August 29, 1970: Boffalongo, Faith Hope & Charity, Bobby (Boris) Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jim Reeves

BOFFALONGO: Dancing In The Moonlight (United Artists UP 35144).
Oh, I love it! I hope that those of you who, as regular readers, reckon that our tastes are similar will love it too. Bear in mind that my favourite disc of 1969 was Tommy James & the Shondells’ Crystal Blue Persuasion, and rush out to hear this similar in spirit, glorious, joyful little beater. PLEASE, Radio 1, plug this original version.

FAITH, HOPE & CHARITY: So Much Love; Let’s Try It Over (Crewe CRW 3).
An all-happening happy hollering female group Friends Of Distinction-like R&B beater that I personally have been waiting to hear for some time. No disappointment, as these chicks can sing, and I mean REALLY sing! Kinda energetic, it’s Pop enough to catch on here too, having been big both R&B and Pop Stateside. Fabulous powerful slow Soul flip, not to be missed. Van McCoy & Joe Cobb co-penned/produced.

BOBBY (BORIS) PICKETT AND THE CRYPT-KICKERS: Monster Mash; Monster’s Mash Party (London HLU 10320).
Well, speak of the …! I mentioned this classic 1962 U.S. smash first indirectly and then, just the other week, directly in my reviews of the music from “MASH” (saying latterly that it was a revived hit in America), and – here it is! Those too young or too thick to remember (it wasn’t actually ever very big here) will probably wonder what I’m on about when they hear it, but hopefully there are enough nostalgicats in the land who missed it first time round to make it a hit now. One of my very favourite records … a revealing insight, yeah?! (Early-60s freaks will note the subtle label alterations). Whatever happened to the Transylvania Twist? Continue reading “August 29, 1970: Boffalongo, Faith Hope & Charity, Bobby (Boris) Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jim Reeves”

August 22, 1970: Melanie, Blinky & Edwin Starr, Poco, Tony Joe White, B. B. King

MELANIE: What Have They Done To My Song Ma; Ruby Tuesday (Buddah 2011-038).
What indeed? You may have heard the British cover by the New Seekers of Melanie Safka’s marvellous (and, in this case, particularly pertinent) little song – now you can go out and get the original, yet for some unintelligible reason as officially only the B-side of this release. Madness. “Ruby Tuesday” is a dull dirge, whereas “Song Ma” is a natural “easy-listening” smash if ever there was one – subdued but ultra-bouncy oompah beat, catchy chorus, pretty voice, and even a bit in French. Especially as the not dissimilar Joni Mitchell is so big right now, why the hell isn’t this the plug side?

BLINKY & EDWIN STARR: Oh How Happy; Oo Baby Baby (Tamla Motown TMG 748).
Written by Edwin in his Ric-Tic days, this was originally a US hit some four years ago by a white soul group called the Shades Of Blue (on Impact, one of the labels in the Detroit-based Golden World/Ric-Tic group that, together with Edwin, was taken over by Motown). Anyway, the story continues – last winter, in its present form as an exuberant, joyful beater of a duet, this new version was all set for release here (I even had my review copy) when it was suddenly scrapped, and a solo Starr side, “Time,” came out instead (so that he could plug it on a visit). Just as they have done by not promoting the Originals’ “Baby I’m For Real,” Motown goofed. “Time” looked great on “Top Of The Pops” but it wasn’t a hit. This will be.

POCO: You Better Think Twice; Anyway Bye Bye (CBS S 5141).
A spirited happy rocker, with good thumping bass, plus an involuted slow flip, from the Jim Messina/Richie Furay group. Now I wonder why they harmonize so much like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young?! Rather keen on these. Continue reading “August 22, 1970: Melanie, Blinky & Edwin Starr, Poco, Tony Joe White, B. B. King”

August 1, 1970: Buchanan Brothers, Supremes, Bob Dylan, Jimmy McGriff, Lou Donaldson

BUCHANAN BROTHERS: Rosianna (Penny Farthing PEN 725).
By merely turning into a bright percussive little beater, this latest Cashman-Pistilli-West opus doesn’t quite live up to its earlier promise of acappella bass clucking. Still, good enough.

