August 30, 1969: Johnny Cash, William Bell, Three Dog Night, Billy Preston, Elvis Presley

JOHNNY CASH: A Boy Named Sue; San Quentin (CBS 4460).
There’s been so much talk about Johnny Cash of late that the time must be right for him to have a hit here. Recorded live at the infamous San Quentin prison, this jog-trotting amusing study (about a guy who HAD to be tough, thanks to his dad’s foresight) could be the one to do the trick . . . especially as it’s currently Top 5 in the U.S., and will be performed as heard here on the up-coming “Cash At San Quentin” T-Ver. Disconcertingly there’s even a “bleeped”-out word near the end! Big applause from the inmates for the flip.

WILLIAM BELL: Happy; Johnny I Love You (Stax 128).
“Happy” is the right name for William’s bright and bubbly terper, a most untypical sound from Stax – produced surprisingly by Booker T. Jones (from the Detroit-influenced strings and chix one might have expected it to have been Don Davis). This lively, lovely “happy” dancer will add sparkle to the air-waves and could so easily be a hit if played enough, especially following Jackie Wilson’s not dis-similar “Higher”. Flip-side, an easy sway is added to Booker T.’s “Uptight” song.

THREE DOG NIGHT: Easy To Be Hard; Dreamin’ Isn’t Good For You (Stateside/ Dunhill SS 8024).
This talented group are enormous in America, where their last outing, “One“, actually got to number one, yet they remain a minority taste in this country. Their new lurch-beat slowie, bulleted up the U.S. Chart, is from “Hair” – and that magic connection might just be enough to raise the interest level sufficiently to give them a hit here too. Punchy flip.

BILLY PRESTON: Billy’s Bag; Goldfinger (President PT 263).
It is an uninspired move of President’s to re-release this old Vee-Jay-recorded organ and percussion juniper at this moment, as, along with the obvious attraction of Preston’s name, it makes an even better follow-on to the M.G.s’ “Time Is Tight” than that group’s “Soul Clap ‘Soixante-Neuf’“, having much the same zest and beat as the former. When first released (with a much better flip, the beautiful slow “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying“) by Sue Records in 1965, it was extremely popular as a club raver, and its popularity remains undiminished as I proved at a dance last week. Great.

ELVIS PRESLEY: Clean Up Your Own Back Yard; The Fair’s Moving On (RCA Victor RCA 1869).
Jimmy Burton (the top Country session-man, a pupil of the less famous but better Roy Buchanan) seems to have joined the ranks of the other celebrated guitarists who dig Duane Allman’s bottle-neck playing style, as he demonstrates fully here in his contribution to the modish mid-tempo funky-Country backing on El’s newie. On a par with the King’s other recent work, this bit of gritty home-spun philosophy is nothing to get overly excited about – and neither is the dead slow flip. They are both O.K. for what they are . . . and that certainly isn’t another “Lawdy, Miss Clawdy”.

OTIS REDDING: Free Me; (Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher And Higher (Atco 226002).
A reasonably soulful slowie from Otis, with constant verbal reminders of several of his earlier hits (which may be intentional) and instrumental ditto (which may not). As with the tightly-backed Jackie Wilson flip, it’s on the “Love Man” album.
* * * * *

EDDIE HOLMAN: I Love You; I Surrender (Action ACT 4547).
I apologise in case I bore or anger any of you by continually going on about “Soul Group Freaks”, but those who recognise themselves to be just that might as well be told when a record of their minority speciality is released. Although Eddie Holman (of “This Can’t Be True”, etc. fame) is hardly a group, this pretty slowie is likely to be more appreciated by them than by anyone else. It is B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L., intoxicating, hypnotic, irresistible, and more, while the fast flip is great, too!
* * * * * *

THE IMPRESSIONS: Choice Of Colors; Mighty Mighty Spade And Whitey (Buddah 201062).
“If you had a choice of colors, which one would you choose my brothers?” Not surprisingly, Curtis Mayfield’s biting and encouraging words have put the Imps’ latest (and almost greatest) slowie at the very top of the U.S. R&B Chart. Similar idea on the slow-beat flip (which has some of the freaky backing effects that have become increasingly in vogue on Soul records since the Temptations’ “new sound” came in). More than just S.G.F.s should hear these social commentaries.
* * * * * *

DEAN MARTIN: I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am; Drowning In My Tears (Reprise RS 20841).
Gentle On My Mind“, Part 2 – same construction, beat, sound, and (virtually) lyrics . . . Dino’s a hobo again. But for the similarity, it is of course perfectly good. Easy-going pleasant flip.
* * * * *

BURT BACHARACH: I’ll Never Fall In Love Again; Pacific Coast Highway (A&M AMS 757).
A&M are concerned ‘cos the cover versions of Burt’s “Promises, Promises” lilter are getting BBC play. Don’t worry fellas, this is still the best! To reiterate my original comment, it’s “chartworthy” . . . but it hasn’t made it yet, has it?
* * * * *

THE GRASSROOTS: Midnight Confessions; Who Will You Be Tomorrow (Stateside/Dunhill SS 8023).
Re-release on Dunhill’s new British label of last year’s U.S. hit, presumably in the hope that it repeat the success that Steppenwolf have just had after a similar move. It’s a brassy chanter for teeny-bops, somewhat Love Affair/Marmalade – which could help. * * * * *

BRIAN HYLAND: Stay And Love Me All Summer; Rainy April Morning (Dot 128).
Pure 1962 vocal sound and song – in fact it’s very like Carole King’s “It Might As Well Rain Until September” (even in theme), which isn’t to say that it’s bad! For nostalgicats, methinks.
* * * *

