Honey Cone: “Stick-Up”
LP: Soulful Tapestry, 1971 | BUY
The Newcomers: “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”
Stax Records single, 1971 | BUY
The Jackson 5 were probably the hottest act in showbiz in 1971, so it makes sense that their success would inspire many imitators. I’m presenting two of the more entertaining knockoffs today. The Honey Cone paid their dues as a talented but somewhat nondescript girl group on the Hot Wax label — until their #1 “Want Ads” transformed them into the queens of bubblegum soul. Follow-up single “Stick-Up” adheres to the same tight, funky pattern, only with lyrics (about a girl who blackmails her cheatin’ beau into marriage) told from a shockingly adult perspective. I dig Edna Wright’s sassy lead vocal and the fey cries of “Help, I’ve been robbed!” from the backup singers. Unlike Honey Cone, The Newcomers’ “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” slavishly imitates the J5 formula right down to the song’s Jermaine Jacksonlike shout-outs. Still, those nursery rhyme horn arrangements are fun. I wonder why they never made a Newcomers Saturday morning cartoon?