PATTI PAGE (“The Singing Rage”): (How Much Is) That Doggie In The Window; Tennessee Waltz (Mercury 6052197).
Advertised as the first record you ever heard, “Doggie” from 1952 may well be just that, unless, like me, you remember the Beverley Sisters’ version better. Maybe the passage of time has played tricks, but surely the Bevs had more oomph than this disappointingly lightweight treatment? Anyway, “Cocktails For Two” by Spike Jones, as I subsequently worked out, was the first record that I can remember hearing, while “The Happy Wanderer” as sung by charabanc trippers is the first song I actually knew. Also, for me the definitive version of “Doggie” was Baby Jane & The Rockabyes’ 1963 R&B chugger, with its great “My Boy John” flipside, to which I well remember working out energetic Twist variations in front of my mirror. Enough reminiscence! Of course, this in every way worthy re-issue is designed with nostalgia in mind, and should do extremely well as indeed the song is a timeless children’s favourite. The famous 1950 flip (with sociological associations these days) makes this a doubly good record, and will be the side to sell it in many cases. Buy now for Xmas.
THE O’JAYS: 992 Arguments; Listen To The Clock On The Wall (CBS 1014).
Sounding very much like the follow-up to “Back Stabbers” that it is, which may go against it, this edited Thom Bell-arranged album track is a tiny bit faster and more urgent than the hit, which may be in its favour. It is of course brilliant and the next best thing to chocolate mint chip ice cream, but its success or otherwise rests in the hands of you, the fans. Power! Bobby Martin’s arrangement of the tortuous slow flip adds beauty to the package, so make it a hit, y’all! And buy the (Detroit) Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around” while you’re at it.
JIMMY CASTOR: Bang Bang; Hey Willie (Mercury 6052185).
Five years ago Jimmy Castor’s “Hey Leroy” album was the most played in my collection, and this version of the Joe Cuba-originated Latin-Soul hit plus Jimmy’s own “Ham Hocks Espanol” were my favourite tracks. Thus I earnestly commend this incredibly happy, full of life, Latin scat chat, piano and congas bouncy clomper to your attention. The “Leroy”-following “Willie” is more frantic though excellent also, and between them — who knows? — the two sides of this single might just turn you onto a whole new type of music to explore. Then, like Carlos Santana, you too can get into Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Fania All Stars, Ray Barretto —even Cal Tjader and Antonia Carlos Jobim. Hey, ever dug Mexican Pop? Be adventurous and get a taste of today’s Latin hits by tuning to AFN on Sunday mornings at 02:00 hrs. Tell ’em I sentcha!
CHAKACHAS: Stories (Young Blood International YB 1012).
The Belgian Latin-Soul crew of “Jungle Fever” fame (remember I hipped you to that one a full six months before it finally hit here?) have been back in the US R&B Charts with this similar sound — similar except that the instrumental theme is even better than “Fever”‘s and that “Sweet Nuthin’s”-type whispering and its attendant suppressed guffawing fill the breaks instead of sexy panting. I love it, and so did Herman Griffiths who was playing it every weekday morning a couple of months ago on his 03:00 hrs AFN Soul show. Infectious and silly, it’ll grow on you if you give it a chance. Do so!
ELVIS PRESLEY: Always On My Mind; Separate Ways (RCA 2304).
Although the “Elvis On Tours”-featured gentle slow flip is the A-side in America, here we get the sensible choice of “Always On My Mind” — sensible because it harks back to the Elvis of old, being the sort of slowie he used to cut in the early ’60s, but with a nice relaxed up-to-date backing that does however include some Jordanaires-style support from J. D. Sumner & the Stamps.
JAMES TAYLOR: Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight; Woh, Don’t You Know (Warner Bros K 16231).
Wistful and very pretty in the best traditions of that incestuous James Taylor-Carole King-Jo Mama axis, this really beautifully put together sound is truly wee-small-hours cocktail lounge music at its best. This effect is heightened by the overdubbed tenor sax solo at the end, although the mellowness of the bass, guitars and congas allied to James’s night-time lyrics are enough to make the slow mood as evocative as it is. A sound more than a song, unlike the flip which uses a laid-back derivation of the Malaco Sound to emphasize the spat-out Elton John-ish vocal delivery.
CARLY SIMON: You’re So Vain; His Friends Are More Than Fond of Robin (Elektra K12077).
Mrs. James Taylor has here her best bet yet for the British Charts in the shape of an imaginatively-starting gradually accelerating semi-slow thumper that has amusing universally applicable words and all the backing bounce which one associates with the Carole King-Jo Mama lot . . . . oh, and Mick Jagger or someone is in there too, not that you’d know it. Thankfully the jocks at the Beeb are riding this — all the way home, I hope. Flipside acoustic dead slowie is dedicated to our own Mr. Mackie.
ELEPHANT’S MEMORY: Power Boogie; Liberation Special (Apple 45).
