Thursday, January 15, 2015

1966 record reviews - part 4

This is the final batch of my record reviews from the pages of the Croydon Advertiser in 1966 – a journey back in time nearly 50 years to an era that possibly marked the zenith of popular music in terms of variety, quality and innovation, even if the charts of the time seldom reflected that.
After the Beach Boys, there can be little doubt that the next most popular American group are the Four Seasons. For their new disc the Seasons have retained their famous high-pitched sound, but the song they have recorded marks a big change from their normal material. The song is ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin, on Philips BF 1511, the Cole Porter standard which never seems to lose its appeal. This song, combined with the group’s brash, commercial sound, may sound incongruous, but it works out surprisingly well. Brilliant arrangement and, as usual, a highly professional performance from the group make it sound as though the song was written for them It should be yet another Four Seasons hit.
From one of the top songwriters of this century to two of the top songwriters of the sixties – Bacharach and David, who wrote the new Walker Brothers single ‘Another Tear Falls’, on Philips BF 1514. The song, which was first recorded by Gene McDaniels four years ago, sounds sad, almost mournful, in the hands of the Walkers, who are accompanied by a full orchestra. It’s a good song, handled well by the boys, and should give them another big hit.
There’s some very sexy, smooth sounding singing on ‘Make Me Belong To You’ , the new disc by Barbara Lewis on Atlantic 584037. It’s a really first rate performance with a good arrangement and some fine singing from Barbara. The kind of record you’ve got to play over and over again. It’s not really commercial, but, given enough plugs, it should do well.
A very strange intro on the new record by the Righteous Brothers on Verve VS 542. It’s called ‘Go Ahead And Cry’ and to begin with I thought the ‘Sing Something Simple’ singers had got on the disc by mistake. But no. Suddenly the deep voices of the Righteous Brothers burst on the scene in unmistakable manner. It’s very dramatic – too dramatic, I think – and climaxes come thick and fast. At times it sounds as though there about 200 Righteous Brothers singing at the same time.
Lulu seems in a very happy, bouncy mood on her new disc ‘What a Wonderful Feeling’ on Decca F 12491. The song was written by Alan Price and it has a catchy tune. Three or four years ago the song could have been a hit, but now the twist is dead and this sounds like a typical old twist number.
Just Walk In My Shoes’ is the name of the latest record from Gladys Knight and the Pips, a group whose name seems to produce a joke from everyone who hears it. But they may not be regarded as a joke for much longer because this record, on Tamla Motown TMG 576, is a very professional sounding one. Gladys sings with great feeling and there’s a typically powerful Motown backing behind her.
Talking of old records, the new Searchers release, ‘Have You Ever Loved Somebody’, on Pye 7N 17170, would have been a certain hit three years ago. Now, however, this typical Searchers song, with rock beat, busy guitar and expressionless singing, is unlikely to attract much attention. It’s Liverpool ’63 all over again, very dated now, and really rather boring.
Little Anthony, with his group the Imperials, has been on the American scene now for about seven years without ever making much impression in this country. Their new song, ‘Gonna Fix You Good’, on United Artists UP 1151, isn’t going to change things for them I fear. Intro features piano played in boogie woogie style and then Anthony’s incredibly high-pitched voice comes in on this medium paced beater. The disc is well performed but it’s some way below his best.
Maiden aunts may not like the lyrics of ‘Lady Godiva’, the latest record by Peter and Gordon, on Columbia DB 8003, but I’m sure the average record buyer will be intrigued, if nothing else. The disc is something new for the boys – a sing-along number with clever and amusing words. Roughly speaking, it’s about a stripper who finds fame and fortune by rather dubious means as a film star. This could make it Peter and Gordon’s most successful disc for some time.
‘Bend It’, the new record by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, on Fontana TF 746, could well be titled ‘Zoba’s Dance Part Two’. But whereas ‘Zorba’s Dance’ was original, exciting and pleasant, ‘Bend It’ is none of these things. To start with, the bazouki sounds on the record are not genuine – it’s just a guitar. The group strains to make the disc exciting but it doesn’t come off. They’ve come up with a sound which is different from ‘Hold Tight’ and ‘Hideaway’, but it’s merely a copy of a sound that has had it anyway. And the whole thing is so monotonous I thought it was never going to end.
