Sunday, December 28, 2014

Record reviews from 1966

As promised, here are some of my record reviews from the pages of the Croydon Advertiser back in 1966. More to follow (possibly)! You have been warned.

Wilson Pickett: 634-5789, That’s A Man’s Way. (Atlantic 4072). Some tremendous soul singing on this pounding effort by the ‘In The Midnight Hour’ man. Good song with a girl vocal group chanting the numbers (it’s the guy’s phone number) in the background. Gets really wild towards the end. Flip is a slower blues-tinged song with organ backing.
James Brown: I Got You, I Can’t Help It. (Pye International 7N 25350). This is great soul-filled singing and shouting from James on a forceful, punchy number. Powerful backing from the Famous Flames with some pumping sax work well to the fore. Very exciting and great for dancing. Flip is slower but with the dramatic singing and strong backing.
Gene Pitney: Backstage, In Love Again. (Stateside SS 490). Typical Pitney material – orchestral backing, dramatic singing with double tracking in parts, building to a climax. Not his best but a good performance.
Elvis Presley: Blue River, Do Not Disturb. (RCA Victor 1504(. There’s absolutely nothing to arouse interest in this song and it’s a disappointing Presley. Flipside is slightly better.
With lyrics by William Shakespeare (adapted by Howard Blaikley) and music by Franz Schubert,  I thought Who Is Sylvia? By The Honeycombs on Pye 7N 17039 ought to be interesting. But no! The vocal is dreary and off key at times and the backing is dull on this mid tempo song. The flipside, ‘How Will I Know?’ is no better – just dull singing of a dull song.
Yardbirds: Shapes Of Things, You’re A Better Man Than I. (Columbia DB 7848). Latest from the successful group and it’s a fastish number with a heavy thumping beat. Quite commercial, with a group vocal and some strange sounds going on towards the end. However, it’s lacking a strong melody. Not bad, but hardly their most exciting disc so far. Flip is a slower number but quite good.
Donovan: Josie, Little Tin Soldier. (Pye YN 17067). Donovan didn’t want this record to be released and I can hardly blame him. It’s the usual Dylanish, pseudo folk stuff sung in a voice lacking expression. Similar styled song on the flip with Donovan’s little boy voice telling a sort of fairy tale with a message.
Hollies: I Can’t Let Go, Runnin’ Through The Night. (Parlophone R 5489). Good intro to upbeat number with a complicated series of vocal harmonies from the boys. A hit, like every other Hollies record, but I fail to see the attraction of this group’s records. Flip is a country and western styled song.
Sam The Sham: Red Hot, A Long Long Way. (MGM 1298). This is a real old fashioned piece of rock from the ‘ Wooly Bully’ man. There’s a gruff, gravel-voiced vocal and the beat moves along at a fair old rate. Perfect for rock fans but otherwise rather dated. Flipis another piece of uncompromising rock and roll.
Junior Walker & the Allstars: Cleo’s Mood, You Know You Ain’t Right. (Tamla Motown TMG 550). Slowish, bluesy instrumental track this one, with a powerful  gutsy sax taking the honours. Strange organ work at times. Not chart material. Flip is more interesting: a punchy vocal which brings back memories of Junior Walker’s Shotgun.
Small Faces: Sha-la-la-la-lee, Grow Your Own. (Decca F12317). This one, by the group who had a hit with What-cha Gonna Do About It is a beaty number written by Kenny Lynch and Mort Shuman. A catchy commercial song with lead singer Steve Marriiott and the boys fairly belting out the lyrics. It’s bound to sell well. Flipside is a raucous organ-led instrumental.
The Ugly’s: A Good Idea, Quiet Explosion. (Pye 7n 17027). The best part of this record is probably the strange bass noise on the introduction. Thereafter it’s a steady beat number which gets progressively more boring. Flipside is, I suppose, a sort of protest about the population explosion.
The Marvelettes: Don’t Mess With Bill, Anything You Wanna Do. (Tamla Motown TMG 546). Unusual bass intro on this one, followed by a soft sexy lead voice and good group harmony on a slowish bluesy song. One of the group’s best ever records. Flip is not so good, but there’s some soft warbling sax work in the backing.
Clyde McPhatter: Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool, I Belong To You. (Stateside SS 487). The hitmaker of the late 50s here trying to make a comeback with a revival of the old Connie Francis hit. Clyde talks his way through the song while a girl backing group does the singing. Nevertheless the song builds and builds and gets really exciting. More talking on the B side which is more of a ballad and not really too exciting.
Lee Dorsey: Get Out Of My Life Woman, So Long. (Stateside SS 485). Very similar tune to Lee’s last raucous record ‘Ride Your Pony’ but far superior. Much slower bluesy sort of song with a very pronounced beat. Flip side every bit as good.
Downliners Sect: All Night Worker, He Was A Square (Columbia DB 7817) Rufus Thomas song given a typically British approach by a group who has been trying to get into the charts for quite a while. Backing is noisy but ordinary and vocal is unexciting.
