upcoming Maze set is a goodie, while Melba Moore produced by Keith Diamond sounds like a female Billy Ocean! . . . Rayners Lane Record & Disco Centre, as an example, have pegged LP import prices at £8.49 but 12in rise from £4.75 to £4.99 (don’t forget they do good part exchange swapsies, though!) . . . Matt Bianco’s currently promoed ‘Big Rosie (Remix)‘ is a buoyantly bounding 121½bpm samba instrumental, commercially their next B-side, while also now promoed on single-sided 12in is the acappella started LP version of Ashford & Simpson ‘Solid’ . . . Morales & Munzibai, have remixed ‘Club‘ and ‘Dub‘ mixes of the Commodores on so far scarce US promo . . . Amii Stewart’s UK LP in a few weeks will have some alternative tracks and remixes (including ‘Friends’) as well as all the better import tracks . . . Mercury are releasing a ‘Best Of Jerry Butler’ LP . . . Julian ‘Slack’ Palmer has moved to A&R at Fourth & Broadway, leaving Adrian ‘Black’ Sykes as head of club promotion with new boy Tim Rudling to answer the phone . . . Steve Walsh & Paul Hardcastle’s label Total Control Records has signed with EMI where it would appear to be a major part of their new Dance Division, with busy Paul as house producer: Paul is also currently remixing Third World’s old ‘Now That We Found Love’ for Island with added Direct Drive female vocal and a wild dub B-side, while his original ‘Rain Forest‘ has sold over 250,000 in the States so far and Bluebird/10 have just promoed his ‘Forest Fire‘ as a trailer to their ‘Zero One’ soundtrack LP (plus of course he’s behind The Silent Underdog’s new ‘Pigbag’ hit and has new product due under his current solo contract with Cooltempo!) . . . Horizon Radio as threatened snuck back on 94.5FM to rival breakaway Solar-FM (who experienced some interference from a brief return of LWR, while Radio Fulham has joined London’s soul airwaves on 92.1FM . . . JFM’s studio it seems was finally tracked down when the police and DTI men blacked out the electricity supply floor by floor until the station’s signal cut off — whereupon Steve Jackson and Mastermind’s Herbie & Dave, who were just starting their very first show, couldn’t get out of the window . . . Hull Bali Hai regular Carl Kingston has lost his BBC Radio Humberside evening show due to needletime cutbacks but is sitting in as a freelance on Viking Radio 102.7FM . . . Radio Forth jock Tom Wilson in his regular telephone chat with New York’s Charlie Cassanova at WBLS learnt that ‘BLS are still urban contemporary, it only being WKTU that’s gone Top 40 in NYC . . . America’s colour conscious music video cable service MTV has finally started a separate cable channel Video Hits One (VH-1) on which around a third of the artists screened appear to be black — giving an outlet at last to MTV’s leading critic, Rick James . . . Mayfair Gullivers ‘King J Root’ party nights every Wednesday are heaving, Melle Mel & Scorpio hangin’ out last week while tonight (23) James Mtume plus Carroll Thompson & Total Contrast are due to PA . . . Chas Dennis finds ’60s soul and R&B taking the place of jazz sets at his gigs (like Yeovil Electric Studio Sat 26), and in fact every Thursday at Taunton Kingstons it’s oldies until 10pm when things get more modern and Chris Stagg does some mixing too . . . Friday (25) finds the ’60s soul Function At The Junction upstairs at Clapham Junction’s Wessex Suite, and Chris Hill guesting with Colin Hudd at Dartford Flicks (Chris might have had more of a look-in on Bob Geldof’s ‘This Is Your Life’ had he been flown in specially from New Zealand or somewhere!) . . . Saturday (26) Kev Hill celebrates Harlow Whispers first birthday with lots of PAs headed by the Cool Notes . . . Sean French joins Vicky Holloway at London Bridge Tooley Street’s Royal Oak Mon (28), Pete Haigh funks Tues (29) upstairs at Charlestons on Morecambe Promenade, Greg Wilson hip hops Wigan Pier Wed (30) with top breakdance crews and prizes . . . I don’t know which end of town Tim Westwood lives, but I haven’t seen him hanging out around Harlesden where the Mastermind guys are my near neighbours and the kids in the local supermarket stopped being heavily into hip hop ages ago — anyway, isn’t street roller hockey going to be 1985’s skateboard?! . . . Grandmaster Flash’s current ‘Sign Of The Times‘ turns out to be rapped by his group’s new member Leven and (Melle Mel’s brother) Kid Creole . . . Major Harris claims he was in the Jarmels for their 1961 US hit ‘A Little Bit Of Soap‘ but reference books don’t list him — and if he’s as young as he says he is the other guys would’ve been a whole lot older! . . . Atlantic should consider re-issuing Bobby Darin’s ‘La Mer (Beyond The Sea)‘/’Mack The Knife‘ following their current revivals by respectively George Benson and Frank Sinatra . . . Colin Hudd’s hot chop is from Little Benny’s “duh duh duh duh duh” into Direct Drive’s “dit dit” (if you yet my drift!) . . . MCA’s Paul Bunting seems to be overtaking Streetwave’s Morgan Khan for the title ‘Mr Reliability’ . . . Broader than Broadway, Safer than Safeway — WOAH OH OH!


AN UNEXPECTED BATTLE has broken out between two rival European versions, neither brand new, of the theme from ‘Shaft — that Richard Roundtree starring 1971 film which sparked a spate of “blaxploitation” flicks, and whose Isaac Hayes-penned 117-122-0bpm wukka-wukking theme was no less influential musically.

