THE FATBACK BAND: Njia (Nija) Walk (Street Walk) (Perception PS 540).
They give you enough choices, but this is generally referred to as “Street Walk”! Now that Kool & The Gang’s “Funky Stuff” is finally out here, the position it held as most-imported Street Funk single is taken by this leapingly alive rhythm-jumping follow-up to “Street Dance” . . . even though this has not done spectacularly well on America’s R&B Chart, where it certainly deserved to do better. Propelled by a watery wah-wah wukka-wukka-ing amidst an extremely tight, clearly defined buoyant bouncy bass with some Latin percussion and the odd burst of brass, it’s basically an instrumental with jive-talk interpolations and chanting. Interestingly there’s even a mention of Bertha Butt (you know, one of the Butt Sisters), whose name has strayed from the Jimmy Castor Bunch’s old “Troglodyte (Cave Man)”, an early example of the sort of sound which has been developed into Street Funk.
Surprisingly, “Street Walk” is NOT a “Parrty” record: for the epitome of “Parrty” you’re going to need the James Brown-penned/arranged/produced:
LYN COLLINS (THE FEMALE PREACHER): We Want To Parrty, Parrty, Parrty (People PE 630), which from its “Hey you, blow your whistle!” intro to its inane “Parrty, Parrty, Parrty” chant is about as apt a summary of the new genre’s clichés as you’re likely to find.
TONY ORLANDO and DAWN: Who’s In The Strawberry Patch With Sally (Bell 45424).
Despite a vintage-looking title like that, this new Rag-Rock bouncer from the “Dawn’s New Ragtime Follies” LP is yet another Levine & Brown-penned number. Like that last one, it’s slow starting; unlike all the others, it really is almost pure Vaudeville, even if not strictly Ragtime. It’s great fun and commendably authentic, and probably too specialist in appeal to be a big hit.
MARK/ALMOND: Lonely Girl (Columbia 4-45951).
Wheeee! Oh Boy! Such beauty! Still, beauty is to be expected from Britain’s unheralded light jazz duo, Jon Mark and Johnny Almond. Sticking with the Latin-cum-South American rhythms which have so often spiced their better offerings, they’ve concocted a delightfully gently yet remorselessly hustling tippy-tapping plopping rhythm gem that’s huskily sung as though by a male Astrud Gilberto. Overall, the instrumentation and sound is reminiscent of Earth, Wind & Fire’s superb “Head For Sky” LP. Beautiful!
THE CHI-LITES: I Found Sunshine (Brunswick 55503).
There’s a spate of sunny sunshine titles out in America at the moment – especially in the Country Charts, where such as Dottie West’s “Country Sunshine”, Brenda Lee’s “Sunday Sunrise” and Wayne Kemp’s “Kentucky Sunshine” have been answered by Roger Miller’s “I Believe In Sunshine”. Now there’s sunshine breaking over the R&B and Pop Charts too, where Eugene Record and the “Have You Seen Her” gang of fame are keeping everything bright and yellow with this Stevie Wonder-ish cheerful light harmony thumper.
HOLLAND-DOZIER: New Breed Kinda Woman; If You Don’t Want To Be In My Life (Invictus ZS7 1254).
To finish off last week’s review, which cut rather abruptly before I told you what these were like: on top there’s a thonking 1-2-3-POM! Philly-ish beat over which Lamont Dozier squeezes the lyrics from a constricted larynx, while flipside there’s a girlie group-supported steady-thumping Memphis-ish beat and more of that tiny-voiced wheezing singing. Both sides seem somewhat reminiscent of other things, not that it matters because they both manage to combine so much melody with their easy dancing rhythms that they are likely to be much loved especially in this country.
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: however, neither are as good as the truly great Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes newie, “The Love I Lost”. I must confess to being disappointed. On name appeal, an R&B PICK.
NEIL DIAMOND: Be; Flight Of The Gull (CBS 1843).
More hairy chest-thumping from Mr. Sincerity, this incredibly lovely/tedious (delete whichever your taste tells you is inapplicable) comes-and-goes/non-starting creakingly progressing slowly-building dirge is from the Diamond-penned score of the upcoming “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” movie – the makers of which are evidently being sued by Mr. Sincerity over the size of his screen credit lettering. The instrumental flip sounds like it strayed from “Jesus Christ, Superstar” or something similar. Me, I’ve got gulls on my roof, too.
RAY PRICE: You’re The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me; What Kind Of Love Is This (CBS 1802).
As I keep saying, this Country-based crooner is just deserving of British success as the other big-league Easy Listening stars. His treatment of “For The Good Times” provided the model for Perry Como’s current hit but was ignored by Britain In 1971. Now maybe, hopefully, his gruffy lugubrious reading of this poignant and lovely Jim Weatherly- enned smoocher will turn the tables and be a smash. Neither of the similar sides is at all Country in sound, while both should appeal mightily to fans of masculine romancers like McKuen, Aznavour, Becaud, Marvin – even Sinatra, and, on a more mundane level, Humperdinck, Hill, Whittaker. Not forgetting Como! SMOOCH PICK.
ROBERT KNIGHT: Love On A Mountain Top; The Power Of Love (Monument MNT 1875).
The Toys-type flip was originally the A-side of this May ’68 follow-up-but-one to Robert’s “Everlasting Love” (the US hit that Love Affair covered). Since that the churning comes-and-goes B-side beater now on top has overtaken it in Northern dancers’ affections, to the extent that the Northern lobby is likely to buy it into the Charts this time around. With a Limmie & The Family Cookin’ lilt and a whistling kettle end, it could be good for the South and East and West, too. POP PICK.
LINK WRAY: I’m So Glad, I’m So Proud; Shawnee Tribe (Virgin VS 103).
