SONG: Only You
ARTIST: The Platters
Listen to it here:
Only You (and You Alone) was written by Buck Ram in 1954 and originally recorded by the Platters that same year, however the recording was not released. The group moved to Mercury records in 1955 and re-recorded the song and released it in May. They decided to released the original 1954 recording in November of that year but sales were poor. Only You held the number 1 spot on the US Billboard R&B chart for seven weeks and hit number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and remained on the Hot 100 for 30 weeks. Notable covers include Platters rival group The Hilltoppers and Ringo Starr.
The Platters formed in Los Angeles in 1952, originally as a vocal quartet. the group saw a lot of iterations through the years with many different record companies. The group did not see a lot of chart success, but were very popular on tour. One of their most successful songs however was Only You (And You Alone), released In 1955, followed by their biggest hit, The Great Pretender which hit number 1 for 11 straight weeks on the R&B charts. This most successful lineup of the group consisted of Tony Williams, David Lynch, Paul Robi, Herb Reed and Zola Taylor and lasted until 1960, until members of the group started to get into legal hot water with drug and prostitution charges. Although there were no convictions, the damage was done and radio stations in the US took them out of rotation and they never regained the success they saw during the 1950s. Members splintering off, personnel changes and legal battles continued with the group until as late as 2014, where one of the former members was sued for trademark infringement. Herb Reed passed away in 2012 and was the only member to appear on every Platters recording.
The Platters were rehearing Only You on a car ride, when the car jerked causing Tony Williams to sing “O-oHHHH-nly you”. Everyone laughed, but they decided to recreate it in the recording of the song.
The Platters were the first rock and roll era group to have a Top Ten album in the United States
Maaaaaaan I love this song. More doo-wop-y type stuff and this is probably one of the most famous examples. Great vocals from everyone, especially the lead singer, being super dramatic and emotional. And try not singing along to that first ‘on-ly YOOOOUUUU’ after hearing that guitar intro! I watched some videos of the Platters singing this and also read that they had a lady member during this time, which I never realized before and now listening critically I still can’t really hear her – she’s swallowed up by the mix. The mix itself, with the parts standing out the most being the lead, a few oohs and aahs and then the CHON CHON CHON CHON of the tinny piano. Having said that, I don’t really feel that it takes away from the song that much, because I feel like the lead’s voice makes the song. Like, the song itself is a fine song, but it’s nothing outstanding until you have his voice on it, and that’s what makes it great.
Ok, one small issue right off the top with this one. There’s a term that’s used sometimes when mixing wind players, and it’s “unwanted mouth sounds”. Right off the top, you can hear what I can only assume is the lead singer doing some lip smacking right in the silence after the guitar opening. It super grosses me out. Also, “unwanted mouth sounds” is a great name for a prog rock record. Just saying. Anyway, I love this song. The ending chords are great, the balance between all the singers is lovely, and the changing from ooo to aaa is great! The backing instrumental parts are boring as hell, but still, there’s something about the whole package that I really enjoy. They seem to tiptoe a very fine line as far as energy levels go, and that ending! It feels like this song builds towards the end, which during this era in music seems pretty rare. All in all, a great song!
Average mark out of 10:
Other notable versions of this song:
Rival group the Hilltoppers and their not as good version:
I don’t know what to think.
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