June 23, 1973: The Osmonds, Four Tops, Diana Ross, Pep Brown, The Dells

STOP PRESS SINGLE REVIEW
Osmonds go for a Slade sound

THE OSMONDS: Goin’ Home (American MGM).
The Osmonds rock (writes James Hamilton) on their new American hit! Not only do they feature pounding piano, clanging guitars, buzzing clavinet (or some such other electric keyboard), and a chattering straight-ahead stomp beat, but also their frantic vocals include more than a touch of that Slade sound – especially where they emphasize the line: “I’ve gotta FIGHT, fight, fight, all day, and night, and day, ALL RIGHT!” Sorry I can’t say with authority which brother is singing lead (it’s not Donny or Jimmy!); whoever he is, his uninhibited rawly straining voice is just right, and is well backed up on the emphatic bits by the hollering full sound of the others. Yeah more than a touch of Slade. And a good solid rocker.


STRAIGHT FROM THE STATES

Our exclusive review service to R. M. readers. James Hamilton looks at the singles just released in the States.

FOUR TOPS: Are You Man Enough (Dunhill).
First “Shaft,” then “Shaft’s Big Score.” Now, are you ready for . . . “Shaft In Africa”? Yup, Ricky Roundtree will next be seen on the cinema screen taking giant steps all over the dark continent – as, coincidentally, will Ron O’Neal in the “Super Fly” follow-up. “Shaft In Africa” features music by the Four Tops, and this Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter–penned/produced piece of moody machismo is, if not the title song, certainly the big number. Strange, then, that it resembles the O’Jays’ “Back Stabbers” in just about every respect bar the words! Anyway, there’s always room for another Gamble & Huff dancer in discos, and this blends in with the genuine article pretty well. Uh, before we leave movieland – do go see “Slither,” it’s the flick that’s given me most satisfaction so far this year.

DIANA ROSS: Touch Me In The Morning (Motown).
The title track from divine Di’s new album, this brand new, non-Billie Holiday, tender slowie presents La Ross in a mature and unstrident mood, which may well be a result of lessons learnt while training for the “Lady Sings The Blues” vocal approach. The song itself is nothing unusual for her – it starts dead slow with just piano behind her wistful tones, then she breathes a “hey!” and the slow tinkle rhythm begins before the pace quickens and she gets into a typical fast, staccato chorus. The new difference is that even when the tempo accelerates and her voice rises, at no time does her old piercing shrill shriek spoil the easy listening qualities of the record. Still, what’s good news for some may be bad for others!

PEP BROWN: Is It All Over; Is It Too Late (Polydor).
Here’s a super-Soulful outsider, which has yet to make the R&B Chart but which I commend to all lovers of expressive Soul ballads. Both titles are interchangeable, and both sides are slow and hurtin’. Pep gets all torn up inside and lets his pain hang out in a way that – yes – is Otis Redding-ish, but that has a lighter, airier sound. The sparse backings and his unhurried vocal control (comparable with, but not like, Al Green’s) combine to make a remarkably economical, unembroidered record of great power.


AMERICAN SINGLES

THE DELLS: Give Your Baby A Standing Ovation; Run For Cover (Chess 6145022).
Now number one US R&B (in Record world), the guys’ “on stage” appeal for a little appreciation from the audience for the little woman is a hard-to-fail idea of such immediate impact that its low-key uncompromising “blackness” is likely to be the only thing to hold it back here . . . but, post-Philly Sound, that may not be such a drawback any more. As a copout, the dull 1968 rhythm flip has been made alternative plug side. Booos and hurrahs!

ANDY & DAVID WILLIAMS: One More Time (MSA MUS 1207).
After all the initial broohaha, which proved that the twins have visual teen appeal even if it didn’t sell many records, this lushly-backed harmony slowie (somewhat in the Bread mould) is likely to make more impact than their “I Don’t Know Why”. Unlike on that last one, their voices sound relaxed and at ease with the material – and, it must be said, instrumentally they get a hell of a lot of help. I think even I could be made to sound passable on this!

