Four hundred quid and next to no sleep later, New York was certainly good fun last week, when a huge horde of disco business Britons descended on that city for Billboard’s Disco V Forum. In fact the consensus of opinion was that the actual Forum sessions were the least vital part of the affair, while the equipment exhibition was the most useful, and a statuesque 6 foot 1” young lady called Fern was the most stimulating. Say no more, wink wink, spare the blushes (thanks for the money, lads)!
After a sleepless weekend of getting last week’s page written, I arrived in New York on Monday evening, and went straight into a gargantuan spread at the amazing Gallaghers Steak House just over the road from the Roseland Ballroom. The Roseland, like a half-size Purley Top Rank was the world-famous venue for the Forum’s live music entertainment, and inside the specially disco-fied room we soon found the exuberant British contingent led by Chris Hill, Southgate Royalty-owning Adrian Webb, Froggy, Biddu and his rather Debbie Harry-hairstyled wife Sue, Polydor’s Theo Loyla, CBS’s Greg Lynn & Malcolm Jones, Miracle’s Pete Waterman, Magnet’s Tilly Rutherford, Island’s Erskine T, Funk Funktion’s Roger St Pierre & Sally Ormsby, Satril’s Henry Hadaway & Greg Gregory, Carlin Music’s Mike Collier, Lorraine Lewis (ex-EMI) and Rokotto-managing Murdo Wallace.
In no time we were chanting “wall to wall, carpet” as Edwin Starr souled his latest hit, and then we substituted “extra extra, read all about it” to words of his new ‘H.A.P.P.Y. Radio’ (which coincidentally he was composing down at Mayfair’s Gullivers on his last UK visit). Edwin however sounded fine, which cannot be said for the appalling Chic, who died the death – partly through poor amplification. Then we all piled into buses to head out across the towering Brooklyn Bridge for Flatbush where Casablanca Records, with much sought little stick-on camel badges as invitation, were hosting a roller disco party at the Empire Rink to promote their new star, Cher. Doing anything to get a hit, the society column queen was zipped around the rink by some steadying supporters, while her ‘Take Me Home’ disco effort was expertly mixed so’s you couldn’t notice into Donna Summer’s greatest hits. The jock at the rink was brilliant, but although the place was still crowded with skaters in the middle of the night, few were actually dancing as they roared around. So much for roller disco? Back at the Gotham Hotel, I set my Aiwa stereo radio/cassette to record WKTU (Disco 92) and hit the pillow for the first time in 66 hours.
Tuesday dawned late for many, but it was the first real day of the Forum at the Hilton Hotel. A must for most of the British contingent was the afternoon’s discussion panel about disco DJ mixing techniques. Here we pulled a popular “funk mafia” trick, by suddenly standing up with ready-prepared scorecards to cause a bigger sensation than the very respectable running mix by Jim Burgess of ‘I Will Survive’ into ‘At Midnight’. Amongst the tricks of the US style that we learnt about were the “flanging” effect, like phasing, of playing two copies of the same record, in exact synchronisation, and the method of playing two copies slightly out of synch to get phasing and echo effects, but with each record split balanced to opposing sides of the stereo speaker image – Roy Thode of New York’s Ice Palace demonstrated this using Instant Funk to perfection. However, the session was badly marred by continual squabbles about the Forum’s bad organisation, lack of mikes for the audience, and general untogetherness. Of the DJ’s making up the panel, though, it must be said that their use of the microphones provided for them merely underlined the fact that American DJ’s quite simply CAN’T, rather than don’t want to, use mikes when jocking.
Interesting stuff, huh? Well, sorry it’s got to end there, but the real meat of the week’s happenings will be revealed next issue.
Note: The second part of this report was actually printed a fortnight later, on March 24th.
Sparky & Wendy beat 40 dancers to survive for 50 hours at Bristol Assize Courts’ all-weekender marathon competition, while the dancing skill competition was won by Derek after already doing 30 hours non-stop (same length as Martin Starr jocked – losing his voice!), the bash raising over £1500 to ‘Save Some For The Children’ in hospital . . . Terry Betts of the gay guys ‘n gals Lemmons in London’s Westway, normally candlelit Fri/Saturday, has a rollerskating competition on Thursdays with £250 grand final in six weeks . . . Mike Davidson funks Liverpool Hollywood in Duke Street every Thurs-Sunday, operating a club mailing list for members with discounted records, hairstyling and concert coach parties . . . Bournemouth’s Village complex has shut for a major refit and renovation, opening before the summer season . . . Dartford Flicks, the funk venue with Studio 54 pretentions, goes – gulp! – rock ‘n roll on Tuesdays to the boppin’ beat of the Wild Wax crew . . . Island’s new disco division is headed by Erskine T with Eon Irving, their Inner Circle & Gibson Bros hits soon to be joined by Roundtree . . . Hamilton Bohannon’s ‘Cut Loose’ LP, reviewed on import last week, is out here as SRM 18702, while the title track on 12in is Mercury 9198082 . . . Patrice Rushen ‘Hang It Up’ is now on longer Elektra 12in remix . . . Joneses ‘Sugar Pie Guy’ classic from ‘75 has been remixed into 6:29 12in form for Mercury rerelease soon.
VILLAGE PEOPLE: ‘In The Navy’ (Mercury 6007209) (BNDA debut 4/7/79)
Adding sailor suits to their stagewear, the boys clap ‘n holler an instantly catchy 127bpm singalong romper that’s also due on remixed 12in – for UK release this time, unlike the ‘YMCA’ remix!
INSTANT FUNK: ‘I Got My Mind Made Up’ LP (Salsoul SSLP 1511) (‘I Got My Mind Made Up’ BNDA debut 1/27/79)
Only the British LP has this full 9:40 113bpm US disco remix version of the title track, plus its 6:00 soulfully jumping fast 128bpm ‘Crying’ flip, while other warm cuts include the applause-spiced jazzy 128bpm ‘Wide World Of Sports’ instrumental and long P-funkily introed 119bpm ‘Dark Vader’ bumper. They’re better heard on record than seen live.
GEORGE BENSON: ‘Love Ballad’ (Warner Bros. K 17333)
Beautifully scat-sung ‘n plucked bouncy 112bpm mid-tempo driving jazz skipper, deceptively fast though slow seeming on 5:15 12in. Continue reading “March 10, 1979: Report from Billboard’s Disco V Forum, New York (Part One)”