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Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983 TIM LAWRENCE
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The 46th MEGA RECORD & CD FAIR
November 12 & 13, 2016 JAARBEURS UTRECHT
Welcome to the third edition of Hot Stuff magazine! Thanks a lot for the compliments on the second issue. In this issue there is a fascinating interview with Marlon McClain by Bobby D Smith about the period he was a member of the group ‘Pleasure’, and what he did when he left the group in 1980. I remember my first record from Pleasure, which was the ‘Future Now’ album that came out in 1979. I thought it was a great album, and on a visit to my older brother in Nijmegen, I bought the ‘Joyous’ album as a sealed copy from the cheap section. I immediately fell in love with their sound, so later I bought ‘Accept No Substitutes’ and other older albums. Also featured in this issue is an excerpt from the Book “Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor 1980-1983” by Tim Lawrence. For those who don’t know me yet, I have already collected many disco-related items, such as magazines, books, acetates and, of course, records! There are many other music lovers like me who have interesting stories to tell, know about the genre’s history and have certain memorabilia. That’s why I thought it would be nice to share the disco, rap and funk knowledge we all have with the rest of the world. In my digging for records and acetates I have met many other interesting music lovers, and I have asked them to contribute to this magazine by writing articles. This magazine includes a wide range of interesting articles on disco, jazz, rap, hip-hop, funk, house, rollerdisco and the graffiti & breakdancing culture. Furthermore, you will find vintage advertisements and magazine articles, mainly from the 1970s to the 1990s. I invite you to share your opinions, ideas and relevant news with me. Your correspondence will be appreciated and it will help me improve my next publication. All contributors and I hope to reach everybody and anybody who loves the music that makes you want to dance. Enjoy! Groetjes, Discopatrick
TEAM HOT STUFF
DESIGN - LAYOUT & COVER ILLUSTRATION CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Bobby Smith Eddy De Clerq Aiden d’ Araujo Skeme Richards Jason Armitage (Dr. J) Ray ‘Pinky” Velazquez Tim Lawrence Discopatrick Chris Huizenga (Vintage Interview)
Eddy de Clercq Discopatrick Aiden d’ Araujo Ray “Pinky” Velazquez Skeme Richards Ray Caviano
Marlon McClain Leonard Abrams Laura Sell (Duke University Press) Cas Bosland Leroy Burgess Ray Caviano Stuart Baker
© Discopatrick 2016
4 PLEASURE FOR YOUR PLEASURE by Bobby Smith
19 HOUSE HUNTING PRESENTS....HOUSE HISTORY CHAPTER #2 – PROTO CHICAGO by Aiden d’ Araujo
35 LEROY BURGESS interview by Jason Armitage (Dr. J.)
43 RAY “PINKY” VELAZQUEZ Interview by Discopatrck
7 THE STORY OF SOUTH AFRICAN DISCO & BOOGIE PART 2 by Eddy De Clerq
29 THE HISTORY OF THE MIXTAPE by Skeme Richards
39 THE PLANET ROCK GROOVE by Tim Lawrence
49 VINTAGE INTERVIEW with Ray Caviano
PLEASURE FOR YOUR PLEASURE interview with Marlon McClain conducted by Bobby Smith In 1970s Portland, a band of teenagers set out to develop a sophisticated take on the fusion sound. With moral support from the community and a rock solid practice routine, Pleasure gained the endorsement of luminaries such as Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool & The Gang. Through the mentorship of Wayne Henderson, a deal with Fantasy Records soon followed. Across six LPs in nearly as many years, the group’s influence is evident in samples from artists such as Daft Punk, Janet Jackson and Sugarhill Gang. In conversation with bandleader Marlon McClain, we explore the band’s come up, accolades and creative process.
Let’s take it from the top. You grew up in Portland, right? Marlon McClain: Yeah, Portland was a great city to grow up in. It was the kind of place where you felt comfortable moving around. My family was on 10th & Alberta St. I was always listening to the radio and that’s what originally got me into wanting to play guitar - just listening to radio and hearing guitar. I convinced my mother to give me a guitar for Christmas so she bought one at Woolworth’s. I had a Woolworth guitar. Oh, wow. Woolworth was way back when. MM: Exactly. I got the guitar and most everyone in Pleasure lived in that neighborhood: myself, Nathaniel Phillips and Doug Lewis…we were all friends from Highland Elementary [currently Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary]. They got guitars, too, and we would go back and forth to each other’s houses and listen to records. We would listen and try to figure out the guitar parts. That’s how we really learned to play. Which records? MM: There were a few: Jimmy Hendrix, The Meters, Dyke & The Blazers, and definitely James Brown. We also learned
from people in the community. There was a guy named Ural Thomas who encouraged musicians and gave them tips. He always had these jam sessions over at his house off Mississippi Ave. You would go up there and that’s where you really cut your teeth - from being around musicians that were better than you. That’s beautiful. Pleasure also had a pretty strong jazz inclination. Did you study jazz? MM: We found jazz but that happened much later. In the early days it was mostly hearing what was on the radio. Later we started expanding our consciousness and got more into listening to stuff like Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and Billy Cobham. But we were always in the basement practicing - getting our chops together. Bruce Carter’s parents were so supportive. They would let us practice at his house all the time. We would spend the night over there. His mom would cook us breakfast and we would just go back down to the basement and practice. It was the best environment. And this became your first group, Franchise? MM: Correct. We were a small group with organ, guitar, bass, and drums. We were really into Sly and The Family Stone so we played a lot of their music. It was all about the rhy-
thm of those songs. We played a lot of songs like that. Sly had a Bay area connection, right? I know the Load Stone label where he started was around there. MM:He was based between San Francisco and Oakland. He was actually a DJ turned into a musician. A lot of people would say Sly Stone is the father of combining R&B, funk, and rock. If I was to point to any person that got more musicians thinking outside the box of R&B music back then, it was Sly. He was revolutionary in regards to taking those chances. He’s such an incredible artist inside. And at what point did Franchise join forces with the Soul Masters? MM: Around 1972 we joined the Soul Masters. This was the group that became Pleasure. It was Donald & Michael Hepburn, Sherman Davis, Bruce Smith, Dan Brewster and Dennis Springer. The guys in Soul Masters were a bit older than us and many of them were going to Mt. Hood Community College. Franchise was still in high school. So we began gigging around town doing college gigs at Reed College and spots like that. We’d also get out of town and play throughout the region. We began hooking up on shows with groups like Tower of Power
and Earth, Wind & Fire. That’s how we got to know them. By the late part of ‘73, we changed our name to Pleasure. And around ’74 Pleasure connected with Wayne Henderson who had a major influence on the group. Correct? MM: Yeah, it’s true. In the early days, we had a gig at this place called the Downstairs Nightclub. It was on Russell St. & Union Ave. [currently Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave.]. The Downstairs Lounge was the R&B spot. The club was always booked. Grover Washington Jr., the Whispers, the Ohio Players…these groups would come to town and play the Downstairs Lounge. When they came to town, we’d be playing the night before them. We had a good reputation so they would come and see us. That’s how we became friends with Grover. Before he got big, he would come to town and play a place like that. He would always talk about us saying, “You just wouldn’t believe these guys in Portland.” And so he ran into Wayne Henderson and told Wayne about us. Wayne got in contact with our manager, Jimmy Robinson. From there he said, “I want to work with you guys. I want to produce you. I want to get you deals.” So, we started working with him. And around this time was when his group,
the Jazz Crusaders, were huge. They were touring Europe with the Rolling Stones. They were the biggest jazz & R&B instrumental group in the country. Period. Wilton Felder, Joe Sample, Wayne and Larry Carlton...they were incredible. We used to forget that Wayne was producing us; we were so into watching them play. They introduced us to people like Bill Withers. We met so many great artists from being around their scene at that time. And so Wayne helped us get our deal with Fantasy Records and released our first record, Dust Yourself Off. The single was called, “Midnight at the Oasis.” We were one of the first groups he had produced. Later he began moving in that direction, producing a lot of people for his company, At Home Productions. He was a great mentor. What was that like? How would you describe his approach as a mentor? MM: He was very hands on. He’s the kind of person who would call you all the time to talk about the music. He’d give you tips on what he thought was a way to approach it but he’d also let you be free to get your ideas out. That was one of his best gifts because you obviously looked up to him as a musician. I mean, here’s a guy who was successful making mainstream instrumental records…
it’s crazy. So, in other words, he encouraged us trying to write better songs and arrangements and got our musicianship to a higher level. It sounds like Wayne really got inside the sound and allowed you all to look at yourselves in the mirror. MM: 100%. He’s also been credited as someone who played a role in the genesis of funk. I’ve heard him say in interview that if you have a jazz background you can make instrumental music appeal to a pop audience and still maintain the integrity of the song.
Like, if you understand what makes people feel a certain way it doesn’t matter what style of music it is. I hear that a lot in Pleasure. You were not exclusively a vocal group; there are ample breaks and changes in the songs. The fusion element really does push the listener. MM: Right. You are totally correct. We were a hybrid band because we love so many different styles. It was important for us being in the basement and getting our stuff together. We could experiment and try all these different things that musicians have in their heads…and just work it out. Later, on the Joyous LP we really connected
to a lot of people on the East Coast. We were getting radio play and touring the US with acts like Cameo, Kool & The Gang and Earth, Wind & Fire. I remember when we played a show in Philadelphia at the Tower Theater.
the Northwest, even if we weren’t opening up their show, they’d call us and say, “Hey come out and hang with us.” And with Kool & the Gang…same thing. They were nice guys that wanted to see you make it.
We were shocked because there were so many fans of our music there to see us. That’s when we really knew we were on the right path.
That’s incredible. At what point did you become the bandleader of Pleasure? I imagine there were a set of responsibilities that came along with that role.
And just to put this in context, you were about 21-22 years old?
MM: It came together when we got signed to Fantasy. But we were a democratic band. We’d have meetings, make decisions, and then whatever those decisions were I would go out and execute them. I was the guy who would talk to the label or to Wayne.
MM: Yeah. We got a lot of encouragement from more established bands like Earth, Wind & Fire. Whenever they would come to
ed the bass. Once those parts were there, we would take that demo and turn it into a Pleasure song. Speaking of the fourth and fifth record, I’ve heard you say that Future Now is really where things took off for the group. What about that record in particular defined the Pleasure sound? MM: By then we were so focused as a group. We decided we were going to produce the record ourselves and had really definite ideas of what we thought it should sound like. We were into having a horn sound but having the rhythm be even more aggressive adding a certain amount of rock flavor to it. It wasn’t an overly exaggerated approach but there was more of a rock feel. And you feel the groove of it, too. You feel the soul of it. I would say it’s definitely one of Pleasure’s best records.
