August 30, 1975: Natalie Cole, Innervision, Fatback Band, Chocolate Milk, Esther Phillips

LEGEND OF THE WOLF

WOLFMAN JACK, America’s most famous disc-jockey, is now probably even better known over here for his pivotal role in “American Graffiti” than for his shows on AFN. When he came to London last week to appear on Capital Radio it was my privilege to work closely with him (that’s us clowning for the cameras, right), and thus I was able to find out about a lot of his tricks.

When recording his syndicated shows, carried by hundreds of radio stations worldwide, the Wolf merely sits down with a running order list and puts his voice links on tape, without any music, leaving three second gaps between each link. An engineer then records the master tape. playing the records, running in the pre-recorded links, and slotting in other relevant “bits” that are already on cart, like the famous wolf howls (actually, a coyote). This explains why on the two “American Graffiti” albums the Wolf often crashes the vocals – he had no control!

Possibly the greatest surprise when watching the Wolfman at work is to see that all his incredible raps are in fact read from books. Wherever they go, he and his manager, Don Kelley, note down anything that inspires them. Don is then able to flip through piles of thick notebooks until he finds something apt for the music and mood of the moment. which the Wolf then transforms into a rap that sounds totally spontaneous. He also uses the notebooks to whap in time with the beat when rockin’ to Little Richard!

To change from his normal speaking voice into his maniacal radio style, the Wolf goes into a wheezing chuckle that gradually intensifies until it bursts out into his much copied growling rasp – which is full of amazing resonances. Even when wearing cans, at the mike he often puts a hand over one ear in traditional announcer’s fashion. A true AM jock, he likes lots of EQ, and sits well back while ranting and raving.

As well as radio shows, there are Wolfman Jack discos, syndicated on tape to locations that he and Don Kelley control. Because these are mainly in hotels, the music that they very carefully programme for each hour-long tape is angled to get bashful business men onto the floor, and each tape follows an almost scientifically proven formula. This includes a healthy quota of really big oldies, with one Latin cut per hour.

As well as all this the Wolf is the main presenter of America’s long-running “Midnight Special ‘ Rock show, plus he has his own lavish touring stage show that choreographs the history of Rock ‘n Roll radio, plus he’s had numerous songs written about him, plus . . . like I said, he’s the World’s most famous DJ.


HOT TIP

From Peter Dunn: Coppercoins Country Club, Nr Haverfordwest, Pemb’s): Useful as a nice happy party record, MEL BLANC I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat (MfP Surprise Surprise FP 27) is especially good if just the main Tweety Pie verse is cut in, for unexpected shock effect. This and many more party goodies of a silly nature are available on cheap kiddies discs in places like W. H. Smith & Son – they’re worth trying.


New Spins

Swingalonganatalie

NATALIE COLE: This Will Be (Capitol CL 15834)
Nat “King” Cole’s daughter is a merry young soul on this happy stamper (reviewed last week as an import), which much like Barbara Acklin’s Love Makes A Woman really does move like the clappers! Hopefully modern dancers can cope with the fact that it actually swings . . . and how! My fave of the month, if not year.

INNERVISION: Honey Baby (Be Mine) (Private Stock PVT 17)
An instantly catchy bass line makes the purposeful yet gentle rhythmic drive that fronts some impassioned harmonies and should win friends in a hurry. In fact, I’ve a hunch this could hit.

THE FATBACK BAND: Yum, Yum (Gimme Some) / Trompin’ (Polydor 2066590).
A lip-smacking treat for funky folk, this bouncy thumper may seem monotonous to others as the bass predominates in a very repetitive way. Spirited flip.  Continue reading “August 30, 1975: Natalie Cole, Innervision, Fatback Band, Chocolate Milk, Esther Phillips”

August 9, 1975: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jeanne Burton, Steely Dan, Al Wilson, Rod Stewart

NORWAY’S NORMAL?

LOTS OF jocks get gigs in Scandinavia, so here’s a bit of info from someone who’s over there now.

Peter Brown (Seasons Disco, Wembley, Middlesex) is spending some of the Summer working at the Hawk Club in Bergen, Norway, and from what he says it seems the Norwegians are fairly normal if just a wee bit behind the times. He writes: “My favourite music is soul . . . however, over here you have to play some really weird disco music. For instance, MAX BYGRAVES Tulips From Amsterdam (Decca) goes down tremendously, and GLENN MILLER always works a treat! You wouldn’t hear many other than mobile discos playing those in England, I’ll bet!” And more’s the pity, say I.

