Straight from the States
TOMMIE YOUNG: Do You Still Feel The Same Way (Soul Power).
Against all expectations, Tommie turns out to be a chick . . . . and a very Soulful chick at that. With a slight Irma Thomas (and, dare I say, Aretha Franklin?) quality to her “open throat” singing on this Bobby Patterson-produced/arranged/co-penned slowie, she wails away through, over and under her girlie group support in a refreshingly old-fashioned (timeless?) Soul style which is particularly satisfying without being overly spectacular. There’s lotsa church in that voice.
LITTLE JOHNNY TAYLOR: You’re Not The Only One (Ronn).
Another Shreveport, Louisana, recording prod/arr/co-penned by Bobby Patterson, its opening words are enough to tell you that you’re on familiar Little Johnny Taylor territory: “I know about that butcher, baby, and how you get your meat . . .” Yup, and his baby isn’t the only one who is getting benefits from the local tradesmen! “I know about the insurance man, I know he got a one night plan, but here’s something you got to understand, he’s not the only one that’s got some collectin’ to do, ‘cos while he’s selling you health and life, I’m collectin’ the premium from some housewife . . . ” Sounds like a town full of Jodies.
OTIS CLAY: I Didn’t Know The Meaning Of Pain (Hi).
Well, well, well – producer Willie Mitchell’s pushing up the pressure in his famous “comfortable” sound: everything’s still real laid-back, but those drums are pumping a bit harder and the burbling organ is even more buoyant. This is getting on for his Bill Coday “Get Your Lie Straight” attacking style, to which the beat-riding voice of Otis Clay would indeed be suited.
DAVID RUFFIN: Blood Donors Needed (Give All You Can) (Motown).
Whaa? With Bobby (Dells) Miller handling penning/producing, the Gospel-singing ex-Temptation is getting a bit of a corporate Motown push at the moment. Unfortunately, despite the interesting title, this schlerping cymbal / chinking tambourine / thudding bass / ploppling bongos number is almost devoid of melody, so that no amount of Soulfully raw emoting and pure Gospel hoarse screaming can make what sounds like a basic rhythm track any less than monotonous. What a pity.
ISAAC HAYES: If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right) (Stax 2025177).
This super-soul moaner was one of the sensations of Ike’s recent “Rainbow” gig, and is so suited to his trademarked torpid, turgid styling that its original 4,000,000-selling version by Luther Ingram (which is most unlikely to be issued here) has been eclipsed by a treatment that must rank next only to “Walk On By” as the quintessential Hayesian slowie. The admittedly more adventurous flip, the jaunty “Rolling Down A Mountainside,” is in fact Ike’s new US hit . . and wrong for here. Right!
DEODATO: Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001) (CTI CTS 4000).
Another US smash that until just last week seemed unlikely to appear here in this brilliant plopping, plonking jazzy instrumental which utilizes those tremendous brassy climaxes from Richard Strauss’s famous “2001 – a Space Odyssey” music – and it was the objection of Herr Strauss’s heirs to this, as they thought, improper usage of their European-copyrighted property which held up the British release of the Pye-distributed label’s first (and most important) single. It sure is different, but then so were “Amazing Grace” and “Duelling Banjos”.
THE EDGAR WINTER GROUP: Frankenstein (Epic EPC 1440).
The most terrifying noise on wax is synthesized near the end of this ultra-heavy Chicago-ish instrumental. True! Guaranteed to break glasses and shiver livers if played LOUD, this is one little monster that should not be allowed to get away.
THE TEMPTATIONS: Masterpiece (Tamla Motown TMG 854).
“Papa Was A Rolling Stone’s” stylistically similar follow-up started life at 30 minutes, was cut to 19, ended up on its album as 13, and has 9.30 of that spread over both sides of this single – in which form, the instrumental flip seems most satisfying. Wait for the album.
MANDRILL: Mandrill (Polydor 2066320).
I used to carry their 1971 LP around to dances just for this one Latin-Rock instrumental track, and now it’s finally out as a single! Fine flute, wah-wah, vibes and brassy blasts over the driving rumbling rhythms, which early Santana fans will love.
GIL SCOTT-HERON: Lady Day And John Coltrane (Philips 6073705).
Jazz-Soulster Gil’s spiky lyrics about those late greats of Jazz, singer Billie Holiday and saxist ‘Trane, slot so excitingly into the unremitting hustle rhythm backing of drummer Pretty Purdie & the Playboys that his whole “Pieces Of A Man” album is likely to be as good.
