Straight from the States
THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY Starring Shirley Jones & Featuring David Cassidy: Friend And A Lover; Something’s Wrong (Bell).
Cassidy fans who have been lucky enough to hear the “Partridge Family Notebook” LP will know this “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”-copying staccato stomper with buzzing fuzz-tone guitar which has been pulled from it, together with the wistful slow-starting flip-side track, to make up the Family’s latest single in America. There’s no guarantee that it (or anything else mentioned in “Straight From The States”) will be issued in Britain, so that this exclusive preview-review service of the good ole “Record Mirror” is a good place to find out about the records which those lucky Americans can hear and buy right now . . . isn’t it? Go, tell your friends (and a lover) about it!
THE JACKSON 5: Hallelujah Day; You Made Me What I Am (Motown).
Two tracks from the Fab Five + Randy’s new “Skywriter” LP, the happy topside (it had to be happy with a title like that) is back in the boys’ herky-jerky old original style, and features some truly Soulful lead swapping on the optimistic lyrics that are indirectly about the Viet Nam withdrawal, while the more complex flipside chugger is another lead vocal switcher which Michael does dominate.
NEW YORK CITY: I’m Doing Fine Now; Ain’t It So (Chelsea).
I’m doin’ fine now too, having recovered from the rigours of a walk in the Black Forest two weeks ago and a couple of midnights in Moscow this last weekend. If snow was all I wanted to see, I should have waited and gone to Westmorland! As it was, the Bolshoi Ballet weren’t a patch on this fine if workmanlike new Thom Bell-penned / arranged / conducted / produced male (but girl-supported) vocal group, whose one-two-THREE-four rhythm skipping light plopper is in turn over-shadowed to my mind by its hesitant early Main Ingredient-type flipside slowie. In any case, no matter that the group are called after New York City, this is yet another Philly Sound hit which is bulleting up the US Pop and R & B Charts.
BATTEAUX: Tell Her She’s Lovely (CBS 1351).
No telling from their voices what colour are the brothers Batteau, but their sound on this delightful little fidgetty lilter is kinda – um – Friends Of Distinction / Brenton Wood / Winstons . . . . and very pretty. In other words, I wanna tell you it’s lovely!
REDBONE: Hail (Epic EPC 1398).
Funnily enough, Redbone sound kinda Brenton Wood-ish too, on this jaunty lurching semi-slow clipped-delivery staccato harmonizer. Oogum boogum!
[Editor’s Note: “Hail” was subsequently re-titled “Come And Get Your Love”.]
JOHNNY RIVERS: Blue Suede Shoes (UA UP 35508).
Following his US hit revival of Huey Smith’s “Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu” (UP 35418), Johnny contrives a creditable Sun Sound echoing voice and rocking (but modern) backing for his powerful revival of the Carl Perkins / Elvis Presley classic. Speaking of which, it’s good to see that guitarist Scotty Moore is back recording – his “Smokie, Pt 2” is on Nashville’s Candy label.
SHEL SILVERSTEIN: Stacy Brown Got Two (CBS 1244).
“Playboy” cartoonist and humorous composer by appointment to Dr. Hook, independently wealthy Shel does an extremely silly, raucous girls-answered ditty about a stud who’s so well hung that he’s got TWO! Ring-a-ding-ding-a-ling!
NEIL DIAMOND: Cherry, Cherry (UNI UNS 556).
One of Neil’s early US hits / GB bombs, later covered here by Jo King, given an aggressively over-virile strumming “live” treatment which might finally make it.
FRANKIE VALLI & THE FOUR SEASONS: Walk On, Don’t Look Back (Mowest MW 3003).
Totally ignoring the credo expressed by the title, Frankie and de boiz make of this Corporation-penned / produced semi-slowie a perfect pastiche of all their old hits . . . which should please their fans.
SHANGRI-LAS: Give Him A Great Big Kiss (Buddah 2011164).
Oh dear! As was the “Remember (Walking In The Sand)” which coupled the edited hit version of “Leader Of The Pack,” this oddly-balanced and incomplete take is NOT – repeat, NOT – the original US hit version. A shame, since Philips, who own the original, seem reluctant to release it despite its smash potential. However, we do get here the bonus maxi coupling of the TRADEWINDS’ Beach Boys-ish “New York Is A Lonely Town” and the AD-LIBS’ much-sought “Boy From New York City,” which would have made a good ‘A’ side on its own.
