GARY U.S. BONDS: Quarter To Three; Please Forgive Me (UA UP 345437).
Tying in (cashing in? … no, let’s not be uncharitable in this deserving instance) nicely with Harley Quinne’s current Chart revival of U.S. Bonds’ first hit, “New Orleans“, here’s the Norfolk, Virginia, lad’s monster 1961 international smash in its original version, just as it appeared on the legendary old Top Rank label except that now its flip is a nice plodding R&B slowie from the “Dance ’til Quarter To Three” album. Interestingly, Gary Bonds and his producer, Frank Guida, were really into Jamaican music back then in the early ’60s (Gary’s second LP was devoted to an Americanisation of Ska), and although a strong Jamaican influence can be heard in many Bonds hits it was Guida’s 1963 hit with Jimmy Soul’s “If You Wanna Be Happy” that really made capital out of the authentic Ska/Blue Beat sound. Anyway, “2.45” is one of the all-time stomping party records, and stands a good chance of repeated success. It’s a pity that “New Orleans” or, post-Alice Cooper, “School Is Out” aren’t on the flip, actually. Two last points: UA singles now have a nice new brown sleeve, and the legendary Gene Barge (Daddy Gee) is swingin’ on the sax, fit to bust, still.
THE JACKSON FIVE: Lookin’ Through The Windows; Love Song (Tamla Motown TMG 833).
By far their most adventurous outing yet, the boys’ newie is a complex staccato harmony-bit and hustling film-score-type tempo attractive tricky stomper (although to stomp to it you’ve got to be more than familiar with it). Having lived with this for a while, I’ve decided that it’s rather like something from “Shaft” done vocally instead of instrumentally — so that, as you should be able to guess, it really is kinda clever. Lovely pretty flip too.
THE TEMPTATIONS: Smiling Faces Sometimes; Mother Nature (Tamla Motown TMG 832).
While everyone waits with bated breath for producer Norman Whitfield to get so clever that he disappears up his own fundamental orifice, musically, here’s a drastically edited version of his 12.35 track from the Temptations’ last British LP but one. All terribly clever and atmospheric in a totally sterile way, it says so little that you don’t miss the last nine minutes at all. A slow starting mid-tempo clomper, it has a slow flip.
GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS: Help Me Make It Through The Night (Tamla Motown TMG 830).
After a long spoken intro Gladys, who can be the Queen of Soul when she wants, launches into a version of the Kris Kristofferson song which far too many people have been rushing to record, and does it in a noisy minimally-backed version which may appeal to fans of Judy Collins (or Garland).
IKE & TINA TURNER: Let Me Touch Your Mind; Chopper (UA UP 35429).
More Soul than usual these days from Tina on this Oliver Sain-penned slowie which features some incredibly heavy bass drums and a sanctified girlie group, and which begins by ripping-off the Flamingos’ great “shoo-wa-tchoo-wa” bit from “I Only Have Eyes For You“. After that good start, it ends just as well with some sexy interplay between Tina’s pleading voice and Ike’s wobbly guitar. Well worth hearing, and so’s the fine ‘n funky flip, especially by ‘bikers.
BILL BRANDON: I Am Free Of Your Love (Mercury 6052186).
Haaa-aay-hey! Yeah, back we go a few years to the old funky-as-you-wanna-be Memphis Sound, although this recreation of it is in fact brand new and good of its kind. Hoarse-voiced Bill slots right into the Sam & Dave tradition and the funk rambles on tunelessly . . . but that’s all right, ain’t it?!
FREDERICK KNIGHT: Trouble; Friend ($tax 2025133).
Recent out-of-left-field British Chart entrant, Freddie’s trying to follow “I’ve Been Lonely For So Long” with another tricky beat slowie which is too similar to the last one without being anything like it, and may even prefer the more straightforwardly slow flip.
DONNY HATHAWAY AND JUNE CONQUEST: I Thank You; Just Another Reason (Buddah 2011134).
Dating from Donny’s days with Curtis Mayfield, this dueted creaking semi-slowie has recently shown on the US R&B Charts thanks to his hit activity with Roberta Flack. Merely interesting, tho’ the slow flip’s not bad.
THELMA HOUSTON: No One’s Gonna Be A Fool Forever (MoWest MW 3001).
First British release on Motown’s West Coast label (uh, aren’t they all, now?) is this alternately punchy then smooth Pop-type chick beater.
THE CAPITOLS: Ain’t That Terrible; Zig-Zagging (Atlantic K10205).
It sure is terrible, ‘cos those folks at WEA who are new to Atlantic have only just learnt about how calling the Spinners the Spinners is a no-no in this country and are now going to have to get used to the idea that (altho’ they’re still the Capitols in the minds of R&B freaks) THE THREE CAPS is the name of this group so far as Britain is concerned, and has been ever since the “Cool Jerk” days of ’66. Get reprinting! Anyroad, the boys’ latest Ollie McLaughlin production is an energetic fond look back at past dance crazes and is distinguished mainly by its unremitting rhythm. The bongos-backed slightly Latin flip has more variety and interest, and is worth looking out for. In fact, the more I play it, the better it gets. Recommended.
