02 May 2008

Lesley Gore (Part Two)

Lesley Gore 1963

Queen Of The Rock 'n' Roll Tango!
How Lesley Gore, Quincy Jones and Klaus Ogermann
Created Habanera Rock Royalty
by Donny Jacobs

8 January 1964
A & R Recording, New York City

Lesley Gore
A Quincy Jones Production
Arranged and Conducted by Klaus Ogermann
Engineered by Phil Ramone
Tu T'En Vas/Time To Go

(Mark Barkan-René Nencioli-Ben Raleigh-Jacques Révaux)
Je Ne Sais Plus/You Don't Own Me

(Johnny Madara-René Nencioli-Jacques Révaux-David White)
Je N'Ose Pas!/Run, Bobby, Run

(Mark Barkan-Gérard Melet-Ben Raleigh)
Si Ton Coeur Le Desire/If That's The Way You Want It

(Raffles Bernet-Edna Lewis-Gloria Shayne)

In 1962, the year before Lesley Gore signed with Mercury Records, the company was purchased by the Dutch Philips label. This trans-national corporation immediately began the process of morphing into PolyGram Records, and in 1998, it would be swallowed up by the worldwide behemoth known as Universal Music. What this evolving business relationship means to Lesley Gore in 1964 is a chance to re-cut some of her material in French and German for overseas release. Actually, her French versions of "You Don't Own Me" and "Run, Bobby, Run" will also be issued in the United States on a unique (and highly collectable) French language novelty single. All four of these sides, which feature new vocals laid over the original backing tracks, will be released in France on extended play disc.

Lesley Gore in French

12 February 1964
Polydor Studios, Hamburg

Lesley Gore
Produced by Bert Kaempfert
Arranged and Conducted by Klaus Ogermann
Engineered by Peter Klemy
Goodbye, Tony/You Don't Own Me

(Guenther Loose-Johnny Madara-David White)
30984 Musikant/Time To Go
(Mark Barkan-Guenther Heigel-Ben Raleigh)

These overdubbed sides will be pressed up as Lesley's first German-language single. Klaus Ogermann has no doubt coached her in the fine points of Teutonic pronunciation! Vocals for both "Goodbye, Tony" and "Musikant" were cut in Hamburg, Germany, under lounge music icon Bert Kaempfert's supervision; the Teen Tango Queen was appearing in Europe around this time, and evidently had a recording session scheduled there for convenience.

4 March 1964
A & R Recording, New York City

Lesley Gore
A Quincy Jones Production
Arranged and Conducted by Klaus Ogermann
Engineered by Phil Ramone
31161 That's The Way Boys Are (Mark Barkan-Ben Raleigh)
31162 Boys (Paul Anka)
31163 No Foolin', I'm Coolin' (Lesley Gore-Sydney Shaw)
321164 Don't Deny It! (Klaus Ogermann-Ben Raleigh)

The title track of Lesley's third Mercury album (properly titled Boys, Boys, Boys) is her most ambitious tango rocker to date. It's a fabulous, kaleidoscopic production with backing vocals, rhythm and melody all swirling into each other. La Milonguita presides over the maelstrom and sounds royally pissed off singing Paul Anka's stinging indictment of teenage boys' trifling ways!

Diva-style drama is also on display when the tempo slows for Raleigh and Ogermann's excellent "Don't Deny It!", a song that inexplicably fails to get a contemporary release. First heard in 1994 on a Bear Family box set compilation, its authorship is revealed here for the first time. Lesley's vocal conveys a compelling mix of melancholy and outrage on a tango performance worthy of the great milonguera, Libertad Lamarque.

However, this session is most noted for its inclusion of the singer's first self-penned recording. "No Foolin', I'm Coolin" has everything a Lesley Gore song should have: Melodrama aplenty, a brisk habanera rhythm, and a thoroughly annoyed, PMS-laced vocal. Here she proves herself capable of supplying her own repertoire with top notch material, and this is just the first example.

