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Birth of the 12"record

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Birth of the 12"record
I know some of you may have read these articles but this just took me by suprise

http://discomuseum.com/TomMoulton.html

Althought NOT a disc jockey Thomas Jerome Moulton was more essential to the rise of disco than any other single person in it's history. Born in Schenectady, New York on November 29, 1940 music was in his life from a very early age. Moulton even quit high school to work in a record store in the late 1950's. With aspirations to become a radio D.J. he quickly found that he didn't have what it took to be a D.J. in the turbulent payola-ridden radio scene of the 1950's.

Throughout the remainder of the 1950's and well into the 1960's Tom kept himself busy in retail record stores and eventually he landed a spot with Florence Greenberg's Scepter Records as a promotions man. Although he was successful as a promotions man he never really felt comfortable in promoting material he didn't really believe in. He was quoted as saying it made him feel "devious and dishonest."

A friend suggested that the weary Moulton with his movie-star looks give the music business a rest and try his hand, or face, at modeling...he did. Tom was gaining noteriety as a print and commercial model in the early 1970's when on a weekend trip to Fire Island he discovered that his love for music was stronger than his love of modeling.

I got a charge out of it, all these white people dancing to black music." Yet he was appallled at the standard D.J. It gave him an idea to produce a tape specifically for dancing. "The reason I wanted to make this tape was that I was watching people dance and, at the time, it was mostly 45's that were three minutes long. They'd really start to get off on it and all of a sudden another song would come in on top of it." "I just thought it was a shame that the records weren't longer, so people could really start getting off."

Moulton watched what parts of the songs made people leave the dancefloor and constructed his music to minimize the dancers' opportunities to escape. "So that way, if they go to leave, they're already dancing to the next song. That was the hardest. I made one side of a tape, 45 minutes, and it took me 80 hours!." He presented the tape to the owners of Fire Island's "Botel" and they told him not to give up his day job. A crushed and depressed Moulton was waiting for the ferry to take him back to the mainland when he was approached by a stranger. As fate would have it the stranger also owned "The Sandpiper" and offered to take the tape and give it a play. Moulton gave him the tape and his phone number and sort of forgot about the whole incident. Several weeks later Tom received a phone call at 2:30 am with the sounds of enthusiastic dancers in the background. "Oh, can you make another tape - the people are getting wild for this tape!." That's how he really started in the disco business.

Moulton was encouraged by his tape success and through his contacts with Florence Greenberg the opportunity to actually mix a record came in 1974. His first studio project was B.T. Express' "Do It 'Til You're Satisfied." His remix doubled the track from 3:09 to a whopping 5:52 and many radio stations programmed the long version giving the group their first Billboard crossover hit. Despite their success the group gave Moulton little to no credit. "The band hated it," he says. "But it reached #-1 and they were on 'Soul Train.' Don Cornelius was interviewing them and asked about the length: 'Oh yeah we recorded it that way' they said. I was so fucking mad!" The song crossed over to a number 2 Pop hit on Billboard's Hot 100. The disco remix was born and Moulton was on his way.

1974 was a banner year for disco and Tom Moulton. His next major project was remixing "Dream World" by Don Downing, his version sold 10,000 copies without any airplay. His reputation with the first two projects and his connection with Greenberg led to a meeting with Meco Menardo and Tony Bongiovi, who were working on Gloria Gaynor's first album.

I had this idea to make a medley, and the d.j.'s could play it when they had to go to the bathroom," said Moulton. "It would be around 18 minutes long, one song straight into another. It would be perfect." When the "Never Can Say Goodbye" album was released side one was a single suite made from three two and half minute songs that Moulton extended and segued together. When the title track was released as a single it became the first identifiably disco record to chart. Tom remembers Gaynor's intial reaction to his remix."We were sitting in the office listening to it and the first thing out of her mouth was: "I don't sing much."

Moulton was shocked and hurt but got over it. Gaynor too got over it and realized that Moulton was a key component of her success. There relationship continued with her second and third albums, "Experience" and "I've Got You..."

He then launched the first music trade-paper column on the scene, "Disco Mix," in Billboard. Over the next few years he mixed hundreds of 7" 45 rpm singles for "disco-play" and found himself in high demand by producers and artists alike for his ability to "clean-up" a song and make it danceable.

His idea to make songs longer led to the invention of the 12" single that disco was built on. "When I first started I took my records to Media Sound to master. And I came in with a new Trammps record on a Friday, so I said "Dominic, I really got to get some test pressings of this." Dom said; "Well, I don't have time and I'm going away." I said; "Oh my God, I can't believe this... I really got to get these, I really got to get some acetates cut of this." So, I said; "What about your assistant there?." He says; "Oh, you mean the Puerto Rican sweeper!." I was SO offended by that, so I went over to the guy and I said; "Hi, I'm Tom Moulton" and he goes "I know who you are." And I said; "Well, what's your name?." He says; "Josť." I said; "Josť, do you know how to use this?," he goes "Sure!." And I said; "Well, can you cut me some acetates?." "Oh, I think so." I said; "Well, let's do it!."

