RONNIE HAWKINS WITH THE BAND: Who Do You Love; Bo Diddley (Roulette RO 512).
Originally released on the old Columbia green label back in ’63, this single has been much treasured by those discerning few who found it then (like a fool, I dug it but never got it, ’cause he was white – a mistake I have long regretted!) Many of our more famous guitar super-stars were among those few – which is no surprise, since, along with Lonnie Mack during the same year, the amazing guitar sounds that Robbie Robertson brought screaming forth on “Who Do You Love” were truly a foretaste of the future. Anyway, now everyone can get the real genuine 1963 article again (there’s an L.P. too), and wonder at the un-dated modern sound! (Forgetting Pop history; the beat on these two old Bo Diddley-penned dancers is ridiculous, and their sheer excitement communicates itself immediately to everyone).
THE ARCHIES: Jingle Jangle; Justine (RCA Victor RCA 1918).
Clever chap, that Jeff Barry (the producer) – instead of following-up “Sugar, Sugar” with another sound-alike, he’s not only got a completely different beat going but he also has a chick singing the lead (with some nice male support near the end). As with “Sugar”, the tune is not immediately obvious yet once you’ve heard it a few times it becomes maddeningly catchy. The less-danceable beat is the only element that may hold this back. Monotonous slow flip.
KENNY ROGERS & THE FIRST EDITION: Something’s Burning; Momma’s Waiting (Reprise RS 20888).
“Someone’s Goofed”, more like! They should have gone ahead with “Reuben James” as their follow-up, since this soft-then-building, soft-again-then-building slowie certainly won’t get the crowds dancing (nor the critics disapproving) . . . it’s not that it’s bad, just ordinary. Perkier Country-tinged flip.
HERB ALPERT & THE TIJUANA BRASS: The Maltese Melody; Good Morning Mr. Sunshine (A & M AMS 773).
About time this popular band had another hit here, and, as was “Spanish Fly”, this rousing Bert Kaempfert stomper has been released here instead of their current U.S. single to try and get them one. It has one of those all-purpose “where-have-I-heard-that-before” Mediterranean mandolin melodies worked in amongst the usual brass, and it’s this that could sell it. Pretty flip, with strings.
ANTHONY SWETE: Backfield In Motion (RCA Victor RCA 1905).
Since the Mel & Tim million-seller doesn’t appear to have been picked up for this country from Gene Chandler’s Bamboo label, we must make do with Swete’s cover. Not the Poindexter Brothers’ song, it’s a nicely dated beater with soulful Sam & Dave-ish vocal touches – quite good.
THE STEELERS: Get It From The Bottom; I’m Sorry (Direction 58-4675).
Not as kinky as the title, actually! The chunky beat and brassy backing detract from the nice Impressions-like vocal quality of this Soul group – they’re heard better on the flip. A recent R & B hit. Keep it up, Direction!
THE METERS: Look-Ka Py Py; This Is My Last Affair (Direction 58-4751).
Of the five or so Meters singles that I have, this, their current U.S. hit, is my favourite. The funky modern tricky beat is a gas – to most ears it will sound slow, but to those in tune with the new R & B rhythms it will be a raving “Popcorn”-type dancer! A complex instrumental, with percussion, bass, organ and odd voices. More straightforward nice flip. Well done, Direction!
LAURA NYRO: Wedding Bell Blues; And When I Die (Verve Forecast VS 15221.
A wise move, releasing these two tracks from Laura’s first (1966) album now. Her originals are always so much more interesting, because they are so personal, than the countless covers by other artists. These two are of course in current release by the 5th Dimension and Blood, Sweat and Tears, but Laura’s own versions are much mellower and easier on the ear – which is why, in view of “Blues” popularity now, I make this a CHART CHANCE.
JOHNNY TAYLOR: Love Bones; Separation Line (Stax 141).
Johnny’s current U.S. hit is another couple of tracks from his latest album (which is one of the better ones out of the generally uninteresting recent Stax batch – surely “product” instead of records that simply HAD to be made?). “Bones” is an average stomper, with a nice end bit; “Line” is an O.K. slowie.
SWEET INSPIRATIONS: (Gotta Find) A Brand New Lover (Parts 1 & 2) (Atlantic 584312).
The best bit of this nice slowie, which tends to drag on without much new happening (as “Hey Jude”), is right at the start – the girls do a head-turning “wow, what was THAT?” trick with the words “home” and “alone”, and a bit later with “friends” and “been”. Otherwise, they keep up a steady “somebody who’s gonna care about me”, which weaves itself into quite a soulful intensity.
EDWIN STARR: Time; Running Back And Forth (Tamla Motown TMG 725).
A shame that they withdrew Edwin and Blinky’s “Oh How Happy“, as this is less commercial. A fair enough fast beater, it has a good backing, while the intro to the nicer slowish flip is almost B, S & T! Edwin’s voice sounds good on the flip too – I wish it could be given a vehicle as great as “Agent 00 Soul” again, though.
DONNY HATHAWAY: The Ghetto (Parts 1 & 2) (Atco 226010).
“Yes, this is the Ghetto – sho’ nuff now” . . . then into a delightful funky electric piano instrumental that cooks along especially on Part 2, with vocal interjections and build-up of Latin-Rock percussion. Great! Just beginning to show on the R & B charts.
CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL: Down On The Corner; Fortunate Son (Liberty LBF 15283).
Already much imported and raved over in clubs, CCR’s latest American chart-topper is much more direct than the surprisingly unsuccessful (though undeniably popular with dancers) “Green River“. The beat is basic, and without much instrumental support it is emphasized by the clipped chanting delivery of the lyrics. An immediate gut-level seller, I should think. Noisier flip.
BOBBIE GENTRY: Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head; Seasons Come, Seasons Go (Capitol CL 15626). Well, I like the B. J. Thomas version! (I also liked the Burt Bacharach version of his other song, “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” – and we all know who had the hit with that!) It seems fair to say that for as long as the BBC keep on giving Bobbie TV series they are likely to plug her records on the radio, with the result that whenever she makes a version of a good song she is likely to beat her competition, no matter how good they may be. Self-penned flip.
PAUL ANKA: Happy; Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind (RCA Victor RCA 1904).
Anka sings Bubble Gum! It’s nothing special, but already fuss is being made over it and since really anything seems to go in the Chart today it must have a chance. The good slow flip rambles on a bit “MacArthur”-ishly.
SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE: Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin); Everybody Is A Star (Direction 58-4782).
An instantaneous smash in America, this percussive repetitive dancer hits me very hard indeed . . . we all know what my tastes are, so that’s not much of a guide, but I do think that this could well get through to people in much the same way as C.C.R.’s “Down On The Corner” is likely to! I think it’s a gas! (Yes, Cynthia, the title is spelt that way). Unusual slow brassy flip.
JIMMY RUFFIN: Farewell Is A Lonely Sound; If You Will Let Me, I Know I Can (Tamla Motown TMG 726).
I don’t see it, but my accountant digs this so it must have something for the public. Very much in the mould of his past hits, it’s a semi-slow sentimental swayer, to the well-tried formula. Nice flip.
ARTHUR CONLEY: They Call The Wind Maria; Hurt (Atco 226011). That’s only The West Wind, mind. (The hot, passionate South Wind is called Gladys.) String-backed and ever so classy, Arthur (the mighty midget) makes quite an un-cliche-ed stab at this unexpected material – from his present disc-jockey support, he could do well. Lovely soulful flip (penned by Jackie Avery).