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

AMERICAN RELEASES

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.

PONDEROSA TWINS + ONE: You Send Me; Hey Girl (Mojo 2092027).
Thanx, Mojo! From high in the U.S. R&B Chart comes this exciting slow lead-switching revival of Sam Cooke’s biggie, done by another juvenile group who could be classed in the Jackson 5 bag but who in fact owe much more to the 5 Stairsteps. Lively flip, not Freddie Scott’s oldie.

DENISE LASALLE: Trapped By A Thing Called Love (Janus 6146002).
Good to see this U.S. label with soulful Westbound connections available here, and especially so ‘cos it brings us Willie Mitchell’s latest U.S. Top 20 smash, a lazily burning slinky slow beater. Definitely for Mitchell fans (who, following Al Green’s success, hopefully will be growing in number).

WILLIE TEE: Thank You John; Walking Up A One Way Street; Teasin’ You (Mojo 2092025).
‘Teasin’ You’ is the title that’ll sell this great maxi. Back in late ’65 young Mr. Turbinton kicked off his celebrated trio of closely-related funky singles (these three trax) with it, followed by ‘Thank You’ (released here) and the less similar ‘Walking’. If you’ve ever been to a West Indian club, chances are you’ve heard these.

ALVIN CASH & THE REGISTERS: Twine Time (President PT 351).
What TIME is it? “It’s TWINE time! Ooh ah, ooh ah ooh!” and then off into the churning bottom-heavy ultimate definition of sweaty club funk. Gad, what memories this classic early-’65 instrumental revives! Thanx, President: now, how about ‘Boomerang’?

BIG DEE IRWIN: Swinging On A Star; EARL JEAN: I’m Into Something Good; THE MARCELS: Blue Moon; JAMES DARREN: Goodbye Cruel World (Pye Int. Mini Monster PMM 2002).
What you could call the ‘Colpix Maxi’, made up of three classic R&B/Pop (and one rather less-so straight Pop) oldies originating from the Screen-Gems/ Columbia-operated label of the early ’60s. Earl Jean’s Goffin & King song is the original of Herman’s first hit.

THE ELECTRIC CIRCUS: It’s The Real Thing (Atlantic 2091165). Huh? What gives? The great U.S. hit instrumental known there as ‘Part 1’ has been made ‘Part 2’ here, and the undistinguished vocal flip is the British ‘Part 1’. Madness.

CURTIS MAYFIELD: We Got To Have Peace; People Get Ready (Buddah 2011-101). One from ‘Roots’ and one from ‘Curtis/Live’.

KING CURTIS: Whole Lotta Love; Changes, Part 1; La Jeanne (Atlantic 2091158).
Cover (more or less) of CCS’ Led Zep outing; Very good brassy (no kiddin’?) instrumental of Buddy Miles’ Them Changes’; Sweet ‘n squeaky slowie.

OTHER RECENT R&B RELEASES: CHI-LITES: We Are Neighbours (MCA MU 1143); KING FLOYD: Got To Have Your Lovin’ (Atlantic 2 09116 3); JACKIE LEE & DOLORES HALL: Baby I’m Satisfied (Jay Boy BOY 52); IMPRESSIONS: Inner City Blues (Buddah 2011099); BILLY SHA-RAE: Do It (Action ACT 4602); J. J. JACKSON: But It’s Alright (Mojo 2 092 01 4); VIRGIL GRIFFIN: La Da Da Da Da (Jay Boy BOY 43); EXCITERS: Soul Motion (Jay Boy BOY 38); R. B. GREAVES: Paperback Writer (Atlantic 2091170); RANDOLPH WALKER: I Love Her More (Jay Boy BOY 46).


PICK OF THE HOT U.S. RELEASES

DONNIE ELBERT: Where Did Our Love Go (All Platinum).
To continue from last week: rumoured to be the first British release out of Decca’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 1963 ‘Who’s It Gonna Be‘, is a cherished favourite of West Indian audiences. Amongst R&B fans, his best-known work is the squeaky stomper, ‘A Little Piece Of Leather‘, while more recently, at a time when he was living in England and working for “Record Mirror’s” ace Production Editor, Terry Chappell (who was then partnered by Norman Jopling in the New Wave label), Donnie cut one of Rock-Steady’s classics, the beautiful ‘Without You‘.

