May 29, 1971: Diana Ross, Partridge Family, Elvis Presley, Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose, Sugarloaf

DIANA ROSS: Reach Out I’ll Be There; (They Long To Be) Close To You (Motown).
Diana has tackled the Holland-Dozier-Holland classic in a completely different style to the original. Paul Riser has arranged it with a very soft electric bass and chinking cymbal slow intro, over which Diana, some chicks, and a piano gradually build up from her almost recitation start to (and this is over halfway through the record) a soaring extended climax. Not surprisingly, this last portion is stridently noisy in the time-honoured Ross tradition . . . this record, with its violent changes in volume, will be the disc-jockey’s bane!

Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson have done another good job of production, as usual. On the flip, taken from the “Diana!” tele spectacular, the canned applause segues into a none-too-subtle version of the Bachadaventers’ song, however.

THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY: I’ll Meet You Halfway (Bell).
Hey, Pop Pickers! Look at the goodie I got for you here! Nice, huh? Aw, sheee . . . No, seriously though, this is a very fine example of “family appeal” inoffensive twaddle. When it gets released in this country, it is bound to delight all the Mums and Dads who listen to the BBC and who, I feel sure, make up the majority of singles buyers.

ELVIS PRESLEY: Life; Only Believe (RCA).
Sorry there’s no pretty pic of El accompanying this review, but it seems that he does get a goodly share of RM’s pictorial space – now then, no complaints and silence in the ranks. Presleyites will remember me letting it all hang out (verbally) rather more than usual over my review of “Rags To Riches,” which really did hit me harder than anything else by the King in years, so that it was gratifying to see RCA issue it as the A side in this country. This new one is good too, but doesn’t have that magic for me.

“Life,” by Shirl Milete (and not Rick Nelson), is another of those ponderous slowies at which Elvis seems to excel these days, and gradually picks up power as it progresses along its resonantly heavy way. “Only Believe” is a rather nice “sacred” song, on which the Imperials help out, and it is more like the El of old. Incidentally, any old fans who are hoping for doses of Rock ‘n’ Roll in “That’s The Way It Is” should be prepared for disappointment. Musically it is nowhere near as interesting as his TV special.

Slowly but surely climbing the U.S. Chart over the last few months has been this Blue-Eyed beater, that’s light and ‘teen orientated yet which contains some nice Soul Vocal Group touches. Refreshing sounding. By the way, I think congrats are due to ace letter-writer Tommy Barclay for finally winning an LP in that “other” pop paper.

SUGARLOAF: Tongue In Cheek; Woman (Liberty).
I’ve had this for so long that it has now left the U.S. Chart: however, I include it now because over that time I have grown rather fond of it. This musically adept modern group (from Denver or Salt Lake City or somewhere similarly unlikely . . . and unconducive to good vibes?) had a big, big American hit with their ‘Green-Eyed Lady‘, which got ignored here.

These two new tracks are ‘heavy’ but with plenty of variety, light and shade, versatility, and . . . oh, dunno, but I like ’em. Maybe if I said something pretentious about them they would get some attention in this country, viz: “The other day it was my pleasure to hear a very fine band called Sugarloaf”.

JOE COCKER: High Time We Went; Black-Eyed Blues (A&M).
Joe Cockup and Chris Stainton wrote both sides of this new American single, which is unfortunately not as invigorating as the classic ‘Letter’. Sounding more like super-gruff Terry Stamp of Third World War than himself, Joe roars through a long unremitting pounder on top that, despite having good ingredients (is this the first kind word I’ve had for Leon Russell, whose rocking piano it must surely be?), never really adds up to more than a mess of good fun for its participants. They have the form, but not the substance.

On the slow flip, the piano keeps up a repetitive figure which makes, with the bass, the backbone of the song. I wish Denny Cordell, producer, wasn’t succumbing to the boring incestuous self-indulgence of his associates, and would come up with something really snappy again.

MARVIN GAYE: What’s Going On; God Is Love (Tamla Motown TMG 775).
Superb subtlety – hopefully not too subtle for British clods.

