GUIDO SARDUCCI: A European (Speaks Up For The U.S.) (A&M 1504).
Hopefully this will be the final chapter in the continuing story of Gordon Sinclair, Byron MacGregor, Tex Ritter and “The Americans (A Canadian’s Opinion)” . . . certainly it’s the funniest. (Regular readers will know the story so far.) In a heavily laid-on Italian accent, S. Sarducci sends them all up something rotten, quoting in his own inimitable way the rabble-rousing catchphrases like “cam arrn, let’s-a hear eet” and “I was-a their, I sore eet” in connection with such topics as where else but in America can you get the same hamburger (and fries) thousands of miles apart, and where were the Canadians when those brave Chicago policemen had to beat up all those young people in 1968 all by themselves. “After this-a theeng is orl over, you should-a say ‘Nuts’ to Canada” lambasts Guido, before wading into the real clinchers which cannot be answered: “the only theeng the rest-a of the World ever gave America was the ‘flu” (you’ve heard of the Asian ‘Flu, but the Detroit ‘Flu?), and – the coup de grace – “when-a the United States had-a its Civil War, Vietnam didn’t even send-a one soldier”! Interestingly enough I see that the premise upon which Gordon Sinclair founded his original editorial was completely false – many nations actually offered money and help at the time of the San Francisco earthquake, but President Teddy Roosevelt rejected it to show that America, and especially the new Red Cross organisation, could cope with the problem on its own. And it was the US Red Cross’s bankruptcy last year which prompted Sinclair in the first place!
MFSB: TSOP (Philadelphia International ZS7 3540).
Depsite early rumours that MFSB stood for Mother-Effing Soul Band, it really stands for Mother Father Sister Brother (Gamble & Huff’s all-star house band), and “TSOP” means no more than “The Sound Of Philadelphia”. It also spells H-I-T, if not S-M-A-S-H . . . and I mean in Britain. From the schlerping “Love’s Theme” cymbals at the start to the Three Degrees’ chanting appearance at the end, this ultra-danceable instrumental clomper has every ingredient to please today’s disco-dancers, while Northern backing-track fans will be queuing for it ten deep! The San Remo Strings live! Bobby Martin arranged it, and the players include such as Norman Harris, Ronnie Baker, Don Renaldo and (probably) Leon Huff himself. GDAGWI!
BLUE SWEDE: Hooked On A Feeling (Capitol 3627, but out here imminently).
Rocketing up the US Chart, this Dutch-Swedish group’s rather reedy carbon-copy of Jonathan King’s distinctive 1971 treatment of the old B.J. Thomas hit has thrown Jo King (for once, NOT as in “You must be Jo King?”) into a much self-publicised pique. Joking aside (gerroff!) I actually admire young King, and collect his productions purely for their great throwaway B-sides, which are as good value as Phil Spector’s used to be. Thus, I’d like to bring your attention to his latest, “People Don’t Like Me” (flip to “Get Off My Cloud”, UK 61), in which to a home-recorded Dylan-esque guitar he rambles on without naming names about how not only Blue Swede but also Italy’s Titans have ripped off his original arrangements (the Titans did “Satisfaction”) without anyone crediting him. Of course, one could get picky and point out that on “Hooked On A Feeling” he himself pinched the Big Bopper’s “ooga-ooga-ooga-chukka” redskin chant from Johnny Preston’s “Running Bear”, but even so the lad is right. The whole thing smacks of the days back in the mid ‘50s when R&B record companies in America were campaigning for legislation to prevent better-established companies from making note for note cover versions with white artistes of their original arrangements. In particular, LaVern Baker springs to mind: she got onto her congressman after Georgia Gibbs had covered “Tweedle Dee” in 1955. Although much discussed, no legislation seems to have been passed to copyright original arrangements (other than in the case of those of traditional tunes in the Public Domain). If it were, it would obviously put paid to all those cheapo-cheapo “Top Pops” LPs, from a Continental one of which, I believe, this Blue Swede recording came . . . and, indeed, that type of LP has on several other occasions been the source of foreign hit versions that out-sold the originals abroad. Boo! It just isn’t British!
Pick of the week
THE TRAMMPS: Love Epidemic (Phil. Int. PIR 1989).
Just as “Love Train” circled the globe, so the Trammps’ “Love Epidemic” is a contagious case of brotherly love. Previously the guys have lost out here to their backing track B-sides, but this time their soulful interplay and cool harmony on a Norman Harris co-created Philly romper should make their voice your choice. My special DJ copy has both short and long versions: presumably you get the 4:48 latter, with I know not what as a flip. Ooh, yeah, we gotta spread it . . . like the Philly ‘Flu!
JIMMY OSMOND: I’m Gonna Knock On Your Door; Give Me A Good Old Mammy Song (MGM 2006389).
First of all there is NO truth in the rumour that Jimmy fathered a Lancashire schoolgirl’s twins, despite the title of his razzamatazz Dawn-type flip (which I and the USA prefer). His revival of the 1961 Eddie Hodges topside is extremely close to the original without having its powerful sound – which won’t matter, as the jaunty chugger has huge advance orders already, sound unheard. It’s a pity (for her) that Aretha’s current hit shares the same catchy chorus! POP PICK.
