Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 29, 2021

302) Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas — “I’m in Love”

OK, the Fourmost did release “I’m in Love,” which reached #17 in the UK in December of 1963. Bruce Eder writes in All Music Guide that:

The Fourmost’s fortunes took a sharp turn upward in 1963 when they were given the nod by Brian Epstein and became a part of his stable of Liverpool-based acts. [They] got access to a pair of Lennon-McCartney originals (“Hello Little Girl,” “I’m in Love”) that got them noticed, and they peaked in April of 1964 with the single “A Little Lovin’,” which got to number six in England. Unfortunately, none of the Fourmost were songwriters, and this left them at the mercy of outside inspiration and outside sources for songs, which quickly dried up as dozens of rival bands started covering the same material. . . . .

But this is my blog, and I don’t really like the Fourmost’s version. For one thing, there is too much ersatz Beatle harmonizing. “Oooohhhhh.” But Billy J. Kramer and/with the Dakotas came to the rescue. Vernon Joynson informs us that:

The Dakotas were a Manchester-based group which formed back in 1962 [the year I was born!]. It was Brian Epstein who provided them with their big break when he matched them up with Billy Kramer . . . and sent them all off to the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany for a three week slot to smarten up their stage act. Their Epstein connection afforded them the opportunity to record Lennon/McCartney songs . . . .”

The Tapestry of Delights

Adrian Bolton’s liner notes to The Very Best of Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas note that:

Epstein came up with the idea of Lennon & McCartney writing material either specifically for Billy or passing to him any songs not used by the Beatles. John Lennon duly obliged with “Bad to Me” which gave [them] their first No. 1, in August 1963.

For my money, in October of 1963 (see the liner notes to the With a Little Help from John, Paul, George & Ringo, Volume 1: 1962-1972 comp) BJK with the Dakotas recorded the supreme version of “I’m in Love.” Well, sort of: the song wasn’t actually released until decades later, and when it was, it had to be stitched together from two takes. BJK remembers that:

“I’m In Love” was a song that John and Paul brought down to a session at Abbey Road. The band and I had been recording and were about to finish for the day when they played this song for me. We quickly learned the song and did record it, but didn’t have the time to finish it. Honestly, I had forgotten about it until a few years ago when EMI America released it as part of The Best Of Billy J. Kramer. A fellow named Ron Furmanek, who is a pop music historian, found the recording in the vaults of EMI and edited two of the takes that we had done into one. It was strange to hear it after all these years, especially hearing John shouting directions to me in the studio. I once again realized what a fabulous song it was and I started performing it on my shows a few years ago and everyone seem to love it.

Youtube notes by the Merseysound.

In any event, it’s almost as good as it would have been had the Beatles themselves recorded it. And that’s pretty damn good!

“Believe me when I tell you I’m in love with you. You’re my kind of girl. You make me feel proud. You make me want to shout out aloud. So, I’m telling all my friends, I’m in love. Every night I go to sleep thinking of you and every little thing that you do. Yes, I’m telling all my friends, I’m in love. Yes, I’m feeling I’m on the top of the world. I’m in love with a wonderful girl. I’ve never felt so good before. Everything’s love, give me more, more, more, more. . . .”

Here is the Fourmost’s version:

Here is John Lennon’s demo, just his voice and a piano. What is so chillingly beautiful is how his piano part reminds me of that of “Love” from ’70’s Plastic Ono album:

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