B-side of You Only Pass This Way One Time
(Written by Al Klein and Bob Milsap)
Dippy, drippy, weepy, sleepy. Nothing about this plodding, hangdog B-side suggests it even came from the same group who’d turned in the turbocharged folk-skiffle psychedelia of the A-side, You Only Pass This Way One Time, which makes me even more inclined to see that one as a fluke, an accident. This, I fear, this right here is the real sound of the Hillsiders (whoever they were), the sound they were aiming for on the topside. And it’s awful.
Oh, alright, awful is a bit harsh; the backing vocals are very pretty, and it’s a sweet little tune, all told. But the lead singer, who clearly didn’t feature on the A-side (it’s a man, for a start) is a clean-cut, whitebread vocalist whose unremarkable self-conscious warbling seems determined to take us back to 1953. Meanwhile, the lyrics he’s singing – a song about how rain makes him feel lonely, so let’s hope he never comes here to Wales – are the kind of ridiculous fare I’d previously mocked the likes of the Stylers for trying to break out, a middle-aged white man’s hilariously poor attempt at sounding young and hip by occasionally (and very gingerly) dropping the “g” from words like rainin’. And yes, this is a song about rain which includes the phrase pitter-patter, so… Oh dear.
This is a load of insipid, morose toss, exactly what I’d been afraid of when cueing up the A-side; but the music gods give with one hand and take away with the other, so while my dread on the topside quickly evaporated in the face of the Hillsiders’ psychotropic church group jamboree, my expectations for this side came crashing back down when this limp little ballad struck up instead. Ah well.
It’s hard not to let my disappointment colour my view of the record on its own merits. Literally everything I liked from the A-side – the beguiling female lead vocal, the echo, the driving beat, the Theremin-like cooing and hollering, the catchy tune and its almost complete independence from the time signature of the beat – it’s all missing, and in its place, a flat little Fifties sketch so wet it would have had Bobby Breen thinking twice.
It’s not unlistenably bad; the female backing vocals get better as the song goes on, the piano is a nice touch, and (as I said) the tune is actually quite nice, as far as quiet noodling goes. But “not quite as dreadful as I thought it was going to be” isn’t a recommendation, and results in our first red mark of the year.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
(I’ve had MY say, now it’s your turn. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment, or click the thumbs at the bottom there. Dissent is encouraged!)
You’re reading Motown Junkies, an attempt to review every Motown A- and B-side ever released. Click on the “previous” and “next” buttons below to go back and forth through the catalogue, or visit the Master Index for a full list of reviews so far.
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“You Only Pass This Way One Time”
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