DJ Lou gets Part 4 rolling
I was wondering where to start on this, the fourth, journey through the vaults of ’70s dance music. I then remembered the ‘Guess the year’ quiz from the Ceroc South Birmingham intermediate class. You had to guess the year of the tracks played during the lesson. It turned out to be 1976 and one of the tracks Lou played was Brian Ferry’s Let’s stick together. This is a fabulous dance track, but one that until Lou played it, I’d forgotten about.
It made me realise that I’d probably forgotten about a lot of ’70s music, and I suspect I’m not the only one. This gave me the idea of searching through the ’70s song vaults to see what other gems were waiting to be discovered. (When you watch the video look out for Jerry Hall’s flirtatious entrance – she was just as iconic a figure as Ferry.)
How do you get into the Dance Music Vaults?
Here’s me going on about DJs spending more time in the dance music vaults, and suddenly I’m wondering how to get into them myself! Putting ‘Dance Music Vaults’ into Google wasn’t much help. After much head scratching and worrying that I wouldn’t be able to fill up my playlist, I searched for ‘1970s Pop Charts’. I was in! I found a website that lists the top selling singles from the year dot. Excitedly, I clicked on 1970.
Reliving 1970 with Christie
A list of the top selling one hundred singles filled my screen. I scrolled down as the songs triggered memories of youthful times – In the summertime by Mungo Jerry, All right now by Free and Paranoid from Black Sabbath – all associated with the angst of a teenager working out his place in the world around him.
I could have filled my playlist from this one year, but I know that DJs have to be a little more discerning when selecting tracks for a public offering. I’ve initially chosen two from 1970. The first is Yellow River from Christie. This light hearted track will be easy to dance to, but I’ve picked it because it has an undisputable, if dated, ’70s feel.
One for the Inner Primate and Rock Chick
My second choice from 1970 was going to be The Archies’ Sugar Sugar. Sadly it probably wouldn’t have done my street cred any good, so I’ve gone with the Rolling Stones instead. I recently posted an article about The Stones’ Doom and Gloom. I described it as a track to bring out the Inner Primate, lying latent in the guys, and The Inner Rock Chic in the ladies. I have no doubt that this Stones’ track will have the same effect on anyone who steps on to the dance floor.
We’ve got to have some T Rex
On the list of 1970 hits I spotted T Rex’s Ride a white swan. Marc Bolan’s original band was an acoustic outfit called Tyrannosaurus Rex. In 1969 Bolan started to move away from the groups psychedelic folk base, shortened the name and introduced a more mainstream electric flavour. Ride a white swan was T Rex’s breakthrough song, but I’ve chosen their 1971 hit Get it on. I’d never thought of this as a modern jive track, but DJ Roy Blewit played it at Braunstone and I loved it.
Let’s take a look at 1976
Brotherhood of Man had the biggest selling single with their Eurovision winning song Save all your kisses for me, but the song that stood out was Abba’s greatest hit of all Dancing Queen. We all love this song, but surprisingly its pretty hopeless to dance to – its just not fast enough. So time to cheat a little. A few years back DJ Mark Wright dug out a cover by Abbacadabra that’s just perfect.
Two to choose from The Real Thing
1976 was the year The Real Thing broke through with You to me are everything. There’s going to be a need to slow it down towards the end, but this track is just a little too slow. I like to think that the best slow tracks are the ones you can still modern jive to, so I’m going to pick their second hit Can’t get by without you. The beat’s a little stronger and possibly a little faster. Listen to the opening instrumentation – it’s pure Barry White.
How about a bit of Dolly?
I make a big thing of DJs mixing up the music genres, and occasionally they’ll find a gem in the back catalogue of Country and Western. Looking down the list of 1976 hits I came across Dolly Parton’s Jolene. This C & W classic has a lovely gentle and well defined beat that will make it very easy to dance to. It should also provide a pleasant interlude between all the predominantly disco tracks.
Let’s have something Silly Boy
In Part 1 I wrote about Steve Wright’s Silly Boy tracks on Serious Jockin’ (No G). Here’s one from the ’76 list. Tina Charles had been a successful backing singer and session musician, singing on a significant number of chart hits, before she achieved her own solo fame. I love to love was her breakthrough single, and it’s a lovely piece of British disco music – something Steve Wright would affectionately call ‘Silly Boy’.
Let’s go back in time to 1972
I always wanted to be a DJ – if only to say ‘So let’s go back in time.’ Well let’s go back to 1972 and see what we find. Sadly, what we find is Donny Osmond singing about Puppy Love, and Chuck Berry going on about My ding-a-ling (well his ding-a-ling actually). It doesn’t get much better, from a dance music point of view, when you see the second top selling single was Amazing Grace by The Pipes and Drums of The Military Band of The Royal Scots Dragoons Guard. I was there in 1972 and I’m sure we danced to some good stuff. Let’s take another look.
Surely there was more than The Osmonds
It’s not getting any better. Apart from Donny’s Puppy love, he also charted with two more hits and sang Crazy Horses with his brothers The Osmonds. Christmas must have been a long time coming that year, and then in December little brother Jimmy sits on the top of the charts for 5 weeks with Long haired lover from Liverpool. It wasn’t all the Osmonds – there was David Cassidy and The Partridge Family too!
Perhaps I’m being too hard on 1972 – after all these songs provided a backdrop to a lot of peoples lives. Perhaps its simply that these songs haven’t travelled well.
Time to cheat again
One track that has fared much better is The Drifters Saturday night at the movies. I know it’s a sixties song, but it was the twenty third best selling single of 1972. The seventies was a time when a lot of the great dance hits from the ’60s got a second lease of life, having been mainly over looked by the British record buyers when they were first released.
I did dance to some good stuff in 1972
I danced a lot in 1972. Going through the list I came across a track I remember dancing to every time we went out. It was No 1 for 5 weeks. Surely I could put this on the playlist. I excitedly found it on YouTube, hit the play button and Mouldy old dough by Lieutenant Pigeon filled my headphones. It’s awful – was this the best we could do in Britain in 1972. To think that over in The USA, the Sound of Philadelphia was starting its meteoric rise to world domination with The O’Jays’ Backstabbers. Perhaps I should go back to 1970.
Groovin’ with Mr Bloe
Compared to 1972, 1970 was steaming. I was tempted to include Groovin’ with Mr Bloe. I remember modern jiving to it at the sadly missed Want2Dance class in Burton a few years back. I’ll pass on Mr Bloe and instead I’ll pick something that possibly few will remember.
Marmalade were a Scottish group who broke through with their cover of The Beatles Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da in 1969. Their most memorable song is Reflections of my life from the same year, but I’ve chosen Rainbow from the following year. This track has a gentle lyric but the rhythm drives along with a thumping bass line, and I’m sure it will go down well.
Another look at Motown
That’s my next ten tracks done – that’s forty now. I’ll revisit the chart list again in the future, but next time I want to look at what was happening at Motown in the ’70s. We often associate Motown with the sixties, but they were still a major force in the seventies. By 1972 Berry Gordy had moved the whole operation to Los Angeles and the dance hits kept on coming.
The Song List
In each posting on this topic I’ll add another ten tracks, until I have the eighty that will be needed for a four hour freestyle. In the meantime I’ve made a simple listing that I will keep adding to. For the full list so far click the link.