Sussex born Johnny Wakelin is a classic two-hit wonder, having troubled the charts during the 1970s with a pair of songs about Muhammad Ali – Black Superman in 1974 and the admittedly splendid In Zaire a year later. That’s arguably one more song than you might expect to squeeze out of a boxing legend, but clearly it wasn’t going to be enough to build a whole career on. Wakelin was a white man who these days would doubtless be condemned for cultural appropriation, as he seemed to specialise in tracks about the black experience – other non-hits included African Man and Reggae, Soul and Rock ‘n’ Roll – while he also tried to mine the tribute record further with Tennessee Hero (Elvis) and, clutching at straws, Bruno in 1986, which saw him attempting to duplicate his earlier pugilistic hits with a heartfelt tribute to the hapless British boxer Frank Bruno. Oh, and he recorded Where Seagulls Fly as the official anthem for Brighton and Hove Albion F.C.’s 1983 FA Cup Final appearance. This is all, it must be said, spectacular stuff and well worth tracking down if you are a connoisseur of the eccentric.
In 1977, Wakelin took a stab at the burgeoning disco craze, grafting it to the horror novelty song – perhaps he was inspired by Hot Blood’s Soul Dracula, which had been a Euro disco hit a couple of years earlier. The music for Dr Frankenstein’s Disco Party was originally an instrumental, co-written by Harold Faltermeier, who would later find fame for his Beverly Hills Cop theme tune Axel F. Wakelin added the lyrics (not written by him) and the resulting record was released to global indifference. A shame, because this is magnificent stuff, as I’m sure you will agree – from the opening lines about invites being delivered by bat through to the break out soul sections, this is a must for your next Halloween party.