APPLE 45 is actually the number of this Apple 45, and it’s a double-A twin helping of hairy sweaty smelly armpits modern stomp music, from a group whose musical approach (and internal membership) has changed somewhat since the early days of “Crossroads Of The Stepping Stones” and “Old Man Willow“, which you may remember me plugging in ’69. John Lennon has discovered them since then and his nasal Liverpudlian tones can be heard emanating from the control room at the very start of “Power Boogie”, which is sorta hip Slade but mainly messily frenetic. The other side has more form and is sorta Alice Cooper, but it too suffers from a surfeit of enthusiasm.
(GROOVE) JOE POOVEY: 10 Long Fingers (On 88 Keys); Thrill Of Love (Injun, available for 55 pennies from “Injun” Records, 26 Stanford Avenue, Hassocks, Sussex — telephone Hassocks 4048).
Here’s solid gold for all Rock-A-Billy cats, boppin’ Teds and Jerry Lee fans — a slab of sizzlin’ boogie-beatin’ piano-pounding Deep South white Rock ‘n Roll from the defunct Dixie label, sung by the masculine-sounding but unfortunately-named Mr. Poovey (he probably sure is Country). If you missed it on Charlie Gillett’s noontime Sundays Radio London show you can take my word that anyone whose appetite has been whetted by this review will not be disappointed — and others will dig the endearingly puerile “shadap ‘nshoobedoo” teenage flip. It’s 100 per cent the real thing, from a label which plans to bring you EXCLUSIVELY Rock & Roll sounds of the ’50s and early ’60s, by artists to include Bill Reeder, Eddy Bell & Bell-Aires, Paul Perry, Ray Campi & Snappers, Vern Pullens, Big Ben Hess, Royce Porters, Jimmy Martinez, N. A. Stevenson & his 4 Kings, Lonesome Drifter, Don Simpson and other such obscurities. Ho boy !
CHARLIE RICH: I Take It On Home (Epic EPC 8482).
The one-time Country Rocker of “Lonely Weekends” fame is one of the more interesting of today’s Country stars, although this relatively smooth reading of Kenny O’Dell’s slowie only hints at the man’s idiosyncratic bluesiness. Superb production of course, and a current C&W hit.
MARTY ROBBINS: Guess I’ll Just Stand Here Looking Dumb; This Much A Man (MCA MU 1174).
The A-side is one of those light Country bouncers, while the meatier slow flip is in fact the n****r hater’s current Top Ten C&W hit.
SUE THOMPSON: How I Love Them Old Songs (London HLE 10400).
The bane of my youth thanks to her “James (Hold The Ladder Steady)“, perky Sue has a good go at Mickey Newbury’s lovely ditty, doing it rather brighter than the original, which I still prefer. Nice slushy slow flip too.
NEW CHRISTIE MINSTRELS: Three Wheels On My Wagon; Ida Red (CBS 1022). From the early ’60s comes this irritating clean-cut hootenany comedy( ?) song, to which Burt Bacharach’s name is connected as co-composer. It was loved by some, could be good with Ed Stewart listeners, and I hate it still! Plastic hoedown flip.
CORNELIUS BROS & SISTER ROSE: Don’t Ever Be Lonely (A Poor Little Fool Like Me) (UA UP 35427).
The first Soulful slowie from the big US hit-scoring family act, this slightly Friends Of Distinction-ish staccato-then-smooth harmonies and softly rasping lead voice number is truly lovely — and the finger-snappin’ flip is a goodie too. Soul Group Freaks, do ya stuff!
CROWBAR: Dreams; Hey! Baby (Paramount PARA 3027).
Seeing this boisterous though well-co-ordinated group live, rather than live on telly, you can understand why they are Canada’s number one concert attraction. However, this single, with its beautiful seagull sound-effects intro and outro, gently phasing, rumbling bouncy bass, chugging rhythm and effete harmonized chanting, is the antithesis of their stage image . . . really lovely, and thoroughly recommended. The flipside revival is unnecessary, though.
JAMES HAMILTON’S DISCOTHEQUE PICKS
JUDGE DREAD: Big Seven (Big Shot BI 613) In every way better than “Six!”
THE CRUSADERS: Put It Where You Want It ( LP “Crusaders 1” Blue Thumb ILPS 9218) The year’s best jazz instrumental dancers, unfortunately not on single here.
PETE DRUMMOND AND THE V.H.F. BAND Rocking At The B.B.C. (Warner Bros K 16232) Now banned at the BBC! “Goodbye” flip has its uses too.
THE SHEPHERDS BUSH COMETS: Amazin’ Grace (Sonet SON 2031) A la Johnny & the Hurricanes!
THE SHADOWS: Apache; Wonderful Land; F. B. L Columbia DB 8958) Yeah!
ANTONIA CARLOS JOBIM: Brazil (LP “Stone Flower” CTI CTL 3) Superb Easy Listening, while his LP “Girl From Ipanema” (A&M Mayfair AMLB 51036) is about the best Easy Listening background music album there is — and it’s cheap!
PHIL UPCHURCH: LP “Darkness, Darkness” (Blue Thumb ILPS 9219) Ideal “Modern” background music.
COUNT PRINCE MILLER: Rupert The Bear (Penny Farthing PEN 799) Reggae/Pop/Fun!