January 6, 1979: To BPM Or Not To BPM

To BPM Or Not To BPM

Starting this issue as we intend to go through 1979, all significant record reviews will in future feature the Beats Per Minute (bpm) as an aid to the ever-increasing number of jocks who mix between records with similar rhythms. This week also, although not a regular feature, the entire Disco Top 90 and its various “breakers” sections indicate each title’s bpm rating . . . so I suggest that you keep this issue handy if you can’t transpose the bpm info onto your record sleeves immediately.

Next week there will be a listing of all currently in-use product grouped together in order of bpm speed, so that all the titles at 130 bpm will be noted, followed by those at 131 bpm, etc. Really useful, huh? I hope so!

To work out your own bpm timing for any type of record, all you need is a stopwatch (of the type with a sweep second hand is best) and – making sure your deck is at the spot-on correct speed – tap your foot in time with the record’s main bass beat. When you’ve got the feel of the rhythm, hit the stopwatch start button on a beat/tap and start counting “nought, one, two, three – etc” for either 10, 15, 20 or 30 seconds, depending on which length of time it takes for a beat to fall as closely as possible onto one of those time divisions. Say you got 20 beats in 10 seconds, multiply 20 by 6 (to bring the 10 secs up to a minute) and you find you’ve got 120 Beats Per Minute. Likewise, multiply your 15 secs total by 4, the 20 secs total by 3 or the 30 secs one by 2. It sometimes helps to have several tries at different timing lengths to get a really accurate result (and don’t forget that not all drummers use a metronome or tape loop yet!), while it’s a good idea to check the bpm discrepancy between different sections of the same record, as some get faster or slower.

However, having worked out the bpm ratings for all your records, don’t think that just because two have the same surface tempo similarity they will make a perfect mix from one to the other – you must use your ears as well! Beats are one thing, but rhythm and attack are dictated by the rest of the instrumentation, by the key and vocal sound. Also, don’t be afraid to jump up or down the tempo scale, as a smoothly blending sequence of all the same speed gets dull without some dynamics being injected into it – we’re not all New York hustlers here!

To do a synchronized mix, running in one beat on top of another, or to do a chop mix, cutting from one to another on the beat, you also need to have a feel for the musical progression: it’s useful to tap your foot in time with the rhythm and count off to yourself the beats in each bar of music – “one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four” – so that the new record will slot neatly into the one being played. Best of all, though, is to have a set of variable speed decks, with which you can then alter the record’s speed to suit the mix – taking, say, something from 124 bpm up to 131 bpm (not that with variable speed decks you’re particularly aware of the bpm rating, as you’re mixing purely by ear). If, with variable speeds, you do want to check the bpm at which something is playing, then you can quickly get a rough idea by checking it against your wristwatch’s second hand in the same way as when doing a proper bpm.

Finally, the reason why so many of today’s disco records – especially on 12in – have a thumping instrumental intro and rattling rhythm break about two thirds of the way through should be obvious . . . they’re making it easy to mix! (Gah, penny’s dropped!)

Also, in this issue, we start again a review section for disco imports. The chart has become increasingly import-orientated in recent months, proving that many jocks can’t be bothered with what the UK companies may or may not decide to release. To quote Capital Radio’s Mike Allen, who runs 1979’s answer to the old Rosko road show, “you have to buy imports because the days of using UK issues are over – by the time something is out here, it’s ancient history!”

