“Wildsville”: All in the Family (pt. 1)

A good ten years before The Beatles pioneered the concept of “double A-side” singles, The Loreleis – two young ladies from the Detroit area, Gail Menefee and Peggy Reinagle – were knocking it out of the park with their two-run homer, “You’re So Nice to Be Near” b/w “Wildsville.”

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “You’re So Nice to Be Near” by The Loreleis.]

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Wildsville” by The Loreleis.]

Menefee, as it turns out, is my aunt, and the fact that my dad’s brother’s wife was once in a “singing group” – before marriage and family changed the course of history – has always added a bit of luster to our family lore.  However, the fact that this 45 hit the Billboard Top 100 – reaching the #91 spot during the week of November 12, 1955 – somehow eluded the attention of our family’s East Coast contingent until recently rediscovered by my brother, thanks to information provided by the 45Cat website.

Peggy Reinagle                  Gail Menefee

Loreleis-3a    Wyandotte’s Own Joyland Record Shop                  Peggy & Gail sing for you

Loreleis-2aLoreleis-1a

Images of the vinyl record itself reveal that this single, interestingly, was released both as a 45 and 78.

original compositions on both sides – in the great Beatle tradition

Wildsville 78 rpmMore intriguing than the record hitting the national charts is the fact that “You’re So Nice to Be Near,” a dreamy ballad, was designated the A-side while “Wildsville” – an infectiously upbeat number with a clever geographically-themed lyric – strikes me as the obvious song to lead with.  Or, to use a Beatles analogy, “Wildsville” is the “Hello Goodbye” to “You’re So Nice to Be Near”‘s “I Am the Walrus.”   I would love to know if the radio DJs were flipping the record over and playing the “B-side” — perhaps at least a few of them were, given the record’s performance in the marketplace.

But wait!  A piece from the Wyandotte News Herald directly contradicts 45Cat’s assertion that “Wildsville” was the single’s B-side:  “‘Wildsville,’ a clever novelty, is the main side of their record, which is really going places.”  The reporter adds that the song was written “along with Bob Cordell, their road manager, on the way back from a club date in the East.” This same article also points out – something I learned only yesterday – that “after they won a talent contest at school that they got a contract making singing commercials.”  From there, things took off quickly:  “Joe Siracuse, of Spotlight Records, heard them and they started making records for the new company.  Their first was ‘I Won’t Let You Go’ (again their own composition); followed by ‘Certainly Baby,’ which did very well for them.”

Fascinating to see The Loreleis share the stage with such heavy hitters as LaVern Baker, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, the Johnny Burnette Trio and future MBE, Lonnie “King of Skiffle” Donegan, in a special show organized by legendary CKLW disk jockey, Robin Seymour, who spent his first 18 years at Detroit’s WKMH (see ad below):

Loreleis-6aLoreleis-4a                                         U.S. Place Names Cited in “Wildsville”:                                         From Asheville to Zanesville

– Steubenville, Ohio

– Asheville, North Carolina

– Louisville, Kentucky

– Nashville, Tennessee

– Jacksonville, Florida

– Knoxville, Tennessee

– Evansville, Indiana

– Brownsville, Texas

– Charlottesville, Virginia

– Greenville, South Carolina

– Belleville, Michigan

– Northville, Michigan

– Fayetteville, Arkansas

– Zanesville, Ohio

– Meadville, Pennsylvania

– Gainesville, Florida