January 10, 1970: B.J. Thomas, Canned Heat, The Contours, The Other Brothers, Nina Simone

B. J. THOMAS: Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head (Wand WN 1).
No. 1 in the U.S. Chart; a Bacharach and David song of exquisite niceness; from the upcoming boffo Paul Newman-starring “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” flick; a pick to click!

CANNED HEAT: Let’s Work Together; I’m Her Man (Liberty LBF 15302).
Wilbert (“Kansas City”) Harrison’s original of this chunky beater (raved about in “Rolling Stone”) has been around in America for some time, and is now finally a hit there. Good – very good – though the Heat’s version is, I’d dig to hear Wilbert’s Great sounds on the frantic flip. I always goof when tipping these boys, but this time they ARE due for a tour! Go, go, Harvey Mandel!

THE CONTOURS: Just A Little Misunderstanding; First I Look At The Purse (Tamla Motown TMG 723).
Having re-released so much old R & B material, British record companies are now hoist with their own petard: they’ve so successfully brainwashed the public into equating “Soul” with ’65/’66 vintage sounds that they now find it difficult to get the trickier modern R & B rhythms across – and have virtually stopped trying to do so. Out of the current U.S. R & B Top 50, only eight titles are available here (of which three are on L.P.s) . . . no wonder people are saying “Soul is dead”. (These old Contours “bang-bang-bang” dancers always were good, and could happen here now.)

THE OTHER BROTHERS: Let’s Get Together; Little Girl (Pama PM 785).
Dale Hawkins-produced brassy nasty top, with a beautiful Soul Group Freak special on the flip – yeah! Do hear it. (Hey, any Freaks who want a slightly fuller version of my “Confessions of a Soul Freak” review of the decade, or who missed it in the Xmas week issue, send me a big S.A.E.)

NINA SIMONE: To Be Young, Gifted And Black; Save Me (RCA Victor RCA 1903).
Alright! Although technically the B-side here, “Black” is right up high in the U.S. R & B Chart . . . slow and moody, with Gospel chorus, it sizzles! (So much better than Nina’s thin version of the Ray Sharpe/Aretha Franklin “Me”.)

BILL MOSS: Sock It To ‘Em Soul Brother (Pama PM 765).
Out for ages, this Bell Records-leased Soul jumper is now getting the plugs it deserves. I just thought you soul Freaks who thought it was Reggae should know and investigate!

THE DELLS: Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay; When I’m In Your Arms (Chess CRS 8105).
Noisy, beaty version of the Redding classic – a U.S. hit, it sounds better in the middle of an LP (from whence it came). Older album track flip, too.

SOUL PARTNERS: Walk On Judge (Pama PM 766).
A post-“Tighten Up” brass ‘n’ guitar instrumental, it has some nice bits and is good – but ’tain’t nothin’ special, neither.

EDDIE FLOYD: Why Is The Wine Sweeter (On The Other Side); People, Get It Together (Stax 138).
Chug-beat Bass-filled slowish bit of philosophy (on an old theme!), with quite a good busily-orchestrated fast flip.

THE RASCALS: Hold On; I Believe (Atlantic 584 307).
A nice slice of fairly formless funk – hence uncommercial here, but very good. The breezy Soul vocal group-like flip wails towards the end! Two good-goodies!

THE JAMES GANG: Funk No. 48 (Stateside SS 2158). A noisy “modern” group (with a hit U.S. album) doing a blatant Family Stone, with freaky sounds and chattering beat – yet surprisingly fresh and punchy.

THE TOKENS: She Lets Her Hair Down (Early In The Morning) (Buddah 201076).
That Clairol commercial again – here sounding better and lighter than Gene Pitney’s version. Good ol’ Tokens!

BUCK OWENS: Big In Vegas; Tall Dark Stranger (Capitol CL 15623).
Big in the C & W Chart, too, this slowie (by Owens & Terry Stafford) sounds quite like the sort of thing that Buck’s similarly Hollywood-based Country cousin, Glen Campbell, might sing. Smooth and bitter-sweet.

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