July 27, 1974: Donny & Marie Osmond, The Hues Corporation, King Curtis/Delaney Bramlett, Ronnie Dyson, Quincy Jones

American Singles

Pick of the week

DONNY & MARIE OSMOND: I’m Leaving It (All) Up To You; Umbrella Song (MGM 2006446).
Originally a late ‘50s Soul duet by its writers, Don (Sugarcane Harris) and Dewey (Terry), and then a November ’63 US Chart-topper/minor UK hit by Baton Rouge-recorded cutsies, Dale and Grace, this heartstrings-tugging slowie now leans more towards the slightly Country feel of the latter. Marie’s keening tones are mainly responsible, as they nearly obliterate Donny’s deeper support – in fact, he only manages to come out on top of his sister for an exact total of six words! Dressed up with noisy strings and things, the abrupt pauses in the plodding beat lose some of their emotional impact but nevertheless are still quite effective. Oh, and girls . . . Donny gets the upper hand, vocally, on the lower-pitched slow and pretty flip!

THE HUES CORPORATION: Rock The Boat; All Goin’ Down Together (RCA ABP0 0232).
From one “Rock” to another: before George McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby” replaced it, this tastefully produced sophisticated Soul bouncer was top of the US Charts . . . and now Andy Kim’s “Rock Me Gently” is fast approaching that position! (But “Rock And Roll Heaven” may get there first!) Anyway, the Hues Corp’s girl and blokes sung happy romper is catchy and Pop enough to do well here too, where it’s already much programmed by certain radio stations. Mildly moody slow flip. POP PICK.

KING CURTIS, DELANEY BRAMLETT & FRIENDS: Teasin’; Soulin’ (Atlantic K 10464).
. . . not the least of the Friends being ERIC “Slowhand” CLAPTON, guitar star of this parish, whose amazing quaking wah-wah work provides the basis for the late Curtis Ousley’s soaring soprano sax spurts. Relatively and oddly ignored when first out a few years ago (though modest me did my best to alert you at the time), this shrilly lurching instrumental has gone on to become something of a truly “underground” classic – so catch it now while you can. More straightforward flip. MUSIC PICK. Continue reading “July 27, 1974: Donny & Marie Osmond, The Hues Corporation, King Curtis/Delaney Bramlett, Ronnie Dyson, Quincy Jones”

July 20, 1974: Millie Jackson, Perry Como, John Denver, Bobby Womack, The Temptations

Stateside Newies

MILLIE JACKSON: In The Wash (Spring SPR 147).
I was so unenthused when reviewing the A-side of this last week (“How Do You Feel The Morning After”, now at 12 R&B), that I didn’t even check out this flipside dancer. While short of being another “My Man”, it’s a handclapping beater with a catchy offbeat rhythm pattern that should endear it to certain types of dance fans, and it generates a fair amount of energy in a somewhat subtle way. Millie weaves her voice in and out of the different rhythmic elements, and the whole thing gets pretty compulsive with a “hey, gotta play that AGAIN!” appeal . . . uh, in fact, I now reckon that it’s actually even better than “My Man”! Mmmm, I’ll just play that one . . . more . . . time!

PERRY COMO: Weave Me The Sunshine (RCA ABP0 0274).
Huh? Wot’s he doing in this column? Oh well, if any Perry Como fans read it, or even the RRM, they might like to know that while here in Britain we get one slushy ballad after another from Mr. C, in America this happily lilting Dawn-tempo Peter (Paul and Mary) Yarrow-penned is currently Top 10 in the Easy Listening Chart  – although admittedly it has yet to hit the Pop Hot 100 sellers – and it would like as not be a monster smasheroo in this country. How about it, RCA? (There’s crusading journalism for you!)

