Almost all of us have faced that moment. That moment. The moment when you finally realise that it really is over. That no longer are you one of two. That the gilded future you were walking so confidently into is now a bomb strewn wasteland.
And, it’s all you can do not to break down right there. Not to scream and scream again – Why! Why! Who! Who! Oh you’d better get ready for; the blind denial, the lacerating anger, the shameless, shameful pleading, the empty bottle of Gin, cant lift your head above the pillow depression and, eventually, eventually, the bruised, well, ‘that’s that then’ weary acceptance.
Of course, there’s a song for every one of these stations of the romantic cross. No Jukebox would be complete without a slew of drive you to tears, (sitting in the bar you’ve already been driven to drink!) rip your heart apart ballads. I’ll leave it to you to count how many stations/stages you are returned to listening here today.
As Christmas Cracker 2 The Jukebox is featuring a superlative break up song from 1964, ‘Go Now’ in stellar versions by Bessie Banks and The Moody Blues, the latter featuring one of the most under appreciated singers of the era, Denny Laine. [Day 2 from last year’s Christmas Cornucopia featuring Eartha Kitt’s seriously sexy ‘Santa Baby’ and a deliriously enjoyable cajun version of, ‘Silent Night’ can be found here http://wp.me/p4pE0N-50%5D
First up Bessie Banks tremendous original as issued by Leiber&Stoller’s Tiger/Blue Cat labels. The song was written (with Milton Bennett) by Bessie’s then husband, Larry Banks, a Brooklyn born veteran of the Rhythm and Blues vocal group scene (checkout his classic with the Four Fellows, ‘Soldier Boy’ from 1955).
I love the bruised dignity with which Bessie sings, ‘Go Now’ especially her defiant, let’s face the facts, A cappella introduction to the song. I love Gary Sherman’s beautifully measured arrangement which incorporates gospel piano, mournful horns and emotion swelling backup vocals led by the always excellent Cissy Houston.
I love the way the record and Bessie’s vocal grows and grows in emotional power without ever collapsing into hysteria. ‘Go Now’ is all the more effective as a heart-breaker becauseof its heroic restraint and illustration of how shattering it is to know that you are still in love even as you have to say Go Now!’
Only when your lover has closed the door can you let those tears you’ve been holding back flow and flow and flow.Bessie’s version of, ‘Go Now’ was released in January 1964 and was a top 40 hit on the R&B charts. However, it became a much more substantial hit through the cover by The Moody Blues which was issued in November that same year.
The Moody’s take on the song hit the Number One spot in the UK while making the Top Ten in America. In the early 60s a constant flow of great American records came across the Atlantic in the cases of keen eared collectors before being pounced upon by groups seeking songs they really sink their musical teeth into.
It was Denny Laine, at that time the lead guitarist and main singer with The Moody Blues who knew immediately on hearing, ‘Go Now’ that it would suit his glorious plaintive vocal style and that the band: Clint Warwick (bass), Mike Pinder (piano), Ray Thomas (Woodwinds/percussion) and Graham Edge (drums) could come up with a distinctive arrangement which would prove an irresistible pop hit.
This is a much more assertive, damn and blast your eyes, version of the song benefitting from the spooky unintentionally distorted piano (of course in the history of popular music many a great record is born of unintended distortions!) and a very English layered vocal chorale sound.
Most of all this version wins you through the magnificence of Denny Laine’s lead vocal which brilliantly evokes the bewilderment, outrage and exhaustion of the spurned lover. Denny barely seems to take a breath as his vocal flows magisterially through the song sweeping us away until we are left beached and emotionally wrung out as the last notes fade away.
I hope you all spend Christmas fast in the love of your loved ones and that you do not find yourself forced to summon up ‘Go Now’ to describe your situation ever again.
Larry Banks – in addition to his work with The Four Fellows became beloved of Deep Soul aficionados through his work as writer and producer with The Cavaliers, The Geminis, TheExciters and with his second wife Jaibi (Joan Bates).
You can explore his work through Ace Records’ ‘Larry Banks’ Family Soul Allbum’
The Moody Blues – I highly recommend their debut, ‘The Magnificent Moodies’ when they were still an R&B beat group evolving into a kaleidoscopic pop outfit. Throughout the album Denny Laine’s vocals are breathtaking. One listen to his soaring coda to, ‘From The Bottom Of My Heart’ should make you a sworn devotee!
Denny Laine – after leaving The Moody’s and before joining Paul McCartney’s Wings Denny recorded a series of singles with his own, ‘Electric String Band’ featuring string players from the Royal Academy Music School.
I have great affection for their second single, ‘Catherine’s Wheel/Too Much In Love’ but their debut single, ‘Say You Don’t Mind/Ask The People’ is to my mind one of the great,’lost classics’ of the 1960s.
Some may know, ‘Say …’ through the early 70s hit version by Colin Blunstone. But, trust me, do yourself a favour and seek out the wondrous original featuring yet another great Denny Laine vocal.