On Disc: Singles Reviewed By John E. Abbey


THE DELFONICS: ‘Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time’/’Down Is Up; Up Is Down’ (Bell 1099)
One of the most consistent of today’s groups are Philadelphia’s threesome, the Delfonics and this is possibly their best to date. It’s extremely well orchestrated with emphasis on the swirling strings and brass to such an extent that it sounds almost classical at times. The vocals are as perfect as ever. As with the Aretha newie, it’s a very sad sounding performance and again the lyric is moving. But that’s what Soul music is all about. Although it’s a very big hit in the States, it’s probably too much to hope for that it will repeat its success over here. Flip is a fast and catchy ditty with clever arrangements etc. But the topside is perfection. *****

ARETHA FRANKLIN: ‘Call Me’/’Son Of A Preacher Man’ (Atlantic 584322)
Whilst everyone was expecting Aretha’s next single to be the Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’, Atlantic sneak out this gem that is a million times better. Aretha wrote it and obviously the lyrics mean something to her since she sings it with so much feeling and understanding. It is an extremely moving ballad with a plaintive feeling to it. Tremendous lonely atmosphere is conjured up by her simple yet effective piano playing plus the easy going accompaniment, both musically and vocally by her new backing group. I’m not usually an Aretha fanatic but, to me, this is her best recording of all time. So there! Flip is a funky version of Dusty’s first Atlantic hit and both sides come from Aretha’s forthcoming album. *****


RUFUS THOMAS: ‘Do The Funky Chicken’/’Turn Your Damper Down’ (Stax 144)
Easily the best dance disc from Memphis in an age and it’s especially nice to see success going to the much-loved Dog Man, Rufus Thomas. Driving brass riffs in the accepted Memphis fashion as Rufus belts out the directions for dancing the Funky Chicken. Pure funk at its best and a must for all B&S lovers. Another to go and get! Rufus wrote both sides — the other side being another repetitive dancer. *****

GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS: ‘Didn’t You Know’/’Keep An Eye’ (Tamla Motown 728)
Issued in preference to Gladys most recent U.S. hit, ‘Friendship Train’, which is a gem, incidentally. However, this topside is another slice of top-side Soul from the top team. Basically a ballad it has a definite swing to it too and the song has a strong tune and lyric. A builder that Gladys really gets her teeth into. A very strong issue and the flip is a strong uptempo item with plenty of action to it. ****

BOB & EARL: ‘Pickin’ Up Love’s Vibrations’/’Uh Uh Naw Naw Naw’ (UNI 519)
This is the first new Bob & Earl single in a long while and it finds them in a completely new bag. Very atmospheric ballad with an extra-strong arrangement that the duo did themselves. Probably a massive success in the States since it has just what it takes for success there. Wah-wah guitar flits in every now and then, too. Faster flip is quite strong, too. The ‘Harlem Shuffle’ boys have proved that they have a great deal of talent too. ****

CHUCK JACKSON: ‘Honey Come Back’/’What Am I Gonna Do Without You’ (Tamla Motown 729)
Beautiful ballad that is the highlight of Chuck’s excellent Arrives LP Opens with a romantic talking section by Chuck before he moves off into this plaintive little Jim ‘Phoenix’ Webb song. It might seem over-smaltzy to some but it cannot be denied that it is tastefully put together. And I love it! Flip is a happy-go-lucky Stevie Wonder song from the same album. ****

THE DELLS: ‘Oh What A Day’/’The Change We Go Through’ (Chess 8107)
The always-excellent Chicago quintet offer their newest written by Dell, Mike McGill. And it follows their last hit, ‘Oh What A Night’. It’s a very happy sounding rock-ballad with interesting arrangement featuring both brass and strings. Group retain their individuality. A very strong record that will be very popular with right people — that’s us! The flip is a worthwhile ballad. ****

MARY WELLS: ‘Dig The Way I Feel’/’Love Shooting Bandit’ (Direction 58-4816)
Both sides written by Mary and her ex-Valentino husband Cecil. First off is a jerky mid-tempo ballad that features Mary singing at her best since her Motown days — and the song sounds like vintage Motown, too, come to think of it. However it all just misses as far as being that elusive big ‘un for Mary. Good performance, though, that deserves and is worthy of a listen. Flip is a smooth ballad. ****

DIANA ROSS & THE SUPREMES & TEMPTATIONS: ‘Why Must We Fall In Love’/’Uptight’ (Tamla Motown 703)
From their combined Together album comes these two first class tracks. Topside is ideal ballad material with a pretty tune and nice feel to it that suits the voice of Diana and Eddie. Very attractive and a distinct possibility as an across the board hit. Creative and constructive arrangement. Pounding slant on Stevie’s golden composition adds up to a powerful flip. Good release this ****

