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It’s never a surprise when an artist seeks to duplicate their breakthrough hit, often times coming perilously close to releasing a carbon copy of that first effort hoping that the response it got from audiences will cause them to buy the same basic song with a different title and a few new words thrown in to make them think they’re getting something fresh.

Usually though the artists tend to wait for that first record to become a hit before setting out to imitate it.

Not so The Mello-Moods who must’ve been so sure their debut was going to turn heads that they attempted to give listeners the same experience when they turned that debut over.

That’s one way to save time I guess.


You Told Me That You’d Hold Me
Humans are odd creatures. They like to pretend that they seek out different experiences in life, that they’re open to trying new things and want variety in their day to day existence, yet most people tend to go to the same places, eat the same foods, watch the same television shows, have the same conversations with the same small circle of acquaintances they’ve had for years and stick to the same type of music for most of their lives.

With so much out there to see and hear in the world it’s amazing how quickly someone is to slam shut all these other doors just so they can stick with something they already know and like.

Thankfully not all people like the SAME thing as everyone else, giving you plenty of opportunity to find new and interesting things under the sun to enjoy if you only look.

But unfortunately few of those people work for record companies, an industry that tends to go to extremes when it comes to maintaining the status quo, even a new record company with just a handful of releases to their name.

How else to explain the thinking behind pairing the brilliantly tender ballad of romantic heartache, Where Are You?, with a song that might just as well be it’s twin sister or a discarded first draft of that soon-to-be hit for The Mello-Moods.

Though written by somebody else (their new manager, tap dancer Joel Turnero), How Could You? is essentially a doppelganger for the top side. The same slow pace, the same exact theme, the same sparse instrumental support to allow the same type of tender lead vocals to take center stage with the same vocal arrangement behind it. Heck, they even chose a three word question for the title just like the other had!

Granted their idols were The Orioles who made a habit of recycling the same basic premise and style time and time again, but to do so right out of the gate on both sides of the same single is taking things a little far.


You Left Me Here Crying
When everything worked so well on the one side and they basically replicate that approach on the B-side, how is it possible to find fault with it, you might ask.

Well, two ways, the first being that no record ever exists in a vacuum.

That is to say, we’re examining these chronologically to establish the progression of rock ‘n’ roll from one release to the next and what has already been done once loses the element of surprise and the sense of innovation when revisited later on.

The imitation may at times improve upon the original, and when that happens we’ll give credit for it, but only after penalizing them first for not coming up with a new idea on the theory that if everybody simply recycled the same hit from earlier, even if each subsequent rendition was capably executed, we’d just be going around in circles.

When two sides of the same single does this it shows no consideration at all for the record buyer… or for that matter, the group forced to repeat themselves and have this used against them in the court of public opinion.

Yet there’s no way to claim that How Could You? isn’t very well sung by Buddy Wooten in spite of the shameless copy-cat effect. His voice certainly hasn’t deteriorated from one song to the next. His apprehensive phrasing compliments the lyrics, the hurt in his voice sells the character’s state of mind and the contrast between his higher tenor and the group’s warmer backing vocals is well balanced and aesthetically appealing. It all sounds very nice.

Yet that doesn’t change the fact we’ve heard this all before.

It’s the same plot – a guy broken up over his girl leaving him without an explanation – and the same delivery from all involved. It’s not even a sequel, it’s just the same exact story with different words. The melody is changed enough to not violate copyright laws, but it’s certainly not improved in any way and since the entire structure remains the unchanged right down to the chimes opening it up and the bridge sung by Bobby Williams, what we have is an inferior version of the other side of the record.

In vacuum, without having ever heard the hit side, this would be appreciated much more. Granted it’s still a step down because these lyrics aren’t quite as timeless, nor is this melody as memorable, but it’s still a really good performance that would be heartily recommended.

But as the second side of a record where the better attempt at the same delicate mood adorns the plug side? No, sorry, we can’t accept that. It’s like getting chopped up steak for desert after just having eaten a perfectly grilled filet mignon for dinner.


How Could You Break My Heart?
If Robin Records had held this back to release as the follow-up instead… well, we’d still criticize it for all the same reasons but at least then we could reluctantly understand their motives even if we didn’t condone them.

A hit record brought in money, so give the same audience the same experience a second time and see if that too will get them to shell out their hard earned dough for it again. It’s a commercial decision, not an artistic one.

But HERE? It’s not even a smart commercial move because doubling down on the formula to this extent won’t bring in an extra penny. As a result How Could You? is a great question to ask label owner Bobby Robinson who decided this was a good idea.

None of this is the fault of The Mello-Moods and to their everlasting credit they take their job seriously and as a result what you hear coming out of the speakers is certainly higher than the grade we’re forced to give it – and we’re being extremely generous as it is to go even this high.

But someone has to pay for the lack of creativity shown here and so while we can attest to the quality of the performance – and even to an extent the contents of the record in isolation – what we can’t do is excuse the arrogance and idiocy of those behind the scenes who think imitation of one’s self is the sincerest form of flattery.


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