Friday, November 28, 2014

Vee-Jay Records: The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)

When Betty Everrett first heard “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)” she was unenthused about it, as she thought was childish; however, it was one the bigger records of her career. It was only eclipsed by one other recording: her duet with Jerry Butler on “Let it be Me.” “The Shoop Shoop Song” peaked on Billboard’s Hot 100 at #6, but was a #1 R&B record according to Cashbox.

One of several Vee-Jay label versions in use in 1964.
This one used a black Tollie label blank,

The song is reminiscent of the girl groups that had grown in popularity since 1962. Everett was backed by the Chicago group the Opals who performed on a number of Vee-Jay recordings. Although she had the most popular version of the tune in the 1960s, Everett was not the first to record the song.

Merry Clayton’s Original

A year earlier, Capitol Records released the song first recording of the tune by Merry Clayton who was backed by The Blossoms. The legendary Jack Nitzsche wrote the arrangement for Clayton.

While Clayton’s and Everett’s vocal arrangements are similar, the instrumental treatments are quite different. Later, Clayton would best be known as a backup vocalist for The Rolling Stones.

Ramona King’s Version

Released a week before Everett’s single in February 1964, Ramona King’s version on Warner Brothers stood to provide the most competition for Vee-Jay. This particular version was quite different from Clayton’s original and Everett’s treatment – it is almost Spectoresque in its arrangement and production.

King, who was formerly of the Fairlanes had previously recorded several sides for Lee Hazelwood’s Eden Records, was relatively unknown both then and now.

To combat any confusion with King’s release, Vee-Jay made the bold move to alter the song’s name. Both Clayton’ and King’s singles were issued with the original name Rudy Clark’s song: “It’s in His Kiss.” Vee-Jay decided to make the actual title parenthetical and accentuate the back-ups vocals of the Opals by calling the record “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss).”

While neither Clayton’s nor King’s version charted, Betty Everett put “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)” on the musical map. While Clayton and Everett both had stronger voices than King’s, Vee-Jay’s arrangement of the song was far superior to the two previous renditions of the song. The instrumental punctuation, the horns reminiscent of Perez Prado’s orchestra, and the clever use of a xylophone as a lead instrument make Everett’s version a standout recording.

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