May 11, 1974: Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods, Don Covay, William Bell, Bobbi Humphrey, Rufus Thomas

Stateside newies

BO DONALDSON AND THE HEYWOODS: Billy, Don’t Be A Hero (ABC 11435).
Currently winning the Chart race in America (up 19 to 38, as opposed to Paper Lace down 4 to 100), Bo and the boys very slightly speed up the tempo, use a somewhat perfunctory mechanical whistle instead of Lace’s irritating (delete according to taste) real thing, and – the only part that was half way decent about the original – they completely lose the soulful session-singing chick’s voice. So, the result must be pretty much like Paper Lace’s own “live” version. Now for some good music . . .

DON COVAY: It’s Better To Have (And Don’t Need) (Mercury 73469).
Ole “Super Dude” is back with a joyfully whomping, stomping, bouncy beat and a strong Gospel feel to his “you know, I can’t get no more . . . satisfaction” (the last word by a wailing Gospel group) new R&B hit, currently at 64 with a bullet. Mmmm, mmm!

WILLIAM BELL: Gettin’ What You Want (Losin’ What You Got) (Stax STA 0198).
With a similar sort of message to Don’s, William is another veteran Soulster doing well with his latest (at 60 R&B with a bulet). It’s a simply Soulful slowie, slinkily sold by Bill and some chix, which puts over another version of the old Jody story.

BOBBI HUMPHREY: Chicago, Damn (Blue Note BN-XW395-W).
Female flautist Ms. Humphrey has been garnering fans through her last two fashionably easy-listening, yet mildly funky, instrumental jazz albums. From the latest, “Blacks And Blues”, comes this chunky slow tricky rhythm rumbler which features a male vocal group setting the scene for her tootling flute and for even more synthetic weazlings to make it ultra-chic. She sings on the flipside slowie, too. Just into the R&B 50 at 49, and bubbling under Pop at 108.

RUFUS THOMAS: The Funky Bird (Stax STA 0192).
Hey y’all, Prince Rufus in town! He got a brand new dance, get down, UH! Which seems as good an introduction as any to some of the more recent hunks of Funk that have been goin’ down . . .

KOOL & THE GANG: Hollywood Swinging (De-Lite DEP 561).
A disappointment after their great “Jungle Boogie”, the Gang’s newie is a rather dull and impact-less monotonous 4:35 of loose chanting over a brassy rhythm track of no great urgency – however, it’s at 24 with a bullet R&B and 44 ditto Pop.

RIPPLE: Willie Pass The Water (GRC 1013).
Received rather late and so now actually out of the R&B Chart, this Dee Ervin-produced wukka-wukka chanter has a driving rhythm and some good rasping, throaty vocal interplay that makes it a bit like a funky version of the Family Stone with a few brassy twiddles from Norman Whitfield.

TRIBE: Tribe (ABC 11409).
Also produced by Dee Ervin, Tribe dedicate their latest to themselves (remember their last goodie, “Koke”?). This time it’s a husky vocal, but still with lots of instrumental rhythm. Slipping slightly to 58 R&B.

TRANSATLANTIC JOTTINGS . . . both the BEACH BOYS and THREE DOG NIGHT have joined CHICAGO in being managed by JAMES WILLIAM GUERCIO . . . SAM PHILLIPS and RAY HARRIS (this item for Rockabilly freax!) are sueing Playboy Music alleging a breach of their producing contract with the firm . . . speculation about the return of old-style “Bandstand” Pop shows to TV is mounting following a recent court ruling . . . SUZI QUATRO evidently went down exceptionally well as a last-minute opening act for a GRAND FUNK spectacular at Madison Square Garden . . . those “Top Pops”-type sound-alike Woolworths-style cover-version cheapo-cheapo LPs we all know so well are finally becoming the latest bandwagon to hop aboard in the US music biz . . . but veteran big band leader ARTIE SHAW could upset the sound-alikes if his case against some carbon-copies of his oldies is successful . . . the RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS are recording together again, and looking younger than ever with their new fluffy hairstyles . . . and finally, androgyny schmodgyny, the new Guy “Rock Dreams” Peellaert-created artwork for BOWIE’s next “Diamond Dogs” album has DAVID as half man, half beast – the whole looking disturbingly like a flayed whippet, and most unpleasant . . . remember, noon Saturday, the surf’s on Capital!


American Singles

Pick of the week

DEBBIE DAWN: There Goes That Song Again; Hands (Warner Bros K 16384).
Get ready . . . ‘cos if you can imagine the Shangri-Las singing “Those Were The Days” like Marie Osmond, this is gonna be your meat! Debbie Dawn, the 19 year-old daughter of the sheriff of Sonora, Northern California, and ex-wife of a lumberjack, was discovered by Britain’s peripatetic Andy Wickham and Ian (“After The Ball”) Whitcomb, the latter of whom wrote both sides of this. Kitsch about sums them up. On top, Debbie’s doing the European Tour with her chums from Kansas when “that song again” helps her fall for a romantically doomed young man in Vienna, and – as she tells us in a husky monologue – “it was in his winter lodge that he told me he’d only a month to live”! Uh-huh, there sure ain’t no-one quite like him Kansas! The strongly Country-fied flip is that notorious marching anthem for the striking masseuses of San Francisco, which I wrote about some time ago. Now all those who enquired about it can hear the full filth, as Debbie in Tammy Wynette style tells about the parts of the male anatomy which “the hottest touch in town” will soon be holding!

