April 6, 1974: Maria Muldaur, Herbie Hancock, J. Kelly & The Premiers, Billy Joel, Charlie Rich

Stateside newies

MARIA MULDAUR: Midnight At The Oasis (Reprise REP 1183).
“You won’t need no camel, honey, when I take you for a ride,” warbles the winsome Miss Muldaur, a dark-haired houri given to flashing her navel in the long grass. Imagine an American version of Linda Lewis singing amidst the living definition of “good music” – everything exquisitely exquisite and just “so”, with some bleached-out jazzy guitar doing the minimum needed to be a delight – and you might start to grasp the rudiments. She’s certainly a lady what takes her time, this came out five months ago and has only now made the 50.

HERBIE HANCOCK: Chameleon (Columbia 4-46002).
Jazzman Herbie having forsaken his cerebral pursuits, he’s now funking about with the best of them, creating choppy rhythms and laying down throbbing bass notes or squeaky weazlings on synthetic keyboards. The result’s a funky gas, with a whole lot more to commend it than the similar synthesizing of such as Billy Preston. No. 50 R&B/83 Pop.

J. KELLY AND THE PREMIERS: She Calls Me Baby (Roadshow 7005).
With more than a touch of the “Ooo baby babies” about not only the slow tune but also Jay’s tensile quavering Smokey-isms, this pretty little Soul smoocher starts out after a lovely instrumental intro by bringing on a Sylvia sound-alike to do the sexily imploring “baby! baby! baby!” bits. Jay probably digs Eddie Holman too, by the sound of it. 51 R&B after 10 weeks, and rising.

BILLY JOEL: Piano Man (Columbia 4-45963).
The guy about whom everyone sniffed “Elton John” a year or so ago is now hitting with a new label and this harmonica, plonking piano and wheezing hurdy-gurdy effect crescendoing slowie. It’s like a cross between the Byrds’ “Chestnut Mare”, Dylan’s phrasing and harp-playing, and – indeed – some of Elton’s 88-ing. Pity he takes the easy rhyme out by singing “tonic and gin”. Incidentally, Elton John’s “Bennie & The Jets” is at 83 in the R&B Chart!

FAX & INFO: Ten years ago this very week, the BEATLES had the Top 5 singles in America (Can’t Buy Me Love, Twist & Shout, She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Please Please Me). Country-singing Chicano, JOHHNY RODRIGUEZ is at 79 Country with his reading of their “Something” this week, too. Our own Chart-toppers (that were), Paper Lace, have had their “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero” covered by would-be teen faves, BO DONALDSON & THE HEYWOODS. At 102, BRIAN AUGER’S OBLIVION EXPRESS have the highest new entry in the LP Chart with their “Straight Ahead” . . . but still nobody wants to know in their homeland (that’s here, dummy!). Vigilant JERRY LEE LEWIS smashed up a rack of bootleg tape cartridges that he spotted on sale in a Southern gas station – asked by the worried attendant what he should tell the rack’s owner, Jerry Lee replied, “Tell him KILLER was here”!! DEEP PURPLE, ELP, BLACK SABBATH, SEALS & CROFTS, BLACK OAK ARKANSAS, EAGLES, RARE EARTH and EARTH, WIND & FIRE all star in a gigantic 12 hour outdoor show near Los Angeles this Saturday, to be televised in four parts by ABC-TV (who backed the shindig to the tune of 1,200,000 dollars) . . . which must qualify for the It Could Never Happen Here, Dept? Finally news for Oldies freax: RON HOLDEN, of way-back “Love You So” / “My Babe” fame, is at 88 R&R with “Can You Talk”, and the long defunct Vee-Jay label is to be reactivated.

American Singles

Pick of the week

CHARLIE RICH: There Won’t Be Anymore; It’s All Over Now (RCA ABPO 0195).
With daring integrity, my Pick Of The Week is always the record that has given me the biggest buzz during the week. Which means that this time Charlie’s RCA-revived 1965 sides win, because (a) they’re extremely good, (b) my gut reaction says so, (c) unfortunately for them I’d already heard the other contenders. So, bad luck MFSB, Rick D, Kool, and the Detroit E’s! Charlie jogs alone to a snazzy sax, his own pretty piano and some cooing chix on the gaily lilting A-side – which sure is gosh-darned catchy! – and slows but a fraction for the similarly creamy, dreamy flip.

KOOL AND THE GANG: Jungle Boogie (Polydor 2001500).
The funky gang’s biggest US Pop hit and first gold disc, this chanted and growled amalgam of modern Parrty rhythms and old “Troglodyte” cavemen noises is an ace dancer for funky feet, and is miles more immediate than their “Funky Stuff”. Only trouble is, it may be too monotonous for run-of-the-mill unfunky dancers, who still seem to prefer War’s “Me And Baby Brother” – at my gigs, anyway. Still, I love it. PARTY PICK.

DETROIT EMERALDS: You’re Getting A Little Too Smart; Lee (Westbound 6146108).
A year or more ago when first out in America this would indeed have been too tricky for Britain, but now hopefully its slinky intricate rhythm and soul-snatchingly sexy sigh (or is it yawn?) noises will infiltrate a funkier collective consciousness. Slower, simpler flip, but still with that metronomic trip beat. Are ya smart enough?! SLICK PICK.

