J. HINES & THE FELLOWS: Camelot Time (De Luxe 150).
Last week’s copy cut off kind of abruptly (‘cos I wrote too much!), just as I was about to refer to this as being influenced by the early 1966/7 sound of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, the originators of Street-Funk. It is indeed a dance-step record, although it bears no relation to the “Parrty” (sic) craze that is currently prevalent. Produced by the delightfully-yclept Gingerbread Doughboy, this is a bass-heavy chinking guitar-led pounding instrumental that’s funky in a dated yet thoroughly satisfying sense. The newie by James Brown is for Party People, however –
JAMES BROWN: Stoned To The Bone (Part 1); Stoned To The Bone (Some More) (Polydor PD 14210).
Although we in Britain never even got to hear his great “Sexy Sexy Sexy”, America has this fine ‘n funky (if fairly typico) dancer as a follow-up while we have to wallow in “Woman”, which has yet to be released Stateside. Hey, how long before the streets of London are filled with roistering throngs inanely chanting “Parrty, Parrty, Parrty!”?
THE INTRUDERS: I Wanna Know Your Name; Hang On In There (Gamble ZS7 2508).
The mighty Intruders are back on the US Charts with 5:49 of sheer beauty! The sexy studs who started the thing called the Philly Sound with writers/producers Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff in the mid-60s have reverted to a super-slow romantic ballad style, complete with doodling piano-backed long monologue rap, on this lush ‘n lovely Norman Harris arrangement. It’s sorta like Billy Paul singing Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, as in atmosphere it’s similar to the latters’ slowies but without their vocal astringency. The ‘Truders keep it all mellow, while flipside they churn and chunk it up a bit on a Bobby Martin-arranged gentle clopper.
By the way, not included with the Bluenotes and 3 Degrees singles in the British-released review section (because we didn’t get it early enough), also in your shops now should be the British newie by the fabulous O’JAYS: Put Your Hands Together; This Air I Breathe (Philadelphia International PIR 1905)!
Both sides are Gamble & Huff-penned/produced dancers, the delayed-start topside being a solidly socking fast Gospel-type chant with a wailing slow break towards the end, and the more delicate flip being a leisurely-paced hi-hat-chinking jiggling chugger with strangulated emoting.
HOLLAND-DOZIER: New Breed Kinda Woman; If You Don’t Want To Be In My Life (Invictus ZS7 1254).
Holland-Dozier-Holland are evidently having internal differences, yet here’s another clomper from the Lamont Dozier-led singing writers/producers (it must be said, though, that Richard “Popcorn” Wylie gets label credit under the latter category too). Both sides seem somewhat reminiscent of other things, which does not detract from their appeal at all.
DONNY OSMOND: When I Fall In Love; Are You Lonesome Tonight (MGM 2006-365).
My memory strays, back to Christmases Past – to Christmas ’61 when the Lettermen revived Nat King Cole’s “When I Fall In Love”, and to Christmas ’60 when Elvis revived Al Jolson’s “Are You Lonesome Tonight”. Now Christmas ’73 will be remembered by many for Donny’s dreamy readings of these lovely oldies . . . even if his stay at the top of the Charts has climaxed and ended by the time your forty shopping days have gone. For once, all those granny-given dainty hankies really will be useful, thanks to “Lonesome’s” long gulp-inducing gruff recitation! My, but he’s a big boy now. PICK OF THE WEEK.
LOVE UNLIMITED: Under The Influence Of Love; Lovin’ You, That’s All I’m After (Pye 7N 25630).
It’s a tragedy for these great girls that their mentor and svengali, Barry White, has found fame himself, for now he seems more interested in out-Iking Ike (Hayes, that is) than in supplying his charges with a worthy successor to “Walkin’ In The Rain With The One I Love”. This rhythm-jiggling plaintive chant and its dead slow 4:29 flip aren’t that.
JACKSON BROWNE: Redneck Friend; These Times You’ve Come (Asylum AYM 522).
