Friday, March 14, 2008

Another One That Almost Got Away

As much as I liked my 45s when I was a kid, I had my favorite side for each disc, and I rarely played the other side. I didn’t base my choice of songs on the label’s suggested A side; I just played what I liked. Without looking, I can’t tell you what was on the other side of “Mama from the Train” or “People Sure Act Funny.”

“Land of Beauty” was one flip side I played frequently, which made “The Stroll” a two-sided smash on the caithiseach record player. Both “The Gypsy Rover” and “Cotton Fields” wound up Ground to Dust, and “Why Wait”/“Patricia” got my attention on both sides, though “Why Wait” was easily the song I played most of everything I owned. Apart from these pairings, I adopted one song per chunk of vinyl as my own and mostly ignored the other.

By the way, if my offhand references to the aforementioned songs don’t ring a bell, either you’re new to the blog or you missed some posts. Check the archives.

I learned a lesson from today’s song. It must have been winter when I pulled “That Background Sound” from the much-reduced collection I still had after the Great Meltdown. I know that because I would have run through a lot of 45s in one day before I would bother playing a song I had ignored for eight or nine years. So I am guessing we were having a snow day. From that point, of course, the newly discovered good song got a lot of airtime. And I took it upon myself to check out the flip side right away, since it could be an undiscovered gem as well.

I was pleased to see that not all 45s had flip sides that were mere filler. I really liked “Now It’s All Over” by Buddy Sheppard and the Holidays. Fred Milano and Angelo D’Aleo, both Belmonts, wrote the tune, and Bernie Lawrence produced it.

Three-year-old caithiseach might have decided not to play this song again, but 12-year-old Seán was fine with it. A slow doo-wop number, “Now It’s All Over” (Sabina 510, 1963) sounded like something Dion might have sung. No real shock there, since the Holidays were actually the Belmonts. I’m not claiming that I picked out the vocal resemblance before I read that the Belmonts recorded as the Holidays, but I am saying they sounded like typical doo-wop artists of their time.

When I learned the lesson that there were still good flip sides to be found, I took time once in awhile to check out the non-played side of 45s, both new and old. In the winter of 1974, I learned that the B side of “Waterloo” by ABBA, a tune called “Watch Out,” was surprisingly different from the hit side. The stylistic range that song showed appealed to my listen-to-everything nature, and I wound up buying the LP Waterloo as a result.

Buddy Sheppard and the Holidays, apart from teaching me not to judge a song by its title, taught me that you always have to check the B side of a 45 for a surprise favorite. When I developed that habit, I made the leap of logic that led me to buy some albums that were not Greatest Hits packages. Even when an album didn’t have ten good songs, it almost always had more than two, and that made me happy. I would have to say that the conscious decision to be a more experimental music listener resulted from pulling “That Background Sound”/“Now It’s All Over” out of the box and checking out both sides.

Thanks, Buddy.

Next week I’ll be talking about one of my true musical heroes. I’ve been waiting for weeks. See you Wednesday!

Buddy Sheppard and the Holidays, Now It’s All Over


stackja1945 said...

A or B never bothered me. I like what I like. I like doo wop, have before I knew what is was called.

Yah Shure said...

"That Background Sound" didn't quite win me over. Neither did "Now That It's Over" at first, but I wanted to give it another chance. It was on the third listen that it finally clicked. So I went back and gave "Background" another listen, but it still registered a "not quite." Hey, one out of two still counts as a hit!

I chuckled when I read your comments about ABBA's "Watch Out." I felt the same way, and added it to my college station's playlist after "Waterloo" had peaked. Who knew ABBA could rock?

Viae said...

Today's blog as well as its March 11th companion, "One That Almost Got Away," were brought to my attention by my Google Blogs Alert for "The Belmonts." As a hard-core fan of Fred, Angie, Carlo, Frank, Warren, etc. it's always exciting to learn when others discover the less popular releases by these guys from The Bronx. And the two you've highlighted are my personal favorities as well!

Decades of researching The Belmonts lead me to your same conclusion, i.e., Buddy Sheppard aka Christie probably didn't exist apart from The Belmonts' pseudonym. What truly is discouraging is the difficulty confirming this and other uncertainities about The Belmonts. Time moves rapidly forward . . . my sources indicate that the original three Belmonts remain well but are aging . . . consequently, it would seem adventageous that the details of what actually occurred during their recording career be archived in writing. Yet any who have attempted such a feat know the inherent problems. Perhaps something already is underway even as I write. I certainly hope so.

Thank you for an excellent blog.

Scott (Houston, TX)

caithiseach said...

Scott, thanks for letting me know I wasn't going out on too thin a limb by suggesting that Buddy was just a pseudonym. Consider emailing me to talk about how we can figure this out.