Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dee Clark

Dee Clark was a man. I say that because a number of years ago I read a book about women in rock, it was probably called Women In Rock but don’t quote me. It had an appendix, a comprehensive list of women in rock, and Dee Clark was on the list.

I think this was a new album, a VeeJay album called The Best Of Dee Clark, and, again, don’t quote me, but I have a vague recollection of buying this at the Unicity location of Sam The Record Man. 6 out of his 10 hits are on here.

I was working there, in Unicity. It was a shopping centre at the west end of the city. It was suffering, I don’t know why. But I was working in a office there and starving. I was there from September, 1991 until July, 1992. It was a ghost town. But there was a Sam The Record Man there, so I had a place to kill an hour now and then.

That’s the whole story…

Dee Clark:

Nobody But You – This loping R&B paean to the exclusivity of a relationship was Clark’s first hit, in the winter of 1959.
Hey Little Girl –This is pure pedophilia, to a Bo Diddley beat. From the fall of 1959.
Just Keep It Up – Your time is gonna come, that’s the message here. You kinda wanna say, well why don’t you just bail. But it’s not always that easy, is it. From the summer of 1959.
Portrait Of My Love – The song was a hit for Steve Lawrence, but I don’t have that version. I do have a version, unless I’m very much mistaken, by Gene McDaniel. This is one of those ballads. You know, one of *those* ballads…
How About That – Trilling flute accompanies our hero as he describes his “throbbing brain,” an unmistakable symptom of infatuation. From the winter of 1960.
Blues Get Off My Shoulders – Dee has a rather unusual voice for a smoky ballad like this. “Blues,” here, is blamed for ruining a “perfect love affair” and wreaking all manner of damage. If I didn’t know better I’d say that this was a song about depression.
Raindrops – Another heartbreak song, but the real subtext is the inner conflict that goes when “a man ain’t supposed to cry.” The Everly Brothers did their crying in the rain, and the Temptations wished it would rain. So many songs about tears and rain. This was his only top 10 hit, and it could be his best vocal performance, a bit lower than his usual register. From the summer of 1961.
Your Friends – A few years it was, before Dylan did Positively 4th Street, but same idea. From the winter of 1961.
If It Wasn’t For Love – This song wasn’t a hit, but it’s one on which Dee lets loose, belting out with that choked tenor of his, a song that is so over the top that you can’t help but believe every word.
You’re Looking Good – A Hey Little Girl rewrite, with all the salaciousness, but minus the cradle robbing. From the fall of 1960.
When I Call On You

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