B-side of He’s An Oddball
(Written by Armon Frank and Hal Davis)
The only thing that had saved the baffling A-side He’s An Oddball from rank awfulness was the sense that everyone involved with it knew it was silly. No such luck here on the flip; this is a demo that came into Motown’s LA office from one of the hordes of budding songwriters that sent in their material, and which office guru and writer/producer Hal Davis whipped into shape for his favourite backing singers the Lewis Sisters to have a crack at it.
It’s not very good.
After another opening blart of horns and jazz drums, this very quickly devolves into jaunty, inoffensive pop fare, bouncing along in contented and soft-centred fashion for three uneventful minutes. The chorus is mildly catchy, in a whistleable sort of way, and there’s a squirming, wriggling, rough-edged jazz sax break that briefly raises the pulse; otherwise, nothing to report.
Shear off that sax, and this could have been cut in 1955 without anyone batting an eyelid. In fact, this could have been cut in 1955 as an advertising jingle for hair cream and nobody would have noticed anything amiss.
“Ah,” you say, “but you liked that Billy Eckstine record, and that was as dated as can be.” Fair point, but that one was dated in the way a classic lounge suit is dated; if it’s been cut well enough, it’ll be a classic forever, going from ‘dated’ to ‘vintage’. By Some Chance, on the other hand, has dated like… well, like a 50-year-old jar of hair cream.
This just ended up getting on my nerves, much more so than the ostensibly wacky A-side. The singing is weak, the harmonies are off, the scansion is absolutely terrible (seriously, it’s possibly the worst-scanning lyric we’ve yet come across here on Motown Junkies) and it renders the lyrics almost indecipherable –
Will our love ever die and be done?
Or live on, like the bright shining sun?
– and the whole thing suffers from an almost total lack of abandon, joyful or otherwise, which makes its supposed jollity come across as forced: rather than bouncy and breezy, it’s grating and flat. There’s a moment where one of the sisters sings about how the listener’s love “sets my soul aflame”, but she sounds roughly as excited as someone who’s been about throw away an old newspaper only to discover she hadn’t yet done the crossword puzzle.
Other than that sax break, which sounds like the musical equivalent of someone trying to wrestle a live eel into a knapsack, and which is the only thing deserving of any points here, it’s just boring, and incompetently boring at that. A pity.
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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|The Lewis Sisters
“He’s An Oddball”
“Why Do You Want To Let Me Go”
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