Tuesday, September 27, 2016

SHG: Shep & the Limelites: "Daddy's Home"

Shep & the Limelites: “Daddy’s Home”
Entered the chart on: 4/10/1961
Peaked on: 5/29/1961
Weeks at #2: 1
Song at #1: “Travellin’ Man” by Ricky Nelson

And so, here we have our first “Answer Song.” My bible, the Whitburn book, informs me that this song was written in response to the Heartbeats’ “A Thousand Miles Away,” a song I’ve never heard, and a song I think few modern listeners have, considering it didn’t crack the top 40 and never shows up on oldies playlists.

On to the subject of the “Answer Song,” it’s a bit of a dead horse trope. It was a big deal in the 50s and 60s, Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” begat Jody Miller’s “Queen of the House,” the Shirelles “Mama Said” begat Jan Bradley’s “Mama Didn’t Lie,” Claude King’s “Wolverton Mountain” begat Jo Ann Campbell’s “(I’m the Girl On) Wolverton Mountain.” And so on and so forth. In retrospect, it seems a rather silly conceit, not to mention a lazy songwriting device. “What’s popular right now? ‘Please Help Me I’m Falling’? OK, I can bang something out. ‘(I Can’t Help You) I’m Falling Too.’ Bang! It’s a hit!”

I guess the last we got of the “Answer Songs” was that whole “Roxanne, Roxanne” business in the late 80s, which has to be the only song that begat not only an Answer Artist in Roxanne Shanté, but an Answer Artist to the Answer Artist in The Real Roxanne. I never knew what the big deal was, and to be honest, I couldn’t hum you any of the Roxanne songs even if you paid me.

Back on the subject of Shep & the Limelites, technically “Daddy’s Home” is the sequel to “A Thousand Miles Away” and not an “answer song” since James “Shep” Sheppard was the lead singer of both groups, and co-wrote both songs. I had their name wrong all these years. I had thought it was the Limeliters, but no, the record label ensures me it’s Limelites, with no “R.” So shall we get on with the review?

Ooo...more vibes! They were one of my favorite featured instruments on “He’ll Have to Go,” and they add a lovely, glassy sound to this. The “rat-a-tat” backing vocals are a nice touch, too. Before they get to the bridge, it sounds like the sax player runs out of breath. Made me giggle!

Now for the negative side, this kind of doo-wop was rather old hat by ’61 and while the singing is excellent (Shep nails the “I’m not a thousand miles away” at the end in particular), the song doesn’t completely involve me. The “Daddy’s home to stay” refrain is the only really memorable thing about it.

So...a bit of a throwaway, in a gloriously pretty package.

Rating: 3

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