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Transcript 156—Good Lovin’

NOTE: This is a pre-production transcript and may not match the final show precisely.

[INTRO]

Hey, Cuz! Welcome to the next episode of How Good It Is, and today, we’re going to get us some of that good good lovin’

[HGII]

Hi there! I’m Claude Call.

[TRIVIA]

And I’ve got some cool trivia for ye this time around. This, I think, is one of those “you know it or you don’t” kind of questions. Who was the first female musician to perform on a Beatles recording, and which song was it? As you know, the Beatles’ music got more complex as they moved into and beyond the Rubber Soul and Revolver era, and they had to bring in session musicians for things like horns and violins and such. But until this woman performed on a Beatles track, all of the session musicians had been men. Who was she, and what song does she appear in? As an extra hint, I personally think that her contribution was quite significant to the overall sound of the song. I’ll tell you who it was, and a little more, at the end of the show.

[beat]

By the time Felix Cavaliere founded his own doo-wop group in the early 1960s, he’d already been trained on classical piano by his mother. Cavaliere was attending Syracuse University when he put together a vocal harmony group called The Escorts. Now, I should point out that this is NOT the same band with that name, which is also known as The Legendary Escorts. It wasn’t long after that that he returned to the New York City area to join The Starliters, Joey Dee’s backup band. The Starliters were past their hitmaking days, but they could still draw a crowd on the touring circuit, and that’s where Cavaliere got some of his touring chops. And it was on one of those tours that he met David Brigati. The following year, in 1965, Gene Cornish left his own group to join the Starliters, and the three of them had enough of a rapport with each other that they decided to break away from Joey Dee and form their own band, getting jazz drummer Dino Danelli to join them.

The band began rehearsing at Cavaliere’s house, and then later at a place in Garfield, New Jersey called the Choo Choo Club, because it was close to Brigati’s house. It was manager Billy Amato Smith who discovered them at the club and who referred them to Sid Bernstein, the same guy responsible for bringing most of the British Invasion bands to the United States. Bernstein, as the band’s manager, got them a contract with Atlantic Records, making them the first white group to sign with that label. Now, they bumped into a little bit of trouble with their name when another act, Borrah Minnevitch’s and Johnny Puleo’s  ‘Harmonica Rascals’, objected to the name “The Rascals” so they agreed to be called “The Young Rascals.” They put together their first album, which consisted mostly of covers, with one exception. And “Good Lovin’” wasn’t that exception.

[needle scratch]

Yeah, we need to back up juuust a little bit, here.

[LEMME B GOOD]

“Good Lovin” was written by Rudy Clark, and it was first recorded in 1965 by Limmie Smith, using the stage name of Lemme B. Good, on the Mercury label. You might notice that the basic structure is the same, but the lyrics are a little different from the words you know…

…The reason for that is that Rudy Clark didn’t really like them when he heard the song, so he brought in Artie Resnick as a co-writer to fix the words.

[OLYMPICS]

It wasn’t but a month later that the song was re-recorded by The Olympics on a label called Loma. This version, which was produced by Jerry Ragovoy, managed to make it onto the Billboard Hot 100.

And the story goes that Felix Cavaliere heard the song on a New York City radio station. Other accounts are that he found the record in a Harlem music store. Either way, the Young Rascals added it to their concert repertoire, using those same words and, for my money, mostly the same arrangements. But co-producers Arif Mardlin and Tom Dowd did something a little different. First off, they worked to capture the band’s live performance energy. And second, they recorded it in stereo, so the first thing you hear is three of the band members counting in. On “one” it’s Eddie Brigati, on “two” it’s Gene Cornish, and on “three” it’s Felix Cavaliere, and if you listen closely, you’ll realize that they ping-pong back and forth in your stereo speakers.

[RASCALS]

In an interview, Cavaliere thought that the song wouldn’t be a hit, because he didn’t like the sound of their performance. But hit it did. The record was released on February 1, 1966 and was in the Number One slot on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of April 30. It only spent the one week there before the Mamas and the Papas nudged it out with their song “Monday, Monday,” which was kind of a monster hit for them, so.

As far as covers go, there have been a few but perhaps the most notable was by The Grateful Dead, which added it to their concert rotation in 1969 and played it in nearly every show thereafter. It was originally sung by Pigpen McKernan and then later on by Bob Weir, after Pigpen’s death in 1973. Weirdly enough, they didn’t record it in a studio until 1978, for the Shakedown Street album, and at the time the track got some rather poor reviews, especially for Weir’s vocals. The Dead did perform the song on Saturday Night Live that year, but it still didn’t even crack the Hot 100 except in Canada, where it made it all the way to…Number 94. That said, it’s still a staple of many classic rock stations.

Another cover I kinda dug was when the song was used as the theme to the show Doctor Doctor, an American situation comedy that ran for 40 episodes from 1989 through 1991. The band who recorded it went uncredited, so I don’t know what more to tell you, other than that if you can find the show, check it out. It was pretty good and has a bunch of “before they were famous” actors in it. Here’s that track, in it’s entirety:

[DOCTOR DOCTOR]

[BUMPER]

And now it’s time to answer today’s trivia question. Back on Page Two I asked you about the first female session musician to play on a Beatles song. Her name was Sheila Bromberg, and she’s the one who did this:

[SHE’S LEAVING HOME]

Bromberg is the harp player on the Sgt. Pepper’s track “She’s Leaving Home.” Here’s a clip from the BBC’s The One Show, from 2011, in which Bromberg visited the studio for the first time since that day:

[BBC]

Bromberg passed away in 2021 at the age of 93.

[OUTRO]

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Thank you so much for listening, I’ll talk to you next time.