Wednesday, February 19, 2014

T-Bones -- "No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In)" (1966)

The T-Bones was the name given to an agglomeration of famous Los Angeles-based studio musicians who recorded several albums of surf and hot rod instrumentals for Liberty Records (which was Jan & Dean's label) in the mid-sixties. 

Leon Russell played piano on those records and Glen Campbell was the guitarist, while fellow "Wrecking Crew" member Hal Blaine was the drummer and Carol Blaine one of the bass players.

Famed producer Joe Saraceno
One day, Joe Saraceno -- the man who many consider to be the greatest producer of rock instrumentals of all time -- heard an Alka-Seltzer jingle that he thought had the potential to be a hit, so he decided to have it recorded and released under the T-Bones name.

Saraceno also produced the Ventures and other instrumental groups, and it's something of a mystery why he decided to use the T-Bones instead of one of his real groups.  (Cherchez le fric, I say.)

Here's that commercial:

"No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In)" made it all the way to #3 on the Billboard "Hot 100" in early 1966 . . . which created a problem.

The problem was that Liberty Records had a big hit single on its hands but no actual band to go on tour to promote it.  So Liberty hired a group of musicians to hit the road as the T-Bones.

"No Matter What Shape" continued to sell, so the new T-Bones released an album that consisted mostly of pop instrumentals based on TV commercial jingles but also included instrumental covers of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and the Knickerbockers' "Lies."

The T-Bones milked a second album out of the TV-jingle concept, and even came up with some original songs.  Eventually, they cut a demo that came to the attention of songwriter/producer Steve Barri (the man behind the Grass Roots and many other successful pop groups).

Barri took three of the former T-Bones -- guitarist Dan Hamilton, bassist Joe Frank Carollo, and keyboard player Tommy Reynolds -- and turned them into the very successful Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds, which had a #4 hit in 1971 with "Don't Pull Your Love (Out)" and a #1 hit in 1976 with "Fallin' in Love."

Tommy Reynolds left the band in 1973, but the record company decided not to change the name of group despite his departure.  (Why mess with a good thing?)

You do remember "Fallin' in Love," don't you?  If you don't consider yourself fortunate:

By the way, Joe Saraceno wasn't the only famous record producer to turn a TV jingle into a hit instrumental single.  Bob Crewe, who produced and wrote (with Bob Gaudio) many of the Four Seasons' hits, took a Diet Pepsi jingle and turned it into "Music to Watch Girls By" in 1967.

Here's "No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In)":

Here's a very interesting video of a T-Bones' television appearance -- there's a lot of meat imagery:

Click below to buy "No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In)" from Amazon:

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