Polydor have already picked up for Feb 15 release the interesting 122-0bpm electro treatment by VAN TWIST (French Magic M 771), surprisingly close to the original arrangement apart from the way the actual noises are generated (reviewed off green vinyl rather than the earlier evidently different white vinyl version), this being the winner so far on radio although currently in short supply — so thus selling faster at the moment and preferred anyway by many is the even older 121¾-121½-122½-122-121½(vocal on)-0bpm non-electro treatment by EDDY AND THE SOULBAND (Dutch Break 308467), in which Ben Liebrand excitingly cuts up the wukka-wukking “real” instruments with car ignition effects and bursts of percussion (WEA were after this when last heard). Incidentally, Eddie Murphy’s hilarious though foul mouthed new film ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ could well become the ‘Shaft’ of the ’80s — do see it!


HOT VINYL

T. C. CURTIS: ‘You Should Have Known Better’ (Hot Melt 12TC 003)
Taking London’s airwaves by storm, this excellent buoyantly lurching 113½bpm chugger is worryingly whinneyed and yelped (sometimes in Jackson-ish style) while the beat and backing chicks keep creaming away (inst flip) — terrific stuff, so nagging it should be a national smash!

LITTLE BENNY & THE MASTERS: ‘Who Comes To Boogie’ (Bluebird/10 BRT 13)
Singing trumpeter Benny Freemen from Rare Essence seems all set to spearhead the UK explosion of Washington DC’s “go go” beat with this infectious brassy 109¼-109½-109¾-109½-108¼-109½bpm good time party jiggler (less vocal Club Mix flip), similar to Chuck Brown’s ‘We Need Some Money’ — which is surely due for re-promotion?

EUGENE WILDE: ‘Personality’ (Fourth & Broadway 12BRW 18)
Bruce Weeden has created two good back-to-back remixes of this mournfully sung electronically jittered nagging wriggler, the acappella introed 115½bpm Complex vocal and sparse 116bpm Split dub, sandwiching a de-Hi-NRG-ized John Morales remix of the joyfully bounding 123½bpm ‘Let Her Feel It’ (previously credited to Simplicious). Continue reading “January 26, 1985: T.C. Curtis, Little Benny & The Masters, Eugene Wilde, Change, George Benson”

January 19, 1985: Commodores, Sasss/Dexter Wansel/Grover Washington Jr, George Benson, Nuance/Vikki Love, Barrington Levy