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY: White Bird; Wasted Union Blues (CBS 4457).
Fairly unexceptional yet pleasant enough gentle boy and girl folksy thumper. Freaky flip. Having admired their album’s pretty cover design I’d hoped for better.
* * * *

JOHNNY RIVERS: Muddy River; Resurrection (Liberty LBF 15241).
He’s never made it here, and this mid-tempo brassy strummer, O.K. though it is, won’t change the situation any. A U.S. hit.
* * * *

CLAUDINE LONGET: Shadows Of The Night; Lazy Summer Night (A&M AMS 762).
Mrs. Andy Williams’ vocal version of the “Quentin’s theme” waltz, from the U.S. telly soap-opera, “Dark Shadows” – not much relevance here. Very nice ultra-relaxed flip is worth hearing.
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PERRY COMO: Seattle; Sunshine Wine (RCA Victor RCA 1837).
Happy-go-lucky bouncer.
* * *

PETER NERO: Theme From Picasso Summer (Summer Me, Winter You); Be-In (Hare Krishna) (CBS 4464).
His “Soulful Strut” was evidently a flash in the pan, as Nero reverts to his usual form on this accomplished yet uninspired lush slowie. Perky pianistics on the gay “Hair” flip.
* * *

CRAZY ELEPHANT: Sunshine, Red Wine; Pam (Major Minor MM 623).
Somewhat lifeless Bubble Gum after the spirited “Gimme” hit.
* * *

EVIE SANDS: Any Way That You Want Me; I’ll Never Be Alone Again (A&M AMS 760).
“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ c/w “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” . . . Evie sounds as good as usual though.
* * *

THE GUESS WHO: Laughing; Undun (RCA Victor RCA 1870).
Slight Buddy Holly feel to this otherwise uninteresting slow follow-up to the Canadians’ “These Eyes” U.S. monster. Somehow this is big too.
* * *

AL KOOPER: Hey, Western Union Man; I Stand Alone (CBS 4160).
Standing alone, Al really is no good. He’s arranged the brass nicely, but vocally he can’t cope with this Jerry Butler song.
* *

JOHNNY MATHIS: Love Theme From “Romeo And Juliet” (A Time For Us); The World I Threw Away (CBS 4455).
Finding it impossible to forget Mathis’ years-ago character-revealing appearance on “Juke Box Jury”, I can biasedly say that this slowie is desperately dull, as is everything he does. Fans may love it.
* *

THE CHAMBERS BROTHERS: People Get Ready; No, No, No, Don’t Say Goodbye (Direction 58-4318).
Yes, it’s been out a while, and it’s so average I couldn’t bear to review it before. No, I don’t like the Chambers Brothers (biased again!).
* *

EAST MAIN ST. EXPLOSION: Hop, Skip, And A Jump; Little Jack Horner (Fontana TF 1039).
Bubble Gum.
* *

HOYT AXTON: It’s All Right Now; Way Before The Time Of Towns (CBS 4316).
“Heartbreak Hotel’s” co-composer’s son sounds aggressively dull.

BOOKER T. & THE M.G.’s: Soul Clap ’69; Mrs. Robinson (Stax 127).
For some reason Stax have switched the sides around for this country. “Soul Clap” is not exactly sparkling – a competent mid-tempo groover with lots of wah-wah guitar. The well-known S. & G. flip was a big U.S. hit as the follow-up to “Time Is Tight”, and is more in that vein . . . though again it’s not brilliant, exhibiting as it does Stax’s determination to be commercial among the Whites at all costs. Kerry Lewis and the faithful will dig.
* * * *

EDWIN HAWKINS SINGERS: Ain’t It Like Him; Lord Don’t Move That Mountain (Buddah 201059).
Unexceptional, disappointing Gospel jumper from Ed and the gang – an unworthy follow-up for “Oh, Happy Day”. The lengthy slow and tranquil flip is much better but still it isn’t another world-beater. (Incidentally, I’m surprised that reader Thomas Barclay should think that I might be the mysterious “Wise Owl” – ’tain’t my style baby.)
* * * *

JEANETTE WHITE: Music; No Sunshine (A&M AMS 761).
A&M briefly ventured into the world of R&B a few years ago with their Omen label – now they try again, following their recent Phil Spector productions with this much more definite R&B disc, a driving, noisy, over-obvious beater . . . and fail. Tough.
* * *

GEORGE JACKSON: Find ‘Em, Fool ‘Em And Forget ‘Em; My Desires Are Getting The Best Of Me (Capitol CL 15605).
It would appear that Radio 1 likes this . . . why? It’s a mediocre brassy slow beater with trendy wah-wah guitar over-laid. Not Rick Hall’s best by any means. Sounds like Part 2 of Clarence Carter’s “Slip Away” on flip.
* * *

HAROLD SMITH’S MAJESTIC CHOIR: We Can All Walk A Little Bit Prouder; Why Am I Treated So Bad (Chess CRS 8101).
With such brilliant gospel groups as the Violinaires to draw on, why do Chess choose to release this uninteresting record here? Because it’s got a big-voiced “Happy Day” choir, that’s why.
* *

THE GREAT AWAKENING: Amazing Grace; Silver Waterfall (London HLU 10284).
I’ve rarely heard so much mis-information as was dished out by Keith (“5 O-levels”) Skues on last Saturday’s “Pick Of What’s New”, so that I wasn’t at all surprised when he said that this instrumental was the week’s worst record. He has as much right to be bigoted as I do (and I’m bigoted), for music is a very personal thing, impossible to review without bias. However, loathe this or love it, but please agree that it’s at least different. Neither I nor my friends can decide what instruments are used to obtain the great effects on this, except that whatever they are they do seem to be stringed, they do wail, and they’re probably multi-tracked. We love it.
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