January 2, 1971: The Whispers, The Main Ingredient, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Overton Vertis Wright, Joe Simon

THE WHISPERS: There’s A Love For Everyone; It Sure Ain’t Pretty (Hard Core Unemployed) (Janus).
Presumably this superb male Soul Vocal Group is the same that cut the outstandingly beautiful ‘As I Sit Here‘ (and a version of ‘Doctor Love‘) on the Dore label a few years back. In any case, this Sugar Pie De Santo-penned slowie is the follow-up (on yet another label) to the group’s recent big hit on Soul Clock, ‘Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong‘. Lovely singing on this good side, yet the prettily-constructed lurching slow flip, with its strong message, is even gooder!

THE MAIN INGREDIENT: I’m So Proud; Brotherly Love (RCA).
Yet, the Impressions’ oldie slowie done with exquisite harmonious taste, to help make this column a real Soulful treat for Christmas. Both sides are beautiful, restful gems of vocal music.

GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS: If I Were Your Woman (Soul).
The best from Gladys in ages is a great gritty bluesy slowie that, thankfully, owes nothing in its concept to Motown. Tough words, tougher singing.

OVERTON VERTIS WRIGHT: Ace Of Spades (Backbeat).
O.V. has got himself a hit with this powerful chugging slowie, the pithy words of which he spits and growls out so you can’t contradict the stuff he’s strutting about being the ‘Ace of Spades’. The dead slow flip, ‘Afflicted’, sees him back in his old style setting Soulful mood. A really good record.

JOE SIMON: Your Time To Cry (Spring).
Here’s Joe, sounding great again at last, on his new label and with his new emotional slow hit. I see my old mate Norbert De Coteaux keeps getting busier – he did the charts for both this and the Main Ingredient.

THE SUPREMES & FOUR TOPS: River Deep, Mountain High; Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music (Motown).
In America, where Tina Turner’s classic was the classic bomb, this song is finally a big hit in an approximation of the original’s treatment – the girls start it, then the Tops come in halfway, and they all go out. Pretty, plodding flip, a bit Radio 1.

ARTHUR CONLEY: Da-O; Nobody’s Fault But Mine (Atco).
Actually, it’s ‘The Banana Boat Song’, given a heavy Souling that don’t quite make it. Tricky unmoving flip.

DIONNE WARWICK: The Green Grass Starts To Grow; They Don’t Give Medals To Yesterday’s Heroes (Scepter).
The fact that this is a Bacharach & David song is hardly surprising, neither indeed is the song. Slow starting, it develops into another of their perky bits of fluff, as easy on the ear as ever. Nice version of their old flip.

JOSE FELICIANO: Feliz Navidad (RCA). Merry Christmas, y’all!
Great leaping bouncing jolly music, full of joy.

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