ODDS ‘N’ BODS

IMPORT PRICES seem certain to rise horrendously, possibly this week, to keep pace with the plummeting pound (anyone going to New York in March should consider buying their dollars now before the bad exchange rate gets even worse): even at current prices the records that DJs buy as soon as they come out are not necessarily the best, but the cheapest (ie: UK releases) . . . Sergio Munzibai, now ensconced as Motown’s New York A&R guy, is already busy with John Morales remixing such as the Dazz Band and Temptations hits (back-to-back on US promo), for likely inclusion on their respective UK follow-ups, while American pressings of Stevie Wonder ‘Don’t Drive Drunk’ include a bonus remix of the old 121½bpm ‘Did I Hear You Say You Love Me‘ from his 1980 ‘Hotter Than July’ LP . . . Prelude, answering my “Whatever Happened” question, have signed Rose Royce, LTD, Undisputed Truth and Enchantment in a move away from disco to soul . . . Thames Valley DJ Assn’s annual Shownite next Sunday (27) at Sunbury Kempton Manor — at which Wham! are heavily hinted to be appearing! — will for the first time be preceded in the afternoon (2-7pm) by a major equipment exhibition in a separate hall . . . Hammersmith Odeon’s New York Jazz Explosion with Roy Ayers, Tom Browne, Lonnie Liston Smith & Jean Carn on Sat/Sun Feb 23/24 has added a 5.30pm matinee on the Sunday to help satisfy demand . . . Junior ‘Do You Really Want My Love’ from ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ has been remixed by John Luongo for UK release in a fortnight — the film opens Jan 25 with Eddie Murphy himself coming here to promote it (and take the country by storm?) . . . Polydor have picked up Direct Drive, and EMI next week put out the previously reviewed rapped and sung bonking 114½bpm Canute ‘Amazing Mind‘ (12TAKE 1) . . . WEA for some reason have reissued Dominatrix ‘The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight‘ (X9572T), last year’s quirky sparse 112½bpm US club hit which meant little here . . . Julia & Company’s new ‘I’m So Happy‘ is due soon . . . Shalamar’s current product is so poor that that their next single looks like being creatively marketed with a medley of their old hits as flip . . . Eugene Wilde’s ‘Chey Chey Kule‘, has been remixed for Dutch 12in, while the version used on UK pressings of his LP misses out the Woody Woodpecker intro that’s such a catchy feature of the US album . . . Dave Gregory this Saturday (19) devotes the 6-7pm hour of his nightly Essex Radio 95.3/96.4FM soul show to the favourites of snooker champ Steve Davis (bad luck in Warrington though), who reveals he’s so into the music he even once spent a day working behind the counter at Chadwell Heath import shop JiFS! . . . London’s latest radio ratings would appear to show all the pirates combined with only a 10 per cent listenership, Tony Blackburn making no appreciable difference to Radio London’s figures during the day, and Capital on the upsurge again level pegging with Radio One just a little behind Radio Two . . . JFM have had their first full studio confiscation bust, under sinister circumstances (rumour suggests that a former pirate is trying to clear away competition for his own return — which really is madness when a show of respectable solidarity has never been needed more), but thankfully Solar-FM returned on 102.4FM last Sunday — JFM had become so boring playing the same old pre-Xmas hits that I actually switched back to Capital for the same records played less frequently! . . . BMP’s name seems to be tripping up word-blind radio DJs, one wally even explaining in detail what the initials BPM stand for after playing the record! . . . Phonogram’s Pete Tong reckons Rymans no longer stock the Rexel hand tally counter (useful for counting Beats Per Minute) but he found one at a commercial office supplier, where it only cost £7.95 — whereas Rayners Lane Record & Disco Centre’s Jerry Green had to pay £13.50 for his at a normal stationers recently . . . Disco Mix Club’s November ‘Glam-Rock’ mixer Sanny X has now restructured oldies by The Sweet into a commerical 12in ‘It’s It’s . . . The Sweet Mix‘ (Anagram 12ANA 28), a bit bitty at first but doubtless fun for the ‘Supersonic’ TV generation, his January DMC mixes being an excitingly scratched ‘The Adventures Of Sanny‘, wild freaky Millie ‘My Boy Lollipop’ remix and electronically over-clever Billy Ocean medley, while Alan Coulthard’s more straightforward and danceable mixes are an excellent Sister Sledge medley and really useful (especially the first ½) fast pop Hyper-Energy set . . . Stargard ‘Which Way Is Up‘ (MCA), coincidentally included on Sanny’s ‘Adventures’, has been getting revived alongside the “go go” hits by the likes of Radio London’s Jeff Young, while Chaka Khan ‘I’m Every Woman’ has had much provincial play again . . . Major Harris ‘Love Won’t Let Me Wait‘ (57½/28¾-58/29bpm in the sexier extended Atlantic LP version) always used to be followed nicely by the similar vintage and equally orgasmic 47¼-95-93-92-91½-92bpm Leon Haywood ‘I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You‘ (20th Century LP) — has anyone thought of reviving that, too? . . . Chaka Khan (with Billy Ocean) celebrates her birthday on Tuesday (22) wetting herself playing the Playhouse in Edinburgh — where ‘Hopalong’ Neil Fincham is back funking the Speakeasy . . . I myself the same night (Tuesday) return to London’s old Speakeasy, now Bootleggers, for a special ’60s night in aid of Ethiopia with such as Eric Clapton raffling a guitar and the likes of The Who and Tony Curtis promised in the audience! . . . Kenny Tosh (Belfast) evidently prefers a ‘Hooked On’-type clap track on his Glenn Miller medleys and will be sticking with Tony Evans ‘Jive Alive’ (Tema) instead of the ungimmicky powerful John Anderson Big Band ‘Glenn Miller Medley’ (on still elusive Modern) — isn’t it hard to say “clap track” and not “clap trap”?! . . . Philip Radjuschko of Maidenhead’s small scale AKOM (All Kinds Of Music) mobile and Jay Buzz of Dagenham’s Buzzers mobile were amongst jocks successfully relaying some of my Capital party tape on New Year’s Eve — Jay incidentally gets as funky as requested (which looks like, very!) Wed/Fri at the Old Burford Arms’ newly refurbished Magnums cocktail bar just off Stratford Broadway near Bow flyover . . . Disco Gary now does Maidstone High Street’s brand new The Sunset on funky Thursdays (girls free) and hot fun Saturdays, with PAs by Jimmy Ruffin Sat (19) and Chosen 3 Thurs (24) . . . Sunday (20) London Lyceum’s 2-11pm reggae/funk alldayer stars David Rodigan, Steve Walsh, Smiley Culture, Barrington Levy, Maxi Priest, Asher Senator, Papa Face & Bionic Rhona, Direct Drive, Cool Notes, Jaki Graham, Hi-Tension . . . Jeff Young joins Nicky Holloway Monday (21) at London Bridge Tooley Street Royal Oak . . . Greg Wilson revives “the interesting years” 1980-1983 on a one-off Tuesday (22) at Wigan’s The Pier . . . Wednesday (23) Sacha Vitorovich starts weekly The Future at South Kensington Harrington Gardens Roxanne’s with fashion shows, live bands, video spectaculars and other trendy excitements . . . Ben Calhoun does Peterborough Hickory’s Fri, March Raffles Sat . . . ‘Toad’ seems a surprising nickname for Marie Clare, now full time at Bolton’s Sundowners — ‘Sleuth’ may be more appropriate, as she has a degree in criminology! . . . ‘Frenchie’ Paul French finally made it from Dunfermline’s Night Magic over to Norway and Bergen’s Oleana’s . . . P’funker (and Time Zone player) Bernie Worrell guested live after Christmas with his old colleague Jesse Rae at Edinburgh’s Hoochie Coochie Club before flying home after a European tour . . . Mick Clark, the Brighton soul jock who went into A&R at Virgin, has not disappeared but merely moved sideways to 10 Records — where the red hot Sasss is his current project . . . Slack & Black might get more phonecalls at Island if their answering machine’s opening “soundtrack” was about three minutes shorter! . . . Cashmere ‘Can I’ isn’t only Hall & Oates-ish, it has the “uh-oh” from ‘Self Control’ . . . Mike Morgan wants to hear from other Hi-NRG jocks around Central/SE Essex at 281 Main Road, Broomfield, Chelmsford . . . Carol Lynn Townes from all accounts has the best bit in ‘Breakdance 2 — Electric Boogaloo’, yet anyone watching telly recently has probably seen it anything up to three times already, used as a video . . . Phil Fearon was sitting just behind me last Friday at ‘The Terminator’ (a cut price ‘Blade Runner’ for violent fun fans) . . . Big Phil Etgart (Greenford Barbarellas) synchs Krystol/Nuance (dub)/Clair Hicks/Chaka Khan (newie) for the sound of now — everyone else is digging out James Brown, Fatback, T-Connection and other percussive choppy oldies for the sound of tomorrow . . . GO GO GO-GO!


