Between The Grooves

ROCK AND ROLL QUEEN – Mott The Hoople – Island ILPS 9215

Following the success of Mott The Hoople’s All The Young Dudes hit single and the critical acclaim they received for their first CBS album, Island Records have issued a record made up of tracks from the four albums they recorded whilst on that label. Now who said anything about recording companies cashing in?

It is understandable why Island have released this album though. Firstly, the Motts never sold that well in the past, and this is the way that the company can try to recoup some of its losses. Secondly, now that a lot more interest is being shown in the group, many people who have only recently turned on to them may want to hear their previous efforts.

Some of the tracks included on this album are Rock and Roll Queen, the old Kinks hit You Really Got Me and Keep a Knockin’, all of which were very popular at the Mott’s live gigs over the last few years. In fact some of the tracks here are from tapes made of live performances.

In comparison to the Mott’s CBS album, this record doesn’t come off that well. No David Bowie for one thing. But many of the tracks radiate an energetic raviness that makes it fun to listen to if you play it loud enough. Basically though, Rock and Roll Queen is for newly acquired fanatical converts and the group’s new legion of groupies.

SECOND TAKE – The Searchers – RCA SF 8298

Pye Records have in their catalogue a record titled A Golden Hour With The Searchers, which contains all the tracks they were well known for, including all their hit singles from the group’s mass popularity days.

This RCA album also contains their hits, such as Sugar and Spice, Needles and Pins, and Sweets for my Sweet. But the songs have been re-recorded. Unfortunately the lead singer of the days when the group first released these big sellers, Tony Jackson, left them many years ago, and his voice is at times sadly lacking from these new recordings.

The present Searchers do their best though. Some cuts don’t equal the originals, despite better recording facilities, whilst others gain considerably from being re-recorded.

Generally a pleasant enough album. But it is only likely to attract those who remember the Searchers from their golden past.

ALL TIME GREATEST HITS – Tony Bennett – CBS 68200 (2 record set)

If you are an admirer of the silky, romantic voice of Tony Bennett and you don’t possess many of these tracks on other albums, this double set is very good value.

Reasonably priced at £2.99, you get twenty of the numbers Tony is best known and loved for. Included are I Left My Heart In San Fransisco, I Wanna Be Around, The Shadow Of Your Smile, Stranger In Paradise, Who Can I Turn To and For Once In My Life. Also there is his version of (Where Do I Begin) Love Story.

The tracks cover the twenty odd years Tony has been recording, and are an interesting way of hearing an artist’s development.

As I said before, this is great value for the lover of well-sung and arranged sentimental music, from a singer who has proved his worth over the years.

THERE IS SOME FUN GOING FORWARD – Various Artists – Dandelion 2485021

John Peel’s Dandelion label is alive and well and is still producing sounds from the outer limits of rock/pop/folk/weird music. This 99p sampler displays some of the talents currently recording for Dandelion and is a delightful collection of oddities and goodies.

If you want to hear examples of the work of Tractor, Medicine Head, Coxhill-Bedford Duo and Bridget St John then this record is for you. Even if you think you can live without knowing the wonders performed by these artists, give them a listen. You may be pleasantly surprised/amazed.

ALREADY HERE – Redbone – Epic EPC 65072

After having a couple of albums released in this country, Redbone finally broke through with their smash hit single Witch Queen of New Orleans.

Since then though, they haven’t managed to produce anything as popular, and this album isn’t going to help matters. It contains all the time worn musical cliches, with very little else. The songs are weak and the music is much the same as what they have produced before. Even the Red Indian rhythms they incorporate into their sound do hot help the album out of the depths of mediocrity. Their version of the Coasters classic Poison Ivy makes one yearns to hear the original, whilst the extended track that follows it is just long and boring.

Production is good, but with uninspired arrangements, light weight material and poorly delivered vocals, the album stands no chance of attracting anyone’s attention except their staunchest fans.

