December 25, 1971: Jimmie Haskell, The Ventures, Freddie Hart, Charley Pride, Don Gibson

JIMMIE HASKELL: William Tell Overture (Probe PRO 547).
From the soundtrack of ‘Zachariah’, which was a better movie than most people made out, this treatment of the famous galloping opus pales when compared with that ballsy classic, ‘Piltdown Rides Again‘ (same toon, different vintage).

Talking of movies, ALL rockers and nostalgicats will get a big kick out of seeing Albert Finney in ‘Gumshoe‘, the first “proper” film to quote from Rock ‘n Roll lyrics in the dialogue, and to include a rockers’ reunion scene purely for the joy of it. Oh yes, and the same crowd should try sampling the oldies but goodies that Ted Carroll sells every Saturday at “Rock On”, 93 Goldborne Road, off the top end of London’s Portobello Road. Cool Yule, y’all.

THE VENTURES: Theme From ‘Shaft’ (UA UP 35316).
Hot news of the year dept.: look who’s covered Isaac Hayes. Fine for Ventures fans, and fine in its own right actually – it’s just that they don’t deserve much credit for hitting all the right notes.

FREDDIE HART: Easy Loving (Capitol CL 15703).
Here’s this year’s big award-winning Country song, a relaxed slinky slowie made rather appealing by its subdued organ and steel guitar backing, and emphasised by a slipping and slurring girlie group on the title words. Sugary stuff for sure, but it is the real thing (instead of Country-yawn-Rock) and it is good. Continue reading “December 25, 1971: Jimmie Haskell, The Ventures, Freddie Hart, Charley Pride, Don Gibson”

December 18, 1971: Bob Dylan, Donnie Elbert, The Chi-Lites, Redbone, Little Shelton


BOB DYLAN: George Jackson (Big Band Version); (Acoustic Version) (CBS 7688).
Good value for Dylan fans!

DONNIE ELBERT: Where Did Our Love Go (London HLU 10352).
First product on Decca from Stang/All Platinum (last and only by Donnie on All Platinum — he’s now with Avco), this great U.S. Top 20 smash revival of the Supremes big oldie combines both stomp and subtlety … and should click. Dig the piano.

THE CHI-LITES: Have You Seen Her (MCA MU 1146).
You ought to get the album, but if you’re more into singles this particular 5:05 lush ‘n’ slushy slow track is a must for all Soul Vocal Group and Delfonics fans. (The label says 4:14, but it ain’t.) Over two million sold in USA. Two million people can’t be wrong (oh yeah?), so make it a hit here too, y’all. Continue reading “December 18, 1971: Bob Dylan, Donnie Elbert, The Chi-Lites, Redbone, Little Shelton”

December 11, 1971: Al Green, Al Greene & The Soul Mates, Marvin Gaye, Ponderosa Twins + One, Denise LaSalle


AL GREEN: Let’s Stay Together (London HLU 10348).
Oooh, oooh, OOOHH! Lacking in immediate impact, this little mellow beauty comes sneaking up and catches you in just a very few plays, to imprint itself in your mind as one of the loveliest records of the year. Penned by Al with Willie Mitchell and Al Jackson (of the M.G.s), the mid-tempo smooth sweet wailer has a clopping rhythm and a creamy backing, dominated by the superbly subtle artistry of the World’s Best SOUL Singer. For further proof of the title, just hear Al Green’s new LP.

AL GREENE AND THE SOUL MATES: Back Up Train (Bell BLL 1188).
Yes, this is Al Green too (he dropped the third “e”), on his very first recording — a huge U.S. hit in 1967. The lovely sawing slowie was all but ignored here then, although it (and its attendant album on the Action label) was impressive enough to elevate Al in my own reckoning to only slightly lower than the position that I now claim for him.

MARVIN GAYE: Save The Children; Little Darling (I Need You) (Tamla Motown TMG 796).
Of course, this is Progressive Music, and Tony Blackburn doesn’t like Progressive Music (to paraphrase something that, much to my disbelief, the cheeky cherub actually said on the radio — at that time, re the last Top 5 hit by Family). For everyone’s sake, grow up, Blackburn! Oh well, there’s a disco stomping oldie on the flip. Continue reading “December 11, 1971: Al Green, Al Greene & The Soul Mates, Marvin Gaye, Ponderosa Twins + One, Denise LaSalle”

December 4, 1971: Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown, Donnie Elbert, Elvis Presley, The Coasters

SLY & THE FAMILY STONE: Family Affair; Luv N’ Haight (Epic).
The first new product from the Family Stone (other than “live” material) in virtually two years, since the cataclysmic ‘Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin’, this single from the new ‘There’s A Riot Goin’ On’ LP has beaten its parent album to the very top of its respective Chart. Obviously long awaited and much anticipated, its meteoric rise is not surprising except for the fact that, compared with much of the group’s past output, this single is merely “nice” without being a real killer.

It shows Sly and the gang in a funky but subdued mood: starting the insinuous wah-wah and plopping, thudding rhythm in the same light way as it continues throughout, they keep all the sound on the same inter-related quiet monotone level. The title line is repeated by a Lennon-ish voice before the husky, slurring, almost Havens-ish lead voice (Sly?) handles the main lyric, which is about the strength of family ties and obligations. Amongst all this there are unobtrusive interspersions of electric piano and wah-wah lead guitar.

I have always been a bit doubtful about the expression “laid back”, but, by my own definition of its meaning, I reckon that you could apply it pretty accurately to ‘Family Affair’. One virtue of the low-key quality of the record is that it is, in its way, completely compulsive – it cries out to be played over and over again, so that it is a shame the side does not last longer. The flip is rather rougher and more aggressive, in the group’s old style, and (consequently?) less impressive.

JAMES BROWN: My Part/Make It Funky – Parts 3 & 4 (Polydor).
Indeed, this is another two sides of the incredible funk rhythm that Mr. J. B. whipped up on ‘Make It Funky – Parts 1 & 2‘, and, despite the label saying (Instrumental)”, it features Mr. Brown exhorting his cohorts with scat “ga ga ga ga, goo ga goo goo ga” noises and vocal encouragement to guitarist Coleman to “Give us a little bit of B.B. King”, and to trombonist Red to “Slide your Slide”.

The real joy of this record is contained in the basic riff and contagious rhythm, which, as on ‘Parts 1 & 2’, is made so powerful by the rock-solid thundering bass. This rhythm is (yes, I know, you’re credulous as hell) one of the very best that James Brown has ever come up with – in fact, its only rival must be that of ‘There Was A Time‘ – so that ‘Parts 3 & 4’ are just as vital as the earlier record … if not more so, because there is an added gaiety to this one.

Unfortunately, this has now been eclipsed in the U.S. Charts by J.B.’s almost simultaneously-released ‘I’m A Greedy Man – Parts 1 & 2‘ … well, you know, Christmas is comin’, and new material is a better bet for the Top 50 (which is where it’s at, right now).

DONNIE ELBERT: Where Did Our Love Go; That’s If You Love Me (All Platinum).
Rumoured to be the first British release out of Mojo’s rumoured association with the great Stang/All Platinum labels, veteran Donnie’s re-working of the Supremes’ oldie could so easily have been rather uninteresting. In fact, it’s brilliant.

This isn’t so surprising really, considering Donnie’s track record, which started in the mid ’50s with the superb ‘What Can I Do‘, a piercing ballad that, together with his later ‘Who’s It Gonna Be‘, is a cherished favourite of West Indian audiences. Continue reading “December 4, 1971: Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown, Donnie Elbert, Elvis Presley, The Coasters”