The Recording of the “That Boy John” EP

May 12   |   JohnG

That Boy John Cover

That Boy John Cover

After the success of the single “Can’t” in 1997, IT’S MY PARTY! set out to record more material, with a goal of a 1998 release. Unlike “Can’t,” which took two years to complete, while enduring several vocal personnel changes, the next recording benefited from the polished vocal lineup of Vanessa, Roseanna, and newcomer Lauren, who had replaced Aubrey. Aubrey, finding it difficult to juggle her commitment to the group with the pursuit of her other passion, theater performance, departed on good terms, and would return for a second stint in IT’S MY PARTY! the following year.

I selected the material for the new release based on the relative strengths of the singers. Vanessa’s voice seemed to lend itself to a relatively unknown Barry/Greenwich composition, “That Boy John.” A decade before, in 1988, Paul Kanack and I visited Ellie Greenwich’s Manhattan apartment with the idea of working with her. She shared with us her frustration about the timing of the release of “That Boy John,” by her group, The Raindrops, in early December 1963, just weeks after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The timing couldn’t have been worse, and the record failed to chart. It was her thought that a release at any other time would have produced a hit. Remembering this, Paul and I were determined to give this song a second chance. “That Boy John” became the title track of the new release.

The second song selected for the single was “I’m Bobby’s Girl.” Not to be confused with “Bobby’s Girl,” by Marcie Blaine, “I’m Bobby’s Girl” was an original song, written by Syeed Abdulal-haqq, especially for the group.

Another song that had remained a favorite was “The Boy Next Door,” a tune popularized by The Secrets in 1963. Although IT’S MY PARTY! had recorded this song in 1988, it was never released to the public. Vanessa had established herself as the lead vocalist of this lineup, however, Lauren’s perky vocal-style seemed perfect for “The Boy Next Door.” By adding this track the single became more of an EP or maxi-single with three song offerings.

Calvin May was the primary engineer during the recording. Eager to try digital recording, Calvin offered the use of his two ADAT recorders. These machines encoded digital information on magnetic tape that resembled VHS cassettes. The thought was that our 1/2″ 16-track analogue tape machine could not reproduce the low end needed for these recordings, whereas the ADATs could. However, halfway through the recording of “That Boy John,” Calvin left the project to pursue other interests. 

With ADAT cassettes in hand, and hauling my 70-pound tape machine, I set out to a local recording studio with ADAT recording. All of the tracks on the ADAT were then transferred to my analogue tape machine, which was then returned to our studio to finish the project. Unfortunately, an amazing piano track was lost on “That Boy John” during the transfer. It is unknown why this happened, perhaps that track was placed in record mode, or, as we like to say to try explain away the woes of digital recording, perhaps a ghost entered the machine.

Two-track master label

Two-track master label – test tones ensure that the playback machine runs at the same speed as the recording machine

Strong vocal renditions more than made up for any technical glitches, and the stereo master was finally compiled in August. One of the new twists on this release was the addition of horns and reed instruments, for the first time on an IT’S MY PARTY! recording. Bill Tiberio played some moving tenor sax solos, especially on “I’m Bobby’s Girl.” Derrick Lipp added trumpet, and David DeWitt played trombone. Jim Sawicki, who helped record some of the earliest IT’S MY PARTY! tracks in 1988, contributed a  piano track on “The Boy Next Door,” and Jim Reilley, now in Nashville, added the guitar track to “I’m Bobby’s Girl.” (You can see other contributors by clicking on the track sheet links at the bottom of this post.)

Gene Paul, son of legendary guitarist, Les Paul, mastered the single at DB Plus in New York City. Sheila Bergel, an acquaintance, who lived in New York City attended the mastering session. Sheila is a girl group authority and publisher of Cha Cha Charming, the definitive girl group fanzine. Sheila added an enthusiastic presence at the mastering that gave the session a positive vibe.

After months of toil, “That Boy John” hit the stores in early December on both CD and cassette formats. The initial reactions were positive. Bob Scheffel of The One Magazine and WBER radio wrote, “This single is stronger than the first release.” Martin Natchez of The Flint Journal  added, “On the new CD is ‘I’m Bobby’s Girl,’ featuring trio leader Vanessa singing in the style of The Angels’ ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’.” The tracks received airplay on stations in Michigan and Canada, and opened IT’S MY PARTY! to new markets and fans.

One track that was fun to record was “I’m Bobby’s Girl.” In the intro, there is a dialog between the girls. Janine, our fan club president, is one of the voices, and can be clearly heard on the line, “I don’t know what she sees in him,” adding to the vibe of the song. All these years later, with various girls taking turns at the lead vocals, “I’m Bobby’s Girl” remains a fan-favorite at live concerts.

"That Boy John" Track Sheet"The Boy Next Door" Track Sheet"I'm Bobby's Girl" Track Sheet

 

If you would like a physical copy of “That Boy John,” click the “Add to Cart” button below to purchase the CD by way of Paypal.





If you prefer a digital copy, go to our discography section and follow the link of your choice for downloads.

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