Saturday, November 2, 2013

"Elvira" by The Oak Ridge Boys

Top 10 Alert!
Platinum Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  0604
Date:  05/16/1981
Debut:  78
Peak:  5
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Country

Pop Bits:  The Oaks had a long career even before their real hit making days. The group was originally known as the Oak Ridge Quartet they issued their first LP in 1958. Their focus was gospel music and they were highly successful in the genre until they signed with Columbia Records in 1973. Columbia wasn't good at promoting gospel and the group was losing their core fans. They were released from their contract, changed their sound, and in 1977 issued their first country album. The album was a hit and the title track became the first of a long string of country hits that included seventeen #1's. This single from their album "Fancy Free" was their first to crossover to the pop chart and their only one to reach the Top 10. It became their biggest hit and the album would be their best-selling going double-platinum. The song would also earn them a Grammy for Best Country Performance, Duo or Group.

ReduxReview:  Really, this is a silly song. And I'm sure it was written in that spirit. The early versions (see below) are all okay, but the Oaks just took it to a completely different level. One that is just fun and hard to resist. What I loved about the 80s is that a song like this had a chance to catch on, crossover, and be come a pop hit. Do you think it would have a chance today? Very doubtful. Most country songs that crossover are not The only one in recent memory that would come close is Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup" (#15). But that song almost borders on novelty. In other words, it ain't no "Elvira

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Although this is by far the most popular version of the song, it wasn't the first. The song's composer Dallas Frazier had a minor pop chart entry (#72) in 1966 with his original take. Kenny Rogers and the First Edition had a funky blues-rock take in 1970. Rodney Crowell had a down-tempo version that scraped the country chart (#95) in 1978. Finally, after hearing Crowell's verison and performing it in concert, the Oaks issued their interpretation. What made the difference and pushed theirs to the top? The sing-along, focused country beat certainly played a part, but many credit bass singer Richard Sterban's solo on the "oom-papa-mow-mow" the key to the singles success.


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