JOHN DENVER: Annie’s Song (RCA ABP0 0295).
Yeah, boredom personified, but we might just as well check on some of the white Pop hits along with the R&B things in this column. Gulp! Having to listen to this unadulterated dross – even if it is at number two Pop and is from an album that sold ten billion before even being recorded – I’m not sure if that’s such a bright idea though! Quick, back to the Blues! Continue reading “July 20, 1974: Millie Jackson, Perry Como, John Denver, Bobby Womack, The Temptations”

July 13, 1974: The Main Ingredient, April, Sylvia, Joshie Jo Armstead, Millie Jackson

Stateside Newies

THE MAIN INGREDIENT: Happiness Is Just Around The Bend (RCA ABP0 0305).
From their new “Euphrates River” album and penned by Britain’s expatriate keyboards wizard, Brian Auger (whose last two “New Soul-Jazz” albums are both high in the US Jazz Charts, where they deserve to be, while he himself is ignored here), the Ingredients’ latest hit – at 29 R&B, 71 Pop – is a coolly clopping, woolly sounding amorphous Marvin Gaye-type exercise in effortless perpetual motion, punched along by a well-tried Jazz-Funk bass line over which the echoing vocals muzz and fuzz between moody shimmering strings and chiming wah-wah brass effects. Impressive, it’s a really masterful (and commercial) amalgamation of Soul with easily enjoyed Jazz elements. And, above all else, it’s got a killer rhythm!

APRIL: Wake Up And Love Me (A&M AMS 1528-S).
Sadly now just dropped out of the Hot 100’s bottom reaches, this is April Stevens singing a Sylvia-style slinky slowie penned by herself with her past partner Nino Tempo and Jeff Barry (the latter two of whom produced/arranged as well). What sets it apart from Sylvia’s amusing but less than honest erotic efforts is its lyrical link with the tortured outpourings of Dory Previn – April admits right off, after some initial breathy endearments to her deserving lover, that “You’re 21 and I’m 34” . . . and it’s never been better for her. Can it last?? “They” say that it’s not right, just like in countless anguished teen laments, but – for the glorious moment, at least – April’s saying, what the hell. “You’re part boy  . . . but ALL Man!” she purrs with self-satisfaction. Yeah!

SYLVIA: Easy Evil (Vibration VI 530).
As a contrast, Sylvia herself has gotten away from her sexy simperings and turned in a stylistically similar breathy yet lyric-following reading of Alan O’Day’s much recorded lightly Latin pulsator (probably best known as by the Friends Of Distinction), here done slower than usual to accommodate the lady’s sucking and hissing style. In common with all pressings on Vibration, the playback quality is full of frying egg crackles and Rice Crispy noises. Continue reading “July 13, 1974: The Main Ingredient, April, Sylvia, Joshie Jo Armstead, Millie Jackson”

July 6, 1974: Trammps, Solomon Burke, Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye, R. Dean Taylor, Jackie Moore

American Singles

Pick of the week

TRAMMPS: Where Do We Go From Here; Shout (Philadelphia Int PIR 2382).
Almost a quintessential Philly Sound “matt” drum thonker with an oh-so-sexy deep bass recitation intro (right on!), the Golden Fleece gang’s current US Soul hit is right in the British disco groove of the moment . . . possibly even more so than the Intruders’ resurrected “Win, Place Or Show (She’s A Winner)”, I fear. Dig the impassioned yet cool singing too, helped along by either the Three Degrees or – could it be? – the First Choice. Unlike on the US 45, we get a cumbersome reworking of the Isley Brothers’ classic raver on the flip.

SOLOMON BURKE: Midnight And You; I Have A Dream (ABC 4002).
Now ABC have their own label here instead of putting everything on their other British outlet, Probe – and Bishop Burke kicks off both it and the latest phase in his recently ailing career with a real winner. There are so many names in the credits that it’s hard to know who did what on the production, but one thing is clear: it says: “Inspired by Barry White for Solomon Burke” . . . and indeed the White style is much in evidence. Over a gorgeous slinky backing, Solly double-tracks first a masculine yet wailing vocal in the voice which Tom Jones copied, and then some deep bass sexy comments. Amongst other goodies, the shimmering slowie contains the line of the week – “undress your mind!” With a sad irony in the light of recent events, the sanctified slow flip includes the sound of Martin Luther King making his famous speech. SOUL PICK.

DIANA ROSS & MARVIN GAYE: Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart); Love Twins (Tamla Motown TMG 906).
Still raiding the catalogue of Thom Bell and Linda Creed-penned Stylistics hits for material, the “Love Twins” give us another sweet slowie but – and I wish I didn’t have to say this – it throws the vocal spotlight more on Marv than Di and may suffer here as a consequence, being that much less “Pop”. The gently funky slow flip’s a real groin-grinder for those more intimate moments, and it’s also possibly a better, more commercial, bet. SOUL PICK. Continue reading “July 6, 1974: Trammps, Solomon Burke, Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye, R. Dean Taylor, Jackie Moore”