HOT BUTTER: Percolator (Pye 7N 25609).
Strange that my review of “Popcorn” should have compared it to the 1962 Billy Joe and the Checkmates original of this perky perkin’ bubbler, what? Very nice new mauve and pink Pye label and sleeve, by the way.
JAMES GANG: Funk 49; Funk No. 48 (Probe GFF 116).
Here’s a good Goldies 45 coupling, personal favourites, the chunky churning guitar, yelling and percussion break Family Stone-ish 1970 white funker and its more incisive, tighter and ultimately better 1969 predecessor (which I still occasionally play at dances). Try ’em if you missed ’em.
DOC SEVERINSEN: The Last Tango In Paris; Alone Again (Naturally) (RCA 2347).
I have yet to hear a bad treatment of the much-recorded movie theme, which is so sinuously melodic it’s a gift. Trumpeter Doc’s is the most “Easy Listening” to date.
BARRY WHITE: I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby (Pye 7N 25610).
Okay, so Barry (the man behind Love Unlimited) has heard Isaac Hayes. but his plagiary in no way diminishes the sheer sexuality of his bad super-nigger chocolate-voiced sweet-nuthin’s rap intro, which lasts a good half of the record over a mellow chinking cymbal beat before he launches into the Ike-type song proper. Enough to make either sex cream their jeans, this MUST be heard!
HAROLD MELVIN AND THE BLUE NOTES: I Miss You (Pts 1/2).
Great that, rather than go with the US choice of the dreary “Yesterday I Had The Blues” album track as follow-up, CBS are trying again with this classic 100 proof PURE Soul dead slow US smash to which “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” was in fact follow-up. Readers of “Blues & Soul” voted it third favourite single (to “If You”‘s number one) of 1972, so it’s not without friends here already. Either get this or the album, but get it.
JAMES BROWN: I Got Ants In My Pants And I Want To Dance (Pts 1, 15 & 16) (Polydor 2066296).
The instrumentation is sparser, it’s a super-funk dancer, heyyy-YAY! Already much bought on import, it’s a proven Soul prancer, good god! UHH!
PERCY MAYFIELD: Please Send Me Someone To Love; The River’s Invitation (Speciality SON 5007).
Percy (no relation to Curtis) was / is a gentle-voiced “Cocktail Lounge”-type West Coast Blues singer, typical but outstanding for the period of his heyday (the era of T-Bone Walker, Charles Brown, Amos Milburn, early Ray Charles, Nat “King” Cole), and his 1950 “Please” slowie went on to become a standard with ’50s singers both black and white. “Invitation” is one of Alexis Korner’s favourites, and still crops up.
BETTY LAYETTE: Your Turn To Cry (Atlantic K 10299).
Joe Simon’s most Soulful hit now gets a dead slow and reverentially sanctified reading by the “My Man – He’s A Lovin’ Man” Soulstress who used to work with Don Gardener and Dee Dee Ford. Obviously a must for femme fans, it’s a bit too “dry” for my own taste.
ESTHER PHILLIPS: I’ve Never Found A Man (To Love Me Like You Do); Cherry Red (Kudu KUS 4002).
Eddie Floyd’s old melodic hit gets a sex change and a pithy but bouncy new reading in Jazz-Soulstress Esther’s distinctive Dinah Washington-ish biting, quavering, whinnying strong voice. Dead slow flip, an old Kansas City variation of the “Rock Me Baby” idea.
MARVIN GAYE: Trouble Man; Don’t Mess With Mister “T” (Tamla Motown TMG 846).
Latest in the line of black-aimed, black-cast “bad mutha” movies, “Trouble Man” is more entertaining if no less wish-fulfilling than most. In fact, Marvin Gaye’s score for it (he does not appear himself) is purposefully unobtrusive – and so unimportant to the general effect that it is liberally altered by the film’s makers. The vocal that accompanies the LA freeways opening credits is in his “What’s Goin’ On” style, while the “Water sound” guitar pretty flip is the ideal background music it was intended to be.
FOUR TOPS: Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got) (Probe PRO 586).
This particularly lovely languid Friends Of Distinction-ish slowie is deservedly a US smash, and deservedly rushed here despite another recent Probe release. Maybe the haste was to counter their old Mike (Moody Blues) Pinder-penned / produced comes-and-goes hustling clopper from the “Simple Game” British session, “So Deep Within You“.