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.

TRAMMPS: Where Do We Go From Here (Golden Fleece ZS7 3253).
Oooh-weee! The “Young Professionals” from Philly, Pa, kick off their latest smooth whomper with some real B-A-D deep bass sexy recitation along the “Hellow baby” lines, and then those “matt” drums go thumping away and hit the same rhythm as your pumping heartbeat while the creamy backup harmonies (Three Degrees included, I’ll wager) support the alternately cool and impassioned lead fella. Philly Freax will be first in line!

GEORGE McCRAE: Rock Your Baby (T.K. 1004).
What relation of Gwen McCrae is George? They’re from the same Florida label set-up, so must be husband and wife or brother and sister, presumably. George’s rising R&B hit obviously uses Timmy Thomas’s “Rhythm Box” but is fleshed out with bass, guitar and – particularly – a continually-chording organ, the resonant sound of which allied with his mixed-in voice produces an oddly hypnotic effect. The actual production and penning was done by H.W. Casey of K.C. and The Sunshine Junkanoo Band of “Blow Your Whistle” fame, and by someone called R. Finch, whose brother Chaf is better known. As they all are from the same group of labels, what’s the betting that Timmy Thomas actually plays both Rhythm Box AND organ on this?

TRANSATLANTIC JOTTINGS . . . MFSB (you know, MOTHER, FATHER, SISTER, BROTHER) now have their “Love Is The Message” LP title track used as the TV theme for America’s CBS News “Magazine” . . . that’s as well as their current “TSOP” hit from the same LP being used as the theme for “Soul Train” . . . MARY WILSON (the sole remaining original SUPREME, not the PM’s wife, dummy!) got married recently in Las Vegas to PEDRO FERRER, sometime actor and the group’s personal manager . . . no news is available as to whether DAVID FROST attended the wedding . . . meanwhile, also in Las Vegas, FLASH CADILLAC & The Continental Kids, known for their greasy appearance in “American Graffiti”, are currently bringing Rock ‘n Roll to the Hilton . . . SLY STONE is to marry KATHY SILVA “live” on stage at the Madison Square Garden next week, with the ceremony conducted by San Francisco disc-jockeying heavy, TOM DONAHUE . . . TONY ORLANDO & DAWN get their big break later in the summer when they take over the old SONNY & CHER spot in a networked “summer replacement” TV variety series . . . the BONOS managed to sell lotsa records as a result during their stint, so, as I say, it’s a big break for DAWN . . . that LEGENDARY DINGBAT lookalike (it’s the eyebrows), TONY DeFRANCO and THE DeFRANCO FAMILY has/have done a jaunty if lightweight revival of THE DRIFTERS’ old “Save The Last Dance For Me” . . . which reminds me, it’s now time for “The Last Waltz” and I gotta git, quit and split!


American Singles

Pick of the week

WILLIAM DeVAUGHN: Be Thankful For What You Got, Pts 1/2 (Chelsea 2005002).
This US Soul smash was meant to be Pick Of The Week Last time, but because William’s photo was late it couldn’t be. Remember, it’s the beautifully-backed slowly-thumping anti-Super Fly call to have pride in what you got and not to covet the luxurious trappings of a dubious success. Actually, despite this evident intention, the result is rather nearer the reverse as it makes Cadillacs and gangsters sound too glamorous by half!

THE ELEVENTH HOUR: So Good; My Bed (Pye 7N 25653).
From the guys who brought you the Four Seasons, producer Bob Crewe and arranger Charlie Calello, here comes a similarly squeaky group that I can confidently predict will break in the North and sweep the country! If they don’t do it with this medium tempo jaunty clomper, then there are some even better tracks on their US “Greatest Hits” album, including their S-M “Nasty” mentioned last week. Rubettes, look out! POP PICK.

UNDISPUTED TRUTH: Help Yourself; What It Is? (Tamla Motown TMG 897).
Bound to be big in the discos, Norman Whitfield’s latest production has a great synthetically-starting beat and a male/female variation on the usual Temptations-type vocal interplay, the result being surprisingly spirited and good for a change. For extra value, the beat goes on (though more typically) on the flip’s other recent US A-side. R&B PICK.

BOZ SCAGGS: You Make It So Hard (To Say No); There Is Someone Else (CBS 2321).
If previously you haven’t fallen under the delightful spell that Boz Scaggs can cast when he’s at his best, you may find that his current hitworthy attempt to sound like a one-man Motown group is all you need to be bewitched. Even so, this is a bit obvious to be Boz at his very, very best – an idea of which can be better got from the lovely slow flip. To complete the authenticity, both are produced by Motown’s Johnny Bristol with all the tricks of his trade. Dance on! R&B PICK.

