August 3, 1974: Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye, Wilson Pickett, Rufus, Ecstacy Passion & Pain, Poco

Stateside Newies

DIANA ROSS AND MARVIN GAYE: Don’t Knock My Love (Motown M 1296F).
Taken from their “Diana and Marvin” album, the dynamic duo’s latest US hit (45 R&B/53 Pop) is their revival of this old Wilson Pickett pounder . . . and, despite their previously docile duets, they really do manage to knock the hell out of it! Marv has the chance to get in a few of his old Gospel screams, Di keeps her vocal tone down lower than usual, and together they fill the bouncy beater with excitement.

WILSON PICKETT: Take Your Pleasure Where You Find It (RCA ABP0 0309).
Mama Pickett’s little boy himself is in his usual grunt, wheeze and holler mood on his own latest hit (slow moving at 77 R&B), and the medium paced lurcher is a bit too leaden to whip up much enthusiasm. A pity, as a decade and more ago, Wilson used to be THE most exciting Soul singer there was.

RUFUS: Tell Me Something Good (ABC 11427).
Something of an oddity, this hit (7 R&B/19 Pop): sung by a white chick (of the sweaty whisky-swigging school) and what I understand to be a multi-racial band of blokes, it’s the Stevie Wonder tune slowed and stripped right down to its bare bones. The result is very angular and rather unattractive . . . but decidedly different. I’m surprised to see it doing so well in the R&B Chart, actually, as although the sparse backing contains the mandatory synthetic noises the lead-singing chick does sound so incredibly white. And mundane.

ECSTACY, PASSION AND PAIN: Good Things Don’t Last Forever (Roulette R 7156).
The latest smash to come hurtling out of Philadelphia City (17 R&B), this Philly Sound smooth “matt” drum and chinking cymbal dancer by a girlie-led group was penned by Bunny Sigler, Allan Felder and Norman Harris, and arranged/produced by Bobby Martin. Good enough credits for ya, huh, Philly Freax?! The record’s nice, too!

POCO: Faith In The Families (Epic 5-11141).
Culled from the beautifully packaged “Poco Seven” album and yet to be Charted as a single, this change of pace ‘n style fits in here ‘cos it’s got me doggone hooked! Reminiscent rather of America’s “Horse With No Name” – and thus of Neil Young – it’s an easy greasy lightly harmonized lilter with the usual gentle strumming and tapping behind it. BUT, somehow it cuts through to be an extra-appealing example of the genre. All lovers of the old Neil Young sound, you’d better check it out.

CHICAGO: Call On Me (Columbia 4-46062).
With Chicago’s Beach Boys-helped “Wishing You Were Here” out as a single in Britain, in America they have gone with the next track from their embossed leather-effect “VII” album. Punctuated with typical braying brassy bits, it’s a Latin percussion-propelled plaintive jogger, prettily sung and energetic towards the end. Lovely though it and much of the band’s other work it may be, unfortunately it just does not seem to be what we in Britain want. In America, this has jumped up to the Top Ten, where it’s now number 9. Ah, well!

DONNA FARGO: You Can’t Be A Beacon (If Your Light Don’t Shine) (Dot DOA 17506).
There’s a macabre catalogue number, DOA (which usually stands for “Dead On Arrival”)! Anyway, last week top of the Country Chart and now 70 Pop, the “Happiest Girl In The Whole USA” is in a quasi-religious groove on this Olivia Newton-John-type jaunty thumper . . . amazing how Livie’s influence has spread, ain’t it? Oh, and further to my remark last week about Donny and Marie Osmond’s newie being Country slanted thanx to Marie’s voice, it is in fact now on the Country Chart (at 78).

JOE SIMON: The Best Time Of My Life (Spring SPR 149).
Co-penned in part by someone called Aseneth Peek, Joe’s newie (18 R&B) is almost pure Reggae in style! That Jamaican rhythm is very much in evidence – with a lot of Ska thrown in too – and the result is possibly Mr Simon’s best for quite a while. His voice remains a bit too smooth for my own taste, but he does actually get into the funky beat at the start with a “one . . . two . . . three . . . four . . . UHH!”, and he rides over the top of it with his usual consummate ease.


American Singles

CASS ELLIOT: If You’re Gonna Break Another Heart; Don’t Call Me Mama Anymore (RCA LPB0 7521).
The greatest of the Great Ones bows out with a lugubrious Hammond & Hazlewood plodder that’s enlivened by a classy string section and by her own inimitable piercing tone. As a memorial, the live-recorded night clubby “point” number on the flip is a lot more apt . . . it’s also a lot more fun, with Cass listing all the unlikely people and things that she’d rather be called instead of Mama (“you can call me Cass” is how she ends). It has a sleazy cabaret (and “Cabaret”) backing and is the side that gets my MoR PICK.

THE DRIFTERS: Saturday Night At The Movies; I’ll Take You Where The Music’s Playing (Atlantic K 10493).
An intelligent coupling, even if they have both been available on separate maxis within recent memory, here’s the jaunty 1964 bouncer which was virtually rewritten to provide the Drifters with their current hit, plus the slightly Ska-influenced disco dancer from their 1965 “At The Club” days. Whether the Chart can play host to two different Drifters ditties about going to the movies on a Saturday night remains to be seen, but if there’s any justice this certainly deserves to be a hit too. POP PICK.

ISLEY BROTHERS: Live It Up, Pts 1/2 (Epic EPC 2578).
With the synthetic urgency of another “Nutbush City Limits” plus the Brothers’ now mandatory searing guitar noise, this rush-released US hit title track from their new LP is a change of pace for them away from their lazier last few hits and back more in the direction of their Tamla tempos . . . albeit via a totally modern instrumentation. Behind all the modernity, in fact, the excellent vocals are in the old Soul tradition, and even get into a rhythm-hitting “hey-hey-hey-hey” chant as the single turns over to become mainly instrumental on the flip. PICK OF THE WEEK.