CARPENTERS: Yesterday Once More (A&M AMS 7073).
Karen’s latest dead slow-starting number is from the Carps’ new “Now & Then” concept album, on which they do their own versions of several decade-old nostalgia-jolters. Seemingly the key song on the set, it contains much mention of “sha la la la, woah woah woah, shingalingaling, shoobedoowah” in the chorus, and seems just right to catch Britain on the rebop.

EDDY ARNOLD: So Many Ways; Once In A While (MGM 2006178).
Mr. Cattle Call, the Country star who’d been on RCA Victor since for ever, is now on MGM and singing Rhythm & Blues! Well, he’s singing a pair of old R&B hits, Brook Benton’s on top and the Chimes’ flipside, very romantically and rather nicely . . . and, not surprisingly considering they share the same producers, rather like a middle-aged Donny Osmond! Oh, and if you’re going crazy trying to think who first did Dave Edmunds’ new hit, it was the Chordettes, back in ’56.

GRANT GRIEVES: Four In The Floor; M1 Automatic (Injun 106).
Jerry Lee sounds both vocally and instrumentally on the rockin’ topside, Johnny Cash sounds on the moralistic flip – and the sounds are so deliberately created that the record is less spontaneous than the other Injun releases. However, it’s of obvious interest (topside especially) to fans of both.

MANU DIBANGO: Soul Makossa; Lily (London HLU10423).
To continue . . . Manu Dibango is a Cameroons-born African who has lived since his teens in Belgium, where he was well into Jazz before being turned on to African music! Now a star back in Africa, he plays Sax in a King Curtis style (he’s recorded a “Tribute To King Curtis”), and combines this stuttering sound with wah-wah guitar, heavy bass, chattering cymbal and Cameroon dialect to create an incredibly compulsive disco dancer that is destined to be huge both in America and here. Makossa itself is the name of a Cameroun dance and, in common with so much modern African music, it is danced to a synthesis of African and American R&B forms (thus its US acceptance is not so surprising). The album track flip begins misleadingly like a cha cha cha, but again the rhythms are outasite!

PAUL KELLY: Come Lay Some Lovin’ On Me; Come By Here (Warner Bros K 16282).
The “Stealing In The Name Of The Lord” guy on a delicate wah-wah semi-slowie which he wails in tender Al Green fashion while the moody backing builds around him.

JO ANN SWEENEY: Think It Over Carefully (MGM 2006193).
Hitting one with the stentorian power of a Connie Francis at the very start, but then turning out to be no more than a rather unexpressive strong-voiced Country chick.

AFRICAN MUSIC MACHINE: Tropical; A Girl In France (Contempo CR13).
The Shreveport, Louisiana, based house band on most Jewel/Paula sessions, the AMM consciously try to create on their own instrumental funkers the synthesis of African and American R&B forms which is so big in Africa (see Manu Dibango). That’s kinda hip! Both sides have that unremitting rhythm, picky guitar, thumping bass and braying brass. AMA!

(GROOVEY) JOE POOVEY: Move Around; BILL REEDER: Till I Waltz Again With You (Injun 101, available from 26 Stanford Avenue, Hassocks, Sussex, telephone Hassocks 4048).
Injun is one of the enterprising minority taste orientated labels who make available rare gems of collector’s wax – of the Rockabilly type, in this case. Their initial Joe Poovey release, the piano pounding “10 Long Fingers (On 88 Keys)“, is now followed by the Country Rocker’s derivative but energy-filled, raucous guitar-dominated, double bass-scrubbing hand-clapper, which reeks of the early Elvis spirit. Bill Reeder’s more evenly played boogie beatin’ flip is Jerry Lee-ish, and every bit as interesting. Not only the spirit but also the sound of Elvis, and especially of guitarist Scotty Moore, is heard on VERN PULLENS: Mama Don’t Allow No Boppin’; Bop Crazy Baby (Injun 107), the A-side being a version of the “My Babe” tune, driven along by Bill Black-style bass.