But you also had a big role in songwriting. MM: Yeah. I was one of the chief song writers along with Donald Hepburn, Michael Hepburn, Dan Brewster, Bruce Smith and Nate Phillips. When writing a song for Pleasure, how would it start? MM: I always started with some type of groove because I am a real groove-based guitarist. I’d come up with a rhythm idea and would usually play it for Michael to see what he thought. If he liked it then I would start expanding on it. After we got to our fourth and fifth record we had a really good idea what we thought Pleasure was all about. Everyone in the band would bring their part to the table. For example, Bruce Carter had a certain style of playing without a doubt. So him hearing the demo and then adding his part to it made it come alive even more. Right…all those polyrhythms in there. MM: It was just how he approached playing it. And same with Nate in how he play-
And there’s a great minimalism in those arrangements, too. On a track like “Glide” the instrumentation is very present but there’s this groove repetition that hooks the listener, especially someone on the dance floor that needs that kind of thing to happen. It’s as if you’ve stripped down the jazz to its bare essence and given the people this thing they didn’t know they like. MM: Yeah (laughs). Bands would tell us they’d use “Glide” as a way to see if a bass player could play. Many people tell me that to this day. If the bass player couldn’t play that song they couldn’t be in the band. It’s like the ultimate compliment. What were your first forays in producing outside of Pleasure? MM:Well, Wayne gave me the bug of wanting to learn how to produce. He was so engaging and great to be around. Early on I would go to the sessions to just hang out and watch. I always had producing in the back of my head. It was a natural progression for me.
After Future Now, I left Pleasure. I’d always been trying to produce. I was working with Jeff Lorber and a group called Shock. Around that time I started a company for
production and songwriting called Mac Man Music with David Leiken of Double Tee Concerts. That’s become my main focus to this day. As I understand it, you leaving Pleasure was an amicable thing but, that being the band you grew up in, I imagine it may have been hard to leave. MM: To me it was natural. As a musician, you always have a lot of stuff in your head, right? It’s natural for you to say, “Okay. I am doing this and it’s great but it might be cool if I do this over here, too.” It’s part of your growth. The challenge of being artistic is that you want to always say to yourself that you are growing. And it’s easy to become complacent when everything is going alright. I have always been the kind of person that, to this day, the thing I get up in the morning and love most is discovering music. I love music. Period. It has nothing to do with me playing it or saying I wrote it. It isn’t that. I love being around the process of music. Right…just being in the room. MM:Exactly. I can be a part of it as a fan. I can be a part of it as a producer, associate producer, executive producer or nothing at all. I am just being a part of it. Over the last few months, for example, I have been working with Al McKay, former guitarist from Earth, Wind & Fire. I have literally enjoyed just being around him and hearing stories of how he got started learning the guitar. I’m just totally engulfed in it. So to me that’s the part of being a fan of music - just loving everything about it. Part of my journey has been that I have made different changes in my career based on that love. It was a natural thing to go the way it did with Pleasure. We reached a certain place in our career and for me it was just time to do something different - to experience music in a different way. Would you say that connection with process and being around music started at home? I imagine your parents must be musical. MM: Not musical. They just loved listening to records. I am really the only musician in the
family but that’s part of what’s great about it. My mother especially supported my decision to get into the music business – from the time I asked her for a guitar and throughout my success. She’s been one of my biggest supporters. The same goes for the community in Portland. In Pleasure, we were connected as brothers from the community. We came up out of the community and went national but it was really that community’s spirit which led us to where we went. And even after you had toured the country with all these national and international acts I take it you would still come back and play for the community in Portland? MM: Oh yeah. At the height of the band’s career we came back and sold out Portland and Seattle. It was incredible. Tell me about your experience with Dazz Band. MM: I joined Dazz Band in ’85 and played with them all the way until last year. I am actually the longest Dazz Band member.
guitarist. Would you like to be in the band?” I said, “Yeah, I like that band.” So then he had me call Bobby Harris, the leader of the band. Bobby said, “Marlon, I know who you are. I saw you a year ago playing with Jeff Lorber. If you want the gig, you can be in the band.” So literally after that one phone call I moved to Cleveland and a week later I was in the band. By this time they already had two buses, a huge complex in Cleveland, and were touring all around the country. And at this point, it’s almost like you’ve had a lifetime’s worth of musical experience… you’re only 30 years old. MM: Yeah. (laughs) We did a lot of shows, a record on Motown, and then went over to Geffen Records. We had a great time. There were a lot of great guys in the group. Around the time you joined they must have been riding high off of the single, “Let It Whip.” MM: Yeah. I was a friend of their producer, Reggie Andrews. He called me one day and said, “Marlon, Dazz Band is looking for a
And while playing with them you were also songwriting and producing for numerous acts: En Vogue, Kenny G, George Benson, Tower of Power and even Nu Shooz. MM: What was crazy about that was when we were recording the Motown record we were at this studio in L.A. and I was in one room with Dazz Band and I had Nu Shooz over in the other room cutting vocals for “Point of No Return.” I was going back and forth! (laughs) Did you ever think like, “Alright, now we’re going to do a supergroup track with both bands and just see what happens?” MM: I didn’t. That would have been cool but I didn’t even think of it. That Nu Shooz LP, Poolside, is phenomenal. You helped produce parts of it. What was that like? MM: I worked on a few songs and they worked with Jeff Lorber on a few songs. I also helped produce the original demo for “I Can’t Wait” that Warner Brothers rejected. This was before they went over to Atlantic. The best part of the story was when the guy over in Holland remixed it and made it a big hit.
Michael Paran. I do work with Michael Cooper, Felton Pilate and Con Funk Shun. We put together their recent album, More Than Love. And I’m so excited to be working now with Al McKay. He and I became friends in the early days of the Soul Masters, the band before Pleasure. He almost produced one of Pleasure’s records but it just didn’t work out. He is such an incredible talent. I can’t say enough. If you could be remembered for all the work you’ve put in over the past 40+ years, what would you like that to look like?
Right. I love that whole story. That said, you did ultimately put together a supergroup with United We Funk in the late 90s. It was you, members of Con Funk Shun, Dazz Band, Roger Troutman, Rick James, S.O.S. Band, Charlie Wilson from the GAP Band… just an incredible lineup. Talk about that experience and how people responded to it.
MM: Just a lover of music. That really is my spirit. Whether it’s being supportive of my son and his group, Made in L.A., or being supportive of my niece, Whitney McClain, and her music. Part of my spirit is being a fan of music. So when I hear their music or music in the community I want to get involved and try to help. I grew up in a community, so that’s how I look at it. I’ll always be there to help.
MM: Personally, it was one of the highlights in my career. I got a chance to work with all these artists I admired. We had fun. I got to know these guys. It was the first time I had worked with Charlie Wilson from Gap Band. We toured the country with 30-40 dates and really tore it up.
Bobby Smith is a journalist and dj based in Portland, Oregon. His blog-turned-radio show, Night School, features modern soul, boogie, and outsider funk selections from across the globe. He has contributed to Wax Poetics and XRAY FM. More information may be found at www.nightschool.us
It’s also worth mentioning that this group you helped create was the swan song for two of the biggest artists of our generation; these were the final recordings and performances that Rick James and Roger Troutman ever did. MM: Yeah. It was a trip because obviously we didn’t know that at the time. But the record we made was their last which makes it even more special. Now I know you are constantly seeking out new music and developing talent. You’ve been managing artists including Charlie Wilson, Con Funk Shun as well as Al McKay formerly of Earth, Wind & Fire. MM: It’s kind of natural. I mean, I don’t manage Charlie Wilson. I’m with the management company that manages Charlie, P Music Group, founded by my buddy
THE STORY OF SOUTH AFRICAN DISCO & BOOGIE PART 2 by
EDDY DE CLERQ
SOUL GEMS, BOOGIE BOMBS, DISCO DYNAMITE & ULTRA-RARE HOLYGRAILS ! In the previous part 1 of the Story of South African Disco & Boogie I focused on the early days of Soul, Bump music and some of the most prolific artists in those genres. The story continues with the logical progression of Soul & Bump music into early Boogie & Disco …here is part 2
BOOGIE WONDERLAND In the first South African disco movie Botsotso (1979), the recurring plot is a fairy tale similar to the story of Cinderella. The hero is a dustman who wants to go to the ball, but like Cinderella, he does not have the approriate clothes. Miraculously, he gets the clothes, wins the princess and the respect of his peers. By the end of the film his brother is no longer ashamed of him, and in the followup Botsotso 2 (1983), leading man Luki starts as a cook, but ends up owning the disco. The suggestion is that class mobility can be effected by changing one’s clothes and learning to dance. Of course that idea is a wellknown theme that was glorified in the classic disco movie ‘Saturday Night Fever’, starring John Travolta as Tony Manero, a troubled youth from Brooklyn who found glory on the dance floor.
Soon the success of disco music was spreading over South Africa as wildfire. Many youth from the townships were trekking to the big cities to find fame and glory under the mirror ball. Simultaneously eager producers from local record companies, always keen on easy sales, flocked to the dancefloors to watch the action. Some great talent escaped the poverty and grim life of the townships and made it big. But most of these young hopefuls ended up as one-hit wonders or simply took the bus back to their
homelands on a one-way ticket. One of the biggest names to dominate the booming disco scene of the 1970s was Harari, even being invited to perform in the US with
jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela in 1978. During this tour, the band’s leader Selby Ntuli died, leaving Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse as the new leader. This eclectic ensemble was impossible to categorise; mixing funk and disco with jazz, while also using traditional African instruments to create a completely unique sound that many tried, but failed to imitate. They were the ultimate party band, yet boasted some of the best musicians around at the time, such as Alec ‘Om’ Khaoli and Lionel Petersen. The single ‘Party’ from the album ‘Heatwave’ (Gallo 1980) even entered the American Disco Charts giving the group worldwide exposure and making a superstar of Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse. Harari will forever hold legendary status, even after their split in 1982. Another star of that same era is Blondie Chaplin, a former member of Durban’s soul & rock band The Flames who made it quite big on his own, while scoring his biggest hits with Pappa Makhene. A SELECT DISCOGRAPHY ON 45 RPM • Blondie And Pappa–Don’t Burn Your Bridges/Boogie On Up Bullet–B150 (1978) • Blondie And Pappa-I Can’t Get Along Without You/I’m Here, You’re There–CCP Records–CCP1 (1980) • Blondie And Pappa-Going Home To My Mama /I Like It–CCP Records–CCP7 (1980) • Blondie And Pappa-Never Gonna Let You Go/Cape To Nassau–CCP Records–CCP17 (1981) • Spankk featuring Blondie–The Air That I Breathe (Love Of My Life)/Hallelujah (Praise His Name) -Family–FLY 507 (1983) • Blondie–Communicate/Sugar I Like It Family–FLY 517 (1984) • Blondie–Overtime/D Good Day-Family– FLY 528 (1985)
TEEN IDOLS & THE FOUNDATION OF ZOMBA/JIVE RECORDS 22
Another dance success story in the mid 70s came from Cape Town with The Rockets, a band and dance group fronted by singer Ronnie Joyce who would later go solo to become South Africa’s youngest child star at 3. He was discovered by the popular soul crooner Richard Jon Smith, who introduced his protegee to producer Cliver Calder . This ex-South African correspondent for Billboard magazine would relocate to the UK in 1974 where he would form Zomba Records with his partner Ralph Simon. Ronnie Joyce’s biggest inspiration of course was young Michael Jackson, whom he resembled with his afro hairdo and funky dance moves. The band had a number of hits like ‘Surrender’, ‘Situations’, ‘Ooh La La’ and ‘Gimme A Break (Dance)’. Ronnie
FROM SOUL TO DISCO Caiphus Semenya grew up in the Alexandra township where at a young age he attended church every sunday where he learned to sing the spiritual songs. By 1956 Caiphus was leading a vocal group The Katzenjammer Kids. At a performance he met a young trumpeter named Hugh Masekela. He hardly knew then that he would write many songs and work with Masekela on albums like the ‘Union of South Africa’ and ‘Home Is Where The Music Is’in Joyce embarked on a solo career and released hits like ‘Working On A Good Thing’ and ‘What Went Wrong With Us?’. The young singer teamed up on TV shows and radio programs with another child star; Jonathan Butler. Best known nowadays as a respected and well known jazz artist in the Cape Jazz genre Jonathan Butler started his career as a teen idol in the same vein as Justin Bieber. The album ‘Spotlight on Jonathan Butler’ contains a selection of uptempo soul & boogie tunes and some classic soul ballads, produced by Peter Vee for Clive Calder Productions.
