Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sniff "N' The Tears: Driver's Seat

It is TV Thursday and today I am featuring a song that is currently being used by Lincoln in their latest series of commercials. The big mystery is the identity of the female artist/band who is singing the cover version now being used. Even Lincoln Motor Company is being mum on this particular detail. Some believe it is Shiny Toy Guns, who have covered a number of songs for commercials for Lincoln and others. Unfortunately, it is not.

With that said, I have found an original version of Sniff ‘N' The Tears 1978 moderate hit, “Driver’s Seat.” It is doubly fitting that I choose a song with this title as my car was hit last night during the snowplowing of a parking lot and completely disabled the passenger door, but I can still sit in the “Driver’s Seat” – budda, boom, crash.

I remember playing this song by Sniff ‘N' The Tears when I started working as a part-time jock at Ashland, KY’s WAMX and loved it from the very start. It was originally written and recorded as a demo by Sniff front man Paul Roberts back in 1973. While Roberts is playing a Fender Telecaster in the video - it is a obviously an acoustic guitar on the recording. If I am not mistaken, he used a Guild F-50, which is a full-bodied acoustic akin to Gibson's J-200 and Everly Brothers models. I can't tell 100% what type of monophonic synth is being used by keyboardist Alan Fealdman, but it appears to be a Mini-Moog.

The song flopped in the UK due to their record company’s poor timing of the 1978 single release that should have coincided with the band’s performance on “Top of the Pops.” Because of this, it only reached #42 in the UK. “Driver’s Seat” did much better in North America – but lacked something that could to propel it to the Top 10. It charted at #17 in Canada and did slightly better in the US at #15.

The song had its greatest success in the Netherlands as it ended up being a repeat hit for the band. In 1978, it placed on the Dutch Top 40 at #4 (#8 on the chart research of the GfK corporation). When the song was featured in a Pioneer Electronics commercial in continental Europe in 1991, it resurfaced on the radio and was a number one record on both Dutch charts.

Due to the success in the Netherlands, Paul Roberts reformed Sniff ‘N The Tears and began touring in Holland and Germany. With it being used in a European TV ad for Pioneer and a cover version now currently on a US Lincoln TV spot, I would not be hesitant to surmise that “Driver’s Seat” is a “commercial” success . . . budda, boom, crash.

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