Why did I buy this record? The sleazy sax instrumental on the b-side. Or, as described elsewhere, the cut is a good sax growler.
That is it. No other reason.
For those of you who skipped the third week of your “Rock ‘n Roll 101” class, there was a formula that many rockabilly, garage,and surf bands followed when they were lucky enough to score studio time for a record: an a-side that is a ballad or an uptempo dance number, and a b-side instrumental with baritone sax as the lead instrument. I have no idea where or how this formula originated. I assume it is because the instrumental could be written quickly on the spot in the studio when the producer asked, “got anything else?” Take someone else’s song, change a few chords for a new melody, have the sax player do a riff, and BOOM! Instant b-side. No one listens to those things anyway, no need to dwell on their creation. Right?
There were hundreds of records released that stuck to this formula. If I had enough time and access to the most comprehensive music database ever compiled, I would be able to give you an exact number. “Hundreds” is good enough to get an A on the week’s quiz. And time is usually kinder to the b-side of these records, where a good sax player can make something creative/interesting on an otherwise cookie-cutter song.
This is one of those hundreds of records. As far as I can tell, it is a one-off record, with a juvenile joke barely concealed in the catalog number. The A-side is a completely forgettable R&B number. Completely. Utterly. Forgettable. This record was “lucky” enough to get a review in Billboard. The magazine described “Sneakin’ Away” as “so-so”. That is the equivalent of a 1-star review. Needless to say, this record went nowhere, and the same can be said of the Y-Dells. Aside from the songwriting credit for Gale, Dennis, and Rozelle (I assume they are the primary band members), the internet provides no clue that the Y-Dells ever existed. Even this record struggles to testify; a copy comes up for sale every two-three years or so. I suspect most copies lie in boxes down in mildew-y basements or tucked away in piles of mediocre pop 45s in the back of antique shops, one stop away from the landfill.
I like a good sax growler, so this copy of “Sneakin’ Away” is fortunate enough to be curated. Sleazy enough, low-down enough, and rough enough to pass muster. Not sleazy, low-down, or rough enough to appear on any tittyshaker compilations. In other words, a prime candidate for a forgotten record. Funny that I spent so few words describing this record, but sometimes a few words are all that is needed.