July 10, 1971: Johnny Cash, Sugarloaf, Four Tops, Detroit Emeralds, Bob Dylan

JOHNNY CASH: Singing In Viet Nam Talking Blues (Columbia).
I never thought that there could be a Johnny Cash record that would get me honestly raving about it – here it is though. Johnny and his wife, June Carter Cash, went to entertain the boys over there in Vietnam recently, and got sufficiently shook up as hell by their experiences to inspire this autobiographical account of them.

I am told that Tom Paxton has written similar songs: however, the story told here is obviously what really happened to the Cash’s, and the talking blues style is indeed common property. The way in which this story unfolds, and the strength of the content, is truly attention-grabbing. Normally, Cash is one of my least favourite stylists, but this telling it like it is record has powerful magic for me. Play “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’-To-Die Rag” after it.

SUGARLOAF: Mother Nature’s Wine; Medley: Bach Doors Man/Chest Fever (UA).
This group, totally ignored here, do seem to have something about them that I really like – maybe it’s a sense of subtlety allied with versatility and good musicianship. I must get their albums.

The A-side of this follow-up to “Tongue In Cheek” is from their latest LP, but while good it is less noteworthy than the flip, taken from their first LP (available here).

At the Band’s exceedingly dull Albert Hall show (where one might as well have been listening to their records with the treble turned up full), Garth Hudson delighted some and bored others with his over-long and over-florid organ intro to “Chest Fever” – Sugarloaf’s organist has done rather better, beginning in a mock Bach manner before the rest of the group fill in with several layers of guitar and bass, all at a tempo-less pace, before the organ eases into a very powerful start to the tune proper. Heard good and loud, it is great.

THE FOUR TOPS: In These Changing Times (Motown).
Oh, wow. The Four Tops have a new record. You all know what Levi Stubbs sounds like, but you’ll have to get the album by 100 Proof Aged In Soul to hear why so many discerning Soul fans have been raving about his brother Joe ever since he made “Alabama Bound” (on the “Apollo Saturday Night” LP) the most Soulful waxing in history.

Joe was with the famous Falcons back then, and now he has grown too big-headed (according to General Johnson) to stay in 100 Proof after experiencing real success for the first time in a long career. A shame. Anyway, listen to the ‘Somebody’s Been Sleeping In My Bed’ album and pay close attention to his two tracks, the incredibly driving ‘Backtrack‘ (presumably it’s too late for this to be a single?) and the unbelievably sexy ‘Ain’t That Lovin’ You‘ (on which he chats up a chick who is guaranteed to turn on every male listener that hears her).

Joe Stubbs must rank as one of the all time unknown greats of Soul. Levi Stubbs sure is popular.

DETROIT EMERALDS: Wear This Ring (With Love) (Westbound).
Do Me Right” had all it took to be a hit in this country except for the Motown label – a shame it never happened here. Very successful in America, it has been followed-up by a contrasting slowie which exhibits the group’s wailing vocalizing even more – the lead singer is especially tuff. However, the song, pretty though it is in its incidentals and accompaniment, is not a real goodie. If you’re more into sound than form, though, you’ll dig it.

BOB DYLAN: Watching The River Flow; Spanish Is The Loving Tongue (CBS 7329).
Bottleneck blues start to a whomping stomping driving beater that is powerful dance material, propelled by Leon Russell and the Tulsa Tops (Leon, piano; Jesse Davis and Don Preston, guitars; Carl Radle, bass; Jim Keltner, drums). Moving surprisingly slowly up the US Chart, let’s hope it’s a smash here. Wandering dead slow piano-backed flip. Oh, yea . . . Zimmerman sings.

STEVIE WONDER: Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer; If You Really Love Me (Tamla Motown TMG 779).
Sophisticated slow top, which started out as the U.S. flip to ‘Work It Out’ and is from his adventurous new LP. I personally think, however, that we are going to get split sales with this new coupling, since the lovely tempo-changing bouncy-then-slow, etc flip is really catchy and hitworthy.

THE 8TH DAY: She’s Not Just Another Woman (Invictus INV 514).
Huge hit U.S.-side, this big but slow and tricky beat modern R&B will probably be too complex for Britain’s years-behind stick-in-the-mud thick unadventurous R&B fans(?) cum Disco dancers (shee, how I hate all that is connoted by that abbreviation). Could be a smash in five years’ time.

DORIS DUKE: To The Other Woman; I Don’t Care Anymore (Mojo 2092005).
Rumour has it that Mojo are actually signing the Stang/All Platinum catalogue for Britain. They have already put out Doris Duke’s Canyon album, so that all in all maybe a few hit reissues don’t hurt! Truce declared. This here, two slowies to which you really have to listen closely to appreciate the stark hard-done-by female lyrics, is the epitome of depressing Soul. Particularly good flip. Not for the frivolous majority, so be first on your block to dig Doris!

THE DRIFTERS: When My Little Girl Is Smiling; Sweets For My Sweet (Atlantic 2091101).
Decade-old Dawn-inspiring classics, with ‘Sweets’ (which the Searchers covered) making a stomping good follow-up to Knock Three Times’.

RAY CHARLES: Booty Butt (Tangerine 6121001).
Get this superb subtly funky instrumental and ram some class up your lug’oles!

THE TAMS: Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me; Take Away (Probe PRO 532).
From 1964, this undated (‘cos always unique sounding) hoarsely-led R&B group’s light beater is a classic favourite of all old Soul fans, and stands a good chance of success now, Great flip (not the original) which I haven’t heard before.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END: Funky Nassau, Parts 1 and 2 (Atlantic 2091097).
Calypso-ish Rhythm and Funk, fabulous fun and a natural Summer Sound. Sorta Modern ‘Cool Jerk’. They’re unfortunately right when they say ‘London town is doggone cold’, so make this a hit and we’ll all keep warm dancing to it.

THE PLATTERS: Sweet, Sweet Lovin’ (Pye Int 7N 25559).
Bang bang bang fast beater from 1967, recently bootlegged up North . . . so watch the charts.

FREDA PAYNE: Bring The Boys Home (Invictus INV 515)
. . . from Vietnam, natch. Some funky fella helps out with interjections on this indeterminate beater.

BOBBI LYNN: Earthquake (Bell BLL 1168).
Has this pseudo-Motown stomp stuff been in demand Up North, or is the singer’s name sufficiently similar to Tami’s to warrant release for this 1968 record now? Jolly, but unremarkable. Who knows, these days, though?

SONNY ROSS: Alakazam (Mojo 2093001).
Promising intro build-up to a then OK tho’ unexceptional mid-tempo femme-supported Soul hollerer.

CHEE-CHEE AND PEPPY: I Know I’m In Love (Buddah 2011083).
Squeaky sub-teen Rhythm and Bubblegum guff, aimed at tiny tots.

HAMILTON, JOE FRANK AND REYNOLDS: Don’t Pull Your Love (Probe PRO 530).
Awful blatantly common Radio One filth, amazingly British sounding, which I hope will fail here but fear will succeed all too easily.

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