THE SUPREMES: Everybody’s Got The Right To Love; But I Love You More (Tamla Motown TMG 747).
Nicely un-frantic jog-trotting gentle beater, quite a change from the old format, with wistful vocals, electric sitar touches, handclapping – really, more in the spirit of early Motown. “Say ‘Yeah!” Mary Wells would have sung this, then. Mmmm, lovely. Intricate good slow flip, too. Viva Jean Terrell.

BOB DYLAN: Wigwam; Copper Kettle (The Pale Moonlight) (CBS S 5122).
Great music to smooch by, and bound to be covered by Bert Kaempfert, Ray Conniff, etc. (None of the above is meant sarcastically, either.) Dead slow flip, about illicit liquor distilling. Continue reading “August 1, 1970: Buchanan Brothers, Supremes, Bob Dylan, Jimmy McGriff, Lou Donaldson”

July 25, 1970: Carpenters, Three Dog Night, Anthony Quinn, Andy Williams, Delfonics

CARPENTERS: (They Long To Be) Close To You (A & M AMS 800).
Think of all Bacharach & David’s old songs prior to and including “What The World Needs Now”, mix in a hook that reminds me, at least, of Jack Keller & Gerry Goffin’s “Run To Her” (on Little Eva’s LP, oldies freaks), then imagine the result sung by Dionne Warwick, Jackie de Shannon and Carole King all rolled into one, beautifully backed (the girlie group . . . wah!) and recorded with as much of a 1964 sound as possible – and all the nostalgicats among you will have a pretty good mental picture of this, B & D’s latest affectionate look backwards. In fact produced by Jack Daugherty, the lovely retrospective slowie is earning plenty of coin Stateside for newcomers Karen and Richard Carpenter (sister and brother, she sings and he arranges). What luck, getting this as their first single! Can’t stop playing it, Oh yes – it might just manage to scrape into the upper reaches of our chart, too!

THREE DOG NIGHT: Mama Told Me (Not To Come) (Stateside SS 8052).
Number One in America, a complex Randy Newman song, much more subtle than the boys’ past work (good though that was), and a must to be heard for yourselves. Great words and music. For hip dancers initially. Give it time.

ANTHONY QUINN: I Love You And You Love Me (Capitol CL 15649).
Lee Marvin, Mark II (recordwise, that is)? In a resonant, artificially enhanced deep voice, the fiery Latin (moviewise) repeats the song’s simple lines after the Harold Spina Singers have Ray Conniffed them, to a Spina-penned tune that sounds kinda like “Spanish Eyes”. (Spina produced, too.) It’s a hit with me, and I’ll certainly be playing it at dances – great slushy romantic programming material for those tender moments! Continue reading “July 25, 1970: Carpenters, Three Dog Night, Anthony Quinn, Andy Williams, Delfonics”

July 18, 1970: Toomorrow, Cissy Houston, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, 5th Dimension, Tommy Roe

TOOMORROW: You’re My Baby Now; Goin’ Back (RCA 1978).
Mark my words, you will be hearing more about this group.

CISSY HOUSTON: The Long and Winding Road; Be My Baby (Major Minor MM 716). Forget all other pronouncements: THIS is THE hit – hit – HIT! To a light “Always Something There to Remind Me” bossa nova-ish tempo, Cissy glides and emotes through the Paul McCartney song as though it was her own exclusively. It will be. Pure artistry. Dig too the slowed right up and quietened down totally different treatment of the classic Spector flip.

