June 4, 1977: “Insular Midlands jocks”

The Midlands have a large enough population to influence record sales, and the local disco DJ’s have in turn realised their own influence over the population.

Many of them are members of a record pool, undertaking to promote certain singles in a co-ordinated “power-play” push in return for free records from the companies involved. However, their influence remains local, and not national. Why, you may ask?

Well, for a start, you might have noticed the relative absence of Midlands contributors to this page’s DJ Hotline — and, consequently, to our Disco Chart. Unimportant though these may seem to insular Midlands jocks, think of the influence that these features could have if every week their “power-play” pick was made public.

Other DJ’s, not to mention record stores and radio stations, would then be encouraged to try the disc too.

Already many record companies recognise our importance by asking DJ mailing list applicants if they contribute to our chart, and the importance of the information gathered in this way is soon to increase.

The Midlands jocks purport to help record companies, but how whole-hearted is that help? Only by looking outside their own cosy circle can they make their influence known on the scale where it matters — nationally!

New Spins

JOHN MILES: ‘Slow Down’ (Decca F 13709) (Billboard chart debut 3/12/77)
Originally a blue-eyed soulster before he made ‘Music’, John’s now huge in US discos with this frantic ultra-fast funky galloper – 12-inched commercially here.

GARNET MIMMS & TRUCKIN’ COMPANY: ‘What It Is’ (Arista 12 ARISTA 109) (Billboard chart debut 3/26/77)
The Brass Construction-backed smash has been delayed so that now this commercial 12-inch can launch it hitwards!

CHUCK BERRY: ‘Sweet Little 16’ / ‘Guitar Boogie‘ (Chess 6078707)
Classic ’58 rockers.  Continue reading “June 4, 1977: “Insular Midlands jocks””

May 28, 1977: Paul Nicholas, Nils Lofgren, Archie Bell & The Drells, Jimmy Bo Horne, Ronnie Jones

Last week’s list continued – these are other British 12-inchers that have been issued commercially:

ULTRAFUNK: ‘Gotham City Boogie’ (Contempo) (Billboard chart debut 1/22/77)
J.J. BARNES: ‘The Errol Flynn’ (Contempo)
BANZAII: ‘Chinese Kung Fu’ (Contempo) (mentioned in Billboard column 6/28/75, Billboard chart debut 7/5/75)
TELEVISION: ‘Marquee Moon’ (Elektra)
JACKSONS: ‘Enjoy Yourself’ (Epic) (Billboard chart debut 10/30/76)
WILTON PLACE STREET BAND: ‘Disco Lucy’ (Island) (Billboard chart debut 12/18/76)
GEORGIE FAME: ‘Daylight’ (Island)
EDDIE QUANSAH: ‘Che Che Kule’ (Island)
STEVE WINWOOD: ‘Time Is Running Out’ (Island)
ARCHIE BELL & THE DRELLS: ‘Everybody Have A Good Time’ (Philadelphia Int’l)
WHO: ‘Substitute’ (Polydor)
RAMONES: ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’ (Sire)
BARBARA PENNINGTON: ‘You Are The Music Within Me’ (UA) (Billboard chart debut 8/13/77)
GEORGE BENSON: ‘Nature Boy’ (Warner Bros.)
UNDISPUTED TRUTH: ‘You + Me = Love’ (Whitfield) (Billboard chart debut 7/24/76)

New Spins

PAUL NICHOLAS: ‘Heaven On The Seventh Floor’ (RSO 2090249)
Sensational Tavares-type happy bubbler, amazingly black sounding.

NILS LOFGREN: ‘I Came To Dance’ (from LP ‘I Came To Dance’, A&M AMLH 64628)
Great recitation climax to the chunky disco-rocker that’s not on the 45 (AMS 7288).

ARCHIE BELL & THE DRELLS: ‘Everybody Have A Good Time’ (Philadelphia Int’l PIR 5179)
Fabulous frantic fast galloper, LP-tipped months ago and now 12-inched commercially.  Continue reading “May 28, 1977: Paul Nicholas, Nils Lofgren, Archie Bell & The Drells, Jimmy Bo Horne, Ronnie Jones”

May 21, 1977: “You should enjoy your disco sounds while you can”

Punk rock and new wave haven’t taken over totally yet, but there are now signs that they’re beginning to get a hold. The situation reminds me very much of the time in ’63 when the Stones were emerging. Then, the disco sounds came from America, and were dominated by finely honed black R&B (in its true sense) and ‘mechanical’ dance tunes – just like now. Funnily enough, the new wave was then applied to music by Curtis Mayfield, whose sophisticated style was growing alongside the birth of raw soul and early Motown. The mechanical dancers were inspired by the white-manipulated Philly scene of the time — the Cameo/Parkway labels, still riding high in the wake of the Twist.

This was the music that I, as a brand new disco DJ, loved – and just as the jocks of today hate the threat of punk rock, so I hated the way in which the Stones were ruining my favourite records as models for their roughened-up cover versions. (Here the parallel veers away, as today’s new wave are still copying early sixties R&B and not the modern stuff.)

