Donny, who’s had several hits on his own, will be replaced as soprano by nine-year-old Jimmy Osmond.
All the Young Dudes — Mott the Hoople CBS 65184
Following the success of their recent single, Mott The Hoople have released a new album, their first for CBS. Having had four LP’s issued by Island, they now have changed not only their record label, but also their image. This is considerably helped by having David Bowie as their producer, who replaces Guy Stevens. And what they have come up with is their best recording to date.
Mott The Hoople, whilst suffering from poor record sales in the past, have always been a fine band to see live. Now some of this live appeal comes across on the record. Their hit single, which is also the title track of the album, All The Young Dudes, has moved them up a few rungs on the group status ladder to stardom, and this is apparently the sort of image they now want to project, that of budding little superstars. Young Dudes was written by Bowie, as is obvious by the way Ian Hunter delivers the vocal, and is up to the standard of the best material being produced by darling David.
Bowie’s influence is felt throughout the record, especially in the eclectic choice of minor rip-offs from the other groups – on Young Dudes for instance there is a Lennon/McCartney chorus melody line that Bowie is so fond of using. Also, knowing of Bowie’s present involvement with Lou Reed, the inclusion of his song, Sweet Jane, comes as no surprise.
The Mott’s playing has improved since their last release. Their sound is a lot less cluttered than before, and Mick Ralphs’ guitar playing is far more effective and precise. For instance, Ralph’s break on Jerkin’ Crocus is a superb.
The Mott’s lyrics are very sexually orientated, more than enough to upset Lord Porn, and liable to send Mrs Whitehouse screaming to the Director of Public Prosecutions. But luckily no reasonable person takes much notice of these bringers of ‘fire and brimstone’. Lines which sound suspiciously like: “My baby calls me when she wanna play” (or is it I “lay”), and another line: “You can smoke my cigar all night” from a song called Sucker, make their intentions and meaning crystal clear. On the beautifully titled Jerkin’ Crocus with Ian Hunter doing a full Mick Jagger, he delivers this memorable phrase: “I know what she wants. Just a lick of your ice cream cone”. Tasty, so is Ready For Love on side two.
Whether Mott The Hoople is going to make it big at long last remains to be seen. If they disappear to America, we will know that they have. But this time round they have brought out an album that is at times stunning and they have certainly rewarded their fans who have been waiting quite a while for a recording as good as this.
Particularly recommended for hearing on headphones if you’re lucky enough to own a pair, or two – so your boyfriend or girlfriend can share the same experience.
Letters — Jim Webb Reprise K44173
Jim Webb, creator of the classic MacArthur Park, has a new LP of his own released. And whereas his past outings have been very much an artist’s artist trip, this offering communicates a lot more to the average listener.
Webb’s songs have always been about love, and its pain, and moments of supreme happiness. He writes with a sincerity, obviously from personal experience, which is the main power of his songs. And this time round, Jim is as explicit as possible about his feelings and observations, and also shows a fine sense of comedy and self-parody.
The most humorous track is Once In The Morning, which also advises “and once at night”, and “once in the afternoon and once at twilight, once for the money and again ’bout midnight”. The song tells of a few adventures such as meeting with Jan the Fan Dancer’ who says: “You play with this son and I’ll play with that”. Also a man he meets in London tells him: “And I like some of yours if you’ll please take some of mine”.
In a slightly more serious vein Webb comments on air play censorship: “If you want me to I’ll sing about fuckin’ – Sing about it fast and sing about it slow – Wanna hear it on the radio tho’ …” And why not, it’s a pleasure and a unity we all share.
Most of the other songs tell the usual tales of love and its ups and downs. He includes his very beautiful Galveston, that was a big success when recorded by Glen Campbell.
This record is much more of a rock record than his past releases, as well as being without the sometimes confusing dynamic orchestrations.
In conclusion the album is a warm, tender and aware contribution to popular music. Its explicitness will shock a few, but most people who hear it will be moved by the ‘letters’ and thoughts Jim Webb shares with us.
Nervous on the Road — Brinsley Schwarz – United Artists UAS 29374
After being completely converted to the Brinsleys after their last album, Silver Pistol, I’m afraid that I find this latest effort a little disappointing.
I still love the relaxing images the group create and the, more than ever, togetherness of their playing which shows up a lot of other groups. But somehow this just misses being anything else except competent. The happiness and feeling of ‘good times’ that come across so strongly on their last release, a more country influenced collection of-songs, is not as obvious as before. This record has far more of a rock feel to it.
Tne Brinsley’s have always produced albums that needed a little time to get into, and as I listen to this record more often, a few of the tracks start to stand I out more than they did to begin with. Surrender To The Rhythm for example, is a fine rocker, and the title track, Nervous on the Road (But Can’t Stay Home) displays a good degree of wit. as well as moving along at a pleasing pace.
Their version of Chris Kenner’s I Like It Like That on side two, showcases the group’s affection for old rock ‘n’ roll classics, which are now very much a part of their live performances. Their treatment of this classic rocker shows an understanding ot the essence of good rock. It’s a shame that they didn’t include one of the Sam & Dave numbers they are also so fond of.
The organ and piano playing of Bob Andrews is one of the consistent pleasures of Brinsley music and heightens the effect of most of the numbers they are working with at present.
