THE BEACH BOYS: You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone; Cuddle Up (Reprise K 14173).
Broken-up typical chugging drive and very nice ingredients (fiddle, banjo, jangly piano and much more), yet “Mess” seems about right at first hearing. However, persevere as it’s insinuative. With pure “Pop” back in favour (Nilsson, Bread, etc.), it stands a chance given good plugs, while long-term fans need not be deterred at all. The sublimely “Slushy” flip just cries out for the Bonzos’ coup de grace!
SAILCAT: Motorcycle Mama (Elektra K 12055).
Light in overall feel though very solid in its thumping strumming base and beat-accentuating breathy vocal, this is rather appealing and could have been longer. Similarly chopper-orientated though noisier flip.
MICHAEL GATELY: Colour All The World (Janus 6146014).
A peaceful little comes-and-goes slow clomper, enhanced by pretty fluid guitar, sitar, flute-like synthesizer and not least, light harmonies by Mike and his writing/singing partner, Robert John.
THE BELLS: Oh My Love (Polydor 2121109).
That Canadian girl/boy-led group who deserved to repeat their monster US success here with the sexy “Stay Awhile” but sadly missed are back in similar dead slow husky slinky mood, adapting the Lennon/Ono ditty completely to their style.
TOM PAXTON: Peace Will Come; Jesus Christ S.R.O. (Standing Room Only) (Reprise K 14172).
Tom’s just won a new fan! The smooth though thumping acoustic title track from his new LP is nice enough, but it’s the jaunty “Superstar” satirizing flip with its great worth which has won me. Why isn’t it the A-side? Do, please, hear this! (Then read the Book).
VENEICE: Stepchild; 18 Days (London HLU 10372).
Willie Mitchell’s done it again! His production of this new chick is as “comfortable” as ever, although the thwomping beat goes hustling right through it and makes the record a truly funky delight. Veneice herself has a nice unhurried vocal approach, and shines through better on the sexily insidious “Fever”-ish flip.
THE EMOTIONS: Show Me How; My Honey And Me (Stax 2025107).
The girls’ last two US hits back-to-back, with the terrific slow and sexy Isaac Hayes & David Porter-penned/prod/arr. “Show Me How”, a recent big US sleeper hit, the standout. Less impressive though nice enough, “Honey” is bouncy.
JOHN KAY: I’m Moving On (Probe PRO 558).
The ex-Steppenwolf has made the normally ebullient Hank Snow classic rather ponderously heavy and slow. Certainly, Matt Lucas fans won’t rate it.
THE GALLERY: Nice To Be With You (A & M AMS 890).
Dawn-like straightforward US hit bubblegum, with steel guitar.
RAINBOW: Open Up Your Heart (Philips 6073103).
Facile Radio One formula Pop, yet it’s American. Horribly catchy!
LES CRANE: Children Learn What They Live (Warner Bros K 16182).
More philosophical syrup.
ANDY WILLIAMS: You Chose A Fine Time (CBS 8080).
Fans know what to expect, and can rely on getting a slow dose of it here.
TOM T. HALL: Me And Jesus; Coot Marseilles Blues (Mercury 6052145).
The “Harper Valley PTA” composer is top of Record World’s Country Chart this week with his perky piano and chanting-backed ditty about how him and Jesus got their own thing goin’. Nice flip features cigarette paper and comb, and is about an old blues singer.
EL CHICANO: Viva Tirado, Parts 1 & 2 (MCA NU 1126).
Two years after its initial release, and prior to the June issue of their “Revolution” LP, here’s a re-service of these Los Angelean Pochos/Mexicanos’ (e.g. Chicanos’) fabulous lightly plopping, Wes Montgomery guitar-influenced, REAL Latin-Jazz-Rock instrumental gem. For what little it’s worth, this is one of my all-time favourite records. Do try it.
OLIVER SAIN: St. Louis Breakdown (Mojo 2092031).
St. Louis-based Oliver is the bandleader who used to feature Fontella Bass and Bobby McClure on one side of his records, and who was an old disco fave with instrumentals like “Jerk Loose“. His latest dance number is chunkily tricky and modern, and features Shirley Brown singing “I Ain’t Gonna Tell” to the same Breakdown rhythm on the flip. Rather ordinary.