FIVE MAN ELECTRICAL BAND: Werewolf; Country Angel (Polydor 2066425).
Although the title gives the game away, this macabre story song about yet another Billy unfolds so chillingly that you’ll be shivering with fear! To a lurching rumbling tempo, we hear how Billy didn’t come home on the night of the full moon . . . and next morning the local farmer found some of his sheep missing. Now listen on! Unfortunately it didn’t get as high up the US Charts as I originally anticipated, but that’s America’s loss. Lively harmony flip. POP PICK.

EAGLES: James Dean; Is It True? (Asylum AYM 527).
One of the builders currently tearing the house down around me keeps repeating the title phrase of this – no doubt he’s imagining the music, as a solitary whistle can hardly rival the searing electricity generated by the caterwauling guitars, thundering beats and revving sports car effects behind the guys’ punchy harmonies! Quieter flip. MUSIC PICK.

SMOKEY ROBINSON: A Silent Partner In A Three-Way Love Affair; Baby Come Close (Tamla Motown TMG 898).
Good old Smokey, still wallowing in self pity, forever the crying clown! The title tells you all about the topside sweetly quavering slowie, while the even slower and more peaceful (mentally and physically) flip finds him finally snuggled up beside the girl he’s always loved from afar. The latter was in fact his last US hit, and on the Charts for months. SOUL PICK.

LOBO: I’d Love You To Want Me (UK R 68).
Jo King believes in this ponderous Robin Gibb-type slowie and, as it’s certainly been a smash everywhere except here, his faith may well be justified this its second time around. Ski-ing freaks will remember it from their Winter hols and will probably be first in line. Another (British) UK release is rather more to my taste, PROPHET’s “Have Love, Will Travel” (UK 64), a variation on Richard Berry’s “Louie Louie” done much like the original. POP PICK.

THE EBONYS: It’s Forever; Sexy Ways (Philadelphia Int. PIR 2363).
Reissued from last year for some reason – but who’s complaining?! – here are the sexy-singing Ebonys on a gorgeous dead slow tortuous Sweet Soul beauty, full of falsetto wailing and ethereal harmonies yet kept earth-bound by the surging interruptions of a gruff-toned hollerer. The dramatic construction and undiluted Soulfulness make it closer to the Bluenotes’ “I Miss You” than to Delfonics-type saccharine, while the nicely old-fashioned flipside dancer (which has fans of its own) is pretty deep too. SOUL PICK.

TOM T. HALL: That Song Is Driving Me Crazy; Forget It (Mercury 6052625).
If you ask me, some of those Nashville cats who had such fun backing Debbie Dawn’s “There Goes That Song Again” told Tom T. about it, ‘cos here he is with a similar lilt to his gaily infectious goodtime bouncer, which brings in a Dixieland band amongst the heard-it-before singalong melody. Hmm, pity it’s too late for the New Seekers to cover it! He gives himself some good advice on the mournful slow Country flip. EASY PICK.

MAJOR LANCE: Without A Doubt; Open The Door To Your Heart (Warner Bros K 16385).
Mr. Monkey Time’s managed to recreate his old producer Curtis Mayfield’s lovely muted “di da-da-dum” brass twiddles among the shimmering strings and noisy climaxes of this nicely old-style semi-slowie, and he’s speeded the late Darrell Banks’ classic right up on the flip. On his other currently available single, he’s rather unnecessarily copied Brenton Wood’s “Gimme Little Sign” (Contempo CS 2017), but at least its Al Green-ish flip is OK.

CARLY SIMON: Haven’t Got Time For The Pain; Mind On My Man (Elektra K 12145).
Now Carly sounds like Neil Sedaka copying Carole King singing something from “J.C. Supertramp” or its imitators – i.e.: while perfectly pleasant, originality is not its strong point. She’s more like herself on the nice gentle flip.

One thought on “June 1, 1974: Gene Redding, The Spinners, War, Trammps, George McCrae”

  1. and George McCrae enters stage right. Rock Your Baby would take over the world and prove that DISCO was here to stay… for 5 years. Cultural reference to Mary Wilson and her well publicised affair with chat show host David Frost who had a “thing” for “ladies of colour” that also included Diahann Caroll. Mary also had an affair with Tom Jones. Of course the then Prime Minster was Harold Wilson who had recently squeaked an election”win” after the disastrous “3 day week”. Wilson would often refer to his wife Mary in his speeches. There would be another General Election later in the year. The only time there were 2 general elections in the same year in the UK. It would be another 12 months before the Trammps finally hit the UK charts. Lobo did indeed have a massive hit this time around. The Spinners would have a 2 year wait for their next UK chart placing. William De Vaughan’s record became a soul classic and a rosy future was predicted but he sank without trace.

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