May 5, 1973: Earth, Wind & Fire, The Intruders, The Persuaders, Al Green, Skull Snaps

EARTH, WIND & FIRE: Where Have All The Flowers Gone (Columbia).
Rich instrumental and harmonized “aah-haa, aah-haa” intro . . . this is gonna be a goodie . . . . huh? Whazat? “Where have all the flowers gone. . . ?” But wait a minute! Dig the voice! Wavering, effete, super-Soulful and terrific! As the other voices pile in and the song’s arrangement screams and wails to a climax, I find myself screaming too . . . . and it’s all too rare that a record gets me doing that these days. Oh boy! What might have been a pretentious disaster, teaming Pete Seeger’s Folk protest with this increasingly successful big R&B group, has been a triumph. The result, probably because of the lead singer’s Smokey quality and some of the group’s supporting harmonies, keeps reminding me of the Miracles’ “I’ll Try Something New” album, which, when I got it exactly ten years ago, was one of the most influential in my then small collection. So, I’m biased . . . but I still can’t stop screaming!

THE INTRUDERS: I’ll Always Love My Mama, Pts 1/2 (Gamble).
The Philly group who started it all for Gamble & Huff are hitting the US Charts yet again, with this Bobby Martin-arranged hustling beater which is very much in G&H’s current “Love Train” mould without sacrificing the group’s own old and so distinctive, almost unison, harmony sound. It should be a hit here when it’s issued, especially on account of Part 2 . . . it’s the backing track, basically, with standing-on-the-corner chat between the members of the group over most of it. Something of a grow-on-you record, which only hit me hard on third hearing, and now doesn’t leave the turntable.

THE PERSUADERS: Bad, Bold And Beautiful, Girl; Please Stay (Atco).
Lazy Chi-Lites-type harmonica opening, then the group make oldies-but-goodies “ba, ba-ba-baa, ba-baa ba-ba-baa” noises behind a brief rap, and the lovely harmonies and yearning soulful wailing begin in earnest while the languid slow tune weaves around and about: yes, the “Thin Line Between Love And Hate” guys are back, sounding gooder than good! Their perkier flip features just as much pure Soul (almost Tams-like) vocalese and oldies influence, plus a bit of Drifters old feel. Whata group!

AL GREEN: Love And Happiness; So You’re Leaving (London HLU 10419).
This LP-culled mid-tempo fruity organ and braying brass thunking plodder was being talked about last Xmas as being more suitable for Britain than Al’s slower and subtler US smash hits – not that there isn’t bags of subtlety in the Crown Prince of Soul’s superb spaced-out phasing here. Anyway, it’s finally on single now, and could well be his “My Girl.”

SKULL SNAPS: My Hang Up Is You (GSF GSZ 7).
The O’Jays’ brilliant past producer George Kerr penned and produced (but Bert Keyes and the group arranged) this dramatically-starting modern-style O’Jays-type dancer, which will excite more than just Philly Sound lovers. What with executive producer Lloyd Price’s not dissimilar “Love Music” and all their other goodies, GSF are shaping as a’ tuff little label.

BRENTON WOOD: Another Saturday Night (Epic EPC 1383).
Forsaking his recent Psyche-Soul style, the “Oogum Boogum” man goes the Johnny Nash route and lightly Reggaefies the Sam Cooke oldie. What’s more, the treatment works rather well, in a jolly bouncy Radio 1 way.

STEVIE WONDER: You Are The Sunshine Of My Life (Tamla Motown TMG 852).
The Wonder kid’s lovely current style is ideal undemanding background listening, and at its best on LP, where it becomes super-hip muzak – which means that on singles it tends to be a bit too bland to bite like a hit single should. However, in America this rolling mellow melody with a Latin lilt (and brass added since the LP version) is doing very well on its own. Extremely pretty music, but will it bite here?

THE BOONE FAMILY: All For The Love Of Sunshine; Mr. Blue (MGM 2006257).
Way back in 1955 a young clean-cut college kid, a great-great-great-grandson of pioneering Daniel Boone, won the hearts of teenaged girls both sides of the Atlantic with much the same type of music as today’s Osmond and Cassidy (romantic slowies and cleaned-up R&B oldies, including a song called “Rock Me Baby”). The heart-throb’s name was Pat Boone. While much of his old material is ideally suited to today’s stars (and is indeed being revived), Pat is back with his wife Shirley (daughter of C&W veteran Red Foley) and their four straight-limbed daughters (plus the surely superfluous Mike Curb Congregation) on this new semi-inspirational mushy sing-along slowie. Like Cliff Richard, Pat’s all got religion, which influences his choice of subject matter these days, and makes his secular revival of the Fleetwoods flip a better bet. Doubtless “Breaking Through” to own Tony Jasper (bit nasty, that – sorry Tony!).