JOHNNY MATHIS: Life Is A Song Worth Singing; I Just Wanted To Be Me (CBS 2026).
Like incidental music from a black movie – you know the scene, building menace as super-stud drives over concrete flyovers to showdown with crooked cop dope dealer – Thom Bell’s interminable arrangement goes nowhere for 4:30 while Johnny Mathis gets just 1:45 of that in which to sing. Some title! The flip’s more like the Bell we know, but there’s none of that effete singing from Mister Mathis, who’s jealous of his masculinity.
GLORIA GAYNOR: Honey Bee; All It Took Boy Was Losing You (CBS 1835).
If present trends continue, this fuzzily buzzing Norman Harris-arranged clomper is likely to be bootlegged in Bootle around 1980, ‘cos it didn’t sell now. Certainly, the slow 5:17 flip is a whole lot better for Soul freax.
LIZA MINNELLI: More Than I Like You (CBS 2148).
Imaginatively decked out with unexpected melodic twists and turns and a beautiful backing, this convoluted jittery slowie just fails to become more than thoroughly pleasant. Liza’s in subdued form, too.
THE MANHATTANS: Soul Train; I’m Not A Run Around (CBS 2117).
While fine for freax, this monotonous wukka-wukka chanted cymbal-smasher is too parochial in its US TV series-linked lyrics to be another “Love Train” here. Slushy slow flip, low on Soul.
THE O’JAYS: For The Love Of Money; People Keep Telling Me (Phil. Int. PIR 2184).
“Ship Ahoy”’s track in the minds of many (not mine – I go for “Don’t Call Me Brother”), this heavily edited ponderous slow synthetic beater is too carefully contrived and sterile for my taste: however, it’s ultra-fashionable and the hissing phased backing will intrigue. Routine Philly flip. R&B PICK.
TONY CLARKE: Landslide; The Entertainer (Chess 6145030).
Big in Bolton, loved in Leeds, worshipped in Wigan, hallowed in Hanley, pressed in Preston, sold in Sale, forgotten in Finsbury, nothing in Notting Hill . . . yes, it’s another old Northern dancer, redolent of a thousand nights spent jerking to “Uptight” and “1-2-3”. In fact the flipside 1965 classic (nothing to do with “The Sting”), a gentle finger-snapping melodic slowie with a delightful organ and guitar break between Tony’s fluttering drums-backed singing, remains as fresh as ever and rates the kudos here. Keep the faith! SOUL PICK.
JUDI PULVER: Dancing On The Moon (MGM 2006333).
With the type of bright-eyed toothy good looks that I go for, and a throaty rasp in her voice which contradicts the sophisticated grooming of the former, here’s a lady singer/songwriter who the unimaginative have compared to Rod Stewart and Maggie Bell. Going on this bouncy slow piano plonker, she’s her own lady and well worth a listen (and a look). MUSIC PICK.
TYRONE DAVIS: I Wish It Was Me; You Don’t Have To Beg Me To Stay (Brunswick BR 10).
The great Tyrone’s latest R&B/Pop hit is a smooth yet ambiguously rhythmic semi-slowie which keeps on going nowhere in particular in the nicest possible way. Reminiscent as usual of his past work, it’s also as usual too understated for white audiences here. More straightforward softly soulful slow flip. Lovely if you can dig it!
DeFRANCO FAMILY featuring TONY DeFRANCO: Abra-Ca-Dabra; Same Kinda Love (Pye 7N 25632).
The new American bobbysox rave (facially a mixture of RRM’s Peter Dignam and Donny Osmond) has here a perky whizzing and thumping jerky chanter, which pales beside the truly great flipside pubescent lament . . . yes, it’s the same kinda love that the grown-ups know that Tony feels for you. In fact a love letter to you from Tony (plus other goodies!) can be yours for a three dollar international money order sent to his Fan Club at Drawer L, Hollywood, California 90028, USA. Gosh! FLIPSIDE PICK.
THE LORELEI: S.T.O.P. (Stop); I’ll Never Let You Down (CBS 2048).
T.H.E. C.A.T. S.A.T. O.N. T.H.E. . . (howdja spell mat, huh?). This is a nicely old-fashioned girlie group candyfloss beater, with a ditto slow flip, co-produced by Emil La Viola, with whom I worked in New York during ’64 before he helmed the Screen-Gems pubbery. To think that we had Neil Diamond songs signed to us back then!
HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUENOTES: Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back); I’m Weak For You (Phil. Int. PIR 2187).
Without any tricky ambiguous intro, the Bluenotes’ new smooth clomper starts out with some instrumental doubling-up before settling into its creamy groove – thus, while less adventurous, it’s more self-contained than “The Love I Lost” and should guarantee satisfaction. Fair do’s? Lovely lazily lurching slow flip. R&B PICK.
HERBIE MANN: Spinball; Turtle Bay (Atlantic K 10409).
A frothily forgettable concoction by flautist Herbie that’s far from “Memphis Underground”, although the jazzier but still lightweight LP title track flip tries harder.
ANDY WILLIAMS: Getting Over You; Remember (CBS 2181).
Two more boring slowies to keep his fans happy. Those with father-figure fixations on Andy will love the flip. PANDY PICK.