So, you know, he did everything I wanted... I told him I wanted this, I wanted more bottom or I wanted more top - whatever! And he did exactly what I wanted to do. And I said; "This guy's amazing!." So, from that day on he was the guy who mastered all my records. I took it back to Atlantic and I said; "I want it to say "A Tom Moulton Mix" but I also want it to say mastered by Josť Rodriguez." They went; "Oh, we don't do that!" and I said; "Well, you gonna do it now." So I started putting his name on everything and everybody was like absolutely stunned."

Tom continues; "So, one day I went in there to Josť and I had "I'll Be Holding On" by Al Downing and I said; "Josť, I really need some acetates." And he said; "Tom, I don't have any more 7" blanks. All I have is the 10" blanks." I said; "Well, if that's the only thing you've got, what difference does it make?." So he cut one, I said; "It looks so ridiculous, this little tiny band on this huge thing. What happens if we just make it bigger?." He says; "You mean, like spread the grooves?" and I said; "Yeah!." He says; "Then I've got to raise the level." I said; "Well, go ahead - raise the level." And so he cut it at +6. Oh, when I heard it I almost died. I said; "Oh my God, It's so much louder and listen to it. Oh! I like that - why don't we cut a few more?." So it was by accident, that's how it was created. But for the next song we cut, we went for the 12" format instead of the 10" and the song was "So Much For Love" by Moment of Truth." That was the birth of the 12" single.

Tom expounded on the virtues of the 12" further by stating: "Because 45's were geared for radio, they were all 'middle', and you couldn't cut a lot of bass onto the record. A lot of records didn't have the fidelity and sounded terrible. But you were playing them for the songs, not the fidelity."

The assocition of Moulton and Rodriguez is quite impressing with the duo collaborating on more than 3,000 pressings. The first 12" singles Tom and Josť cut, were test-pressings only, that Tom would give out to selected DJ's to get the response from the dance floor crowds.

The first promotionally released 12" single came from Tom's association with friend Flo Greenberg and Scepter Records. The pressing was Southshore Commision's "Free Man" (similar to the one pictured here...their second 12" single "Train Called Freedom"). The first commercially available 12" single was Double Exposure's "Ten Percent" released on Salsoul Records. Tom also invented by accident the "disco break." It came about when he undertook the task of remixing "Dream World" the song had a severe key change and in order to extended it he stripped it down and slowly built it back up.

Tom claims it took only 10-11 hours for each mix that he did. He credits his hand at mixing 4,000 + songs...not versions. He says if you tally up the different versions the numbers jump significantly. Besides remixing, Moulton also wrote songs and lyrics as well, most notably Grace Jones' "Atlantic City Gambler" and Salsoul Orchestra's "212 North 12th." As a producer he started with Grace Jones and her debut album "Portfolio" in 1977. As an artist he released product on Casablanca Records as TJM (Thomas Jerome Moulton), "I Don't Need No Music" was a runaway smash. Prior to that he and kid brother Jerry (who worked promotions) founded their own label "Tom 'N' Jerry Records" which was distributed via his affiliation with Salsoul Records. He also discovered the group Rockets for the label.

Tom lists "Dr. Love" by First Choice, "Disco Inferno" and "That's Where The Happy People Go" by the Trammps, and "Love Is The Message" by MFSB as his favorites mixes that he's most proud of. Among fellow remixers he admired the work of the late Larry Levan and Walter Gibbons. Tom has been active throught the years since the reported death of disco most recently remixing Salsoul tracks for their 20th Anniversay double cd. He has also branched out into remixing non-disco material from the 1950's and 1960's for various compact disc compilations and reissues. Tom is alive and well and still going strong in his beloved Big Apple apartment/studio. Remember the next time you see "A Tom Moulton Mix" on a record that you're holding a piece of disco history. Not bad for a man that never had any formal musical training and was never a club disc jockey......
Tha Gooch +

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good read!
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pretty cool read
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Very illmuinating!

I read somewhere in here

http://www.trevor-horn.de

that Trevor Horn claims he was the originator of the 12", from memory it was either Buggles or Art of Noise, just pre Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Your article predates the 12" by about 5-6 years before Trevor's. Mmm!
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Really cool info.
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Quote:

He says; "Then I've got to raise the level."


I don't shoot everybody, just the drug dealers and hookers.

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