DEAN MARTIN: You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want To Do It) (Reprise K 14249).
This great romantic oldie, which wasn’t new even when winsome young Judy Garland dedicated it to Clark Gable and gave it its best interpretation in “Broadway Melody Of 1938”, now gets a relaxed reading by the lazily slurring Dino.

GORDON LIGHTFOOT: Can’t Depend On Love (Reprise K 14251).
The Canadian Pop-Folkster will soon be appearing here, maybe singing this strings-swamped plinky-plunk lurching attractive slowie in person.

LEN BARRY: Heaven + Earth (Paramount PARA 3031).
Credited then as Boormazian or Borisoff, Aram was his first name and, with co-producers Johnny Madara & Dave White (ex-Danny & the Juniors), this ex-lead singer of the under-rated Dovells was one of the creators of the early-’60s Philadelphia Sound. Subsequently famous solo for “1-2-3”, Aram/Len is now back (touring in Britain) with a lightweight mid-tempo tumbling Pop ditty.

THE BYRDS: Things Will Be Better; For Free (Asylum AYM 516).
The specially reunited original members make lotsa noise on this jerky thumper, which seems to aim for the raunch but not the sound of the Stones. In a way, they almost cut their hair on the dead slow flip.

BILLY PAUL: Brown Baby; It’s Too Late (Epic 1313).
Altho America gets “Am I Black Enough For You”, we rate a lighter shade of brown on this OK but less than grabbing creamy clopper. Carole King’s flip proves that this Billy ain’t no Billy Stewart. Make way for Mister Mathis!

BOBO MR. SOUL: Hitch Hiking To Heartbreak Road; She’s My Woman, She’s My Girl (London HLU 10418).
The Willie Mitchell topside is refreshingly removed from Hi’s current sound: a mixture of all sorts of nice things from the past, it’s an exuberantly hollered and whooped churning chockfull sound that Soul fans must hear for themselves. I myself first heard the very similar original by Archie Bell of the lovely flipside slowie when Charlotte, North Carolina, R&B radio WGIV first played it in August 1967: my introduction to Bell & the Drells, the meandering, bottom-heavy, Soulfully-sold oddity was what made me a devoted fan . . . and this recreation is just as good. Deep Soul lovers, get this !

THE BURNER, LEE AUSTIN: Real Woman; Gimme Your Hand (Mojo (2093027).
Created with co-operation from Lee by James Brown, this coupling of a slow thunk beat vocal and guitar-dominated throbbing flip is quite interesting. By the way, London Soul fans who want a glimpse of the REAL Harlem, not the “Superfly” image, should see “The Cool World” at the National Film Theatre on Friday this week, 4th May. Shot in 1963, it contains much that will excite you, even now.

WILSON PICKETT: Mr. Magic Man (RCA 2338).
Altho his first for RCA, Wilson’s new modern-styled single still finds him produced by Dave Crawford & Brad Shapiro – so nothing has changed, except the colour of the label . . . . and the money. Somewhat Philly in sound, but not another “Green Grass”.

JACKIE WILSON: Beautiful Day (Brunswick BR3).
It’s a shame that one of R&B’s most original and exciting voices had to be lumbered with this ambitious message slowie, which is well sung and not exactly bad, just too much like a leftover from “Oklahoma!” for comfort.

MARK HOLDER & THE POSITIVES: Whatever’s Fair (Atlantic K 10280).
A jumping jerking honking snorting R&B instrumental, like Kool & The Gang’s and good of its type.

THE GATURS: Cold Beer; The Booger Man (Atlantic K 10279).
A heavily pulsating organ and wah-wah dominated R&B instrumental with shouts, and a more deliberate jazzily-chorded piano and guitar flip. Both good.

JEAN KNIGHT: Do Me (Stax 2025161).
Okay! You want it, you got it! More a demand than an invitation, this aggressive and explicit heavy slow Soul thumper is plenty powerful and ought to get all them Mr. Big Stuffs jumping to it.

Hamilton’s Disco Picks

ROLLING STONES: 19th Nervous Breakdown; I Just Wanna Make Love To You; Carol; Route 66; Little Queenie; Bye Bye Johnny; Down The Road Apiece; Oh! Baby (We’ve Got A Good Thing Goin’) (LP “Rock ‘N’ Rolling Stones” Decca SKL 5149) Yes.

ROY “C”: The Wedding Is Over (UK 27) Pop/R &B.

OTIS REDDING & CARLA THOMAS: Tramp; Knock On Wood (Atlantic K 10274) Pop/R&B.

SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION: Sabre Dance (Harvest HAR 5066) Khachaturian goes Love Sculpture again, but more so. Frantic.

NORMAN GRANT AND HIS ORCHESTRA FOR DANCERS: La Antigue; Te He Visto Pasar (EP “For Dancers Only, Vol. 31 – Rhumbas Only” Starlite GRK 542) Totally lacking in balls and for very polite dancers only, but good for a bit of a laugh if used satirically, viz: “Meanwhile, back at the ‘El Morocco Tea-Rooms’ . . . “

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