the future. In 1959 he also played for the legendary musical King Kong where he met his wife to be Letta Mbulu with whom he would form a longtime partnership in music. His exile to the US led to a collaboration with ace producer Quincy Jones for whom he contributed to the film ‘Roots’. When Quincy recorded his album ‘Back On The Block’, Semenya wrote some tracks and also contributed to the original music score for the Steven Spielberg directed film ‘The Colour Purple’ which was nominated for the 1985 Oscar Awards. Demand for South African music in the US was so strong in 1982 that the
walking, electric boogie, spider and glide in South Africa where local acts became known nationwide. The Ghetto Slickers, a high energy breakdance trio from the house of popular singer, dancer, actor and disc jockey Cocky ‘Two Bull’ Tlhotlhalemajoe became the most popular dance act. The Black Consciousness movement of the seventies promoted locally by activists like Steve Bantu Biko as well as African American artists like James Brown in the US, saw individuals and organisations contribute towards building the self-esteem of the oppressed masses of South Africa. ‘Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud’ became the slogan for black South Africa in the days of Apartheid. In 1985 the Black Glamour Exhibition in Johannesburg showcased progressive young blacks and their culture. Amongst the musicians who participated in this massive show of self-pride were Ebony, Stimela, Street Kids, Pappa & Blondie a.o.
THE BIG BANG
label Moonshine from Johannesburg signed distribution deals in the US to distribute albums by Letta Mbulu, Hugh Masekela and Caiphus Semenya whose debut album ‘Listen To The Wind’ was one of South Africa’s top selling releases.
BREAK DANCE PARTY Breakdancing, another street craze that started in the New York slums of Bronx and Harlem in the US took the South African youth by storm in 1984, especially in the urban areas. Hot US albums by Break Machine ‘Break Dance Party’, produced by Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo, fueled the popularity of dance styles like the head spin, moon-
But nobody was prepared for the tsunami that in 1986 would sweep the country when came Paul Simon released his ‘Graceland’ album. The release of this worldwide hit record created an enormous international interest in South African musicians and their music. Simon faced controversy for seemingly breaking the cultural boycott imposed by the rest of the world against South Africa because of its policy of apartheid. In addition, some black critics viewed Graceland as an exploitive appropriation of their culture. Back in 1972, after breaking up his career with Simon & Garfunkel, he had already succesfully engaged Jamaican artists to bring the reggae effect into his music. In 1985 Simon hired South African musicians like Ray Phiri, Isaac Mtshali, Bakithi Khumalo and Ladysmith Black Mambazo for the recording of the ‘Graceland’ album in New York. The rest is history. Earlier in 1985 Stevie Wonder demonstrated outside the South African Embassy in Washington and released an album ‘In
Square Circle’ that same year. On a protest track ‘It’s Wrong (Apartheid) exiled South African musicians Tshepo Mokone, Thandeka Ngono, Linda Tshabalala and Fana Kekana were featured as backing vocalists. In 1987 Michael Jackson asked Letta Mbulu for the song “Liberian Girl” that was part of his groundbreaking album ‘Bad’. Local record companies responded to this with a non-stop flow of dance records that initially broke first on the radio, followed by success on dancefloors. The radio broadcast industry, which had earlier seen the end of the SABC’s monopoly with the launch of Radio SR in 1977 with black deejays broadcasting in English, was more diversified then most radio stations. When Radio SR introduced South Africans to smooth talking jocks like Cocky ‘Two Bull’ Tlhotlhalemajoe, Meshack Mapetla or Danisile Lavisa, many young black boys and girls started gearing themselves to a wider and freer broadcasting industry. The radio landscape would never be the same. Suddenly there was unlimited airtime –although still censored by the governmentand a healthy market for locally produced black dance music that came from within the community itself, not being imported from US or UK. Labels like On Records, formed by Ronnie Robot, Sound of Soweto, CCP and Flash dominated the local markets. Here is a personal and select discography of my favourite South African SOUL GEMS, BOOGIE BOMBS, DISCO DYNAMITE and ULTRA-RARE HOLYGRAILS !!! Not many of these releases ever made it further then the borders of South Africa, but they are not forgotten! Just like Cinderella, these records are waiting to be rediscovered after a period of obscurity and neglect. By no means do I claim that this list is complete….still adding! • Letta Mbulu-I’ll Never Be The Same LP -Tamla Motown–TMC 5242 (1973) –rare LP by a South African legend, one of the holy grails • Little Ronnie Joyce–Give A Little Love/ Working On A Good Thing–Bullet Records (B14) (1974) • Jonathan Butler-’Spotlight on Jonathan Butler’-MFP 54748 (1975) • Lionel Petersen–I’ll Take You Where The Music’s Playing-Plum Records (PLC 5019) (1975) • Rene Richie and her Cosmic Band –Love
In Space-Gallo Records ML 4181 (1978) –Italo Disco from South Africa • Qondile Nxumalo –Mad World/Uthando Olungaka -Soul Brother (PB 75) 1978 • Malcolm Soul–Mr. Cool/I’m Gonna Give In CTV Disco-CTS 715 (year of release unknown) • Botsotso–original soundtrack–Buffalo Records (BFL 1005) (1979) • Thandeka Ngono –s/t –Atlantic (ATC 8004) (1979) • Alec ‘Om’ Khaoli–Magic Touch/Be My Wife Gallo Records –PD2007 (1981) • Masike “Funky” Mohapi-Hamba Sibali Wami (pts 1 & 2) –Raintree Records (RAB 311) (1982) • Caiphus Semenya–Listen To The Wind Moonshine 2002 (1982) • Dudu Mazibuku & The Paper Dolls –Disco Beat/Botsoso Girl-Zasha Records (AAB3) (1983) • Piliso–Thumela–Peach River Records (BBSLP 02) (1983) • Brenda & The Big Dudes– Weekend Special Family Records – FLY(V) 4 (1983) • Brenda & The Big Dudes–Let’s Stick Together Family Records –FLY(V) 8 (1984) • Street Kids –Try Me (Game Nr. 2) Right Track PRO RTS 35 (1984) • Ebony-I Need Somebody/You Are The One–Right Track Records (RTS 619) (1985) • Tata–It’s A Mess/Afro Breakdance-Hot Stuff (HST (C) 1507 (1985) • Eric D-Slow Down/Nothing For Nothing -Sounds of Soweto (SOS 2) (1988) • Travolta–Leb 3 (Amarovers)Bubblee Records (Buble 5) (1988) Source; Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African ...by Max Mojapelo See also my blog Soul Safari for more info and mp3’s https://soulsafari.wordpress.com/ If you would like to contact Eddy, his e-mail adress is: firstname.lastname@example.org Eddy is selling part of his collection on Discogs, seller ID: 453378. He will also be selling records on the Utrecht record fair on 16 & 17 April 2016, stall 388 (hall 12). At this fair, he will be bringing a fine selection of rare South African Disco and boogie for sale, so you should definitely check it out if you are in Utrecht.
Z Records presents
Under The Influence Vol.5 compiled by Sean P Crystal Clear - (Caught Between) A Rock And A Hard Place Joanne Ellis - Bye Baby King David - Trinidad Rock Don & Oli – Superman (Sean P Edit) BBRA - Do What Make You Feel Good George & Glen Miller - Easing HE3 Project - Thesis On Love Fruitcake - We Are Children Plunky and Oneness of Ju Ju - Electri Juju Nation/Keep It Moving Ed Watson And The Brass Circle - Roforfo Fight Jimmy Spencer – Summertime Les Femmes - Yes, You Thrill Me Nostromo - Around The World In 80 Seconds(Sean P Edit) The Coalition - Where Do We Go From Here Bobby Cash Redd - Skate-Party People (Sean P Edit) Medina & Mensah - Kowree Sambazzi Natural Hi - Fame (Hi Re-Mix) Yeow - Give My Heart Away The Mark IV - If You Can’t Tell Me Something Good J.P. Robinson - Y’Shua Sandy Mercer - Give Me Your Love The Love Bite - What Goes Up World Quake Band - On The One The Stars – (We Are The) Stars William C. Brown III - Come On And Go With Me Starship Gilbey - Take A Train Darlene Davis - Making It (Sean P Edit)
Z Records continues its commitment to unearthing the obscure and long forgotten tracks from the last 40 years through the ever-popular Under The Influence series. Following on from Red Greg, Paul Phillips, James Glass and Nick The Record it’s now the turn of another of the worlds most respected record collectors to put together their selection. This time it’s long time Z Records album co-compiler Sean P. Alongside Joey Negro, Sean P has been responsible for some killer selections for their Soul of Disco and Supafunkanova series, all of which feature tracks from Sean’s vast record collection. He has been collecting records since his early years, producing and releasing his own edits way before they became the norm and is widely recognized as one of the foremost fountains of musical knowledge so to say he is a stalwart of the underground music scene is well deserved. For his UTI album he goes even deeper and much more across the board with tracks taking in afro, soul, funk, disco, Brit Funk, dub and jazz with many of the tracks costing hundreds if you were able to find the originals. Sean has also edited some of the tracks exclusively for this album adding yet more value to an already fully packed double CD. Included in the booklet are extensive track notes from Sean highlighting what he knows about these records and, where they are super-rare and obscure, what he doesn’t. As always with ZR compilations a lot of time and effort has been spent on creating these masters from the original vinyl, cleaning them up, removing all the clicks and pops resulting in the cleanest sounding copy possible.
DISCO, SOUL, FUNK, JAZZ, BOOGIE, GOSPEL, ELECTRO, HIP HOP & OLD SCHOOL DISCO RAP, AFRO, LATIN, BRAZIL, BREAKS & SAMPLES, EIGHTIES HOUSE CLASSICS. ALL VINYL 12 INCH, LP’S & 7 INCH MAIL-ORDER RARE RECORDS SINCE 1991, ONLINE SINCE 2001 USED & UNUSED ORIGINAL ISSUES.WE DON’T SELL ANY MODERN REISSUES OR BOOTLEGS.