No chance the Jackson 5 will cover this, as they did his “Doctor My Eyes”! It’s in a similar groove, actually, but with a harder-hitting attack and a steadily-knocking backbeat, emphasized by rockin’ piano and angrily buzzing fuzz guitar. Possibly its derogatory title held back radio exposure in America, where it was only a minor hit; conversely, British ignorance about the title may impede it here (a redneck is a working-class white Southern bigot, my friend). No matter, you and I know that it’s a great modern-style dancer! Peaceful slow troubadour flip. MUSIC PICK.
BOB SEGER: Rosalie; Back In ’72 (Reprise K 14243).
Reactivated ‘cos it deserved to do more the first time, this aggressive yet melodic chugger has a chix-backed Rolling Stones raunch and a somewhat similar retrospective flip. It’s a bit like a less nasty Humble Pie, too! Good Rock, and a MUSIC PICK.
DAVID GATES: Sail Around The World; Help Is On The Way (Elektra K 12126).
More muzak from Elektra, the Wonderloaf Kid’s newie is another ever, ever, ever-so pretty dreamy slowie during which ABSOLUTELY NOTHING happens . . . except lots of pretty atmosphere. Although vocally not an apt comparison, the Paul Simon-ish flip baby drives along.
THE CHUBUKOS: Witch Doctor Bump; House Of The Rising Funk (Mainstream MSS 303).
Manu Dibango meets David Seville! Yes folks, on the label that brought you the Afrique cover-version, “Soul Makossa” meets the Chipmunks! At least the picky-wicky wah-wah and moog “House Of Rising Damp” flip is all instrumental.
GARY & DAVE: Could You Ever Love Me Again (London HL 10434).
If these Canadian smoothies would just shut up for half a mo’ on their gently rustling lolloper I might suss out what the miracle ingredient is that makes the nicely naggin ethereal noise . . . is it accordion, mellotron, bagpipes, twelve-string? “Snowbird” fans will dig.
JIM CROCE: I Got A Name (Vertigo 7073260).
The US hit that broke first on Houston’s Radio KILT just before Jim got kilt in an air smash, this lugubrious theme from the stock car-racing “Last American Hero” movie was penned by Norman Gimbel & Charles Fox, authors of “Killing Me Softly With His Song” . . . over and out! These unfortunate facts apart, it’s not terribly exciting, and in any case is soon to be overtaken by Jim’s own “Time In A Bottle” LP track, which Kal Rudman predicts will be one of the biggest selling Xmas singles of all time. It’ll be nice if it is.
FELICE TAYLOR: I Can Feel Your Love (Coming Down On Me); Captured By Your Love (President PT 193).
The “I Feel Love Comin’ On” lass with a now turned-over follow-up from 1968 which also has that “pom-pom-CRASH” Supremes sound. If Barry White had any hand in this one, he’s unbilled.
BOBBY (BORIS) PICKETT & THE CRYPT-KICKERS: Me And My Mummy; Monster’s Holiday (London HLU 10436).
Sorry, but this putrescent doo-wop slowie, horribly sick though its words be, just isn’t going to give Boris another hit. On the other hand, it’s a (vile-smelling) gas which shouldn’t be missed by the few paid-up oldies-lovers that are left! If anything, the seasonal flip is more hit-worthy – even though it’s nothing less than the “Monster Mash” backing track with added jingle bells and fun-packed Christmas lyrics about a sleigh-heist that’s foiled by a lupine Santa’s generosity . . . this Saint Nick goes “GRRROWWWH!” instead of “Ho-Ho-Ho”! Hear it and giggle. PICK NICK.
THREE DEGREES: Dirty Ol’ Man; Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me (Philadelphia International PIR 1880).
The “French Connection” chicks are liable to pick up many First Choice fans with this spikily-sung shrill bouncy beater, their first for the Gamble & Huff label and their latest US hit in a career that began on Philly’s Swan label in ‘65. On the gentler mid-tempo flip their knifeblade-sharp harmonies are just as bending. These gals can sing! R&B PICK.
