June 29, 1974: Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Wet Willie, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Johnnie Taylor

Stateside Newies

JOE COCKER: Put Out The Light (A&M 1539).
Up 10 to 72 on its second week on the Hot 100, Joe’s first single in quite a while (it’s actually culled from his new “I Can Stand A Little Rain” album) finds him still stumbling about amidst tempo-changing brass and chanting chix in his old style. Possibly as horn-playing Jim Price produced, there’s almost more brass than Joe.

ERIC CLAPTON: I Shot The Sheriff (RSO 409).
Without having heard it myself, I can’t do better than repeat Billboard’s great interest-arousing review: There’s no guitar solo in Eric Clapton’s return single after a recording layoff of some two years. But “Sheriff” is such a catchy goof of a winner that it’s easy to see why RSO felt they had to go with it. Song has a lot of the Latino percussiveness and broad outlaw storyline of “Cisco Kid”. On Billboard reviewer found himself humming it 11 hours straight.

WET WILLIE: Keep On Smilin’ (Capricorn CPR 0043).
The five one-time and probably still would-be Punk-Rockers from Mobile, Alabama, have surprisingly scored their first single hit (at 44 with a bullet) by harnessing what amounts to their version of the old “Malaco Sound” to an identity-crisis ditty of optimistic bent. Thus, the Van Morrison-ish vocals and cooing chix get held up by that “Groove Me”-type lurching rhythm pattern created by the Reggae-style bass. It works OK, too, without being anything terribly exciting. Continue reading “June 29, 1974: Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Wet Willie, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Johnnie Taylor”

June 22, 1974: David Bowie, Brownsville Station, Kiss, Razzy, The Commodores

Stateside Newies

BOWIE: Rebel Rebel (RCA ABP0 0287).
Although the label credits its source as “Diamond Dogs” (which, coincidentally, at 19 in just two weeks, seems set to be Darling David’s US best yet), this is neither the British single nor album version!!! Totally different, it starts with a bang straight into “Hot tramp, I love you so” before the much altered backing becomes heavily phased and a reverse-running tape (which seems to be playing “la-la-la-la-la” backwards) confuses the sound even more. Whether by intent or otherwise, when run in reverse the “rebel rebel” parts also seem to come out with undertones of “woman woman”!! Heavy! Is this one of those cryptic Beatles-like “hidden messages”?? When played in the right direction, the whole effect is indeed much more exciting than the original Stones-styled sound to which we have become accustomed here, and the single – following this (exclusive?) revelation – is obviously destined to become a much imported collector’s item overnight. But, what’s it all about, Bowie? And is the American album the same as the British?

BROWNSVILLE STATION: I’m The Leader Of The Gang (Big Tree BT 15005).
Here’s something else that’s different: instead of Gary Glitter’s motorbikes, this US hit cover-version (at 52) by the “Boy’s Room” guys starts out with the pounding beat and some power chords before stomping raucously along at a faster lick than Gary’s. Without the gimmicks and flash, it becomes just another noisy rocker.

KISS: Kissin’ Time (Casablanca NEB 0011).
The subject of a massive publicity campaign, this rather ugly updating of the Bobby Rydell oldie is still moving awfully slowly (83 after five weeks) for the Neil Bogart-owned label, which specialised only in easy-to-promote products . . . and to which Marc Bolan and T. Rex are now signed for the US! However, Kiss are still the leaders of America’s own mini Rock Revival trend, as they’re above FANNY’s updating of the Bellnotes’ “I’ve Had It” (also on Casablanca, NEB 0009), JOHNNY T. ANGEL’s of Ray Peterson’s “Tell Laura I Love Her” (Bell 45,472) and WEDNESDAY’s of Mark Dinning’s “Teen Angel”. The guys who you might expect to be leading the Rock Revival movement, FLASH CADILLAC & THE CONTINENTAL KIDS, have in fact (and quite sensibly) done a cover-version of Barry Blue’s old-style yet new “Dancin’ On A Saturday Night” (Epic 5-11102). Continue reading “June 22, 1974: David Bowie, Brownsville Station, Kiss, Razzy, The Commodores”

June 15, 1974: Victor Trumper, Lamont Dozier, Tavares, The Dells, Smokey Robinson

Stateside Newies

VICTOR TRUMPER: The President Song (MCA 40260).
Remember all the fuss (and the big sales) caused by “The Americans”, earlier this year? It was an ultra right-wing commentary written and narrated by Canadian broadcaster Gordon Sinclair, and taken to platinum status on the Hot 100 by Byron MacGregor, which got played quite a bit on Capital Radio’s “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got” show but which never came out here. Well, wily Victor Trumper remembers it well, and with splendid self-sacrifice has laid aside his trusty willow to enter the political arena in the hopes of making big sales (and big bux) with HIS tribute to some particular Americans. Beginning at the beginning with George Washington and ending at the end with Richard Nixon, Victor intones the names of all thirty-seven American Presidents, pausing momentarily after the assassinated ones, and interspersing each bit of the list with an enigmatic little chorus along the lines of “They all made you what you are today, please don’t throw it all away”. After the last chorus, he gets to Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, and then the record just stops. Now, although ultra-patriotic in intent, already the record is causing wildfire controversy in America, where some radio stations are banning it from their airwaves with the argument that it is an incitement to assassinate Nixon too! Currently big in Boston and banned in New York (a switch from the usual order), yet with many more radio stations uncommitted in the latter city, it’s obviously the sort of single that’ll either sell a million overnight or else die a rapid death. It’s actually good enough to deserve the former fate, which ought to please Victor (whose identity might surprise some: despite the American patriotism, he is in fact British and a broadcaster himself). Now ain’t that nice?

