March 11, 1972: Robert John, Climax, Dawn, Joe Tex, The Marvelettes

ROBERT JOHN: The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) (Mbube) (Atlantic).
Remember Robert John? He’s the white guy with the amazing black-sounding swooping voice who scored a minor hit in Britain back in 1968 with his beautiful ‘If You Don’t Want My Love‘. Remember ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’? The Tokens, who nowadays produce all those hits for Dawn, came to international fame by singing it a decade ago. Remember ‘Wimoweh’? It was the African chant on which ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ was based, and was also a British hit in 1961 for Karl Dallas.

Well, by now, if you have any kind of a memory at all, you should have worked out a pretty good idea of what Robert John’s new US Top Five smash sounds like … and you’re right. Still, it’s all helping to revive the spirit of blatant Pop, and it seems only natural that so many revivalists keep turning for inspiration to those perfect classics of the early ’60s. No other era has produced such a crisp, strong, solid, happy, just “Pop” without hyphens, sort of a sound.

CLIMAX: Precious And Few (Carousel).
No, not Climax Chicago, just plain Climax, these boys are a somewhat easy-listening vocal group of the Classics IV variety, who sing that peculiarly American brand of full-harmonied back-up, plaintive lead, mildly beaty but basically slow, all denominations and ages aimed, mass appeal music which gets called “Soft Rock”. Their particular example of the genre, this thoroughly pleasant little single, is their debut hit … and a Top Three hit at that.

DAWN: Runaway/Happy Together (Bell).
Well, here’s an amalgamation of one of those peculiarly American vocal groups and an early ’60s Pop classic. However, they have in turn amalgamated Del Shannon’s ‘Runaway’ with the more recent Turtles’ Happy Together’ (which now probably qualifies as the Mother’s greatest hit, too!). So, what do we get? Lotsa noise, but that’s beside the point.

The record starts off dead slow, with Tony Orlando singing the opening lines of ‘Runaway’ over quiet and moody noises, than the big pounding beat and his chick support come in (and the noise increases), then the pace slows again and ‘Happy Together’ gets the quiet treatment from the whole group, followed by a mixture of the two songs (with a reproduction of Del Shannon’s piercing organ line over all) that comes and goes in tempo. A good idea, but the mixture of tempos makes for a choppy effect which lessens the record’s impact. Continue reading “March 11, 1972: Robert John, Climax, Dawn, Joe Tex, The Marvelettes”

December 25, 1971: Jimmie Haskell, The Ventures, Freddie Hart, Charley Pride, Don Gibson

JIMMIE HASKELL: William Tell Overture (Probe PRO 547).
From the soundtrack of ‘Zachariah’, which was a better movie than most people made out, this treatment of the famous galloping opus pales when compared with that ballsy classic, ‘Piltdown Rides Again‘ (same toon, different vintage).

Talking of movies, ALL rockers and nostalgicats will get a big kick out of seeing Albert Finney in ‘Gumshoe‘, the first “proper” film to quote from Rock ‘n Roll lyrics in the dialogue, and to include a rockers’ reunion scene purely for the joy of it. Oh yes, and the same crowd should try sampling the oldies but goodies that Ted Carroll sells every Saturday at “Rock On”, 93 Goldborne Road, off the top end of London’s Portobello Road. Cool Yule, y’all.

THE VENTURES: Theme From ‘Shaft’ (UA UP 35316).
Hot news of the year dept.: look who’s covered Isaac Hayes. Fine for Ventures fans, and fine in its own right actually – it’s just that they don’t deserve much credit for hitting all the right notes.

FREDDIE HART: Easy Loving (Capitol CL 15703).
Here’s this year’s big award-winning Country song, a relaxed slinky slowie made rather appealing by its subdued organ and steel guitar backing, and emphasised by a slipping and slurring girlie group on the title words. Sugary stuff for sure, but it is the real thing (instead of Country-yawn-Rock) and it is good. Continue reading “December 25, 1971: Jimmie Haskell, The Ventures, Freddie Hart, Charley Pride, Don Gibson”

December 18, 1971: Bob Dylan, Donnie Elbert, The Chi-Lites, Redbone, Little Shelton

AMERICAN RELEASES

BOB DYLAN: George Jackson (Big Band Version); (Acoustic Version) (CBS 7688).
Good value for Dylan fans!