What happened was that the rougher copies became more popular with the mass audience, who had to invent a non-dance — the Shake — as the Mersey era groups did not have a good dance beat. Today we have the Pogo, I believe.

When the British invasion happened in America, the white pop world there crumbled, with the resultant death of the mechanical dance records as all the white producers were trying to come up with British-sounding records. Submerged beneath all this, in fact soul music as we now know it was establishing its roots and Motown was able to become the sound of young America — but that’s another story!

The moral of the story is that you should enjoy your disco sounds while you can — it may not be long before the bottom drops out of the more mechanical end of the market today, as producers drop one moneymaker in favour of another. I don’t say that it will happen, but the possibility is there. Real soul music, however, will go on and on!

Paul Saville of Adrian’s Records in Wickford Shopping Hall, Essex, has sent in another list of 12-inchers, but this one is of British big ‘uns that have been made commercially available.  There is some confusion, as many have only been put out promotionally, not for sale.  These you can (or could) buy:

BONEY M: ‘Daddy Cool’ (Atlantic) (mentioned in Billboard column 9/25/76, Billboard chart debut 11/20/76)
CERRONE: ‘Love In C Minor’ (Atlantic) (Billboard chart debut 1/15/77)
TRAMMPS: ‘Disco Inferno’ (Atlantic) (mentioned in Billboard column 12/25/76, Billboard chart debut 1/15/77)
DETROIT SPINNERS: ‘Hits’ EP (Atlantic)
TAVARES: ‘Mighty Power Of Love’ EP (Capitol) (mentioned in Billboard column 6/5/76, Billboard chart debut 7/10/76)
RONI HILL: ‘You Keep Me Hanging On / Stop! In The Name Of Love’ (Creole) (Billboard chart debut 12/11/76)
HONKY: ‘Join The Party’ (Creole)
LITTLE RICHARD: ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ EP (Creole)
OZO: ‘Anambra’ (DJM)  Continue reading “May 21, 1977: “You should enjoy your disco sounds while you can””

May 14, 1977: Alessi, Parliament, Hunter, Plaid Pops Orchestra, John Wesley Ryles

New Spins

ALESSI: ‘Oh Lori’ (A&M AMS 7289)
Delicious feathery swinger with ethereal harmonies and smash potential.

PARLIAMENT: ‘Tear The Roof Off The Sucker (Give Up The Funk)’ (Casablanca CAN 103) (Billboard chart debut 9/18/76)
Last year’s funky classic, maxi-ed with the freaky slow ‘Dr. Funkenstein‘ and ‘P-Funk‘.

HUNTER: ‘Rock On’ (Penny Farthing PEN 935)
Thin Lizzy sound mixed with jig-like fiddles for lively fun.  Continue reading “May 14, 1977: Alessi, Parliament, Hunter, Plaid Pops Orchestra, John Wesley Ryles”

May 7, 1977: Graham Central Station, Shalamar, Garnet Mimms, John Davis & The Monster Orchestra, Trammps

New Spins

GRAHAM CENTRAL STATION: ‘Now Do U Wanta Dance’ LP (Warner Bros. K 56359)
Great “happy to see you again” intro segues into terrific title track happy funker with distinctive electronic voice-box sound.  The similar ‘Last Train‘ follows, while another goodie is the gaily swinging ‘Stomped Beat-Up And Whooped‘.  Ace album!

SHALAMAR: ‘Uptown Festival, Parts 1 & 2’ (Soul Train FB 0885) (Billboard chart debut 1/29/77)
Already a sensation, this marathon Motown medley is sadly cut in two for commercial release, only DJs getting the full-length 12-incher.

GARNET MIMMS & TRUCKIN’ COMPANY: ‘What It Is’ (Arista 109) (Billboard chart debut 3/26/77)
The old ‘Cry Baby’ guy gets Brass Construction backing for a high-powered groove and instrumental flip that’s huge on import.  Continue reading “May 7, 1977: Graham Central Station, Shalamar, Garnet Mimms, John Davis & The Monster Orchestra, Trammps”

April 30, 1977: best selling 12-inchers, David & The Giants, ZZ Top, Heatwave, Moment Of Truth

Paul Saville manages Adrian’s record shop in Wickford Shopping Hall in Essex, which stocks all current 12-inchers.  To give a guide as to what’s happening with the big 45s, he’s sent a chart of their best sellers:

GEORGIE FAME: ‘Daylight’ (Island)
UNDISPUTED TRUTH: ‘You + Me = Love’ (Whitfield) (Billboard chart debut 7/24/76)
WILTON PLACE STREET BAND: ‘Disco Lucy’ (Island) (Billboard chart debut 12/18/76)
JACKSONS: ‘Enjoy Yourself’ (Epic) (Billboard chart debut 10/30/76)
TELEVISION: ‘Marquee Moon’ (Elektra)
CERRONE: ‘Love In C Minor’ (Atlantic) (Billboard chart debut 1/15/77)
BONEY M: ‘No Woman, No Cry’ / ‘Daddy Cool’ (Atlantic) (mentioned in Billboard column 9/25/76, Billboard chart debut 11/20/76)
TAVARES: ‘Mighty Power Of Love’ (Capitol) (mentioned in Billboard column 6/5/76, Billboard chart debut 7/10/76)
EDDIE QUANSAH: ‘Che Che Kule’ (Island)

That last one’s a new one to me, too!

