12 Inches Of History Part 1: Yowsa Yowsa Yowsa 1976-1981

Now that the music industry is approaching senility (almost 60 years since blues, skiffle and jazz collided to create rock ‘n’ roll) its attracting Serious Histories with references and footnotes and all that.  Yet the full story resides only on Wikipedia, including the amazing rise and fall of the 12″ single.  The point at which I had enough pocket money to start buying records regularly coincided with the arrival of the oversize musical frisbee and I began buying them in preference to their smaller cousins.  Daft really as I would have been able to afford more songs sticking with 7″, but this does mean I have heard a lot of 12″ remixes and so I present to you this three part overview of big discs and long songs.  Basically a list of the most notable/good and godawful examples of the vinyl Godzilla, the 45 on steroids, the LP’s bastard son etc.

What was the first 12″ single, ‘Theme From Shaft’?  ‘Substitute’ reissue on Polydor? ‘Ten Per Cent’ by discoteers Double Exposure?  Nobody ‘s entirely sure.  What’s not in doubt is how it changed music forever; the longer running time, wider grooves giving bigger dynamic range and improved bass response while 45 rpm kept treble up, excuse for charging a higher price etc.  This post goes on a bit so without delay…

Donna Summer I Feel Love (1977):  She’d already released a hypnotic disco throb ‘Love To Love You’ but that was an album track transferred to a single.  This one could only be heard in its entirety on a 12″, 15.45 no less.  The flickering electronic pulse and angelic vocals sent wannabe Travoltas everywhere into a trance and the disco remix never looked back.

Sparks Beat The Clock (1979):  Georgio Moroder was behind this as well.  The original was quirky new wave, this version, played in the studio not edited, was full on disco with jungle drum breaks.  Sparks music really fitted the dance craze of the New York clubs.  Unlike…

Kiss I Was Made For Loving You (1979):  OK its got the sequencer, the stiff attempt at funk guitars, the whining keyboards, falsetto vocals but this is like making a Black Forest gateau with blackberries and carob, fake fake fake.

Herb Alpert Rotation (1979):  Jazz and disco cross over here with typically smooth results.  Loads of chattering percussion (dig the sycopations man) and Herb’s ultra tasteful trumpet playing carrying the melody.  Instrumental so no chart action but in a few years tossers like Modern Romance would be shamelessly recycling this formula.  Plus it was clear vinyl in die cut sleeve and a 6.53 mix unavailable anywhere else!


Click here for Mike Chapman's 1981 remix


Blondie Heart Of Glass (1979): Slightly controversial in its day because they were a out and out Yonkers rock band and HOG was not conceived as a disco tune but a reggae pastiche.  But Mike Chapman took it by the scruff of the neck and made it groove and it was fab.

Sham 69 Hersham Boys (1979): Yes kids this bunch of mockney barrow boys were the Blur of their day, hailing from the only even slightly rough part of the gin and jag belt.  This was their last of their top 10 hits and also appeared as a 12″ freestyle riot, wherein the lads make use of the extra 5 inches for what was quaintly called back then “aggro”.  Shows why punk bands should keep to the point, in this case oi oi oi!

Kelly Marie Feels Like I’m In Love (1980):  All good things come to an end.  Quite possibly this pile of steaming glitterballs did more damage to an ailing genre than the disco demolition night, the vinyl shortage  and AIDS combined.  Basically a syn drum dominated plastinated SAW before SAW lump of pish stretched like dough until it snaps, meh!

Yellow Magic Orchestra Computer Games (1980):  Synthpop acts were a bit slow to embrace the 12″ despite their music being more easily extendable and remixable.  This song sounds like an Asian Kraftwerk and was popular with DJs in the US, Grandmaster Flash sampled it and numerous mixes were made for the clubs.

Haircut 100 Favourite Shirts (1981): By now the bandwagon was truly rolling for the extended version and they began to sprout everywhere, often out of duty rather than inspiration.  Nick Heyward’s bunch showed why; first play the single, then splice in a gap and bang out four minutes of boring white funk improvisation to bring the total up to seven minutes.  Soon bands would be paying DJ Willthisdo to handle it.

The Beat Too Nice To Talk Too (1981):  At last, a group who really get the remix.  The whole thing comes in under 5 minutes but the dub echoes are built into the song which keeps the momentum going up to a superb rhythmic breakdown and funky coda.  So much more effort went into this version than the truncated single that it seems a shame only a few listeners could have heard it this way.

Well, that’s it for now.  Coming soon – the remix enters a golden age with some awesome extendifications but dickhead mixmasters and computers go and ruin it.


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