DONNIE ELBERT: Where Did Our Love Go (London HLU 10352).
First product on Decca from Stang/All Platinum (last and only by Donnie on All Platinum — he’s now with Avco), this great U.S. Top 20 smash revival of the Supremes big oldie combines both stomp and subtlety … and should click. Dig the piano.

THE CHI-LITES: Have You Seen Her (MCA MU 1146).
You ought to get the album, but if you’re more into singles this particular 5:05 lush ‘n’ slushy slow track is a must for all Soul Vocal Group and Delfonics fans. (The label says 4:14, but it ain’t.) Over two million sold in USA. Two million people can’t be wrong (oh yeah?), so make it a hit here too, y’all. Continue reading “December 18, 1971: Bob Dylan, Donnie Elbert, The Chi-Lites, Redbone, Little Shelton”

December 11, 1971: Al Green, Al Greene & The Soul Mates, Marvin Gaye, Ponderosa Twins + One, Denise LaSalle

AMERICAN RELEASES

AL GREEN: Let’s Stay Together (London HLU 10348).
Oooh, oooh, OOOHH! Lacking in immediate impact, this little mellow beauty comes sneaking up and catches you in just a very few plays, to imprint itself in your mind as one of the loveliest records of the year. Penned by Al with Willie Mitchell and Al Jackson (of the M.G.s), the mid-tempo smooth sweet wailer has a clopping rhythm and a creamy backing, dominated by the superbly subtle artistry of the World’s Best SOUL Singer. For further proof of the title, just hear Al Green’s new LP.

AL GREENE AND THE SOUL MATES: Back Up Train (Bell BLL 1188).
Yes, this is Al Green too (he dropped the third “e”), on his very first recording — a huge U.S. hit in 1967. The lovely sawing slowie was all but ignored here then, although it (and its attendant album on the Action label) was impressive enough to elevate Al in my own reckoning to only slightly lower than the position that I now claim for him.

MARVIN GAYE: Save The Children; Little Darling (I Need You) (Tamla Motown TMG 796).
Of course, this is Progressive Music, and Tony Blackburn doesn’t like Progressive Music (to paraphrase something that, much to my disbelief, the cheeky cherub actually said on the radio — at that time, re the last Top 5 hit by Family). For everyone’s sake, grow up, Blackburn! Oh well, there’s a disco stomping oldie on the flip. Continue reading “December 11, 1971: Al Green, Al Greene & The Soul Mates, Marvin Gaye, Ponderosa Twins + One, Denise LaSalle”

December 4, 1971: Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown, Donnie Elbert, Elvis Presley, The Coasters

SLY & THE FAMILY STONE: Family Affair; Luv N’ Haight (Epic).
The first new product from the Family Stone (other than “live” material) in virtually two years, since the cataclysmic ‘Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin’, this single from the new ‘There’s A Riot Goin’ On’ LP has beaten its parent album to the very top of its respective Chart. Obviously long awaited and much anticipated, its meteoric rise is not surprising except for the fact that, compared with much of the group’s past output, this single is merely “nice” without being a real killer.

It shows Sly and the gang in a funky but subdued mood: starting the insinuous wah-wah and plopping, thudding rhythm in the same light way as it continues throughout, they keep all the sound on the same inter-related quiet monotone level. The title line is repeated by a Lennon-ish voice before the husky, slurring, almost Havens-ish lead voice (Sly?) handles the main lyric, which is about the strength of family ties and obligations. Amongst all this there are unobtrusive interspersions of electric piano and wah-wah lead guitar.

I have always been a bit doubtful about the expression “laid back”, but, by my own definition of its meaning, I reckon that you could apply it pretty accurately to ‘Family Affair’. One virtue of the low-key quality of the record is that it is, in its way, completely compulsive – it cries out to be played over and over again, so that it is a shame the side does not last longer. The flip is rather rougher and more aggressive, in the group’s old style, and (consequently?) less impressive.

JAMES BROWN: My Part/Make It Funky – Parts 3 & 4 (Polydor).
Indeed, this is another two sides of the incredible funk rhythm that Mr. J. B. whipped up on ‘Make It Funky – Parts 1 & 2‘, and, despite the label saying (Instrumental)”, it features Mr. Brown exhorting his cohorts with scat “ga ga ga ga, goo ga goo goo ga” noises and vocal encouragement to guitarist Coleman to “Give us a little bit of B.B. King”, and to trombonist Red to “Slide your Slide”.

