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.

R. DEAN TAYLOR: Don’t Fool Around; Poor Girl (Tamla Motown TMG 909).
Complicated, this . . . what we’ve got here is a frantic churning pounder which originally came out in Britain as the flip of R. Dean’s first (and still British only) hit, “There’s A Ghost In My House”, when that came out in America some years ago. Um? To help matters, he’s now signed with Polydor, and they’ve rushed out “Window Shopping” (Polydor 2058502), which though brand new is remarkably like an old fashioned and teen-aimed Neil Diamond in its construction and rhythm. So now it’s all up to you! Motown have the sound that’s sold him to you before, and they get the POP PICK.

JACKIE MOORE: Both Ends Against The Middle; Willpower (Atlantic K 10481).
At last, here’s Miss Moore’s Northern-style R&B-Pop dancer, much talked of and imported and now finally capable of being a British hit. It’s in the Tami Lynn, Freda Payne, Three Degrees, First Choice type of bouncy groove, full of froth and infectious jollity. For the flip, Soulstress Jackie turns on the Blues a whole lot more to wail and emote a rattling medium chugger that shows her real artistry to greater advantage. R&B PICK.

THE WHISPERS: Bingo; Someone’s Waiting (Janus 6146026).
A cash register rings (like on the Floyd’s “Money”) and off we go into a Philly-recorded medium rhythm jiggler of no more than “pleasant” merit except for addicts. It needs a bit more lift in the melody as the ingredients are all good otherwise, and the beautifully harmonised slow flip is technically excellent too.

IAN THOMAS: Painted Ladies; Will You Still Love Me (DJM DJS 307).
An American hit and a Canadian smash sometime last year, this bouncy “la-la-la” multi-tracked one-man harmoniser is like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, backed by Stevie Wonder and is as refreshing as that might suggest. It’s always gone down well at appropriate disco dances and is certainly ideal radio fodder, so hopefully it could click here for Canadian Ian. The exquisite dead slow flip is also Neil Young-ish, which detracts from its beauty not one iota. MUSIC PICK.

LOOKING GLASS: Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl); One By One (Epic EPC 8213).
Everyone was so sure that this 1972 US smash would hit here that a cover-version of it even came out on one of those “Top Pops”-type cheapo-cheapo Woolworths albums . . . and hit it should have. A lovely easy-rolling lilter sung by the distinctive voice of Elliot Lurie, it’s a story song about a sailor’s reluctant refusal of marriage to a harbour town barmaid because – you guessed? – his life, his love and his lady is the Sea. The group is still making great music with somewhat Latin rhythms nowadays, but with less success, so do give ‘em a hit this time and bring ‘em back to fame! POP PICK.

OFFENBACH: Judy In Disguise (With Glasses); No Letter Today (Surrey Int SIT 5003).
This really IS the backing track, with sax dubbed in instead of John Fred’s voice . . . so you know it has to be bloody good! The flip (not the Les Paul and Mary Ford oldie) is another John Fred composition, a weird slow rumbler with atmospheric arrangement and supporting chix behind the gently growling sax. DISCO PICK.

REFLECTIONS: (Just Like) Romeo And Juliet; Can’t You Tell By The Look In My Eyes (Tamla Motown TMG 907).
A masterstroke! From their Golden World property, Motown have dug out this May 1964 US Pop hit by a white male vocal group who, because the record sold on the R&B Charts as well, got booked to play Harlem’s Apollo Theatre . . . where I saw them appear, ashen-faced before an unsuspecting black audience. It’s a jaunty little ditty with lots of catchy chanting, handclaps, and ace early ‘60s twiddly bits – bang in line, of course, to catch both Motown dance freaks AND “American Graffiti” nostalgicats. Even the slowly loping flip is a gem, with anguished teenage rap and harmonies which bridge between greasy Doo-Wop and creamy Lettermen. OLDIE PICK.

THE THREE DEGREES: When Will I See You Again; I Didn’t Know (Philadelphia Int PIR 2155).
Although easy enough on the ear – all silky smooth and creamy – this winsomely cooed light rhythm tapper is nothing very special yet could ride in off their last hit. In fact the flip’s a lot grittier with a more pronounced Philly flavour to its relentless beat. Finding a follow-up must have been difficult anyway, as the girls make everything sound so mouth-meltingly yummy! And then “Dirty Old Man” could have been a resurrected choice, too.

One thought on “July 6, 1974: Trammps, Solomon Burke, Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye, R. Dean Taylor, Jackie Moore”

  1. James speculating yet again as to who provides the backing vocals on those Sigma studio recordings. We know it was of course the Sweethearts of Sigma. The luke warm reaction to the Three Degrees record is another fascinating insight of how a record was initially viewed. It would of course go on to be Philly International’s only UK No1 single and only the 2nd record to reach the UK No1 spot by a girl group- almost exactly 10 years to the day after the Supremes achieved the feat with Baby Love. I twould take the best part of a decade before the 3rd girl group no1 in the UK. We forget how much more difficult it was for female acts back in the 60s and 70s to chart.

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