That’s not the only way in which Peter finds the Norwegians lagging behind the times. “Norway is slow in catching on to new records. The Norwegian Top Twenty still has GEORGE McCRAE’s Rock Your Baby in it, along with I Can Help by BILLY SWAN which if a vote was taken would probably be their new National Anthem!”


HOT TIP

FROM Peter Greig (Route 88 Discos, Plymouth, Devon): To make your own slip mats, get two coloured felt off-cuts (usually sold in one foot squares by remnant shops) and cut them to turntable size using a suitable plate as a pattern. Fold each in half and then quarter and nip the inner point with scissors. Stick them onto your turntables with some small dabs of glue and – presto! – you have a pair of perfect slip mats for professional cueing in.


New Spins

DWEAM DWEAM DWEAM!

THE NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND: (All I Have To Do is) Dream (WA UP 35875)
Yes, despite the brackets, the Everlys’ cocos commercial oldie . . . given a Misty-style updating full of twinkling banjos and mildly bouncy subdued jollity, Dreamy MoR, could be a smash.

JEANNE BURTON: Nobody Loves Me Like You Do (Seville SEV 1010) Incredibly exciting shrilly screaming gallop paced hustler by a chick who combines Gloria Gaynor and the Queen Of Clubs to produce a sound that’ll send shivers up your spine. Make it a hit!

STEELY DAN: Do it Again (ABC 4075)
and again and again and again. Maybe this time?  Continue reading “August 9, 1975: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jeanne Burton, Steely Dan, Al Wilson, Rod Stewart”

August 2, 1975: Ritchie Family, Hudson Brothers, Calender, Hustler, Billy Ocean

NADJ BASH

DISCO ’75 is the inspired new name for this year’s National Disc Jockey Convention & Exhibition.

Organised by the National Association of Disc Jockeys, the exhibition will be open on Monday and Tuesday, September 8 and 9, 1975, at the Bloomsbury Centre Hotel, London WC1, where the 11,000 square foot London Suite will provide room enough for a bigger and better show than before. “Our first event last year was a great success and attracted over 1,000 Disc Jockeys from all parts of the country,” says NADJ boss Ben Cree, “and this year we are aiming to double or even treble that number.”

Just a few of the many companies who will be exhibiting their wares are disco manufacturers SAI, FAL and Disco Supplies, the Mushroom Disco Centre, Atlantic Records and Aarvak Electronics. “New names are being added almost hourly,” continues Cree, “and I fully expect the show to be a complete sell-out.” Ben Cree can be contacted at PO Box 23, Hitchin, Herts, SG4 9JT (Telephone 0462 50918) for fuller info.


SUPER SAVERS

THREE new items of disco equipment should interest many jocks, especially as each does a job that previously cost a lot of bread.

Roger Squire’s Disco Centre of 176 Junction Road, London N19, has launched a jingle machine that’s almost like the ones used on radio yet sells for a ludicrously low £29 (with a deluxe Auto-Cue model at £35). Adapted from a well-proven 8-track player, as which it can still be used, the Squire machine is designed to take special pre-recorded cartridges containing four jingles, one jingle per track on a 30 second loop of 4-track tape, cued by an illuminated track selector button. If these £2 carts are not personal enough, customised jingles cost £3.50 each.

Martin Blake Lighting and Effects of 14 Rydal Road, London SW16, have developed a carbon dioxide (dry ice) machine for creating that low-lying “Fog” effect popularised by such as “Thank Your Lucky Stars”. Evidently all other Fog Machines are incompatible with disco use, so that not only is this purpose-built unit cheap at £65, it’s also the only one available.

Proops Brothers Ltd of the Hyde Industrial Estate, Edgware Road, Hendon, London NW9 (with demonstrations at 52 Tottenham Court Road, W1), are blowing their trumpet about an effects projector selling for £19.95, which price may or may not include the necessary 12 volt transformer and a liquid wheel also quoted at £6. Less ambiguously worded, the many extras for the basic projector (which it must be emphasised is only 50 watts) include a range of eight picture wheels at £3 each and various image-splitting lenses from £6.50 to £10.


HOT TIP

FROM David Crawt (Chessington, Surrey): “I always play BREAD’s The Guitar Man as the very last record and since it isn’t either slow or fast it gets a great response – especially when I turn the light show off and put on a strobe. A mate of mine does this as well and he enjoys it so much that he gets up and has a dance himself, leaving the decks unmanned.” Oh well, whatever turns you on!