HOT VINYL

COMMODORES: ‘Nightshift’ (Motown TMGT 1371)
A spine tinglingly haunting gently intensifying 105bpm tribute to Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson, sung by new ex-Heatwave member J.D. and Walter Orange, produced by Dennis Lambert, most easily slotted in for dancers before it becomes familiar between either Teena Marie ‘My Dear Mr Gaye’ or Midnight Star ‘Curious’, and (whose rhythm it borrows) Lionel Richie ‘All Night Long (All Night)’ — thanks for the mix to Graham Gold. This should be a national smash.

SASSS Featuring DEXTER WANSEL and GROVER WASHINGTON JR.: ‘I Didn’t Mean It At All’ (10 Records TEN 41-12)
Not only that but sounding like it’s sung by the (sassy?) Jones Girls an’ all, this gorgeous dreamy slow 94bpm ticker aims to be another ‘Nights Over Egypt’ as Grover softly toots through producer Dexter’s weaving beat (beefily striding flipside 121bpm ‘City Life‘ by the het-up chix) — but Wally Average may miss its subtle charms.

GEORGE BENSON: ’20/20′ (Warner Bros W9120T)
Remixed by ubiquitous Jellybean and losing the 7in/LP version’s Al Jarreau-ish scat impact in the process, this rhythmically tricky electro skittered staccato 0-110bpm jerky spurter somehow lacks warmth, and fades away before an instrumental continuation comes back in on the beat. The flip’s guitar doodled jazzy instrumental 106bpm ‘Shark Bite‘ is not on the new LP, which (along with others) time has prevented me reviewing. Continue reading “January 19, 1985: Commodores, Sasss/Dexter Wansel/Grover Washington Jr, George Benson, Nuance/Vikki Love, Barrington Levy”

