Saturday, December 13, 2014

Parts of Speech: Stormy

Our final selection for our Second Week Special on parts of speech features a word that is typically an adjective, but is used as a noun in the Classics IV’s “Stormy.” This 1968 recording came from their second album, "Mamas and Papas/Soul Train."

Peaking at #5, “Stormy” was the one of only four songs by the band to chart in the Top 20 and one of only three to chart in the Top 10. Sandwiched between “Spooky” that peaked at #3 and “Traces” that charted at #2, “Stormy” is a tune that is likely to be heard on oldies radio nearly 50 years later.

Besides Dennis Yost’s vocals, one of the shining moments of the song is the fantastic alto sax lead provided by session musician Ray Jarrell. Of course there is also the subtle use of a vibraphone, which is slightly buried in the mix unlike its front and center usage on “Traces.”

I’ve heard this song hundreds of times; but today, I noticed some things I’d never heard before with the guitar tracks provided by Buddy Buie and J.R. Cobb. If you listen closely, some of the rhythm guitar is run through a Leslie rotating speaker cabinet at full speed. There’s also an electric sitar playing accompaniment.

Finally if you listen to the sax solo, there’s a series of octave guitar runs (akin to a style used by Wes Montgomery) playing the melody of the song counterpoint to the solo. Emory Gordy’s arrangement and Buddy Buie’s production is spectacular – one of the best spent 2:45 in the 1960s.

By the time “Stormy” was released, the band had transformed from “Classics IV” to “Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost.” In 1969, they became “Dennis Yost and The Classics IV.”

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