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”.
CHART POSSIBILITY.

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.
CHART PROBABILITY.

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”