January 12, 1985: Intrigue, Doug E Fresh, Rah Band, Ci Ci, Samson & Delilah

ODDS ‘N’ BODS

BLUEBIRD/10 RECORDS cannily snapped up Little Benny & The Masters for UK release-a-go-go in two weeks . . . The Limit’s bonus UK 12in track (and 7in flip, the only version I’ve been sent), ‘Destiny‘ is a lightly wriggling 114bpm strider with wheezling synth between distinctive semi-falsetto male vocal . . . . . US remixes now on import are Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King ‘Out Of Control’ (RCA), Force MD’s ‘Forgive Me Girl’ (Tommy Boy) . . . Bobby Womack has left Beverly Glen Music for MCA, the label’s first release featuring him actually being Wilton Felder’s new single ‘No Matter How High I Get I’ll Still Be Looking Up To You‘, on which Bobby duets with his stage show sensation Alltrinna Grayson (whom he discovered in a hamburger joint!) . . . Jimmie Gray has produced a nifty remake of Grover Washington Jr’s ‘Mr Magic’, rapped/sung in ‘Killer Joe’-ish style by Kirk Thorne for UK release soon — and not to be confused with a current import BY a Mr Magic . . . Lionel Richie has had a concert performance of ‘All Night Long (All Night)’ filmed specially for showing in US cinemas as a supporting short before such movies as ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ and ‘2010’ . . . Sheena Easton’s US follow-up to her ‘Strut’ smash is ‘Sugar Walls‘, written and co-produced by none other than Prince (calling himself “Alexander Nevermind”), hot already in the Black chart . . . Madonna and Midnight Star held steady atop last week’s US Dance/Disco and Black Singles charts respectively, but New Edition nipped in as top Black LP (Paul Hardcastle’s original ‘Rain Forest’ is racing up everything!) . . . Billboard’s chart system defies logic: last week Band Aid was placed only at number 20 in the States yet as the same issue reported had already sold 2,300,000 copies there — surely by far the biggest seller of the moment? . . . Ken ‘B’ Brudenell (Poole Mariners Wharf) wonders how many DJs found our year-end Disco Top 50 disappointing with so many great dancers not even mentioned — too true, but as I said, you only have yourselves to blame (the same goes for all who ignored our Xmas deadlines and thus didn’t get their gigs publicised!) . . . Major Harris’s appearance at Streetwave’s less than crowded though star-studded pre-Xmas Hammersmith Palais party seems to have sparked a revival of his classic ‘Love Won’t Let Me Wait‘ . . . I spent the New Year in sunny North Wales, where I cleaned out the Record Shop in Denbigh’s Love Lane of nearly all its 25p early-’70s US 7in soul bargains, including L. J. Reynolds 1972 version of the Temptations ‘All I Need‘ (Lady), and a rapped rather than sung (so probably the now famous A-Teamster) Mister “T” revival of Otis Leavill’s ‘Love Uprising‘ (Dakar) . . . Capital Radio’s New Year’s Eve party tape was oddly played simultaneously in a certain house just outside Denbigh (where it worked very well), the barn of which my host Sparrow Harrison allows to be used as a rehearsal room by recently formed North Wales “supergroup” Company HQ (abbreviated as Coy. HQ), sorta Amen Corner/Dexy’s/Billy Joel/Northern Soul and not bad at all (record companies please note) . . . StreetSounds’ cassette version of the boxed ‘Love Ballads’ set makes great motoring music, each cassette lasting so long I got from Birmingham to London during both sides of just one! . . . Jonathan King’s showing of their video on ‘Entertainment USA’ finally pushed Ashford & Simpson into the 75 — and had there been room that show would again have been my top Hammy Award for Essential Telly, along with Phil Silvers (‘Bilko’), ‘The Jewel In The Crown’, ‘Minder’ (although it’s lost its edge), ‘Hill Street Blues’ (which chases up too many alleys these days), while TV-am’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ remains my favourite bedtime viewing! . . . Solar-FM actually linked up on-air with JFM over the New Year for communal greetings and good will, but have lost their transmitter twice since their most recent full studio confiscation, last Thursday’s disappearance under sinister circumstances (they should be back by now) . . . Mastermind (don’t forget their over-18 hip hop Arena I at the Lyceum Fri/under-18 Arena II at Camden’s Electric Ballroom Sat) have now moved to JFM Thursday evenings, another DJ recruit being record plugger and hairstyle model Bryan O’Connor . . . Tony Blackburn’s latest jingle unbelievably says “Radio London is like a breast — firm, soft, and fun”! . . . Gary Byrd sits in for Steve Wright on Radio One for two weeks from Jan 28 . . . Roger Tovell on Gloucester’s Severn Sound 388 now does the daily evening drive time show but reserves Friday 7-9pm for nothing but funk (including highlights from our chart) — he also does the Saturday breakfast show, and amongst his gigs is Worcester Tramps Sats . . . Essex Radio’s evening soul presenter Dave Gregory funks Southend Chesters Tues . . . Pete Haigh (who knows the true price of a “drink”, thanks!) starts this Sunday (13) afternoon a new 1-5pm Sunday Hip Hop club at Blackpool Bunters on The Strand, exploring the whole culture for a quid weekly — he also info’s that DJ Ellis is his partner around Lancaster/Morecambe and no relation to wind-up artiste Chris! . . . Big Phil Etgart now funks Watford New Penny Sats (including a Walt Disney silly spot) . . . while at Greenford Barbarellas he has alternative dance Wed/Hi-NRG Thur/soul Fri . . . East London soul veteran Terry Hooper now manages Enfield’s brand new Townhouse disco . . . Gary London’s gay Bang nights at London Charing Cross Road Busby’s have renamed the extended 10pm-3am Monday as The Bunker for funkier “music with muscle”, co-jocked with Patrick Stephens (Thursdays stay Hi-NRG) . . . Carl M. Richardson has moved Hull’s Hi-NRG disco to Saturdays at Fagins, under the Station Hotel in Ferensway . . . Sylvester’s ‘Take Me To Heaven’ remix is on promo with an instrumental flip, but commercial copies next week will have ‘Sex‘ as a flip instead (remixed like the A-side by Ian Levine) . . . Earl Bentley has been playing the Wicked Witch Of The West in the Hammersmith Lyric production of ‘The Wiz’ — and her little dog Timbie played Dorothy’s dog Toto! . . . Tania Maria has a new LP due next month, on another label Manhattan Records . . . Nicky A (Ilford ArBeez Wine Bar) slipped into Roy Ayers ‘Compadre‘ during a Christmas Eve knees-up, and the ravers kept on jumpin’! . . . Staple Singers ‘Slippery People’ through James Brown ‘Sex Machine’ is really neat even without vari-speed as long as you don’t try mixing it during Brown’s faster “bridge” . . . Craig Dawson (Edinburgh), after your nice feature before Xmas, how about using a stamp next time?! . . . Foreigner’s current hit is backed by none other than Jennifer Holliday and the New Jersey Mass Choir . . . SAY-YAY-YAY-YAY-YEAH!


HOT VINYL

INTRIGUE: ‘Fly Girl’ (US World Trade Records Inc. WT-1000)
Not the London group Intrigue, this terrifically soulful set of New York fellahs weave, wail and groan through a Leroy Burgess co-prod/penned muddily rumbling 106½bpm throbber (inst flip) which has been by far the hottest import since Christmas, although specialist.

DOUG E FRESH with DJ’s CHILL WILL & BARRY BEE: ‘Just Having Fun (Do The Beat Box)’ (US Enjoy EN-6035)
Dougy Fresh proves he’s truly the original human beat box with an amazing display of spluttering slurping and panting as he vocally has shown the 112bpm polyrhythms before the DJs come in for some stark 128bpm scatting — the most exciting “electro” release in ages, (more integrated 108bpm flip and acappella ‘No Music’).

