13 February 2023

Only in Melbourne: (4) Gene McDaniels - It's A Lonely Town (Lonely Without You) (1963)

Only in Melbourne: tracks that didn't chart Top 40 in their countries of origin but did better in the capital of my home state, Victoria. See also: Only in Oz.

(4) Gene McDaniels - It's A Lonely Town (Lonely Without You) 
(Doc Pomus - Mort Shuman)
USA 1963
Liberty single (USA) #55597
Liberty single (Australia) #LIB-
Australian charts: #10 Melbourne #58 Adelaide (#43 Australia)
US charts: #64 Billboard

ARSA's random samples of radio surveys show Lonely Town charting at half a dozen stations in the US: a #8 at KOSA Odessa TX, a #15 at WRIT Milwaukee WI... It's a familiar story: a scattering of regional chart placings, but only enough to make it a minor national hit (#64 on Billboard).

Because I was in Victoria at the time, listening to Melbourne radio, I've always had a false idea of its overall popularity. A #10 in Melbourne is respectable, but it was no more a national hit in Australia than it was in the US.

Gene McDaniels
was a staple of pop radio in Australia in the early 60s. To stick with Melbourne as an example, he had eight Top 40 hits there, notably A Hundred Pounds Of Clay (1961, #4), Tower Of Strength (1961, #4), Chip Chip (1962, #2) and Point Of No Return (1962, #8). The pattern was similar in the other Australian capitals, and it pretty much reflected his US chart record. (In the UK, he managed to chart only once, with Tower of Strength at #49.)

For me, this is a perfect pop record. Writing, arrangement, production and performance are all immaculate: every detail counts. 

McDaniels' singing here is superb, and showcases why he was so popular down here. It's an assured, disciplined, but nuanced performance: note how his voice falters ever so slightly at the end of the line I feel like crying

The rest of the personnel are distinguished. You can read their biographies elsewhere, but even a selection of credits tells us a lot. 

The writers Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman (together):
A Teenager In Love (Dion & The Belmonts)
I Count The Tears (The Drifters)
Save The Last Dance For Me (The Drifters)
This Magic Moment (The Drifters)
Little Sister (Elvis Presley)
Sweets For My Sweet (The Drifters, The Searchers)
Suspicion (Elvis Presley, Terry Stafford)
Viva Las Vegas (Elvis Presley)
See Pomus & Shuman resources at shrout.co.uk

The producer Snuff Garrett
Johnny Burnette - You're Sixteen
Gene McDaniels - A Hundred Pounds Of Clay, Tower Of Strength
Bobby Vee - Take Good Care Of My Baby, Run To Him, The Night Has A Thousand Eyes
Gary Lewis and the Playboys - This Diamond Ring, Count Me In, Everybody Loves A Clown 
See Tom Simon's Snuff Garrett page

The arranger and conductor Ernie Freeman
Bobby Vee - The Night Has A Thousand Eyes
The Blossoms - That's When The Tears Start
Dean Martin - You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You
Johnny Burnette - Little Boy Sad
Frank Sinatra - Strangers In The Night
Petula Clark - This Is My Song
Vikki Carr - It Must Be Him
The Vogues - Turn Around, Look At Me
See Richie Unterberger's Ernie Freeman bio at All Music

I was surprised to discover that another Only in Melbourne track from 1963, Julie London's I'm Coming Back To You, was also produced by Snuff Garrett with arranger and conductor Ernie Freeman.

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