STONES — CONSIDERABLY TOO MUCH
ROLLING STONES: ‘We Love You’/’Dandelion’ (Decca).
A sinister and dramatic explosion by the mystical circle of the world’s pop empire. A meeting of the heads of pop, the Stones and their friends in a heads-back and shouting peal of joy at the freedom of the Stones from their threatened incarceration.
At the commencement of the operation that must have blown the recording studio into smoking pieces, comes the sound of a jailer’s footsteps, the jingling of keys and the crash of a cell door shutting.
The Stones and their highly recognisable friends chant the message while what sounds like mellotron, piano, drums and cymbals move to a monstrous, majestic climax like a soul Ravel.
The second A side, ‘Dandelion’, continues with a prettier song, considerably more commercial and once again the Stones benefit from some nice vocal harmonies, and Charlie Watts, if that is indeed the gentleman at the drums, batters with compulsive force that will probably make this the more saleable side.
Each track ends with a segment of the other side’s introduction. Both sides are considerably too much.
MONKEE MITES — REJOICE!
THE MONKEES: ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ (RCA Victor).
Is everybody happy? The answer, if you are a Monkee fan, is YES! Away with progression, lights, fights and flower-power. Here is pure pop music that requires little effort to assimilate, will sell in vast quantities and will gladden the hearts of Monkee-mites everywhere.
Peter, Micky, Mike and Davy appeal to an age group of fans that is being ignored with almost suicidal results by vast numbers of groups. How can ten-year-old Wendy Potts of Barnsley groove to a 25-year-old acid-bead, with paranoia spurting out of his eyeballs?
With one blow of a Goffin and King song that bounces and sparkles with joy and simplicity the cunning Monkees will once again descend upon us with a mammoth hit. And the mites of Barnsley shall rejoice.
JIMI HENDRIX: ‘Burning Of The Midnight Lamp’ (Track).
Jimi Hendrix is a cheerful chap and so is manager Chas Chandler, and so indeed are all the Experience. So it surprises me all the more the increasing lack of humour, and even fire in the latter day works of Hendrix. From the raw, earthy simplicity of the group’s style when they made their initial impact on London last year, they are heading towards even more complexity, which is not necessarily a good thing. The best passages are when the drums are rocking steady and Jimi and his guitar are cooking. But there is a great deal of the record time devoted to jews harp noises, and other extraneous effects. In three separate build-ups, however, the overall effect is hypnotic, and reaches an interesting Wagnerian climax, with what sounds like Rhine Maidens wailing in the background. But not a smash I fear.
DEAD SEA FRUIT: ‘Love At The Hippiedrome’ (Camp).
What happens when the New Vaudeville Band meet the Mothers Of Invention? Answer — one of those jolly, topical singles that always emerge during a national craze, be it hula hoops, flying saucers or holding cider and Scotch drinking contests.
Throw in a bit of Mothers-type mumbling at the beginning, add lyrics containing the words “love,” “perception,” “turn on, make the scene,” plus a Denmark Street demo group sound and you have a well-made commercial record, that won’t really communicate with current tastes.
Remember — pop fans have no sense of humour. Well, at least not this sense.
TRAFFIC: ‘Hole In My Shoe’ (Island).
Stand by for one of the biggest hits of 1967! Master Stevie Winwood’s group have presented us with a sound that can only be described as beautiful. It combines a childlike charm with hypnotic strength that will be held in the arms of the chart for weeks on end.
Briefly — there is an elephantlike clodhopping beat while guitarist and composer Dave Mason sings the fairy tale lyrics and plucks a gentle sitar. A mellotron happens in the backing with a pretty flute, and then — surprise, a six-year-old girl intones some verse giving a touch of psychedelic Walt Disney.
The production — by Jimmy Miller — is a minor epic and deserves mass recognition. ‘Smiling Phases’ on the B side is a blues bash by Stevie as an offering to his old fans. It’s all too nice.
ERIC BURDON AND THE ANIMALS: ‘Good Times’ (MGM).
A puzzling song from Eric, who is noted for his strong views and personality, yet appears with what strikes me as a singularly corny record.
Not wishing to be destructive or unfair, I can only own up to being baffled. So what is good about a 1956 pop tune sequence and the sudden insertion of Eric putting on an American’s eye-view of the British accent?
What is happening when a decidedly mediocre production is used to re-launch Eric in Britain, and open up the British MGM label, while a gas record like ‘San Franciscan Nights’ is released in America but not here. Ah, sweet mystery of life. Now there’s a song you can all croon.
SWINGING BLUE JEANS: ‘Don’t Go Out In The Rain Sugar’ (HMV).
Back into the fray come the Blue Jeans with a simple pop tune, with kookie lyrics and an infectious quality that may ensure the return of this long established group into the chart. Listen for pleasant harmonies and uncomplicated backing. A hit — we hope.
MANFRED MANN: ‘So Long Dad’ (Fontana).
Manfred always worries about his singles, then they become hits. It’s quite likely Manfred isn’t worrying about this one and is convinced it will be a smash.
Yet I have the horrid feeling this Randy Newman tune, with its ‘Dancing Bear’ and ‘Dead End Street’ overtones may not prove to be the giant Manfred needs. There is a happy enough backbeat, some rather Billy Cotton Bandshow brass and a good hook-phrase.
But despite all the rumbustious ragtime piano and high spirits, I have the feeling it may not be close enough to the prevailing pop winds to rouse the record buying public from their lethargy enough to go out and start buying records.
Pray that I’m wrong, however, as our Fred is always a welcome asset to the bebop scene.
THE SMOKE: ‘If The Weather’s Sunny’ (Columbia).
Fear and dread seized me on hearing this. Was I in fact playing the B side by mistake? But lo, there was the familiar A mark that helpful record companies stamp on their products to help reviewers assess their worth. Having dug ‘My Friend Jack Eats Sugar Lumps’ which should have been a giant hit for the Smoke, I am most disappointed with this sort of ‘Show Me The Way To Go Home’, la la la, doo doo doo song.
© Chris Welch, Melody Maker, 19 August 1967