The real joy of this record is contained in the basic riff and contagious rhythm, which, as on ‘Parts 1 & 2’, is made so powerful by the rock-solid thundering bass. This rhythm is (yes, I know, you’re credulous as hell) one of the very best that James Brown has ever come up with – in fact, its only rival must be that of ‘There Was A Time‘ – so that ‘Parts 3 & 4’ are just as vital as the earlier record … if not more so, because there is an added gaiety to this one.

Unfortunately, this has now been eclipsed in the U.S. Charts by J.B.’s almost simultaneously-released ‘I’m A Greedy Man – Parts 1 & 2‘ … well, you know, Christmas is comin’, and new material is a better bet for the Top 50 (which is where it’s at, right now).

DONNIE ELBERT: Where Did Our Love Go; That’s If You Love Me (All Platinum).
Rumoured to be the first British release out of Mojo’s rumoured association with the great Stang/All Platinum labels, veteran Donnie’s re-working of the Supremes’ oldie could so easily have been rather uninteresting. In fact, it’s brilliant.

This isn’t so surprising really, considering Donnie’s track record, which started in the mid ’50s with the superb ‘What Can I Do‘, a piercing ballad that, together with his later ‘Who’s It Gonna Be‘, is a cherished favourite of West Indian audiences. Continue reading “December 4, 1971: Sly & The Family Stone, James Brown, Donnie Elbert, Elvis Presley, The Coasters”

November 20, 1971: Isaac Hayes, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Rita Wright, James Brown, Freda Payne

ISAAC HAYES: Theme From Shaft (Enterprise).
Truly one of the hottest records of this or any other year, as well as the biggest success story of 1971, must be ‘Shaft’. ‘Shaft’ is a movie about black private eye John Shaft, made by black director Gordon Parks unabashedly with an eye to pleasing the black audience in America, with incidental music penned and performed by the black superstar of Atmospheric Soul, Isaac Hayes.

Ike’s music has been released as a double album, plus the opening credit theme as this single, and taken as a whole it has broken all previous records in the American music trade charts. Record World’s Charts present the most awe-inspiring placings, but Billboard and Cash Box have similar combinations that are almost impressive.

Can you dig it – Number One on the Pop Album Chart, the R&B Album Chart and the Jazz Album Chart, and on the Pop Single Chart and the R&B Single Chart (rising fast on the Easy Listening Single Chart)? All on the same week!

If you didn’t realise it, apart from the C&W Charts (and there’s not much chance of it scoring there!) and some small local Latin-American surveys, there’s nothing else for it to top!

All this, and the success of the very realistic true-to-life Manhattan- set movie, are directly attributable to the cunning concerted promotional efforts of MGM and Stax Records (the movie’s and Enterprise Records’ parents respectively), who ensured that both media worked together to build demand for the whole package. And they had a good package.

Isaac Hayes may not be widely known in Britain, but in America his last three LPs have been gold winning million sellers. Although famous for his lengthened versions of contemporary standards that are enhanced by his mesmeric orchestral arrangements and croaky non-singing delivery, Ike’s had room on this double album to reveal more facets of his talent and to expand on the funkier aspects of his music.

For obvious reasons, most of the music is instrumental. Some is very pretty in a lightly Jazzy, Bossa Nova-ish way, some is tough and dramatic in a menacingly Big Band-ish way, while the music called ‘Do Your Thing‘ which accompanies the satisfyingly well-planned climactic attack on the Mob’s gunmen is one of Ike’s extended pieces, featuring wah-wah and acid guitar lines over an unremitting plodding foundation.

The single hit, ‘Theme From Shaft’, echoes (if something at the start of a film can echo the final climax) the wah-wah from this, but amongst a much more sprightly, ever-changing and thundering bass-accentuated arrangement. This almost perplexing instrumental pulse-quickening build-up only lurches unexpectedly into being the backing for Ike’s mooing vocal about John Shaft after two or more minutes.

Scarcely a song, scarcely a conventional instrumental, and difficult to get into fully without the context of not only the album but also the movie, its exceptional success must only reflect on the power of Isaac Hayes’ name in America (and the promotion). How long before he hits Britain?

MARTHA REEVES & THE VANDELLAS: Bless You (Tamla Motown TMG 794).
For a change, this is brand new material … although it doesn’t sound it. Consequently, it’s full of life, zest, zing, bouncy Motown beat and all the other qualities that spell H-I-T.

RITA WRIGHT: I Can’t Give Back The Love I Feel For You (Tamla Motown TMG 791).
Mrs Syreeta Wonder’s 1968 Holland & Dozier-produced Ashford-Simpson-Holland-penned Diana Ross-like noisy keening stop-and-start slowie has been resurrected to combat the new and lusher version by VIKKI CARR (CBS 7583).