EDDIE FLOYD: ‘California Girl’/’Woodman’ (Stax 145)
Topside is composed by Eddie with Booker T. and it opens with Eddie talking his explanation of how he met this girl in California. The song is very good and Eddie’s performance is as good as ever. The one problem is that the strings — though beautifully arranged — seem too detached and were obviously put on after the rest of the recording or at least at a different time. It’s all a pity because this song has the basis of a gem. Flip is a funky, downhome little number that Eddie performs well. ****

JIMMY & LOUIS TIG: ‘Who Can I Turn To’/’A Love That Never Grows Old’ (Bell 9105)
The much-admired Tigs are revived by public demand and flipped, too. The topside now is the standard that Louis chants effectively with the aid of Jim. Very powerful material and string arrangement adds to the affect. Pleasant but I’ll still go along with the more soulful ‘B’ side that features Louis solo. ****

THE 4 TOPS: ‘I Can’t Help Myself’/’Baby I Need Your Loving’ (Motown 732)
Issued to coincide with their current European tour, these two tracks have both been recognised as Tops standards for years. Hardly need an introduction and, naturally, they must stand a fair chance of making the charts here. Not much imagination about it all but then the group haven’t recorded much worthwhile product of late. Is there a reader who doesn’t possess these two tracks somewhere in their collection? ****

THE ISLEY BROTHERS: ‘Was It Good To You’/’I Got To Get Myself Together’ (Stateside 2162)
The first time that the Isleys have appeared on the Stateside label in some 7 years. First off is a heavy, beat item in their ‘Thing’/’Turned You On’ style and it has a fair chunk of action going for it though it didn’t click in the States. Heavy bass throughout with brass accompaniment. Not a U.K. hit, though. Flip is a tuneful ballad that the trio perform strongly In fact, it’s better recorded, though less commercial than the topper. ***

LOU RAWLS: ‘You’ve Made Me So Very Happy’/’Let’s Burn Down The Cornfield’ (Capitol 15630)
Lou has never received the recognition he deserves and this is mainly, I think, because his singles are never commercial enough. To some extent this applies to his stylish interpretation of the old Brenda Holloway hit, ‘You’ve Made Me So Very Happy’. However, it is constructively scored and Lou’s vocal is faultless. One day he’ll make it but not with this one, methinks. Flip is a jazzy number in the old Brook Benton vein ***

JEANETTE WILLIAMS: ‘Hound Dog’/’I Can Feel A Heartbreak’ (Action 4557)
The ‘Stuff’ lady is back with this groovy workout that has a funky under-current that will help it achieve acclaim. The song is known via Mama Thornton and Elvis Presley and the arrangement/production are not new. Nothing special but well worth a listen. ***

THE 5th DIMENSION: ‘Blowing Away/Skinny Man’ (Liberty 15308)
A happy-go-lucky singalong that could possibly give the 5th a farewell hit on Liberty. It’s an easy-to-remember tune that is far removed from Rhythm & Blues. Still, as a follow through on ‘Wedding Bell Blues’, it could make it. Flip is well constructed and well sung but hardly worth the trouble. Very professional. **

THE 5th DIMENSION: ‘The Declaration’/’A Change Is Gonna Come’-‘People Got To Be Free'(Bell 1098)
The group’s first on Bell and it must rank as a major disappointment. It’s the American Declaration of Independence set to music. It’s not making it in the States and doesn’t really have much chance here. No doubt, so saying, it will develop into a monster for them. But of the two issues by the group the Liberty one seems the strongest — though neither of them are up to much! For what it’s worth, the flip of this Bell single, which combines Sam Cooke’s ‘Change Is Gonna Come’ and the Rascals ‘People Got To Be Free’ is really rather nice Don’t overlook it if you like the group. **

BETTY EVERETT: ‘Sugar’/’Hold On’ (UNI 517)
A far cry from Betty’s ultra-soulful hits, this is a straight pop single and was written by Neil Sedaka — you remember Neil Sedaka; he had hits in the late 50’s and early 60’s. It’s all very catchy and well put together but not strong enough. **

THE CHECKMATES LTD.: ‘I Keep Forgettin”/’Do You Love Your Baby’ (A&M 780)
Powerful production from Phil Spector on the once-successful-for-Chuck Jackson song. Plenty of brass and noise but not as strong as ‘Proud Mary’ or ‘Love Is All I Have To Give’, which were both far better productions. **

THE ALLMAN BROTHERS: ‘Black Hearted Woman’/’Every Hungry Woman’ (Atco 226013)
The brother group from Georgia that features master guitar man Duane Allman, make their single debut with this heavy, progressive rock item. Some good guitar riffs but more for acid-rock lovers than R&B fans. ***

THE CHAMBERS BROTHERS: ‘Love Peace And Happiness’/’If You Want Me To’ (Direction 58-4846)
An abbreviated version of the title track from the Brothers’ current double album— it lasts over 16 minutes on the album and taken out of context like this, it loses a lot of its effect. Try it on the album and you’ll like it far more. ***

© John AbbeyBlues & Soul, 29 March 1970

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