May 24, 1969: Bob & Earl, Mason Williams, Jamo Thomas, Ike & Tina Turner, Ella Fitzgerald

BOB & EARL: Dancin’ Everywhere; Baby It’s Over (B&C CB-102).
Bob & Earl’s 1966 recording (an old “B” side) is nice enough for Soul fans, but now that all the mystery is over I don’t see many Soul freaks actually clamouring to get this fairly routine but good brassy dancer (very much like Jackie Lee’s other Fred Smith-produced things), and it certainly isn’t going to grab the general public as much as “Harlem Shuffle“. The excellent Wallace Brothers-like slow and ultra-Soulful flip (the U.S. “A” side originally) is something else though, and has always been one of my favourite goodies, so maybe this is the side to snare the Soul freaks! Anyway, as the boys are here and the record will be plugged, it’s a CHART PROBABILITY if not a smash.

MASON WILLIAMS: Greensleeves; 13 Dollar Stella (Warner Bros. WB 7272).
The Smothers Brothers may have been sacked by their T.V. company, but Mason Williams continues to make pleasant noises as always. This heavily-orchestrated, up-tempoed updating of the gentle oldie (!), which is currently popular “easy-listening” in the U.S., could carry on here where his successful and much-requested “Classical Gas” left off, since his excellent “Saturday Night At The World” vocal follow-up failed. Mason’s guitar does the twiddly bits, and is backed by slabs of violin and romping rhythm. The more peaceful flip features a bit of pretty happy-go-lucky self-penning with guitar to the fore.

JAMO THOMAS: I’ll Be Your Fool; Jamo Soul (Chess CRS 8098).
Lovely subtle funk on this beautifully flowing rhythm dancer, with some of “Heard It Thru The Grapevine’s” greatness. Jamo’s curious high, though not falsetto, voice, rides over the chugging beat and the subdued guitar which, with two nice brass breaks, constitute the hacking. Much better than “I Spy (For The F.B.I.)“, and given the plays it could do big things. Re-entitled instrumental flip is the same as “F.B.I.’s” though – a pity.
CHART POSSIBILITY Continue reading “May 24, 1969: Bob & Earl, Mason Williams, Jamo Thomas, Ike & Tina Turner, Ella Fitzgerald”

May 3, 1969: Canned Heat, Vikki Carr, Marv Johnson, Billy Butler, Gene Chandler & Barbara Acklin

CANNED HEAT: Time Was; Low Down (Liberty LBF 15200)
Will it be third in a row for Heat’s prepossessing new rock-a-ballad? Maybe, but although it combines some of Stevie Wonder’s lilt with a nice rumbling bass, freaky guitar and steady drumming, it lacks the last two’s magic spark of life – time will tell. Typical so-called “boogie” noises on flip, O.K. later on. CHART POSSIBILITY

VIKKI CARR: If Ever You’re Lonely; Fly Away (Liberty LBF 15217)
Though “With Pen In Hand” is still kicking (not out the jams), here is a newie from Vikki – all melodic with heavily crescendoing patches and torch singing (she even sounds a bit like Cilia at times). ‘S not bad at all, and could do rather well. Personally, I preferred the light, Bossa-Nova-ish, reminiscent flip. CHART POSSIBILITY

MARV JOHNSON: I Love The Way You Love; You Got What It Takes (United Artists UP 35010)
Recorded at the turn of the decade, when Marv was 20, these old UA sides are among Berry Gordy’s earliest productions. “Love” (a U.S. hit) hints at the course Tamla was to take in its first years, while the slightly earlier (muzzily re-mixed) “Takes” was a hit here for both Marv and Johnny Kidd (and was actually written by Bobby “Watch Your Step” Parker). Motown addicts should hear the old London LP, “Marvellous Marv Johnson” (HA-T 2271), the better of his two UA albums, which includes some deliciously falsetto-sung straight standards. Presumably aimed at collectors. * * * * * *  Continue reading “May 3, 1969: Canned Heat, Vikki Carr, Marv Johnson, Billy Butler, Gene Chandler & Barbara Acklin”

April 26, 1969: Booker T. & The M.G.s, The Ronettes, Glen Campbell, 5th Dimension, Crazy Elephant

BOOKER T. & THE M.G.s: Time Is Tight; Hang ‘Em High (Stax 119).
From the soundtrack of the Booker T. Jones scored up-coming ”Uptight” flick, and a fast riser Stateside, this walloping, galloping -pounder is a gas dancer in spite of sounding like a backing track for “I Can’t Turn You Loose“. In the current climate it could be a smash here. Flipside (from their Iast L.P., never a single before) was a U.S. Pop hit, and is the movie theme read in semi-funky manner. CHART POSSIBILITY.

