Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Some Quick Reviews

Here are three more records found at the St. Louis record fair that deserve some attention.

Archie Bell & The Drells - Do The Hand Jive Of course, everyone knows these guys for "Tighten Up", a #1 smash in 1968 and a terrific record. It was their first hit and although Archie Bell & the Drells charted several more times, they never duplicated its success. The immediate follow-ups were also dance tunes but by just over a year later, something like "Do The Hand Jive" wasn't even the hit side of the record. Instead, "Girl You're Too Young", a slower, soul ballad was the a-side. Not that "Do The Hand Jive" would have topped the charts but it at least deserves recognition as one of the Drells' best efforts. Written and produced by Gamble & Huff, the song features fine hooks and and, of course excellent production. While it's a little smoother than "Tighten Up", it's upbeat, toe-tapping and pretty swingin'. Plus, it shouldn't cost more than a couple of bucks.

Joe Jeffrey - The Train I picked this record up because it was cheap and I was surprised to find a Joe Jeffrey record that wasn't "My Pledge of Love". I also thought a song called "The Train" might be a good one and for once I was right. Unlike Jeffrey's big hit, here you get an up-tempo mover, with a bouncy beat and a guitar that chugga-chuggas along. His voice is more raw here, as he sings about needing his woman and how the next time she sees him, he'll be driving a Cadillac, a selling point for sure. Towards the end, someone refers to his car as a pig and Joe sets him straight, even threatening to make it hard for the guy to chew soup. Ouch!!

Ramsey Lewis - Do Whatever Sets You Free Ramsey Lewis is a guy who can be hit or miss with me. I like his fun, raucous take on "Hang On Sloopy". I enjoy his own "Wade In The Water", which is also upbeat but tad more soulful. But some of his material is too slow or tame to suit my taste. I'll usually pick up his records if they're inexpensive but my expectations aren't too high. "Do Whatever Sets You Free" was released in 1970, a bit later than the other records I've heard by Lewis and it's in stereo. It sounds like he's playing electric piano, correct me if I'm wrong. It was also a big surprise. It's a pretty funky record, especially the guitar and has a strong beat. And Ramsey is just pounding on those keys! Oh, and it indeed sounds like the band is having fun, with their patented hoots and hollers in the background. Perhaps that's their stamp of quality, I need to do more research.


Phil said...

Originally, the pick side of "Tighten UP" was "Dog Eat Dog"! I don't remember how that goes (I'm too lazy to unearth the 45), but "Tighten Up" was much better. The mono 45 is rarely heard as an 'oldie', usually it is the inferior stereo version.

Brian Marshall said...

That's funny: Every copy of the 45 I've ever seen of "Tighten Up" has "Tighten Up Part 2" as the B side. Could you explain that to me, Phil?

Phil said...

The original promo copy (45-2478) had "Dog Eat Dog" as the pick side. I unearthed my copy and 'Dog' actually is better than I remembered. It fits well into the genre of East coast beach music, with a funky mid-tempo beat, a lot of brass and a Hammond organ to boot! Don't remember who flipped the record over, but you're right... most stock copies had 'Part II' on the flip.