Year of Release: 1968
Lumme. At the moment, my TV is blaring out all kinds of quirky, merry, rinky-dink tunes for festive season adverts - usually cute cover versions of hits, sometimes accompanied with images of pretty young ladies wandering through busy streets with a smile on their lips and their eyes raised skywards. "Look at these quirky damsels!" the telly seems to be telling me. "If you bought a mobile phone package with us, you too could be walking through the city with ukulele music playing in your head on a constant loop". I'm probably not their target audience, in all honesty.
Anyway, while all this cutesy naffness abounds, it's worth realising that once upon a time, you could produce that kind of capital q Quirk music without falling back on a dull template. Lois Lane was originally one half of the Sleaford singing duo The Caravelles, who scored a huge hit in the UK and the USA with "You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry". They split in 1968 and went their separate ways, and this cover of Paul Simon's rather unusual "Punky's Dilemma" was one of the early fruits of that solo venture.
It throws everything at the wall - a dreamy "South California" melodic line, absurd studio interjections from slamming doors and apologetic individuals, and an adventurous Johnny Arthey arrangement. Lois's vocals are just on the right side of irritating, not overdoing the kookiness and staying on the right side of carefree and considered. It's a tough track to pull off. The references to jam preferences (she likes loganberry jam best, she tells the listeners) and English Muffins in toasters could very easily annoy the piss out of some human beings were they placed in the wrong hands, but she's able to underline the eccentricity of the track without making herself sound like an attention seeking hipster (possibly because, at the time of its release there was no such thing, at least not as we now understand the phrase).
Lois continued recording for some time after this single, issuing further efforts right up until 1977, including a lot of session work for Disney and budget sound-a-like covers records. Sadly, the success she saw with The Caravelles could not be repeated, and the releases eventually dried up. She was, however, apparently still producing vocal work for adverts until relatively more recently.
Both "Punky's Dilemma" and "Lazy Summer Day" are available over on iTunes, or otherwise you can hear both tunes from the YouTube videos below.