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Barry & his gang !!

In 1963, they had a #21 hit with a well-crafted song titled 'I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight'.
Sadly, they proved to be another 'One-Hit Wonder' affair but that does not tell the whole story.
Read it now.

Barry was in fact California-based Barry De Vorzon whose career goes back to the mid-fifties. At the time, he was under contract to RCA Victor and cut four singles for them in 1957 and 1958. These were nice teen rockers which fitted in well with those by Nick Venet and The Twin Tones. He then switched to Columbia ; four more 45's were issued between 1959 and 1961. However, his writing skills were rapidly developing and that's how he made his mark in the muisc business. Here are some of the first songs he wrote or co-wrote for others :
'Dreamin' and 'Girls' (Johnny Burnette - Liberty 55258 and 55345 respectively), 'Just Married' (Marty Robbins - Columbia 41143), 'Hey Little One' (Dorsey Burnette - Era 3019) and 'Treasure Of Your Love' (Eileen Rogers - Columbia 41214). Around 1962, Barry and a partner founded the Valiant label. Shelby Flint had the first release (and the first hit, albeit a minor one) on the new imprint : 'Angel On My Shoulder'. He would stay with the label until 1966.

The big break came in 1963 when Barry discovered The Cascades, a vocal quintet from San Diego, California. In the December 1, 1989, issue of my favorite US mag, 'Goldmine', an interview of De Vorzon by Stu Fink was published and revealed that The Cascades were originally called The Coastlighters ; he renamed them The Cascades after a brand of dishwashing soap ! Comprised of John Gummoe, Dave Wilson, Eddie Snyder, Dave Stevens and Dave Zabo, the group (once described as 'a clean-cut bunch of skin diving mountaineers' by UK music writers, Phil Hardy & Dave Laing) missed the Charts with their first Valiant '45 ('There's A Reason') but they scored a Top 3 hit with the second, Gummoe's own 'Rhythm Of The Rain' - a pretty song which emphasized their smooth harmonies. There were many cover versions of this song, especially in France. Two soft & summery sounding singles followed, featuring songs co-written by De Vorzon and... Bodie Chandler ; 'Shy Girl' was one of them which, coupled with 'The Last Leaf', achieved some degree of success. One album was released on Valiant before The Cascades went to RCA Victor where 'For Your Sweet Love' was a lesser hit in '64. They went on to record for Charter (the excellent 'My Best Girl', another John Gummoe composition, in 1964), Liberty (1965), Arwin (1966), Smash (1967), Probe (1968) and UNI (1969) where they had a last small hit, 'Maybe The Rain Will Fall'.

Barry & His Boys at work in the studio.
In the aforementioned interview, Barry De Vorzon confessed that he formed his own group, Barry & The Tamerlanes, in order to record a song he had originally co-written for The Cascades. The Tamerlanes were fellow songwriters, Bodie Chandler and Terry Smith ; the song in question, a Chandler-De Vorzon composition, was 'I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight' - an overnight smash. In terms of singing and production, it perfectly epitomized the sound of 1963 Pop Music : bright and breezy. Clearly, the production values were in full evolution and yet, there was still a direct link to the music of the '50s - like the 'I Wonder, Wonder...' bit, reminiscent of the unforgettable 'Book Of Love' by The Monotones (Argo 5290 ; 1958).

Alas, follow-ups to the hit - all of them, very nice medium tempo Chandler-De Vorzon efforts - didn't meet with success. 'Roberta' was probably too similar to its predecessor to click and its flip, 'Butterfly', co-written by Barry with someone named Crawford, featured a celeste solo close to the one in 'Rhythm Of The Rain'. 'Lucky Guy' was nothing special but I found 'A Date With Judy', with its brass arrangements, very catchy. And before calling it a day as a group in 1964, Barry & The Tamerlanes put out a last single on Valiant which truly should have been better received than it was. The main side was a bouncy remake of an old but influential song from 1954 : 'Gee', originally by The Crows, featuring handclaps and a good organ solo. Moreover, Chandler's & Smith's rather bland harmonies were richly augmented by those of (I think) P. F. Sloan & Steve Barri. The flip, 'Don't Cry Cindy', is one gorgeous number, with an almost religious feel at times, due in part to the organ backing, and real moving harmonies during the ending of the song.

That excellent Japanese platter !!Most of these sides, plus a few others such as their own cover of 'Rhythm Of The Rain', appeared on their Valiant LP. For my part, I got acquainted with most of that stuff thanks to a Japanese compilation album titled 'The Cascades v.s. Barry & The Tamerlanes', released by WB in 1985 as part of their remarkable '30th Anniversary Of Rock & Roll' series (P-11579). It's clear that those songs blend beautifully well together on LP. However, I don't understand why four of the Cascades songs appear in true stereo (the last two Valiant singles in fact - see discography below) whereas the other four (including 'Rhythm Of The Rain') as well as the whole Barry & The Tamerlanes side (all their Valiant singles minus 'I Don't Want To Be Your Clown' and 'Pretty Things') are mono only. But the sound is superb and the cover cleverly designed. It's a good starting point to investigate De Vorzon's music and Valiant label.
One point of interest was raised by Ronnie Salyer (a collector from Richmond, Virginia) : the version of 'Don't Go' included in that Japanese compilation is not by Barry & The Tamerlanes (it was the flip side of 'I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight') but by Danny & The Memories, who also cut it for Valiant.