Once again the stoical little Virgin label thumbs its nose at the big boys and sets out to prove that the “uncommercial” can indeed be commercial to many, even if not to those who buy Max Bygraves. If only Dandelion could have done the same! Anyway, this smashing, crashing, thrashing. rebelliously aggressive noisey new beater from the veteran Rock guitarist who inspired Pete Townshend to pick-up his axe and rumble, this “now sound” from one of the men who started it all way back then is an excitingly invigorating, fresh, and commercial as the Stones, Lou Reed, Roxy Music . . . even Status Quo! Uh, how “uncommercial” is that?!? Play it LOUD and don’t be afraid to dance. Mournful twelve-string moan, flipside. PICK OF THE WEEK.
KOOL & THE GANG: Funky Stuff; More Funky Stuff (Polydor 2001474).
Well, WILL the streets of London be filled with roistering throngs inanely chanting “Parrty, Parrty, Parrty!” now that this much-imported hunky-chunky Street Funk “Parrty” smash is finally out here? Ideal disco fare, it’s a whistle and chanting-supported monotonous honking instrumental with some picky guitar over the braying brass and dully thumping rhythm. PARRTY PICK.
MARGIE JOSEPH: Come Lay Some Lovin’ On Me; Ridln’ High (Atlantic K 10380).
Margie’s in subdued form on her current R&B Chart-climbing reading of Paul Kelly’s coolly pulsating throbber, and sounds really nice on the bossa-nova-ish pretty flip, which she co-wrote with arranger/producer Arif Mardin. Yeah, relaxez-vous!
BARBARA ACKLIN: I’ll Bake Me A Man; I Call It Trouble (Brunswick BR 8).
Produced by her song-writing partner, Eugene (Chi-Lite) Record, foxy Barbie’s newie is a lightweight flaky pastry that skips and thumps along without ever becoming crusty and substantial. Love bakes a woman, flip-side.
THE SWISS MOVEMENT: Bring Back Your Love (RCA 2425).
You might expect these guys to go “tick-tick-tick”, or at least to give out with some Les McCann & Eddie Harris-type jazz; instead they come on like a lacklustre watered-down Four Tops. Very dull.
DAVID CLAYTON-THOMAS: Professor Longhair; Workin’ On The Railroad (RCA 2421).
Dedicated to ‘Fess, the legendary New Orleans pianist who influenced everyone from Fats Domino to Dr. John, this jaunty second-line semi-slowie is laced more with Bourbon Street jazz twiddly bits than with the lunatic R&B that ‘Fess purveys. Still, it’s already been programmed by Capital Radio, where it sounds just right. Believe the flip side If you can!
SYL JOHNSON: Back For A Taste Of Your Love; Wind, Blow Her Back My Way (London HLU 10438).
Rushed out as it hits the US Charts, this Willie Mitchell-produced dancer is an incredibly happy whomping stomping bouncy beater which is full of infectious funk and – one lives in hope – pop appeal. Syl’s voice has adopted only a few of Al Green’s mannerisms, and even the verdant slow flip cannot prevent him from sounding like his own man. Honestly, this one’s a goodie! R&B PICK.
FRANK SINATRA: Let Me Try Again; Send In The Clowns (Reprise K 14304).
“I know I said that I was leaving, but I just couldn’t say goodbye” sings Ol’ Blue Eyes on this Paul Anka & Sammy Cahn-translated romantic French slowie – and we know what can happen when he does that sort of thing his way! “Hello Frankie . . . it’s so nice to have you back where you belong” sing all his faithful fans in welcoming reply. If any “Schmilsson In The Night” fans think they recognise the arranging style on the dead slow flip, they’re absolutely right – Gordon Jenkins did the charts, and also conducted (on the Don Costa-arranged A-side too). EASY PICK.
THE TREASURES: My Tears; THE CLEARTONES: Sad And Blue (Daddys Home DH 101, available for 88p from Dept. RR, 49 Lordship Park, London N16).
Announced as Britain’s First & Only 100 per cent Doo-Wopper Label, and – Jeez! – they’re 100 per cent right! For all lovers of greasy love songs and certain simplicity, these two sides are an absolute must! On top the Treasures wail and emote like only a bunch of ’50s high school kids could to a distantly-thwacking slow drum beat, while flipside the Cleartones give out with all their hearts and soul a teenage lament that they sing – wait for it! – ACAPPELLA!!! Now, all of you who keep reading those mystical words “Doo-Wop” and “Acappella” in learned musical histories without knowing what they mean, or especially without being sure you’ve heard an example of them, now you can all send away your 88 pennies and get a 100 per cent genuine example by return. DOO-WOP PICK.
Hamilton’s Disco Picks
LINK WRAY: I’m So Glad, I’m So Proud (Virgin VS 103). Modern.
THE JETS: Yeah! (Cube BUG 35). Modern/Pop.
ROXY MUSIC: Street Life (Island WIP 6173). Modern.
JACKSON BROWNE: Redneck Friend (Asylum AYM 522). Modern.
HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUENOTES: The Love I Lost (Philadelphia International P1R 1879). R&B, get two copies and run both parts together.
SYL JOHNSON: Back For A Taste Of Your Love (London HLU 10438). R&B.
KOOL & THE GANG: Funky Stuff (Polydor 2001474). R&B.
GERRY & THE PACEMAKERS: You’ll Never Walk Alone; How Do You Do It; I Like It (EMI 2086). Pop Oldies maxi.
COZY POWELL: Dance With The Devil (Rak 164). Drums be there let, Pop.
THIN LIZZY: The Rocker (Decca F 13467). Pop.
ZAPPO: Right On! (Magnet MAG 2). Moog meets Glitter, Pop.
MOTT THE HOOPLE: Roll Away The Stone (CBS 1895). Ian Hunter meets Gus Goodwin. Pop.