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””

April 16, 1977: Marvin Gaye, Karma, Deep Purple, Simon May, Yvonne Elliman

New Spins

MARVIN GAYE: ‘Got To Give It Up’ (from LP ‘Live’, Motown TMSP 6006) (Billboard chart debut 4/2/77)
The ultimate 12-incher, one whole side of double LP devoted to this incredible, ethereal, jaunty chugger, feather light but funky.

KARMA: ‘Funk De Mambo’ (A&M AMS 7283) (Billboard chart debut 1/15/77)
Much-imported percussive funker, complex but catchy.

DEEP PURPLE: ‘Smoke On The Water’ / ‘Woman From Tokyo’ (Purple PUR 132)
Double disco dynamite!  Continue reading “April 16, 1977: Marvin Gaye, Karma, Deep Purple, Simon May, Yvonne Elliman”

April 9, 1977: “The flood of 12-inch singles continues.”

The flood of 12-inch singles continues as more and more record companies realise that the initial sales spurt generated at small cost by a limited number of these “big 45’s” is enough to make the single show up on the national charts.  Hence, incidentally, the reason why many 12-inchers bear the same catalogue number as the ordinary 7-inch version!

Feelings among DJ’s are still mixed about the 12-inch phenomenon.  Personally, I find myself using more albums now that I’ve mixed up the 12-inchers with them in my LP boxes – others find the 12-inchers too bulky to carry.  Again, I prefer them at 33 1/3rpm, finding that the slower speed produces less friction from the slip-mat and makes them easier to cue.  However, the majority now prefer them at 45rpm, as the speed then doesn’t need changing by DJ’s who don’t normally use many albums.

Dave Porter of Liverpool’s Oscar club has written in with his views: “The US and UK disco charts are now dominated by 12-inch products – how long before the record companies send out everything in that form?  I can see the supposed advantages – different mix, longer version, eye-catching appeal – but will they still be special when and if that happens?”

“They are already on sale to the public before there has been any standardisation of playing speed, so that DJ’s and customers alike are confused by the often unmarked difference of speeds.  They are neither LP’s nor singles, but take up the space of the former.  I tend to forget about them, as I find the 7-inchers much handier to use and remember.”

Those are Dave’s thoughts: what are yours?  Let me know, both DJ’s and general public.

This week’s 12-inch releases are JOHNNY GUITAR WATSON ‘A Real Mother For Ya’ (DJM DJT 10762) – a semi-slowie with not much disco appeal – of which 5,000 commercially-available copies have been pressed, and CAROL WOODS ‘I’m In Wonderland’ (RCA PB 5012 DJ) – a 7:14 Northern squawker with a long instrumental break from Ian Levine – of which only 800 promotional copies were made.  Continue reading “April 9, 1977: “The flood of 12-inch singles continues.””