February 23, 1974: Jimmy Osmond, Sister Janet Mead, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Inez Foxx, The Staple Singers.

Stateside newies

JIMMY OSMOND: Give Me A Good Old Mammy Song; I’m Gonna Knock On Your Door (MGM K 14687 – that’s in America only, so far).
“Hey mums and dads, kids and grads, gather roun’ – ‘cos Jimmy’s BACK . . . in YO’ town!” Yeah, what all those frantic American dee-jays would have been shouting in the good old days: trouble is, they’re all long gone, as is the vulgar kind of music that fitted their format. Hence the Osmonds, Cassidy, Cooper, and all our home-grown noisy Popsters do better here, where Boss Radio reigns, than in the cooled-out States. Admittedly, Little Jimmy O’s “Long Haired Lover From Liverpool” was a medium-sized hitlet in America a great many months before it broke through here, but since then he’s done nothing here. In fact, his Neil Reid-covering “Mother Of Mine” B-side was the original plug-side then, and right now his newie (due out here soon) is the other way up in America, where it is obviously hoped that the Levine & Brown-penned “Mammy Song” will echo that team’s success with Dawn (who, as it certainly sounds, possibly have already recorded this). Just as I dug “Liverpool” originally, I must confess to enjoying this frantic banjo-jangling romp, complete with an Al Jolson-aping sincere recitation insert! Anyway, the British A-side is going to be Jimmy’s similar to the original version of little (at that time) Eddie Hodges’ 1961 US hit, penned by leading Presley hit-mongers of the era, publisher Aaron Schroeder & Sid Wayne, who used that same “I’m gonna knock on your door, ring on your bell, tap on your window too” set of words that have taken Aretha Franklin into our Chart right now. The song’s a gimmicky chugger (less power-packed and noisy than the consequently still stronger Hodges cut) which doubtless will be gracing our airwaves for months to come. Over and out!

SISTER JANET MEAD (SISTER OF MERCY): The Lord’s Prayer (A&M 1491, due out here imminently on A&M AMS 7103).
Gawd strewth . . . following in the footsteps of those other great Australian songbirds, Helen Reddy and Olivia Newton John (let alone – and very applicable here – Judith Durham), and in the noble tradition of such overnight classics as “The Americans”, “Ballad Of The Green Berets” and “My Old Man’s A Dustman”, here’s – hold it, quit shovin’! – an Aussie nun – get in line there! – singing ever so sweetly to a buzzing and rumbling jog-beat Rock backing a generation-bridging – hey, let that cripple through there! – version of “The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father)” – have money ready! – which has already sold over two million copies in the last ten minutes. Say, did you ever know that it was penned by one Arnold Strals? And published by Rondor Music? Oh well, maybe they’re gonna give their royalties to the Australian flood victims, or somethin’ like that.

GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PIPS: Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me (Buddah BDA 403).
Briefly back to sanity! Also hitting for Soul Vocal Group the Persuaders, this Jim Weatherly-penned slowie is the number that I was exhorting easy-listening readers to buy when out here by Country crooner Ray Price a few months back. Our Glad does it lovely, too, in a cryingly Soulful voice over thumping and twanging backing and subdued sing-along Pips.

Talking of soulful chix, the very week that Carly & James Taylor’s “Mockingbird” comes out I’ve finally heard the recent INEZ FOXX reading of Mitty Collier’s 1964 “I Had A Talk With My Man” (Volt VOA 4101), and, while it lacks the subtle twists and turns of Mitty’s original, it’s a real powerhouse of straight-ahead Soul emotion – the more so because it’s a style not often heard these days. Nice to see my old mate, the ex-Fiesta and 1697 Broadway stalwart, Randy Stewart co-produced.

And just to stick with Stax, a real pleasure for the ear is the steel band-spiced newie from THE STAPLE SINGERS: Touch A Hand, Make A Friend (Stax STA 0196), which tootles and bounces along with easy gay gusto.

American Singles

Pick of the week

MARVIN HAMLISCH: The Entertainer; Solace (MCA 121), MAX MORATH: The Entertainer; Polyragmic (Vanguard VAN 1009), JOSHUA RIFKIN: The Entertainer; Maple Leaf Rag (Nonesuch BIG 701).
“The Entertainer” was black composer Scott Joplin’s title for a fin-de-siecle Ragtime piano piece which henceforth will probably be better remembered as the theme from “The Sting”, that blockbuster conman’s movie starring Redford and Newman. Early public reaction indicates that one of these many versions could well end up by being another “Duelling Banjos” (exactly which will depend on label distribution more than on radio plugs, I’ll wager). There is little to choose between them: Max has the liveliest with some banjo (copied by the similar British version of THE RAGTIMERS on Pye 7N 45323), whereas Marv has the actual soundtrack and Josh has the reputation. In fact Josh, a young college prof, has topped the US Classical Charts twice with his academic treatments of Joplin (who in turn was seeking just such serious recognition for his attempts to “make respectable” Ragtime, which amounted to the Rock ‘n Roll of its day).

This prissy approach is also found on “Maple Leaf Rag”, Rifkin’s official A-side and Joplin’s biggest hit, which was one of the first million-sellers . . . in sheet music form! What with this new fashionable interest in Ragtime, how long will it be before people latch onto the fact that Ian Whitcomb’s many LPs recreate the music as it really was – not serious but brashly vulgar and fun!? PICK OF THE WEEK.

