Stop press: Cassidy review
DAVID CASSIDY: Daydream; Can’t Go Home Again (Bell, in America only).
David’s new American single pairs a couple of the tracks from his as yet uncompleted new album, and will not necessarily be chosen for singles release in Britain once the finished LP has been heard (writes James Hamilton). David’s whole approach shows an ever increasing maturity. “Daydream,” the famous Lovin’ Spoonful ditty from 1966, here becomes much mellower and less angular than the original, with a greater emphasis on the jangling piano and good-time jug band atmosphere – right rooty tooty, in fact! It’s the lovely slow flip, though, which really shows off David’s maturity. Sung expressively in David’s husky, breathy voice, the truly beautiful melody is perfectly complemented by its gentle backing of electric piano and lightly Latin rhythm. Believe me, it’s real music.
Straight from the States
JAMES BROWN: Sexy, Sexy, Sexy; Slaughter Theme (Polydor) and LYN COLLINS (THE FEMALE PREACHER): How Long Can I Keep It Up (People).
James Brown, meets Jim Brown! Yes, hot on the heels of his soundtrack scoring chores for “Black Caesar”, Mr. James Brown has trotted out more movie music, this time for the latest in the Jim Brown-starring (and Jim Brown-produced) “Slaughter” series, “Slaughter’s Big Rip Off”. Remember, Billy Preston did the original “Slaughter” theme? Well, the impact of hearing the new James Brown theme as you sit back in your cinema seat is gonna be a whole lot different! From a slowly building suspense-filled start it explodes into a whole mess of funky butt Soul rhythm, before easing back into a comparatively melodic instrumental passage. However, that’s only the B-side of J. B.’s new single, the score-culled A-side of which is one of those leaping whomping stomping dancers of the sort which he cut a few years back . . . hence, if it comes out in Britain, it stands a really good chance of hitting here. Add the kinda blatant title to a beat that sure don’t quit, and Pop satisfaction is guaranteed!
Then, for a Soulful turnabout, also from “Slaughter’s Big Rip Off” comes The Female Preacher’s lovely new slowie, penned by J. B. with Fred Wesley, and of course arranged and produced by James Brown – The Hit Man – Godfather of Soul (as both labels proclaim). Interestingly, the Lyn Collins record features an edited 3:32 “Part 1” version on the plug side and the full 5:29 “Part 1 & 2″on the flip. It’s a rap-introed beauty with a gorgeous relaxed backing behind Lyn’s tender then raw emoting, which obviously relates lyrically to Slaughter’s girlfriend in the movie: as the words switch from a loving resignation to her man’s dangerous way of life and become more agitated by self-doubt about her own inner strength, so the music becomes a churning whirl that accurately reflects her mental turmoil. Thus, if the only reason for a visit to the original rather drab “Slaughter” movie was to see Stella Stevens starkers, James Brown’s music will be reason enough to sit through the “Big Rip Off” . . . provided that they fit it all in the film.
JOE SIMON: Theme From Cleopatra Jones; Who Was That Lady (Spring).
Staying with black movie music, we find that although Joe Simon himself wrote and produced this theme for “Cleopatra Jones,” the Brad Shapiro-penned / produced flip has rather more to do with the film’s subject matter, actually mentioning her by name. The theme itself is a ponderous mixture of instrumental and vocal which never gets off the ground, consisting mainly of a monotonous cluster of clomps infiltrated by torpid strings, brass and electric piano, not to forget a bit of the mandatory wah-wah guitar, over which Joe Simon bays and howls. He does actually say “Cleo” twice towards the end, but on the faster, synthesizer-introed flip he tells us all about “Miss Jones” – a gun-totin’ afroed cutie taken to wearing mink boleros with bead accessories, if the paper sleeve pic’s anything to go by. This flip is so much more lively and better than the A-side that it will be a good move of Polydor’s if they make it the plug side when and if British release time comes.
DEODATO: Rhapsody In Blue (CTI).