HOUSE HUNTING PRESENTS… HOUSE HISTORY by
AIDEN D’ ARAUJO
CHAPTER #2 – PROTO CHICAGO
With his ‘House Hunting’ column on the Ransom Note, diggin’ deviant and hardcore-house enthusiast Aiden d’Araujo chronicles his crate crusades to London and beyond waxing lyrical about long lost house records… Rack-raiding religiously results in him scoring serious house hauls whether through a wax wheel’n’deal, a hot house call or the prerequisite pilgrimage to a record shop. A love letter to the holy house trinity of Chicago, New York and New Jersey, his diggin’ dissertations share the seldom seen slices and bargain bin belters he’s unearthed with every piece proving a history in house…
Now you can’t talk about house without mentioning Jesse Saunders who was the catalyst in Chicago being the home that house built. Coming from a musical household in which he learnt to play the guitar, bass, flute, trumpet and drums (plus was part of the Chicago Children’s Choir for several years) naturally this child prodigy gravitated towards having a career in music. In ’77 his step brother Wayne Williams (who founded the now massive Chicago event ‘The Chosen Few Picnic Weekend’ and released records under his Doctor Derilict alias) managed to hustle a set at the 2000-strong Mendel High School Saturday event – his formative years spent at Frankie’s sanctuary The Warehouse plus years practising DJing paying dividends when his set went down a storm. He secured further gigs through this and wanting to raise the bar got Jesse on board as he had a decent disco selection and could surprise the crowd with his tape edits which he was adept in rearranging into new edits. They decided to call their DJ tag-team ‘The Chosen Few Disco Corp.’ and though only teenagers
found success with their selection and dexterity behind the decks. In the following years he had secured a successful residency at Sauer’s plus had a couple of short stints in LA where he attended university and hooked up with DJ deity Ron Hardy who was in town for a while. Though he was looking to lay his roots in LA long-term, when on a visit to Chicago he was presented with an opportunity to open a new club with Craig Thompson who he promoted his Sauer’s night with. So come the Spring of ’82 they launched their new venture ‘The Playground’ and on the opening night hosted Frankie Knuckles and Farley “Jackmaster” Funk along with Jesse himself. The club was an overnight success and evolved into another Chicago institution along with The Warehouse and Music Box. During his residency at The Playground, Jesse was approached by Vince Lawrence who he knew from his time at Sauer’s. He handed Jesse a record he produced and pressed himself on his Dad’s Mitchbal Records imprint – the new wave styling of ‘(I Like To Do It In) Fast Cars’ – which he wanted Jesse to break for him. This inspired Jesse to produce his own compositions and in January ’83 influenced by the records he dropped at that Playground composed a melody and bassline com-
plete with lyrics. The resulting arrangement was ‘Fantasy’ which was in essence all about following your dreams. To finalise the production Jesse sought advice from Vince as he released a record before and when Vince demonstrated the capabilities of a Moog naturally Jesse had to cop one but he got the more advanced Korg Poly 61 synthesizer – which as opposed to the Moog which could only play one chord at the time the Korg was more dynamic being able to play multiple chords and simulate more sounds. Vince was feelin’ the production so much he wanted to release it on his Dad’s Mitchbal label. His Dad agreed but proposed getting Vince’s band Z Factor involved. So in the summer of ’83 in Vince’s garage deep in South Side Chicago, Jesse, Vince and Z Factor rehearsed and recorded an album’s worth of material with songs like ‘Thorns’ and ‘I’m The DJ’ – along with a reinterpretation of ‘Fantasy’ in which Vince’s Dad recruited rock vocalist Screamin’ Rachel. According to Jesse, ‘Fantasy’ is the first house single ever recorded and would have been the first house record released had it been pressed-up quicker – apparently Vince’s Dad procrastinated over releasing them and they didn’t see the light of day until ’84. So it looked like that ‘Fantasy’ would give birth to a new
genre and be the first ‘house’ record to be released but a twist of fate would lead Jesse to release one of the defining records of the era. His residency at The Playground was goin’ strong, with the crowd always knowing when Jesse was at the controls as he’d always drop the track ‘On And On’ by Mach on Remix Records. However, you gotta have heard of this fabled house tale when on one fateful night on approaching the booth to ready his signature record to his shock and dismay his records had been stolen. When hitting the record store to attempt to buy what had been jacked, Jesse had a brainwave that he could recreate the record ‘On And On’. From memory he recorded the bassline and added some drums rhythms that changed up every minute – complete with some added rap and vox from Vince and himself. The 808-induced rhythms evolved into five separate tracks which Jesse utilised in his sets to compliment the songs he played and surprise the crowds. On one occasion when Jesse was visiting legendary vinyl institution Importes Etc. to pick up a fresh batch of wax (he was involved in the shop’s record pool), the head of sales Frank Sells told him that everyone was requesting a specific track he was playing in his sets. Unsure which track he was referring to, Jesse brought in a tape with one of his most-recent recorded set and turns out it was one of his ‘On And On’ rhythm tracks. Frank advised Jesse to get these tracks pressed onto vinyl as he was confident it’d sell well with the volume of requests the shop was receiving. So after gettin’ the prototype mastered as Mitchbal still hadn’t pressed up ‘Fantasy’, Jesse approached Precision Record Labs run by none-other than cult Chicago enigma Larry Sherman of Trax Records fame. Though Larry was more used to pressing Blues seven inches and was dubious about these productions, with the potential demand the record had he agreed to press them up. Vince drew the logo for Jesse’s newly incepted label ‘Jes Say Records’ (the Z Factor logo looks like some of Vince’s handiwork too) with the labels coming in black and white complete with shrink-wrapped white covers. With
his last 800 dollars Jesse got Larry to press up 500 copies with ‘On And On’ on the A-side and all the rhythm tracks on the flip. The record was released in January ’84 and the rest, as they say, is history… In the next chapter we’ll hark back to the house explosion in Chicago, but for now here’s five choice cuts that were proper proto Chicago flow…
HOUSE HUNTING PRIME PROTO - HOUSE HOT PLATES
1. JAMIE PRINCIPLE – ‘YOUR LOVE’ (PERSONA RECORDS) Though this classic Chicago cut wasn’t released until ’86, a primitive demo of Jamie Principle’s ‘Your Love’ had been circulating for a couple of years on tape with Frankie Knuckles being the prime proponent as he was at the controls on the production. Having previously released Jamie’s ‘Waiting On My Angel’, Persona Records signed ‘Your Love’ and got Mark “Hot Rod” Trollan’s of Hot Tracks fame to polish the production. He added the arpeggiating synths that formed the spine of the production complete with THAT bassline scored from the Italo flow of Electra’s Emergency EP ‘Feels Good (Carrots And Beets)’ – forget the later Trax and DJ International releases all about the Persona pressing with the lush electronics and haunting melody complete with Jamie’s yearning vox taking centre stage… 2. KNIGHT ACTION – ‘R-TRAX’ (LET’S DANCE) Knight Action consists of unsung house hero Duane Thamm and his production partner Mike Macharello – who’s probably best know for his remix of Mid-Air’s funk-fuelled boogie bomb ‘Ease Out’ super-rare speculator special! Anyway, it was this Let’s Dance 12” that gave birth to their ‘Knight Action’ alias in ’84 and featured vocalist Sedenia on Italo anthem ‘Single Girl’ which was one of Ronnie’s prime cuts at the Music Box. However, on the B-side they leave the Italo flavour in favour of a primitive, 303-laced rhythm that consists of three raw joints ‘R Trax’, ‘D Rail’ and ‘Single’ (a dub of the lead single on the flip) that all mixed together for some pure Mastermix action though for me all about the fierce ‘R-Trax’. Also worth trackin’ down is the ’85 pressing with the track given the whole A-side proper lethal Let’s Dance lacquer…
3. MACH – ‘ON AND ON’ (REMIX RECORDS) As previously emphasized this was Jesse Saunders’ signature slice and was the catalyst for what is considered the first house record ‘On And On’. The record was an unofficial release with two disco medleys on either side – though the majority of selectors opted for the more obvious ‘Funky Mix’ on the A-side Jesse’s preference was always ‘On And On’ with this B-side bomb a mini-megamix melding ‘Get On The Funk Train’ by Munich Machine, ‘Space Invaders’ by Playback, ‘Funky Town’ by Lipps Inc. complete with the catchy “Toot toot, ah, beep beep” acapella of Donna Summer’s ‘Bad Girls’. Whisper it but I actually prefer this house blueprint to Jesse’s primitive interpretation… 4. MAGNUM FORCE – ‘GET IN THE MIX’ (NOW SOUND RECORDS) A load of these early Chicago joints go for serious £££’s so had to include a cheap cut for the dollar bin deviants. This bargain bin belter is by the band Magnum Force founded by brothers Rick and Rory Sizemore in ’78. Though their early eighties records were prime post-disco platters with legendary Chicago producer Carl Davis at the controls, in ’84 they released some proper proto-house pressure on Louisiana’s Paula Records including ‘Cool Out’ and ‘Tight Jeans’. My choice cut however has to be ‘Get In The Mix’ which was also released on Chicago’s Now Sound Records - House Hunting hint cop it now while it’s still cheap! 5. MASTER PLAN – ‘PUSHIN’ TOO HARD’ (AEMMP RECORDS) This house holy grail been on my wax wantlist for years – always goes for over a ton and probably my best bet of scoring one will be jettin’ over to Chicago… The record was released via Columbia College’s student-run AEMMP Records company as a result of Master Plan winning the Columbia College record label competition. Inspired by The Seeds’ ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’, this joint was typical of the era and was a WBMX weapon with it’s lo-fi approach and Italo influence – all about the instrumental on this speculator special....
THE HISTORY OF THE MIXTAPE by
SKEME RICHARDS (HOT PEAS & BUTTA)
Before the advent of modern day technology and ease of acquiring new music put together by your favorite DJ, the mixtape was a valued item that wasn’t something easy to obtain. Today we have file sharing which makes it so that anyone can have anything with the slightest Internet search, which in turn devalues the product and causes less appreciation. But during the 1970’s, 80’s and early 90’s, the actual format of choice for sharing music was the cassette tape. But what made these tapes even more special was the means of acquiring them. It was always an in the know process especially during the early days of Hip Hop culture.
The earliest mixtapes to circulate were those from live park jams and underground club nights featuring a who’s who of the cities best DJ’s and MC’s. Often times, someone would set up their boombox of choice next to a speaker, insert a cassette tape, press record and capture magic that could only be experienced by those in attendance and other times recorded directly from the sound board. Of course the sound quality would vary and often times would be recorded too loud and distorted but still listenable enough to enjoy. In a city like New York and specifically
the Bronx, these recordings would document the early stages of what would later be known as Hip Hop and unknowingly to the performers would capture the likes of The L Brothers, Grand Master Flash and The Furious 5, Whiz Kid, Cold Crush Bros, The Treacherous 3 and others. Some of the most notable stomping grounds for these recordings to take place were clubs like Harlem World, T-Connection, Ecstacy Garage, Savoy Manor and of course Bronx River. Not everyone could be at every party, which begins the demand for and circulation of these tapes across the city, which wasn’t an easy process. To posess a copy you would have to know the person who originally recorded it or know someone who had a dub of it which often meant obtaining 3rd, 4th or 5th generation copies and with each generation comes less sound quality. Yet people let these tapes rock until the taped popped and you could hear them blasting out of boom boxes all
over the city, in the parks, basketball courts and project windows. The next wave of mixtapes came during the time when Hip Hop DJ’s began having their own radio shows via the A.M. and F.M. dial on underground, pirate or college stations. Early shows like The World’s Famous Supreme Team Show and Afrika
Islam’s Zulu Beats would air on WHBI while DJ’s Red Alert and Chuck Chillout would host their own shows on 98.7 KISS FM while up the dial on 107.5 WBLS, Mr. Magic would present his Rap Attack show. Only a short drive away in Philly, Lady B was instrumental in breaking Hip Hop on the airwaves and frequently had some of the best DJ’s in the city spinning sets on her WHAT A.M. radio show. Next to going out to clubs to hear DJs, these shows were the perfect introduction for many in hearing new records being released as well as classic breaks being rocked. Often times these shows would only aired once a week, at late hours and weren’t repeated so in order to preserve the experience, the listener would record them on to cassette. Tapes were then circulated amongst friends who would then make copies (or not) for other friends. Mixtapes were considered gold and many people weren’t to keen on giving out copies unless another person had something to trade in exchange.
the best MC’s around over instrumentals. But on a deeper level of crate digging, you had those who were pulling from obscure sources and creating a specialized tape that would have DJs, producers and record collectors alike feverishly searching for more than the normal disco breaks and funk records. Diggers like “The King of Diggin” DJ Muro, Philly’s Soulman and Seattle’s Conmen (Mr. Supreme and Jake One) would go out of their way to scour dusty basements and record shops to create mixtape masterpieces that would eventually become prized treasured possessions until this day. When it came to people getting their musical fix, the circulation of the mixtape was an important aspect of the culture as well as a building block to creating legends of the genre all within 90 minutes of an analog format.
