May 3, 1969: Canned Heat, Vikki Carr, Marv Johnson, Billy Butler, Gene Chandler & Barbara Acklin

CANNED HEAT: Time Was; Low Down (Liberty LBF 15200)
Will it be third in a row for Heat’s prepossessing new rock-a-ballad? Maybe, but although it combines some of Stevie Wonder’s lilt with a nice rumbling bass, freaky guitar and steady drumming, it lacks the last two’s magic spark of life – time will tell. Typical so-called “boogie” noises on flip, O.K. later on. CHART POSSIBILITY

VIKKI CARR: If Ever You’re Lonely; Fly Away (Liberty LBF 15217)
Though “With Pen In Hand” is still kicking (not out the jams), here is a newie from Vikki – all melodic with heavily crescendoing patches and torch singing (she even sounds a bit like Cilia at times). ‘S not bad at all, and could do rather well. Personally, I preferred the light, Bossa-Nova-ish, reminiscent flip. CHART POSSIBILITY

MARV JOHNSON: I Love The Way You Love; You Got What It Takes (United Artists UP 35010)
Recorded at the turn of the decade, when Marv was 20, these old UA sides are among Berry Gordy’s earliest productions. “Love” (a U.S. hit) hints at the course Tamla was to take in its first years, while the slightly earlier (muzzily re-mixed) “Takes” was a hit here for both Marv and Johnny Kidd (and was actually written by Bobby “Watch Your Step” Parker). Motown addicts should hear the old London LP, “Marvellous Marv Johnson” (HA-T 2271), the better of his two UA albums, which includes some deliciously falsetto-sung straight standards. Presumably aimed at collectors. * * * * * * 

BILLY BUTLER: The Right Track; The Boston Monkey (Soul City SC 113)
Jerry’s brother’s 3½-year-old double-sided R&B classic, released here at last by enterprising Dave Godin! Jumping, string-backed dancer, A-side; more celebrated, funkier, brassier flip. Look out for these. * * * * * *

GENE CHANDLER AND BARBARA ACKLIN: Little Green Apples; Will I Find Love (MCA BAG 1)
In the new “Soul Bag Series”, two of R&B’s best, most distinctive singers get together and make pretty, but disappointingly unexciting, noises with the Bobby Russell song. It’s the swinging Gaye/Weston-type flip that’s the gas. * * * *

THE COASTERS: Yakety Yak; Searchin’ (Atlantic 584087)
Ho boy! A re-release of two blasts from the 10-years-ago past! Yakety sax, ricky-tick beat and nagging lyrics on top, with a Lieber/Stoller classic on flip. * * * *

WILSON PICKETT: Land Of 1000 Dances; You’re So Fine (Atlantic 584039)
With “Mini-Skirt Minnie” practically unborn, re-release mania strikes Atlantic yet again! “Come on y’all, let’s say it one more time!” is an apt quote from the song, Wilson’s most exciting dancer ever. * * * *

BARNEY KESSEL: Frank Mills; Quail Bait (Polydor 56765)
Exceptionally pretty instrumental reading by the guitarist (in simple mood) of the less well-exposed “Hair” song – very easily enjoyed. Beaty dancer on flip has a straightforward Eddy-ish sound. Both very good. * * * *

B.J. THOMAS: It’s Only Love; You Don’t Love Me Anymore (Pye International 7N 25487)
Pretty, though less catchy, follow-up to the excellent “Hooked On A Feeling” U.S. million-seller – but as, inexplicably, that failed here, this will probably do likewise. Nice slow flip. * * * *

STEPPENWOLF: Born To Be Wild; Everybody’s Next One (Stateside/Dunhill SS 8017)
Re-release (on Dunhill’s EMI outlet this time) for last year’s huge, noisy U.S. Hard-Rock rebellion smash – none too subtle, but it has a lot of life. Ditto flip. * * * *

CHUBBY CHECKER: Back In The U.S.S.R.; Windy Cream (Buddah 201045)
The plagiarist of the Twist is back, with a faultless but unexceptional, brassy version of the Beatles’ number – doing reasonably well U.S.-side, but it seems a bit late for here. John Madera produced. * * *

2 thoughts on “May 3, 1969: Canned Heat, Vikki Carr, Marv Johnson, Billy Butler, Gene Chandler & Barbara Acklin”

    1. And this is about a year after Dave Godin started entitling a section of records in his shop “Northern Soul” after noticing how by 1968 visiting football fans from the north and the midland down to watch their clubs play London sides were consistently still asking him for the energetic already slightly out of date by the time sound while similar punters from London and the South East were already getting into the funkier sounds and in many cases skinhead reggae (skinheads originating in London in 1968). That’s how Northern Soul was named and he put it into print for the first time in one of his column in ‘Blues & Soul’ in 1970.


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