Y-Dells: Sneakin’ Away/The Snake (Snake 69, 1958)

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.

DJ Gunga's copy of "Sneakin' Away" by Y-Dells
Sneakin’ Away – 1959 Snake U.S. Release

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.

 

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