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The title on its surface seems like a piece of sound advice… the idea that friendship, companionship and love are necessary requirements for a happy existence.

But if looked at another way, say from the perspective of four kids ranging in age from 12-16 who happened to form a rock vocal group, get a record contract and score a hit their first time out, they’d have been wise to ignore this advice and gone through life, or at least their career, alone.

But there was money to be made so those sheparding their careers refused to let them alone when it came to controlling their own musical output and invariably that quickly did them in.


That’s The Way The Story Goes
Since the beginning of recorded music, those without talent find ways to exploit those with it.

Now if you’re a contrarian – or one of the leeches yourself – you might claim that while these behind the scenes figures don’t have singing talent, or can’t play an instrument or create an arrangement, they aren’t talentless altogether.

It’s just their talent is is other areas… such as lying, cheating and stealing. Or as they put it on their Income Tax Returns (assuming they file) under Occupation: “Record Label Owner” or “Talent Manager”.

There are also those who will claim that because The Mello-Moods were just kids they couldn’t very well know the intricacies of the music business and were discovered singing other people’s songs in their own unique style, so they weren’t songwriters and thus needed outside help.

Okay, fair enough. But WHO is making that decision to hand their careers over to someone they don’t know? It sure isn’t the kids.

You probably think we’re going to take aim at Bobby Robinson, a colorful – and ultimately successful – newcomer to the business who ran a popular record store in New York and went on to oversee a bunch of good labels – Red Robin, Whirlin’ Disc, Fury, Sue, Fire and Enjoy – and was seen as a solid producer once he got the hang of it.

But he’s only partly responsible for The Mello-Moods downfall, not just due to bad production choices on these sides which gave the records too much of a pop sheen, but more so because he was the one who hooked them up with Joel Tunero, a tap dancer and wanna-be songwriter who became the group’s manager.

Tunero may have been a good dancer, a nice person and an honest guy – then again maybe he was none of those things – but he was not a great songwriter, certainly not for a teenage rock group and the two originals he “wrote”, including And You Just Can’t Go Through Life Alone, is hardly what these kids needed to advance their careers.

But then again what did they expect him to do? Teach them the old soft shoe?


How You Smiled To Hide Those Tears
When the chimes kick this off you expect to once again hear a virtual recreation of their debut hit, but thankfully that’s where the obvious similarities end.

But don’t get your hopes up, because what follows is an adult pop song with an adult pop arrangement being forced on underaged kids. I believe this is what they call child abuse, isn’t it?

Buddy Wooten should get combat pay for his yeoman’s efforts here, as he explores every line looking for something to latch on to emotionally, yet can find nothing but hollow sentiments… sentiments it should be added that are still kind of alien to kids of this age.

Though 16 years olds are perfectly capable of singing love songs, they tend to experience love in different ways than adults, more overwhelmingly intense and a lot less contemplative than this. Listen to any great recent song about young love written by artists who are actually young today and these are not the topics being bandied about.

The kind of love you feel in your mid-teens is probably not going to be as deep or as lasting as the more mature “I found my soulmate” variety, so it’s not going to elicit the kind of internal thoughts that are being expressed on And You Just Can’t Go Through Life Alone.

This record isn’t the sound of your heart bursting at its seams when you see your dream girl emerge from chemistry class, it’s the sound of a weary adult who’s been burned in love still clinging to the idea of growing old with somebody. But that’s love as a way to fend off loneliness, not the physical lust mixed with emotional urges that leave you weak as happens so often when you’re just a kid.

This song is a more sober view of love fit for Joel Tunero’s life experience in other words.

So coming from the mouths of babes as it were, it sounds completely ridiculous and phony. Now throw in the fact that the backing vocals are as bland as humanly possible and the music – written by the bandleader Schubert Swanson – is light and ineffectual, a swaying melody with no bite to it, and what you’re left with is hollow thoughts largely unrelatable to the primary audience for the group.

But again, can you expect any different when adults who don’t have their finger on the pulse of the average rock fan’s tastes are the ones making creative decisions and writing these songs and coming up with these arrangements?

Obviously this was still the era when society was pushing the now debunked “respect your elders” line of propaganda, but this is one time where you’d have like to have seen the kids back then act a little more like today’s youth and tell the adults to fuck off, they’ll handle this better on their own.


(Visit the Artist page of The Mello-Moods for the complete archive of their records reviewed to date)