SMOKEY ROBINSON AND THE MIRACLES: The Tears of a Clown; You Must Be Love (Tamla Motown TMG 745).
Instead of with some of the Miracles’ recent unreleased material, Motown has chosen to belatedly follow ‘Tracks of My Tears’ up with this similarly titled stomping 1967 album track. Slow flip, from the same ‘Make it Happen’ elpee. They’re both good if old hat, but then British Motown has proved often enough that it knows its market here. Continue reading “July 18, 1970: Toomorrow, Cissy Houston, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, 5th Dimension, Tommy Roe”

June 27, 1970: Diana Ross, Norman Greenbaum, Johnnie Taylor

DIANA ROSS: Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand); Dark Side Of The World (Tamla Motown TMG 743).
For her solo debut, Diana has got right away from the old hit-making Supremes format – she still, of course, sounds exactly like the old Diana, and even has a girlie group in back of her, but it is in her choice of material that she is different. These are both Nick Ashford/Valerie Simpson-penned songs, with the A-side being the more different of the two: a meandering, gently thumping slowie, sung by Diana in un-raucous, delicate mood. The flip is a bit more determined, and rather more Supremes-ish. Both good.

NORMAN GREENBAUM: Canned Ham; Junior Cadillac (Reprise RS.20919).
As a follow-up to the monster “Spirit In The Sky”, Norman has reverted to the sound and structure of his earlier release, “Jubilee“. The beat is more straightforward (and, I reckon, will be less popular) than that of his hit, and the girlie group are featured prominently throughout, chirping away call-and-answers in a squeaky harmony – all in all, VERY like “Jubilee”. It’s nice good-time music, but it’s too fast for that modern Madison dance-step which fitted ‘Spirit” so well! Funkier flip.

JOHNNIE TAYLOR: Who’s Making Love; I’m Trying (Stax 106). Someone at Stax has some sense! When this glorious screaming, stomping, storming dancer was released a year and a half ago in America, it went straight to number one, sold over a million, and finally established Johnnie (who’s been singing since the ’50s) as a true great. Admittedly “Do The Funky Chicken” has made a huge impression with its ’65-type sound, but I always think of “Love” as the last of the classic “traditional” Soul hits – last year saw the emergence of newer, trickier rhythms (hence the re-release boom here). Anyway, this is one re-release that does deserve success: incredibly popular with discotheque dancers, it is placed permanently at the top of my “Soul” pile of records, and even if I play no other Soul records at a dance I generally play this, because, despite being unknown to most people, it has such a powerful impact that any fool can feel it! Go get it . . . and when you finally sit down, dig the words too.

May 16, 1970: Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, The Jackson 5, Four Tops, The Tokens

ELVIS PRESLEY: Kentucky Rain; My Little Friend (RCA 1949).
Now here’s an Elvis newie that I actually don’t mind! The tempo-changing sIowie’s arrangement maintains interest, and E.A.P. sounds in good voice – obviously a huge hit. Fine flip, too. Hey, these ARE all right!

THE BEACH BOYS: Cottonfields; Nearest Faraway Place (Capitol CL 15640).

THE JACKSON 5: A.B.C.; The Young Folks (Tamla Motown TMG 738).
Better than “I Want You Back” (though the flip is no match for “Who’s Lovin’ You“).

FOUR TOPS: It’s All In The Game; Love Is The Answer (Tamla Motown TMG 736).
The Tommy Edwards oldie, a beautiful slow sure smash. (Fine for S.G.F.s even!). Continue reading “May 16, 1970: Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, The Jackson 5, Four Tops, The Tokens”

March 28, 1970: Country & Western special

With the Country & Western Caravan Of Stars due in town, it’s a big C&W release week. The reviews below are aimed more at the ignorant than at Country Freaks (who already know what they like), since many people, and especially fans of trendy Country-Rock, should enjoy some of these records.

BILL ANDERSON & JAN HOWARD: If It’s All The Same To You; I Thank God For You (MCA MU 1121).
This teaming of two well-known Country names has produced an almost Soulful slowie (it would convert to black singers very easily), with some telling fuzz-tone guitar and electric piano. Nothing mind-blowing, but do hear it. Beautifully corny, choking-voice recitations on flip, too!