New Spins

FRENCH PHILLY

RITCHIE FAMILY: Brazil (Polydor 2058625)
Hip to the sort of US sound that’s big in Europe, French producer Jacques Morali went to Philadelphia to use arranger Richard Rome and the Family of Philly musicians (hence group name) on this breathless new treatment of the great old tune. The result is the new Hustle and is already ousting El Bimbo in European resorts. Incroyable!

THE HUDSON BROTHERS: Rendezvous (Rocket PIG 18)
Penned by Bruce Johnston with the Hudson boys and prod by Bernie Taupin, it’s totally pure and powerful Pop.

CALENDER: Hypertension, Pts 1 and 2 (All Platinum 6146308)
Picked up from the Pi Kappa label of Jersey City, this purposefully pounding sinister beater has elements of Grapevine with Temptations-type vocals. Mainly instrumental flip.  Continue reading “August 2, 1975: Ritchie Family, Hudson Brothers, Calender, Hustler, Billy Ocean”

July 26, 1975: “My secret system for making flower displays and gardens look lovely in the dark”

FLOWER POWER

SOME light relief – mainly, details about my own secret system for making flower displays and gardens look lovely in the dark!

I must confess that I’ve never really gone in for the more flashy types of disco lighting. Instead, over the years I’ve developed a rather theatrical method of using coloured filter gels on my lights to emphasize flower arrangements and architectural features in doors, and – on a much larger scale – whole gardens and houses out of doors.

The basis of this system, apart from miles of electrical cable and dozens of adaptors, is a time-consumingly assembled set of nearly sixty swivel-mounted Par 38 150 watt lamps, some spot but mostly flood, all fitted with Rank Strand colour frame holders (and If you can get any of them these days you’ll be lucky!). Indoors I use specially wired switching circuits that give me many ways of controlling the lighting, while out of doors the Par 38s are very often wired up in conjunction with 500 watt or 1000 watt floods (which I hire). Anyway, on to the principle of the idea.

Light casts shadows, and several sources of light cast several shadows. If the lights are different colours, they combine to produce yet another colour where they all overlap, and then the shadow of each is filled in by whichever other colours can reach it. The effect of a vase of flowers or anything else multi-faceted when lit, preferably from ground level, by several sources of different coloured light is one of distorted reality and incredible depth. In gardens, a border of flowers looks like a jewel box if each individual clump is lit with a different colour so that one stands out against another. All this is hard to explain without the benefit of some colour pics, but hopefully you can get some idea of the effects that are possible. I’ll try and expand on the methods and results at a later date.


HOT TIPS

“Cinemoid” is the brand name of the moist commonly available coloured gel for use as filters in theatre lights, etc. A combination of the following Cinemoid colours will make most flower displays look incredible: – Number 16 Blue – Green, No.34 Golden Amber, No.12 Deep Rose, No.45 Daylight, No.26 Mauve, No.6 Primary Red, No.22 Moss Green, and – depending on the flowers – No.36 Pale Lavender (Surprise Pink), No.1 Yellow or a duplication of one of the others. Those are trade secrets, y’all.


New Spins

UH-HUH!

K. C. & THE SUNSHINE BAND: That’s The Way (I Like It) (Jay Boy BOY 99) Casey and the kids get a crystal dear rhythm thing going and get to chanting “That’s the way I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh.” Millions will concur.

THE STYLISTICS: Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love) (Avon 6105039). Eddie Calvert lives!

SOUTH SHORE COMMISSION: Free Man (Pye 7N 25688)
Bunny Sigler penned/prod, Norman Harris arr, vocal group dancer with untypical Philly backing which sets it apart and has made it a big NY disco hit. Disco mix flipContinue reading “July 26, 1975: “My secret system for making flower displays and gardens look lovely in the dark””

July 19, 1975: Clive Baldwin, Harry Hastings, Roy Orbison, Jackie Wilson, Lenis Guess

Handy Hints

IT’S GREAT to see how many mobile jocks are prepared to please more than just the kids.

Tom Waller (operating from 45 Argyll Place, Aberdeen) has plenty of good hints to pass on: “One mistake Mobile DJs make is to shine their lights into people’s eyes – not really a good idea at bookings like wedding receptions, as most older people will only grumble. Try reflecting light shows off the walls – or even the roof!” I agree, and have myself made a big thing out of lighting flower displays – about which, more another time.

