Friday, April 25, 2008

I Love a Mystery

Anyone who knows me probably knows I love a good musical mystery. My passion for an album called "Musical Memories of Camp Bryn Afon" led not only to a post at the original 365 days project, but an entire privately reissued release of the album as a CD. And for the last few years, I've updated my discoveries about Merigail Moreland, both at WFMU's blog and in this blog.

Recently, I had the chance to listen to virtually every song which made the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1957. I love that era of music, and came across dozens of tracks I hadn't heard before, and which I either loved immediately or am growing to love. But one of the standouts, for me, was a record which may not cause the same reaction among the majority of listeners.

Perhaps it's old news among other collectors and music obsessives like me, but this record, "That's All I Want From You" by The Silva-Tones, is not quite like anything else I've ever heard. It starts with fairly odd doo-wop vocalizing - "chu-wah-wah", which leads into what sounds like a harmonium. Whatever that instrument is, it dominates the few other instruments on the record, which is bathed in the degree of reverb that Stan Freberg liked to make fun of.

I already had that "deer in the headlights" feeling before the lead singer even started. And when he did, the bizarre quotient went way, way up. Sounding like a demented version of Robin Gibb (several years before the Bee Gees made any records, of course), with inflections and pronounciations that only added to the weirdness, this vocalist had me completely in his power.

For the last few weeks, I've barely let a day go by without listening to this record, and saying one version or another of "what the hell"? On the one hand, it seems sort of like a car crash, but on the other hand, there is something about that greatly appeals to me. I've been able to find out almost nothing about this group, and my Joel Whitburn Hot 100 book doesn't say anything about the group either.

Here it is, hope you enjoy it! Anyone with information about this group or this recording is encouraged to offer comment: