Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Boss Tracks; The Loco-Motion, Little Eva

The latest Boss Track is a recording missing in action, no known recording exists. But Springsteen did perform "The Loco-Motion". If only once, as a guest on March 7th 1976. During the final night of Carole King's three night stand at the Beacon Theater in NY Springsteen was asked on stage to perform this crazy little dance tune with her. Though Carole King is most well known for her own album "Tapestry", she did her most influential work as a song writer together with her husband Gerry Coffin. Together they wrote many pop classics for the likes as Phil Spector and Aretha Franklin. In the second half of the sixties King and Goffin's influence started to wane when self contained bands like the Byrds and the Beach Boys hit the scene. But their mark on Pop is at least as important as those legendary acts. It is no secret that Springsteen was very much attracted to the Pop sound of the early sixties. Bruce covered quite a few songs from the era that R&R was supposed to be dead and from early on in his career there was a certain Pop sensibility to his work. Long before the monster success of "Born In The USA". Even in the early stages of his career there was as much an attraction to that slick era of R&R as to the raw Garage acts that followed the British invasion.

Little Eva was one of the many one-hit wonders from the early sixties. But as far as her story goes it seems cut and tailored for Hollywood. Born and raised in the South Eva grew up in the church, grooming her voice in the choir. The close of the fifties brought her to New York where she got friendly with the Cookies. With them she featured on many R&B classics for Atlantic records, they would also become the first incarnation of Ray Charles' Raelettes. As such you'd be surprised how many records you might have on the shelf with Little Eva belting in the back ground. To make ends meet Eva would baby sit for King and Goffin. Inspired by dance songs like Dee Dee Sharpe's "Mash Patato Time", the song writing duo had written "Loco-Motion" and decided to cut it on Little Eva. Overnight Eva went from background singer to national star when the record shot all the way up to number 1 on the Pop charts. Based on that success King and Goffin produced her on a few more dance singles that initially were pretty successful, though no smashes like her first single. Songs like "Let's Turkey Trot" are collectors items these days, but long since forgotten by the larger audience. Her reputation as dance craze girl ultimately hurt her career and Little Eva quietly slipped of the scene like so many of her contemporaries. 1988 would see "The Loco-Motion" back on the top of the charts again, albeit as Kyle Minogue's butchering of the tune. By then nobody seemed to remember who Little Eva was again. She was once again trying to make ends meet working as a short order cook. Luckily the media attention that followed Kyle's success allowed her to work the oldies circuit to make some money on the side, till she died in 2003.

"The Loco-Motion" - Little Eva

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