A lot of my friends are raving about this album, so I suggest you give it a listen and draw your own conclusions. It’s superior rock but the total of the rewards on hearing it are in your head.
Soulful Tapestry — Honey Cone – Hot Wax SHW 5005
Honey Cone is an American soul vocal group, comprising three black girls. And this album contains two of their biggest hits to date, One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show and Want Ads. Although the group have not met with much success in this country so far, they are firm favourites in discotheques and with soul fanatics.
Their sound is very commercial but with a few dashes of originality that put them above a lot of other groups working in this musical area. The arrangements are slightly reminiscent of Tamla Motown ones, but without the over-production now often associated with that company. And their style is less earthy than that of companies such as Stax and Atlantic.
The songs move along at a good pace and are ideal dance music. My only complaint would be that after one listens to both sides of the album, they become a little mechanical and predictable. Basically they are a ‘singles’ group and to keep one’s interest throughout a whole album is quite a task. But with slightly more inventiveness in the arrangements and a choice of stronger material, they should put matters right on future LP releases.
Soulful Tapestry is a must for soul enthusiasts and for those of you who want to hear something a little different to what more established soul music companies are churning out.
Incidentally, Honey Cone’s Want Ads is one of Gay News’ theme songs. I surely don’t need to explain why do I? Just turn to the next to last page of the paper.
Portrait of Donny — Donny Osmond — MGM 2315108
Much to my surprise I found that Donny Osmond’s first solo album is an absolute delight. The choice of material is ideal for Donny’s voice, and the arrangements are nicely spectacular and especially suitable to the emotional elements in the songs.
Included on the album is Puppy Love, the ‘teen’ hit of the year. This song is largely responsible for bringing the praise and success that Donny now enjoys. In this country he even outsells that other idol of kid culture, David Cassidy. Written and originally recorded by Paul Anka (Donny’s equivalent of the late-fifties), Puppy Love contains a degree of protest about adult non-understanding and intolerance that young people can identify with. Also the sentiments expressed in all the songs not only touch this particular section of the record buying public, but also reach a wider audience with their simple sincerity. The Goffin/King number Hey Girl works on the same level, as does All I have to do is Dream and This Guy’s in Love With You.
Eddie Holman’s sadly underrated Hey There, Lonely Girl is another good choice by Donny, whilst the dynamics of Love Me make it hard to believe that the song is being sung by a twelve-year-old.
All in all, Donny has produced an immensely enjoyable album, that is far more than one might at first have thought possible.
Super Fly — Curtis Mayfield – Buddah 2318065
Curtis Mayfield’s new album is his first entry into Isaac Hayes territory, for it is the soundtrack of a new ‘black’ movie called Super Fly.
Although I don’t know much about the film I gather from the lyrics that it is about drug addiction and ‘pushing’ in a black ghetto. The film is directed by Gordon Parks Jr, who was responsible for the Shaft movies.
Those of you who are into Mayfield and what he has been doing since he left the Impressions will find this record as good as his recent releases. If you aren’t into his brand of funky/city soul yet you will probably turn on to it if you hear a track from the album at a discotheque. But otherwise I think it is a success and a must, only for those already converted to this type of sophisticated soul music.
Fables — England Dan & John Ford Coley — A & M AMLS 64350
Fables is the second album to be released by England Dan & John Ford Coley. This duo sing and play melodic, thoughtful, full-of-love songs and music. Their material ranges from graceful to medium-heavy rock, but without ever being excessive. Much of the time they are very beautiful. Dan and John’s approach is simple but direct. Something like the old Simon & Garfunkel sound.
Some of the best ‘stories’ told on this record are Simone (their latest single) and Casey, whilst What I’m Doing, which closes side one, is a minor anthem of love and the bewilderment it can cause.
Unfortunately a lot of records similar to Dan and John’s are being released. This will probably be unheard and unnoticed like so many others. It’s very much a disc you like immediately and play a lot, or dismiss completely. Personally Fables makes me feel good whenever I listen to it, could possibly do the same to some of you. Play it if you come across it.
Walter Carlos’ Clockwork Orange – CBS73059
Inevitably many copy versions of the music featured in ‘A Clockwork Orange‘ are now beginning to appear on the market, most of these only having the orchestral passages. CBS has released Walter Carlos’ entire synthesised score for and about this book/film.
Many of the pieces, of course, were composed before the film was made, but Carlos has inserted some original works. Thankfully, we now have the full “Timesteps” music, of which we were only given a tantalising portion on the soundtrack. What a pity Carlos wasn’t invited to write the score for Kubrick’s previous film ‘2001; A Space Odyssey’. This piece shows what Carlos is capable of doing. Along with ‘Timesteps’ the album contains two other Carlos compositions, ‘Theme from A Clockwork Orange (Beethoviana) and ‘Country Lane’ – two exciting pieces, the latter not heard in the film, but an evocative interpretation. A deeply moving piece.
The choreographed ‘Ultra-violence’ scenes were accompanied by the orchestral passage of Rossini’s ‘The Thieving Magpie’. Here Carlos has included the electronic version. Marvellous in stereo. Also this album has several other synthesised classical works as featured on the soundtrack.
In comparison I find this album far more satisfying than the actual soundtrack. For a reminder of the film buy the soundtrack – for an experience, buy this record. Real horror-show.