RAH BAND: ‘Are You Satisfied (Funka Nova)’ (RCA RCAT 470)
Paving the way for ‘Clouds Across The Moon’ (which will be the follow-up), this typically arranged chick crooned luscious languid 91½bpm strutter featuring jazz guitarist Pete King’s strings, lovely stuff, with an instrumental flip and snappier 0-126bpm ‘The Shadow Of Your Love‘. Continue reading “January 12, 1985: Intrigue, Doug E Fresh, Rah Band, Ci Ci, Samson & Delilah”

January 5, 1985: “One Man’s View” of 1984, BPM counting explained, James Ingram, Walter Jackson, Barney Rachabane

ODDS ‘N’ BODS

DISCO MIX CLUB’s 2nd DJ Convention will be at London’s Hippodrome on Sunday March 10, followed don’t forget the next day by DMC’s now rapidly filling Mon-Fri £340 (+VAT) Virgin Atlantic charter trip for DJs and club management to the discos of New York City, staying at the Barbizon Plaza on Central Park South (a shame the stuff-yourself-silly Beefsteak Charlie’s is no longer nearby!), sure to be great tax-deductible fun at real bargain rates — and you don’t HAVE to go to all the boring discos if you don’t want to! (£50 non-refundable reservation deposit cheques to Disco Mix Club Ltd, PO Box 89, Slough, Berks, or full details from 06286 67276 — but hurry!) . . . Tony Blackburn and I are both going! . . . WRKS (KISS-fm) is now the only black “urban contemporary” station in New York, where radio has gone Top 40 mad with tightly rotated all-hit playlists, so it’s predicted producers are going to be playing safe for commercial airplay acceptance rather than making offbeat club-aimed dance records — bad news . . . Gary Byrd this month starts a US syndicated hour-long weekly ‘Dance Music International’ radio programme, featuring remixed classics and special mixes by club jocks from around the world, as well as star interviews, with an emphasis on the “international” dance scene . . .  Midnight Star ‘Operator‘ topped US Hot Black before Christmas — and Wish featuring Fonda Rae ‘Touch Me (All Night Long)‘ (as it’s billed there now) finally crept in as the lowest new entry! . . . Motown could well be joining its new owners Inner City Broadcasting in co-celebrating legendary Harlem showcase the Apollo Theatre’s 50th anniversary — I used to go there every week to catch the star-studded soul shows in ’64, four shows daily with a movie between them and a new bill every Friday, and then in ’67 after the intervention of cassette recorders I even bootlegged a couple on a return visit to New York (including the Parliaments’ first engagement there, singing ‘Testify (I Wanna)’ in shimmering green silk suits, and Linda Jones tearing the house down with ‘Hypnotized’!) . . . John Anderson Big Band’s brilliant ‘Glen Miller Medley‘/’Scot’s Medley’ (Modern Records 7in) is much in demand at record shops after my recent review, but nobody can trace its distributor (who I’d have listed had the info been given) — does anyone know how to order records on Modern (who might have a hit if they could get their act together)? . . . Julie Roberts ‘I’m So Glad’ is now on 12in too, Magnum Force’s two churners on their Bluebird/10-released old LP should have been the 119-120½bpm ‘What’s Your Name’, 0-119½-120½bpm ‘Girl You’re Too Cool’, George Benson ’20/20′ being 111bpm — and due here as a Jellybean remix next week, when ‘Caught In The Act’ will be flip to Chaka Khan’s ‘This Is My Night’ and Sheryl Lee Ralph’s ‘In The Evening‘ Hi-NRG smash will finally appear on Beat Box . . . George Lee’s ‘Sea Shells’ A-side may not be on the Anansi LP but it is on the cassette version for some reason . . . Kensington’s The Park is looking for a new versatile DJ with up-to-date comprehensive records to audition this month — contact Charlie Cozzens weekday afternoons on 01-937 7744 . . . Switch Records were mentioned way back last May as looking for previously unrecorded black music acts to submit cassette demos (of original material) for possible inclusion on a compilation LP: well, before Christmas, Mayfair Gullivers DJ Graham Gold and myself helped lodge the submissions so far with the result that stuff by Zulu Clicks, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Jah Bond, Addis Rockers, Julian Cyriax and Yogeswaren could well be in the running, but further material is still needed — send cassettes to Cass Gilroy at Zenda Video Film Productions Ltd, Omnibus, East Row, London W10 (01-969 7135) . . . ‘Brother Louie Martin’ (and even that isn’t his real surname!) in a return onto the scene now makes it soul seven days a week on Chiltern Radio 97.6FM with his Saturday Soul Seeking 6-7.30pm show adding to the others done by Martin Collins . . . Solar-FM actually returned to the airwaves for a brief spell within four days of their second full-scale bust, but what with the holiday deadlines I can’t comment until next week on the current state of the stations . . . Morris Day admits he played a stereotype in ‘Purple Rain’ and intends to get away from the “shuck and jive nigger” image in his future solo work — it seems with The Time he was told what to do (the implication being, by Prince) . . . oops — how could I exclude Sheila E ‘The Glamorous Life‘ from my list of The Ones That Got Away, or Gary Crowley as one of the broadcasters I always used to tune to (on a Saturday afternoon)? . . . Island’s Christmas card was an obviously very collectable flexi-disc ‘Xmas Cuts‘ Steinski-style medley of 29 recent hits from the label’s stable, some speeded and others slowed to a ludicrous rate to fit the backing of ‘Relax’ (yup, another one!): meanwhile, using the slogan “Fourth & Broadway sock it to y’all”, that label’s Xmas pressie was a snazzily packaged pair of colourful designer socks! . . . Graham Murray (North Ormesby Teesvalley Roadshow) reckons Band Aid sounds a lot like Boney M’s old non-hit ‘Boonoonoonoos (Free The World)‘ which he says mixes with them as if one record . . . Colin Hudd has been synching Laid Back ‘White Horse’ (re-released this month) with Prince ‘Erotic City’ at Dartford Flicks, where Al Young joins him Friday (4) . . . Pate Haigh & Kev Birchall this Fri (4) at Blackpool Baskervilles presumably have their monthly dose of Mecca classix and Black Alternative Dance (from ’40s Louis Jordan thru Northern Soul to ’70s jazz and ’80s funk) . . . ‘The Master Of Style’ Allan Nevett starts partying weekly this Friday at Havant Leigh Park’s Leighs Nitespot in the Greywell Shopping Precinct, as well as funking Sats at Waterlooville Sam Lord’s Castle and hitting Weds at Northend Portsmouth Gatsbys . . . Andy Douglas keeps classy funk alive Fri/Sat/Sun at his long established residency in Glasgow city centre’s Pzazz . . . Tony Simmons has left Dumbos and now souls Luton’s Tropicana Beach (ex-Sands) Sundays . . . Billericay’s Neil Matthew, partner of Russ B in the Fighting Machine Roadshows, has just started soul-funk Thursdays at Writtle Chequers near Chelmsford — in which latter town’s flashy new Tico’s (ex-Dee Jay’s) Kev Hill now souls Wednesday . . . Ian Robertson does Dalkeith’s The Paddock seven miles from Edinburgh and “Midlothian’s only seven nights a week disco pub” (funkies Thur/Fri/Sat) . . . Mark Moore with Tasty Tim joins Jay Strongman Fridays at London Charing Cross Road Busbys posey The Mud Club, and is alone Thurs at Charing Cross Heaven’s The Asylum in the Star Bar . . . Tim Hopton goes the Walker Group’s brand new over-20s fast pop Jimmy’s Night Scene in Castleford Mon/Wed-Sat, unaffected by local economic conditions, while Gary Oldie is at Spennymoore’s over 25s Chaplins Mon, amidst ’30s-style decor with a massive illuminated glass dancefloor . . . Chris Hill gets another year older next Tuesday, as do David Bowie, Shirley Bassey — and so would have Elvis Presley (mind you, my birthday’s the same day as The Queen!) . . . SAY-YAY-YAY-YAY-YEAH!


