May 24, 1969: Bob & Earl, Mason Williams, Jamo Thomas, Ike & Tina Turner, Ella Fitzgerald

BOB & EARL: Dancin’ Everywhere; Baby It’s Over (B&C CB-102).
Bob & Earl’s 1966 recording (an old “B” side) is nice enough for Soul fans, but now that all the mystery is over I don’t see many Soul freaks actually clamouring to get this fairly routine but good brassy dancer (very much like Jackie Lee’s other Fred Smith-produced things), and it certainly isn’t going to grab the general public as much as “Harlem Shuffle“. The excellent Wallace Brothers-like slow and ultra-Soulful flip (the U.S. “A” side originally) is something else though, and has always been one of my favourite goodies, so maybe this is the side to snare the Soul freaks! Anyway, as the boys are here and the record will be plugged, it’s a CHART PROBABILITY if not a smash.

MASON WILLIAMS: Greensleeves; 13 Dollar Stella (Warner Bros. WB 7272).
The Smothers Brothers may have been sacked by their T.V. company, but Mason Williams continues to make pleasant noises as always. This heavily-orchestrated, up-tempoed updating of the gentle oldie (!), which is currently popular “easy-listening” in the U.S., could carry on here where his successful and much-requested “Classical Gas” left off, since his excellent “Saturday Night At The World” vocal follow-up failed. Mason’s guitar does the twiddly bits, and is backed by slabs of violin and romping rhythm. The more peaceful flip features a bit of pretty happy-go-lucky self-penning with guitar to the fore.

JAMO THOMAS: I’ll Be Your Fool; Jamo Soul (Chess CRS 8098).
Lovely subtle funk on this beautifully flowing rhythm dancer, with some of “Heard It Thru The Grapevine’s” greatness. Jamo’s curious high, though not falsetto, voice, rides over the chugging beat and the subdued guitar which, with two nice brass breaks, constitute the hacking. Much better than “I Spy (For The F.B.I.)“, and given the plays it could do big things. Re-entitled instrumental flip is the same as “F.B.I.’s” though – a pity.

IKE & TINA TURNER: I’ll Never Need More Than This; A Love Like Yours (Don’t Come Knocking Every Day) (London HLU 10267).
Two more old Phil Spector productions of “Mountain High” vintage, that feature Tina in soaring form on the echoing, churning Spector/ Barry / Greenwich top-side (a better than typical Spector sound), and held rather more in check on the old Martha & The Vandellas classic plodding slowie flip, which was, in fact, “Mountain’s” original follow-up. A very good-value coupling, especially for those fans who only want the Spector tracks on the “River Deep” L.P. and already have the recent “Demand Performance” “Mountain” / “Last Dance” hit.

ELLA FITZGERALD: Sunshine Of Your Love; Hey Jude (Polydor 56767).
“Ho, ho! But isn’t this jolly!” you are likely to think. Here, indeed, we have Ella, in concert, having a lot of fun doing the Cream and the Beatle biggies – except she sings them straight and beautifully with a fabulous band backing, so that this is absolutely NOT a put-on! I’ve never gone for her before, but these really are ridiculously good, and could be a

JUSTIN: Right Now; The Place Where Sorrow Hides (Buffalo BFS 1001).
Heavy slow beat with bongos weaving round it, brass inserts, and drawn-out echoed vocal group back-up all help to make this well sung, purposeful plodder sound a bit Tamla. Justin, whoever he is, has a strong, note-worthy, Black voice and a sense of style to go with it. Good, slow, semi-wailed flip. Any information about this guy?
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ANTHONY AND THE IMPERIALS: Anthem (Grow, Grow, Grow); Goodbye Goodtimes (United Artists UP 35017).
After his last “Let The Sunshine In” “Hair” cutting, Anthony Gourdine stays in the social commentary mood on this Sly-influenced Randazzo/Pike heavy ‘n’ slow beater, which in fact ends up nicely “Good God Almighty” funky on a Joe Tex kick.
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THE WATTS 103rd STREET RHYTHM BAND: Do Your Thing; A Dance, A Kiss And A Song (Warner Bros. WB 7250).
This band, formed by Fred Smith (Bill Cosby’s, the Olympics’ and Bob and Earl’s producer), put out a record as the Soul Runners before changing its and their name in 1967. Here they do a typical (for them) percussive funk hip dancer that has trendy “Thing” lyrics, James Brown-like grunts, and some sparse guitar amongst the varied rhythms. A U.S. smash, and great for hip Soul fans! Slower flip has a Buddy Miles-like vocal.
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LOU JOHNSON: There’s Always Something There To Remind Me; A Message To Martha (Kentucky Bluebird) (London HLX 10269).
The FABULOUS, totally ignored original version of Sandie Shaw’s initial smash. Dig Burt Bacharach’s beautiful arrangement and under-stated production, Lou’s tremendously rhythmic voice, and . . . EVERYTHING! I used to love this back in summer ’64, and had time to turn several people on with it before S.S. came along and ruined it for all but the masses. “Martha” was done by Jerry Butler, then Lou, before Adam Faith got his hands on it – again, Lou’s was the subtlest. As the ad says, these are utterly timeless and should not be missed.
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FOUR TOPS: What Is A Man; Don’t Bring Back Memories (Tamla Motown TMG 698).
Produced by Johnny Bristol, the Tops here do a somewhat square but good harmony job on a mid-tempo smoothie that is, at least, different from their usual style (more like some of their “On Top” L.P. tracks). It’s moving in America, but it may be too unusual for British ears. Back to their urgent song-selling on the ”B” side beater, which has some nice rhythmic vocal hang-ups, and is very good indeed.
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THE CHIFFONS: One Fine Day; Sweet Talking Guy (London HLP 10271).
Ah! Such nostalgia! Goffin and King’s lovely song (in the “Fine” bag that followed up the girls’ huge 1963 “He’s So Fine” smash) epitomizes all those great girlie group goodies of the early ’60’s. The more recent (’66) British hit coupling is the one that had those beautiful descant singing effects over a steady beat, and “Summer Place” strings intro. Good double-sided value, produced by the Tokens.
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S.C.I. YOUTH CHOIR: O Happy Day; l’m Ready To Serve The Lord (Stateside/Dunhill SS 8019).
This is a dirty trick. The Edwin Hawkins Singers, hit-bound with their treatment of this lovely traditional Gospel song, were previously called the Northern California State Youth Choir, yet with the Youth Choir heard here the S.C.I. stands for Southern California Inter-denominational . . . sneaky! Apart from that, this Choir can sure sing, and while the flip is pretty powerful their “Happy Day” crib is less relaxed than the original.
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