Monday, June 13, 2011

People Who Know People: Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas: "Do You Want To Know A Secret?"

One of the continuing threads in the charts of the 60s - starting very successfully here - is the Beatles album track being covered by another group and made into a hit single. I don't know of any other group being covered so much in their own time, with (of course!) their permission and indeed help; Billy and his band were from Liverpool themselves and thus knew The Beatles when no one would give them the time of day, and so were more than happy to help their pals out with not just already-recorded songs but songs they had written but didn't, for whatever reason, want to record themselves. Other groups may have been jealous of handsome Billy and his tremendous luck, but Billy could definitely sing and The Dakotas could definitely play and this song survives the transition from shadowy flirtation to gleeful proclamation quite well. It seems to move closer and closer incrementally, just as "Can't Get Used To Losing You" seems to move further and further away, bit by bit. The joy is in knowing that the secret is theirs and theirs alone, and can be that way, deliciously, as if their new happiness was a particularly rich cake they can either eat and/or admire...

The generosity of The Beatles here is amazing, but even more amazing are the songs that were just left on albums for others to cover; I don't get to write about any of the others, but suffice it to say by the time The Beatles prove themselves to be more than a passing fad, it is a regular occurence, whenever an album of theirs was released to pounce on it for any songs that could easily be covered. Of course at this time there were almost no unsigned bands in Liverpool, as managers and agents went on a veritable gold rush of whatever they could find, and soon the charts were full of Merseybeat, produced by George Martin (as this was). (In almost too perfect timing, this was a hit around the time of the Profumo Affair, when secrets were spilled, lives changed, and the Sixties, as understood by many, really begin.)

1 comment:

david said...

While this and 'Bad To Me' are OK, the Kramer hit that really resonates with me (and which I listened to a lot on a reel to reel tape recorded from the radio) was 'Little Children', his second number one and last big hit. Perhaps because I was a little child myself....