The final go around for the true mixtape era was the early to mid-90s when many of the top club DJ’s including Tony Touch, Doo Wop, Ron G and Kid Capri were blessing the city and breaking new records with the addition of freestyles from
One final note of mention, in 1981 the DiscO-Wax label pressed up what has become a highly sought after and collectible title called Live Convention ’81 which basically took those same performances and pressed them to record. A sequel was pressed the following year and simply titled, Live Convention ’82. What’s really interesting
about this series was the addition of a third volume that pre-dates the others and titled Live Convention ’79. This pressing didn’t come in to appear until 2008 when Japanese label P-Vine Records produced it using identical picture sleeves and audio from a show at Jamaica Queens Armory
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LEROY BURGESS Interview by
JASON ARMITAGE (DR. J)
Jason Armitage (Dr.J) is owner of the Roots Forward Records label in Canada. The label, which started in 2011, releases rare and unreleased 80’s and 90’s rap music on vinyl and cassette. The label’s discography includes music from legends Marley Marl, Schoolly D and countless others. You can check out the label and upcoming releases here: www.rootsforward.com. Jason is also an avid collector of funk, disco and house music and has been deejaying actively since 1991. He hosts the “Expansions” radio show - one of Canada’s longest running programs devoted to classic rap and dance music. A huge fan of Leroy Burgess, Jason had the opportunity recently to catch up with the dance music pioneer to talk about his influences, inspirations and longevity in the scene.
JA: Throughout your recording career your musical output has included everything from mellow soul to uptempo disco. Is there a style/tempo that you are most comfortable with? I always tend to follow my roots and up-bringing, when it comes to where I create from. Everything from early blues and spirituals to jazz to pop and all in between. Centrally, my favorites are Classic R&B, Jazz and most forms of dance (house, boogie, disco etc.). JA: As a young kid I remember sitting in my bedroom for hours listening to records on my portable turntable. What is your earliest musical memory? The one that comes most quickly to mind is a piece called “Tubby The Tuba”, composed by Paul Tripp and George Kleinsinger. This song gave me my earliest understanding of how the orchestra interacts in a musical piece and how to combine elements to create one. Beyond that is my memory of my mother’s beautiful contralto voice, filling our home with Classical opera as she sang along with arias from “Madame Butterfly”, “Carmen” and “Handel’s Messiah”.
And my dad’s deeply rooted love for African percussion (like Mongo Santamaria and Olatunji). JA: When constructing music what is your process? Has this process changed over time? Music, being infinite itself, suggests that inspiration can come from anywhere, from music that you hear or remember, or from the sounds which fill our world (nature, the city, people etc.). Whichever element strikes me, I capture as a memory and later look for that which translates it into music. The process is far from simple, but this is the easiest way I can explain it. JA: As an artist what are some of the highlights of your career?
My favorite thing is traveling the world and sharing my music with new audiences. Each opportunity I have to do that. I consider a highlight. JA: How have you managed to sustain such a lengthy career in the music business? Longevity in the music industry relies wholly upon having a ‘timeless’ quality within the music you create. So, I have always endeavored to create music which stands the ‘test-of-time’ and maintains its relevance through the years. The best music created is that which doesn’t age. JA: Any words of advice for upcoming musicians? As technology continues to become more and more a regular part of our lives, I always recommend learning to play an actual instrument, be it piano, guitar or whatever. So your creative juices don’t stop flowing just because the power is out. JA: Who are some of your main musical influences? There are really too many to mention but here’s a short list: In my own family: My mom and dad, my mom’s cousin Thom Bell, my own cousins, Robert Bell, Ronald Bell (Khaliis Bayyan) and Kevin Bell (Amir Bayyan) of Kool & The Gang, Jerry Bell (of the Dazz Band) and Archie Bell (of The Drells). Outside the family: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, John Lennon & Paul McCartney, Donald Fagin & Walter Becker, Chick Corea, John Williams, Henry Mancini, Burt Bacharach, Johnny Mathis, Mahalia Jackson, Donny Hathaway, my mentor Patrick Adams and many, many others. JA: If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be? I still dream of working with Quincy Jones, before he completely retires. In my quest to work with the absolute best ‘Q’ is the real deal! Barring that, I’d love to meet him and shake his hand one day to thank
him for all that he has done for the art of music. JA: Finish this sentence: Today’s musical landscape is.... ... a whole new place, than that from which I began. More than ever, you must rely on the integrity of what you can accomplish on your own as support from larger entities like Major Record Companies all but disappears. Talent and true creativity are much less encouraged over glitz and glamor. And it’s becoming nearly impossible to be successful, without ‘selling-your-soul’ to the ‘powers-thatbe’. However, I am greatly encouraged by those ‘true new voices’, braving it all to be heard and trying, arduously, to restore music to its former glory. I say to all of them... Play on. JA: What do you enjoy doing in your free time? What’s ‘free time’? No.. all jokes aside, I most enjoy spending time with my family & friends doing normal, non-music stuff. JA: What do you find most challenging as an artist? The challenge of re-inventing oneself. As time passes, music evolves (as it should). To remain relevant, you MUST evolve with it leaving behind past successes, in search of future ones. Followed closely by the challenge to ‘follow-yourown-heart’ (as opposed to what might be suggested by forces outside of you). Nobody knows your dreams better than you. You must fight to maintain their integrity so that YOUR vision doesn’t become someone else’s
MEGA RECORD & CD FAIR NOVEMBER 12 & 13 UTRECHT THE NETHERLANDS
The 46th MEGA RECORD & CD FAIR
November 12 & 13, 2016 JAARBEURS UTRECHT
Vinyl is back at the Mega Records & CD Fair, even though some might say it never left the building. Vinyl lovers from all over the world find their way to the greatest record fair in the world, not least on Saturday when the 46th edition coincides again with the Le Guess Who? festival. On Saturday and Sunday November 12 & 13 collectors of vintage gramophone records and freshly pressed vinyl meet in Utrecht, where the Jaarbeurs houses more than 500 stands in 12.500 square metres of floor space dedicated to a great extent to good old and yet super contemporary vinyl records. Special guest at this edition will be author Clinton Heylin (UK). Heylin, well known for several books on Bob Dylan, will autograph his latest book ‘Dylan 66’ - scheduled for October - and his recently published book ‘Anarchy in the Year Zero’. Other events are: a Prince tribute and exhibition curated by knowledgeable Dutch collectors Arno and Marcel Konings. There are record launches and performances by hard-rock band Helloïse, rockabilly duo ‘The Sensational Second Cousins’ and Australian blues-folk duo Kenna and Cox. Meet and greet many musicians from the first wave of Dutch punk bands like Ivy Green and Panic at the launching of the ‘I Don’t Care’ part 2 Dutch punk compilation. Omega Auctions (UK) will auction rare records and memorabilia life at the fair. A free Pop quiz on Sunday and many more to come. For the latest additions/guests/time schedule etcetera see recordplanet.nl. International praise has been loaded upon the vinyl heaven that the Mega Record & CD Fair is. The Sunday Times (UK) spent last April two pages to describe the wonders of the biggest record fair in the world. Music journalist Jon Savage (MOJO, England’s Dreaming) wrote a loving tribute and can be found at the fair on his everlasting search for obscure sixties singles or (no kidding!) Dutch glam rock on vinyl. Web site thequietus.com celebrated the “torrid, slightly narcotic daydream” a tour of this magic music fair can make you experience. For the latest news, stage program, special guests and also about the Le Guess Who? festival surf to www.recordplanet.nl Mega Record and CD Fair autumn 2016 Jaarbeurs Utrecht, Jaarbeursplein 6, Utrecht, the Netherlands Saturday November 12 (9.00 am - 5 pm) Sunday November 13 (10.00 am – 5 pm)
THE PLANET ROCK GROOVE Excerpt from the book Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor 1980-1983 Author: Tim Lawrence Copyright Duke University Press 2016
Tim Lawrence is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London and the author of Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970–1979 and Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973–1992, both also published by Duke University Press. Here is an excerpt of chapter 23 from his new book: Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983: The Planet Rock Groove
Tom Silverman hired an office hand to help him build Tommy Boy and manage Dance Music Report toward the end of 1981. “I interviewed with Tom two or three times,” says Monica Lynch, who got the job. “I didn’t have any formal background in music but Tom provided me with an opportunity. He was going out to Long Island City and Queens to pick up the new Tommy Boy release, which was ‘Jazzy Sensation,’ and he asked me if I wanted to come.” Lynch was confronted with the heavyduty currency of the dance economy: a mini- mountain of fift y- count boxes packed with twelve- inch vinyl. “ These guys brought them out to the curb and I started slinging them into the back of Tom’s hatchback car,” she recounts. “At that point I think Tom thought it could work out. I was bright enough and would work like a mule. The money was so low I had to continue waiting tables at night for quite some time.” The boxes piled higher after Silverman teamed up with Bambaataa to map out an eight- track demo that included sections of Babe Ruth’s “The Mexican,” B.T. Express’s “Do You Like It,” Captain Sky’s “Super Sporm,” Rick James’s “Give It to Me Baby,” and Kraft werk’s “Numbers” and “Trans- Europe Express.” “Me and Tom did the demo together in a studio, upstate New York,” recounts the dj. “We was going through records
to get the concept; we was trying different grooves.” Kraftwerk were the major influence. “I wanted to create the first black electronic group,” adds Bambaataa. “I always was into ‘Trans- Europe Express’ and after Kraftwerk put ‘Numbers’ out I said, ‘I wonder if I can combine them to make something real funky with a hard bass and beat.’ ” Downtown sensibilities also shaped the sound of the track. “I got the idea from playing in a lot of punk rock clubs,” he revealed in another interview published in the East Village Eye, this one conducted by Steven Hager, who got hold of the Bronx dj’s phone number from Fred Brathwaite at the Beyond Words opening. “The punkers were getting off on our kind of music so I decided to make a record that would appeal to the white crowd and still keep the sound that would appeal to the hip hoppers. So I combined the two elements.” Asked to work on the project, Arthur Baker was immediately drawn to the Kraftwerk elements, having considered making a record using “Numbers” and “Trans- Europe Express” himself, he claims. “From the start I was thinking, ‘I want to make it so they can play it at Danceteria and they can play it at the Garage and it will also be a rap record,’ ” comments the producer. “I wanted it to be able to cross all those boundaries.” The producer streamlined the demo by removing the B.T. Express and Rick James elements, after which he tracked down
East Village Eye front cover featuring “Planet Rock,” June 1982. “The gulf between the white and black worlds was still so wide that we could get away with using a cover that had nothing directly to do with Afrika Bambaataa, but was simply a cool- looking image of a young black man that our art director, Glenn Miller, had in his portfolio,” says Leonard Abrams. “In our defense, our time and resources were so limited then that we couldn’t send someone to the South Bronx to take his picture. But I wish we had’ve.” Courtesy of Leonard Abrams.
