Friday, January 02, 2015

More record reviews from 1966

As promised, here are some more of my record reviews from the pages of the Croydon Advertiser in 1966. More will follow. So there! (Comments more than welcome.)
'One of the most promising, and most unusually named American groups at the moment are The Mamas and the Papas, whose first record ‘California Dreaming’ was a smash hit in the States. That one didn’t make it over here, but their latest record ‘Monday Monday’, on RCA 1516 is so good that it can’t miss. It’s a slightly folksy number with a really attractive tune given a charming treatment by lead singer Denny. The rest of the group and the musical arrangement all help to make this an outstanding disc – and a hit.
A completely different type of song – but nevertheless a hit – is the new one from the Small Faces, on Decca F12393. Called ‘Hey Girl’, it’s another noisy, upbeat number which is similar in style to ‘ Sha La La La Lee’. To my mind it’s blatantly commercial, in fact rather juvenile. There’s no subtlety in the treatment whatsoever, but the tune is catchy and the beat thumps away incessantly.
Having found a successful hit formula with ‘Uptight’, Stevie Wonder is taking no chances on his latest record ‘Nothin’s Too Good For My Baby’ on Tamla Motown TMG 558. Again it’s a beaty number with a strong tune and powerful backing, generating a load of excitement. Maybe a little repetitious though and it seems too fast somehow.
‘A Most Peculiar Man’ is the title of the new record from Adam, Mike and Tim on Columbia DB 7902 - and it’s not only the title that’s peculiar. The lyrics, written by Paul Simon, are offbeat to say the least – about a man who lives like a hermit and who eventually kills himself – and so is the backing, which has a slightly Eastern flavour. The boys’ performance is not so unusual, though, with a flat, perhaps deliberately, toneless style.
One of the groups around London’s clubland at the moment is the Ram Jam Band who, with lead singer Geno Washington, have brought out a record called ‘Water’ on Piccadilly 7N 35312. It’s a bouncy, very danceable item which is one of the very best attempts at reproducing the American R and B sound in this country. Because of this, it probably isn’t generally commercial.
Another ‘in’ name at the moment is that of Lee Dorsey, who recently did well with ‘Get Out Of My Life Woman’. His new record ‘Confusion’ on Stateside 506 is very similar to his last, with the same wandering beat and group backing. The number is very well performed both by Lee and backing group, but it probably won’t be a hit.
A new single by the Rolling Stones nowadays means an automatic number one hit – even though their records seem to be getting stranger and stranger. Their latest offering ‘Paint It Black’ certainly follows the trend, with a subdued start leading into their usual thumping beat. There’s an Eastern flavour about the record with the sitar, that increasingly popular Indian guitar-like instrument, strongly featured. The lyrics are almost drowned by the backing but so what? It’s the Stones, and I’m sure their thousands of fans will rush out to buy it.
More to my taste is ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’, the first release on Atlantic since distribution was taken over by Polydor, numbered 584001. The singer is Percy Sledge, who looks like having a surprise hit on his hands. It’s a slow, very bluesy, organ-backed song – definitely not the sort of record that usually makes the British charts. But on this record the song is so strong and the singer, who sounds a bit like Joe Tex, puts so much feeling into it that it must do well.
There’s a spoken introduction to ‘Not Responsible’, the new record by Tom Jones, on Decca F 12390, which leads into an upbeat powerfully backed performance of a song recorded by Helen Shapiro. This record falls well short of the usual standard of Tom’s releases though.
Seven years after his death, the Buddy Holly sound still isn’t finished – especially for the Bobby Fuller Four, who recently had a big American hit with the Holly-inspired ‘I Fought The Law’. On their new record, ‘Love’s Made A Fool Of You’, on London HLU 10041, they revive the Holly sound once more. The song was written by Buddy and the group’s performance contains the same outstanding guitar work as his records. There’s a solid beat and a solid professional sound which might put it in the charts.
A very attractive piece of piano work opens ‘Patti’s Prayer’ by Patti LaBelle and Her Belles on Atlantic 584007 and this is followed by some expressive and emotional vocal work by Patti. The song, however, is rather sentimental and I doubt it will make much impression on the charts.
The newly formed Strike label is already enjoying its first hit with a song called ‘That’s Nice’ by Neil Christian and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if ‘Cheat and Lie’ by Miki Dallon, on Strike JH 306, was the second hit on the label. Miki has a strong voice, similar to that of Tom Jones, and builds up a fair bit of excitement on the disc. This, combined with the tough sounding backing, could make it sell well.
Respectable and easy to listen to the Seekers may be, but they are hardly pacesetters when it comes to their records. These are predictable: sweet, tuneful songs sung in a gentle, folksy manner. Their new disc ‘Morningtown Ride’ on Columbia DB 8060, is no exception. The song is as attractive as ever, the singing harmonious. But there’s a sickly-sweet quality about it. The whole performance lacks impact – unlike some of their earlier releases – and I can’t see it making much impression on the charts.
Christmas is coming and with it, the usual crop of semi-religious discs. Past-master of this art is Julie Rogers, whose offering is entitled ‘While The Angelus Was Ringing’ on Mercury MF950. In fact, it’s another variation of the ‘Three Bells theme, which made the charts seven years ago. The record is very solemn – sounds as if it was recorded in a cathedral – and absolutely great if you like this kind of thing. Unfortunately I don’t.
Much more to my taste is the new record by American Percy Sledge called ‘Heart Of A Child’ on Atlantic 584055. It’s a complete change of style for Percy from his massive hit ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ but he handles this bouncy upbeat song with great professionalism. The song is tuneful and interesting, if not exciting, and it could well put Mr Sledge back in the charts.
Four years ago the biggest selling American artist was Dion. Then he changed his name to Dion DiMucci, joined a new recording company, and gradually he slipped out of the limelight. The flow of his records slowly dried up until he became just another fallen idol. But now HMV have released a Dion record called ‘Berimbau’, on POP 1565. On it he sings with the Belmonts, the group he was with before he went solo. Whether this is the original Belmonts group or not I don’t know, but it’s very different from the type of record they used to record. ‘Berimbau’ is, in fact, the only recognisable word sung on the record. The rest consists of weird, off beat noises made by Dion and the group humming and mumbling their way through a complex, jazz-tinged tune. It’s all very vague, sounding a little like the Swingle Singers, but effective.
‘Missy, Missy’ is the title of the latest record by Paul and Barry Ryan, on Decca F 12520, which seems to be destined to be a flop.  A Vaudevillian intro leads into a rather dull, old-fashioned song and the voices lack any interest. Can’t see this one appealing to many people.
That classic blues record ‘I’m A King Bee’ by Slim Harpo has at last been issued on a single on EMI’s Soul Supply series (on Stateside 557). It was released some years ago on an EMI long player and was made famous when the Stones recorded it. Everything about this record – the singing, the atmospheric backing, even the hole in the middle – is great. It’s an absolute must for any collector of blues records – pop record collectors too.'


At 11:13 pm , Anonymous john S said...

Interesting to see your period reviews - you got to do some great records.

Question is; how the heck did you not see the potential in 'Morningtown Ride'? A classic in everyway - even to a die-hard rockabilly fan.

Disgusted of Shalford...

At 9:54 am , Blogger Nick said...

You're right John. How Can I have not liked it? A classic indeed!
Interesting, looking from today's viewpoint, that I don't use words like 'soul', 'doowop' and 'rockabilly' when describing the records. Maybe the different genres were still not defined properly then, although I do mention R and B, rock (for rock an d roll), blues etc.


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