The Four Sonics
“Listen – You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me – MP3″
I hope all is groovy in your neck of the soulful woods.
I started out the day by walking outside in a t-shirt and discovering a thick coating of ice on our windshields, which I promptly started scraping (still in a t-shirt), ending up chilled to the bone and with gnarled, frozen fingers. What a hoot… I shouldn’t complain. We’re already midway through January and we have yet to see more than a dusting of snow, so in the long run a frosty windshield and some cold fingers is a small price to pay for not having to fire up the snow blower.
I came upon today’s selection a while back while trolling through some 45 crates at a record show. Though I’d never heard of the Four Sonics, I knew that the Sport label was home to a number of excellent 60’s Detroit soul 45s, so I grabbed it. When I gave it a test run on the GP3, I happened to spin the uptempo a-side, which convinced me to fork over the three dollars. It wasn’t until I got home and started to digimatize my haul that I flipped the disc and gave the b-side a listen, which it turns out was the right thing to do, on account of no matter how dance-y the topside of this 45 is, the flip is exponentially ballad-y and melodramatic, so I figured I’d save the uptempo for another day and whip the flip on you now.
I have to start out by saying that when I saw that the Four Sonics had recorded a version of ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ I was dubious as I’ve never been a huge fan of the Dusty Springfield version (though that may be the result of oldies radio overplay induced fatigue).
The tune, written by Pino Donaggio and Vito Pallavicini as “Io che non vivo (senza te)” was given English lyrics by Simon Napier-Bell and Vicki Wickham and taken into the Top Ten by Springfield in 1966.
The Four Sonics, who recorded two 45s for the Sport label in 1968 got their start as the Velvet Angels, a group that rose from the ashes of Nolan Strong and the Diablos (bass singer Jay Johnson was a Diablo, and Strong is rumored to have appeared on some of the Velvet Angels 45s). The group, consisting of Johnson, Bill Frazier, Steve Gaston and Eddie Daniels went on to record 45s for Sepia (as the Four Sonics+1), Triple B and JMC.
The Sport label – which benefited from the involvement of one Andre Williams, who recorded one 45 under his own name for the label (and produced some others) – released eleven 45s between 1967 and 1969, including one of the earliest sides by the Dramatics.
The Four Sonics version of ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’ is an absolutely monumental slice of sweet harmony soul, with a breathtaking falsetto lead. Produced by Shelley Haims (who I believe was the owner of Sport Records), the arrangement which manages to maintain just a touch of Motor City grit beneath the lush harmonies is taken a slightly more deliberate pace than Springfields, with a little more 4/4 pounding in the chorus. It’s a great example (like many of the decidedly more austere recordings by the Van Dykes) of the application of an earlier type of R&B vocal harmony to peak era soul.
I hope you dig it.
PS Remember, the Asbury Park 45 Sessions returns this Friday, 1/18 at the World Famous Asbury Lanes. Hot funk and soul 45s, bowling and (of course) tater tots in full effect. If you’re a reader of the blog and you fall by, be sure to come up and say hi! If you can’t be there in person you can always check it out live on the interwebs at JamNow.