Rather more to my taste is ‘Chains Of Love’ by Chuck Jackson on Pye International 7N 25384. The first record by Chuck in a long time, it’s an upbeat number which he sings well in his powerful deep voice. My only slight criticism is that the tune seems disjointed at times. But since Chuck is touring here soon it should do well.
One British singer who never fails to give a polished performance on her records is Dusty Springfield. Her new disc, ‘All I See Is You’, on Philips BF 1510, is no exception. It’s another very dramatic ballad with big band backing and Dusty in highly emotional mood. It doesn’t sound immediately commercial perhaps, but Dusty sings so well, so expressively, that it must be a massive hit.
It’s amazing the way you can’t keep a good song down – or even a good instrumental disc, come to that. Here we are, three years after ‘Wipeout’ by the Surfaris was a hit for the first time and it looks as though it’s going to be a hit all over again. It was a smart move by Dot records to re-release the disc, on Dot DS 26756, because it still sounds as good as ever. Pulsating guitar work, pounding drumming, and, most important, a fantastic beat, makes this a cert for the charts, even in these days when an instrumental disc doesn’t make the charts in a month of Sundays.
Some months ago the Rockin’ Berries announced that they planned to drop the ‘Rockin’’ bit of their name because, they said, it wasn’t representative of the type of songs they sung. On their latest single, ‘I Could Make You Fall In Love’, released on Piccadilly 7N 35304, they haven’t changed their name and, if anything, they’re even further away from rock singing. Their new one is written by the Ivy League and their influence shows through in the vocal harmonies which the Berries use. It’s a mid tempo song, given a Shadows-type backing, which is pleasant enough and appealing enough to give the group the chart come-back they need.
‘Ain’t That A Groove’ is the title of the latest record by the king of the showmen James Brown, which is released on Pye International 7N 25367. There isn’t much tune to the song, but then there rarely is on his songs, but James makes up for it with jerky, violent yelling and screaming and a punchy sax backing – all of which adds up to excitement. Similar to a lot of his previous records perhaps, but still enjoyable.
A record which is likely to get a lot of plays on the pirate stations is the new one by The Writ, called ‘Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind’ on Decca F 12385. But I can’t see why. On first hearing, it seems totally lacking in impact – just uninspired, rather muffled, singing, even more muffled backing and meaningless lyrics. But it grows on you. The tune creeps up from nowhere and before you know it it’s running round your head and you can’t get rid of it. Which proves, I suppose, that it must have something.
Sandie Shaw, the girl who had a number one hit with her very first record ‘There’s Always Something There To Remind Me’ a year and a half ago and who hasn’t stopped since, has come up with a record which seems very unfitting to her career so far. It’s called ‘Nothing Comes Easy’, on Pye 7N 17086, and like her other records I’m sure it will be shooting up the charts. I’m not a great Sandie Shaw fan, but this record deserves to do well. As usual, it is written by Chris Andrews and Sandie sings very pleasantly to a lively, jingly backing on a song which is ideal for her voice. It’s her best for a long time.
Still with the girls, but far less happily, is ‘He Cried’ by the Shangi-Las on Red Bird RB 10053, a morbid sounding number. No one gets killed on this particular record, although judging by the slow, heavy drumming, the spoken intro and the mournful singing of the girls, you’d never believe it. The overpowering echo throughout the disc  only adds to the depression. But I must admit it’s very effective.
Avid followers of ‘Five O’Clock Club’ will be glad to hear that the Dave Clark Five have brought out another record especially for you. The song is called ‘Look Before You Leap’, on Columbia DB 7909. It’s the usual jolly Dave Clark formula with a simple tune, the occasional scream and the odd burst of sax creeping in.
The latest record by Hedgehoppers Anonymous is ‘Baby You’re My Everything’ on Decca F 12400 and it represent a complete change of style for the group. It’s a dramatic pop ballad with a strong tune which sounds as though it could easily be sung by a Tamla Motown artist. The Hedgehoppers’ performance, however, is rather uninspired.
More the sort of record I like is ‘Hold On I’m Coming’ by an American duo called Sam and Dave, on Atlantic 584003. The song isn’t commercial and doesn’t have an exceptionally strong tune, but the jerky, pumping beat is great and the boys manage to whip up quite a bit of excitement. 

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