Syreeta’s original and its label credits mark an interesting transitional period of Motown’s history and will obviously appeal to label freaks, but may be too piercingly shrill for even Diana Ross fans, who will possibly prefer Vikki. Continue reading “November 20, 1971: Isaac Hayes, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Rita Wright, James Brown, Freda Payne”

October 16, 1971: Osmonds, Chi-Lites, Beginning Of The End, Carole King, Isley Brothers

THE OSMONDS: Yo-Yo (MGM).
The Osmond brothers don’t seem to mean much in Britain (little Donny’s “Go Away Little Girl” might alter that), but in America it is now probably true to say that their popularity has outstripped that of the incredibly successful group which they started out by copying: I refer, of course, to the Jackson 5, who began the latest craze for juvenile singers. Once again it looks like a case of the white plagiarists being able to please a wider market, although, in this particular one, the black originals have achieved a world-wide immediate fame that most of their predecessors were denied.

The reason behind the Jacksons’ (hopefully temporary) slight slip would appear to lie, amazingly, at the feet of mighty Motown: the material they have been putting out on singles has progressively lost its sparkle and vivacity, until the Jacksons’ last one, “Maybe Tomorrow“, was decidedly dull – a fact that was reflected in its being their lowest-placed hit yet.

On the other hand, the Osmonds, and Donny Osmond in his own right (who effectively doubles their output), have come up with one bubbly winner after another, each of which has got simpler and more Bubblegum than the others. Credit for this consistent success formula must presumably go to their producer, the veteran Muscle Shoals man, Rick Hall, who has had countless hits during the last decade (beginning with Arthur Alexander, whose early Hall productions were much copied by the first wave of British groups).

There is poetic justice here, for despite his many successes, Hall has never hit on such a winning streak as that of the Osmonds before. One of the leading R&B producers (and studio owners), his productions have tended to be distinctly “Soul” in sound, so that it is not only his becoming the force behind America’s leading teenybop rave group but also his becoming a stone Pop producer that are new departures for him. Will such fame turn his head from his old famous Fame sound?

Oh, yes … what about “Yo-Yo”? A Joe South -penned song, it’s a bass-guitar and brass-backed fast beater into which the vocal textures of the thrusting delivery are well worked. The lead switches about a bit (Donny has a nice “whoops now” trick) and the group do some rapid cooing and even some deep bass “yeah” punctuations. The yo-yo is depicted by a “poyinnggg” noise, for added appeal. So, in fact quite complex in its construction, it is a good old frantic dancer in sound. Maybe greasy kids’ stuff, but it’s darn well made.

THE CHI-LITES: I Want To Pay You Back (For Loving Me); Love Uprising (Brunswick).
You may be expecting gushing praise for this Soul Vocal Group newie, but sorry to say, it honestly does not deserve it and I cannot oblige! Eugene and the gang have reverted to their lovely if bland old slow smooth style (a return which is welcome), without doing it to anything very special.

Eugene (that’s their lead singer, Eugene Record) wrote both sides, and of course the classic beaut on the flip is as great as you would expect – but then it does sound exactly like its original recording by Otis Leaville, and its more recent reading by Jackie Wilson. Still, it’s good to hear it being put across with the wailing sweetness of its writer, this time.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END: Monkey Tamarind (Alston).
This male trio of uncertain nationality have just hit big in America with their gas of a funky summer hit. “Funky Nassau” (Groovy Gandhi?). They seem to be still hung up on Nassau, as this very similar but less good follow-up is all about a poisonous plant that grows down Nassau way … it makes you scratch your feet, etc., which would seem to be the basis of a complicated new dance step. Hey now everybody, get in a big boss line … the mind boggles. Chubby Checker, where are you? Continue reading “October 16, 1971: Osmonds, Chi-Lites, Beginning Of The End, Carole King, Isley Brothers”

October 9, 1971: Eddie Floyd, B.B. King, The Newcomers, The 8th Day, The 5th Dimension

EDDIE FLOYD: Blood Is Thicker Than Water; Have You Heard The Word (We Should Be In Love) (Stax).
Oh, What?! Steve Cropper, Eddie Floyd and Mack Rice wrote it, Steve arranged it, and Steve and Eddie produced it. Nothing unusual about that, sez you, especially considering that the majority of “product” from that sort of Stax team tends to be stillborn by cliche out of clinical multi-track recording, these days.

