At the time of writing last week’s column I had never heard of Germany’s DJ magazine, Network Press, and had no idea that last Monday I would be flying out to a convention organised by it in Bochum, between Essen and Dortmund in the Ruhr Valley’s industrial heartland. The magazine’s publisher, record publisher Frenchie Grignon, holds the German franchise for the Disco Mix Club and, in this first ever event of its type there, he combined a local area heat for the World DJ Mixing championships with an experimental DJ forum.
The venue was the Tarm Centre, built in the middle of an industrial park (so no complaints about noise from the neighbours!), the main disco is surrounded by a complex of differently decorated bars and (good) restaurants, several outside in the open air fitted around a swimming pool which, thanks to cunning drainage, laps level with the floor — a great effect, and very pretty when lit up at night. The weather, incidentally, was glorious!
The crowd was much as you’d find at a DJ convention here (the usual quota of fat slobs with scrubby moustaches!), while whenever English was spoken on stage there seemed to be more four letter words than at a Steve Walsh gig! The club’s console area was huge, maybe 20 feet by 10, housing CD players, three record decks, lots of lighting controls, and (as maybe you can see) record storage in roll-out drawers.
The most remarkable thing though was the incredible laser system, which made the Hippodrome look silly. The club’s owners actually make lasers, so naturally use it as a showcase. The first indication of something different was when a live singer was accompanied overhead by an animated pair of hands, clapping in time with the music! Most impressive of all the laser effects was a fully animated multi-coloured cartoon, in which a wolf came out of the forest to be confronted by a monolith as if from ‘2001’, only for this then to become an upright piano played by a pig as all the animals jived around to Louis Jordan’s ‘Boogie In The Barnyard‘! The lasers apparently are controlled and synchronised to the sound by specially programmed video discs.
Amongst the live acts (can you believe German house music with an oompah-oompah beat?) and before the mixing heats, current World Mixing champ Chad Jackson did a long scratching exhibition that must have left the locals with something to think about (two copies of Chic’s ‘Good Times’ fastcut at 78rpm), while Hamburg DJ Jens ‘Jelly’ Ussat proved deft at fast cutbacks too but had untidy overall flow. Jens, one of Germany’s highest paid disco jocks, working in five different clubs with different music to play in each, spends around £700 a month on imports (yet gets all domestic releases for free). Far from the Modern Talking-type Eurobeat one might expect them to be into, German jocks (if not their audiences) are heavily into funk, finding out about the new releases from this very column in rm and, interestingly, from Richard Allinson’s daily 2-4pm (repeated 1-3am) programmes on the British Forces Broadcasting Service. The continued allied military presence there is a big influence musically. For instance, Long Island-born DJ ‘Fly Guy’ Frazier stayed on in Germany when stationed there in the US Army, playing basketball before becoming a DJ two years ago. Living like Guy in Hamm, near Dortmund, England’s Kidbrook-raised Bert Rogers plays funk to American, British and German audiences, joining many jocks in going to Holland to buy his records, Dutch releases being ahead even of the UK in many cases. These and the rm readers I met last week obviously speak English — however, for those there who don’t, I will soon be writing a column also in the fortnightly Network Press, which will be translated and printed in German!
ODDS ‘N’ BODS
Confusion intensifies in the Blue Mercedes ‘I Want To Be Your Property’ saga: apparently the labels were the wrong way around on promo copes of their originally available commercial pressing (MCA Records BONAT 1), so all along the Daktari Mix was the correct title of the A-side and the Street Latin Wolff Mix (with a double “ff”) was the actually better flip’s name. While although pressed with the matrix number BONAX 1, the DJs-preferred previously white-labelled Get Busy Yo! Mix and Street Latin Woolf Mix (with a double “oo”) are now due commercially as BONAY 1 because, in the interim, yet more mixes have appeared commercially as BONAX 1, the vaguely Philly-flavoured 119½bpm DEF B4 Dishonour Mix and good syn-drummed jacking instrumental 119⅓bpm Terence Yo-Yo Mix – all this just to market a pop duo! … Ben Liebrand has remixed Stock Aitken Waterman ‘Roadblock’ for West Germany, where all sorts of new “versions” of M|A|R|R|S’ ‘Pump Up The Volume’ are appearing, the best cutting in Rolling Stones-type stuff … Jellybean’s new UK El Barrio Mix and Hot Salsa Dub of ‘The Real Thing’ have been circulated to key radio jocks only on cassette, so far … I’m refusing to do full reviews of EMI promos featuring just one song, as finished copies always prove later to have extra tracks of interest too, one such that’s selling on white label already (despite the eventual addition of a ‘Dancing In The Dark’ remix) being the excellent soulfully loping and spurting 107-106⅔-104-103-104-102⅓-103⅔-102⅔-103-102⅓-0bpm Lanier & Co ‘I Don’t Know’ (Syncopate 12SY7), Jerry Butler-ish as usual