Wild Thing

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Anyone who was anywhere near a radio through the summer of 1974 will doubtless remember it well. A lascivious bassline throbbing obtrusively through the ether, a scythed guitar hacking one of rock's most memorable riffs, a synthesizer line which sounded like Jell-O dripping from vertiginous heights, and over it all, a young lady in a seemingly serious state of sexual arousal moaning, "wild thing, I think you... move me?" Donna Summer had nothing on Helen Court, and she, it swiftly transpired, simply had nothing on. A former Penthouse Pet, and therefore presumably well-versed in the lascivious manipulation of juvenile male hormones, Court turned in what remains one of the most pointedly sexual vocal performances ever to transfix an American radio audience. No wonder her band was called Fancy. Court, many listeners were disappointed to discover, recorded just the one single with Fancy; by the time of their debut album, she had been replaced by Australian Annie Kavanagh, but what they now lacked in steaminess, they more than made up for with passion -- comparable to Sonja Kristina, Kavanagh's performance on the group's second hit single, "Touch Me," and excellent versions of Elvis' "One Night" and Lieber-Stoller's "I'm a Woman," set the tone for the remainder of the album, a pounding blend of studious funk and glistening rock, shot through with some remarkable blues as well. Occasionally it falls into somewhat workmanlike territory -- excellent producers Mike Hurst and musicians Ray Fenwick aren't always the finest songwriters, and there was also a hint of haste around the album as they strove to strike while the iron was hot. Equally pertinently, the discovery that there was more to Fancy than three minutes of squelching did much to lessen both the album's impact and its subsequent allure. But approach it with an open mind (or, at least, a clean one) and Wild Thing will bare some deceptive charms.

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