Tom continues: “Mobile operators should play some slowies during a party, as nothing is more frustrating than being unable to dance up close to a beautiful girl because all the DJ plays is ravers.” On the other hand. I find it’s good not to get too slow as not everyone who’s dancing necessarily feels that way about their partner! Tom anyway suggests a few fairly lively segues which he finds when cued up correctly run well together, viz: MR BLOE Grooving With Mr Bloe / CRAZY ELEPHANT Gimme Good Loving / TOMMY JAMES Mony Mony, or DAVID BOWIE Jean Genie / SWEET Blockbuster, or NORMAN GREENBAUM Spirit In The Sky / ALVIN STARDUST My Coo Ca Choo.


HOT TIP

From Tom Waller (Aberdeen): Get the crowd to dance to the Hokey Cokey (JOE LOSS or many other “Party” records) – with a bit of help they will dance in circles, all ready in position for an Eightsome Reel (JIMMY SHAND, on a Parlophone EP). Och aye, hoots mon!


Funky airmail

FUNKY American disco hits sent airmail from New York every week – that’s the new service just announced by Record Source International. Many DJs, writers and broadcasters will be familiar with the other RSI services of Top 100, Soul, Country and Easy Listening hits sent in packets of ten each week. Now RSI are going to add a Disco Starter Package and a weekly Disco service: the Starter gives you fifty singles and ninety albums of disco standards and current hits to establish a basic library, while the weekly service is two brand new albums and three singles each week – all selected by Billboard’s disco research team. Cost of the service varies depending on whether surface or air mail is used, but the Starter package is 295 dollars plus air freight and the weekly service is 658 dollars airmail for one year. Other deals exist, so write for details to Record Source International, 1 Astor Plaza, New York, NY 10036, USA, enclosing an International Reply Coupon. Tell them we sent you, then maybe they’ll advertise!


New Spins 

Now it’s Jolson

CLIVE BALDWIN: Now It’s Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Alice Cooper, Elton John (Mercury 6167170)
Dawn’s old Levine & Brown team have tied their yellow ribbons round the sound of Al Jolson and his Mammy on this very Dawn-like happy bouncer all about an old codger coming out of a 25 year coma and finding himself badly out of touch with contemporary music. Can’t fail MoR, and I fear it’s a serious rival to Harry Hasting’s other bit of summer madness.

HARRY HASTING’S PALM BEACH ORCHESTRA: She’s A Great Great Girl (Bell 1434)
OK, enough teasing – It’s rush-released this Friday! An old 1920s ditty of uncontrollable jollity, done up with synthetics and a crazily treated vocal at the very end, this Is MoR silliness of the Who’s Been Polishing The Sun/The Sun Has Got His Hat On variety. Amazingly it’s Phil Cordell and not Jo King who’s behind it all.

ROY ORBISON: Oh Pretty Woman (Monument MNT 1054)
One of the greats, from 1964 and in stereo. I nearly always segue it out of the false fade in the Beatles’ Get Back, and synchronize my lights to the stomp bits. Continue reading “July 19, 1975: Clive Baldwin, Harry Hastings, Roy Orbison, Jackie Wilson, Lenis Guess”

July 12, 1975: Harry Hastings Palm Beach Orchestra, Eruption, Intimate Strangers, The Reflections, Dr. Feelgood

Party Pieces

GOOD LETTERS are coming in about the difference between mobile and club D-Jing . . . thanx!

Martin Peters (Worksop Tiffanys, Notts), a resident DJ who goes mobile on his night off from the club, has these sensible things to say: “One good thing about mobile work is you can give your best on mobile gigs – play your best records and crack all your best jokes – whereas in a club you tend to play the same discs because you know what music the customers like and expect you to play. In my disco it’s mainly Soul.”

A point that I’d like to raise here: club work probably keeps a DJ more flexible as he’s playing to much the same crowd all the time, while a mobile jock’s carefully worked out “party pieces” will seem fresh at every gig unless he’s on a very restricted circuit.

I’m afraid that some of my special record sequences have been the same for years . . . but then they do get requested in their own right! As he’s the first DJ to mention the more lunatic records that he uses to liven up his show, Martin’s choice is this week’s Hot Tip – and the best thing in his whole letter is what he says about his choice: “Some people might pull faces at these names, but to see your audience smile when you play ’em is fabulous.


