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

AMERICAN RELEASES

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.

REDBONE: Maggie (Epic EPC 5326).
Out here for over a year, finally a U.S. hit only a few months ago, ‘Maggie’ is now reactivated to ‘follow-up’ Redbone’s UK smash. While its throbbing rhythm was a foretaste of ‘Witch Queen’, it’s also maybe a bit too throbbing for most dancers. It was always good, and always struck me as too complex for disco stompers. Now prove me wrong.

LITTLE SHELTON & Memphis (the world’s greatest rock and roll band): Sea Cruise; High Blood Pressure (Pye International 7N 25574).
“Recorded live at the 1971 Memphis Rock and Roll Revival Spectacular”, the label says. Hmmm … in truth, these are the original Huey Smith backing tracks with modern additions, plus the flamboyant Shelton (evidently a bit of a Penniman to look at) dubbed in instead of Frankie Ford. Anyway, it’s “new” product from the Ace label out of Jackson, and as the originals were good so are these.

MOUNTAIN: Roll Over Beethoven (Island WIP 6119).
Other Island artists would probably record this as ‘Roll Over Enthoven’ (in joke), although Mountain snip it from their album’s ‘Dream Sequence’ and do a straight heavy version of the Chuck Berry classic. A worthy companion to Johnny Winters’ Johnny B. Goode’, it raves nicely.

FANNY: Charity Ball (Reprise K 14109).
Now these … these are my girls. They sing and play just as good as they look, and that’s some, on this thrusting churning powerful stomping building beater which, thanx to their solid harmonising, is almost the proverbial wall of sound. And just because I realised an ambition and sat next to Alice de Buhr, don’t think that this is a prejudiced review, ‘cos it ain’t, no way.

DON NIX: Olena (Elektra K 12028).
Leon Russell’s crony is very much into that piano-pounding white pseudo-Gospel Russell/Bramlett thing, and this leaping beater is very good of its sort — altho’ its protagonist is indistinguishable from the above named. (Fax: once Nix laid trax at Stax.)

FRANK ZAPPA: Daddy Daddy Daddy (UA UP 35319).
Frankie and the Doo-Wops were last seen somewhere over the Rainbow, but left this little goodie before they split. An easily assimilated ditty, from ‘200 Motels’, it contains snippets of other things (like “Do you like my new car” and “If his dick is a monster”) all sung in a variety of styles based loosely on 1950s vocal groups. Replete with dwaedy-doops and high weazlings, it could make a good introduction to the Big Z for the uncommitted yet curious.

MARIO LANZA: Because You’re Mine; Serenade; Be My Love (RCA 2154). The first few seconds, played at a judiciously chosen moment, are good for a laugh.

DON McLEAN: American Pie (UA UP 35323).
Don’s single and album are streaking up the U.S. Charts, and, on the strength of this happy Folk-Rock perky beater, it’s easy to see why. The fun words and gay atmosphere should win him friends here too. A bit like Marc Bolan singing Donovan, if you can get to that.

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE: Family Affair (Epic EPC 7632).
Sly and Freddie Stone, past-masters of wah-wah, have excelled themselves here, on their sensuous, subtle and insidious return to the top of the U.S. Charts. However, unless policy has changed at the Beeb since ‘Thank You Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin” (which never got played), don’t expect to see this in our Chart. Actually, in this age of Isaac Hayes, maybe the Beeb is a bit hipper.

IKE AND TINA TURNER: Doin’ It; I’m Yours (Use Me Any Way You Wanna) (UA UP 35310).
Sexy piano instrumental, helped incredibly by Tina’s moaning and far-gone comments. ‘I’m Yours’, the official plug side, is OK too but more in their strident herky jerky rhythm mould.

SAN REMO STRINGS: Festival Time; All Turned On (Tamla Motown TMG 795).
Way back around ’66 or so, the San Remo Strings (then on Golden World) had a fair-sized U.S. hit called ‘Hungry For Love‘, which was a bit like a Floyd Cramer instrumental with the piano turned down and the strings turned up. It was catchy and I liked it. Then. Now, with Ric-Tic and Golden World evidently the “in” labels with the disco stompers Up North, Motown (who took over the labels) have unleashed another string-led trite stomper from the same era, which is bound to do well.