Most eagerly sought 12-incher of the moment must be the limited 300 copy pressing of MARVIN GAYE ‘Got To Give It Up’ / ‘Let’s Get It On’ / ‘I Want You’ (Motown PSLP 216).  Another hot promotional number is a special 12-inch sampler with BONEY M ‘Fever’ / TRAMMPS ‘Disco Inferno’ / CERRONE ‘Love In C Minor’ / SLAVE ‘You And Me’ / TELEVISION ‘Friction’ / EAGLES ‘Hotel California’ (WEA Int’l SAM 78) – wow wow!!  The commercial 12-inch is now out of the edited TRAMMPS ‘Disco Inferno’ (Atlantic K 10914), while the only strong track on the DETROIT SPINNERS 12-inch 70p EP is ‘Could It Be I’m Falling In Love’ (Atlantic K 10935).  Finally, the prettiest in package and content (though not very disco) is the promotional HEART ‘Dreamboat Annie’ (Arista/Mushroom), which at just 2:10 and 33rpm is crammed onto the first inch of the record . . . which wastes the whole idea.

New Spins

DAVID & THE GIANTS: ‘Ten Miles High’ (Capitol CL 15915)
Terrific freakily phased Northern stormer from ’68, with ‘Judy In Disguise’ beat and hit sound.

ZZ TOP: ‘Arrested For Driving While Blind’ (London HLU 10547)
Great get-it-on boogie, mixes well with Steve Gibbons’s ‘Tulane’ and the Queen 45.

HEATWAVE: ‘Slip Your Disc To This’ (GTO GT 91)
Fine funky tight flip, but the official ‘Too Hot To Handle‘ A-side’s a messy, poor relation of ‘Boogie Nights’.  Continue reading “April 30, 1977: best selling 12-inchers, David & The Giants, ZZ Top, Heatwave, Moment Of Truth”

April 23, 1977: “12-inch singles are still getting a mixed response”

12-inch singles are still getting a mixed response, with several DJ’s making some pertinent points about them.

Stevie Quinn (Mallorca) cynically observes, “having 12-inch copies available at less than a quid does help sell a single which wouldn’t necessarily hit the chart.  For instance, it was only the 12-incher that finally sold Boney M’s ‘Daddy Cool’ to the public – the same goes for Undisputed Truth, Jacksons, Cerrone, and will also apply to T-Connection’s ‘Do What You Wanna Do’, which will sell like crazy once it’s out.”

Alan Farmer (Penicuik) reasons, “I play 12-inch 45’s if they are the full version of a tune – not the edited 7-inch version – and prefer that speed to 33rpm as there is a marked quality increase at the higher speed, and wider groove spacing.”  (Not always the case, actually, Alan!)  “Also to a lesser extent, the ego-tripping element comes into it.  For me, 12-inch rools – OK!”

Johnny King (Bristol) puts his case both for and against the 12-inchers.  For them, he says.  “They’re far superior in quality; when in colourful cardboard covers, they’re easier to find and better protected; they’re becoming a big talking point between the dancers at Scamps and myself, thus helping my customer liaison.”

Against them, Johnny adds, “They’re bulky to store in the limited space available at a residency, giving me less room for LP’s; they’re recorded at both 33 and 45, causing confusion and mistakes, and should be standardised to one or the other; they’re often longer than the commercial singles, making them useful once the tune is known, but too long to establish easily as a newie.”

Dave Porter (Liverpool), who started the ball rolling, has the final word again.  “Before the situation gets out of hand, 12-inchers should be reserved for special product or good quality disco material, not just anything.  Already the idea is being abused in the hope that poor material will be played by DJ’s just because it’s on 12-inch.  When mailing them out, record companies should send the DJ an ordinary 7-inch copy too, as this will remind him about the 12-incher stored in another box . . . and should be easier to keep as a subsequent oldie.”

This week’s 12-inch releases (promotional and commercial) include ELTON JOHN ‘Bite Your Lip (Get Up And Dance)’ (Rocket GUAD 1) – both long and edited versions, re-mixed by Tom Moulton! – AVERAGE WHITE BAND ‘Goin’ Home‘ (Atlantic SAM 76), J. VINCENT EDWARDS ‘Too Hot To Handle‘ (Pye 7N 45687), SERGIO MENDES ‘The Real Thing‘ / ORLEANS ‘Reach‘ (Elektra / Asylum SAM 77), OZO ‘Anambra‘ (DJM DJT 10764) – both long and edited.  All are at 45rpm.

New Spins

WILLIAM BELL: ‘If Sex Was All We Had’ (Mercury 6167424)
Dynamite sexy smoocher, flip to his Memphis-sound US smash ‘Tryin’ To Love Two‘.

DONNIE ELBERT: ‘What Do You Do’ (All Platinum 6146321)
Superb mellow groover, hidden as flip to the squeakily speeded-up Shirelles oldie ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’.  Continue reading “April 23, 1977: “12-inch singles are still getting a mixed response””