Alors, mes amis, here’s bon news indeed – somehow they’ve managed to make a bitch of a superbly driving buoyant big bass beater, whose self-propelling oomph generates so much bounce and righteous good, good feelin’ that it is immediately irresistible and packed with punch!

The regurgitating doonk-a doonk-a-doonk-a doonk-a bass-run beat is what forces this along at such a joyful lick, and while not particularly sanctified in sound, it is redolent of Gospel influence. Eddie’s powerful beat-riding delivery, the vocal group’s chorus work, the tricky organ figure on the chorus, the braying brass, the chunky guitar, the thrashing thundering drums, all add immensely to the record – but none of it would have worked so well without the integration of that whomping bass into the overall texture of the sound.

That is Steve and Eddie’s greatest achievement. They have beaten the multi-track jinx, and revived that yearned-for and much-missed old Stax funk. Even on the tender slow flip, the bass level is pushed up high so that it dominates the MSO’s sawing strings and the rest of the sympathetic backing (in fact the flip is especially nice in its own right, and should appeal to Soul Vocal Group fans). Well done, lads!

B. B. KING: Ghetto Woman (abc).
So, the next stage in the All Americanisation of B. B. King is evidently to make him the Bobbie Gentry of the Blues. Even my Mum, on a rare visit, asked who was singing this one . . . which was not really surprising, as this (actually very good) moody and menacing slowie is made even moodier and more menacing by rumbling “Ode To Billie Joe” storm-cIouds-gathering wide-open-spaces throaty strings noises (arranged by Jimmie Haskell), which permeate the Riley King/Dave Clark song with brooding magnificence.

As a Pop record it is great, and, indeed, the words and sounds complement each other perfectly: “a rat run across the floor” (rrrr-growl) “a roach ran up the wall” (whirr-lelele) “everything that’s going around her/don’t seem to bother her at” (sing the Blues!) “awawawwwll, because she’s a ghetto woman” (now play the lowdown dirty Blues – yeah!). Sarcasm apart, I like it a lot.

THE NEWCOMERS: Pin The Tail On The Donkey; Mannish Boy (Stax).
Didn’t someone called Paul Peek once cut a similar title? Anyway, this Bettye Crutcher/Marvell Thomas-penned Allen Jones production is decidedly Stax in heritage if not in sound . . . far from it in sound. Casting covetous eyes towards the Jackson Five and Osmonds, Stax have now come up with their own squeaky voiced choppy rhythm answer to those other juvenile Rhythm and Bubblegum Squeak merchants. It’s not nice.

Thankfully, as compensation for the excesses of the hit side, the swaying slow flip is very nice indeed. Sung in lead-switching (and un-squeaky) Soul Vocal Group style, its good Allen and Marshall Jones-penned words are effectively emoted in such a way that it should snare all SGFs (Soul Group Freaks), everywhere.

It’s a pity that Stax aren’t concentrating more on this very satisfying facet of the group’s talent – especially so, since they seem to be ignoring the fabulous Mad Lads now. The Newcomers are in some ways reminiscent of the Mad Lads (is there any connection?), which ought to be recommendation enough for this side. Yes, it is, VERY nice. Let it grow on you. Continue reading “October 9, 1971: Eddie Floyd, B.B. King, The Newcomers, The 8th Day, The 5th Dimension”

September 25, 1971: The Nite-Liters, James Brown, The Originals, Four Tops, Elvis Presley

THE NITE-LITERS: K-Jee; Tang A Boo Gonk (RCA).
Winning no prizes for literacy and self-expression in their choice of titles, the Nite-Liters win all the prizes in the book for playing the most incredibly good leaping jumping happy chattering great instrumental R&B imaginable – think of Hugh Masekela’s “Grazin’ In The Grass,” speed it up, tighten it up (“Hi everybody! I’m Archie Bell…” Shut up, you fool!), string it out, fill it with stuttering rhythm guitar, throaty brass, incessant rhythm, wailing lead guitar, tripping drums, blasting sax, and you’ll still have to hear the record to know what it’s all about.

The legendary Harvey Fuqua (Moonglows, Harvey label, Motown productions) not only writes and produces for the band, but he formed them as part of a vast great group called the New Birth, comprised of groups, solo singers, and the Nite-Liters as the backing musicians. It’s good to see that “K-Jee,” from the “Morning, Noon And Nite-Liters” album, is huge Pop/R&B and is even going Middle Of The Road in America.