GEORGE FREEMAN: I’m Like A Fish (Jay Boy BOY 54).
When Bert Bern’s Bang label began its Shout R&B subsidiary, this powerful slow Blues was one of the very first releases. Good and moody then, moody and good it remains today (if not just a little bit influenced by ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, judged by these now more critical ears).

GI GI: Daddy Love (Pama Supreme PS 335).
Written and co-produced by Charles Hodges, sung by a chick, and dominated by the great frantic wah-wah backing (Part 2 on the flip is basically instrumental), this turbulent fast beater is very good and well worth finding for James Brown-type fans. Guaranteed American, nothing to do with Reggae.

OTHER RECENT R&B RELEASES

LITTLE RICHARD: Green Power (Reprise K 14124); ANDREA ROBINSON: Fire And Rain (Probe PRO 541); CHARLES LATTIMORE: Do The Thing (Jay Boy BOY 49 ); HOWARD JOHNSON: Slide (Jay Boy BOY 47); THE LIBERTY-BELLES: Shing-A-Ling Time (Jay Boy BOY 40); LLOYD PRICE: Natural Sinner (Wand WN 21); MILT MATTHEWS INC.: Oh Lord (You Gotta Help Me) (Ember EMBS 308); MR FLOOD’S PARTY: Compared To What (Ember EMBS 312).


PICK OF THE HOT U.S. RELEASES

JAMES BROWN: I’m A Greedy Man, Parts 1 and 2 (Polydor).
“Pick up on this! Pick up on this! Huh! HAAAYY-YAAYyyy!” And off we plunge into the rhythmic guts of this, Mr James Brown’s latest U.S. smash funky terper. [sic]

“My name ain’t Jody, but my name is Brown — I like to love, and get down, down, down”, he tells us with lip-smacking relish, referring to that ever popular cultural hero of the current black scene, Jody, the ever-lovin’ man. Even Isaac Hayes mentions Jody (and Mr Big Stuff) on his “Black Moses” epic album.

Back with Brown, we find that this is an altogether noisier, jumpier, screamier record than his past few outings (he even asks, “Can I scream, Bobby?”, and after Bobby Byrd goes “Yuh” we get a right ear-splitting beaut).

Later, JB runs through the members of the band by first name, and Bobby fills in the affirmation that each one is a greedy man. And if you’re wondering what they’re all so greedy to eat, bear in mind that very old Clovers’ song that went: “When I see my baby walkin’ down the street, I say ‘There goes ma meat'”. Yeah, as usual James Brown has come up with another simple yet complex, complex yet simple, ultra-rhythmic gas.

Despite the levity of this current single hit, his brand new album seems (from the look of what I presume is its packaging as depicted in the trade ads for it) to be trying to present Mr Brown in a more serious mood, along the lines of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ album cover. Brown is photographed as though he is in a cage, clawing at the steel mesh and staring out moodily at us through the bars.

To heighten the effect, the album is called ‘Revolution Of The Mind’ … far out. The ad even says “The excitement of James Brown and the people is captured in this album” … too much. Ummm, then we see that this double album is “Recorded Live at the Apollo! Volume III” and, yes, contains all the usual old boogaloo. It should be good, but “Revolution Of The Mind”? Power to the feet, maybe.

MICHAEL JACKSON: Got To Be There (Motown).
Now little Michael of the Jackson 5 goes the Donnie Osmond route, and has his first U.S. smash solo hit with this winsome little slowie which makes a good showcase for his powerful squeaky upper-register. For one so small, Michael has a good set of lungs on him. Actually, he sings this very well, even if the song itself is not all that strong.