THE STAPLE SINGERS: Oh La De Da (Stax 2025172).
This live “Wattstax” performance of the joyful Phillip Mitchell-penned stamper is rather shallow in its excitement but does sound so infectious over the radio that it must have Chart chances. Clap your hands!
WAR: The Cisco Kid (UA UP 35521).
The Soul-Rockers revert to their Eric Burdon percussion-and-chanting sound, and get a bit bogged down by their pedestrian tempo . . . . which has not prevented the disc from doing boffo biz in the States, where War have developed from being last year’s biggest “sleeper” hit to this year’s biggest Chart-topper.
SMOKEY ROBINSON & THE MIRACLES: Going To A Go-Go; Whole Lot Of Shakin’ In My Heart; Yester Love (Tamla Motown TMG 853).
It’s Motown’s mouldy maxi time, with the Miracles doing a trio of tuff toons from the mid-’60s. The ’65 top is a proven disco favourite – and you know what usually happens to those, Chartwise.
MEL AND TIM: What’s Your Name (Stax 2025171).
This fairly faithful copy of Don & Juan’s early-’60s oldie-but-goodie slowie is a good companion to Jermaine Jackson’s similar “Daddy’s Home”, but lacks the electrically soulful vocal interplay of the original. Rhythmic “Free For All” flip will find friends too.
DENNIS YOST & THE CLASSICS IV: What Am I Crying For? (MGM 2006 154).
Although it won’t mean a light here, unfortunately, this Atlanta Sound gentle slowie is the epitome of Blue-Eyed Soul, and finds its leading exponents right back on form after a lengthy lull.
JUD STRUNK: Daisy A Day (MGM 2006197).
In the sentimental Country-Pop style of Bobbies Goldsboro and Russell, this subdued plinky-plunk quavering-voiced slowie has a certain pastoral charm without the corny pathos of a “Honey”.
CHARLEY PRIDE: River Song (RCA 2354).
This Sherman Brothers slowie from the up-coming “Tom Sawyer” musical movie just cries out for a Paul Robeson to sing it: Country star Pride is the right colour, black, but his overly studied styling is not bass enough. Why didn’t they just use “Ole Man Ribber” and be done with it?!
WILMA BURGESS: Feeling The Way A Woman Should (London HLU 10416).
Jim Reeves’ widow produced this smoothly bouncing Country ditty, which has an irritating stop/go chorus construction and a totally detached vocal.
PAUL & JOJO: Follow Me (Stateside SS 2212).
Pure Pop, this Snuff Garrett-produced bloke and piping chick call-and-answer Goodtime is innocuously jolly fun. Actually, the mind may boggle, but the chick sounds like a mildly soulful female Little Jimmy-O!
LES EMMERSON: Control Of Me (MGM 2006187).
A middle of the chart US sleeper hit recently, Leslie’s slowie is like the Beach Boys sing the Bee Gees, sort of, and not unattractive in a purely Pop way.
PERRY COMO: And I Love You So (RCA 2346).
Grandad sings Don McLean, literally, with very pleasant easy listening results.
PAUL ANKA: While We’re Still Young (Buddah 2011160).
1957’s Donny Osmond, Paul must be hoping that Donny will record some more of his old ‘teen ballads. Meanwhile, his own newie is a wryly-titled but none too interesting flat slowie. Not another “Lonely Boy”, no way.
GENE PITNEY: 24 Sycamore (Pye 7N 25606).
A Gerry Bron-produced Reed & Mason-penned British-recorded slowie for the ace purveyor of pubescent heartbreak, who aches and quakes in his time-honoured old style.
RAY STEVENS: Losin’ Streak (CBS 1421).
Interesting but overly choppy, muddled tempo-changer with fiddles, banjo and steel in amongst the exaggerated vocalese and near-yodelling. Ray needn’t look for favours from the Chamber of Commerce in Reno, Nevada, after this gambler’s lament!
FANNY: I Need You Need Me (Reprise K 14250).
Concerned young persons and other tuned-in groovers who are hip to today are acknowledging dear Fanny’s newie in glowingly aware terms. There’s lots of echo on their plodding slow backbeat and a swooshing to the organ which draw attention to Todd Rundgren’s production, but the song as a song is surely kinda dull? David Bowie fans may dig, though.