the equipment he needed to re- create the beats of “Numbers” by searching the ad section in the Village Voice. The “man with drum machine” turned out to be the owner of a Roland tr-808, the successor to the tr-33, tr-55, and tr-77 (which contained presets), and the cr-78 (which was programmable). “Basically, we played him ‘Numbers’ and we said, ‘Get that beat for us,’ ” adds the producer. “Then Bam
played ‘Super Sporm’ and he said, ‘I want that for the break.’ ” A guitarist and synthesizer player who loathed disco, John Robie added synthesizer parts. “I came from an era when artists couldn’t get a record dealunless they or one of their band members had some incredible talent or quality, and disco basically put an end to that,” he notes of his anti- disco position. “You had people playing to metronomes,
every one sounding the same, and lyrics that were nonsensical and generally infantile.” Robie particularly resented the way the 1970s dance sound required great musicians to play below their skill level in order to create a hypnotic trance. “From the point of view of someone who had started out as a die- hard rock musician, it was a death knell,” he continues. “The producer’s job was to make sure everybody played like a robot. It was as if we went from Bob Dylan to ‘Let’s rollerskate!’ ” It got to the point where Robie and his friends would walk away if they went into a restaurant and heard disco playing. “It was everywhere; it was like a virus,” he concludes. “And it all sounded exactly the same.” Robie got to meet Bambaataa after he laid down four Moroder/ Kraftwerkstyle synthesizer pieces in real time, released one of them with Capitol in Belgium, and, following a tip- off , took the others to “this guy who lives in Co-op City in the Bronx.” Bambaataa’s mother was watching Wheel of Fortune when Robie made his visit. “I played the tracks to Bam and he said I should choose ‘Vena Cava,’ ” recalls the instrumentalist, “so I borrowed $1,200 from a friend and went to a small recording studio to make the record.” When the subscriber service Disconet featured the track as its record of the month, Bambaataa called Silverman to say, “I got this keyboard player who is as funky as Kraftwerk — check him out!” The publisher contacted Robie within the hour and arranged for him to meet Baker in Tommy Boy’s tiny Upper East Side office. “Nobody could have seen all these disparate elements coming together,”posits Robie. “The unlikely mix of talents was as much a phenomenon as the record itself. People from totally different backgrounds with completely dissimilar tastes and styles somehow came together to do this. At the time I remember it feeling pretty bizarre.” Baker, Bambaataa, and Robie headed into the studio soon aft er the release of “ Don’t Make Me Wait.” “I was definitely influenced by that, so ‘Planet Rock’ had a drop- down to the bass and then the claps,” notes Baker. “I was a dance producer so I was like, ‘I want it to be dance.’ It had to have drama.” Encouraged
by Baker to break with the habit of playing the synthesizer like a conventional instrument, Robie used a Multimoog to re- create the melodic lines from “TransEurope Express” and “The Mexican” plus orchestra hits, and he employed a Fairlight to generate a quivering orchestral string- line for the break (on the condition he receive a co writer’s credit). Engineer Jay Burnett “contributed greatly to the record” through his inventive use of signal processing, which resulted in the 808 sounding “quite different than it would have in its unprocessed, ‘natural’ state,” maintains the instrumentalist. Later that night Baker played the result to his wife and declared, “We’ve made musical history.” “This was before the rap was on,” adds the producer. “The track was so fucking different.” For the vocals, Bambaataa spoke through an electronic mic because vocoder technology failed to provide the precise robotic effect the production team wanted. Globe, Mr. Biggs, and Pow Wow of the Soul Sonic Force fashioned a new, conversational mode of rapping because the track’s 130- beat- per- minute tempo ran significantly faster than most funk and rap recordings, making the ubiquitous hippety- hop rhyming style difficult to deliver. Baker claims he came up with the idea to introduce the crowd cheering and chanting that accompanies Bambaataa’s opening lines as well as the ensuing “Rock, rock to the planet rock, don’t stop,” which he grabbed from the “Rock, rock, to the disco rock/Give it all you got” intro of “Body Music” by the Strikers, although Bambaataa went on to tell Hager that those lines came about because the studio gathering started talking about every planet having its own way of rocking. Burnett suggested the rappers shout out the places where the planetary party was about to unfold, just like James Brown would call out to audience members from different cities while onstage. In the final contribution, David Azarch and the band members of Animal Luxury recorded the “Rock it don’t stop it” line when Bambaataa hauled them in from the studio’s waiting room. “Bam comes out, we recognize each other, exchange high- fives and handshakes, and
he says, ‘I need more voices — you just have to shout ‘Planet Rock,’ ” recounts the Peppermint Lounge dj. “We all just casually got up, went in, and did it in two or three takes. That was the beginning and end of my career as a backup vocalist.” The result heralded the breakthrough of a new form of synthetic funk. “I took the techno- pop sound of the Yellow Magic Orchestra and Kraftwerk and Gary Numan, and I flipped it to the funk sound of James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, and George Parliament- Funkadelic Clinton,” explains Bambaataa. “Arthur Baker and John Robie put in sounds and noises. They really took it there. It was the birth of the electro- funk sound.” Concerned with complexity and virtuosity, Robie was left unmoved. “Coming from a rock background and being a ‘legit songwriter,’ I thought ‘Planet Rock’ was silly,” he reasons. “I was playing one- note lines and creating sound effects on a monophonic synthesizer, there was a repetitive drum machine sequence, and people were spouting stuff about saving the universe. Honestly, to me it was an embarrassment.” But Baker had no reservations when he took acetates to the idrc record pool as well as a Brooklyn record store called the Music Factory. “At the pool it was one of those ‘What the fuck is this?’ records,” he remembers. “Then a guy at the record store offered me a hundred dollars for the acetate.” Released under the artist name of Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force in the spring, the record tore through the city as its first print run of fifty thousand sold out in a week. ‘Planet Rock’ was the one record that blew everything open,” recalls François Kevorkian. “It was just this wild animal, a cyborg let loose. It was just the most astounding, bass- drum- heavy, in your face, mother- fucking deadly record we’d ever heard. It was a phenomenon— a tidal wave.” In June Steven Hager referred to the twelve- inch as the“monster dance hit of the spring” before Malcolm McLaren lauded it during his keynote address at the third New Music Seminar in July.3 “ ‘Planet Rock’ is the most rootsy folk music around, the only music that’s coming out of New York City which [is] directly related to that guy in the streets with his ghetto blaster,” declared the impresario. “The record is like an
adventure story; it’s like that guy walking down the street. And, if Elvis Presley was that in the ’50s, then Afrika Bambaataa is that for the ’80s. Steve Knutson, a musician, actor, and friend of Lynch’s, remembers hearing “Planet Rock” whenever he walked down the street. “It was the day of boom boxes and you’d hear it on wbls,” he reminisces. “It was like there was a big sound system right over the city.” When the track played repeatedly on his car radio, Robie “definitely got it at that point,” while Bambaataa remembers being amazed when he “started seeing all different types getting into the ‘Planet Rock’ groove. Sales eventually totaled 650,000 to 700,000 copies — or a solid 13,000 to 14,000 boxes for Silverman and Lynch
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Ray “Pinky” Velazquez Interview by
Ray “Pinky” Velazquez was actually born Ramon Joseph Velazquez just off Route 22 in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Incidently, he later suggested and assisted Vanguard record producer Gordon Bahary, a Stevie Wonder disciple and protégé, in naming the Vanguard group “Twilight 22 “in memory of this homeland route .Not all inclusive, but the following will give you an a keener insight into Ray’s club spinner days and his current association with the Legends of Vinyl .
When did you discover disco music and how old were you? I believe I was about 18 or 19 years old just carrying over from the 60s great surge of song and melodies, which I feel is a very rich part of our music heritage in this country-The Beatles, The Stones, James Brown, Diana Ross and Motown. As far as discovering disco is concerned, I happened to walk into a house party in the soundview area of the Bronx at a catholic school named “blessed sacrament”. There were a couple of djs spinning some loud thumping music with 2 turntables and a microphone. People were dancing off the walls. All of the excitement was getting my undivided attention. It was like love at first sight. It definitely made an impression on me. I wanted to know more about this music, where it came from, the dj equipment, how to obtain it, the cost of the equipment and i wanted to speak to the dj about all of it.
What made you want to become a DJ? Was it something you had wanted to do for a long time, or did it just “happen”? The anwser takes me back to the previous question, Pat: the dj happened to be the brother of my high school buddy Ruben Quinones who invited me to the party. His brother Noel Quinones was one of the 2 djs providing the entertainment. The 3 of us attended Cardinal Hayes high school in the Bronx. Noel was a couple of years older than Ruben and myself. Where did you buy your records, and were you member of a DJ record pool? That is a loaded question. As long as i was a club spinner and throughout my Billboard magazine and Record World Magazine reporting days and even throughout my tenure with Vanguard records i have always sought after unique records for my dance audience by buying records even though i did not have to because of my association with record companies and record pools. There was always a need to “take the extra mile” to find something that no one had or at least to have it before any other dj would. That was my mindset. I bought records at Stans Record shop in the Bronx, Downstairs Records in NYC (from Benji), Disco Discs in Queens, Vinyl Mania (from Charlie Grapone) NYC, 99 Records (from Ed Bahlman) in NYC. Can you share some memories about the record pool and how it was getting the records each week?