THE RONETTES: You Came, You Saw, You Conquered; I Can Hear Music (A&M AMS 748).
Sounding straight out of 1963 (“worry” pronounced “wowwy” even!), Veronica Spector and the girls come storming back with another brand new Phil Spector production. If the era of “Be My Baby” and “Do I Love You?” was an unforgettable slice of your past, you will go into ecstasies over this, as nothing much has changed (who’s complaining?!) – the pace is a bit faster and the noise a bit fuller, that’s all. The coupling naturally has especial interest at the moment, as it’s the original version of Beach Boys’ click, and makes a timely re-release that could have sold well on its own. CHART PROBABILITY

GLEN CAMPBELL Galveston; Every Time I Itch I Wind Up Scratchin’ You (Ember EMB S 263).
“Phoenix”, “Wichita”, now “Galveston” (the port for Houston, Texas) – where next, Jim Webb? This lacks the easy charm of “Lineman”, having a more aggressive beat and approach, but it retains the same guitar tone, the strings’ sound, and much of the lilt of its predecessor – without its romance. Radio 1’s playing it fit to bust, so it must happen . . . but not as big as the former hit, methinks. More easy-on-the-ear sounds on flip, co-penned by Glen with Jeremy Slate. CHART CERTAINTY.  Continue reading “April 26, 1969: Booker T. & The M.G.s, The Ronettes, Glen Campbell, 5th Dimension, Crazy Elephant”

March 22, 1969: David Ruffin, Tommy Roe, Mama Cass, Sarah Vaughan & Billy Eckstine, Judy Collins

DAVID RUFFIN: My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me); I’ve Got To Find Myself A Brand New Baby (Tamla Motown TMG 689).
Not exactly going out on a limb to say that this will be a hit, as not only is it a smash in America, but also these days the climate seems right for ANYTHING from Motown, new or old. The ex-Temptation sounds exactly that as he does a “My Girl” type of song, and, although I hate to say it, this really is the formula as before. It’s a pretty good formula, though, and if the British public can stand all those older Tamlas, it can stand this also, as it steps back a few years in style. Equally nice flip has rather more expressive singing from Dave. Now the great British public will go and prove me wrong! CHART CERTAINTY

TOMMY ROE: Dizzy; The You I Need (Stateside SS 2143).
Erstwhile top popster from the early ’60s, Tommy’s just had a U.S. chart topper with this bit of superior Bubble Gum Music (unfair to call it that, really, but it is very Pop and has definite elements of that style). Nice rumbling piano and heavy violin bits, beat emphasized by organ, and a simple set of teen lyrics with catchy repetitive “Dizzy” chanting. Tommy always was a classy performer of dignified bearing, and it’s good to see him doing well again. Bright ‘n’ bouncy flip. The very busy Steve Barri produced. CHART PROBABILITY

MAMA CASS: Move In A Little Closer, Baby; I Can Dream Can’t I (Stateside/Dunhill SS 8014).
Cue for countless boring articles headlined “Mama Cass Anita Harris-s Harmony Grass”. So – it’s a good enough song, as most Radio 1 listeners can testify, and though she’s kinda big there’s room for Cass too. Try the quiet and melodic flip, which is a good smoochie. Another Steve Barri production. CHART POSSIBILITY.  Continue reading “March 22, 1969: David Ruffin, Tommy Roe, Mama Cass, Sarah Vaughan & Billy Eckstine, Judy Collins”

March 15, 1969: Dionne Warwick, Tyrone Davis, Stevie Wonder, The Rascals, Richie Stevens

Editor’s note: a few of James’s earlier single reviews for Record Mirror have surfaced, spanning from 1969 to 1974. These will also be posted on this blog.