THE STYLISTICS: You Are Everything (Avco).
Since this lush U.S. Top 20 slowie is co-penned and completely prod., arr., and cond. by the great Thom Bell, all Philadelphia Soul Vocal Group Freaks will do their tiny nut over it. Lush is the word for it, as it meanders and wails its way along, with a fair bit of phasing done to the backing (or is that a synthesizer in amongst the sawing strings and French horns?). Beautifully arranged, the backing almost overpowers the Delfonics-like sweet singing, so that the record is really a total sound in concept rather than a song.


JAMES HAMILTON’S DISCOTHEQUE PICKS

UNTRIED BUT SHOULD BE GOOD

DONNIE ELBERT: Where Did Our Love Go (London HLU 10352) R&B.

JOHN HOLT: Paragons Medley (Treasure Isle TI-7066) Reggae.

TRIED AND TRUE

SCOTTISH FAVOURITES: Scotland The Brave; Dashing White Sergeant; Skye Boat Song; Reel: De’il Amang The Tailors; Here’s To The Gordons (LP ‘Golden Hour Of Scottish Favourites’ GH 507) Bagpipes/Rave/EL.

SHANGO: Mescalito (A&M AMS 745, probably deleted) Steel Band/Rave.

THE MOONROCKS: Moon Buggy (Decca F 13261) West Indian/Rave/MoR).

THE VIENNA PHILHARMONIC ORCH: Sabre Dance (Decca F 13259) it works! Play first part after, say, a Viennese Waltz.

JOHN BARRY: The Girl With The Sun In Her Hair (CBS 7469) Slow Waltz/EL.

LOUIS ARMSTRONG: Ain’t Misbehavin’ and most of Side Two (LP ‘The Best Of Louis Armstrong’ Parlophone PMC 7136) MoR/Nostalgia.

HARRY ROY: Somebody Stole My Gal (LP ‘The King Of Hot-Cha’ Starline MRS 5068) Rave/Nostalgia.

SID PHILLIPS: Hors d’Oeuvres (LP ‘Hors d’Oeuvres’ HMV DLP 1102, an ancient 10in) Rave.

CHARLES PENROSE: The Laughing Policeman (LP ‘Music Hall To Variety, Vol. 2 — First House! WRC SH 149) Rave/Singalong.

2 thoughts on “December 18, 1971: Bob Dylan, Donnie Elbert, The Chi-Lites, Redbone, Little Shelton”

  1. James reference to the BBC refusing to play Sly & The Family Stone is a stark reminder of just how restricted UK airwaves were to music by black artists. We were starved of so much great music either never being released in the UK or what amounted to no less than censorship by the “powers that be” at the BBC. Even the top Motown acts could never be guaranteed a place on the dreaded “Radio 1 Playlist”. Access to information about US artists, news about their careers, bios even photos was limited and in the hands just a few people- “the gatekeepers of morality and good taste” in the music press at record labels Radio Jocks and the guy at your local record shop who decided what stock to order. The same was true of European acts (who were mostly regarded as rather strange and a bit of a joke). It must be difficult for kids in 2021 to fully appreciate how isolated we were here on this cold outpost in the North Atlantic just off the coast of Europe.

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  2. The BBC was just as hopeless with certain types of dance music in the late 1990s early 2000s I have no first hand knowledge of this as I don’t think I’ve listened to Radio 1 since I was marooned in a factory with a stereo on its last legs that only played Radio 1 in about 1986/87 but I have heard from people who did have to listen to it later at work that Radio 1’s ignoring of one of the biggest things in music for years namely trance was appalling.

    The pop chart was inundated with trance records in 1998-03 but I’ve heard that they still ignored them or occasionally played an awful vocal remix which no one who actually liked the record ever played or wanted to hear and so the record never crossed over like it should have.

    This may have been because a lot of trance was instrumental (probably the first largely instrumental musical development since the instrumental group boom of the start of the 1960s or maybe the dance band era f the 1940s) and pop radio hates instrumentals even if they’re popular as trance was which is ridiculous when you think of it as surely you play good records which are already popular on the street whether its instrumental or not. But no Radio 1 was happier playing awful second rate indie guitar rubbish a lot of which was never popular outside a few thousand fanbase people however much they played it on the national station.

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