Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Remembering Jay Black of “Jay & The Americans”

Last week Jay Black of Jay & the Americans passed away at 82.

Here’s “Come A Little Bit Closer” (#3 in 1964).

Incredible vocals. The first Top Ten hit from the legendary songwriting team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and it was recorded in a hurry at the end of a recording session — no doubt on the first take, live with no overdubs. 

That’s often the secret ingredient behind hit recordings: do it once and do it right, capture the feeling, release it, watch it rise up the charts.

From the same album, “Only in America”. Reached #25 in 1964. Still heard today on any decent Oldies or 1960s radio (in Chicago the best by far is Metv.fm 87.7 — sadly, no streaming service). 

Even more amazing vocals on “Cara Mia”, #4 in 1965. Jay Black has that distinctive sound of someone who is not only blessed with a great voice but has had excellent vocal training in opera, theatre or choral singing of some kind — your typical good rock band singer just cannot sing like this and wouldn’t even try.

In 1969 they released an album of their favorite oldies “Sands of Time” which reveals deep 1950s doo-wop and R&B crooner influences, and it’s filled with quality versions of several such tunes, like “This Magic Moment”, a hit for them in 1969 (original by The Drifters”) plus a very good version of “So Much in Love”, a hit originally by The Tymes. 

Here’s both versions of “So Much in Love”, just because it’s such a great song.

It also has “Gypsy Woman” written by Curtis Mayfield of The Impressions, plus much more. Fans of the style will want to give the album a try.