"No Foolin'" is strong enough to have been a single, and it might've been one, too, had Ben Raleigh and Mark Barkan not submitted "That's The Way Boys Are" for this date. Once Lesley had slipped a cocksure vocal over this toe-tapping rock-a-merengue, and Quincy Jones had underscored it with a robust male chorus, the commercial potential was obvious. That potential was fully realized when the single version bought her a fifth trip to Billboard's Top Twenty list during the Spring of '64.

28 March 1964
A & R Recording, New York City

Lesley Gore
A Quincy Jones Production
Arranged and Conducted by Klaus Ogermann
Engineered by Phil Ramone
31207 I Don't Wanna Be A Loser (Mark Barkan-Ben Raleigh)
31208 It's Gotta Be You (Mark Barkan-Klaus Ogermann)
31209 Leave Me Alone! (Lesley Gore)
31210 Don't Call Me, I'll Call You (Johnny Madara-David White)

The bold habanera-pasodoble "It's Gotta Be You" is the standout of this session. It's the finest tango Lesley will ever wax, but this Barkan/Ogermann jewel will be assigned to the flipside of the brooding Rock ballad "I Don't Wanna Be A Loser". Though not without its merits, the latter song will chart lower and have a shorter chart life than any other Lesley Gore single to break Top Forty; in retrospect, it's clear that the sides should've been reversed.

The remaining masters from this date will fill out her Boys, Boys, Boys album. Madara and White's "Don't Call Me, I'll Call You" is the first of three forgettable follow-ups to "You Don't Own Me", none of which will rate release on 45. This one does distinguish itself with a provocative lyric, though: Why should I/Date just one guy/When I could date a few? Daring stuff for 1964. "Leave Me Alone!" is the Teen Tango Queen's second recorded composition, a rather paranoid response in song to the pressures of Pop stardom. It's hardly the equal of "No Foolin', I'm Coolin'", but La Milonguita's outraged vocal, bolstered by ballistic handclappings and punchy horns makes for one of her most driving tangos.

17 June 1964
A & R Recording, New York City

Lesley Gore
A Quincy Jones Production
Arranged and Conducted by Klaus Ogermann
Engineered by Phil Ramone
So Sind Die Boys Alle/That's The Way Boys Are

(Mark Barkan-Hans Bradtke-Ben Raleigh)
Nur Dü Ganz Allein/It's Gotta Be You

(Mark Barkan-Jean Nicholas-Klaus Ogermann)

Quincy Jones tracks vocals for a follow-up German language single. Only the new version of "It's Gotta Be You" will actually be released in Germany.

early July 1964
A & R Recording, New York City

Lesley Gore
A Quincy Jones Production
Arranged and Conducted by Klaus Ogermann
Engineered by Phil Ramone
32416 Look Of Love (Jeff Barry-Ellie Greenwich)
32417 Wonder Boy (Sid Wyche-Jim Steward, Jr.)
32418 Secret Love (Sammy Fain-Paul Francis Webster)
32419 Maybe I Know (Jeff Barry-Ellie Greenwich)

"I had been cutting demos of other people's songs for Lesley," songwriter Ellie Greenwich recalled in Alan Betrock's 1982 book Girl Groups: The Story Of A Sound. "When Lesley heard them, she asked who it was, and she liked them a lot . . . I was hired to do background (singing) on her recordings. Then we got friendly, and I wondered why I hadn't written anything for her."

Greenwich took the initiative and sat down at her piano to pound out a pair of instant classics for L'il Bits to cut at this session. Then-husband Jeff Barry later added some finishing touches to the songs. As she did on most Lesley Gore studio dates, Miss Ellie led her backing vocal group Les Girls on "Look Of Love" and "Maybe I Know". Fans who are only familiar with the jangling, Spectorized single version of the former song will find the slower, swinging album version a revelation; this is, in fact, the original recording. In the interest of bagging another Top Forty platter for Lesley before the end of 1964, Quincy Jones will speed up the master and add the Wall of Sound elements to his 45 RPM mix.

"Maybe I Know" needed no such embellishment to be chart-ready. Its aggravated-sounding lyric and boogaloo-style handclappings on the bridge packed more than enough teen appeal to crash radio station playlists. On its flipside lay a most deadly rock-a-tango from the pen of Brill Building vet Sid Wyche; the explosive push-me-pull-you rhythm of "Wonder Boy" inspires one of Lesley's most exasperated vocal readings ever, and it's a delight to hear. A few months from now, Lesley will film an early music video called a Scopitone, and choose this dynamic number to sing on camera.