HOT TIP

From Martin Peters: FRANKIE HOWERD AND JUNE WHITFIELD’S comedy version of Je T’Aime (Pye); PETER SARSTEDT’s Take Off Your Clothes (UA); DICK EMERY’s comedy Conga-type You Are Awful (Pye); plus various tracks from Benny Hill’s Ernie LP (Columbia), which Martin says is a knockout. Now then, don’t pull faces!


LOOK, MA NO HANDS

NOTHING’S TOO good for the Disco Page, and to prove it the classy chassis pictured here could set you back by between £1800 and £5000, depending on the amount of luxury extras you want with it. A Rolls-Royce amongst Minis, this superb console’s most exciting gimmick is possibly its remote push – button start for all three record decks and tape deck. Definitely not a mobile unit, it’s designed for permanent use in clubs, pubs, liners and the like by BACCHUS International Discotheque Services of 30 Redan Street London W14 OAB (01 – 602 6292). The whole desk comprises such items as three Goldring Lenco GL78 turntables with Shure SC35C cartridges, AKG mike and cans, two 100 watt EMI PW101 power amps (driving two Tannoy 15inch. HPD 85 watt speakers), mixer with full pre-fade cueing on all inputs, standby mixer, switch panel for fifteen lighting effects (which are extra), controls for additional background music speakers, and built-in record storage for 100 albums and 600 singles. The storage bins are raked so that the sleeves can be found at a glance. Now, how much is your club manager prepared to spend on you?!  Continue reading “July 12, 1975: Harry Hastings Palm Beach Orchestra, Eruption, Intimate Strangers, The Reflections, Dr. Feelgood”

July 5, 1975: Dance to the lyrics!

Dance to the lyrics!

LAST WEEK I began a discussion about the many differences between dee – jaying in clubs and at mobile gigs. Until you’ve had time to join in – as I hope some of you other D-Js will – I’ll just continue with a few more of my own observations.

The primary aim of a discotheque is to entertain its audience, whether in a club or at a party. Obviously it’s a great buzz to turn people on to as yet unknown sounds, but unfortunately most people want to dance to tunes that they know. One of the very first things that I worked out when I started was that – amazing though it may seem – your average audience doesn’t dance to the music, it dances to the words People dance to their memory of a song!

In clubs it’s much easier to play something that’s not well known – the speakers are likely to be mounted up higher and to have better penetration than at a mobile do. At many parties, people want to talk while they dance and are less likely to concentrate on the music. Consequently, unless you’ve got a super-hip crowd, at a mobile gig it’s always best to keep it obvious and simple with lots of hits to begin with – then later, when the talk has quietened down and you have felt out the crowd’s prevalent taste, get more adventurous. There can be no hard and fast rule of course other than to keep ’em happy and keep ’em dancing, but if you can entertain them AND yourself at the same time you should be really cookin’!


HOT TIP

A perennial fave since its release in ’71, Burundi Black, Part Two – that’s the un – mucked – about – with African drums B -side of the BURUNDI STEIPHENSON BLACK single (Barclay BAR 3) – has just started to get much requested again, presumably as a result of its recent re-issue. Skip the chanting intro and segue (or dramatically cut directly into it) from another suitable raver. You shouldn’t be disappointed, although following it can be a trick!


New Spins

Lynsey’s whimsey wins

LYNSEY DE PAUL: Rhythm And Blue Jean Baby (Jet 755)
One reaction report coming up: It works! Lynsey’s bit of thumpalong candyfloss whimsey may be lightweight but in a mixed age group setting it has just the right happy beat and straight Pop gaiety. That doesn’t mean you must rush out and buy it today . . . just wait until it hits which it will!

GRIMMS: Backbreaker (DJM DJS 393)
Silliness from the Scaffold / Bonzos refugees, this Mud / Showaddywaddy / Rubettes send-up about a wrestling girlfriend is not only very funny but also great doo-wop singing that’s worthy of the Marcels / Rivingtons / Excellents. My fave of the week, except the next two are kinda nice too.

AL MATTHEWS: Fool (CBS 3429)
For a UK production (by writer Pierre Tubbs), this bouncily clomping Four Seasons / Philly vocal group gem is remarkable. Not to be missed – In fact do your darndest to make it the smash it deserves to be! Compulsive play it again quality.  Continue reading “July 5, 1975: Dance to the lyrics!”