LAMONT DOZIER: Fish Ain’t Bitin’ (ABC 11438).
It seems strange that Lamont Dozier (currently up 11 to 14 with a bullet on the R&B Chart), who after all was one of Motown’s legendary producers along with Holland brothers, is scoring a hit himself with which he has no connection other than as singer. Produced, co-arranged and co-penned (but not with Lamont) by McKinley Jackson, and culled from the “Out Here On My Own” album, it’s an effectively lurching medium-slow rhythm jiggler that’s sung with the Levi Stubbs type of strangulatedly hoarse urgency.

TAVARES: Too Late (Capitol 3882).
Just one place behind Lamont Dozier R&B but 14 above him above him at 77 Pop, the Tavares brothers’ latest is a slick and smooth creamy chugger with slightly Latin rhythms during the gradually building intro and Spinners-style professionally good vocal work behind the coolly impassioned lead singer. Penned and produced by prolific hitmakers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, it gets credited as a Haven Records Production yet is not actually on that duo’s new Capitol-distributed Haven label. Continue reading “June 15, 1974: Victor Trumper, Lamont Dozier, Tavares, The Dells, Smokey Robinson”

June 8, 1974: Bunny Sigler, Little Milton, Tyrone Davis, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Maria Muldaur

Stateside Newies

BUNNY SIGLER: Love Train, Pts. 1/2 (Philadelphia Int. ZST 3545).
Pulled from Bunny’s “That’s How Long I’ll Be Loving You” album and cut in two for singles release, here’s his ultra-soulful slowing-up of the O’Jays’ international smash. There’s still plenty of rhythm, but this time it’s a ponderous slow lurching thump ‘n thud to which you can actually grasp the one you love while you sway on board the love train with a groin-grinding action! (And if you can’t be near the one you love, love the one you’re near!) Anyway, back on the track, Bunny (a bloke, y’know, of mighty disco fame in the past) gets a gospelly feel going as he wails and rants away over a loosely chanting group, who actually start the record off with some formless background chatter over the strongly-featured organ’s sanctified chording and the churchy piano’s ditto plonking. On Part 2, the music drops away, and Bunny preaches to the accompaniment of this by now humming group, members of whom chip in with righteous “yeah, yeahs”, before the music comes back in and the beat returns. A really good concept, done well, and obviously destined to be extremely popular amongst the Soulful folk.

LITTLE MILTON: Behind Closed Doors (Stax STA 0210).
So now Milton Campbell wraps his bluesy throat around the Charlie Rich smash, substituting a frantic passion for Charlie’s quiet conviction. The result is actually less personal than the quieter approach, and summons up – in my mind, at least – mental images of a far sweatier and more wham-bam set of behaviour patterns behind those closed doors than does the more refined boasting of sensitive yet burly Rich. Still, different strokes for different folks, and different tricks for different chicks. (Phew, keep it up! – Assistant Ed).

TYRONE DAVIS: What Goes Up (Must Come Down) (Dakar DK 4532).
Speaking of keeping it up, Pete, Tyrone here has the oh-so-truthful answer! It’s always hard to describe Ty’s discs, because as with those of such as Al Green they do tend to have the same formula, but vary considerably in the detail which makes up their overall similarity of sound. This new one, which is doing extremely well R&B (at 20 this week), is another bouncy whomper with rhythm-riding phrasing and all sorts of subtleties. Continue reading “June 8, 1974: Bunny Sigler, Little Milton, Tyrone Davis, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Maria Muldaur”

June 1, 1974: Gene Redding, The Spinners, War, Trammps, George McCrae

Stateside Newies

GENE REDDING: This Heart (Haven 7000).
Penned/produced by winning team Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, and the first single on the new Capitol-distributed Haven label (which has the comforting logo of a red-roofed idealised house nestling snugly amongst some green trees), “This Heart” is a bit like a re-tread of “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” and several other well tried changes, given the Thom Bell-derived but more likely Al Wilson-aping Pop-Soul treatment of cooing chix, lush arrangement and “matt” drums drily pumping away. Gene (no relation) hits all the notes with his inoffensive voice, and is still climbing Pop while hanging fire a bit in the middle of the R&B Chart.

THE (NON-LIVERPOOL) SPINNERS: I’m Coming Home (Atlantic 45-3027).
Talking of Thom Bell, here’s his latest creation (co-penned with Linda Creed but otherwise all his own work) for the Spinners, whose style it is that has influenced the new Al Wilson/Gene Redding Pop-Soul sound. To an ambiguous beat which never does decide what it wants you to do to it, the lead voice wails away and the group (or are they all chix?) make docile noises in the background. Given a more definite rhythm this would be more satisfying listening – still, it’s rapidly climbing Pop/R&B.

WAR: Ballero (UA UA-XW432-W).
Already available to you on their new “War Live” LP, the guys’ latest US single is a great pulsating treatment of their old Latin groover. If you’re as much of a sucker as I am over them crazy Latin rhythms, this lazy yet energetic percussive groove will be your meal . . . although doubtless it’s longer in the LP version. Continue reading “June 1, 1974: Gene Redding, The Spinners, War, Trammps, George McCrae”