Straight from the States
THE SOUL CHILDREN: Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing; Poem On The School House Door (Stax STA 0170).
After several successful but to my mind disappointing singles, the two guys/two gals Soul Children have come up with a genuine 100 per cent Super Soul goodie. Their topside treatment of the Lou Rawls oldie is hoarsely hollered and funkily gritty: however, it’s the flipside dead slowie about a trip the group made back to their childhood stamping ground which is the real gas. The trip turned out to be one of those ill-fated ventures of a type which should have been foreseen, proving as it did only how much time changes things and how sad as well as happy memories are always liable for revival. The nostalgic scene is set by first one of the guys and then the two girls each in turn telling a part of the story, in a pure Gospel style, before suddenly the other guy comes crashing in with a passionate screaming intensity which lifts the tune up another notch. You see, there had been a custom back at their old school for all the graduates to leave behind them a token by which to be remembered, and he has just remembered what he left – not a trophy, an honorary record or a citation like the others, but . . . you guessed! . . . a love poem on the school house door. What’s so aroused him, though, is that the poem was spurned by its intended recipient – and he had written two copies, one on the school house door and one imbedded deep down in his heart. The latter is still there, and he proceeds to soul it to us all one time. This incredibly exciting slab of gut-wrenching soulfulness has finally returned the group to the sort of form that was so impressive on “The Sweeter He Is”, four years ago. Obviously, it is a must for all Deep Soul lovers.
THE TEMPREES: Love’s Maze (We Produce XPA 1811).
Recorded with Soul Group Freaks only in mind, this dreamy Sweet Soul slowie is one of those obscure exquisite beauties which are unfortunately far too Deep to be Pop over here. It features each of the three guys in the group alternating on lead, their switchovers sometimes being almost discordant – and hence exaggeratedly Soulful. The hand-clapping sparsely-backed easy-beat flip, “Wrap Me In Love“, is just as nice. Those who dig will dig, muchly!
CHEECH Y CHONG: Basketball Jones (Featuring Tyrone Shoelaces) (Ode 66038).
Remember the Brighter Side Of Darkness, the schoolboy Soul Vocal Group who recently had a US smash with “Love Jones“? Well, “head” humourists Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin, the Chinese and Chicano comedians, have now made this spoof near-copy of that hit! Young Tyrone wails away that he’s got a basketball jones – ever since he was a little baby he’s always been dribbling, in fact he was the baddest dribbler in the neighbourhood! – and he gets everyone to sing along with him to the monotonous slow melody, just like the Beatles did on such classics as “All You Need Is Love” and “Hey Jude”. The result is more good-humoured than humorous . . . and a US hit.
CARL CARLTON: You Can’t Stop A Man In Love (ABC 11378).
Teenaged Carl used to be in something of a Stevie Wonder groove, but now both he and Stevie have found their own individual directions – although there is still a trace of Wonder inflection in Carl’s voice at times. This buoyant mild clomper was produced by Dave Crawford with some of that Philly Sound, and it’s very nice . . . as is the less straightforward flip, which features a buzzing fuzz-tone that sounds more like a comb and paper! It’s been a while since Carl’s last British release (on Action), so – how about it, Probe?
MARVELETTES: Reachin’ For Something I Can’t Have; Here I Am Baby (Tamla Motown TMG 860).
Two trax from the girls’ great 1968 Smokey Robinson–produced “Sophisticated Soul” album, these have been out here several times before. Top-side churner is good Pop, but the slinky sexy more intricate flip is the real gas, and rates an R&B PICK.
HARPERS BIZARRE: 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy); Anything Goes; Chattanooga Choo Choo (Warner Bros. K 16305).
An extremely nice maxi of late-’60s pleasantries: Paul Simon’s tribute to New York’s Queensboro Bridge, plus two older songs, given Easy Listening harmony workouts.
J.J. BARNES: Real Humdinger; Please Let Me In; I Ain’t Gonna Do It (Tamla Motown TMG 870).
Just to prove that my own taste was once the same as that of Northern disco stompers today; I must confess that this 1965 Marvin Gaye-type high-spirited buoyant clomper used to be one of my favourite records. Looking now at my original Ric-Tic copy’s paper sleeve, I see that my contemporary scribblings read, “Beautiful construction, vocal, harmony touches, chord changes. So it’s a bit Motown, so what? Ric-Tic know where it’s at!” Ric-Tic was the “other” Detroit-based label in the mid-’60’s, with .stars such as J. J., Edwin Starr and Al Kent (and the San Remo Strings, Fantastic Four and Holidays on its parent Golden World label), all of whose old records are much in demand up North thanks to their Motown-influenced sound. Motown in fact bought out the label, hence they now issue this maxi of dancing oldies. Hopefully the slightly swimmy sound that now appears on “Real Humdinger” will not stop it having the success it deserves. PICK OF THE WEEK.