Among countless other credits, Barry De Vorzon co-wrote 'All You Had To Do (Was Tell Me)' with Chris Montez, a song which became Montez's first record (Monogram 500, 1962). Along with Perry Botkin, Jnr., he also co-wrote 'Bless The Beats & Children' which was recorded by The Carpenters on what surely accounts for their best effort, the 1972 album, 'A Song For You' (A & M).
In 1965, De Vorzon discovered a six-man outfit called The Association who would soon prove to be destined for stardom. They had five singles on Valiant, featuring two big 1966 hits : the controversial 'Along Comes Mary' and 'Cherish'. Following the release of their second LP in 1967, 'Renaissance', Barry De Vorzon decided to sell his Valiant label to Warner Bros - at a good profit, added Stu Fink in 'Goldmine'!
In later years, he wrote what may be the biggest-selling TV theme of all time, nanely 'Theme From S.W.A.T.', and in 1976, 'Nadia's Theme', which he had co-written with a longtime friend, Perry Botkin, Jr., was used during the coverage of that year's Olympic Games, shooting to #8 on the US Charts.
All in all, that's a nice career which produced some inoffensive but at the same time, lasting pop music.

© PAUL VIDAL * Privas, France * August 2002

with much appreciated help from Steve Dykstra, Bob Hardman, Jack Herschorn & Mark Snyder


BARRY & THE TAMERLANES V-6034 I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight / Don't Go
V-6040 Roberta / Butterfly
V-6046 Lucky Guy / I Don't Want To Be Your Clown
V-6050 A Date With Judy / Pretty Things
V-6059 Gee / Don't Cry Cindy
SHELBY FLINT  V-6001 Angel On My Shoulder / Somebody
V-6014 Magic Wand / A Broken Vow
V-6017 I Love A Wanderer / The Riddle Song
V-6031 Little Dancing Doll / It Really Wouldn't Matter
W-403 mono
WS-403 stereo
VLM-5003 mono
VLS-25003 stereo
THE CASCADES V-6021 There's A Reason / Second Chance
V-6026 [also V-702] Rhythm Of The Rain / Let Me Be
V-6028 The Last Leaf / Shy Girl
V-6032 My First Day Alone / I Wanna Be Your Lover
Shy Girl/The Last Leaf/Angel On My Shoulder/Let Me Be/ Dreamin' Lucky Guy/My First Day Alone/Punch & Judy/There's A Reason/ I Wanna Be Your Lover/Was I Dreamin'/Rhythm Of The Rain
BLUE HILLS V-6043 Wild Side Of Life / ?
DANNY & THE MEMORIES V-6049 [also V-705] Don't Go / Can't Help Lovin' That Girl Of Mine
MARCENE HARRIS V-727 I Just Don't Understand / Guess Who
LORETTA V-6054 100202 The Cowboy / 100203 My Heart Tells Me To Believe
-> Top side written Chandler/De Vorzon, the other by The Addrisi Bros.
Both sides arranged by Bodie Chandler. Collector Steve Dykstra, who provided me with this piece of info, wrote : 'This is Loretta Lynn singing rock and roll'.
MOORE & MOORE V-749 Leave Him & Come To My Arms / You're All I Live For
MOTLEYS V-739 I'll See Your Light/You
RED COATS V-6053 Jack Of All Hearts / I'm Only As Good
SAFARIS V-6036 Kick Out / Lonely Surf Guitar
SILVERTONES V-6045 Batsheba / Get It
Real good Surf instros, first released on Goliath 1355.
SWEETS V-711 The Richest Girl / Mama Saw Me
THE ASSOCIATION  V-730 One Too Many Mornings / Forty Times
V-741 Along Comes Mary / Your Own Love
V-747 Cherish / Don't Blame It On Me
V-755 Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies / Standing Still
V-758 No Fair At All / Looking Glass
VLM-5004 mono 'RENAISSANCE'  (LP)
THE FASTEST GROUP ALIVE V-754 The Bears / Beside

with thanks to Tony Watson

Barbara Jean / Baby Doll
8206 Little Like Lovin' / Cinderella
7226 Raindrops On My Window / False 8268 For Your Sweet Love / Jeannie
Honey Bunny / Too Soon
8321 Little Bitty Falling Star / Those Were The Good Old Days
Cora Lee / Blue, Green & Gold
41464 Betty Betty / Across The Street From Your House      
41612 Rosemary / Hey Little Darlin'      
41663 Can Can Ladies / Love You Baby      
42031 Penny Moved Away / Lindy Lou      
1018 My Best Girl / She Was Really Never Mine (to lose)
55822 She'll Love Again / I bet You Won't Say
132 Cheryl's Goin' Home / Truly Julie's Blues
134 All's Fair In Love & War / Midnight Lace
2083 Hey Little Girl Of Mine / Blue Hours
2101 Flying On The Ground / Main Street
543 Everyone Is Blossoming / Two Sided Man
55152 Maybe The Rain Will Fall / Naggin' Cries
55169 Indian River / Big City Country Boy


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