RODNEY ALLEN RIPPY: Take Life A Little Easier; World Of Love (Bell 1365).
This little blaik tyke from California came to brief fame round about the end of last year by singing a jingle for hamburgers on US telly commercials. The jingle got turned into a proper record and “bubbled under” the Hot 100 Chart for a while, but whether this madly happy singalong slab of candyfloss is it, I know not, although I suspect so. He’s got an engaging giggle going for him, which your granny may love. Ray Conniff-type flip.

LOVE UNLIMITED with The Love Unlimited Orchestra: People Of Tomorrow Are The Children Of Today; So Nice To Hear (Pye 7N 25662).
Right on, that must have taken some thought! From the Barry White-scored “Together Brothers” movie soundtrack, the chix coo away to the usual formula, starting with a dead slow, soft and susceptible to snicks (on my presumably “mint” copy at least) instrumental intro and ending with a crashing climax. In between, nothing much happens. Mood music flip, minus chix.

TERRY COLLINS: I L.O.V.E. Y.O.U.; Action Speaks Louder (Than Words) (Warner Bros K 16426).
Setting himself up doubtless for much ribbing from other rival record reviewers whose schtick that sort of thing is, Terry spells it out to a chunky Philly Sound backing by producers Stan Watson & Bobby Eli. He himself sounds like he likes the O’Jays’ Eddie Levert or the Bluenotes’ Teddy Pendergrast (or however he’s spelt – I still don’t know!): in other words, grittily growling Terry ain’t no original but will be dug by Philly Freax. Slower lurching yet noisy flip.

WET WILLIE: Keep On Smilin’; Soul Jones (Capricorn 2089001).
The Mobile, Alabama, punk-rockers have adapted the reggae-influenced black “Groove Me”/”Clean Up Woman” Malaco Sound to their Jagger-esque stance and the result is a jerkily thumping slow beater with snarling vocal. Interesting, rather than exciting. If anything, the convincingly “get down” flip could find more favour with dancers here.

FLASH CADILLAC AND THE CONTINENTAL KIDS: Young Blood; The Way I Feel Tonight (Epic EPC 2479).
Surprisingly fine, this revival of the old Coasters number which Leon Russell used on the Bangladesh bash. The Kids manage an amazing pastiche of well known Rock ‘n Roll voices during different parts of the lyrics, with that of Eddie Cochran being most predominant, while whoever does the “ooh-er-er-er-orrh” noise would be at home in a “Carry On” movie. Buddy Holly-ish flip, with elements of “Love Is Strange”.

GRAND FUNK: Shinin’ On; Mr. Pretty Boy (Capitol CL 15789).
There’s an air of mystery about the grand punks’ latest Todd Rundgren-produced US hit album title-track, a subduedly raucous echoing doom-laden mid-tempo rumbler with definite grow-on-you (me, anyway!) appeal. The phased scratching and scrubbing instrumental intro merges into an organ and drums-dominated backing which splurges later into a flying guitar break between the ethereal harmonies. It’s honestly quite impressive, and the purposeful slow bluesy flip ain’t bad neither. Um, this really is a MUSIC PICK.

BARRY WHITE: Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe; Just Not Enough (Pye 7N 25661).
Old mush mouth stays in his “right on!” rap form but once past the intro he picks up the tempo into a medium clopping rhythm, which is brighter than usual even if everything else is predictably monotonous and monotonously predictable . . . like the flip, which – you guessed it! – is an instrumental continuation. Still, he does manage to slip some insidiously sweet melodies in under his rhythm sections, and has done so yet again here. Groan on! MoR&B PICK.

THE NEWBEATS: I Know (You Don’t Love Me Anymore); I Believe I’m In Love With You (DJM DJS 305).
The shrill-voiced “Bread And Butter” guys are back with their previously winning formula on Barbara George’s 1962 New Orleans classic, and they could easily please more than just their faithful old fans. Booming bass build-up to the less direct flip.

MARGIE JOSEPH: Sweet Surrender; My Love (Atlantic K 10460).
Although monstrously huge R&B in the States with her not particularly Soulful styling of the McCartney bore on the flip, Margie (don’t say I’m a second Aretha) Joseph warbles the old Bread ditty on the A-side in this country. Painless, if unremarkable.

TYRONE EDWARDS: Can’t Get Enough Of You; You Took Me From A World Outside (Invictus INV 2542).
A Holland-Holland-Bond churner introduces us to Tyrone, who’s a smoky hollerer with strangulated vocal chords and the need of better material – on this showing at least. Tres ordinaire, but the delicate slow flip with its squeaky sax intro shows more promise.

2 thoughts on “August 3, 1974: Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye, Wilson Pickett, Rufus, Ecstacy Passion & Pain, Poco”

  1. Cass Elliot’s death was reported in the news pages of this week’s RM, hence the comments in the review about bowing out and leaving a memorial.

    Meanwhile, James’s gob-smacking howler re. Chaka Khan’s ethnicity is probably still haunting him in the afterlife!

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  2. I remember Tony Blackburn announcing the news of Cass Elliot’s death. As a kid I loved he performance as Witch Hazel on cult US kids TV show H.R. Pufnstuff along side the evil Witchiepoo. James pokes himself in the eye once more with his underwhelming review of the Rufus single and his scathing description of the vocal chops of one Ms Chaka Khan… The Diana & Marvin album was far more successful in the UK than in the US providing Marvin with his biggest UK duet hit!

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