Monday, May 4, 2009

The Flamingos “Eyed” the charts 50 years ago (5/4/1959)

First posted 4/13/2020.

I Only Have Eyes for You

The Flamingos

Writer(s): Harry Warren (m)/Al Dubin (l) (see lyrics here)


First Charted: May 4, 1959


Peak: 11 US, 10 CB, 11 HR, 3 RB (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 19.76 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

This Tin Pan Alley standard dates back to 1934 when it was introduced in the Busby Berkeley movie musical Dames by Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler. Cabaret singer Mary Cleere Haran called the song “one of the loveliest love songs written about big-city romance.” SS Ben Selvin took the song to #2 and Eddy Duchin and Jane Froman also charted that year with #4 and #20 versions respectively. PM A quarter century later, the Flamingos’ recorded it ““with elegant vocalizations and the otherworldly doo-bop-sh-bop.” RS500 It became “one of the most memorable hits of the doo-wop era.” TB

“There’s nothing about [their version of] this record that really relates to Ben Selvin’s or anybody else’s.” MA The song is marked by “its warm, ethereal backing vocals, the gently nagging, piano-led arrangement, and, most importantly, [Sollie] McElroy’s lilting lead vocal about a love that ‘must be a kind of blind love.’” TB

“Dubbed ‘The Sultans of Smooth,’ this Chicago quintet” RS500 formed in 1950, becoming “one of the greatest vocal groups of the doo-wop era.” RS500 In fact, in the liner notes for Rhino’s Doo-Wop Box, Bob Hyde said they were “possibly the finest R&B vocal group ever to record.” SS They displayed broad influences including “gospel..and the silken pop harmonices of the Mills Brothers and Four Freshmen as well as R&B-oriented groups.” MA By the end of the ‘50s, they’d “honed their onstage dance routines in the manner of 1960s groups like the Temptations” TB and, in fact, were a “clear influence on the Motown Sound” TB of that decade.

In 1975, Art Garfunkel recorded a version which hit the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a #1 song on the adult contemporary chart and in the UK. It was also recorded by George Benson, Jerry Butler, the Lettermen, Johnny Mathis, and Frank Sinatra. The Fugees sampled the song on “Zealots” for their 1996 album The Score. SF


Resources and Related Links:

  • The Flamingos’ DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • MA Dave Marsh (1989). The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York, NY; New American Library. Pages 348-9.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 517.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (2011). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • SF Songfacts
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Pages 305-6.
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 37.
  • WK Wikipedia

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