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I’m almost afraid to ask, but what the hell is THIS?

As if Jubilee Records had to show us yet again they were running out of feet to shoot themselves in when it came to their commercial prospects, here comes a song from the pen of a highly respected writer and performed by two talented singers and yet it can’t help but leave you scratching your head in confusion over its intentions.

I mean we’ve had some stupid song titles along the way but this one doesn’t just SOUND silly as a word (not to mention veering precariously close to far worse words that we won’t mention) I’m pretty sure this title was something that not even those involved knew what it meant which virtually ensured that it wasn’t going to be a hit.


Dilly, Dilly… Really, Really? No, Silly, Silly!
Okay, just to save you a fifteen second dictionary search, the word piccadilly is believed to be Spanish and references a lace collar… which this song makes absolutely no reference to, not even obliquely.

There may be those readers – particularly those in Merry Ol’ England – who immediately think of Piccadilly Circus in London dating back to 1819, but in America where cultural ignorance is the norm, that locale was still not widely known, at least until the British Invasion a dozen years from now brought things like that briefly that into the common vernacular.

But Rudy Toombs wrote Piccadilly before those turn of events made it more familiar and, in case it wasn’t obvious by the story it tells, this has nothing whatsoever to do with that either.

So it seems that he simply picked a word out of thin air, though it DID exist, just because he liked the sound of it without bothering to crack open a book and find out if he just insulted old ladies or uttered a profanity without realizing it.

He didn’t do of those things, but he did sort of insult us by giving us a title and the accompanying narrative that makes little sense, or at least the plot makes sense but the characters are spouting gibberish to explain it.

Too bad too, because a few of the other parts of the song aren’t half bad.


Just Can’t Describe
Let’s follow through first on the insipid title and rather sappy story that goes with it, as Edna McGriff and Sonny Til are expressing their fondness for one another throughout the song using these childish terms.

I use the term “fondness” rather than “love” because it’s obvious these two haven’t been out of their respective houses in a dozen or more years and while they’re saying how great the other is, we’re left wondering if they’ve even met face to face yet rather than spied each other across a crowded street thanks to how it’s being portrayed.

Chances are if they HAVE met their reactions were caused not by genuine attraction, but rather because they’ve been out of circulation for so long they were both likely to be smitten with the first human being they came in contact with.

Though their voices are mature, they sound childish because there’s no lust, no desire, no expression of real human emotion in how they sing these lines… maybe because they’re as embarrassed by the lyrics of Piccadilly as we are.

It doesn’t have a bad melody though and both can obviously sing well, even something this stupid, but the more you focus on what they’re saying, the less likely those voices can win you over. It’s a sing-songy nursery rhyme without the usual cleverness or whimsy those types of records specialize in. Maybe it never quite descends to the level of being utterly annoying, but it’s not something you ever really feel comfortable listening to.

Where it makes up for some of this inanity is found in the arrangement. Once again Jubilee is overly reliant on the organ they bought at a church yard sale when the Devil successfully tempted the female congregants to go out with him on Saturday nights, thereby leaving them in no condition to show up Sunday morning and drop their money into the collection plates forcing the religious institution to unload everything but the wine. Cash only, first come, first serve, and Jerry Blaine laid down twelve and a half dollars and walked away with it and is determined to get his money’s worth.

Unfortunately the organist apparently went with the instrument because it just sort of prances and hops along – too prominent to ignore, not exciting enough to appreciate.

But Buddy Lucas is doing his best to off-set that by finally accepting the fact that he’s going to have to take on a much more brash, in your face role with his saxophone on these songs and here he doesn’t disappoint. His answering lines are diverse and soulful and much better – and more descriptive in a way – than the actual words to the song.

He also gets a really nice solo, his sandpaper tone stuttering and sliding around, almost sounding like it’s laughing (at the song no doubt) at one point. Truthfully if you had turned this into an instrumental, emphasized the rhythm of the melody with bass and drums, letting the organ fill in the cracks while Lucas handled the bulk of it, this would’ve been far more interesting than what we get.

How stupid is this, you may be wondering if you haven’t had the misfortune to hear it. Well at one point during the song they’re discussing picking oranges and potatoes so my guess is they mistook the record studio for a restaurant and expect orange juice and hash browns for breakfast since they already laid enough eggs here to make one hell of an omelet.


I Pick… You?!?
It’s hard to believe that anyone thought this song on paper was a viable tune for a pair of rock artists, but then again Jerry Blaine, the decrepit owner of Jubilee Records did always have his sights set on the Pop market where this kind of idiotic song might go over well.

How Rudy Toombs of all people came up with it though, I have no idea, unless he’d watched the 1949 movie So Dear To My Heart which featured Burl Ives singing the old English folk song Lavender Blue (Dilly, Dilly), which a decade later would be a big hit in a quasi-rock version by Sammy Turner.

That song, even though it shares some of the same lilting melody and syllables, at least had a story that suggested the singer was propositioning a lady to sleep with him and apparently at least masturbate together, which is far more than Edna and Sonny will get to do here I assure you.

To think that Blaine felt that Piccadilly was worth derailing McGriff’s solo career by pairing her with Sonny Til who was being dragged – let’s hope forcibly – away from The Orioles to take part in this nonsense is indefensible.

Not only that, but this was the side they pegged as the potential hit and then spelled it wrong… either in the ads or on the label, take your pick, not that it matters.

Somebody should’ve picked him up and dumped him and his dilly in a ditch on the side of the road for this decision.


(Visit the Artist page of Edna McGriff as well as Sonny Til for the complete archive of their respective records reviewed to date)