Fresh Beach Boys for the summer months
BEACH BOYS: ‘Heroes And Villians’ (Capitol):
The hot, clear sound of the Beach Boys, especially in these summer months, is always to be reckoned with. This complex but exciting new mindchild of Brian Wilson’s is going to have a battle for that number one spot, though.
Wilson mainly features the amazingly flexible voices of the Beach Boys — as instruments — sighing, and crying, glowing and growing in this intricate but propelling sound. Basically Wilson has succeeded because I think a lot of people expected him to eventually overload his material with unnecessary sounds that would turn your neck to stone after the first bar.
However, ‘Heroes And Villains’ has an honest, jazzy, bell-clear dimension and an enlightening, exhilarating feel to be explored when you have been conditioned to the interweaving vocals and numerous movements. Certainly another masterpiece of production from Wilson and another move in his flowery progression.
VANILLA FUDGE: ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’ (Atlantic):
This sensationally powerful US outfit have carefully dissected the Supremes hit and pieced it back together again, slowly and soulfully. The result is a Cream-Hendrix-type dynamite sound with wailing organ, a Rascals vocal edge and a big boosting bass player. A gripping record. A number one? Heads will roll and consciousnesses will kindle kind light all over England when we can hear this one blowing in the wind. American fudge has speed. Reports say they do incredible things with ‘Strawberry Fields’ as well.
5TH DIMENSION: ‘Up-Up And Away’ (Liberty):
Of course creativity, apparently, has very little value in this fluctuating world of pop. ‘Up-Up And Away’ isn’t a vitally important number (creativity-wise that is) but the principles surrounding its delayed release are immoral. This is the original version cut by the 5th Dimension, an American top-tenner, and the group’s original creation. However it is issued over here at least one month after Johnny Mann’s cover version — which has subsequently become a hit. I hope 5th Dimension know they were denied the success in Britain which was, truthfully, theirs. Needless to say, this is the best version of ‘Up-Up And Away’ on the market. It should have been the only one.
MOBY GRAPE: ‘Hey Grandma’/Omaha’ (CBS):
Nice, new, now sound. Moby Grape — the group launched in America with five singles and an album simultaneously. We get one single from CBS — a double-sider, of which ‘Omaha’ is probably the most distinctive and commercial.
This is Stateside flower power and like Grateful Dead, it’s blues-based. In England our “psychedelic” groups seem to draw on a wider range of influences and rhythmically the roots range from the East onwards. This Grape sound though is more slapping, energetic off-beats, typically hard, forceful music. Despite the lack of subtlety they’re no slouches and the guitarist is a powerful nucleus to that driving sound.
Either side is a hit record and listening and digging this kind of music will widen the British groupster’s scope and help him realise that we can give back to the States as much lovely music as they have given us. With that bit extra, of course, gentlemen.
ARETHA FRANKLIN: ‘Baby I Love You’ (Atlantic):
Her ‘Respect’ gained her just that chart-wise, and scored Aretha a resounding British and American hit. That was a combination of good timing, and a groovy song.
No doubt choosing a follow-up was some task for Aretha and producer Jerry Wexler but they have moved wisely. Another lowdown, soulful sound made — like ‘Respect’ — so much more listenable by Aretha’s sensitive and melodic handling of the vocal.
Most soul records rely on groovy rhythms and riffs but Aretha is injecting a prettier more lyrical quality into the soul scene. The days of “hup, hey, whoa, hup” have had a long run but Aretha Franklin has got an original approach and her own format. Be nice to see her back in the chart.
© Nick Jones, Melody Maker, 12 August 1967