February 20, 1971: James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Temptations, Spinners, Bill Moss & The Celestials

JAMES BROWN: Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved (Parts 1 & 2) (King).
With Bobby Byrd doing his “Get on up, get into it” thing, the latest hit from Mr Brown obviously harks back to “Get Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine’ in some ways. In fact, it is much less tightly organised and much jazzier, with some very nice brass and guitar: consequently, it also seems less strong as material. Do hear the superb “Sex Machine” album for the best of J.B. (Polydor 2625 004) – it’s great music for balling!

WILSON PICKETT: Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You (Atlantic).
More from Gamble-Huff Productions Inc, and while this finger-poppin’ beauty doesn’t have the Philly Sound it does have the mellow Philadelphia feel and exquisite guitar picking fill-ins. Better than “Engine No. 9”, everything about this is lovely, from the interplay of that guitar with the plopping conga beat, the solid bass and smooth organ, to the chix chanting and Wilson’s screaming. A very happy-making record.

THE TEMPTATIONS: Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (Gordy).
Since the comparative failure of the boys’ fantastic (to my mind) “Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite The World)“, which has yet (if ever) to be released here, the guys at Gordy have obviously realised that the Tempts’ funkadelic run is over, for the time being. Now they’re back in their slow “I Wish It Would Rain” bag, with some very slinky strings doing moody bass runs and entwining the subdued harmonies in hypnotic disarming lushness. Incredibly restful and . . . brrrr! . . . imagination stimulating.

THE SPINNERS: We’ll Have It Made (VIP).
Well, this undistinctive noisy Blue Beat-ish Stevie Wonder production will be a great disappointment to all the Spinners’ old fans: gone is all their vocal subtlety and finesse, to be replaced by crude raucous yelling (any nice touches are obliterated by the continuous pounding electric piano) and clomping beat. I fully realise that I have just described the perfect formula for a monster British hit, and I won’t be surprised to see this as number one when it gets released here.

BILL MOSS & THE CELESTIALS: One Hundred And 44 Thousand (Westbound).
As a contrast, the singing DJ of “Sock It To ‘Em Soul Brother” fame here presents us with a superb, authentic Gospel slowie of great power and authority that is surprisingly hidden away on the flip of his own “Everything Is Going To Be Alright” (which Teegarden & Van Winkle covered as their hit follow-up). I’ve heard quite a lot of Gospel in my time, and this stands with honour amongst the best.

RARE EARTH: Born To Wander; Here Comes The Night (Rare Earth).
Their own song, a big U.S. hit, and, as mildly heavy U.S. groups go, it’s pretty good. There are some Herbie Mann flute bits, a jerky slow loud beat, lots of noise, and a good blue-eyed soul vocal – flip’s fine too.

LIZ DAMON’S ORIENT EXPRESS: 1900 Yesterday (White Whale).
Lovely different-sounding “easy listening”, very smooth and relaxed with good instrumentation and lulling singing.

SAMMI SMITH: Help Me Make It Through The Night (Mega).
Sammi (a chick from the Country) is tearing up the Pop and C&W Charts with this Kris Kristofferson slowie, that she does in a less declamatory style than Gail Wynters (whose Bassey-esque and better version is out here).

THE OSMONDS: One Bad Apple; He Ain’t Heavy…He’s My Brother (MGM 2006 021).
Number one in America and the latest ‘teen sensation (that’s sweeping the nation) are the Osmond 5. These (white) brothers, known for their “Andy Williams Show” residency, quote Chapter and Verse from the Book Of Jackson and, where they could so easily have failed, have succeeded in winning over both Pop AND R&B audiences with this blatant plagiarism of “I Want You Back”. Suitable flip! A pick to click.

CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARD: Everything’s Tuesday; Bless You (Invictus INV 507).
Everything’s getting kinda behind America, more like. They’re now ahead of us by not only “Pay To The Piper” (which shares the same album track flip) but also their new “Chairman Of The Board“. Still, we’re sticking with the original release schedule, and hit number 3 should make it here with no difficulty, any day of the week. Nothing new to describe, and anyway I’m sure Blackburn is plugging it.

NEIL YOUNG: When You Dance I Can Really Love You; After The Gold Rush (Reprise RS 23488).
Two hit album tracks that speak for themselves. If you dig Neil you’ve gotta get “Cinnamon Girl” (RS 23462) and make that fantastic heavy dancer the hit he deserves.

THE ASSOCIATION: Everything That Touches You (Warner Bros. WB 6113).
Wishy-washy gentle harmonies, pleasant but no more.

DUSK: Angel Baby (Bell BLL 1142).
The sister group of Dawn, and a real slab of traditional Pop (from the production of the Tokens and Dave Appell, it had to be!), complete with revving motor bike, early ’60s yearning wailing chix, more Ben E. King backing noises, and a lively beat. Oh yeah . . . no relation to Rosie & The Originals. A hit.

IKE & TINA TURNER: River Deep, Mountain High; Oh Baby! (Things Ain’t What They Used To Be) (A&M AMS 829).
‘Nuff said? Good Spector flip, this time around.

MELANIE: Stop! I Don’t Wanna Hear It Any More; Beautiful People (Buddah 2011064).
Firstly, this is now the THIRD time that “Beautiful People” has been available here on a single. It is indeed beautiful, my favourite Melanie track, and should be owned by everyone, but . . . hey! ease up, fellas! The A-side, evidently from the film “R.P.M.” (which I expect is another about revolution), is a nice jolly foot-tapper with “El Condor Pasa” flute and a vaguely Irish chorus.

THE FLAMING EMBER: I’m Not My Brother’s Keeper; Mind, Body And Soul (Hot Wax HWX 104).
A clomping beater that’s fine if that’s your bag. The best thing about this was the flip, the subtle “Deserted Village”, on the American copy, but here we have been given a dull derivative album track slowie.

BLOODROCK: D.O.A. (Capitol CL 15670).
And now, for all you “Last Kiss” fans, the ultimate in sick death discs! This sombre slowie (produced by Terry “Grand Funk” Knight) is a beauty: the singer and his chick were flying alone (makes a change from cars and cycles, huh?) when they hit something in the air. Chick dead, and throughout the song the singer realises gradually that he too is dying, and describes the experience. Great stereophonic ambulance sirens cap this classic, which is my fave of the week. Oh, D.O.A.? “Dead On Arrival”.

TOMMY ROE: Little Miss Goody Two Shoes (Probe PRO 517).
Probe continuing to do its best to Turn-off the People.

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