with Gary Barnacle’s sax added to the UK remix … Chris Paul ‘Back In My Arms’, continuing the above EMI promo theme, on finished pressings turns out to be 0-121bpm with ‘City Nights’ 117½-0bpm, while here Audrey Wheeler’s ‘Irresistible’ is 108⅔bpm … Chris Hill reached his chart peak of number 10 twice with, of course, both ‘Renta Santa’ and – the following year – the totally separate ‘Bionic Santa’ (last week’s misprint confusing the two similar titles into one), while Zuzan has been picked up by Supreme Records rather than Serious Records, and it’s Chuck Chill Out rather than Chuck Chill who’s left New York’s KISS-fm … UK 12 inch pressings of Earth Wind & Fire’s frantic, now 120¾-0bpm, ‘System Of Survival’ (CBS EWF T1) turn out to include the more soulful seven inch-flipping 110⅚-0bpm ‘Writing On The Wall’ after all, the pop-aimed A-side song’s mix being stronger too, but minus one of the US pressing’s house-ier alternative versions … Brother D ‘Clappers Power’ apparently was originally released here by Island over five years ago … Black Britain pump up the volume and get up offa that thing on the James Brown-sampling, Timmy Regisford-mixed, Paul Weller co-produced nervily jumping house-ish 122bpm ‘Heroin’, due fully in about three weeks – it’s a hot one! … Champion have promoed, way ahead of release probably in the new year, Blackjack ‘Black Ink Mix’ (CHAMP 12-59), a 120bpm mix-up of familiar jack track elements with the classic ‘Jingo’ (in three parts, 119¾bpm Part 2 being the most subtle), and Raze ‘Caught U Cheatin’’ (CHAMP 12-58), a routine 118bpm house instrumental flipped by an 121⅔bpm Extended House Mix of ‘Jack The Groove’ (possibly one of the mixes previously released, there were several) … UK pressings of the rush released here 117bpm Bobby Womack ‘Living In A Box’ (MCA Records MCAT 1210), proving much better than many people’s initial impressions suggested, include the lurching slow typical 43-45bpm ‘I Can’t Stay Mad’ … Miles Jaye ‘Let’s Start Love Over’, reviewed on import, is now due out here on Fourth & Broadway (12BRC 81) … Stevie Wonder’s 12 inch version of ‘Skeletons’ is (0-)99⅚bpm, still ploddingly dated, and merely long rather than long awaited! … Jeff Young’s amusingly named 0-122bpm Jeffrey B. Young Hearts Run Free Remix of the Was (Not Was) ‘Walk The Dinosaur’ (Fontana WASR 322) 45 still sounds more pop than soul but includes some James Brown/”pump up the volume”-type cuts, starting with the scream from ‘Roadblock’ that launched a hundred writs! … Edwin Starr’s relatively disappointing Stock Aitken Waterman-created single has been withdrawn to undergo a much needed different treatment … 1988’s Disco Mix Club DJ convention will be a three-dayer, Sunday-Tuesday March 7-9, culminating on the last day at the Royal Albert Hall again for a slimmed down World Mixing Final, featuring just the six very best competitors and many more superstar guests … Tony Prince tonight, this Tuesday (27), has organised at Hammersmith’s Le Palais ‘A Night Of A Hundred DJs And Stars’ to benefit multiple sclerosis sufferer Stuart Henry – for a cause like that, as you can imagine there will indeed be a host of real stars present … ‘Give Give Give’, the Disco Aid charity single, in its remixed form will be credited now to Dance Aid as the (all-star) act’s name … BBC Radio 1 (along with Radio 3) will be giving up MW transmission sometime within the next five years, to be on FM only … Thursday (29) Westerham’s Grasshopper Inn has a first birthday ball for the weekly Roadblock night (named long before you know what!), with Richie McRich and Sam Allen … Ronnie McNeir is live at London’s Astoria this Fri/Sat (30/31) … Tuesdays from November 3, Nicky Holloway starts “money”-themed Paid In Full nights with Jay Strongman and Simon Dunmore at Uxbridge Regals, then next Saturday (7) they funk a one-off at South Kensington’s Natural History Museum, actually around the dinosaur skeleton! … Marie Birch funks Cricklewood’s refurbished free admission Production Village every Tuesday, presumably exhibiting the mixing skill she learnt at lessons with Les Adams! … Norman Scott’s protégé singer, signed by Record Shack, is now named Tony Thompson, while Bang The Party (whose notorious use of the initials “SAW” was previously reported) seem to be renamed Watts Music Inc for the USA … DON’T STOP JAMMIN’!
GWEN McCRAE was the recent guest of JEFF THOMAS at Swansea’s Martha’s Vineyard, where, by coincidence, her ex-hubby George McCrae appears this Saturday (October 31). Knowing this, Gwen’s parting shot to Jeff was, “Tell George he owes me $50,000 in maintenance!” Steve Walsh is another guest there this Friday (30), while presenting a live set on Monday (November 2) will be Ronnie McNeir.
IMPORTS: my German report obviously took precedence this week, leaving me neither time nor space to tackle the dauntingly large (and expensive) pile of hot new imports, so, as usual, check the Black Dance chart for the very latest BPMs, including those for any of these that hit. In the soul/funk category,
the strong Jocelyn Brown-ish ELEANOR GOODMAN ‘Sneak Preview’ (Trumpet),
haunting slinky JOYCE SIMS ‘Come Into My Life’ (Sleeping Bag),
subtly jogging FIRST CIRCLE ‘Can’t Find A Love’ (EMI America), Continue reading “October 31, 1987: German DJ convention report, Rick Astley, Keni Burke, Montana Sextet, Jackmaster Volume 1”