Friday, November 18, 2016

SHG: The Toys: "A Lover's Concerto"

The Toys: “A Lover’s Concerto” Entered the chart on: 10/2/65 Peaked on: 10/30/65 Weeks at #2: 3 Songs at #1: “Yesterday” by the Beatles and “Get Off My Cloud” by the Rolling Stones

I’ll be honest, I could have sworn this was the first song based on a classical piece I’d be writing about when I started this feature. I somehow forgot about the Allan Sherman bit, and didn’t even know about “Don’t You Know,” which rather blunted the surprise regarding this one.

Then again, maybe not. This is the first “rock” song to be based on classical music to appear in Second Hand Goods. Someone—and by “someone,” I mean the legendary songwriting team of Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell—thought it would be a good idea to adapt the Minuet in G to a Supremes-knockoff pop-soul girl group song.

And you know what? They weren’t wrong!

Interestingly, the arrangement here, while clearly based on a classical piece, sounds oddly jazzy. Something you’d expect more in a Dionne Warwick song than in something that sounds like Martha & the Vandellas. Never noticed it before, but lead singer Barbara Harris (not that one) sounds an awful lot like Martha Reeves. She’s flying solo for the first verse, and I really like how they add the other two Toys gradually to the vocal mix, until it’s a virtual choir at the end. We’re not quite in “Sally Go Round the Roses” territory here, but arranger Charles Calello does a fine job of making the most of the ladies’ voices.

Lyrically, this could come across to some as insufferably twee. I don’t think it tips the balance too far, but this is sort of the tip of the iceberg, inspiring quite a lot of extremely saccharine, mega-girly female-sung soul-pop in the 70s. Stuff like “I Love You for All Seasons” by the Fuzz or...pretty much anything by the Barry White-produced vocal trio Love Unlimited is bound to conjure up images of pink silk hair ribbons or Hello Kitty plush dolls. This isn’t that extreme, but it is awfully precious and trying hard to be demurely feminine.

Overall, good taste rules the day, and for that I’m glad. I’ve always loved this song. Still do.

Rating: 5

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