THE BEST OF OTIS REDDING – Atlantic K60016 (2 record set)

This double set of Otis Redding’s finest recording; is a must for any collector of soul music. And if, like me, you have only battered singles, and worn-out mono albums of Otis, this collection of twenty-five tracks is essential.

Otis’s untimely death robbed soul music of one of its greatest performers. Not only did he lay down some of the best music in this field, but also through his work, with brass sections, changed the whole concept of soul music. His influence also did much for rock, for as a direct result of his pioneering with the use of horns, many of the ideas he developed in his music, helped expand the range of rock and roll generally.

Otis died in 1967, so ooviously these recordings date back well into the 60’s, but despite their age they still sound as exciting, moving and original as they did when first released. You will see by looking at the album’s sleeve that this set really does contain the Best Of Otis Redding.

BEDTIME STORY — Tammy Wynette — Epic EPC 66186

Although extremely popular in the States, Tammy Wynette has only recently gained a wider audience here. The inclusion of some of her biggest US hits, such as Divorce and Stand By Your Man, on the soundtrack of the film ‘Five Easy Pieces’, helped considerably in bringing her to the attention of the public.

Tammy Wynette is the archetypal white female country and western singer, and this new album of hers. Bedtime Story, very much shows why. Most of the songs are of the sad, tearful variety, with a few numbers in a happier vein included for a little light relief.

This type of music is very much a matter of personal taste. So to those who are part of the growing number of devotees to C & W, Tammy’s singing is as good is ever, and there are some very fine snatches of steel guitar throughout the album.

PRIVATE PARTS – Peter Straker – RCA 8319

What may well prove to be one of the most important releases of 1972 is Private Parts by Peter Straker.

The term ‘concept album’ is an apt title to describe the record as a whole, for although the songs can be played separately they are all inter-related. The content of the album deals with, as the title suggests, the personal and intimate sides of life, and the awareness of someone coming to terms with their sexuality. Explicit references to bisexuality and impotence will add further to the controversy Private Parts is likely to cause. But the sincerity and openness with which the lyrics deal with these subjects can be seen as an example of the seriousness of the work.

Private Parts is not the sort of project you can classify or categorise. Musically the album draws from many styles, rock being the underlying factor, but the use of full scale orchestration takes it above the limits or classification of that genre.

The music and lyrics were written by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley especially for Peter Straker, who they saw as the ideal choice for conveying the important relevance they feel the album will have. Ken and Alan who are highly professional and experienced writers in the pop world, have been responsible for a large number of hits. Recently Elvis Presley had considerable success with one of their songs. For them, Private Parts is a very personal statement and has been a venture they have been planning for some time.

Jamaican born Peter Straker had a much acclaimed starring part in the original London production of ‘Hair’. Since then he played one of the leading roles in the film ‘Boy Stroke Girl’, and earlier this year had a minor hit single. Peter incidentally will be performing the whole of the album live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Friday 1st December. He will be accompanied by a forty piece orchestra and a choir.

Private Parts is much more than just another pop album. In a society where standards are continually changing and an individual’s morality depends more on that person’s insight, rather than accepted norms, the word content of this album becomes highly pertinent to those aware of the altering structures within their own lives. Peter Straker’s talents communicate the worth of the lyrics and in a world which often fears explicitness, it should not be difficult for many to realise the importance of this recording.

JOHN DAVID SOUTHER – Asylum SYL 9003

The newly formed American Asylum label has so far produced some of the best recordings of singer/songwriters and groups around at the moment. The most successful artists to date being Jackson Browne and The Eagles, John David Souther is the latest addition to this growing roster of extremely professional and developed performers.

Souther sings all his own material and plays guitar on most tracks. The songs and singing could be described as country/blues, with a fair amount of rock thrown in for good measure. That’s not really a classification, for attempted categorisation of the work of solo musician/composers is an injustice to the individuality of such artists.