JOE SIMON: Drowning In The Sea Of Love; Let Me Be The One (The One Who Loves You) (Polydor 2066156).
If Joe can break through with the somewhat stolid “Step By Step,” he ought to soar up the Charts with this re-issued Gamble & Huff hit from last year. It’s a slow starter, but pulsates along with plenty of that Philly Sound. A much better choice than Joe’s current “Cleopatra Jones” US hit, its issue on Polydor sadly marks the demise of the Mojo label. Great intro to the well arranged stomping flip, which I personally prefer. R&B PICK.
RAY CHARLES: Come Live With Me; Everybody Sing (London HLU 10432).
Raymond’s Tangerine label is evidently being sued by its ABC distributor for alleged breach of contract, and certainly this sudden appearance of a Crossover recording (whoever they are) on London seems to confirm the split. The song’s another of those Country slowies, sounding less than modern but awfully nice as Raymond tickles the ivories and groans with all his soul to a lush strings and chix backing. The brighter flip gains momentum in spurts.
JIMMY DURANTE: I’m The Guy Who Found The Lost Chord; It’s My Nose’s Birthday (MGM 2006318).
In the year of his 80th birthday, veteran entertainer “Schnozzle” Durante (so nicknamed on account of the size of his nose) may just find himself with a new British following, thanks to Polydor’s press officer realizing that his “Sittin’ at my piano” line from “Lost Chord” is plugged continually on television by Eric Morecambe. These two madly gay and silly songs from thirty years ago feature Jimmy’s gravelly voice expertly backed by the same sort of skip-along bouncy music which also used to back the late Eddie Cantor. After the Goons; the Schnoz? NOSE PICK.
JEAN SHEPARD: Slippin’ Away; Think I’ll Go Somewhere And Cry Myself To Sleep (UA UP 35592).
This pair of Bill Anderson-penned songs are pure Country, and the bouncy topside is currently a huge Country hit (remember I mentioned recently, apropos of Lloyd Price’s newie, the trend for “Slippin’” titles?) Lovers of mawkish slowies will go ape for the flip . . . if they don’t already know other versions.
OSCAR TONEY JR.: Love’s Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down; Everybody’s Needed (Contempo CR 24).
Produced within the Contempo Family – The Hit Men – The Godfathers Of Soul, this London-recorded treatment of a recent Ann Peebles hit is the best thing that Oscar’s done this side of the Atlantic. Full of menacing bass and lush Gerry Shury orchestration behind his bitingly sharp voice, it plods along most satisfyingly. His own Otis-influenced flip is an old-fashioned slowie.
BOB DYLAN: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door; Turkey Chase (CBS 1762).
OOH-OOH, they’re all going, Dylan’s first single for two years! And “ooh-ooh” the background singers are all moaning as this mournful slowie creaks into alleged life. Reminiscent of “Wigwam,” sez I, and I’m going. The “Turkey” title of the fiddle ‘n banjo instrumental flip seems about right. POP PICK with EASY LISTENING crossover potential.
BETSY COOK: Put The Blame On Easy (Young Blood Int).
American lady now resident in London. She has style, a bluesy basic scene, and she fair flowers in the upper register. Nice production.
DETROIT SPINNERS: Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music; Bad Bad Weather (Till You Come Home) (Tamla Motown TMG 871).
As eagle-eared fans have already spotted, the old Motown backing has been completely wiped from this – now – smooth slow thumper, and its present Thom Bell-styled rhythm track has been added to bring it up to the group’s newer Atlantic product. Thunder claps spice the nice steadily chugging Motown flip, which features good vocal group singing.
BRENDA LEE: Sunday Sunrise; Must I Believe (MCA MUS 1219).
To welcome Little Miss Dynamite to our wunnerful country, here’s her very latest US Country hit, a sprightly Lynn Anderson-ish ditty that Brenda sings with her inimitable twang. Gad, I remember seeing her at the Woolwich Granada, with the Bachelors on the same bill! Gentle slow flip.
KIDROCK: Ice Cream Man (Young Blood Int).
Seagulls, lapping waves and the ice cream man tells of his power over the kiddies, and the kiddies cheep in agreement.
THE NEW BIRTH: Until It’s Time For You To Go; You Are What I’m All About (RCA 2390).
Although far too way out for your average music fan, no real SOUL freak should miss this soaring Gospel-type treatment of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s song – it’s a pure spine-tingler, while its clonking and groaning tricky slow lurching flip is treated in an equally unusual and ear-grabbing inventive way. SOUL PICK.
JR. WALKER & THE ALL STARS: Peace And Understanding (Is Hard To Find); Holly Holy (Tamla Motown TMG 872).