CHICAGO: Byblos; (I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long (CBS 2245).
Here’s the jazzily Latin-ish Steely Dan-type flipside that I raved about recently. It doesn’t completely over-shadow the official A-side, a stolidly adventurous slow builder with high-flying harmonies over the brass, but it’s certainly a whole lot more fun. MUSIC PICK.

IKE AND TINA TURNER: Sweet Rhode Island Red (UA UP 35650).
Too frantic and formless for my own taste but doubtless fine for fans, the Turners’ February-recorded newie finds Tina feeling like a funky chicken to a tearaway beat and synthetic weazlings.

AFRICAN MUSIC MACHINE: Black Water Gold (Pearl) (Contempo-Raries CS 9002).
Re-issue of fairly recent Mojo funker by the JB’s-type Jewel/Paula house band from Shreveport, La. While Contempo’s new revival-cum-oldies label are obviously aiming it at the South, they’ve also got something for the North:

JIMMY CONWELL: Cigarette Ashes; Second Hand Happiness (Contempo-Raries CS 9001).
If memories are correct, this attractive Fred Smith-type instrumental beater was the backing track to Richard Temple’s “That Beatin’ Rhythm” and the Trips’ “There’s That Mountain”, and came out not that long ago on a President label. Its flip is a good and deep Soulful vocal slowie. R&B PIX.

THE MASH: Theme From “M+A+S+H” (Suicide Is Painless); The M+A+S+H March (CBS 1872).
Re-issue time as the beautifully evocative Simon & Garfunkel-ish theme from the film comes out again: evocative, that is, if you loved the movie enough to see it three times and get the soundtrack album, like I did! Suicide is painless, go the lyrics, and in fact Painless was the nickname of the camp’s dentist, who went through a mock suicide because he was upset about his virility.

Er, and bordering on bad taste, suicide is rumoured to have been the cause of BOBBY BLOOM’s recent sad death: Bobby’s “Montego Bay” and “Heavy Makes You Happy” have been re-issued back-to-back to cash in (Polydor 2001519).

Other re-issues are the mysteriously ignored DANNY O’KEEFE’s lazily laid-back beauty from 1972, “Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues” (Signpost SGP 757), THE BYRDS’ back-to-back classics “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (CBS 8210), and VAN MORRISON’s 1967 US hit/UK miss – which became the basis of his future style and sounds as fresh today as it did then – “Brown Eyed Girl” (London HLM 10453). REVIVED 45 PIX.

JACKSON FIVE: The Boogie Man; Don’t Let Your Baby Catch You (Tamla Motown TMG 895).
While “Dancing Machine” gives them their first US Top 5 hit in yonks, the J5 for some reason known only to EMI get lumbered with an older album track here – it’s an innocuous light-hearted beater with some catchy vocal work, clapping breaks and a bit of bounce. My copy’s practically pink and white from the reconstituted false teeth pressed in with the black vinyl, so the crisis must be biting deep, folks. The trickily funky flip is rather good.

ROBERT KNIGHT: Better Get Ready For Love; Somebody’s Baby (Monument MNT 2274).
According to my spy Up North, this strings and brass-swamped smooth clomper is a goof, as another Knight oldie is a much more obvious hit prospect, being really in demand. Moreover, for a suitable consultancy fee, my spy will hip Monument to the hit they’re sittin’ on. Leave the money in used fivers under the third flowerpot on the left, then don’t call us, we’ll call you.

DAVID CASSIDY: If I Didn’t Care; Frozen Noses (Bell 1350).
The material on his last delightful LP started the trend, and now the dear boy has gone the whole hog, doing a truly great revival of the ancient Inkspots oldie, complete with a gloriously nostalgic backing of harmonica-helped “Palm Court” music straight from the 1930s! His voice retains its quavering breathiness while sounding more confident than ever, and it seems obvious that he really loves this kind of thing . . . as do I! After it’s been a hit, maybe Island will even re-promote the similar but totally ignored treatment by Sandy Denny of the Inkspots’ “Whispering Grass” (WIP 6176), as both are equally lovely Easy Listening slowies. On the flip, naughty David sings his own rather nice and completely modern dead slowie which he passes off innocently enough, although hip sniffers will be reading between the lines. NOSTALGIA PICK.

BOBBY DARIN: Moritat (Mack The Knife); Blue Monday (Mowest MW 3014).
A live treatment by the late great (and he WAS great, despite the fashionable slagging of modern pop pundits hung up on Rock ‘n Roll purity): trouble is, this isn’t as good as his original recording’s treatment. The Fats Domino flip is disappointingly weak.

SAMI JO: Tell Me A Lie (MGM 2006406).
This Sandy Posey-ish chick was recorded at Muscle Shoals, where the Soul folk go, and her resultant slowie was bigger Pop than Country in the US despite its more obviously Country connections.

WEE WILLIE & THE WINNERS: Get Some; A Plan For The Man (Action ACT 4624).
Get Some, and get DOWN, hon! UHH! Parrty, parrty, parrty, parrty . . . Yeah, and of its type it’s one of the best. What’s more, there’s a terrific slow preaching flip. R&B PICK.

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