George Gershweeeeeen (as Peter Sellers once sang) wrote his “Rhapsody In Blue” in the mid-’20s, and played the piano part himself on its original recording by Paul Whiteman. I happened to grow up with a wind-up gramophone and the two twelve-inch 78s which comprised that original recording, and bought the Top Rank-released hi-fi re-recording by Whiteman while still a young lad in 1959. You may not be surprised to learn that “Rhapsody In Blue” is my favourite piece of music (as opposed to tune). So, along comes Eumir “Also Sprach Zarathustra” Deodato and – lo! – he does his inimitable restyling job, leaving the basic brass climax parts and a little bit of the main melody but chucking out the rest in favour of his usual jerky doodling. And, while it ain’t Gershwin, it ain’t bad . . . although I do think that as “Zarathustra” was only a series of climaxes to start with, it was a more suitable choice for adaptation.
IKE & TINA TURNER: Nutbush City Limits; Help Him (UA UP 35582).
It’s a rare Turner record that I like these days, and this one’s one of ’em. Over an incredible rhythm structure, created by electronically distorted guitar and synthesizer, Tina becomes surprisingly obscured as the arrangement builds up to a whinnying Moog break. However, her voice is heard – and how! – on the one-sided conversation flip. Dig her Soulful enunciation! Yeah, a double-sided R&B PICK.
JIMI HENDRIX: Hear My Train A’Comin’; Rock Me, Baby (Reprise K 14286).
From the Hendrix film soundtrack, Jimi does his acoustic solo Blues in Deep Southern down home style. Naturally of interest, although the Monterey-performed B. B. King flip is full of all the fire and buzzing excitement for which his fans loved him . . . and would make a much more commercial A-side. MUSIC PICK.
OSIBISA: Super Fly Man; Prophets (Buddah 2011179).
The new Super Fly movie finds him in Africa, but with the new Shaft movie actually calling itself “Shaft In Africa” he’s had to settle for Super Fly TNT. Appropriately, then, those expatriate west Africans, Osibisa, have replaced Curtis Mayfield for the soundtrack score chores. Their pure High Life movie theme makes no concessions to Western tastes, and one can only hope that the film’s appeal will be strong enough to make its audiences accept the infectious music on a scale comparable with the reaction to Mayfield’s work.
NEIL DIAMOND: The Long Way Home; Monday Monday (London HLM 10427).
From outa the past come these Barry & Greenwich-produced Bang label oldies. Despite their age, there’s no disguising that inflexible Diamond voice, so that they should appeal to his fans even now. On top he’s in the sort of “Cracklin’ Rosie” form which brought him to belated fame here, while flipside he wraps his tonsils around the Mamas & Papas tune.
CASHMAN & WEST: The King Of Rock ‘n’ Roll (Probe PRO 599).
Once a trio with a fella called Pistilli, hit singers Terry and Tommy have come up with a rip-snorting rolling and rocking modern rhythm number which is much in the bag of Jim Croce’s “Big Bad Leroy Brown” (one of their productions). The King in the title is not Elvis, I’m afraid – the song seems to be about ’50s disc-jockey Alan Freed, who was the first to dub Rhythm & Blues as Rock ‘n’ Roll. Freed doesn’t in fact get a name check, but he has to be the key figure amidst the lyrics’ references to general R ‘n’ R nostalgia, especially as they allude in “American Pie” fashion to his death a few years back. No matter that only us old folk will know what it’s all about – the bouncy beat and slick harmony chanting are enough to get through to everyone.
JACKSON FIVE: Skywriter; Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing (Tamla Motown TMG 865).
RM’s own teeny-bop heroes don’t seem to be doing as well these days as their white counterparts: what’s happened to their supposedly fanatical following? Maybe Robin Katz can supply some answers? This phasing stomper with melodic touches is their current LP’s title track, and might redress the balance – it’s certainly good music. The flipside Motown standard gets a swaying slow lead-switching treatment. POP PICK.
CROSS COUNTRY: In The Midnight Hour (Atlantic K 10353).
Yes kids, it’s the Wilson Pickett warhorse, given a slowed-right-up breathy whites-sung treatment which smacks a bit of the Arbors’ The Letter, or the Master Singers’ Highway Code. The latter likeness is possibly more appropriate, considering the total detachment with which the originally impassioned lyrics are rendered. An oddity that may find friends.
BLUE MAGIC: Look Me Up; What’s Come Over Me (Atlantic K 10352).