JAMES BROWN: Make It Funky, Parts 1 and 2 (Polydor).
Sceptics can be sceptical if they must, but, truth to tell, surprising thought it may appear, and all that, every new James Brown record does seem to be better than the last, usually . . . and this sure ain’t no exception!

His first recording for Polydor (the record label bears his portrait), it’s a simple repetitive dance riff with a very effective brass phrase, solid bass, doodling organ, scat chat between JB and Bobby Byrd, girlie group chanting, and the usual “Take it to the bridge” bit. The ingredients may not be too unusual, but it’s how he mixes ’em that matters.

THE ORIGINALS: Keep Me (Soul).
“Keep Me” by Berry Gordy, Jr? That seems familiar . . . click click, whirr whirr . . . yeah – Liz Lands! So, down into the vaults, creak open the heavy dust-covered door marked “L,” rummage about, and there it is – “Keep Me,” Liz Lands, vocal accompaniment by the Temptations, produced/penned by Berry Gordy, Jr. either 1963 or early ’64, on the Gordy label. It was done very much in the style of “Anyone Who Had A Heart” then, but now, produced by Joe Hinton and arranged by Paul Riser, it throbs wails and soars in the mellifluous throats of that “Baby I’m For Real” gang of fame, the Originals. Continue reading “September 25, 1971: The Nite-Liters, James Brown, The Originals, Four Tops, Elvis Presley”

August 7, 1971: Dramatics, James Brown, Temptations, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Chi-Lites

DRAMATICS: Watcha See Is Watcha Get; Thankful For Your Love (Volt).
Inspired by the Flip Wilson catch phrase, this rapidly (and deservedly so) rising U.S. hit is amazingly in no way at all a cash-in or gimmick.

(Incidentally, in defence of Flip Wilson, in the long-off days when he used to appear regularly at the “Apollo” he was a truly great comedian, basing most of his jokes on pot-smoking, drugs, sex and other human foibles, all treated with a sympathetic understanding of ghetto life. Just thought the record should be put straight, in case you imagined he was as crass as on his telly series all the time).

Anyway, back to the Dramatics and their superlative new record. The group have been around for some time, showing up on the Win Gate label (a subsidiary of Golden World in Detroit) back in the mid ’60s.

When Detroit-based Don Davis, the producer (who was linked up with the Golden World organisation) moved his Groovesville Music operation to Stax/Volt he seems to have signed the Dramatics to Volt at some stage too, and was producing them in the late ’60s.

“Watcha See” is published by Groovesville but produced by Tony Hester and arranged by Johnny Allen, though. And, as I keep trying to say, it is great.

Opening with plopping beats and subdued brass blasts, the song kicks off with each line being taken in turn, by a husky, then falsetto, the husky, then bass, then intense voice, all of which ride in, on, over, through and around this infectious easy-paced plopping rhythm.

It is a multi-layered, ever-changing effect, full of fascination and attention-holding interest – let alone sheer irresistibility! A perfect amalgamation of beautiful backing and subtle singing, which has scarcely left my turntables since it arrived.

As a bonus, the slow and sweet Soul Vocal Group flip is in its own right pretty damn good too. It’s nice to think that Detroit is still sending goodies down to Stax/Volt, while their own Memphis studios are multi-tracking away their old Soul.

JAMES BROWN: Escape-ism, Parts 1, 2 and 3 (People).
Hot Pants” may be Mr. Brown’s annual summertime smash, but this is the hit that’s best. Nothing more than the proverbial repetitive riff (and S0000 good that thank goodness it keeps on forever) with James Brown chatting and rapping with members of the band over the top of it . . . no song, just jive talk, bullshit, and funky fun.

Yeah, you DO have to be Soul People to appreciate it properly, which is a pity, ‘cos the King has come up with his best rhythm pattern in a long time. If only it didn’t fade out where it does.

THE TEMPTATIONS: It’s Summer; I’m The Exception To The Rule (Gordy).
Yes, the Tempts did this song as the flip to “Ball Of Confusion” and on their “Psychedelic Shack” album; however, this is a different, less gentle and subtle treatment of it, with the whole group joining in much more on top of a noisier backing.

The flip is rather more interesting (being completely new), starting after a quiet instrumental intro with a bit of deep bass recitation, followed by the others singing virtually a cappella a slowly unwinding and rather doom-laden unusual song. Continue reading “August 7, 1971: Dramatics, James Brown, Temptations, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Chi-Lites”