June 9, 1973: Bobby (Boris) Pickett, Manhattans, Johnny Williams, Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s, Asleep At The Wheel

Straight from the States

BOBBY (BORIS) PICKETT AND THE CRYPT-KICKERS: Monster Mash (Parrot).
Just to let you know that, following the initiative of some West Coast jocks, this 1962 classic is Charted and climbing, once again!

MANHATTANS: There’s No Me Without You (Columbia).
Rhythm & Blues hit-makers since 1964, these guys have yet to break big Pop. Now, however, following the success of the Philly Sound and the increased profits that they have discovered through their new involvement with R&B, Columbia Records have signed up the group and given them to Philly’s Bobby Martin, who has produced them on this superb slowie (which is already climbing Pop). A powerfully harmonized dead slow throbbing thumper, it features crystal-clear unison note-holding, meandering lead and a sexy gruff rap – the whole being a bit reminiscent of the Dells. If you dig the Blue Notes, you’ll love this!

JOHNNY WILLIAMS: Put It In Motion (Philadelphia International).
One of late-’72 / early-’73’s biggest-selling sleepers, which bubbled under the Hot 100 for months on end, Johnny’s Slow Motion was an out-of-character Gamble & Huff production, being a brassy dancer. Now continuing the same Motion, but at a much faster tempo, the team’s newie is still brassy in the background but much more in the G&H hustling groove (arranged by Thom Bell), which should help its chances when it’s issued here.

FRED WESLEY & THE J.B.’s: Doing It To Death; Everybody Got Soul (People).
Forget who it says on the label – it also says penned / arranged / produced by James Brown, The Godfather Of Soul, and indeed it might as well say it stars him too, ‘cos in every respect it’s a JB record, with Mr. B. on vocals and leading the band’s jive chat and lengthy jazz solos much as on “Escapism”. The beat is a super-fine whomping stomping bouncing beaut, and makes this his best dancer in a while, certainly better than his rather stolid revival of his (and the 5 Royales’) old “Think” (Polydor, now out here too), his current “official” single. Forget also the B-side’s title – it’s nothing less than the inevitable “Part Two”. But he does it gooood!


American Singles

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL: Take Me Back To Tulsa; Before You Stopped Loving Me (UA UP 35538).
In the Commander Cody Style, these Country longhairs do a reet neat fun-filled loving recreation of the Bob Wills Western Swing oldie, which bounces long with nifty instrumental breaks and rooty vocals to a barn dance beat. Surely it’s time that UA put out their American-issued Bob Wills’ “Legendary Masters” set? He had, and this has, such a refreshing sound. Flipside, the chick in the group does a Tammy Wynette-type weepie. Yi-haaa!

PAUL SIMON: Take Me To The Mardi Gras; Kodachrome (CBS 1578).
Still smarting from the Beeb’s refusal to play Dr. Hook’s “Cover of Rolling Stone”, CBS have relegated Paul’s frantically bouncy trademark-titled US hit-side to the B-side (it also has the word “crap” going against it), giving us instead the super-subtle and ironically-intended, slowly -building “Mardi Gras” (both two singles this week are “Take Me” tunes, oddly). A beautiful record, but even more so is the US B-side that we only get on the album now, the early ’50s-styled blues ballad “Tenderness.”

LEGENDARY MASKED SURFERS: Gonna Hustle You; Summertime, Summertime (UA UP 35542).
Co-penned by Beach Boy Brian and Jan Berry, produced by and billed as “featuring” Dean Torrence (ie: the last two being legendary surfers/hot rodders Jan & Dean), this archetypal-sounding but modern return to the decade-old West Coast Sound is full of “baba doo ron day ron day” bass lines and high weazling lead, and makes ideal summertime listening. Indeed, the flipside revival of the Jamies’ July 1958 hit emphasizes the point. Can it happen here?

JOHN FRED & HIS PLAYBOY BAND: Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) (Contempo CR 11).
From late ’67 returns Louisiana’s answer to “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, that punchy dancer that had absolutely no connection with LSD. Good ole boy John Fred is evidently a walking oldies-but-goodies juke box – give him the title and he’ll perfectly recreate the doo-wop of your choice. Ally this talent with his powerful band, and it’s no wonder he was (is?) so big on the Southern college circuit.

LARRY NORMAN: Readers Digest (MGM 2006277).
God-Rocker Norman’s newie is interesting, despite the foregoing tag, for the number of “names” he manages to cram into his staccato Dylan-ish catalogue of the media’s monsters.