THE OLYMPICS: The Same Old Thing; I’ll Do A Little Bit More (Jay Boy BOY 74).
Not quite “The Same Old Song” although they try, this typico churner is overshadowed by the other James Carmichael-arranged/Fred Smith-produced side (surely an old A-side in its own right?), which is more in the “Secret Agents” groove.
BOBBY BYRD: Never Get Enough; My Concerto (Mojo 2093020).
Bobby’s left James Brown with the latter’s blessings to go the solo route now, but this new slice of the usual funky pie was created, arranged, produced and co-penned by Mr. Brown a few months before parting. Monotony on legs for the uninitiated, this repetitive groover will delight the converted — although what will anyone make of the slow flip, which isn’t exactly as the title would lead you to expect? An adventurous departure, in two meanings of the word.
BARBARA ACKLIN: Am I The Same Girl (Soulful Strut); Be By My Side (MCA MU 1103).
First out (and covered unsuccessfully by Dusty Springfield, if memory serves me right) in 1968, this is Young-Holt Unlimited’s US smash piano instrumental with the great but neglected Miss Acklin dubbed on over the top of the original. Eugene Record co-penned/produced, and either instrumental or vocal remain one of my all-time faves (of which, as you have probably guessed by now, there are of necessity a great many!). The backing track of the struttingly stomping flip ended up as a Young-Holt instrumental, if you can work that out!
THE PRESIDENTS: 5-10-15-20 (25-30 Years Of Love); Triangle Of Love (Hey Diddle Diddle) (A&M AMS 856).
One of last year’s very best Soul Vocal Group slowies, this US smash was slightly too old to be valid for my “Soul ’72” survey a while back, which I regretted, because it really ought to be heard by Delfonics/Chi-Lites admirers who have been unhip to Sweet Soul when it first came out. However, here it is again, with its similar-sounding hit follow-up on the flip, in the hopes that this time around it may finally find an audience. Don’t miss it.
THE DECISIONS: It’s Love That Really Counts (In The Long Run) (A&M AMS 844).
The Bacharach & David-penned Shirelles oldie here gets a new and beautifully sung, wailing Soul Vocal Group slow treatment, in which the lead singer’s voice practically takes off as it swoops up the gear changes, inspiring me to try for my own horrible attempt at a falsetto wail … which is how all well-performed Soul Vocal Group records should affect their audiences, by tradition. Anyone wanna join me on a street corner, heads in a tight circle, feet shuffling, fingers snapping, workin’ out on them old doo-wops? All replies should be sent to Johnny Moran, c/o the Beeb.
PARLIAMENT: Come In Out Of The Rain (Invictus INV 522).
Funkadelic with their other hat on (the more conventional Soul Vocal Group titfer), doing a somewhat dull heavily thumping slowie which isn’t actually all that far removed from their Funkadelic material, lyrically. England’s own Ruth Copeland seems to be much featured.
PERSIANS: Baby Come Back Home (Capitol CL 15726).
The Persians are a male Soul Vocal Group who feature some lovely wailing vocalizing on this sweetly swaying slowie (arranged by Horace Ott, calling on all his years of expertise to create a little gem), and who, from example of this and its flip, have all the vocal/harmony characteristics (plus something of their own) which used to belong to the old Temptations. For some obscure reason, they didn’t appeal to me back in July when this was issued, which is why it has only just got high enough up in the pile (or rather, I’ve gone deep enough) to appear here. I’m knocked out! Do try and find this, and start praying that maybe one day they will get a Temptations-sized reputation of their own. Exquisite beauty.
RAMSEY LEWIS: Slipping Into Darkness (CBS 8280).
Jazz snobs may sneer, but Ramsey Lewis’s incredibly good treatment of the Beatles’ “Julia” remains another of my all-time faves … and it converts other people too. Ramsey can certainly do wrong in my eyes, although I’m usually well disposed towards his offerings, yet he’s done all right by me and America here in his US hit instrumental treatment of the great War tune, which is now filled with lazy electric-piano funk and a solid slow clap beat. Very slinky stuff, which gets insidiously nagging when Ramsey goes into his inimitable faster “acid piano” bit.
JAMES. HAMILTON’S DISCOTHEQUE PICKS
GARY U.S. BONDS: Quarter to Three (UA UP 35437) Classic oldie.
ELTON JOHN: Crocodile Rock (DJM DJS 271) Marc Bolan isn’t the only one who can take a bit from here and a bit from there and come up with an old Pop pastiche. Great!
STAVELY MAKEPEACE: Slippery Rock ’70s (Spark SRL 1081) The Lieutenant Pigeon crew doing a marvellous mickey-take of “Rock And Roll Part 2” which will be taken seriously by dancers.
STEELEYE SPAN: Jigs And Reels (Parts 1, 2 & 3) (Peg PGS 6) Just what it says, and a very useful gas! (No vocals, thankfully).
BRIGHTON ROCK: Rocking Goose; Faded Denim (Philips 6006215) Excellent recreation of Johnny & the Hurricanes’ rocking instrumental oldie, c/w lovely “Albatross”-ish slowie.
ED ‘STEWPOT’ STEWART & TONY BRANDON: The Teddy Bears’ Picnic (Disneyland Doubles DD 29) Now for some REAL music.