Apologies for the delay in posting Part 5
Apologies to all those looking forward to another fix of ’70s dance music. I’m afraid that my visit to the Southport Weekender two weeks ago took over a bit, but I hope to get back on track and post the remaining parts every ten days.
However Southport did throw up one track that will be worthy addition to the ’70s playlist. I remember very well the Three Degrees breaking in to the British charts in 1973 with Dirty Ol’ Man, and followed them through out the ’70s. Somehow I missed, or perhaps don’t recollect, one of their biggest UK hits – Giving up, giving in from 1978. Debbie Attwood opened her Southport set with this track and I couldn’t believe how good it was. So thanks to Debbie for getting Part 5 off to a thumping start.
Motown was a still a major force in the ’70s
For this fifth look round the dance music vaults I thought I’d take a look through the Motown catalogue again. Motown’s heyday was undoubtedly the ’60s when The Temptation, Four Tops and The Supremes reigned supreme (sorry for the pun), but it was still a force on the dance floor in the ’70s.
Norman Whitfield Creates a Masterpiece
In the early ’70s The Temptations were still one of Motown’s biggest acts through their collaboration with producer Norman Whitfield. Papa was a rolling stone is one of The Temptations and Whitfield’s greatest achievement, but it’s a little too slow to jive to. Instead I’ve chosen Law of the land from the 1973 Whitfield produced Masterpiece album to feature on my playlist. The song has a very strong bass line that powers the rhythm along – just great to dance to.
Motown hits it big with The Jackson 5
Motown’s biggest success in the ’70s was with The Jackson 5, who had their first hit in 1969 with I want you back. Their first ’70s hit was ABC and this is my next pick for the playlist. Interestingly this song provided an interpolation (big word nicked from Wikipedia) for Sigala’s debut single Easy Love some forty five years later.
The Jacksons v Big Fun
The Jackson’s track, that already gets occasional plays at modern jive freestyles, is Blame it on the boogie. I was tempted to ask if I could cheat again, and play the 1990 Big Fun version, if only to remind everyone of the accompanying hand movements. I’ll stick with the Jackson’s if you promise to learn the hand movements from the Big Fun video. When the chorus starts bring your partner to your side, release and do the hand actions.
Stevie and Marvin stay loyal to Motown
Blame it on the Boogie was actually recorded after the Jacksons had left Motown for a more lucrative deal with Epic Records. Other major artists also left Motown during this period notably The Four Tops in 1972 and The Temptations in 1976 (Diana Ross was to leave in 1981). Two major artists stayed with Motown, but only after being given the freedom to have more control over the material they recorded. With this freedom Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye went on to produce some of Motown’s most memorable music.
in 1972 Stevie Wonder released the mould breaking album Talking Book, which included my next ’70s track – Superstition. I remember first hearing this track and thinking how refreshingly funky it was. I’m going to cheat again by including a modern remix already played by several modern jive DJs. This version is slightly faster than the original and has a mean bass line. Love it!
Marvin Gaye gives Motown a social conscience
Marvin Gaye’s What’s going on was a sobering commentary on the plight of Black Americans in the 1970s. Berry Gordy actually refused to approve the track, saying it was too political for Motown, and Gaye had to go on strike to get it released. It is a wonderful track, but after listening to it again I’ve decided its beat is just not strong enough. Instead I’ve selected Gaye’s 1977 release Got to give it up. This is in the same funky groove as Superstition, and shows how funk was emerging as a major dance genre in the ’70s. (I’ll focus on Funk in my next ’70s listing)
Two Modern Jive Classics from Edwin Starr
Edwin Starr was another Motown artist who departed in the 1970s. Signed to 20th Century Fox label he recorded two modern jive classics in 1979 – Contact and H.A.P.P.Y. Radio Edwin. Here first is the long version of Contact with its fabulous bongo laden intro.
A track that has accompanied me throughout my Modern Jive journey
Edwin Starr’s H.A.P.P.Y. Radio has a special place in my heart, because it was played at just about every one of my first modern jive lessons in Derby. There’s rarely a month goes by without that distinctive trumpet intro lighting up the dance floor. I’m sure I’m not the only one who absolutely loves this track.
Stevie Wonder keeps creating great dance music
Throughout the ’70s Stevie Wonder kept creating mould breaking music. His 1976 double album Songs in the key of life became his best-selling and most critically acclaimed album of his career. This album gave us Sir Duke, Isn’t she lovely, and my next choice I wish. We had never heard instrumentation like this before. Wonders electric piano playing combined with a totally new bass effect, ups the funk levels on I wish to beyond max, and the trumpet arrangements just crank it even higher.
Motown’s biggest loss goes gold
Probably the biggest departure from Motown was the leaving in 1967 of their number one song writing team of Holland – Dozier – Holland. It wasn’t until 1970, when they were free from their contractual fights with Motown boss Berry Gordy, that they started writing and producing hits again. One of their first and biggest was Band of Gold by Freda Payne. In The ’70s there wasn’t a disco or dance hall that didn’t play this song endlessly, surely it time to modern jive to it.
Chairman of the Board conjure up some Holland – Dozier – Holland magic
In the same year as Band of Gold, Chairman of the Board release two H – D – H compositions. The first Give me just a little more time launched their INVICTUS record label, but I’m going to choose the second You’ve got me dangling on a string for my playlist. This is one of my favourite disco tracks of all time, and I’ve already posted an article about it in my ‘Wish List’ category. I’ve only ever heard it twice at a modern jive event. The first was at a Motown themed class night, and the second just last week at a Notts Jive Crew Freestyle. Hopefully it will get a few more plays in the future.
Time to get Funky
Eleven more tracks – that’s fifty one, over half way. Next I’ll visit the Funk vaults. I’m sure I’ll find some James Brown and hopefully a lot more we can modern jive to.
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.