Gary Steel is slowly compiling all his album reviews in one place. This is a work in progress, or what we call a “live document”. Today is the letter ‘W’.
You’re right. There’s nothing new here. So what? ‘It’s Raining Men’ is a great big slab of orthodox disco/soul which would be quite ordinary but for two important characteristics: the song and the singing. It’s funny, exuberant and lusty. The Weather Girls (ex-Two Tonnes Of Fun) sing up a storm, so even without the song this would have been at least a cut above average. For some inexplicable reason that only the radio programmers know, this isn’t a Number 1. I want to know why. 7/10
Face Dances is The Who sounding irrelevant. Fans will like the album, as the recognisable trademarks are present. But there is precious little fire or passion in the music: most of the material sounds tired and trivial. Me, I liked the sincerity of Townshend’s solo LP. I liked his voice and the mature approach. With The Who, Townshend always fights the old battles: adolescence-going-on-middle-age/rock’n’roll, sex drugs and booze versus family responsibilities and spirituality. The songs are literally mostly about The Who and Pete Townshend, and they are lyrically inadequate at that. To compound matters, the songs are filtered through the trying vocal dramatics of actor Daltrey. As for bassist Entwistle’s two songs, they would have been better utilised on a solo LP. 5/10
Deneice Williams – When Love Comes Calling (CBS)
A classy soul album by sweet-voiced singer – her voice is reminiscent of the late Minnie Ripperton – who had a hit last year with Johnny Mathis (‘Too Much Too Little Too Late’). 7/10
No wonder they’ve got stagefright! This lot are Britain’s answer to early Grant Funk Railroad. In fact, they’re worse! Witchfynde are so bad you’ve gotta hear it to believe it. RTC, what’s got into ya? 1/10
Hotter Than July marks the 20th year in the recording career of Stephen Judkins Hardaway, aka Stevland Morris, aka ‘Little’ Stevie Wonder.
This prompt follow-up to last year’s disastrous The Secret Life Of Plants sees the return of Wonder’s joie de vivre. It’s proof positive that Wonder’s on the right track again after several years of aberration.
His spark is strangely muted here, and therefore fires little innovation, but the music is that of a happy, contented man, and it’s great to have him back.
The second side is best, beginning with the incandescent spirit of ‘Masterblaster (Jammin’)’, one of the few bright spots heard on current daytime radio. Notably, it’s an ode to rather than a carbon copy of reggae music.
The album contains no side of Wonder we haven’t really heard before, but that’s no bad thing.
Side 1 is predominantly songs of love and relationships. The lyrics are often banal, Wonder as always balancing precariously but brilliantly on the thin wire between MOR stylishness and easy listening supper-club schmaltz.
The ethereal, superbly-crafted (as is the whole album) ‘Rocket Love’ can make one float in its euphoria, or wince at its cliched blandness, depending on the mood. 7/10