December 15, 1973: Barbara Jean English, Love Unlimited Orchestra, The Isley Brothers, Sly & The Family Stone, Chuck Berry

Stateside newies

BARBARA JEAN ENGLISH: You’re Gonna Need Somebody To Love (While You’re Looking For Someone To Love (Alithia AR 6053).
This may or may not be the Barbara English who I used to know over nine years ago – if she is, she’s as stunning to look at as she is to listen to on this soulfully bittersweet slowie, a painfully cynical play on words (note the difference in the title between “BODY” and “one”) which she co-penned with its producer, the great George Kerr of O’Jays fame. Bert Keyes did the tinkling, plunking, cooing, sawing and thumping slow arrangement, which makes just the right slightly dragging backing to the hurtingly self-aware yet tenderly-meant emotions of the beautifully sung and breathily spoken lyrics. Let me just say that this had all the girls in the office going out of their heads when I was playing it one lunch-break! “Emotion” is a word that it is easy to bandy about, yet it was never more applicable than in the case of this stunner. Yeah!

LOVE UNLIMITED ORCHESTRA: Love’s Theme; Sweet Moments (20th Century TC 2069).
Poor Love Unlimited! The gorgeous gals of “Walking In The Rain With The One I Love” fame have a new hit LP in America called “Under The Influence Of Love Unlimited”, but this hit single culled from it doesn’t contain even a squeak out of them on either of its instrumental sides! Not, actually, that that matters, as both sides are gloriously schlock, pretty-pretty melodies by that arch Hayesian copyist, Barry White, who has concocted an eminently listenable mixture of swirling strings, glutinous guitar, snikkety cymbals, wukka-wukking wah-wah, bumping bass and blatant beauty which is both cloyingly sweet and naggingly irresistible at one and the same time. Mmmm, I can’t get enough of this sweet love stuff!

American Singles

THE ISLEY BROTHERS: Highways Of My Life; Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight (Epic EPC 1980).
As a complete contrast to “That Lady,” the 3 + 3’s newie is a delicately pretty slowie which owes more than a nod of recognition in the direction of Stevie Wonder’s recent romantic style, both vocally and especially instrumentally. With so much hot product out at the moment, there’s no knowing how this will go, although it certainly deserves to do well. As little of the Brothers’ Buddah-distributed material came out here, their choice of James Taylor’s wee-small-hours slowie as flip may surprise some of you: in fact, they’ve been consistently scoring Stateside with similar reworkings of such as Carole King and even Bob Dylan (“Lay Lady Lay“). Low-key, and nice. SMOOCH PICK. Continue reading “December 15, 1973: Barbara Jean English, Love Unlimited Orchestra, The Isley Brothers, Sly & The Family Stone, Chuck Berry”