July 18, 1970: Toomorrow, Cissy Houston, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, 5th Dimension, Tommy Roe

TOOMORROW: You’re My Baby Now; Goin’ Back (RCA 1978).
Mark my words, you will be hearing more about this group.

CISSY HOUSTON: The Long and Winding Road; Be My Baby (Major Minor MM 716). Forget all other pronouncements: THIS is THE hit – hit – HIT! To a light “Always Something There to Remind Me” bossa nova-ish tempo, Cissy glides and emotes through the Paul McCartney song as though it was her own exclusively. It will be. Pure artistry. Dig too the slowed right up and quietened down totally different treatment of the classic Spector flip.

SMOKEY ROBINSON AND THE MIRACLES: The Tears of a Clown; You Must Be Love (Tamla Motown TMG 745).
Instead of with some of the Miracles’ recent unreleased material, Motown has chosen to belatedly follow ‘Tracks of My Tears’ up with this similarly titled stomping 1967 album track. Slow flip, from the same ‘Make it Happen’ elpee. They’re both good if old hat, but then British Motown has proved often enough that it knows its market here.

THE 5th DIMENSION: Save the Country; Dimension 5ive (Bell BLL 1117).
This Laura Nyro anthem is so typical of both Laura and the 5D that even on first playing it seems as though one’s been hearing it sung like this for years. Maybe too mellow for Britain, it is still more hitworthy than their recent flops. Jazzy smooth scat flip.

TOMMY ROE: Pearl; A Dollar’s Worth of Pennies (Stateside SS 2174).
Nice! Tommy has at last slowed up and done an almost soulful soft slowie. Don’t know how ‘the fans’ will react, but I really like this (for a change). I think it’s the doodling ‘Hello Stranger’ organ that’s snared me.

OTIS LEAVILL: I Love You; I Need You (Atlantic 2091015).
Written by Eugene Record and Tyrone Davis, produced by Willie Henderson, sung by light voiced Otis Leavill of the sweet Chicago school – all astute Soul freaks will read nothing but good things in these facts. Go ahead and get it, you KNOW it’s lovely (especially the slow SFG flip)!

NEWBY & JOHNSON: I Want to Give You My Everything; Sweet Happiness (Mercury 6052027).
Now, wait a minute! The label here doesn’t lead one to expect this – who ARE Newby & Johnson, anyway?! Two beautiful sweet Soul sides by a girl/boy duo, with group support, admittedly in a Marvin & Tammi mould but much less stereotyped. Slowish top, delightful perky flip – really great. Soul freaks, BUY THESE!

O’JAYS: Don’t You Know a True Love; That’s Alright (Now! NOW 1002).
Modified congrats to Bamboo (whose label Now! is) for releasing material from my very favourite Soul vocal group – unfortunately, they were not bold enough, and instead of one of the O’Jays’ superb subtle slowies they have served up a good though indistinctive ‘safe’ mid-tempo busy beater (with a better flip). Pre-Neptune productions, by the great George Kerr/Richard Tee team, from Bell.

OTIS REDDING: Wonderful World; Security (Atco 2091020).
Two vintage Otis tracks, and, even though the A-side stems from as recently as the 1965 ‘Otis Blue’ LP (where the rot was beginning to set in), just bask in the glorious rich backing sound! Hearing these now, isolated, really brings home the lack of spirit on today’s mechanical ‘Memphis Sound’.

SLIM HARPO: Folsom Prison Blues; Mutual Friend (Blue Horizon 57-3175).
The late “King Bee” had his last hit with this bluesy souling of one of Johnny Cash’s earlier prison songs. Now that Blue Horizon have got Duke/Peacock as well as Excello for this country, maybe they’ll consider releasing Volume 2 of my “Gospel Goodies” LP. Write them, fans!

ARTHUR CONLEY: God Bless; All Day Singing (Atlantic 2091025).
Amusing if over sentimental slowie about little Johnny praying for all his favourite cartoon characters. Echoing sepulchral choir-backed flip.

DON COVAY: Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky; Key to the Highway (Atlantic 2091018).
Maybe, but not funky as Lee Dorsey’s original, y’all. Folk-Blues flip. Hey, Phil Wilson – I’m talkin’ to ya!

JOHN BUCK WILKIN: Apartment Twenty-One; Boy of the Country (Liberty LBF 15375).
John’s idea of fun (in Apartment 21) is to put on the Rolling Stones. Equally slow flip, but there’s more music to it. For seekers after “significance”, I reckon, as it’s the good words that are all important.

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