Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 25. 3rd October 1973
Whatever's For Us:
A reviewer's nightmare. A brilliant album, and quite unique talent, completely obscure sidemen and no liner notes to speak of. So there's no comparisons, no analogies, no name dropping to inform, electrify or divert you with. So what to do. She's black, but there's no blues influence, straight pop in fact. She's West Indian; but there's not a single reggae track. A female singer/song writer who wipes the floor with Carol King, Carly Simon and that mob, despite lyrics that sound like a collaboration by you, me, and Cat Stevens. She's no folkie, the album rocks from start to finish.
That makes her sound like a screamer, the next Joplin, or Genya Ravan but no, wrong again though her voice is as powerful as anyone on the girl side of Odetta, its extremely subtle and flexible. All I can do is recommend Joan Armatrading to you, especially the second side, if you haven't already been converted by her single "Lonely Lady".
Not that any of this is necessary; not since I first clapped ears on Rod Stewart's debut LP back in '69 have I been so sure that here was an imminent event, a star, no less. The final perverse thing about the record is that in an era where the 10 track LP has become the norm. Joan has 14 full length tracks, stretching out to well over 50 minutes. Phew, I made it.
Twice Removed from Yesterday:
You Broke My Heart — So I Busted Your Jaw:
Two solid outings from Festival. Robin Trower used to be lead guitar for Procol Harum and here he unleashes a lot of the talent that could before only occasionally sneak out on tracks like "The Devil Came from Kansas". Side one has the strongest material, but have a good look for bubbles on the first track, they're all over my review copy and could trouble equipment better than mine. There's a light hearted imitation of Peter Kaukonen imitating Hendrix on side two and all in all a promising debut. He's a killer guitarist and this has had raves overseas. I also have it on the unimpeachable authority of Steve Kearney that Trower hails from Gisbourne. Make of that what you will.
Spooky Tooth are not the most consistent bunch in the world, and keeping up the tradition this fine LP was recorded after one of the most alltime dismal tours of America. In fact I bet Luther Grosvenor is sleeping a little uneasily these nights since Stealer's Wheel seem to have been the fastest sinking hype since Blind Faith. Wright's in top form, solid composition, good vocals, tight playing, the usual good things that happen when Spooky Tooth are on beam. Be interesting to see where they got from here, for since this record came out they've cot their old drummer back. Just stay clear of that Pierre Henry, guys.
What's Going On:
Could be that this will be the breakthrough that Marvin Gaye needs, since he is not exactly a household name in this country. Overseas Gaye has sold more singles, had more top ten hits in America than any other solo artist in the last ten years. His "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" is still Motown's biggest single of all time, and his latest "Let's Get It On" sold 500,000 copies in its first ten days of release. The album under review sold two million copies, spent a year in the charts and has had no less than four hit singles culled from it. Yet for all that it took EMI 2½ years to get round to releasing it. So what's going on, Louise?
Gaye sings soul and he's probably one of the best interpreters of lyrics around, as he proved with his unusual version of McCartney's "Yesterday". But at first hearing this album is almost too mellow, the cutting edge of Gaye's voice being continually threatened by the orchestration. But if you give it time this equal mixing of voice and backing proves surprisingly effective, a very mellow, uptown soul sound.
In 1973 his lyrics look a little dated, but at the time Gaye's discovery of Jesus, the way, pollution etc they were pretty personal. The religion came during a year's seclusion after the death of his friend and singing partner Tammi Terrell. And while hardly revolutionary his social stances arc pretty radical for the middle class black mentality that characterised Motown thinking during the sixties. Generally while its great to have this album available. I'm glad Gaye has since returned to his gospel influenced style. And for those who dig early Motown I bring good tidings. EMI shortly plan to import limited stocks of triple albums by Gaye, Wonder, the Miracles and the Temptations. Included in the package will be the legendary volume one of the Tempts' greatest hits, from the days before they fell into the clutches of Norman Whitfield. All this has been in response to demand. So tell them to quit messing with shit like Malo and get on to re-releasing that first Grateful Dead live double.