August 26, 1972: L.J. Reynolds & Chocolate Syrup, The Main Ingredient, Chicago, Three Dog Night, Van Morrison


L.J. REYNOLDS & CHOCOLATE SYRUP: The Penguin Break Down (Law-Ton).
Remember the other week I told you how the Younghearts’ “Oo La We” was soon to be one side of an up-coming double-A British single on Avco? Well, this here is the other A-side. Arranged and produced by Bobby Martin, the Philadelphian who arranged Cliff Nobles’ classic “The Horse“, this instrumental is exactly the same idea as that earlier 1968 smash. Just as “The Horse” was, perversely, the instrumental backing-track to a vocal (“Love Is All Right“), so this is the backing-track to “What’s A Matter Baby (Is It Hurting You)” on the other — I hesitate to say the flip! — side. However, I get the impression that this time it was the “Penguin Break Down” side which was intended as the plug side all along. It certainly owes a debt to “The Horse”, which remains one of the all-time best-ever R&B dance instrumentals, so that that is in no way a bad thing. You can hear it yourselves soon, too.

THE MAIN INGREDIENT: Everybody Plays The Fool (RCA).
Snorting its way up the US Pop Charts is the Main Ingredients’ lovely new slow Soul Vocal Group beauty, arranged and conducted by my old acquaintance, Bert de Coteaux. When I knew him eight years ago, at a time when his main claim to fame was that he’d arranged some sides for Adam Wade, Bert was calling himself by his full name, Norbert. Years pass and talent will out — Bert’s certainly has. After a long string of hits in recent years, Bert’s’ new addition to the list is set apart from the run-of-the-mill Soul slowies by an arrangement which makes a catchy feature of plopping congas/bongos and a tootling flute figure which on its brief appearance is enough to nag its way into American record- buyers’ minds. Add some plinky strings and a perpetually shaking tambourine — oh, and brass-accentuated smooth- and-rough group vocalizing —and you’ve got a hit sound.

CHICAGO: Saturday In The Park (Columbia).
It’s been a long wait, but finally Chicago have re-emerged with not only something new on single, but also something really good again. Their sound has mellowed a lot: the brass is still there, blowing away in quiet unison behind the dominating beat pattern, which is set up by a heavy bass, plonkingly melodic (almost Carole Kingish) piano, just-right drum fills, and the rhythm-riding (at times, rhythm- creating) vocals. This is amongst the group’s very best work, making a very satisfying single.

THREE DOG NIGHT: Black & White (Dunhill).
Well, well, well! Jimmy Greenspoon and the lads have made a US hit out of Greyhound’s Pop-Reggae number … and they’ve not only kept the Reggae rhythm, they’ve emphasized the “Jamaican” quality of the sound, although more in the style of Nilsson’s “Coconut” than the real thing. Still, could this be a helpful inroad into the US Charts for the real thing to follow up? Hopefully, yes.

VAN MORRISON: Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile) (Warner Bros).
The first US hit single to be pulled from Van’s new “St. Dominic’s Preview” elpee, the excitingly-titled “Jackie Wilson Said” is not in fact aimed at Soul fans … but it is aimed at, and hits bang on target, the legions of Morrison fans for whom the Irish lad can do no wrong. Van has a truly inimitable style (at least, it’s a particularly distinctive sound which so far no-one else has tried to imitate), and this latest version or development of it is full of growling baritone saxes, crisp drumming, tight guitar lines and all his usual bouncy gruff vocalese. The tune is a happy clap-along delight, a sure blues-chaser, which must surely bring to Van the recognition which he seems to lack in Britain when it is released here.


HAROLD MELVIN AND THE BLUE NOTES: I Miss You (Parts 1 & 2) (CBS 8291).
Filled with pain, soaked with misery and drenched with Soul, this is likely to be THE heaviest Soul Vocal Group slowie of the year. The Thom Bell, Gamble & Huff axis strikes again! On no account should this be missed by those who care about their music.

DOLLY PARTON: Joshua; J. J. Sneed (RCA 2253).
As well as being up there with Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn in the upper ranks of female Country singers, Dolly is rightly renowned for her intelligent lyrics. Catch her words on the “Girl Named Sue”-reminiscent (and hence hit-worthy) A- side, and especially on the flipside tale of a Bonnie-type lady who’s planning to shoot her Clyde. Perky rhythms, too.