Lesley Gore Scopitone

An exceptionally strong record date is capped off by her exuberant reading of Doris Day's "Secret Love", first heard in the 1953 Columbia picture Calamity Jane. Bolstered by Klaus Ogermann's stylish cha-cha arrangement and rousing background work from Les Girls, the Teen Tango Queen's giddy vocal gives Day's winsome ballad a whole new dimension. It's hard to believe "Secret Love" would remain unissued for almost three decades. This session might easily have yielded three hit singles instead of two, had Mercury executives been paying close enough attention.

mid-July 1964
A & R Recording, New York City
Lesley Gore

A Quincy Jones Production
Arranged and Conducted by Klaus Ogermann
Engineered by Phil Ramone
Live And Learn

(Billy Carl-Johnny Madara-David White)
Sometimes I Wish I Were A Boy

(Steve Donroy-John Gluck, Jr.)
32576 Hey! Now (Sonny Gordon)
32577 I Died Inside (Lesley Gore)
32578 Movin' Away (Len Praverman)
32579 unreleased
32580 It's Just About That Time (Van McCoy)
Little Girl, Go Home

(Mann Curtis-Jeff Davis-Frank Hervé)
32582 Say Goodbye (Larry Marks)
32583 You've Come Back (Van McCoy)
32584 unreleased
32585 unreleased

This marathon session is the longest Lesley will ever log for the Mercury label. It produces nine releasable sides (all destined for her fourth album, Girl Talk) and three aborted numbers. The single that emerged from this date, "Hey! Now" is often described as a left turn into R & B-flavored Rock; sample the rhythm track, though, and you'll taste the unmistakable flavor of salsa mixed in with the Soul. "Hey! Now" is a funky cha-cha-chá. So, minus the funk, is its flipside, "Sometimes I Wish I Were A Boy".

L'il Bits loathed the latter number with a passion! She was offended by the lyrical premise, and wary of the song's pronounced novelty bent; however, Quincy Jones was amused by the subversive nature of this John Gluck, Jr. composition (the loaded lyrics carry more than a suggestion of homoeroticism) and he urged her to cut it. She did so under protest, her voice dripping with audible contempt! Obviously, "Q" wasn't the only person who dug gender-bender Pop, because "Sometimes" did almost as well on the charts as "Hey! Now". Neither song was very well-received, though, so Lesley's next single, "Look Of Love" would be a standard issue Habanera Rock record with no left turns incorporated.

Madara and White's "Live And Learn" has no left turns, either, but it might sound less lackluster if it did have them. This surprisingly flaccid recording pales in comparison to the heavily Spectorized remake the team will later wax with actress Joey Heatherton. Fortunately, "I Died Inside" comes across with a bit more fire. La Milonguita scores her third recorded composition with this pasodoble-styled tango rocker that turns on an abandonment theme; near the song's climax, she playfully drops the first names of producers Jeff Barry and Phil Spector into a list of past suitors.

The colorful cha-cha bounce of Len Praverman's "Movin' Away" could've translated into the hit "Hey! Now" wasn't; too bad Mercury Records didn't hear the potential. The label also ignored the strong commercial appeal of "You've Come Back", a superb tango ballad contributed by future Disco King Van McCoy. The melody wraps itself around Lesley like a warm fur stole, and she purrs inside it like a contented kitten; she and Quincy Jones surely must've high-fived each other after hearing the playback. "You've Come Back" is, without a doubt, the sexiest torch song in her catalog, a make-out tune par excellence, and what a great concert closer it would've made!

