11 January 2009

The Critters - Younger Girl

Label: London
Year of Release: 1966

I'm going against my own rules here slightly, since this did creep into the Top 40 in Britain for one week at number 38 - but I've made allowances for such borderline cases in the past, and I see no reason not to do it again here.

The Critters' "Younger Girl" was something of an offshore pirate station favourite back in the sixties, and its blissful purring could be heard up and down the dial. On one off-air recording I have from Radio London, it sticks out from the hits of the day admirably well, sounding so laidback it can't help but be a sudden piece of unexpected summer calm amidst the adverts, DJ banter and uptempo pop hits of the day. One can imagine almost every single DJ of the period uttering the words "Mmmm... that was lovely" afterwards.

Penned by John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful, "Younger Girl" is such a delicate piece of work that it perhaps didn't register with many other listeners, though. People with the radio burbling away as background noise might not have noticed its subtle charms - so quiet that they might have been drowned out by the refrigerator or perhaps some passing traffic - and as a result the predicted hit never really occurred.

As for the Critters, the New Jersey based band had slightly more success in America with their follow up singles, but ultimately didn't go on to a career with any longevity, although some of them went on to greater success in other acts. Lead guitarist Jim Ryan went on to join Carly Simon's backing band, and lead singer Don Ciccone joined Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. History (or Wikipedia) does not record what happened to the other chaps, however, apart from to say that bass guitarist Ken Gorka now owns the notorious Bitter End nightclub in Greenwich Village.

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