VICKI LAWRENCE: He Did With Me; Mr. Allison (Stateside SS 2215).
Having hit number one Stateside with “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia“, Mrs. Bobby Russell returns with an “Angel of the Morning” sound-alike slowie which again features an “adult” storyline – that of a discarded mistress’s ambiguously-felt prediction of her replacement’s treatment by her former lover. More aching goes on in the hubby-penned flip, about a wife grinning and bearing her Mr’s infidelity. Gulp!

MICKY DOLENZ: Daybreak (MGM 2006265).
The Monkees’ Uncle on a merry steel band-backed squawker, penned by The Creator . . . Harry Nilsson.

THE GUESS WHO: Follow Your Daughter Home (RCA 2361).
Done with more subtlety than the Dolenz/Nilsson popster, this similarly West Indian-flavoured ditty has clacking drums, tootling flute and calypso lyrics.

TONI BROWN & TERRY GARTHWAITE: I Want To Be The One; As I Watch The Wind (Capitol CL 15751).
The chix from Joy Of Cooking on two delights: the vaguely Dr. John-ish topside medium rumbler has quavering vocal interplay (somewhat Deirdre La Porte/Linda Lewis/Lickettes), while the gentle flipside pedal steel tinkling slowie has stronger, absolutely self-assured vocals that make it seem as rock-solid and right as, say, Carole King’s “Tapestry”, the Band’s second album or Boz Scaggs’ “Moments.” If they’re gonna have an album themselves, it should be good.

TOMMIE YOUNG: Do You Still Feel The Same Way; Everybody’s Got A Little Devil In Their Soul (Contempo CR 12).
Daughter – yes, daughter – of a Dallas pastor, Tommie sang in Church with the Academy Airs being going super-Soulfully secular in ’70. Her first big R&B hit is this Aretha-ish and more so slow burner, on which she wails with spine-tingling intensity over cooing, chanting and chasing chix. Pure 100 per ‘cent S-O-U-L. Flipside (actually, the plugside here), she’s on a jerky rhythm chinker, which I personally would have thought was even more Gospel and too much so to make sense of the side-switch, as it’s far removed from yer average Beeb producer’s experience.

STYLISTICS: Peek-A-Boo; If You Don’t Watch Out (Avco 6105023).
Despite the boys’ brilliant new US hit treatment of Bachavid’s “Never Get To Heaven“, we get lumbered with this album-track slushy slowie which – and this is “Sweet Soul’s” number one champion speaking – I find amazingly empty and trite, lovely though its typical Thom Bell trappings may be. What the hell goes on at Avco? This is the exact stage of Sweet Soul’s, and the Stylistics’, acceptance in Britain when the last thing they need is an accusation about the music being pretty-pretty nothingness. Maybe, like Paul McCartney, they can get away with it this time – maybe – but they won’t be able to fool people for long, unless their releases return to full strength.

ARLO GUTHRIE: Lovesick Blues; Farrell O’Gara (Reprise K 14257).
Woody’s boy on Hank Williams’ old yodelling C&W smash, given a faster though true to the original, ultra-spirited rendition which is mighty appealin’. “Desert Island Discs”-like, surf and seagulls intro the flipside instrumental fiddle jig.

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON: It Sure Was (Love); Nobody Wins (Monument MNT 1461).
The flipside sonorous slowie is the composer’s original of Brenda Lee’s current Country smash, while on top Kris is joined by his lady, Rita Coolidge, for a perky little duet in the Nancy & Lee style. Without Kris, we also get RITA COOLIDGE: I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (A&M AMS 7065), a resonant slow rending of the Dylan number, done by all concerned with a stately self-confidence.

CAL SMITH: The Lord Knows I’m Drinking (MCA MU 1200).
Bill Anderson wrote this highly amusing cockily swaggering boozer’s rebuke against a self-righteous biddy’s tut-tutting, sung with deep Country tones to gay barrelhouse piano and piercing steel guitar. Not only Johnny Cash fans should hear this.


Hamilton’s Disco

BETTE MIDLER: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (Atlantic K 10310) MoR.
ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL: Take Me Back To Tulsa (UA UP35538) MoR.
GLEN CAMPBELL: I Knew Jesus (Capitol CL 15752) Pop.
JOHN FRED: Judy In Disguise (Contempo CR 11) Pop.
FRED WESLEY & THE JB’s: Doing It To Death (People, US import) R&B.
GI GI: Daddy Love (Contempo CR 10) R&B.

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