DIANA ROSS: Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand); Dark Side Of The World (Tamla Motown TMG 743).
For her solo debut, Diana has got right away from the old hit-making Supremes format – she still, of course, sounds exactly like the old Diana, and even has a girlie group in back of her, but it is in her choice of material that she is different. These are both Nick Ashford/Valerie Simpson-penned songs, with the A-side being the more different of the two: a meandering, gently thumping slowie, sung by Diana in un-raucous, delicate mood. The flip is a bit more determined, and rather more Supremes-ish. Both good.
NORMAN GREENBAUM: Canned Ham; Junior Cadillac (Reprise RS.20919).
As a follow-up to the monster “Spirit In The Sky”, Norman has reverted to the sound and structure of his earlier release, “Jubilee“. The beat is more straightforward (and, I reckon, will be less popular) than that of his hit, and the girlie group are featured prominently throughout, chirping away call-and-answers in a squeaky harmony – all in all, VERY like “Jubilee”. It’s nice good-time music, but it’s too fast for that modern Madison dance-step which fitted ‘Spirit” so well! Funkier flip.
JOHNNIE TAYLOR: Who’s Making Love; I’m Trying (Stax 106). Someone at Stax has some sense! When this glorious screaming, stomping, storming dancer was released a year and a half ago in America, it went straight to number one, sold over a million, and finally established Johnnie (who’s been singing since the ’50s) as a true great. Admittedly “Do The Funky Chicken” has made a huge impression with its ’65-type sound, but I always think of “Love” as the last of the classic “traditional” Soul hits – last year saw the emergence of newer, trickier rhythms (hence the re-release boom here). Anyway, this is one re-release that does deserve success: incredibly popular with discotheque dancers, it is placed permanently at the top of my “Soul” pile of records, and even if I play no other Soul records at a dance I generally play this, because, despite being unknown to most people, it has such a powerful impact that any fool can feel it! Go get it . . . and when you finally sit down, dig the words too.