Out here just as it hits the US R&B Charts, this Norman Harris-produced Philly Sound group, whose slower Spell hit remains unissued here, are firmly in the Thom Bell-type groove as they wail and soar through a buoyantly whomping fully orchestrated stamp beat backing. It sounds like a smash, and has a lovely lush Sweet Soul slow flip. R&B PICK.
THE TEMPTATIONS: Law Of The Land; Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On (Tamla Motown TMG 866).
In America there’s a new Undisputed Truth single of this predictably typical Norman Whitfield material, but in Britain we get the original Masterpiece album track. It holds no surprises as it churns along, although in its favour the funk at least is not at all brittle. The flipside “live” reading of Edwin Starr’s song was the Temps’ smallest US hit since 1963. For certain disco dancers, an R&B PICK.
JOE WALSH: Rocky Mountain Way (Probe PRO 600).
The James Gang’s lead guitarist is out on his own now, and the creator of Funks Nos. 48 and 49 sounds vocally distorted, musically thumping on this easy-paced solid slow driver from his nicely-yclept new elpee, “The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get”. There’s lotsa good modern Rock in these grooves. MUSIC PICK.
BING CROSBY: Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree; It’s Not Where You Start (Daybreak DAS 402).
And why not? The old groaner is quite capable of putting his brassy ‘n breezy razzamatazz reading in the Chart, too. Gee, a hundred of ’em, and all yellow . . . too much! MoR PICK.
STEVE LAWRENCE: Pretty Blue Eyes; Footsteps (Probe GFF 122).
Funnily enough I’ve just been going through a phase of collecting old Steve and Eydie (Gorme) hits . . . look, smarty pants, when you’ve got everything else but have to maintain your record habit, even Mantovani can seem good! Anyway, here for your (but mainly nostalgicats’) delectation are Steve’s old plinky-plunky New York sound hits, redundant and camp as hell, and awfully nice. Don Costa produced, Donny freax!
EARNEST JACKSON: Love And Happiness (Epic EPC 1717).
The most popular track on Al Green’s lost LP, Love And Happiness was released here as a single but not in the States – hence, enterprising Earnest cashed in with a carbon-copy cover, which hit. He does it well, without doing anything that isn’t on the original Green chugger.
TYRONE DAVIS: There It Is; You Wouldn’t Believe (Brunswick BR 6).
Literally stomping its way up the US Charts in amazingly quick time, the great understated Tyrone’s latest brass-backed cool-voiced thumper maintained an even bass-driven tempo throughout – in fact, it’s probably the unusual flexible bass pattern (played on exactly what I’m not sure) which is selling the record. Nice slow flip. R&B PICK.
AMERICA: Muskrat Love; Cornwall Blank (Warner Bros K 16302).
These enigmatic titles! No, the topside creamy smooth smoother is not about a particularly kinky case of bestiality – it appears to be about the natural relationship between a set of “Wind In The Willows” characters. Muskrat Sam and Muskrat Susie doin’ the shimmy, muzzle to muzzle, and all that. It’s so pretty, relaxing and just plain nice (with a distinctly CSN&Y-type slow flip) that it deserves to tie with Cashman & West as PICK OF THE WEEK.
DONNY HATHAWAY: Love, Love, Love (Atlantic K 10354).
In the ethereal “What’s Going On” Marvin Gaye groove, sung with a trace of Stevie Wonder in his voice, Donny’s version of J. R. Bailey’s US R&B hit makes as lovely listening as the Gaye and Wonder references should suggest. R&B PICK.
Hamilton’s disco picks
NADINE: Enticement (Young Blood YB 1051) Sexy Smooch!
STARDUST: Golden Oldie Show (Sonet SON 2036) Seagulls-intro Slow Pop
CASHMAN & WEST: The King Of Rock And Roll (Probe PRO 599) Pop
BLUE MAGIC: Look Me Up (Atlantic K 10352) R&B/Pop
BING CROSBY: Tie A Yellow Ribbon (Daybreak DAS 402) MoR
STUART GILLIES: Sunshine Of Your Life (Philips 6006321) Easy
AMERICA: Muskrat Love (Warner Bros K 16302) Slow Modern