My first association with a record pool was with the very first record pool ever created, “The Record Pool” at 99 Prince st. in NYC headed by David Mancuso who also lived there and entertained his famous “by invitation only” loft parties (incidently David was born in Utica NY, which is where i currently reside). To become a pool member was not easy. David had very strict rules for membership and you needed to provide proof on the club letterhead stationary that you were working full time at a night club. And even then, you had to wait weeks for final approval. Mancuso was not going to put this incredible new relationship with quickly expanding record companies and lose that relationship because his djs were not playing for significant audiences that could help record artists exposure or were not credible djs. The popularity among key djs was already and rapidly expanding during this time, especially the gay club circuit nationally that was a powerhouse environment for breaking new records because these audiences were extremely festive and were very receptive and open to new music at all times. If you were running a record company featuring disco or dance music, your music was definitely radared for the gay club scene before any other clubs. In Which Disco’s did you DJ? I worked at the Stardust Ballroom in the Bronx, Court Street in Manhattan, The Ipanema, of course, in Manhattan, Cartune Alley, on the upper west side of Manhattan, Backstage in Westport Conneticut. I also perform as a guest at a few places including Les Mooches in NYC, Roseland in NYC and The Attic in Bridgehampton NY with my good friend Viviano Almonte. Any favorite club of those? I think I really enjoyed working at the Ipanema and then Cartune Alley and then Backstage. These three clubs provided a cross section of dancers and music versatility. The Ipanema really let me venture into hard core disco and brazilian music
and all R&B music on Thursday nights. Cartune Alley let me expand into Motown and dance rock along with the steady dose of disco. Backstage really opened my adventure into more dance rock (new wave) reggae and funk. And don’t forget, that i worked for Vanguard Records and had to understand the radio element of dance music which is totally different than the hard core element of the dance floor in the club. Vanguard helped keep my 60s integrity of song and melody intact and because the Vanguard owners, the Solomons, Maynard and Seymour, originally built the company based on classical ,jazz and country music. The issue of having an ear for radio, melody and song structure was important to the integrity of the company and to the signing of each artist. To bring hip-hop to the label in Spectrum City (Public Enemy) and Twilight 22 took a lot of convincing and “spoon feeding” to the owners. About 1976 you started working at the Ipanema, in 240 West 52nd St, how did you get that job? What happened was that my father Ray Velazquez Sr was working at a store selling audio equipment on 6th Avenue, Avenue of the Americas, on 43rd Street. A store called Leonard Radio Inc and he was in contact with a lot of television and radio personalities. Mitch Miller
was a personal friend of dad as was Madison Square garden, New York Knicks organist, Eddie Layton. Popular Club DJ’s also visited dad at this store, including Tom Savarese, Bobby “DJ” Guttadaro and the actual DJ of the Ipanema at that time, called Ronald Soares. Ron was a Brazilian DJ, nice guy, thin looking guy about 5 foot 5 and very technically efficient behind the turntables as far as mixing abilities. Ronnie was working seven nights a week at the Ipanema, but was really kind of ‘burning himself out’ working too many hours and too many days. Besides he also had a local record store on 45th Street off Avenue of the Americas where he sold Brazilian music to all the Brazilian people living in that area. So, he was selling a lot of Brazilian music and running the record store and working seven nights a week at the Ipanema. Ronnie knew my dad, because Ronnie would always go to my dad’s store to buy reel-to-reel tapes for his TEAK reel-to-reel machine at the Ipanema. Ronnie used to sell those tapes to clientele at the Ipanema. Ronnie was telling my dad he was very tired of working seven days a week at the Ipanema. My dad mentioned to him that ‘My son is, you know, a DJ. He’s not working professionally at a Club, but he is very good and people seem to like him. Maybe you’d like to talk to him? If you want to I’ll have him call you and see if he might be able to help you out, working one night a week or something like that?
Then you might not have to work seven nights a week.’ Ronnie told my dad; ‘Well OK! Have him call me and I’ll set up an interview where I can talk to him and maybe hear him play.’ So when my dad gave me that information, I was very excited and at the same time very nervous about the fact that, you know, we’re talking about going to middle Manhattan for a big Club, very established with its clientele and big following and so on. Nevertheless, I called Ronnie and he had me come down to the Ipanema and I talked to him and kind of convinced him that I had some kind of an ear and some kind of power to spin records. Ronnie gave me a little try-out of about half an hour behind the turntables at the Ipanema during a quiet afternoon in the middle of the week. I took maybe about a hundred records with me in a milk crate and he gave me a try-out. After 20 minutes Ronnie came to me and I thought he was actually telling me that he wasn’t going to take me. But actually he stopped me early because he was convinced that I knew how to play records. I had a pre-programmed format when I went in there and it worked perfectly for 20 minutes anyway and he told me that he would give me the job after a short but impressive audition. He would talk to his bosses and let me work at least Wednesday nights, which was the slowest night of the week at the Ipanema. I started working Wednesday nights and the two owners of the Ipanema -
Roosevelt Ramos and Carlos Wattimo - also owned another sister Ipanema Club in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, hired me based on Ronnie’s recommendation. Anyway because Ronnie had given me the Wednesday night, they put me on payroll and I started working Wednesday nights and eventually over the next six months, the Wednesday nights started drawing more people than the Thursday nights. At that time the owners asked me if I wanted to work Thursday nights also. So I said ‘sure’. So I started working Wednesday and Thursday nights, eventually what happened was that my Thursday nights
‘No, no, no Ray! This is something that we, we’re the bosses here, we would like you to do this! We’re telling you that it’s OK!’ But I still talked to Ronnie about that and Ronnie said that ‘It’s OK!’ and the extra day would be a lot of rest for him and more time to work in his records store. So, I took the job and Friday became over years time an incredible event where even before midnight they had to close the doors for the public because it was just too crowded inside. Too many people coming in and at that point the owners asked me if I wanted to work Saturdays as well. One thing led to another, eventually I took over most of the nights and Ronnie left the Ipanema quietly and focused on his record store. He still worked Sunday nights, which was all Brazilian music and eventually over time I was asked to take over that too, because on the weekends we had a large Brazilian crowd, so I started playing Brazilian music just to make sure that that audience was satisfied with a little bit of what they were accustomed to. I want to make this point perfectly clear with your readers Pat. Ronnie Soares and I have been historically and forever will be good friends. We still keep in touch with each other. He, as of this interview date, lives in Florida and we have always had mutual feelings of love and respect when we have been in each others company. He has always been like a dear brother to me for giving me that incredible “green light” at the Ipanema ands I have always been eternally grateful to him. Did you have a special DJ name? PINKY.
became as good as the Friday nights. And when that happened, the owners asked me if I wanted to work Friday night... I was beginning to feel that I was passing into Ronnie’s weekend. The main base for him was going on and I mentioned to the owners that I did not want to cause any problems with Ronnie, the man gave me the job and he knew my father and that I didn’t really want to do that unless it was OK with Ronnie. But the owners told me;
What’s the story behind PINKY? Pinky is my lifelong nickname. It was given to me in the third grade by my classmate Eric Arzola, the tallest kid in the class. I was the smallest kid in the class. Eric and a couple of other kids would frequently come to my house so that we could all do homework together. When Eric called me “Pinky” at home in front of mom, mom started calling me Pinky. This is when
“pinky” became a “hit”. How did you find out about the existence of the disco acetates? I would have to say that becoming closer and more involved with the record pools, and keep in mind that I also later joined i.d.r.c headed by Eddie Rivera who actually helped me land my tenure with Vanguard Records and i always visited Judy Weisnstein at her “for the record” record pool, acetates were high talk converstion with djs that were on the cutting edge of dance music. While i was at The Ipanema another great friend of mine Keith Dumpson was always alerting me to new acetates from Sunshine Sound located at 1650 broadway, a few blocks away from The Ipanema located at 240 West 52 st. Sunshine Sound was run by a nice guy named Frank. Did you play the acetates at the disco? I had a truck load of Sunshine Sound acetates. But i only played a handfull at prime time. I had a couple of Angel Sound and Melting Pot acetates. Did you also visit Sunshine Sound? Yes. I always wanted to keep up with the siprit of the elite djs to see what new edits they were creating by visiting Sunshine Sound and saying my routine hello to Frank. Frank would let me know if there was something new that was available. When did you consider making your own edits and press them on acetate? Once i locked into the spirit of the elite by understanding that there was a current of music that was not available at record pools or record store outlets i started making my own for The Ipanema to create my own excitement. How did you get involved by remixing for the record companies? My first attempt was for Dynamo Re-
cords in NYC in 1977. I was assisting the label with product selection and helped the label license a song called “Childhood Forever” by Recreation Harmony. The original french Canadian import was only availble on 7 inch. I use to play 2 of them back-to-back at The Ipanema for “hours” it seemed. The original 7 inch was about 3 minutes long and had a french title “A Chacon Son Unfance”. I edited and remixed the song in 1977/1978 and was nominated in Billboard magazine that year for “disco mix of the year” along with nominees: JIM BURGESS - THE BEAT GOES ON/RIPPLE TOM SAVARESE - DANCE DANCE DANCE/ CHIC WALTER GIBBONS - BLOCK PARTY/ANTHONY WHITE WALTER GIBBONS AND STEVE DACQUISTO PLAY WITH ME/YOU ARE MY LOVE-SANDY MERCER RITCHIE RIVERA - RIO DE JANEIRO/ GARY CHRISS MANY SLALI - GALAXY/WAR DAVID TODD - SHAME/EVELYN“CHAMPAGNE” KING BOBBY GUTADARO - STREET DANCE/ BROOKLYN DREAMS HOWARD MERRITT - WITH ALL MY HEART/ DAWN ROBERTSON I believe that Jim Burgess won the nomination. Jim was an astute music person with an education in classical and opera background which certainly helped him in the recording studio aspect where he focused on song and melody structure before perfecting the dance floor long version of a song neverthless, the 1978 Billboard convention set the tone for me for future remixes and confidence building in this new and exciting arena. How did you get involved at Vanguard? I was a member of the International Disco Record Center, IDRC,(International Disco Record Center) in New York City, run by Eddie Rivera. This was after I left the very first record pool, the Record Pool run by David Mancuso, located at 99 Prince St,
in the Village, NYC, and became member of IDRC. Eddie was always so fond of me, always a believer of me and he would actually come and listen to me at the Ipanema. He, himself was a club spinner at a Club called the Cork & Bottle in New York before starting IDRC. Eddie always had a fond respect for my ear and had referred me to Vanguard Records, because Vanguard Records was beginning to get into dance market in the 70’s and they had little understanding of what made disco records get club play and sell. They came out with a few early records and didn’t do well so they started looking for more experience, more expertise on this field of dance and so they communicated with Eddie Rivera and asked Eddie if there were any DJ’s that Eddie could recommend to them that could help them. Vanguard was beginning to open up its doors from the classical/jazz era into some of this dance stuff - Disco stuff. Eddie recommended me because I had a good report and he liked me and he saw that I had done an incredible thing at the Ipanema over time. This is how, in a quick nutshell, I got my call from Vanguard Records to come in and have a little meeting with the 2 Soloman Brothers, Maynard and Seymour and with Jazz expert Danny Weiss, which I took full advantage of. Incidently, with the sucess of Twilihght 22, we subsequently signed Spectrum City, another hip-hop group managed by my good friend Timonthy J Olphie, currently president of Vibe records. Spectrum City’s initial release was called “”Lies” backed with “Check Out The Radio”. I produced both tracks for the groups debut. “Check out the Radio” was used on the Oliver Stone Film “South Central”. Spectrum City and Vanguard parted after just 1 single. They changed their name to Public Enemy upon signing with DEF JAM|/CBS records and became monstrous in the same light that Run-Dmc obtained Profile records. Incidently I also produced a single on the Profile Label with Public Enemy’s Aaron Allen called “Do the WOP”. Nevertheless, my first set of records at Vanguard were the Players Association, The Ring, Frisky, Fonda Rae and
Carol Williams that I was directly involved in the mixing and additional production of the tracks. How many tracks have you remixed? I would say I’ve made about 25-30 remixes, there may be ten others that were never released, for one reason or another. But around 30 that I have been involved with that have been released. And obviously most of them have been with the Disco people at Vanguard. This does not include any acetates from Sunshine Sound Studios. Here are a few: • Fonda Rae’s classic “Over Like A Fat Rat” • The Patrick Adams’ studio act Rainbow Brown, which featured Fonda as lead vocalist in their hit song “Till You Surrender” • Carol Williams - “Can’t Get Away (From Your Love)” • Twilight 22 “Electric Kingdom” and “Siberian Nights” • Public Enemy’s first track “Lies” under the original group name Spectrum City. The B-side of the 12” Rap release entitled “Check out the Radio”, also produced and mixed by Pinky and Timothy Olphie. He was also the first Dj to ever perform a disco Mix on an African record by an African group called “Double Feature”.
