We explore recent rare reissues, with extensive CD booklets filled with musical history and photos, from Australia's new label, Playback records. There are 25 Skeeter Davis songs, including "The End of the World," and 28 Mann and Weil compositions offered on the CDs. Playback produces high quality CDs from original master recordings and now have U.S. distribution for American music collectors.
By Warren Kurtz
Skeeter Davis’ 25 song CD from Playback includes “The End of the World.” This 1963 million selling single is considered the most successful crossover hit on Billboard’s four major singles charts. It spent four weeks in the number one spot on the easy listening rankings, three weeks at number two on the country and western listing, number four on the R&B chart, and number two in the Top 100 pop singles. The first dozen tracks are comprised of Skeeter Davis’ 1964 “Let Me Get Close to You” album in its entirety. The title tune is one of two charting singles for Skeeter Davis written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Another charting composition from that songwriting team, with a Neil Sedaka style arrangement, is “I Can’t Stay Mad at You,” a Top 10 hit for Skeeter Davis in 1963. Also on that album is a cover of the whimsical ‘50s song “Gonna Get Along Without You Now,” redone in recent years by She & Him. The twelve song album concludes with another up-tempo Goffin-King composition, “Easy to Love (So Hard to Get)” which reached number 105 for the Chiffons in early 1964.
A side: He Says the Same Things to Me
Top 100 debut: January 25, 1964
Peak position: 47
Flip side: How Much Can a Lonely Heart Stand
Top 100 debut: February 22, 1964
Peak position: 92
RCA Victor 8288
The second half of Skeeter Davis’ CD is comprised of thirteen bonus tracks to provide the listener most of her charting records from 1963 through 1965, including “How Much Can a Lonely Heart Stand,” the catchy flip side of “He Says the Same Things to Me.” This flip side is reminiscent of the mood of fellow Kentucky natives, the Everly Brothers. The songs are delivered in a twang-free, pop-country style, an approach which would suit Crystal Gayle in the next two decades, who was inducted in the Grand Ole Opry this year, and newcomer Maggie Rose, who has had quite a year with her solid five song EP, “More Dreams than Dollars” and the single “Pull You Through.”
Also included on the hour long Skeeter Davis CD is “What Am I Gonna Do With You,” later recorded by Lesley Gore, “Sunglasses,” with a melody in line with Brian Wilson’s composition “That’s Not Me,” from the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” album, and the catchy Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil composition “I Don’t Want to Love You,” originally recorded by Ricky Nelson in 1964.
“On Broadway” includes 28 songs from the Mann-Weil songwriting duo, including Skeeter Davis’ version of “I Don’t Want to Love You.” The selections are either creative cover versions of their popular hits or some lesser known gems, with plenty of rarities from 1962 through 1976.
“It’s a Happening World,” originally recorded by the Tokens, Lesley Gore and Pat Boone, is covered here in 1968 by the Executives, an Australian sextet with singer Keith Leslie capturing a David Cassidy pop-style delivery. “The Shape of Things to Come” by the Graduates, also from 1968, features a strong brass section. Glenn Yarbrough delivers hope with “It’s Gonna Be Fine,” a single for him and an album cut for the New Christy Minstrels in the mid-‘60s. A catchy, up-tempo treatment with bagpipes is given to “I Love How You Love Me” by siblings Nino Tempo and April Stevens. There is smooth Philadelphia soul from the Delfonics on “When You Get Right Down to It,” recapturing the style they brought to their Top 10 gold single “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time).” Not only is there “Baby Baby You,” by the Lovenotes, originally a Ronettes album cut, but there is also “Baby Baby (I Still Love You)” by Julie Grant from England. Ray Columbus & the Invaders, also from England, cover “Till We Kissed,” which North Americans may know as the flip side of the Guess Who’s “Shakin’ All Over” single.
In the ‘60s, at the Brill Building in New York City, there were two married couples constantly hard at work as songwriters, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Their stories are presented in the musical “Beautiful: The Carole King Story” and their compositions are featured on these new Playback releases.
King, Weil, Mann and Goffin – courtesy of Playback records
Goldmine is featuring Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s daughter Louise Goffin’s new song and video “New Year’s Day”:
Warren Kurtz is a Contributing Editor at Goldmine, known for “Fabulous Flip Sides” along with interviews, CD, DVD and book reviews. “Warren’s Fabulous Flip Sides” can be heard most Saturday mornings, in the 9 a.m. hour, Eastern time, on WVCR radio as part of “Moments to Remember.”