LORETTA LYNN: Wings Upon Your Horns; Let’s Get Back Down To Earth (MCA MU 1118).
Lovely Loretta (she is rather attractive) is one of those traditional Country females with the vocal twang heard also in Jeanie C Riley and Brenda Lee, for instance. “Wings” is a fairly typical steel ‘n’ piano slowie, whereas the funky “Earth” has some great rhythms and is a lot of fun.

WILMA BURGESS: The Sun’s Gotta Shine; Only Mama That’ll Walk The Line (MCA MU 1122).
Folksy clear-as-a-bell chick on a quiet little song that keeps reminding me of something (Young Love” mixed with “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square”? I must be going mad!). Anyhow, rather nice.
*** Continue reading “March 28, 1970: Country & Western special”

March 21, 1970: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lou Christie, Oliver, Fraternity Of Man, Stevie Wonder

CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL: Travelin’ Band; Who’ll Stop The Rain (Liberty LBF 15310).
I know that people go quacking on about C.C.R. being an old-style Rock ‘n’ Roll group, but even so I was completely unprepared for this record – “Travelin’ Band” is an unabashedly straight copy of Little Richard! As such, they have done it very cleverly, considering their restrictive instrumental line-up – the drumming especially is really good. Great fun, and sure to get the kids jiving in the aisles (yes folks, the Rock Revival IS here!). Jangling ‘significant’ flip.

LOU CHRISTIE: Love Is Over; Generation (Buddah 201081).
Yes folks the Rock Revival is REALLY here, as, to a jittery fast backing, Lou Sacco reverts to his “Lightnin’ Strikes” sound! On current form, a CHART CERT.

OLIVER: Jean; The Arrangement (Crewe CRW 1).
First offering here on Bob Crewe’s own logo (a sickly green label) is the U.S. smash version of the “Miss Jean Brodie” theme. This was William Oliver Swofford’s follow-up to “Good Morning Starshine”, and despite the time-gap between them it should do well since he sings the much-plugged Rod McKuen slowie perfectly pleasantly. Slightly “Middle Eastern” flip.
CHART CHANCE. Continue reading “March 21, 1970: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lou Christie, Oliver, Fraternity Of Man, Stevie Wonder”

February 7, 1970: Ronnie Hawkins, The Archies, Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, Herb Alpert, Anthony Swete

RONNIE HAWKINS WITH THE BAND: Who Do You Love; Bo Diddley (Roulette RO 512).
Originally released on the old Columbia green label back in ’63, this single has been much treasured by those discerning few who found it then (like a fool, I dug it but never got it, ’cause he was white – a mistake I have long regretted!) Many of our more famous guitar super-stars were among those few – which is no surprise, since, along with Lonnie Mack during the same year, the amazing guitar sounds that Robbie Robertson brought screaming forth on “Who Do You Love” were truly a foretaste of the future. Anyway, now everyone can get the real genuine 1963 article again (there’s an L.P. too), and wonder at the un-dated modern sound! (Forgetting Pop history; the beat on these two old Bo Diddley-penned dancers is ridiculous, and their sheer excitement communicates itself immediately to everyone).

THE ARCHIES: Jingle Jangle; Justine (RCA Victor RCA 1918).
Clever chap, that Jeff Barry (the producer) – instead of following-up “Sugar, Sugar” with another sound-alike, he’s not only got a completely different beat going but he also has a chick singing the lead (with some nice male support near the end). As with “Sugar”, the tune is not immediately obvious yet once you’ve heard it a few times it becomes maddeningly catchy. The less-danceable beat is the only element that may hold this back. Monotonous slow flip.

KENNY ROGERS & THE FIRST EDITION: Something’s Burning; Momma’s Waiting (Reprise RS 20888).
“Someone’s Goofed”, more like! They should have gone ahead with “Reuben James” as their follow-up, since this soft-then-building, soft-again-then-building slowie certainly won’t get the crowds dancing (nor the critics disapproving) . . . it’s not that it’s bad, just ordinary. Perkier Country-tinged flip.
CHART CHANCE. Continue reading “February 7, 1970: Ronnie Hawkins, The Archies, Kenny Rogers & The First Edition, Herb Alpert, Anthony Swete”