NEIL DIAMOND: Play Me; Porcupine Pie (Uni UNS 546).
Neil presents just the right moody image both visually and musically to set a whole host of feminine hearts a-fluttering, so that his new moody slowie is hardly likely to dampen the enthusiasm with which he is received by certain predictable sections of the community. Jolly flip with cute words.

JAMESTOWN MASSACRE: Summer Sun (Warner Bros K 16206).
One of those beaty vocal groups in the Classics IV tradition, Jamestown Massacre are slowly taking this fast strumming harmony chanter into the US Chart. If you share my own affection for this peculiarly American form of melodic singing, you’ll dig it too.

CLIMAX: Precious And Few (Bell 1219).
From the same school as Jamestown Massacre, but more breathily, sexily so, Climax had a US Number One earlier in the year with this pleasant “oooh, aaahhh”-backed slow Summery Sound, now deservedly re-released.

THE J. GEILS BAND: Pack Fair And Square (Atlantic K 10222).
Much-touted, these American white Bluze boys are into the sort of harmonica-led noise that was big in British clubs around ten years ago. If that sounds like your meat, this slab of it is tough, sinewy, stomping, good “get it on and don’t forget to boogie” music. The flip of this maxi has the easy-rocking “Gonna Find Me A New Love” and Otis Rush’s great “Homework” in a subdued treatment.

LITTLE SISTER: You’re The One; Stanga; Somebody’s Watching You (Atlantic K 10194).
What a treat for Sly fans! Dig — “You’re The One” is both Parts 1 AND 2 of the old double-sided single put together in their correct 6:18 form, backed by yet two more of Sly’s old creations for his sister’s group. If you already have these wah-wah gems, too bad … you’re gonna have to get ’em again!

TRAVIS WAMMACK: Whatever Turns You On (UA UP 35412).
Down boy! If you’re expecting a repeat of Wammack’s incredible 1964 freaky guitar instrumental (with the deathless line in phoney British, “Capital! Do do it again, won’t you?” first forwards then backwards), you’re in for a bitter disappointment. It’s difficult to believe that this cliché-ridden “Soul” vocal is by the same man. Those who don’t know his former glory, “Scratchy“, will be more impressed by this thumping slow beater from Fame.

ARCHIE BELL & THE DRELLS: Here I Go Again (Atlantic K 10210).
Archie, from Houston, Texas, is one of the unsung greats of R&B, with a Soul-filled down home voice that shines on both slowies and the happy up-tempo dancers for which he is more famous. After giving the World a new rhythm via “Tighten Up” in 1968 (one of the all-time great dancers), he was produced by the Gamble and Huff team … and this bouncy joyous beater is one of their collaborations. Once you know his happy sound, you’ll love it.

MAJOR LANCE: Follow The Leader (Atlantic K 10211).
Deserved re-issue for Major’s 1969 “Tighten Up” rhythm shrill-sounding but madly infectious “plinky plinky” beater. Great stuff for R&B folks.

IKE TURNER: Lawdy Miss Clawdy (UA UP 35411).
Despite my having both versions of this by its originator, Lloyd Price, the Elvis Presley version remains my most favourite record ever, repeat, ever. That said, I’m pleased to add that Ike’s treatment of the 1952 classic (hear Lloyd’s original on Speciality Records “This Is How It All Began, Vol. 2” on SNTF 5003) is true to the spirit of twenty years ago and ain’t bad at all! Two trax on the flip make this a maxi.


HURRICANE SMITH: Who Was It? (Columbia DB 8916). Great sax-filled Easy Listening, like the last one though even noisier.
SLADE: Mama Weer All Crazee Now (Polydor 205 8274). More expertly simple stomping Pop.
LITTLE SISTER: You’re The One; Somebody’s Watching You (Atlantic K 10194). Modern R&B.
MAJOR LANCE: Follow The Leader (Atlantic K 10211). R&B.
LIEUTENANT PIGEON: The Villain (Decca F 13278 ). Reissued stomping Pop instrumental which makes an ideal intro to “Rock And Roll Part 2”.
THE J. GEILS BAND: Pack Fair And Square (Atlantic K 10222). Modern.
HAROLD MELVIN AND THE BLUE NOTES: I Miss You (CBS 8291). Late nite R&B Smooch.
WISHBONE ASH: No Easy Road (MCA MKS 5097). Modern.

One thought on “August 26, 1972: L.J. Reynolds & Chocolate Syrup, The Main Ingredient, Chicago, Three Dog Night, Van Morrison”

  1. Such a pleasant surprise to receive the email about this column.
    Thanks for all your hard work with these fascinating bits of history.


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