Disco News

Dave McAleer, known to many for Pye’s old Northern soul series, is now Black Product and Disco Manager at RCA . . . Caroline Crawford ‘Coming On Strong’ / ‘A Nice Feeling’ is due on Mercury 12in this month while Decca are coupling Hamilton Bohannon’s old ‘Foot Stomping Music’ / ‘Have A Good Day’ on full-length 12in soon . . . General Johnson, Mandrill, Afro-Cuban Band and Raydio are the next Arista 12in batch in about four weeks . . . Gonzalez ‘Haven’t Stopped Dancin’ Yet’ is belatedly hitting in US on Capitol 12in remix . . . Phil Salter (Manchester) and Roger Harold (Tunbridge Wells) both info that the Funkadelic 12in that they bought on UK issue has an 11:13 Part 1 and 5:35 instrumental Pt 2 – so, sorry if my earlier info was misleading, but I did get it at WEA’s own Xmas party! . . . Fatman Graham Canter and Froggy’s Roadshow funk Southgate Royalty this Saturday (6), when Bournemouth Village sees the return of previous residents Andy (Radio One) Peebles and Clive B Dearsley . . . Richard “Tricky Dicky” Scanes had 2000 records ripped off in South London a week before Xmas, but as some WEA 12in promos were numbered it may be possible to trace where the villain unloaded them: have you recently obtained any of these on 12in with the following rubber-stamped numbers – Rod Stewart (0009), Ashford and Simpson (00013), Funkadellc (00056), Goody Goody (00013), Chaka Khan (00092), Curtis Mayfield (00088), Chic (00099)? If so, please tip off Dicky at 01-551 1987 . . . London’s LODJ Assn meets this Sunday (7) at 4pm in the Blue Coat Boy pub near Angel tube to learn about technical matters from Brian Davies . . . Tony Holden of the DJF(GB) (0734-882794) is running a master diary to prevent any clashes in the dates for planned DJ events, so contact him early on if you’re organising anything like an exhibition or DJ meeting . . . Colin Hudd now funks Dartford Flicks in Kent Road every Fri/Saturday, while Danny Wilde is newly resident at Bristol Vadims in Clifton’s Queens Road, and Greg Davies info’s that Stevenage Bo Jangles has a new sound and laser lighting system . . . Dave Middleton (0908-76079) needs a hall in Milton Keynes for his projected Monday night soul disco but can’t block-book council property: can anyone help?

New Spins

DAN HARTMAN: ‘This Is It’ / ‘Countdown’ (Blue Sky CBS 12-6999)
Far better in its continuous 14:12 LP and promo 12in form, the ‘Countdown / This Is It’ track has been cut in two with the blinder 6:45 latter part made plug side and more exciting 7:05 first part put on the flip of both 12in and edited 7in (SKY 6999). Similar to ‘Instant Replay’, the 133 bpm stormer’s a great mixer (try it out of Edwin Starr) and deserves to be heard in full: why don’t CBS do right by Dan (and us) this time at least?  Think how many they’d sell if this and the full ‘Replay’ were on 12in back-to-back!

BLONDIE: ‘Heart Of Glass’ (Chrysalis CHS 12-2275) (BNDA debut 4/14/79)
Dynamite 5:50 117bpm disco remix 12in powers along like a heavier slowed-up Donna ‘I Feel Love’ crossed with Rod’s ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’, and is sure to smash pop.

LAKESIDE: ‘It’s All The Way Live’ (RCA FO 1382)
Stolidly thumping 7:17 funky 12in chanter shifts up from 118 to 120bpm and chop mixes nicely in front of Shalamar (skipping very start).  Continue reading “January 6, 1979: To BPM Or Not To BPM”

December 30, 1978: The Hammy Awards

The Hammy Awards

Everyone else seems to be giving out mock awards for the past year’s disco achievements, so who am I not to do so too?  Herewith, then, are my own personal Hammy Awards for 1978.

LABEL OF THE YEAR: Atlantic (look at the number of hits)

RUNNERS UP: Mercury (for taking the 12in plunge successfully), Island (for creating consistent excitement with a few releases), Fantasy (or at least the US parent label, for so many hot 12in import hits)

ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY: CBS (for putting on 12in only what they want us to have, not what we want)

IMPORT OF THE YEAR: Samuel Jonathan Johnson ‘You’ (CBS LP/12” remix)

12IN OF THE YEAR: Crown Heights Affair ‘Galaxy Of Love’ (Mercury)

BEST CHOP MIXER: Hamilton Bohannon ‘Let’s Start The Dance’ (Mercury)  Continue reading “December 30, 1978: The Hammy Awards”

December 23, 1978: Gregg Diamond Bionic Boogie, Cerrone, Village People, Monaco, Weather Report