PICK OF THE HOT U.S. RELEASES
JOHN LENNON/PLASTIC ONO BAND with Elephant’s Memory and the Invisible Strings: Woman Is The Nigger Of The World (Apple).
First of all, the packaging—because it’s so good just to look at. The paper sleeve reproduces the cover of March 1969’s “Nova” magazine, which featured a pic of the Lennon’s and Yoko’s title quote, done as an orangey-brown strip down the otherwise black and white. Inside, the record label is black with the main credits in the same orangey-brown and secondary stuff in white, while from nine o’clock to three, so to speak, the upper half of the label features five individual head-shots of a meta-morphosed johnandyoko— perfect togetherness, at last! The nine o’clock head is bespectacled John and the three o’clock head is Mona Lisa-like Yoko, but, in between, their features are super-imposed with photographic wizardry so that at noon you get the definitive Lennon. Very clever.
As for the music, well . . . wow! This preamble was in no way meant to minimize the music, which is some of the best, if not the very best, that John has made since going his own way. The dominating noise (for noisy this is) is the great gritty wailing sax, presumably played by the Elephant’s Memory member pictured on the back of the sleeve, although it might just have been King Curtis. The tempo is churningly, swayingly, rollingly slow and the sound is crashingly powerful, with the aforementioned sax being just one part of a splurging mass of yowling guitars, faintly plonking pianos, echoing drums, and all-pervasive background “white noise” from the synthesised (I presume) Invisible Strings. Yes, you’re dead right, Phil Spector is credited as producer, along with johnandyoko, and this record is living proof that he has not lost his master’s touch! In fact, you could say that it’s brought BACK his old touch . . . for which, several cheers!
Oh yeah, the words, on which I know some people do seem to get hung up these days. The message is basically in the title itself, so that John screams on and on variations of the theme along the lines of “think about it,” “if you don’t believe me, take a look at the one you’re with,” and “woman is the slave to the slaves.” A neat thumb-nosed to other current “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” sentiments. Sloganeering most of it may be, but the simplicity of the message set against the repetitive, invigorating, mind-numbing noise of the 5:15-long track makes for an extremely powerful record . . . and powerful propaganda.
LOVE UNLIMITED: LP, “Love Unlimited” (Uni).
These are the three girls (Linda James, Diane Taylor, and Glodean James, I guess) whose superb “Walking In The Rain With The One I Love” is shooting up the US Charts, and has already been released in Britain (in its shortened American DJ version). Their lovely sweet and slushy album is subtitled “From a girl’s point of view . . .”, and it is in fact a concept album on which the tracks (all but one of them are slow) merge one into the other, usually with linking sexy little raps, with the result that the whole concept is a glorious feast of idolised woman’s magazine-type true romance love schlock aimed at particularly wet girls (and people like me, ‘cos I think it’s great!).
Produced and written, in the main, by Barry White (a MoSoul Production), it is indeed girlie group music at its best — and, what makes it so nice, it does not owe anything (bar maybe its one fast track) to Motown. The only outside songs are Marvin Gaye’s “If This World Were Mine” and Gamble & Huff’s 1967 Intruders hit, “Together” (great song). Side One does tend to blur a bit, very nicely, while Side Two is a collection of more definite musical statements which culminate in the incredibly beautiful hit-single.
JAMES HAMILTON’S DISCOTHEQUE PICKS
VENEICE: Stepchild (London HLU 10372) R&B.
HELLO: You Move Me (Bell 1238). Noisy leaping stomping pop.
EL CHICANO: Viva Chicano (MCA MU 1126). Subtle Latin-Jazz-Rock, not easy to slot in (‘cos of gentle start) but worth the effort.
THE EMOTIONS: Show Me How (Stax 2025107). Late nite Smooch.
THE BELLS: Oh My Love (Polydor 2121109). Late nite Smooch.
JOHN BALDRY: Mother Ain’t Dead (Warner Bros K 16175). Late nite Slow Modern (when people can hear the intro rap and dig that Rod “eeekK !” Stewart sings too).
JIM MACLEOD & HIS BAND: Come And See With Me (Beltona BL 2772). Waltz-tempo Scottish corn, a guided tour of the Highlands and Islands. Easy Listening, for fun!