OVERVIEW

THE YEAR: ONE MAN’S VIEW BY JH

THIS YEAR saw 24 hours a day soul radio arriving at last in London, albeit illegally, an event which has had a profound effect on the scene locally if not of course nationally. The rest of Britain relies still in the main on whatever the colour-conscious Radio One deigns to feed it and to Radio One anything black, no matter how soulful, remains “sweaty disco music”, as I am informed by Tony Blackburn whose own fantastically successful soul ‘n sex morning show on Radio London is a continual embarrassment to prim Auntie BBC.

American radio has the terminology right in calling black orientated radio “urban contemporary” — it is an urban music, unlikely to have immediate appeal out in the wide open countryside where it gets little exposure, so in some respects the BBC’s attitude when programming an all-embracing station is understandable — however, the Blackburn approach of combining the listenable black records (rather than the danceable ones) with mildly risque titillation has attracted such a huge housewife audience that it’s got the competition thoroughly rattled (and revising their own programming strategy).

Soul shows have been expanded not only at Capital Radio but also on neighbouring Radio Essex, Chiltern Radio and other local stations outside the urban confines of London itself. Now I’m not advocating a US-style fatally slavish approach to programming (when disco was big after ‘Saturday Night Fever’ many US stations jumped onto that bandwagon whether it suited their demographic audience or not, with the result that soon disco was declared “dead”), but I am pointing out that there is now an urgent need for legal soul radio around the clock, and preferably on a national basis.

An audience has been proved to be there for it. Within the London area, advertisers on Solar-FM and JFM have experienced dramatic results especially when those advertisers have been clubs or one-off gigs, attendances rocketing. There is another negative side to the coin, though: the power in “breaking” records has passed from disco DJs to radio DJs . . . who unfortunately at the moment seem to be abusing this power, which many may see as their greatest argument for legitimacy, by slipping into that maddening British habit of devoting more energy on unearthing oldies than on recognizing and supporting strong newies. Soon after starting my own DJ-ing career I realized that certainly white audiences don’t have an ear for rhythm but dance instead to the words — and not just the words as they hear them, their MEMORY of the words! In other words, they’ve got to know the record really well!

Now, with so much radio exposure, the same thing unfortunately is happening with black audiences. West Indians particularly get stuck in a rut of only responding to a narrow range of proven favourites (all within the “hot tempo” soul equivalent of reggae’s heartbeat), although Africans thankfully still have an ear for new rhythms as soon as they hear them. Even with all the radio coverage in London this year, the most common moan I’ve heard from club jocks is how hard it is to break new material.

The other point about exposing anything new to a British audience is the need for visual stimulation. Britain is a visual nation, and how! Going right back to the ’50s, it was the film of ‘Rock Around The Clock’ that broke rock ‘n roll here, and since then people have needed to see (whether on film or TV) in order to want and do — ‘Saturday Night Fever’, ‘Fame’, kung-fu movies, the list of visual stimuli on youth culture and the music market is endless.

No wonder in this, the video age, you’ve got to be on TV to go up in the record charts. And so it was that the other new phenomenon to capture kids minds this year arrived by way of the big screen — not that the music associated with it did as well as the mania might have suggested, the music’s full strength having been reached a year or more before and subsequently sneered at by all but youth club DJs.