Disco News

Bank Holiday All-Dayers are back with us on January 1st, but as well as the usual Purley and Blackpool bashes there’s one also at Rayleigh Croc’s with Owen Washington, Graham Canter & Gold, Tony Valence & Monson, Rudi Gilpin, and – bit of a scoot – Froggy’s Roadshow, which will not be at Purley that day! . . . Disco Dancin’ winner Tadaaki Dan from Japan was interestingly the only DJ among the finalists, which must prove something: will Chris Hill enter next year?! . . . Damon Harris, David Simmons and Fat Larry’s Band are due in the New Year from Fantasy, while Chrysalis will soon be issuing Butterfly product . . . Roger Squire’s Disco Centres in London, Bristol, Manchester & Glasgow are having three open days with free Xmas drinks on December 28/29/30 . . . Marc Damon has opened a disco record shop called the Funk Factory at the Great Gear Market, 85 Kings Road, Chelsea in London . . . Paul Anthony now spins funk-jazz every Mon/Tuesday at Birmingham’s Sloopys in Corporation Street . . . Terry Jones & Rus Phillips are now resident late nights at the plush new Jovi’s club (£30 membership men) at 1-5 Long Lane, The Barbican, in London’s City area. Chris Browne (with an “e”) shares Wednesdays at Muswell Hill Pebbles with Stuart Genslan . . . South Essex now has a DJ Assn, details from Tony Petersen, PO Box 43, Southend-On-Sea, Essex . . . Thames Valley DJ Assn’s administrative address is now The Secretariat, TVDJA, Titlarks Farm, Sunningdale, Berks . . . Ian Jason from Leicester, resident though in Hamburg at the Big Apple, Club Elvis and El Greco, is currently charting (amongst other better known hits) Supermax ‘Love Machine’ (Atlantic), City ‘Am Fenster’ (Telefunken), Alan Parsons Project ‘Hyper Gamma Spaces’ (Arista) and Ritchie Family ‘American Generation’ (Metronome).

New Spins

GREGG DIAMOND BIONIC BOOGIE: ‘Hot Butterfly’ LP (Polydor 2391373) (BNDA debut 11/11/78)
Professionally crafted disco fodder, none are particularly exciting but they work well enough. ‘When The Shit Hits The Fan’ has a sorta Sylvester lick while the rest – best cuts are ‘Chains’, ‘Cream’ – are mid-tempo.

CERRONE: ‘Je Suis Music’ (from LP ‘IV’, CBS 83282) (BNDA debut 11/4/78)
The bionic Dave Clark with yet more mechanical thudding, this 7:48 variation on a well-worn pattern being the hottest so far.

VILLAGE PEOPLE: ‘Cruisin’ LP (Mercury 9109614) (BNDA debut 10/21/78)
Lots more beefy hollering and thumping, all a bit lacklusture compared to that dynamite ‘YMCA’ remix . . . which of course is not included in that form.  Continue reading “December 23, 1978: Gregg Diamond Bionic Boogie, Cerrone, Village People, Monaco, Weather Report”

December 16, 1978: Dan Hartman, Earth Wind & Fire, Peaches & Herb, Ian Dury, Wilton Felder

Disco News

Real Thing ‘Can You Feel The Force’, already big for funk jocks as an LP track, will be out late January on lengthened 7:40 12in remix with dynamite space effects intro and added applause atmosphere . . . WEA are using their LV prefix for an unlimited (within reason) pressing run of long version 12in issues selling at £1.49, but goofed with the 3000-only Funkadelic 12in which turned out to he just pts 1 & 2 of the 7in blown up . . . Chaka Khan and Luisa Fernandez are rumoured to be on remixed 12in though, while out next month will be Willie Hutch ‘Easy Does It’ / ‘Come On And Dance With Me’ and – on Lightning 12in – Dennis Brown ‘Money In My Pocket’! . . . Afro Cuban Band ‘Black Widow Woman’ is due on Arista 12in in February . . . Herbie Mann is rushing out a disco version of the ‘Superman’ soundtrack music for Atlantic . . . Strathclyde DJ Assn acting secretary is now Neil Mullin, 29 Birgidale Road, Glasgow G45 (041-634 2082), while all enquiries about the DJ Federation should now go to the DJF (GB), 255 Hyde End Road, Spencers Wood, Berkshire (0734-882794) . . . Hastings Emma’s welcomes artist PA’s/promotion nights, so interested pluggers contact Johnny Mason on Hastings (0424) 420339, or Paul Casson at 01-637 9401 . . . Kevin Gover of Bath’s Roadhog mobile infos that the local Bath Boots is surprisingly good for picking up cheap 12in hits . . . Steve Boley (Weston-Super-Mare Blades) is delighted that his outstanding jingles LP ordered from East Anglian Productions last October has finally arrived, only fourteen months late! . . . Dennis Brynner (Southampton Centre Discotheque in Western Esplanade) is a satisfied chart contributor – he writes: “thanks for two mentions in three weeks: it’s packed at the Centre on a Friday now, and I’m on two more mailing lists this week making thirteen altogether. Power to the press!” . . . you know it makes sense, so let me know what’s happening for you!

New Spins

DAN HARTMAN: ‘Countdown / This Is It’ (from LP ‘Instant Replay’, Blue Sky SKY 83265)
Apart from the title track only being 5:18 and still not the full 12in version, this dynamite 14:12 medley is indeed an instant replay: restructured section for section, the exciting stormer is just like the hit but has even more in it, including a great rhythm break before the ‘This Is It’ bit lifts it even higher.