THE HONEY CONE: Want Ads (Hot Wax HWX 107).
The first British hit for the new Vandellas???

SMOKEY ROBINSON AND THE MIRACLES: I Don’t Blame You At All; That Girl (Tamla Motown TMG 774).
Their CURRENT U.S. hit, it harks back to their old bang bang bang sound without necessarily having enough power for Britain. Nice flip.

CAROLE KING: It’s Too Late; I Feel The Earth Move (A&M AMS 849).
Truly lovely gentleness (from “Tapestry”): the backing cooks and Carole sounds so good. My revelationary turn-on of the week – now I gotta get the album! Sheer beauty.

THE FUZZ: I Love You For All Seasons; Instrumental Version (Mojo 2092003).
The Fuzz will give a buzz to all fans of female slow sweet soul vocal groups. Delightful, like the Delfonics’ “La La Means I Love You.”

THE CARPENTERS: Rainy Days And Mondays; Saturday (A&M AMS 851).
We evidently skip “For All We Know” and get their very slow and soft U.S. newie – s’nice, but maybe not for here.

REDWING: California Blues (UA UP 35207).
Great rocking beat (a plus in this age) on a punchy song by Jimmie Rodgers – is that the legendary Blue Yodeler/Singing Brakeman J.R.? If so, he’d never recognise this noisy version.

NORMAN GREENBAUM: California Earthquake; Rhode Island Red (Reprise RS 21008).
Solid bass and those Erik Jacobsen production noises on a bit of reassurance for Californian citizens . . . “keep your feet off the ground, as long as you’re flying you won’t tumble down.” Pass the joint.

RAY STEVENS: Bubble Gum The Bubble Dancer; Jeremiah Peabody’s Polyunsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green And Purple Pills (Mercury 6052072).
Two vintage examples of the “Ahab The Arab” man’s comedy style, most recently heard in “Bridget The Midget.” Nowhere near as good as his newer “Gitarzan.”

ROCK SAMPLES (UA Maxi ROCK 601): JERRY LEE LEWIS Great Balls Of Fire; FATS DOMINO Ain’t That A Shame; EDDIE COCHRAN Three Steps To Heaven; SANDY NELSON Let There Be Drums.
‘Nuff said?!

KING FLOYD: Baby Let Me Kiss You (Atlantic 2091079).
Uuuh, uh, ooh, sookie sookie, naw. The new King of aggressive funk, bringing the pace down just a teeny bit from “Groove Me.”

DELLA REESE: The Troublemaker; The Love I’ve Been Lookin’ For (Avco Embassy 6105002).
The vet Soulstress is less nitery, more R&B Chart (where this showed) on this gritty slowie about a juve delinquent. Lusher flip.

THE BYRDS: I Trust (Everything Is Gonna Work Out Alright) (CBS S 7253).
Unfortunately, everything didn’t work out better than average. Nice steel and lazy slowness, but nothing truly memorable.

THE DECISIONS: It’s Love That Really Counts (In The Long Run); I Can’t Forget About You (A&M AMS 844).
More from Sussex, this old Bachadavirelles goodie is given a nice falsetto treatment, for the few connoisseurs of soul vocal groups. Fast flip.

BILL WITHERS: Everybody’s Talkin’; Harlem (A&M AMS 845).
Produced for Sussex by Booker T. Jones, black Bill is backed by Steve Stills and the MGs! Sorta chunka-chunka treatment of the unsuitable famous top, whereas the building flip is rather good.

LLOYD PRICE: Hooked On A Feeling (Wand WN 17).
Where previously the R&B vet has tended to sound out of place on standard material, he here blends with this B. J. Thomas oldie so well that absolutely anyone could be singing it. Make of that what you will.

BUDDY MILES: Wholesale Love; That’s The Way Life Is (Mercury 6052077).
The trouble with singing an Otis Redding song is that you must then suffer comparison with the original. Buddy tries well, but he’s no Arthur Conley (who in fact did it first).

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