N. A. STEVENSON & THE 4 KINGS: Boogie Woogie Country Girl; Pins & Needles ( Injun 103).
More Rockabilly from Injun, this time a drums-dominated smooth version of the Joe Turner hit (penned by Doc Pomus & Mort Schuman), which features a guitar lick ripped straight from Elvis’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight”. The flip is to the tune of “Red River Valley” (as was Johnny & the Hurricanes’ “Red River Rock”), and seems also reminiscent of Conway Twitty’s “Rosaleena” and “Mona Lisa” (which utilized “The Lononderry Air”).

TOWER OF POWER: So Very Hard To Go (Warner Bros K 16278).
This multiracial band now gets classified in my own mind at least as “Soul” ever since their dynamite slowie, “You’re Still A Young Man“. Lead singers Lenny Williams (here), Rick Stevens (has he left?) and Rufus Miller (he HAS left) have always been black, even if the instrumentalists are a mixture of everything from yellow to pink, and even if the 11-piecer does tend to get a bit BS&T-ish. Their newie is a gradually intensifying plop-beat slowie, on which the brass players have a field day behind and on top of Lenny’s flexibly soaring voice.

DON BOWMAN: Hello D. J. (Bleep Version): Music City U.S.A. (Nashville International NAS 106).
You mean there’s an UN -bleeped version? It could hardly be less funny or tedious than this easy-to-spot-the-obscenity one-sided telephone conversation between Don and a dee-jay who’s refusing to play his new record on the radio. Honestly, you should be thankful that the Beeb have banned it. At least the story told on the flip is of interest to Country fans.

CHARLIE RICH: Behind Closed Doors (Epic EPC 1539).
Mr. Lonely Weekend is a big Country star these days, and his latest Country hit is this lush humming-backed, Floyd Cramer-type self-accompanied (that’s on piano, dear) Kenny O’Dell-penned slowie about how his baby only does it with him, pant, pant, behind closed doors. There’s an eyeball peepin’ . . .

JIMMY RADCLIFFE: Long After Tonight Is All Over (Pye 7N 25614).
I first met rotund Jimmy in Johnny Nash’s impressive Lincoln Towers, New York, apartment nine years ago. When he came to London in 1965 to promote this Bacharach and David song, I introduced him around and we talked about his hit-writing duties at Aaron Schoeder’s pubbery. Now out of the past comes this dated-sounding but still good rhythm ballad to revive those memories. The kids on “Radio One Club” voted it a hit, and it’s still a Northern disco favourite, so . . . who knows?

BILL QUATEMAN: Only Love (CBS 1424).
Now who is it that this guy’s copying? I know that I thought of someone he sounded like when I first heard his plaintive multi-tracked rhythm-rumbler!

GRIN: Ain’t Love Nice (Epic EPC 1463).
Nils Lofgren’s group is in an agile mood on this skipping little jumping beater, which though extremely pleasant seems a bit insubstantial as a single.

KING HARVEST: A Little Bit Like Magic; Elmore Bacon You’re A Star (Pye 7N 25617).
Now it can be told: evidently, Sherman Kelly was in Boffalongo but quit after they cut out his immortal “Dancing In The Moonlight“. Two years later some Americans in Paris called King Harvest had a hit with the tune, returned to America, and were joined by Kelly, who now appears on this new co-composed “Moonlight”-type lilter. Which means that although I slagged the group for claiming their “Moonlight” was the original, I wholeheartedly approve of their newie – and so should all Boffalongo fans, of which there are more than you might think. Lovely looser, slower flip, an electric piano instrumental.

