Nino & April’s Pop Steel Drums

In 1966 brother and sister duo, Nino Tempo & April Stevens, left Atco for White Whale, a label then enjoying commercial success with The Turtles.  White White demonstrated their eagerness to do business with Nino and April by allowing them complete artistic freedom in the recording studio. The first single – “All Strung Out” – served as the title track of their debut album, which ended up hitting the #26 spot on the pop chart.

All Strung Out - Nino & April

This song – which was originally offered to the Righteous Brothers as the follow-up single to their huge hit, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” – was recorded at Hollywood’s Gold Star studios by legendary recording engineers, Larry Levine and Stan Ross, along with the usual top-notch support from some of LA’s finest session musicians.  Hear the final mix yourself in this (mimed) performance on TV’s Lloyd Thaxton Show in the summer of 1966.  Interesting to note that Vinnie Barbarino enjoyed a hit cover version in 1977 under the title, “All Strung Out on You.”

How surprising to learn that one of the album’s tracks, “Alone Alone” – a song brimming with obvious hit potential – was never released as a single:

“Alone Alone”     Nino Tempo & April Stevens     1966

Very effective use of steel drums on the instrumental riff that opens and closes the song.   Tune was written by John Dalton & Gary Montgomery – produced by Nino Tempo.

Six Degrees of Syd Nathan

Sometimes it seems as if just about everyone has passed through Syd Nathan’s King Records at some point in their career, even if just for one or two singles.  April Stevens,  as it turns out, released two singles on King in 1953 that were also issued in the UK on Parlophone (future home of The Beatles):  [1] “C’est Si Bon” b/w “Soft Warm Lips”; and  [2] “How Could Red Riding Hood (Have Been So Very Good)” b/w “You Said You’d Do It (Are You Gonna).”  Those two singles, however, were preceded by April’s King debut – “Hot Tamale” b/w “Treat Me Nice.”  Fascinating to discover that one of two unissued tracks in King’s vaults is “Wanting You,” a fantastic dance track that April later recorded for MGM in 1967 and that was originally (now, hold onto your hats) an Oscar Hammerstein song from the 1928 operetta, The New Moon!  Sadly, “Wanting You” didn’t burn up the charts, although it was later vindicated as a classic track of the UK Northern Soul music scene.

April Stevens - 1953 King EP