Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Vernons Girls - Lover Please (1962/ No. 16/ 20 weeks/ Decca)


It starts with a drum pattern that sounds like the sort of thing you imagine would make a cool sample. Then some resonant piano chords and handclaps. This can only be understood as a rhythmical undercarriage for the whole single.

Then there's a peripatetic bassline. None of this ever seems to let go over the next two minutes - this is one of the most relentless and fast songs you can imagine.

'Lover Please' was a brand new US rhythm and blues hit for Cylde McPhatter in the US, written by Billy ('I Can Help') Swan. The Vernons Girls were perhaps an act with less ostensible credibility than the original source. Starting out as a fifteen piece chorus line for Jack Goode's Oh Boy! British rock 'n' roll package shows of the 1950s, by 1962 they had been whittled down to a three girl pop group. The good news is that they were rockin' and whoever put this cover version together knew how to make things exciting.

The song itself tells a familiar story;

Lover please!
Please come back.
(LOVER PLEASE!)
Don't take the train comin' down the track!
(LOVER PLEASE!)
Don't please don't!
Don't leave me!
(LOVER PLEASE!)
Don't leave me in A-MIS-EREE!

This would grab your attention in itself, but of greater note is the backing vocal, repeated so many times in the song as to leave you quite giddy just listening to it;

Ooperchooperooperchooperoopachoowa!
Ooperchooperooperchooperoopachoowa!

Two other effects are added to the mix - A remarkably terse and simple brass section in the brief gaps between verses and choruses. and then what appears to be a penny whistle. This all adds to the sense of this being a railway song, and one of almost unbearable urgency. All of these short choppy musical and vocal effects make this a surprisingly locked-on and peripatetic single. It doesn't really go anywhere over the two minutes, it just pledges its case with ever greater urgency and excitement.

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