MILLIE JACKSON: Hurts So Good; Love Doctor (Polydor2066263).
The Soul slowie from “Cleopatra Jones”, this throatily-emoted tour de force hurt so good that it’s already making people refer to Millie as the new Soul Queen. Understated and low-key as hell, it takes time to sneak up on ya, but when it does . . . BAM! For the flip, she reverts to the Freda Payne-type beat that first brought her fame, and then screams, croaks and wails all over it. Yeah! SOUL PICK.
HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUENOTES: The Love I Lost (Parts 1 & 2) (Philadelphia International PIR 1879).
Now Britain too gets Gamble & Huff’s green-and-puce label! Which of its first releases will hit here? Could be all! Teddy & the Bluenotes’ deceptively slow-starting frantic two part pounder certainly sounds like a smash, and is already going great guns Stateside. Like a cross between the O’Jays and the Four Tops with that dynamically hustling Philly Sound crescendoing to a power-packed peak on Part 2, it’s a double-sided sockeroo of a groove (hey Mr Dee Jay, you’d better get two!), and of course an R&B PICK (POP CLASS).
MARIE OSMOND: Paper Roses; Least Of All You (MGM 2006315).
The female Donny does Anita Bryant’s 1960 family favourite in a commendably mellow gently thumping strings-swamped Country style that was arranged and produced by Sonny James, the Country star who – oh, the irony of it! – came to fame in 1957 by being the first to hit with “Young Love”. The Donny quality of sister Marie’s voice is more pronounced on the whinnying slow flip, which is even purer Country. PAPER CLIP (MoR CLASS).
ELVIS PRESLEY: Raised On Rock; For Ol’ Times Sake (RCA 2345).
Despite its misleading title, this vaguely Swamp-Funk Mark James-penned biography is not – repeat NOT – a rocker, and it’s far removed even from such as “Burning Love”. In fact, for once, the Country Chart-hitting Tony Joe White-penned flipside slowie is both better AND a better bet for Britain – it finds El on his preferred, safer ground, and could almost be called his “My Way”. The question must be asked: can a thirty-eight-year-old white man still sing Rock ‘n Roll, anyway? FLIPSIDE PICK (MoR CLASS).
PAUL ANKA: Flashback; Let Me Get To Know You (UA UP 35610).
The old ‘teen star who started at Donny’s age with his “Diana” monster smash in 1957 before scoring many other self-penned hits such as “Puppy Love” and “Lonely Boy”, Paul Anka is now being produced for the Fame label by its owner, Rick Hall . . . who launched the Osmonds on THEIR hit career! His Fame debut is a bit like a speeded-up “Summer (The First Time)”, a jittery introspective thumping slowie that in fact he didn’t write. The flip is his own, though, and it’s an extremely attractive easily lilting strings and tapping rhythm-backed semi-slowie which I personally prefer – to the extent that it’s an MoR-type MUSIC PICK.
CURTIS MAYFIELD: Back To The World; The Other Side Of Town (Buddah 2011187).
Boringly predictable squeaky-voiced slow title track from the ex-Imp’s last LP offering. I hope Harpo Marx got his session fee for the work he put in at the start of the more interesting dead slow atmospheric flip!
THE JACKSON SISTERS: I Believe In Miracles (Mums MUM 1829) AND: (Why Can’t We Be) More Than Just Friends (Mums MUM 1591).
These black chicks are on the Soul side of Pop, yet sound as though they relax by listening to Carole King . . . which is fine in itself, and won’t stop them giving pleasure to many: what bugs me is that they somehow don’t sound convincing. Technically they’re perfect, with appealing voices and an expertly produced sound on the bubbling beater and almost-soulful slowie here. If only they listened to Millie Jackson instead.
THE MASTERS CHILDREN: Can You Hear Me Lord; Meet The Devil (Retreat RTS 254).
Kinda the American Blackwater Junction/Brotherhood Of Man/Blue Mink, if you get my gist, on an overwrought devotional slowie and a hunky-chunky flip.