Now, Elbert has lent his high-pitched unique falsetto wailing to one of Holland-Dozier-Holland’s earliest clompers. ‘Where Did Our Love Go’ retains its solid four-to-the-bar clapping beat, but through it all Donnie weaves some truly remarkable riffing, chording, gentle piano — which, even more than Donnie’s voice, absolutely makes the record. And looks like putting it in the U.S. Top 20. It must have been hard to make this song sound subtle, but Donnie’s production has done it.

THE CHI-LITES: Have You Seen Her (Brunswick).
As you may have noticed while casting your eyes to the right of this column, the Chi-Lites’ excellent ‘Give More Power To The People’ album is doing very well in America. When the album was released initially, the guys in the back room at Brunswick Records were counting on this 5:08 long track being, apart from the included hits, the main cut to stir up interest amongst disc-jockeys and buyers alike. Because they were so keen for it to sell the album, they even put out another track (‘I Want To Pay You Back‘) as the follow-up to ‘We Are Neighbors’ so that there would be no conflict with this.

‘Have You Seen Her’ did, indeed, immediately become the hot cut to play off the album, to such an extent that jocks everywhere (and especially in Philadelphia, traditional home of the breakout Soul Vocal Group hit) were playing it like a single. It was a situation that cried out for the obvious. Brunswick were not issuing a single, so cover versions were the order of the day.

Led by Philly’s great Frankie & the Spindles (George Kerr fans will know about them), the covers began to appear and the boys at Brunswick began to sweat. Only one solution, even though it meant loss of interest in the album — put out the original as a single. It went to Number One on the R&B Chart and straight into the Pop Top 20, the very week of release! Another in the increasing number of simultaneous-with-release singles smashes caused by the song having been “broken” originally by extensive album airplay.

So, what of the record? Penned by Eugene Record and Barbara Acklin, it’s a nice enough Soul Vocal Group slowie, with several lengthy bits of recitation and lots of good harmony humming and chanting behind some wailing lead singing. For a large part of the centre section, the background voices carry on a repetitive tension-building chant of the Isaac Hayes type (who, incidentally, when he does it he sure does it, doesn’t he — in at 16 whew!?).

Personally, while I think this furore-causing performance is certainly good, I don’t actually see why it caused so much fuss.


JAMES HAMILTON’S DISCOTHEQUE PICKS

UNTRIED BUT SHOULD BE GOOD

WINGS: Mickey & Sylvia’s ‘Love Is Strange‘; Mumbo; Bip Bop; Dear Friend; I Am Your Singer (LP ‘Wild Life’ Apple PCS 7142) Pop.

THE DOORS: In The Eye Of The Sun; I’m Horny, I’m Stoned; Tightrope Ride; Ships w/ Sails (LP ‘Other Voices’ Elektra K 42104) Mod/Prog.

SLADE: Know Who You Are (Polydor 2058054) Pop/Mod.

PHANTOM BAND: Funkin’ About (Polydor 2058176) Mod/Wah-wah.

MOUNTAIN: Roll Over Beethoven (Island WIP 6119) Mod.

KHACHATURIAN & VIENNA PHILHARMONIC ORCH: Sabre Dance (Decca F 13259) opening part: Rave.

TRIED AND TRUE

ALVIN CASH: Twine Time (President PT 351) R&B.

FOUNDATIONS: Build Me Up Buttercup & 3 more (Pye Mini Monster PMM 103) Pop.

HARRY BELAFONTE: Island In The Sun; Banana Boat Song; Mary’s Boy Child (RCA Maximillion RCA 2155) EL/MoR.

SYD LAWRENCE: Moonlight Serenade (Philips Maxi 6006172) EL.

BING CROSBY: White Christmas (MCA MU 1107 — note new number) EL/MoR.

DEAN MARTIN: Jingle Bells (Reprise RS 23476 — check availability) MoR.

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