January 13, 1973: Laura Lee, The Persuaders, Archie Bell & The Drells, Kenny Loggins & Jim Messina, The Crickets

Hot US releases

Record Mirror is the ONLY pop paper to provide advance reviews of the most important American singles releases. Each week JAMES HAMILTON, the most knowledgeable writer on the US record scene, brings you, hot from the presses, reviews of the new Stateside hits . . . via Billboard’s exclusive fast-mailing service.

LAURA LEE: Since I Fell For You; Wedlock Is A Padlock (Hot Wax HWX 118).
If you’re a bloke with any sensibilities at all, this languidly and so sexily conceived recitation-then-smouldering torch song is guaranteed to reduce you to a quivering mess: if you’re a dewy-eyed maiden, it’ll appeal to you much as Gladys Knight’s current hit does, although this really is aimed at the blokes. In truth, by far the best bit is the long smoochy spoken intro which sets the scene for the old Lenny Welch hit, and the one disappointing bit is when the tempo tries to get clever halfway through the song proper. However, this long-time-comin’ Soul gem is head, shoulders, chest, hips and knees above the boringly obvious thump thumper coupling, which amazingly is the official plug side. Skip it ‘n flip it, y ‘all !

THE PERSUADERS: Peace In The Valley; Thin Line Between Love And Hate (Atlantic K 10265).
It’s a good week far Soul fans, this, and here’s the number one on the lists of all Soul Group Freaks. Dead slow and very Gospelly, with incredible passionate singing and several gallons of pure one hundred proof SOUL, this current US R&B Top Tenner is backed by the group’s US Pop Top Tenner of 1971. It too is a must-have item, dead slow and particularly inventive, but the trouble is that many of you must have it already as it’s been out on 45 and LP before in this country. Double dynamite for tyros, cheesy deal but vital for initiates.

ARCHIE BELL AND THE DRELLS: Tighten Up; (There’s Gonna Be) A Showdown (Atlantic K 10263).
1968’s “Tighten Up” is, as some of you by now must know, one of my all time faves, but, more than that, its madly infectious rhythm (an innovation in its day, I think it’s true to say) keeps on cropping up to brighten anything to which it is applied (the Nite-Liters’ “K-Jee” for instance). As it’s a well-proven disco smash, why is it in fact the official B-side here to the good but less direct Gamble & Huff-penned/produced “Showdown”? Both, incidentally, were issued on a maxi together with “I Can’t Stop Dancing” about a year ago by Atlantic Polydor, so that, despite their other R&B maxis, Atlantic WEA ain’t doing you no favours.

KENNY LOGGINS AND JIM MESSINA: Your Mama Don’t Dance; Golden Ribbons (CBS 8480).
Previously unimpressed by this duo, I gotta report that this US smash is a gas! It has all the plus qualities of good old fashioned Pop records and none of the boring hangups of so much modern stuff – economically planned and executed with not a wasted note, it leaps, honks, chugs and jumps its way along with multo drive and some snazzy sax that’s straight from the only Rock Era. Add tight chanted unison harmonies that cut like a knife and plenty musicianship, and you gotta hit . . . please? Pleasant slow flip too. “Outa the car, longhair” could be the phrase of the year.

THE CRICKETS: My Rockin’ Days; Lovesick Blues (Philips 6006269).
The team who visited Britain, their Bob Montgomery-produced newie has much of the same simplicity and directness as the Loggins & Messina rocker – although its autobiographical-slanted lyrics add real point. It’s got a good beat and too much bass in the grooves (for my needle, at least), while the Hank Williams flip has a nice and uncliched easy-going vocal arrangement. The boys still have it.

BLUE RIDGE RANGERS: Jambalaya (On The Bayou); Workin’ On A Building (Fantasy FTC 102).
Talking of Hank Williams, here’s his own famous composition rendered with obvious love and much old-time Country fever by John Fogerty and frendz . . . yi ha! The worksong introed flip is rather less convincing, but does have some accurate Delta guitar straight from those old down home 78s. John sounds like he means it, while both he and his old crew can also be heard as CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL: Born On The Bayou; I Put A Spell On You (Fantasy, FTC 101), where you know better what to expect.

THE TEMPTATIONS: Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone (Tamla Motown TMG 839). I was disenchanted by the American single (the same as this, the 11:45 “All Directions” album track cut up and put on both sides), and then I heard the whole thing on the album. Oh BOY! DO NOT BUY THIS SINGLE – get the album instead. I will say no more.

THE CHI-LITES: We Need Order; Living In The Footsteps Of Another Man (Brunswick BR 1).
Best thing, other than the silky album track flip, about this slow-beat message song is the welcome return of the old Brunswick label, looking (with its paper sleeve too) much as it used to.

JERMAINE JACKSON: Daddy’s Home (Motown).
Here it is! The song that knocked out the critics at the Jacksons’ “Talk Of The Town” luncheon performance, brother Jermaine’s superb rendition of Shep and the Limelites’ 1961 doo-wop classic is done with sincere Soulfulness and great attention to the details of the original, plus subdued strings and a generally fuller production sound than that of the oldie.

The original has an interesting history actually: two years earlier, the lead singer/co-writer of Daddy’s Home had the same involvement with the song’s forerunner, A Thousand Miles Away . . . yes, Daddy’s Home was a follow-up, very much so, of this the arch-typical GI lament, and even Jermaine repeats the Limelites’ “I’m not a thousand miles away” celebratory lines at the final fadeout. The lead singer/writer was James Sheppard, a man with the voice of a bird, who is sadly now dead. (I had the privilege and pleasure of knowing Shep, and of seeing him and the Limelites at the “Apollo” and “Baby Grand,” back in 1964).

Shep and the group who recorded 1,000 Miles Away were however called the Heartbeats, and they had a massive hit . . . it’s amazing when you think back that our own “Two-Way Family Favourites” never latched onto the song here, as it would have been a natural.

After the hit, there were the regrettably common hang-ups between the label it was on and the performers/composers, with the result that the Heartbeats were unable to record – at least not under that name. It took two years to get things together, and then under the new name of Shep and the Limelites and for a new label, the group put out their (even then, legally disputed) follow-up. Archaic sounding already, but so similar to its smash predecessor and so dripping with Soul, it too was a monster hit. And within recent years, it and all of the Limelites’ subsequent material for their second label was finally won in legal battle and reissued by their original, Heartbeats, label.

A sad story? Remember it when you listen to Jermaine, who would have been about five or six when it happened, yet who sings it like it was. Oh, and do try to find those two oldies, A Thousand Miles Away and Daddy’s Home . . . it’ll be worth it.

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