March 24, 1973: James Brown, Sylvia, Marlena Shaw, Supremes, Diana Ross

Straight from the States

JAMES BROWN: Down And Out In New York City; Mama’s Dead (Polydor).
Mr. Brown has joined Messrs. Hayes, Mayfield, Gaye, Womack, Hathaway, Van Peebles & Co. in becoming one of the black stars to have scored (or, in the case of the “A” side here, merely arranged/produced) the music for a black-aimed movie. “Black Caesar” is the name of this one, and the music from it selected for this initial single is refreshingly removed from Mr. Brown’s usual groove. “Down And Out” starts slowly and builds impassionedly to a plopping bongo-led, mellow brass-backed, jerky, non-dance, dramatic rhythm, while “Mama’s Dead” (shades of “Freddie’s Dead”? ) is a dead (!) slow and very beautiful soulful mood, sung in a crying style that we don’t hear enough of these days.

SYLVIA: Pillow Talk (Vibration).
Sylvia Robinson, of Mickey & Sylvia and ownership of Stang / All Platinum / Vibration record label fame, is back – and how – behind the microphone . . . oh boy! And it’s the boys who will be going “oh!” when they hear this super-sexy, breath-sucking, winsomely little-girlish, perfectly contrived piece of cock-teasing. That may seem strong, but believe me that this is indeed a VERY strong record! If red-blooded males are able to resist its charms, they’d better go visit the blood bank for a top-up! Add to the brilliance of Sylvia’s hissing, sucking, sighing and squeaking the loveliness of the light mid-tempo romping rhythmic music, and you’ve got one foxy mutha!

American Singles

MARLENA SHAW: Last Tango In Paris (Blue Note UP 35517).
Still they keep coming! (Think about it!) Sultry jazz-soulstress Marlena, who did the vocal of “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy”, sings Dory Previn’s lyrical addition to Gato Barbieri’s theme in a Horace Ott-arranged Marvin Gaye-ish way – which is odd, ‘cos his “Save The Children” happens to be on the flip. Along with the EL CHICANO (MCA MU 1188), this is the most satisfying, musically . . . and sexually. Continue reading “March 24, 1973: James Brown, Sylvia, Marlena Shaw, Supremes, Diana Ross”