The track was called “Boogie Down” that had a steel drum island sound. Ray,tell me about Eddy Grant and “Walking On Sunshine “ Eddy Grant’s” Walking On Sunshine” was a big urban R&B house track and created a buzz with that market in the urban cities. It was not a popular disco record with standard disco audiences. Larry at the Garage played the track a lot. Jane Brinton who promoted a lot of CBS and Epic releases as an independent promotion person, after consulting with djs and radio personal asked me to do an edit of the Eddy Grant version to capitalize on the early ‘buzz” and to assist in reviving the original Eddy Grant debut. My edit combined both the vocal with the instrumental version to come up with the new 6:12 version on the same Epic records label with a notice long instrumental intro to assist in providing enough segway for club djs to mix the record without a problem of having to short an intro before vocals entered the track. The original intro was difficult for djs to use and limited the club play for those audiences
that liked the track. Eddy Grant’s version subsequently was revived with the new edit and enjoyed success on the dance charts as well but not the success the Rockers Revenge accumulated. Arthur Baker and Streetwise records decided to take that urban house buzz and make it more acceptable to the freestyle and disco audiences in classic Arthur Baker rythym track style using Jellybean on the club mix. The work and creativity on the Rocker’s Revenge rendition really broke the song “Walking On Sunshine” on the dance charts. The success was so evident that Eddy Grant personally congratulated Arthur and the Streetwise label for the success of the track It was a pleasure being part of the overall “WALKING ON SUNSHINE” train. Do you still have all your records? I have 80 percent of them today. Are you still DJ-íng today? Good question. I am performing as a guest at some of our Legends of Vinyl venue events when asked to participa-
te and to assist the organization which is rapidly expanding and has the industry keeping a close eye on the expansion of this organization that I am proudly part of as a partner. I have many sets on line for the public to enjoy and continue to record new sets using old school and house with some motown and D.O.R. (dance oriented rock) formats. I am keenly watching the resurgence of vinyl and am planning a comeback, using vinyl, primarily as a guest when my services are sought, but who knows what the future holds, as this new world of dance merges with that sacred past that you, Patrick, and I, know holds some of the greatest secrets that the world of dance music has ever known. Ray, tell me about your association with the Legends Of Vinyl. Luis and I started this organization in 2010 after meeting each other in Florida for the first time in years since the disco heyday. Luis created the Legends of Vinyl name. Soon afterwards, I created the “L.O.V.” acronym. Luis is a very passionate personality, so passionate that he is at, times, misunderstood. Nevertheless, his passion shines throughout the organization and it has become contagious for most of our board members. It is that same passion that has placed this organization in front of larger eyes and visions. The road to any goal has its obstacles, surprises, setbacks. Patrick, Luis and I do not see everything eye to eye. We have hung up the phone on each other. We have disagreed on issues .We also laugh and have fun about many things and try to enjoy this creative process. I believe that the bigger picture for this organization is pretty much the same. So we continue to regroup with that undertone or understanding. We just keep plugging and try to bring better things to the next while being flexible in our approach. John F Kennedy has been quoted as saying “THE ROAD CHOSEN IS FULL OF HAZZARDS”. With this thorough understanding that it is always 2 steps backwards and 1 step forward and it is those small 1 steps for-
ward that is pulling us in a definite direction or destiny, we move forward and have tackled many hurdles to be where we are today; generating much enthusiasm and interest even from those who are still not certain of what this organization is all about. I am proud to say that we have a fabulous board of directors consisting of pioneers that were part of the 70s and 80s disco/dance revolution: my original mentor when I was a club spinner Paul Casella, Ray Francis Caviano, John Luongo, Al Magliano, Jackie McCloy, Dan Pucciarelli, Frankie Sestito, Ellen Bogen, Jimmie Elias, Bo Crane, along with our fabulous hard working adminstraitor, and I mean blindly committed Sue Bell and our exclusive photographer Lisa Pacino. With this iconic and talented group we continue to set higher goals and have at our fingertips the insight and confidence and the grit to sit down at our roundtable to contemplate and discuss any issues that will help our organization grow and expand to new and higher horizons. I feel extremely excited about the endless possibilities that we have with this organization and continue to network to find missing pieces to the L.O.V. puzzle that can add more value to the path that we are on. It is a lot of work and time consuming and at our age exhausting at times. Nevertheless, our Legends of Vinyl events are rapidly growing and are eye public openers generating intense curiousity, where we continuously award and show honor, respect and dignity to those pioneer producers, record company excs, radio and club DJS, songwriters and musicians that have made a significant contribution and impact to this dance music industry. We always take that extra moment to honor those that have expired are no longer with us, at every single event. Normally, it has been Mr. RFC, Ray Caviano that has provided that moment of silence and salute to that special group at every event and has done a superb job providing that honor. After the ceremony and panel discussions we finallly have the last part of our events-- the after party and dance provided by world class club dj spinners.
We will continue to expand by holding more events in major cities like Florida, New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco for starters in 2016 and 2017. As we expand we communicate with booking agents and sponsors for our events. I’ve been asked’ how come L.O.V is not involved with the house movement”? We are the Legends of Vinyl and our goal is to collanboate with ALL types of events and music venues. Time will prove this. We are in the infancy stages. Remember, disco, house, D.O R, R&B, the classics, hip-hop all had humble beginnings too. All I can say is that Rome was not bulit in a day. We are the Legends of Vinyl and we will be venturing into all types of venues, perhaps to the continued disbelief of those that can never believe who and what we represent. That’s okay. Neverthless we will continue to seek those professionals that can help this organization land bigger and more exciting venues. Wouldn’t it be exciting to have the Legends of Vinyl become an opening act for a current big name Dj like Tiesto at a huge concert and have cameras on our vinyl turntables that will display on multiple super large screens all around the concert venue and on television the actual vinyl record, or acetate or test pres-
sing that displays the name of the artist, the name of the song, the name of the producer, and the songwriter to the amazement of today’s audiences that has never seen vinyl before in this fashion. This is one small angle of what we can bring to the larger concert arena, a chance for the current EDM or house market to experience the past that both excites and educates. Our board of directors are all talented and insightful enough. If necessary, to be able to judge music talent shows at high schools and iniversities across the globe in very much the same way that tv showes like the Voice, America’s Got Talent, American Idol presents on television media. The possibilities are endless with this organization and as CEO and the Co-Founder, I am extremely proud and honored to be a part of this opportunity to continue to carry that blessed torch from the disco heydey into this new expanded challenging global arena, “with a little of my friends” as the popular Beatle song sung by Ringo Starr states. I am pretty sure the name ” Legends of Vinyl “ will expand become an integral part of the entertainment business in many capacities in the very near future and become a household name
VINTAGE INTERVIEW RAY CAVIANO SCORING ON THE DISCO REBOUND BY CHRIS HUIZINGA The news travels fast through the Music galaxy: MOR (Middle Of The Road) was less, rock was shock, and glittering feet of the disco fleet were dancing over the remnants of the Old Music Empire with a pulse and rhythm that had the dormant Quasars quivering with a new life. And twenty eight year old Ray Caviano has moved to another Himalaya as the executive director of Warner Brothers disco department and president of R.F.C -Records, a special new label to be distributed by the giant conglomerate. This is the First important effort by the major record producers to capture the lucrative disco market, and what better man to lead the colonizing effort than Ray Caviano, who spearheaded the disco successes of his former venue, TK Records. It was there as special project-national disco promotion director, that Ray launched the careers of, the Ritchi Family, T.Connection, Voyage, Foxy, KC and The Sunshine Band, Ralph Macdonald, Peter Brown and George Macrae-all of them among the most prominent disco artists. Unlike Movie Stars who play upon the sympathetic interviewer’s emotions by recounting the tragedies that have dogged their lives with the perseverance of inimical demons, the image of the record company executive is blissfully upbeat, a series of upwardly mobile steps that can almost land you in the dream World of “compound interest”. Consider Caviano’s progression; As a youngster in the late sixties, Ray dropped out of high school and began
organizing free concerts in New York’s Thompson Square park and managing some local bands into regional renown. But it wasn’t until 1967 that he was able to use his hard-earned talents in record promotion. He was given the assignment of generating sales on an album called Switched On beach, a moog synthesis of classical baroque music. Ray’s own special alchemy of progressive and free form radio promotions turned the leaden Bach into golden vinyl. He used the same Midas Touch with Rolling Stone Magazine when he was hired by Publisher Jann Wenner as New York circulation and promotion director. He performed similar magic for other Music oriented magazines, such as Circus, Fusion and Interview. While he was enjoying considerable success in the print medium, the advertising manager of London records, Bob Small, asked him to return to the Music industry as consultant to London. Within a brief length of time, Ray had become London’s publicity director and had helped launch the careers of some of London’s biggest sellers. The diversity of Ray’s range makes it clear that if he
were to set his mind to one current of Music, such as disco, there would be no limit to his success. But he still had not found his precise niche. In the early seventies, Ray joined forces with British Talent Managers and acted as a liaison and coordinator between BTM and its American associates, Road work, regional promotions, management and touring were gradually giving him the basis and the network that would make him the unique disco promoter in the country-Warner Brothers own six-million dollar man. Ray has always seen the gay discos, especially New York’s Flamingo, as the true testing ground of a song’s strength. Being gay himself doesn’t hurt, since he can sense the same vibrations that the Fire Island Flamingo crowd catches as it moves to the rhythm of a particular musical wave. The fact that disco was dominated by the small labels, TK, Casablanca, Salsoul and other corresponded to the fact that gays constituted a fairly small minority within the nation and the entertainment in-
dustry itself. However Ray Caviano realized that this aspect of gay culture had definite crossover possibilities, as he watched the endless proliferation of discos and disco radio stations, disco movies and disco trade spinoffs. Warner Brothers, has seen the writing on the wall, as well. So have CBS and RSO records, which have greatly argumented their disco departments. Additional evidence for the gradual but assured domination of disco on the music scene is the popularity of such total disco radio stations as new York’s WKTU-FM, which for years has been a nondescript easy listening station with minimal ratings and occasional listeners. With its new all-disco format, WKTU has shot to number one as the most listened-to radio station in New York. Former rock-oriented television shows, like “Midnight special”, have joined “Soul Alive” and “Hot Disco City” with even more disco segments. Even the true rock and rollers, like Rod Stewart, Blondie and the Rolling Stones are responding to the disco influence by releasing disco singles from their albums.
In his new position at Warner’s, Caviano has taken the helm of what may well become the flagship of the disco fleet. With Warner’s worldwide marketing and distribution expertise and Ray’s distinctive approach to artist development ( I ’m looking for immediate hits, rather gentler development through a number of albums”). Don’t expect to be merely awash in disco, we can anticipate a deluge. “My first allegiance is to developing the artist” Ray maintains, “If I were just interested in selling vinyl out of the box, I wouldn’t care. Right now we are not even concerned about making money. We’re looking for the right artists who are going to have an audience through judicious promotion and publicity. Being head of the disco operation for Warner’s and having my own label dovetail neatly together. I can get totally involved in A&R, management, discovery, recording and retailing. And I think we are going to have disco for many years to come”. It falls to few men of Caviano’s age to have worked so agreeably at a task that one loves and to find that one’s labor of love finds favor and profit amoung the biggies. “It’s fun and it’s exciting, but the business is rough and only the strong survive”,says Ray. “The schedule is hectic and you’re always working, even when you go out for an evening dancing. At the back of your mind, there’s music and the possibilities. So in a sense, one works his lifestyle”
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Published on Oct 23, 2016
Hot stuff magazine with Disco-Funk-Soul-Jazz-Hip Hop and Vintage articles. Hot Stuff will have a wide range of interesting articles on: Disc...