Like the Jackson Browne album, this first album of Souther needs to be heard a number of times before its worth is apparent. That can be a disadvantage to an artist nowadays, particularly in an industry where new talents are having their records released fast and furiously by disc companies.

But if the initial attraction of Souther’s voice and gentle, thoughtful backing inspires you to buy the album, you will find that continued listenings will bring out the rewards.

TAKIN’ YOU THERE – Various Artists – Stax 2369008

Without a doubt the Stax Takin’ You There sampler is the best soul compilation album to come out this year. And priced as it is at 99p, it is also the best value.

Amongst the hit soul cuts included are Isaac Hayes Shaft, Frederick Knight’s I’ve Been Lonely For So Long, Jean Knight’s biggie from earlier this year, Mr Big Stuff, and the recent chart-buster In The Rain by The Dramatics. Other standouts are Rufus Thomas’s Funky Penguin. The Sould Children’s chart success Hearsay, the most underrated soul track of the year, I’ll Take You There by the Staple Singers and a funky reggae cut from William Bell titled Lonely For Your Love.

Of the other tracks Booker T & The MG’s Melting Pot, which opens side one, is guaranteed to get your feet tapping, if not dancing. Love Means by Carla Thomas is another great song, that should have received more attention than it did.

In all there are twelve excellent slices of contemporary soul. And at such a low selling price it is a must for collectors of good pop music and for the parties that’ll be happening in December and the New Year.

SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING — Mike Harrison — Island ILPS 9209

Smokestack Lightning is the second solo album of Mike Harrison, and is a vast improvement on his first.

Originally a founder member of Spooky Tooth — a sadly unerrated and missed, by some, rock group – Harrison should at long last get the recognition for the excellent rock and roll singer he is.

This album was recorded at the famous American Music Shoals Studios, and the use of that studio’s session musicians adds the sort of backing that is completely in sympathy with Harrison’s voice.

Side one contains four fairly lengthy tracks. The highlights being the old Fats Domino song What A Price and Joe Tex’s Wanna Be Free. But the outstanding cut of the album is the extended version of the classic blues number Smokestack Lightning.

Island Records (and Chris Blackwell’s) faith in Harrison has been instrumental in allowing him the chance of showing us what modern rocking and rolling is all about. They have been well repaid for their continued support of this fine, expanding talent.

RIVER DEEP MOUNTAIN HIGH – Ike & Tina Turner – A&M AMS 7039 (maxi-single)

Although I do not usually review singles, I think it is necessary to let you know that one of the all time classic pop cuts is available again. It is River Deep Mountain High by Ike and Tina Turner. On the flip side are A Love Like Yours and Save The Last Dance For Me. No serious collector or lover of pop music should be without these tracks, especially the former. All three were produced by Phil Spector and all demonstrate the incredible ‘wall of sound’ that was so distinctive about the recordings he was involved in.

Ike and Tina Turner are still one of the most exciting acts around, but I doubt if they will ever equal the magnificence of River Deep and the other tracs recorded from their period of involvement with Phil Spector. It’s about time that the other Spector masterpieces of modern music were re-issued too.

Denis Lemon

Denis Lemon

1945-1994. Denis was one of the founders of Gay News and was perhaps most famous for being sued by Mary Whitehouse when, as editor, he published a poem in 1976 by James Kirkup that she felt was 'blasphemous'. He was fined £500 and sentenced to 9 months in prison suspended for 8 months. The Court of Appeal later quashed the sentence. He died of complications from AIDS in 1994 and was survived by his partner Nick Purshouse.
Denis Lemon

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Author: Denis Lemon

1945-1994. Denis was one of the founders of Gay News and was perhaps most famous for being sued by Mary Whitehouse when, as editor, he published a poem in 1976 by James Kirkup that she felt was ‘blasphemous’. He was fined £500 and sentenced to 9 months in prison suspended for 8 months. The Court of Appeal later quashed the sentence. He died of complications from AIDS in 1994 and was survived by his partner Nick Purshouse.

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