EARTH, WIND & FIRE: ‘September’ (CBS 6922)
Terrific slow-starting freak-tempo strutter (try mixing minus the intro out of Funkadelic), already a smash.

PEACHES & HERB: ‘Shake Your Groove Thing’ (Polydor 2066992) (BNDA debut 10/28/78)
Deceptively winsome slow intro to a dynamite stamping fast strutter, which has a remixed rhythm intro on US promo 12in.  Continue reading “December 16, 1978: Dan Hartman, Earth Wind & Fire, Peaches & Herb, Ian Dury, Wilton Felder”

December 9, 1978: “The disco documentary starring Chris Hill & Greg Edwards will go on release next month”

Disco News

‘British Hustle’, the disco documentary starring Chris Hill & Greg Edwards filmed respectively at Canvey Goldmine and Brixton Clouds, will go on release next month with the space adventure ‘Capricorn One’ – but actually opens as the A-film at Southend’s Westercliff Classic on January 11th! . . . WEA proved their point about the national pop chart: you spotted of course that the limited 1500-only 12in issues mentioned last week were Goody Goody, Curtis Mayfield and Joe Farrell . . . Bettye LaVette on remixed 12in is their next project, to be promoted as a newie in January . . . RCA are importing 15,000 pink vinyl 12in remixes of Dolly Parton ‘Baby I’m Burning’ (really disco in this form!), while about now is a dynamite US promo 12in coupling of ‘Instant Replay’ / ‘Countdown / This Is It’ (full-length!) . . . Eddie Horan is due next month on Decca . . . Foxy ‘Get Off’ is now on 5:44 remix 12in (TK 12-6040), while Chanson ‘Don’t Hold Back’ is on red vinyl 12 (Ariola AROD 140/12) . . . Capuchino has moved bases to Bristol, where he’s resident at Reeves in Bath Road . . . Graham F. Wood’s gig at the Chesford Grange Hotel near Kenilworth has changed names from the 1812 Club to Stables . . . Ian Hay has guest funk jocks every Monday at Cleethorpes Clouds, while Steve Orpin is running a DJ contest every Thursday until Xmas at Brighton’s Night Fever in Ship Street . . . Mister Tee Promotions of 66 Stoney Lane, Kidderminster, Worcs (0562-68457/64198) make button badges and offer discounts to DJ Associations or similar making bulk purchases . . . Stevie Quinn (Farnborough 43401) has had a Danish gig through fall and now needs a residency . . . Alfie Jarvis (Medway 63712), experienced sound electrician responsible for the installation at Hastings Toffs, has started a 24-hours-a-day DJ emergency service and will zoom off anywhere in Kent to help jocks in distress . . . “Carole”, resident with Jerry at Birmingham’s Outrigger, would like to hear from other girl DJ’s to be pen-pals, so write her at 78 Birmingham Road, Water Orton, B46 1TH – she’s been jocking over six years and says there aren’t many other female DJ’s – prove her wrong!

No New Spins this week.  Continue reading “December 9, 1978: “The disco documentary starring Chris Hill & Greg Edwards will go on release next month””

December 2, 1978: “Village People ‘YMCA’ has been remixed with great freaky sound effects”

Disco News

Village People ‘YMCA’ has been remixed with great freaky sound effects and long instrumental breaks on dynamite 6:47 US Casablanca promo 12in – beg, steal or borrow a copy, as it’s so much better than the commercial version! . . . Funkadelic is due out unexpectedly this week in – wait for it – the US remix 12in form, so get it! . . . I’m not meant to tell you this, but the US 12in versions from one particular label group have been quietly test marketed in London only, so see if you can spot which they are by checking the Disco Top 90 for three previously import-only 12in titles now minus the “US” before their label info . . . Miracle Records will be doing a 9:08 12in of John Davis ‘Ain’t That Enough For You’ . . . London’s LODJ Assn meets this Sunday (3) at 4pm in the Bluecoat Boy pub, City Road, near Angel tube, while down in Kent that night at 8pm the annual SEDA members’ quiz is at Wrotham’s Moat Hotel . . . North East Essex DJ Assn’s Christmas party on Monday (14) at 8pm in Colchester’s Woods Social Centre will feature a Lasertronics light show . . . Tom Wilson (Edinburgh Rutland) plans to start an Edinburgh area association, so interested jocks contact him at 34 Burdiehouse Avenue, Edinburgh – via Telstar?! . . . Alex Anders (Jersey Mermaid), sitting behind me at Sunday’s Disco Forum, was really knocked out when he won the fortnight in Bermuda lucky number draw – he’ll be used to island life, for sure! . . . Olympic Runners are touring the country in a “Mutha Coach” doing selected PA’s, but the actual venues seem mostly unconfirmed . . . Graham Gold’s run into trouble at his Sunday night Greenford Chambers gig in the Railway Hotel, so please if you don’t look obviously over 18 bring someone to prove your age . . . Gene Farrow ‘Dance With Me’ (Magnet 12MAG 133) and Gonzalez ‘Just Let It Lay’ (EMI 12EMI 2868) are now on 12in.

