Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Playmates - The Guy Behind The Wheel (1964)

This recording joins a long line of 'highway tragedy' songs, and stands up well alongside other pop songs of the early '60's that were also part of that fine tradition.

Vocal trio The Playmates broke up the same year it was released, which was almost five years after their novelty B-side 'Beep Beep'
(a much happier driving song) became their biggest charting hit.

Chic Hetti, Donny Conn and Morey Carr met while attending the University of Connecticut in the early 1950's, and began performing a comedy act as The Nitwits while still enrolled.

They began touring around the US and Canada in 1952, developing eventually into a musical group and changing their name to The Playmates.

They signed to Roulette Records in 1957, performing light-hearted rock & roll.
The surprise 1958 success of 'Beep Beep' ensured that novelty numbers and comedic patter would remain a part of their act.

The Playmates released several singles and four LPs on the Roulette label before moving onto other labels and eventually disbanding.

With their roots in the Eisenhower era, the overall sound and subject matter of their repertoire was likely a bit too corny and 'innocent' for the '60's British Invasion and beyond.

Listen to:
The Playmates -
The Guy Behind The Wheel

(ABC-Paramount Records 45, 1964)
(click for audio)

See also:
- As an extra bit of Playmates trivia, there's a 'soundtrack' video of the British-released version of 'Beep Beep' posted at YouTube.

The BBC's rules didn't allow brand names to be mentioned in songs they broadcast, so for European release The Playmates re-recorded the song, changing lyrics referring to Cadillacs and 'Little Nash Ramblers'.

Follow links to...
'Beep Beep' - The UK version

'Beep Beep' - original US version

(Ongoing THANKS to Joe Sixpack for yet another generous loan from the Slipcue 45 collection)

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