Friday, January 25, 2008

Sotto voce

(Versión en español:

When you are producing an act that has recorded a song called “Midnight Sun,” what should the flip side of the 45 be? If you’re Bob Reisdorff of Dolton Records, you opt for “Moon in the Afternoon” to finish off Dolton 61.

Guitarists Bobby and Larry Black, along with their longtime drummer Jack Greenbach, recorded “Moon in the Afternoon” in 1962. Greenbach co-wrote it with Mel Larson and Jerry Marcellino. Larson and Marcellino later co-wrote “I Am Love” for the Jacksons and produced some of their work, including a portion of Michael’s early solo hits.

This perkier B side of the single appealed to three-year-old caithiseach much more than the intended hit side. “Moon in the Afternoon” is, in fact, a song confected to dovetail with two musical forces. First, its name clearly derives from “Midnight Sun.” Whereas the title of “Midnight Sun” has a basis in Johnny Mercer’s lyrics, “Moon in the Afternoon” seems to have been written to balance the 45, and the title is an inversion of the astronomic phenomenon of the A side.

That sounds awfully academic, doesn’t it? When I was little, the wordplay of the titles allowed them to stick in my head, and thus the memory survived the Great Meltdown, even if the 45 didn’t. A vinyl dealer took care of the rest for me.

The other thing happening in this song is that Bob Reisdorff and the Black Brothers used twangy guitar and a nearly illegal amount of reverb to make this song sound like a recording by the Ventures, also a Dolton act. The sax part on this song (possibly played by Marcellino) almost disappears under the onslaught of bouncing sound waves. On a little mono phonograph, the cut sounded pretty good, though.

The Five Whispers weren’t done after this single. They returned in 1963 with Dolton 69, “Awake Or Asleep”/“Especially for You” and in 1964 with Dolton 90, “Can’t Face the Crowd”/“Sleep Walker.” The last one sounds as if it had a bit of Santo & Johnny inspiration, but that is pure speculation. If you have these other tracks, I’d love to hear them.

The Dolton discography I used comes from Global Dog Productions, Check it out, and enjoy the song.

I see that there are some regular readers of this blog. I appreciate your interest, and I look forward to posting because of it. Thanks.

This coming Wednesday, as January ends, it will be not quite “Summertime, Summertime,” either for me or for the artists who cut the next 45. See you then!

Five Whispers, Moon in the Afternoon

Moon in the Afternoon label

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