THE SUPREMES: Automatically Sunshine (Motown).
The girls seem to be sticking with Smokey at the moment, and this Robinson-penned/prod light beater is the team’s follow-up to the superb “Floy Joy“. Although it starts out with a subdued version of the stomping intro to that last one, it soon becomes clear that the attack is going to be nothing like as powerful – and, indeed, this turns out to be no more than a pleasant mid-tempo clomper, quite pretty but with diffused impact. The flip, “Precious Little Things” (co-penned by Smokey with the Miracles’ guitarist, Marv Tarplin, and a P. Moffett), is a rather nice wistful little bossa-nova, enhanced by lovely backing.
JR. WALKER & THE ALL STARS: Walk In The Night (Soul).
Autry seems to be returning to jazz a bit more these days – not to mean that this is a jazz record, because it’s still much too “Pop” in its splurging chicks ‘n strings, but his playing on this pretty-harmonies-backed medium-paced plodding instrumental is rather more fluid and less angular than on his hits of old. Subtract the schmaltz content and it would hold up well on its own: however, with the schmaltz left in, as it is, this IS rather lovely . . . and makes a good companion for Isaac Hayes’ “Let’s Stay Together” instrumental.
On the flip, Autry gets to wailing grips with Gladys Knight’s “I Don’t Want To Do Wrong.” Gladys herself has just exited the US Charts with her dead slow version of that Kris Kristofferson bore, “Help Me Make It Through The Night,” onto which she has added an embarrassing intro rap, and with which she has succeeded to make the record that it is, if possible, even more lacking in warmth and emotion than Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” That must have been difficult, for the Queen of Soul.
100 PROOF (AGED IN SOUL): Everything Good is Bad (Hot Wax).
The “Somebody’s Been Sleeping” trio (minus the great Joe Stubbs, unfortunately) are back in the Charts with this semi-slow message song, which benefits from some pretty flute tootling and generally good if doom-laden backing. Everything good is bad, and everything bad is good, in black slang (viz: “that’s a bad mutha…”, meaning “I say, chaps, that’s jolly good, what?”), which is probably the hook that’s selling this, because in other respects it is a bit lacking in vitality.
ANDY WILLIAMS: Love Theme From “The Godfather” (Speak Softly Love) (Columbia).
If you haven’t read the book, read it NOW, before the record-breaking movie opens in Britain. You won’t be able to put it down, and maybe you’ll find that it messes up your principles and loyalties, and generally mucks up your mind. Andy’s big, big, BIG ballad from the flick is underlined by mandolins and phony Sicilian touches, so it must be featured at the saddest bit of the story, when Michael Corleone falls in love with . . . read it, ‘n see it!
JAMES BROWN: There It Is, Parts 1 and 2 (Polydor).
Wot, no Part 3? No matter, everything else is as usual, and all is well with the world. Starting out with a girl squealing “Wao0OH, there it is!” on both sides, this is another great “hey! hit it! UHH!” ultra-rhythmic instrumental-with-interpolated screams funky gas from the man with the crown. The instruments which stand out particularly on this new variation on the formula are the unremitting wah-wah guitar (which, with the dependably brilliant brass, makes up the rhythmic base of the tune) and some too-brief electric piano. The wah-wah is the killer though, and JB has done it again.
B. BUMBLE AND THE STINGERS: Nut Rocker; Bumble Boogie; Boogie Woogie (Stateside SS 2203).
When, ten years ago, the now somewhat unjustly maligned Kim Fowley recorded an unidentified black boogie pianist playing this rocked-up treatment of Chycoffski’s “Nutcracker Sweet” (and then put a white group out on the road), he created an undying masterpiece that not even Emerson, Lake and Palmer have been able to equal. Kim was the American Jonathan King of his day, but will Jon be able to claim so well-loved a classic ten years hence?
DUANE EDDY: Because They’re Young (London HLW 9162).
Although never in fact deleted (which is nice), Decca are re-servicing this 1960 twangs and strings warhorse to emphasize its perpetual availability in the light of its use by DJ Johnnie Walker as his theme.
THE JIMMY CASTOR BUNCH: Troglodyte (Cave Man) (RCA 2226).
The fastest moving R & B (and Pop) hit in America, pulled by demand from the revamped and de-Latinized “Hey Leroy” guy’s new LP, this is unmelodic, ultra-rhythmic, monotonous to many and delightful to some, tongue in cheek, coolly funny (for the hip) and totally preposterous GAS! Sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me! Hot pants! To prove their cool, the Bunch recreate a really BAD 1950s vocal group sound on the flip. Fred Flintstone lives!
QUINCY JONES: Listen To The Melody; Hot Rock Theme (Atlantic K 10172).
Penned / prod/ arr / cond / by Quincy for the soundtrack of “Hot Rock” (known here as “How To Steal A Diamond In Four Uneasy Lessons”), this lovely and inventively arranged slowie features a rawly wailing Soulstress called Tata, which must surely be a pseudonym? If not, this is a chick to hear from again, pronto. The “Theme” has great bass and drums over Easy Listening humming. Recommended.
MARVIN GAYE: Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) (Tamla Motown TMG 817).
This fabulous ethereal light plopper was the third US smash to be pulled from Marv’s “What’s Going On” LP. While of course you all OUGHT to have the much-awarded album, those that don’t may now be ready for this new sound, following the softening-up done by CCS’s “Brother.”