As is his wont, Flipside Hamilton has listed first the official B-side, Jr. Walker’s current album title track and US single; it’s a punchy frantically-backed herky-jerky rhythm jiggler with great screeching sax and hoarse vocal, and has about two hundred per cent more balls than the mushy 1970 treatment of its British coupling, the Neil Diamond bore. R & B PICK.
KIT RUSSELL: Peppers Last Stand (Deram).
Cleverly-worded self-written song. Something of the Gilbert O’Sullivan style about it, and it does penetrate the inner mind. Right?
MATATA: I Feel Funky (President).
Afro-rhythms punched away in heavy-weight style – this singer and group are fast building a reputation . . . could even prove a chart record, it’s so pushy-persistent.
A BAND CALLED GEORGE: N. C. B. Man (Bell).
Another catchy little accordion-boosted theme, which rolls on and on, but a song called no-hit.
ESPRIT DE CORPS: If (Would It Turn Out Wrong) (Jam).
Group of (reportedly) session musicians and professional drinkers. And this is a re-release of a previous Blackburn-boosted single.
CARL ANDERSON: Superstar (MCA).
Massive cathedral-type production from the movie of the same name and Carl’s voice both intense and fiery. Could I do it, of course.
WAR: Gypsy Man; Deliver The Word (UA UP 35576).
Blowing breezes and a gradually approaching Latin-backed masculine chant start off this hit track from War’s new LP. As it’s much punchier than the monotonous “Cisco Kid,” it may help to swell the ranks of their British fans – it’s a bit like a black Steely Dan with harmonica support, actually, if that’s any encouragement. Soulful slow flip. By the way, “Gypsy Rose” is now on the US Country Charts as by Terry Stafford, who hit here in ’64 with his cover of Presley’s “Suspicion. ” MUSIC PICK.
SERGIO MENDES & BRASIL ’77: Put A Little Love Away; Hey, Look At The Sun; Where Is The Love (Bell MABEL 5).
It’s a pity that the two trax which make up the plug-side of this maxi happen to be the only two dull songs on Brasil’s otherwise lovely new “Love Music” LP (which contains the most danceable version of “Killing Me Softly With His Song” to date). However, “Where Is The Love” is nice, and I recommend the LP, even if only to MoR types.
PRELUDE: Out There (Dawn).
Trio, two men one girl, currently out on the college circuit. Neat rather than powering vocal sounds . . . takes time to get through.
SILK: Sing Me A Song (Epic).
Yes, a silken touch in the vocal harmonies. Don’t see this as a hit song, but Silk really do get a healthy vocal scene going, backing by strings. Outstanding single.
PETER FRANC: Ballad Of The Superstar (Dawn).
A detached view of the pop scene, brought on (allegedly) by Peter’s chat with a hopeful young girl singer. Listen closely to the lyrics.
RAGAMUFFINS: Tryin’ To Put Me On (Pye).
Gaggle of studio musicians on a saleable song by Tony Colton and Ray Smith, and in rather a country idiom.
SMITH AND WESTON: A Shot Of Rhythm and Blues (Decca).
One of those rather woolly woolly revival jobs – lots of effort but it just didn’t make it for me.
Hamilton’s disco picks
JOHNNY WINTER: Silver Train (CBS 1620) Better than the Stones, Modern.
THE SWEET: The Ballroom Blitz (RCA 2403). Their best yet, Pop.
STORIES: Brother Louie (Kama Sutra 2013073). Modern.
PETER SELLERS: Any Old Iron (EMI 2055). Skiffle Oldie / Fun.
SANTO & JOHNNY, SURFARIS, CHANTAYS, JOHNNY & THE HURRICANES, CHAMPS, PRESTON EPPS, SANDY NELSON, etc: Sleepwalk; Wipe Out; Pipeline; Red River Rock; Tequila; Bongo Rock; Teen Beat; etc. (LP “Golden Instrumentals” Rediffusion ZS 160) Oldies.
WAR: Gypsy Man (UA UP 35576) Modern.
J. J. BARNES: Real Humdinger (Tamla Motown TMG 870) R&B / Pop.
D. K. STEVENSON: Nathalie (Pye 7N 45267). Continental-type MoR / Easy.
CHARLIE WILLIAMS: Walkin’ My Baby Back Home (Columbia DB 9014) OK Easy if you can’t get Nat Cole’s.
One thought on “September 22, 1973: The Soul Children, The Temprees, Cheech Y Chong, Carl Carlton, Marvelettes”
Although they were all printed on James’s dedicated “American Singles” page, some of the later, shorter reviews are of singles by British artists, and they’re not written in James’s usual style. I suspect that they’ve leaked through from the separate UK Singles review page, which was written by Peter Jones. Maybe James didn’t hit his quota that week?