Sandie Shaw: Tomorrow, Hurting You (Pye 7N 17036). Yet another Chris Andrews song from Sandie Shaw. This time a marching song with clever backing arrangement, but it’s not a strong one. Another Andrews song on the B side.
Episode Six: Put Yourself In My Place, That’s All I Want. (Pye 7N 17018). New group with a beaty, fast moving commercial number which could get them established. Vocal is loud and so is the backing. Flip is a dated group-styled song.
Adam Faith: Idle Gossip, If Ever You Need Me. (Parlophone R5398). This old song is given a remarkably square and old fashioned treatment by Adam. However, anyone who buys Ken Dodd’s records will no doubt love this one.
The Quiet Five used to be a very popular group in their home town, Croydon. Now they’re beginning to make a name for themselves nationally, but it would seem that Croydon is still their first love if their latest record is anything to go by. It is called ‘Homeward Bound’ released on Parlophone R5421 and on it the boys bemoan  the fate of pop stars who are constantly travelling around the country and never get a chance to go home. It’s a slow mournful song given an attractive tuneful treatment by the group. This is a cover version of a song which is hitting it big in the States for the hit making duo Simon and Garfunkel, but it stands a fair chance of making the charts here.
Polydor, a German record company, are making a tremendous effort to become established as a major company here. A new label, Reaction, has just been started up and with their very first release they look like having a big hit. It’s called ‘Substitute’ and it’s by one of Britain’s most popular groups, The Who. The song, on Reaction 591001, makes up on beat what it lacks in tune. A heavy, pounding beat featuring bass guitar and drums backs up an almost tuneless vocal. Nevertheless it’s quite strong enough to make the charts. The B side, Instant Party, is similar with a heavy beat and a vague, nondescript tune.
A big American star of a few years ago, Del Shannon turns up on Stateside SS494 this week with a song called ‘I Can’t Believe My Ears’. Strange organ sounds open the disc, followed by double tracking and the usual falsetto singing by Del on a slowish song which is reminiscent of ‘Little Town Flirt’. It’s a fair effort but Del doesn’t seem to be able to recapture the magic of his old hits. ‘I Wish I Wasn’t Me Tonight’ on side two, is a sad song dominated by Del’s own echo.
The Righteous Brothers sang it; the Kingsmen sang it. Both groups made it a hit in the States but not over here. The song: ‘Little Latin Lupe Lu’. And now Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels are making it a hit for a third time in America. But I can’t see the record. On Stateside SS498, making it third time lucky in Britain. Like the group’s last disc, Jenny Take A Ride, it may not make much impression. It’s got a solid beat and occasional screaming and whistling in the background, but the singing is dull and there’s nothing new about it.
Wilder still is ‘Baby Don’t Push Me’ by the Alan Bown Set on Pye 7N17084 – but I doubt it will be a hit. The rhythm is jerky and the tune weak.
A lot better, as far as the melody is concerned is ‘Splendor In The Grass’, recorded by Gulliver’s People on Parlophone R5435. The song is written by Jackie DeShannon and has a strong tune and a reasonable lyric and there is powerful backing. This could be a hit – though only on the strength of the song itself.
‘Just How Wrong You Can Be’ by The Epics on Pye 7N 17053 is a fairly pleasant, medium pace song given a fairly pleasant treatment. There’s nothing new about it, but it may well be quite successful.
That grand old man of song, Frank Sinatra, would never have followed up a hit record by bringing out another almost exactly the same, I’m quite sure. But that’s exactly what daughter Nancy Sinatra has done with her follow up to ‘Boots’, called ‘How Does That Grab You Darling’ on Reprise R20461. Sticking to the old theory that if you’ve found a winning combination why change it, the new record should really be called ‘Boots Part 2’. It has the same tune, same backing and the same rather tuneless voice Nancy has – so different from her father.
Another American who obviously agrees with Nancy about follow-up records is Lou Christie, whose latest disc ‘Rhapsody In The Rain’, on MGM 1308, is very similar to his smash hit Lightning Strikes. In Fact, the giro vocal group backing him even go so far as to chant ‘Lightning Strikes’ at one stage. It’s got the same high pitched vocal work and exciting arrangement as the original.
After months without a single release Manfred Mann make a long-awaited return with Pretty Flaingo on HMP POP 1523. It may not be as strong as some of their earlier releases but it’s a change of style and Paul Jones does a fair job.
There are some very strange noises on the intro to the record by the Riot Squad, called ‘I Take It That We’re Through’ on Pye 7N 17092, but the song itself is a drag. This backing, however, which includes some weird Oriental-style sounds at one point, greatly improves it.
I’ve never heard of American singer Edwin Starr before, but his new record ‘Stop Her On Sight’, released on Polydor 56701, is a real gas. The singer’s voice is really great.


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