THE NITE-LITERS: K-Jee; Tang A Boo Gonk (RCA).
Winning no prizes for literacy and self-expression in their choice of titles, the Nite-Liters win all the prizes in the book for playing the most incredibly good leaping jumping happy chattering great instrumental R&B imaginable – think of Hugh Masekela’s “Grazin’ In The Grass,” speed it up, tighten it up (“Hi everybody! I’m Archie Bell…” Shut up, you fool!), string it out, fill it with stuttering rhythm guitar, throaty brass, incessant rhythm, wailing lead guitar, tripping drums, blasting sax, and you’ll still have to hear the record to know what it’s all about.
The legendary Harvey Fuqua (Moonglows, Harvey label, Motown productions) not only writes and produces for the band, but he formed them as part of a vast great group called the New Birth, comprised of groups, solo singers, and the Nite-Liters as the backing musicians. It’s good to see that “K-Jee,” from the “Morning, Noon And Nite-Liters” album, is huge Pop/R&B and is even going Middle Of The Road in America.
JAMES BROWN: Make It Funky, Parts 1 and 2 (Polydor).
Sceptics can be sceptical if they must, but, truth to tell, surprising thought it may appear, and all that, every new James Brown record does seem to be better than the last, usually . . . and this sure ain’t no exception!
His first recording for Polydor (the record label bears his portrait), it’s a simple repetitive dance riff with a very effective brass phrase, solid bass, doodling organ, scat chat between JB and Bobby Byrd, girlie group chanting, and the usual “Take it to the bridge” bit. The ingredients may not be too unusual, but it’s how he mixes ’em that matters.
THE ORIGINALS: Keep Me (Soul).
“Keep Me” by Berry Gordy, Jr? That seems familiar . . . click click, whirr whirr . . . yeah – Liz Lands! So, down into the vaults, creak open the heavy dust-covered door marked “L,” rummage about, and there it is – “Keep Me,” Liz Lands, vocal accompaniment by the Temptations, produced/penned by Berry Gordy, Jr. either 1963 or early ’64, on the Gordy label. It was done very much in the style of “Anyone Who Had A Heart” then, but now, produced by Joe Hinton and arranged by Paul Riser, it throbs wails and soars in the mellifluous throats of that “Baby I’m For Real” gang of fame, the Originals.
FOUR TOPS: Simple Game; You Stole My Love (Tamla Motown TMG 785).
Both British productions from last year, the top is a Topped up churning version of a Moody Blues song by Mike Pinder, while the flip belts along. Their current U.S. hit is their even older “MacArthur Park.”
ELVIS PRESLEY: I’m Leavin’; Heart Of Rome (RCA 2125).
A lovely lalalala-ing slightly Neil Diamondish lilter, probably too pretty for his hammy emotion-loving public . . . although I hope I’m wrong. What I do hope is that the anonymous sender of a “rare” Elvis single some months ago will get in contact again.
GENE PITNEY: Run Run Roadrunner; Rainmaker Girl (Pye Int 7N 25564).
Produced by Charlie Foxx (Inez’s brother), who produced Gene’s great “She’s A Heartbreaker” R&B record, this heavy slowie is by Jerry Williams – yes, Swamp Dogg! What’s more, Gene’s vocal is awfully like Little Jerry’s old “You’re My Everything” (the Walker Bros covered it). It’s been remixed for British consumption, and could click. Gay flip.
RAY STEVENS: All My Trials; Have A Little Talk With Myself (CBS 7443).
Presumably multi-tracked by Ray himself, this gentle semi-inspirational harmony group (?) soaring slowie is rather nice – good toon, and wailing Carpenters’ “Close To You”-like harmonies. Re-issued very powerful flipside jogger, again done all by himself. Recommended.
BOBBY RUSSELL: Saturday Morning Confusion (UA UP 35283).
Bobby’s responsible, with Bobby Goldsboro, for all those awful mawkish sentimental American everyday housewife records. Here, he’s speeded up the clever lyrics (I’ll admit he writes ’em well always), until the song is reminiscent of Ray Stevens’ old “Mr. Businessman.” Radio One seems to love it already, and indeed it’s quite fun.
LAYNG MARTINE: Rub It In (CBS 7470).
And, produced by Ray Stevens, this fella has a really amusing, somewhat unseasonal now, ditty about rubbing in suntan lotion. Nice Coasters touches, and general awareness of America’s rich Pop music heritage set this apart, although most people will just hear Bubblegum. Some of you nostalgicats will dig.
STEPHEN STILLS: Marianne; Nothin’ To Do But Today (Atlantic 2091141).
Wheee! From his latest album, a glorious romping slipping and sliding fast happy beater, c/w a Jimi Hendrix in structure but not sound, choppy rhythm jumper. Nice one!
CANNED HEAT: Long Way From L.A.; Hill’s Stomp (UA UP 35279).
Good get it on and don’t forget to boogie-type stomping noises from Heat, with some powerful guitar jangling. Yeah! Joel Scott Hill streaks along on the very fast Blues instrumental flip.
THE DOORS: Riders On The Storm (Elektra K 12021).
This rainfall-backed sinister word but lullingly easy-paced beauty is even better in its full 7:14 album version, and indeed this and the 7:49 choogling “L.A. Woman” title track are just two of many good reasons for getting the LP. Go get it, y’hear?
WAR: All Day Music; Get Down (UA UP 35281).
Mmmm, huh! Relaxing gentle rhythms, a swaying melody, gorgeous harmonies, and a bitch of a great record that should appeal across the board to Soul, Progressive, Easy Listening, Jazz and . . . well, American audiences in general, ‘cos I don’t think Britain is up to it. Prove me wrong, please. Funkier flip. What a good group they are, now.
CHARLES LEONARD: Funky Driver On A Funky Bus, Parts 1 and 2 (Jay Boy BOY 39).
From Loadstone Records, this recent ultra-funky R&B dancer is almost definition of what good ole Funk should be about. A real but goodie! This might restore the confidence of old Soul Freaks, and put some wiggle in their ass.
TYRONE DAVIS: One Way Ticket; We Got A Love (Atlantic 2091131).
Why don’t the British disco dancers go for bouncy instead of bang bang bang beats? Until they get hip a whole section of modern R&B will continue to be ignored here. However, rumour has it that the Brunswick catalogue is going to Mojo, so then maybe we’ll see some smoke!
JACKIE MOORE: Dear John; Here Am I (Jay Boy BOY 35).
Well done again to President, for finding this 1968 waxing by the “Precious, Precious” lady. A version of “Amen” with secular lyrics, humming/screaming female Gospel support, and rattling drumming, it’s pretty darn nice. Good disco-type flip.