THE STYLISTICS: Only For The Children; You Make Me Feel Brand New (Avco 6105028).
With a flurry of Tijuana brass to add that stirring Spanish touch and more than a taste of the Bacharach about the melody, Russell and the lads make with the pretty music on Thom Bell’s latest bravura production, which is packed with solid Pop appeal. His faithful electric sitar player tweaks the flipside slowie into creaking life – it features Airrion Love alongside Rudd, and is America’s A-side. POP PICK.

RICK DERRINGER: Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo; Time Warp (Epic EPC 2062).
Stardust-spattered Rick’s US hit revival of his old hard rocker originally written for Albino Johnny Winter is indeed ballsier-sounding than his earlier Sweet-ish issue here, and it’s the one I’ve found goes over best via the disco, so let’s hope that it picks up the support to make it a hit. Listen to those guitars snarl! Run for cover! If it’s HEAVINESS you’re after, but with dynamics (and a deft instrumental flip), this is the REAL McCoy. ROCK PICK.

BARRY WHITE: Honey Please, Can’t Ya See; Ditto (Instrumental) (Pye 7N 25639).
The cymbals snick, the wah-wah chukkawuks and the girlfriends squeak at a faster lick than usual while the Fat Man moans and wails over the thrashing drums. As a sexy super-stud he sure looked like a short-order cook on his big night out back at the Rainbow: however, he fries a potent brand of chipolata for which many are suckers. HONEYPOT PICK.

DIANA ROSS: Last Time I Saw Him; Everything Is Everything (Tamla Motown TMG 893).
Miss Ross goes the pure Pop route with stop-offs at the sound of Reddy, Dawn and Midler. Colour her, hit. Hey, chaps, whatta rip-off! We don’t even get her excellent and soulful Gaye-penned US hit, instead it’s more winsomely cooing Pop pap with a madly perky beat. MoR PICK.

HARVEY MANDEL: Uno Ino; Shangrenade (Janus 6146024).
The guitar star with the neat sustain trick and patented fretboard technique is amidst a whomping and slightly boogie-ish beat on this great pounding yet strangely ethereal, subtle and musicianly dancer. Get it on! Lovely jazzy licks dominate the LP title-track flip. Do dig his amazing sound, please. GUITAR PICK.

THE INVITATIONS: Let’s Love (And Find Together); Love Has To Grow (Polydor 2066366).
Hallelujah, the “What’s Wrong With My Baby” Soulsters are back! On this Bobby Martin-arranged and co-produced slowie they are alternately mellow and rough as they open up their sanctified throats, while on the slightly stronger flip they preach and wail with overtones of the Bobby Womack sound. Kinda deep SOUL PICK.

MFSB: TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) (Phil. Int. PIR 2289).
Make way for a monster smash! Be warned, for the Leon Huff-led Mother Father Sister Brother house band from Philadelphia (with vocal support from the 3 Degrees) are coming to stomp this instrumental dancer clean through your head and down to your dancin’ feet! WOOOHH! Okeh, make that a double MFPP.

R.W. STEVENSON: The River Of Love (RCA ABP0 0171).
The Bob Hite-sized gent (to judge from his pix) has hit Stateside, and this radio-aimed slow-fast-slow chunky strummer-cum-punchy rhythm jumper seems to be just the thing for airplay on such as cuddly Capital. There’s almost some fire in its belly amidst the glossy professionalism.

STEVIE WONDER: He’s Misstra Know It All; You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover (Tamla Motown TMG 892).
Faar out and fahbulous as is everything the boy genius touches, but somehow this monotonous patterer doesn’t exactly rear up and slap you in the face. It’s only got about one and a half chord changes, and the only hook is near the end when Steven suddenly wakes up long enough to roar gruffly into life. The synthetic funk flows rather more freely on the herky-jerky flip.

ETTA THOMAS: Just Ask Me (Santa Ponsa PNS 14).
From the folks who brought you Guy Darrell, here’s a rip-off cover version of the Lenis Guess stomper that’s currently much pressed Up North. Basically a permutation of all the old bass lines you have known and loved, with some functional squawking over the top.

THE KILLER: Rockin’ Mood; Killer’s Boogie (BRPB 001 – available post paid for 85p from B Road Green Record Centre, 266 London Road, Croydon, Surrey CR0 2TH).
A Continental import, this piano-pounding rock-a-boogie Dutchman sounds passably like the Hawk and will provide potential purchasers with an authentically rockin’ little platter, despite his nationality.

JONI MITCHELL: Help Me; Just Like This Train (Asylum AYM 525).
Her frantic “Raised On Robbery” having sped right past without touching down, Joni’s back on more earthbound form with a gentle snikkety-cymbal slowie which is extremely lovely and must make a nice album track. Carly Simon-ish flip.

One thought on “April 6, 1974: Maria Muldaur, Herbie Hancock, J. Kelly & The Premiers, Billy Joel, Charlie Rich”

  1. It is quite rare for a B side to overshadow the A side But in the case of the Stylistics “You Make Me Feel Brand New” this not only became a massive chart hit but was a popular first dance record at wedding gigs throughout the seventies.


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