Lesley also shines on "It's Just About That Time", McCoy's sophisticated bossa nova re-write of Frank Loesser's "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Hearing her work on these gems makes you wish she'd cut an entire album of his tunes; ballads like "The Sweetest Feeling"(a hit for Jackie Wilson), "Abra Ka Dabra" (waxed by The Shirelles) and "When You're Young And In Love" (recorded by Ruby and The Romantics) would've fit her voice like a velvet glove. Two better-than-average Rock'n'Roll waltzes, "Say Goodbye" and the French import "Little Girl, Go Home", round out a grueling day of tracking that probably left the Teen Tango Queen with strained vocal chords.

late July 1964
Polydor Studios, Paris

Lesley Gore
A Quincy Jones Production
Arranged and Conducted by Klaus Ogermann
Engineered by JP Dupuy
Je Sais Qu'Un Jour/Maybe I Know

(Jeff Barry-Ellie Greenwich-André Salvet)
break in master numbers
C'Est Trop Tard/Live And Learn

(Johnny Madara-David White-Carl Vendôme)
32575 unreleased
32576 Eh! Non/Hey! Now

(Sonny Gordon-Johnny Reich)
break in master numbers
32583 Te Voilà/You've Come Back

(Van McCoy-Mya Simille)

On summer vacation, L'il Bits meets up with "Q" in the City of Light and waxes her second French EP. It includes a Gallic version of "You've Come Back."

late September 1964
A & R Recording, New York City

Lesley Gore
A Quincy Jones Production
Arranged and Conducted by Werner Scharfenberger
*Arranged and Conducted by Johannes Fehring
Engineered by Phil Ramone
03 Hab Ich Das Verdient

(Fini Busch-Werner Scharfenberger)
04 Der Erste Tanz

(Fini Busch-Werner Scharfenberger)
05 Little Little Liebling (Charly Niessen)*
06 Sieben Girls

(Kurtz Feltz-Werner Scharfenberger)

This quartet of sides represents Mercury Records' most serious attempt at launching Lesley on a German Pop career. "Little Little Liebling" will be coupled with the previously recorded "Nur Dü Ganz Allein" on a single, while "Sieben Girls" b/w "Hab Ich Das Verdient" will be the follow-up. "Der Erste Tanz" won't see the light of day for 28 years.

While some of the rhythm patterns do sound vaguely Latin, polka sensibility permeates all four tracks. Neither 45 will sell enough copies to justify future endeavors of this type; besides, it's doubtful that the Teen Tango Queen enjoys singing such juvenile-sounding melodies. The background music was recorded in Münich between the 10th and 14th of September; Polydor's A & R chief Gerhard Mendelson supervised the sessions, which were probably held at DG Studios.

early December 1964
A & R Recording, New York City

Lesley Gore
A Shelby Singleton Production
Arranged and Conducted by Ray Stevens
Engineered by Phil Ramone
33707 Teen Years (Ray Stevens)
33708 I Just Don't Know If I Can (Lesley Gore-Carole Bayer Sager)
I Can't Get Him Out Of My Mind

(Tommy Boyce-Bobby Hart-Wes Farrell)
33710 When We Get There (Paul Anka-Bobby Gosh)
Sweet As Sugar

(Alexander Distel-Jack Fishman-Maurice Tézé)
33712 Wasn't Loving You Enough? (Paul Kaufman)
33713 Sixteen Candles (Luther Dixon-Allison Khent)
33714 I'm In Love Today (Michael Gore)
33715 Heart Of Town (Bobby Bloom-John Linde)

Quincy Jones has assumed the vice-presidency of Mercury Records, which leaves him less time to work in A & R. Accordingly, Shelby Singleton, Jr., the label's official A & R director, has begun scheduling Lesley Gore sessions. Lesley never establishes good working relations with the future producer of Jeannie C. Riley's "Harper Valley PTA", and that may explain why this first studio date with him is aborted.

Over the course of the next thirty years, masters for all nine songs captured at this session will be lost. The only one that obtains contemporary release is "I Just Don't Know If I Can", an angst-drenched rock-a-tango created by Lesley and her new friend, up-and-coming Screen Gems Music lyricist Carole Bayer Sager. (A prolific singer/songwriter, Carole will later count both Marvin Hamlisch and Burt Bacharach among her ex-husbands, and launch her own successful singing career.) While working on Lesley's 1966 album Lesley Gore Sings All About Love in October and November of '65, Singleton and arranger Alan Lorber will bathe the track in Spectorish orchestral overdubs and slap it on the back of her Top Fifty-charting remake of "Young Love".

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