HOAGY LANDS: Why Didn’t You Let Me Know (Action ACT 4605).
I was once offered enough money to keep a small family in dole payments for several weeks in return for one of my old Stateside Hoagy Lands pressings. The offer was from Up North, of course. There must be a moral there. Anyway, enterprising Action are back in the running with a really good newish-sounding disco clomper by the same “The Next In Line” Soulster. Dig the thumping bass line, which makes the record an outside chance for the Chart. Nice flip too. Harking back . . . no, I didn’t sell.
RE-RELEASED R & B GOODIES:
FREDDIE SCOTT: Are You Lonely For Me Baby (Jay Boy BOY 59)
ESTHER PHILLIPS: Release Me (Atlantic K 10168)
INEZ FOXX: You Shouldn’t Have Set My Soul On Fire (Pye 7N 25546)
WILSON PICKETT: Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You (Atlantic K 10166)
HOMER BANKS: Hooked By Love (UA UP 35360)
THELMA HOUSTON: Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Probe PRO 559)
JIMMY HOLIDAY & CLYDIE KING: Ready Willing And Able / JIMMY HOLIDAY: Give Me Your Love (UA UP 35371)
JEAN CARTER: No Good Jim (Stateside SS 2204)
BETTY LAYETTE: Let Me Down Easy; I Feel Good (All Over); What I Don’t Know (Won’t Hurt Me) (Mojo 2092030)
FELICE TAYLOR: I Feel Love Comin’ On (President PT 155)
BILLY PRESTON: Outa Space; The Bus (A&M AMS 7007).
Originally out as the flip of “I Wrote A Simple Song”, this pedestrian electronic piano (or something) instrumental has suddenly taken America by storm, which seems incomprehensible except that maybe, as is now the case here, all the dee-jays are using it as background noise for talk-overs. It’s not “R&B” and it’s not particularly danceable. I suppose it’s moderately inventive. The flip is mannered in the Peddlers style, though less good than them.
THE STAPLE SINGERS: I’ll Take You There (Stax 2025110).
Reggae-inspired (“Liquidator“-copying), creaking, wheezily-sung and a monster US hit – the biggest that these ex-Gospellers have ever had. It’s indeed good, but lacks some magic spark, to my mind.
MILLIE JACKSON: Ask Me What You Want (Mojo 2093015).
US hit mid-tempo Motown noises.
THE COASTERS: Cool Jerk; Talkin’ About A Woman (Stateside SS 2201).
The Capitols’ great 1966 dancer (“On their faces they wear a silly smirk, ‘cos they know I’m the King, of the Cool Jerk!”), given a Latin-accented new treatment which is a gas without being as powerful for dancers as the more percussive original. The adaptation of Leiber & Stoller’s “I’m A Woman (W-O -M -A -N)” flip is rather more old-style Coasters.
HONEY CONE: The Day I Found Myself (Hot Wax HWX 112).
What made the US pressing good was a moderately feminist “you girls out there” rap intro . . . and it’s missing here. What’s left is quite bubbly if monotonous. Huh?
JAMES HAMILTON’S DISCOTHEQUE PICKS
CYRIL STAPLETON: Sucu-Sucu; March Of The Tijuana; S’Wonderful; The Shadow Of Your Smile, and many more (LP “Golden Hour of Strict Tempo” GH 529).
Strict the tempo may be, but warm and bouncy too. Invaluable material to fall back on for traditional Easy Listening crowds.
DORSEY, SHAW, BERIGAN, BARNET, MILLER, HAWKINS, etc: Song Of India; Begin The Beguine; I Can’t Get Started; Cherokee; In The Mood; String Of Pearls; After Hours, etc (LP “This Is The Big Band Era” RCA DPS 2019).
Even better than CBS’s “Big Bands’ Greatest Hits” (in number of danceable tracks and recording quality), for Nostalgia crowds. My own LP of the Year, so far!
MRS. MILLS: Sunshine; Bobbikins (Parlophone R 5950). Happy Easy Listening.
B. BUMBLE AND THE STINGERS: Nut Rocker (Stateside SS 2203). Rave.
DUANE EDDY: Because They’re Young (London HLW 9162). Nostalgic Pop.
GUY ROPES AND THE TENT PEGS: Burn Your Bras Girls (Parlophone R 5951).
“Desiderata” with new words, steel drums, reggae rhythm and much more. A gas!
ADGE CUTLER & THE WURZELS: Little Darlin’ (CBS 8067).
The Gladiolas/Diamonds oldie faithfully recreated, but with Somerset middle 8. Pop.
JACKIE EDWARDS: I Do Love You (Bread BR 1108).
Billy Stewart’s classic done Show Reggae/Late Nite Smooch. Nice one, Wilf !
THE JIMMY CASTOR BUNCH: Troglodyte (RCA 2226). R&B.
THELMA HOUSTON: Jumpin’ Jack Flash ( Probe PRO 559). Modern.
THE STAPLE SINGERS: I’ll Take You There (Stax 2025110). R&B.
BREWERS DROOP: Sweet Thing (RCA 2216).
Cajun-influenced goodtime Pop. Also check “It Ain’t The Meat, It’s The Motion” flip.
ROGER GREENAWAY: The Ballad Of Mae West (Bell 1233). Use intro as a cut-in.