CARLY SIMON & JAMES TAYLOR: Mockingbird; Grownup (Elektra K 12134).
Mr and Mrs Taylor take the place of Charlie and Inez Foxx and swap nuptial bliss for brotherly love on the Foxx’s perennial “Moc-” “Yeah” “-King-” “Yeah” “-Bird” “Yeah” chugger. It sounds like a hit (“Yeah”). Carly alone does her Lesley Duncan impression on the slow flip. POP PICK.

ROBERT KNIGHT: Everlasting Love; Never My Love (Monument MNT 2106).
Here it is, folks – in stereo too! – the original of the toon that the Love Affair took up the Charts in 1968, exactly six years ago. What’s more, it surely sounds a bit weak right now in comparison? No matter, the interest is now there. Draggy reading of the Association’s oldie, flipside. POP PICK.

EARTH, WIND & FIRE: Keep Your Head To The Sky; Build Your Nest (CBS 2033).
Somewhat edited from their superb “Head To The Sky” LP, this falsetto Soul Group slowie has a beautiful jangling backing and some really impassioned singing, the whole effect being like a superior Stylistics. If you can’t hear the album, do at least try this. Herky-jerky flip. SOUL PICK.

TOM T. HALL: I Love; Back When We Were Young (Mercury 6052394).
Tom loves little baby ducks, old pick-up trucks, slow-moving trains, and rain . . . and (sorry if you’ve heard this before) he loves yew tew. Yuk! Still, it sounds like Jim Reeves singing “Little Green Apples” or “Honey”, so how can it miss? (By a mile: Ed.) Say, who is this ubiquitous Ed, anyway? C&W PICK.

TERRY JACKS: Seasons In The Sun; Put The Bone In (Bell 1344).
Susan’s “ex” (not brother), the Poppy Family’s Terry is scoring monstrously Stateside with this self-arranged/produced gently chugging Pop treatment of a Jacques Brel-Rod McKuen semi-slowie which the Beach Boys rejected. I myself prefer his own slow flip, which is more inconsequential and less macabre than at first it appears! MoR PICK.

LOVE UNLIMITED: Under The Influence Of Love; Lovin’ You, That’s All I’m After (Pye 7N 25630).
The gorgeous gals have had a raw deal, what with an instrumental track (“Love’s Theme”) from their current LP stealing all their glory. Still, fond memories here of the Felice Taylor original of this early Barry White number should help them smile, wiggle and pout their meltingly Supremes-ish way hit-wards again. Dull slow flip. POP PICK.

CONTOURS: Baby Hit And Run; Can You Jerk Like Me (Tamla Motown TMG 886).
This typically mindless bang-bang-bang stomper is an old US album track that’s out now as a single for the very first time anywhere . . . and it’s not bad at all. 1964 hit flip, which begs the question and answer: “so, how do YOU jerk?” “Like that ol’ boy in Loosiana, I take it between my finger and thumb . . . ” R&B/POP PICK.

MOMENTS: Sexy Mama; Where Can I Find Her (London HLU 10449).
Very much a continuation of Marvin Gaye’s “You Sure Love To Ball” cross-bred with producer Sylvia’s “Didn’t I”, this may be too monotonous for other than specialist tastes. However, it’s to my taste . . . suck, gobble, munch, chomp!

JIM CROCE: Time In A Bottle; Hey Tomorrow (Vertigo 6073272).
The new Buddy Holly’s cult has been a non-starter here, but if it’s ever to get going this reflective quietly tinkling US Christmas Chart-topping posthumous smash is the one to do it. If listened to through cynical ears, the words have that “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”/“Three Steps To Heaven” tragic irony, while the British flip’s a real sickie. POSTHUMOUS PICK.

EDDIE KENDRICKS: Boogie Down; Eddie’s Love (Tamla Motown TMG 888).
A dry copy of “Keep On Truckin’”, sadly unremarkable. I hope that Eddie doesn’t go the Temptations route now. At least the older flipside wailer is more meaty.

SPINNERS: Mighty Love, Pts 1 & 2 (Atlantic K 10416).
Thudding matt drums, pattering bongos and a tired, tired concept churning away with mis-spent energy. S-O-S, now!

B. B. KING: I Like To Live The Love; Love (Probe PRO 613).
The Blues Boy meets some soulful brass and a snikkety hi-hat yet surprisingly doesn’t sound like Little Milton on this good melodic medium swayer with a clomping beat. Lucille has more to say on his own choppy slow flip.

BILL COSBY: Little Ole Man (Uptight – Everything’s Alright); Don’cha Know (Warner Bros K 16346).
“I Spy”-starring comedian Cosby’s philosophical 1967 re-write of “Uptight” has a 100 mph dance beat produced by Fred Smith, the reason for its re-issue now. Doubtless big in Blackpool.

2 thoughts on “February 23, 1974: Jimmy Osmond, Sister Janet Mead, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Inez Foxx, The Staple Singers.”

  1. Interesting to see which Northern Soul tunes are starting to get reissued, as the subculture builds up commercial clout. “Baby Hit And Run” is still big on the scene to this day (I have James’s copy of this reissue, and it never leaves my box), and there’s another biggie on its way very soon.

    Note that James has still never used the exact term “Northern Soul”. I’m wondering when that will finally happen…


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