Songs from Things We Lost in the Night

PLAYLIST FROM TWLitN

The twenty songs below were recorded by Stark Naked and the Car Thieve or the vocal groups that proceeded it: The Aristocats, the Reflections, and–for one short New York minute–the Illusions. All of them are referred to in the two books that make up THINGS WE LOST IN THE NIGHT. 

  • The first 3 songs, “Connie-O,” “Just Two Kinds of People,” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” were recorded in 1962 while we were a young vocal group calling ourselves the Aristocats, as part of an audition tape for Shindig! We’d found a notice in a music magazine that a new TV music show featuring popular music was looking for a backup vocalist group was requesting audition tapes to be sent to Jimmy O’Neill at a Hollywood, California address. Though we never heard back from Jimmy (btw, this tape did turn into a trip to New York City, and an entirely different story), we were eventually ‘discovered’ by Jimmy O’Neill as Stark Naked and the Car Thieves in a club in the San Fernando Valley in 1967. Fate moves in odd and mysterious ways.
  • Song 4, “Don’t Worry Baby,” a Beach Boys cover, was the first song we recorded forJan Hutchens’ studio in 1963 as a test of his new studio. Jan took it to WIBC radio in Indianapolis and one night Bouncin’ Bill Baker created a contest, asking listeners to name the artist. Everybody responded it was the Beach Boys. None of us had heard this song since early 1963 until a recently in March of 2016, when I stumbled upon Keith Murphy, an old friend who recorded with Jan in Indianapolis at the same time we did. I never in this life expected to hear this recording again. He had it on an old tape left over from Jan’s studio and was kind enough to share it with us. It’s not the best quality and has a little hiccup in it, but its a miracle that we ever got to hear it at all. Perhaps he can pull a better version of it off the master for me someday. Song 5, “There He Goes,” as recorded by 15 year-old Mona Thomas and produced by Jan Hutchens with us doing back up vocals.
  • The next 4 songs were our first two record releases recorded in Indianapolis and produced by Jan Hutchens. The first one, “In The Still of the Night,” b/w “Tick Tok,” was recorded in late 1963 and managed an escape to the public that brought near-great success on Jan’s own Tigre Records label. We were calling ourselves the Reflections then, and it was about to become a national breakout when disaster struck, as covered in Night People. In hopes of recovering from that error, Jan got a song from his friend, Larry Huff [“Easier Said Then Done,” by the Essex], and we learned and recorded “In The Beginning,” one night with Dave doing his best Frankie Valli imitation. Jan was in such a rush to get it out while our name was still hot with the deejays, but before he could, the Reflections from Detroit hit with “Just Like Romeo and Juliet.” So he decided we’d be the Illusions. He was in such a hurry that he just grabbed a song by Rick Fortune, another guy in our “Indy Sound” stable, “Maybe (I just may be wrong),” and slapped it on the back for a B side. It came out on Laurie records but none of us who’d recorded it knew it had gotten released for the next 50 years. A record collector friend named Bob Pegg, helped me locate this record and clear up the mystery of who was on the back of this record. Thank you Keith and Bob for helping to solve a couple of mysteries I never expected to find the answers to.
  • Song 10, “Back To Summerplace” is a cover of the Lettermen’s 1965 hit, though both #11 “Tonight (Could be the night) and #12 “Big Girls Don’t Cry,”were songs we’d learned as the Aristocats. We recorded them ‘live’ at what I now know is “Columbus Recorders” (thank you, Jerry Burgan from the We Five), no overdubs or sweetening, while we were at the Galaxie nightclub in North Beach. We were unhappy with them, but they came in handy when Jimmy O’Neill wanted a demo tape for Ed Cobb.
  • The Pleasure of Your Company” was written and produced by Ed Cobb. It’s B side, “Maria, Love and Music,” was the song we thought would be our the best chance, but we failed to get the recording we’d hoped for, for reasons mentioned in Night People. This record was released to regional success on the East Coast.
  • Look Back In Love” b/w “Contact” was practically guaranteed to hit. It was picked by Billboard to hit the top of it’s charts in April of 1965, and a “Can’t Miss,” by all the radio programmers around the country. History happens, and this record didn’t. You can read more about its fate in the second book, ENCHANTED.
  • Can’t Stop Thinking About The Good Times,” a Mac Davis song, b/w “Now A Taste of Tears” never got any traction. The band took it hard.
  • Mixed Emotions” should have been a huge hit for us, right up our alley. The song was originally planned as the main theme for a movie, but, as often happens with movies, the funding fell through. Great arrangement, fantastic musicians, but Dave’s voice was shot for this song, and somehow the whole thing got over-produced. “What Is A Youth,” the love song from the movie Romeo and Juliet, is a personal favorite of mine. Not that it could have ever been a hit, but recording this song with Dave and Les in the studio felt like the early days in Indianapolis for me.

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  1. Pingback: Death of an Aristocat - Larry J Dunlap

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