DIONNE WARWICK: This Girl’s In Love With You; Lonely In My Heart/Dream Sweet Dreamer (Pye International 7N 25484).
Right and proper that Dionne should sing Herb Alpert’s big vocal hit, as it is of course a Bacharach and David song (of exceptional beauty, which everyone must know already). This is much the same as Herb’s version — if not better — except that in place of his trumpet it has what sounds like, but surely can’t be, comb and paper! The song is so good that it should be a smash again with no difficulty, and is already just that in America. Some confusion over what the flip is, but if it’s “Lonely In My Heart” it’s nice. CHART CERTAINTY.

TYRONE DAVIS: Can I Change My Mind; A Woman Needs To Be Loved (Atlantic 584253).
Release at last for this monster American R&B/ Pop smash. Tyrone Davis debuts most impressively, and, if he can maintain this quality, should soon become a Giant of Soul (Doctor Soul’s prediction). With a fantastically powerful but beautifully controlled, roaring, Little Milton-ish voice, he power-drives through the gentle B-side slowie with such force that it gave me goose-bumps on first hearing! However, it’s the ambiguous-beat, slowish and catchy “Can I Change My Mind” that should be a hit, especially just after “For Once In My Life’s” success. Tony Blackburn, please play it! CHART POSSIBILITY.

STEVIE WONDER: I Don’t Know Why; My Cherie Amour (Tamla Motown TMG 690).
Lovely freaky noises lead into mature-voiced Stevie, who pours his heart out more and more as the strings and brass build and build. The mid-tempo slowie is nowhere near as melodious as “For Once In My Life”, and will probably have less wide-spread appeal as a consequence, but it must sell well just on the strength of Stevie’s impassioned delivery . . . he leaves you feeling quite limp! For melody lovers, the pretty flip is the side, and it could be equally popular. CHART CERTAINTY.  Continue reading “March 15, 1969: Dionne Warwick, Tyrone Davis, Stevie Wonder, The Rascals, Richie Stevens”

March 1, 1969: Lee Dorsey, Little Milton, Tony Joe White, Ben E. King, Bobby Womack

LEE DORSEY: I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter; Little Ba-by (Bell BLL 1051).
The oldie given the New Orleans treatment – and it could go well with the mums and dads. Insinuous flip, but ’tain’t no big thing.
* * *

LITTLE MILTON: Grits Ain’t Groceries; I Can’t Quit You (Chess CRS).
Up-dated funky, brassy version of Titus Turner’s “All Around The World” (which was Little Willie John’s first hit) that is doing well in America. Edward L. Bakewell III and all Blues freaks should dig the generously long (6.35) flip, which has plenty of Milton’s guitar and impassioned vocal. Check it out.
* * * * * *

TONY JOE WHITE: Polk Salad Annie; Aspen Colorado (Monument MON 1031).
Soul Francisco” was a gas . . . now this! Rosko’s hip to Tony Joe and if you’ve missed him playing this, go hear it now! Another “down in Louisiana”-type lyric admittedly, but with funky beat, brass, guitar, and that distinctive voice over all. Slow and more stereotyped “Aspen” tells an autobiographical tale.
* * * * * * Continue reading “March 1, 1969: Lee Dorsey, Little Milton, Tony Joe White, Ben E. King, Bobby Womack”

February 8, 1969: The Spellbinders, The Doors, Buddy Holly, Timi Yuro, Carl Perkins

QUITE a good week for serious students of Soul Music, with several ballads of the type that always wow ’em in the States but bomb badly here, plus the now customary batch of re-releases.

THE SPELLBINDERS: Help Me (Get Myself Back Together Again); Chain Reaction (CBS Direction 58-3970).
Soul group fans will flock to their record stores for this goodie, if they didn’t do so in 1966 when it was first out. Although slightly more subtle, it packs all the danceabillty of the other currently successful re-releases, and so, given the air time, it must stand some chance of being a seller. The group (three guys, one gal) have had several R & B hits in the States, this included. “Chain Reaction” is a good value flip, being an earlier hit, but it’s minus the zing of “Help Me”.