CLINT HOLMES: Playground In My Mind; There’s No Future In My Future (Epic EPC 1514).
Known in America as “My Name Is Michael” or “The Michael Song” amongst its buyers, thanks to the words of its kiddie korus, this ineffably twee ditty has the same sort of appeal as “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” . . . so be warned. “By The Time I Get To Spanish Harlem”-sounding flip.

CLARENCE CARTER: Mother In Law; Sixty Minute Man (UA UP 35552).
Talking of New Orleans, here’s Ernie Kadoe’s (K. Doe, as he was known) 1961 classic New Orleans Sound US smash, made somewhat less incisive by the laid back approach of easy-going Clarence (haw haw haw). Yup, he does his gruff laugh, to a subdued wah-wah and some mellow trombone, helped out by a nagging group on the title phrase. The treatment works nicely although to my mind the original is still THE one. Flipside, there’s more haw haw haw, some lovely quavering guitar, a slightly faster beat, and Clarence’s own re-write of Billy Ward & the Dominoes’ 20-year-oldie. Fifteen minutes of somethin’ that you’ve been missin’ . . . like giving head? A slightly older release from Clarence couples: It’s All In Your Mind; Looking For A Fox (Atlantic K 10281), two good ones from his past, the top-side being in the “Patches” mould and the flip being one of his all-time great dancers.

EDDIE BO: Check Your Bucket, Pts 1/2 (Action ACT 4609).
I met Edwin J. Bocage in New Orleans a few years ago, so I’m happy to report that his two-part funker on the recently re -activated Action label is most worthwhile. Its main feature is a jangling guitar figure over a solid bass and drums pattern that are all straight out of the Malaco Sound (started, as that was, by New Orlean’s Wardell Quezerque), into which Eddie slots his own light voice and some occasional chix. And thanx, Chris Savory, for your kind words last week – I hope you approve of our new move, R & B-wise.

THE KINGSMEN: You Better Do Right (Capitol CL 15749).
Louie, Louie, where art thou? Can these be the same Kingsmen of yore? Gone is their distinctive amateurish old sound, to be replaced by a super-slick and impersonal professionalism that makes this noisy guitars and chanting beater slip right in and out the other side.

O’JAYS: Time To Get Down; Shiftless, Shady, Jealous Kind Of People (CBS 1546).
“Back Stabbers”, “992 Arguments”, “Love Train” and now “Time To Get’ Down”, the fourth consecutive US hit to be pulled from the same gold-winning LP! Obviously Gamble & Huff are going for the Thom Bell-set record of five hits from the Stylistics’ first album! Which of the two remaining tracks will be the next A-side? The question of most interest here, though, is will this typical (by now) O’Jays dancer follow the fate of “992 Arguments” and fail to hit in Britain? It’s packed with all those Gamble & Huff dancefloor-filling ingredients, but then so was that last miss. Or did “Love Train” establish the group so strongly that this already has a platform ticket to the Charts? The flip is another (Thom Bell-arranged) dancer, for added value.

CHI COLTRANE: Go Like Elijah (CBS 1116).
Structured suspiciously like Neil Sedaka’s “That’s When The Music Takes Me”, the shouting chick’s newie is raucously unsubtle.

One thought on “June 23, 1973: The Osmonds, Four Tops, Diana Ross, Pep Brown, The Dells”

  1. Unusually, the Osmonds single review was published separately, in the news pages – but then, their popularity in the UK was at its absolute peak (unlike in the US, where it was starting to fade).

    Again, I have quite a few of the singles which James reviews this week, and I think it’s a strong week. Both sides of the underrated African Music Machine single are superb, and Eddie Bo’s “Check Your Bucket” is fantastic piece of New Orleans funk. Jimmy Radcliffe’s “Long After Tonight Is All Over” is of course an all-time Northern classic, and one of the fabled “three before eight” Wigan Casino set-closers. I also rate both sides of the Clarence Carter single, the new O’Jays… and unlike James, I really like the Dells “Run For Cover” too!

    Like

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