I refer of course to the films ‘Breakdance’ and ‘Beat Street’ (and the videos of Break Machine), which had kids, as I established during my summer strolls, lugging ghetto blasters down dusty lanes and break dancing in market town squares all over the deepest countryside. Serious DJs were right to sneer, but that didn’t stop the kids having fun —break dancing has been this year’s skateboard.

The other aspect of disco music to get much media attention and a few hits this year has been Hi-NRG, gay dance music. White British people, with no sense of rhythm, also need to hear fast music to let them know they’re having a good time and should get up and dance! ‘High Energy’ apart, it’s interesting to note how few of the Hi-NRG crossover pop hits did well in our own Hi-NRG chart, which still reflects what’s happening in gay clubs by any other name.

And that was the year that was. Go-go in ’85?


BPM’S

THIS WEEK is the sixth anniversary of my beginning to list the number of Beats Per Minute in all records reviewed (only six years, it seems like a lifetime!). As it’s been a while since my methods were last explained and I still get quite a few enquiries about how it’s all done, this is what I do. For the last 2½ years everything BPM-ed at home has been pretty accurate as I’ve been using a quartz-locked deck — however, after the event I’ve sometimes discovered a few BPMs done at the shop have despite precautions been slightly off, and obviously in a shop I can devote less time to progressive split-second accuracy throughout the length of a record. It’s possible to BPM just tapping a foot in time to the record and counting (aloud, to aid concentration) while watching a stopwatch, but this leaves one unable to think about anything else at the same time! I use a Heuer “trackmaster” stopwatch which has a 30 second sweep (eg: the second hand goes around twice for a full minute) which makes the spacing of the seconds much wider, so that calculations are easier at a glance. This I hold in my left hand, while in my right hand I use a Rexel ENM hand tally counter to mechanically click off the beats on a four digit display. These hand tally counters you will find at such stationers as the Rymans chain, where people who have bought them recently report they now cost over £12. They’re made of plastic, which I thought six years ago didn’t look very robust so instead I initially invested in a metal hand tally counter. This broke within three weeks, whereas the replacement Rexel has probably had the worst pounding of any model ever made and is still going strong! Anyway, I set the counter’s display to “9999”, so that as soon as it’s hit at the same time as the stopwatch is started the digits go to “0000”, and then clock up each beat in real time. This is where many amateurs make their fatal mistake: the beat where you start timing is obviously not “1”, it’s zero, and especially if you’re only timing for a fraction of a minute and then multiplying the result you’ll get a wildly inaccurate final figure. So, using a tally counter and 30 second watch your mind is free to make progressive calculations (or dream up pithy reviews!) while watching the second hand jitter by. At 15 seconds (multiply by 4), 20 seconds (by 3) and of course especially at 30 seconds (by 2), I get an increasingly accurate idea of what the final BPM is likely to be after the full minute — and these days, which is why so many finely detailed fractions are showing up, I now actually stop both watch and counter at the exact moment the number I reckon the result is going to be comes up. It’s then easy to see if the second hand is ahead or behind the minute, and work out any fractions (bearing in mind that 1bpm at 100bpm is .6 of a second, and at 120bpm .5 of a second). If the result is not what early indications led me to expect its obvious the record’s beat has sped up or slowed down, and then the fun begins, going back and BPM-ing it section by section over as many seconds as the tempo holds steady. This incredible detail is not that important for general use, but if in print I’m listing the BPM then its got to be right — even if this takes it to ludicrous lengths! I mean, suppose I say something is 116bpm when in fact it fluctuates about, and you think “oh, that’ll be a doddle to synch through so-and-so” and then find it isn’t . . .? I do my best, its pretty tedious, and in fact in many ways I’ve been hoist by my own petard! However, I personally find the system extremely useful, even if I do begrudge the effort involved on many of the records that require review, and what better way is there of detailing a beat in print?


HOT VINYL

JAMES INGRAM: ‘Yah Mo B There’ (Qwest W9394T)
Here we only get half of the US 12in tracks, this is Jellybean remixed smooth lush 117½-118bpm soaring Michael McDonald duet with new fluttering electronic percussion and an added break now being far hotter (around the South-East at any rate) than the original hit ever was, and although it still has its similarly remixed instrumental, the flip instead of the two ‘It’s Your Night’ remixes, held back as follow-up, has the previously used undanceable cod-calypso ‘Come A Da Machine‘.

WALTER JACKSON: ‘Touching In The Dark’ (Bluebird/10 BRT 11)
The two cream slices from the late lamented mellow soulster’s current posthumous LP now sandwiched back to back on 12in, this gorgeous Jerry Butler-ish light 110bpm sinewy floater and the romantically agonised 79-80½bpm ‘It’s Cool‘ both having been hot originally on 7in around two years ago, both remaining pure class and like this an essential bargain.

BARNEY RACHABANE: ‘Caribbean Queen’ (Jive Afrika JIVE T82)
Hugh Masekela produced this interesting instrumental 111¼bpm saxophone exploration of Billy Ocean’s international smash, this version out of them all really deserving the title ‘African Queen’ as Barney’s sinuous blowing finds hidden depths as he twists and turns away from the melody in jazzy style while the beat and softly chorusing chicks stay steady (thoughtful slow 67bpm ‘Don’t Cry’ flip ending in African singing). Continue reading “January 5, 1985: “One Man’s View” of 1984, BPM counting explained, James Ingram, Walter Jackson, Barney Rachabane”