THE DOORS: Touch Me; Wild Child (Elektra EKSN 45050).
Before their recent TV exposure this might have seemed a more appealing invitation. As it is, Jim Morrison lays it on the line, backed by a complex and heavily-orchestrated noise with some grow-on-you rhythm changes – quite nice. Too jumbled to be a smash here, but the catchy beat parts should see it into the charts. Actually the flip is a better follow-up to “Hello”, having the same direct approach to the subject matter – you know where you are with this.

BUDDY HOLLY: Love Is Strange; You’re The One (MCA MU 1059).
Released to commemorate his death exactly ten years ago, on 3rd February 1959, this is Buddy’s very last unissued single. Even tho’ the song (the Mickey & Sylvia standard) is so well known, Buddy’s version could easily be a sizeable hit on the strength of his performance and the electronically enhanced sound – which is gentle and pleasant, with heavy strings sawing away over some nifty guitar picking. Really, this is the best version ever of the song!! Good Rockin’ music on the flip-deck, great for dancing, and certainly good enough to have been another A-sIde.
CHART PROBABILITY. Continue reading “February 8, 1969: The Spellbinders, The Doors, Buddy Holly, Timi Yuro, Carl Perkins”

October 3, 1964: Supremes will not do package shows

This was the first article that James Hamilton wrote for Record Mirror. There is no record of him writing for the paper again until January 1969, when he took over the America Awakes singles review column.

Supremes will not do package shows
by James Hamilton

At last Britain is to see some of the Tamla-Motown stars in action. For early next week the Supremes arrive here for a series of TV, radio and club dates. The all-girl trio is currently number 3 in the charts with their latest disc “Where Did Our Love Go.”

The girls are to be brought over by Rik Gunnell Enterprises, and will not be seen in any package shows or tours. Rik Gunnell is the owner of London’s famous “Flamingo” Club where the Supremes will be appearing during a party for them, held by the Tamla-Motown Appreciation Society, led by Dave Godin.

The girls, who accentuate their good looks by being beautifully dressed off and on stage, were upset recently because their clothes had been lost in transit between Newark, New Jersey, and the Fox in Brooklyn. At the “Murray the ‘K’ show” last week, featuring the Supremes, Dusty and Millie among many others, the girls had to wear stage clothes which they said were “hastily thrown together.” In fact they were beautifully made, being long white gowns with short trains hanging down their backs. When I saw Diana earlier she was wearing a bright red billowing dress with a paisley design. She was particularly taken with my own handkerchief which was almost identical. So if anyone wants to send a present to Diana Ross of the Supremes, send her some of Woolworth’s paisley printed cotton handkerchiefs, at c/o Motown Record Corp., 2648 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit 8, Michigan, U.S.A.!

Dates so far finalised for the girls are “Top Of The Pops,” on October 7: EMI reception on October 8: “Ready, Steady, Go,” on October 9: Flamingo Club on October 10: Recording “Thank Your Lucky Stars” on October 11: Recording “Friday Spectacular” on October 12. And there are more broadcasts on “Saturday Club,” “Saturday Swings,” and “Scene At 6.30” to be fitted in.

The Supremes, Florence, Mary and Diana were singing together as long ago as 1957 when they were called the Primettes. This was a sister group to the Temptations (of “The Way You Do The Things You Do” fame), who were then appearing as the Primes. The girls never actually sang with the boys but they appeared on the same bill together.

For three years they were the Primettes, and cut one disc for the Lu-Pine label, now an affiliate of Atlantic records.

But the fact that the group were all still at school prevented them from appearing outside their home town of Detroit, and it was there, some four years ago that Berry Gordy Jnr. formed the Tamla-Motown disc company. The very first female vocal group that he signed up were the Supremes, but even then their disc releases were few and far between owing to their High School commitments.

After a while though the girls finally hit the big time with such discs as “When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes,” “Where Did Our Love Go” and now their newie “Baby Love.” Their song is from their new album called “Where Did Our Love Go” on Motown 621, and it has one fast, and one slower side.

According to Diana, the best track on the album is “Come See About Me,” but the girls themselves don’t listen much to their own records. They are great fans of soul and gospel music, especially Solomon Burke. They also backed Marvin Gaye on “Can I Get A Witness” and “You’re A Wonderful One.”