No New Spins this week.  Continue reading “December 2, 1978: “Village People ‘YMCA’ has been remixed with great freaky sound effects””

November 25, 1978: Rahni Harris, Hi-Tension, Two Man Sound, DownTown Disco Party, Macho

Nowadays jocks are noting the number of beats per minute (BPM) for records which is great if you’re into US-style mixing – but as few DJ’s in this country are my own old way of indicating a records tempo could still be useful. Very early on I developed a shorthand system which depends on the relative sizes of letters in the alphabet – you can us anything really – so that I might mark a record sleeve like this: (Ds-)Ms-MFc . . . which means that the (skippable) intro is dead slow, graduating into medium slow before becoming a good solid stomper – that’s F for fast measured against an M that might just as well be a plain vertical line, except sometimes I put a V for very above it! The final small c meaning it ends cold, or f means it fades. So long as your system remains constant you can tell at a glance how each record is going to sound – especially useful for rarely-working mobiles.

Disco News

Thames Valley DJ Assn members meet at noon on Sunday (26) in Reading’s Caversham Road Fire Station to learn, not so surprisingly, about fire prevention and fighting . . . Satril Records’ new disco plugger is Greg Gregory of London Sundown fame, and he wants more jocks for his list (old applicants please reapply) at Satril House, 444 Finchley Road, London NW2 2HY . . . Phonogram are auditioning for an Orlons-type three gals/one guy oldies group in the Darts style: contact Annie Challis on 01-491-4600. Tricky Dicky’s Disco Music record shop at 391c Mile End Road (London E3, opposite Mile End tube) is open Mon/Thurs/Fri/Saturdays from noon till 8 pm and services regular DJ customers (including Chris Hill and Tom Holland) with really cheap prices (no minimum order); imports – LP £4.50, 12in 2.50/2.20, 7in 80p; UK – LP £3.50, 7in 70p . . . Chic and Ashford and Simpson hit the pop chart last week thanks to being issued without warning on UK 12in! Funkadelic’s US 12in promo was out after UK production had already begun, so only the LP-length version will be available here on their upcoming special 12in EP . . . Bunny Maloney ‘Baby I’ve Been Missing You’ is now on extended 12in (Gull GULS 65-12) but the dub last part isn’t very strong, while Shampoo ‘Harlem Hustle’ is also on 12in (Ensign ENY 1812) with the Chris Hill re-mix as A-side . . . DJM are coupling Village People ‘San Francisco’ / ‘Macho Man’ for belated 12in in face of Mercury’s ‘YMCA’ success . . . Gary Hirst and Paul Kassell’s Jewish Teenage Sunday Club has moved from the Sundown to London’s Global Village . . . Paul’s Carpenter and Clark funk Brighton’s new Bunnies in the Salisbury Hotel every Thurs/Fri/Saturday.

New Spins

RAHNI HARRIS & F.L.O.: ‘Six Million Steps’ (Mercury 9199956)
Gi-normous on import, the infectiously skipping instrumental driver is at last on full 5:56 12in here, but for some reason the weedy vocal version is A-side on the edited 7in (6007198) – don’t Phonogram have faith in our taste?

HI-TENSION: ‘Autumn Love’ / ‘Unspoken’ (Island WIP 6462)
Pleasant if less than mind-blowing soul slowie, totally overshadowed for most jocks by the more typical rhythm-rattling fast flip, which while maybe not total A-side quality is already packing dancefloors in London.

TWO MAN SOUND: ‘Que Tal America’ (Miracle M1-12) (BNDA debut 9/22/79)
Rushed out on Gull’s new Miracle disco logo (motto: ‘‘If it’s a hit, it’s a Miracle’’) just as the French import shows up, this fast funk-jazz Latin leaper hits such a great groove it should be huge – so get the 7:55 12in rather than the 3:40 7in.  Continue reading “November 25, 1978: Rahni Harris, Hi-Tension, Two Man Sound, DownTown Disco Party, Macho”