Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rocky Roberts - Yes Yes My Love

Reply Songs are (obviously) songs that reply to a big hit and it was Michael Jackson untimely departure that got me thinking. Bear with me, I'll explain.
Back in the days I loved Off The Wall and Billie Jean just as much as anyone else, and I still do. Just like any other popmusic fan I have been swept along in the Michael Jackson craze and I am fascinated by the charts being stuffed with Michael Jackson hits. All the sad events transported me back in time and had me reliving the 80's, which were pretty fantastic times for me.

Of course there's no Eurocover by Michael Jackson and it's not really possible to celebrate the King Of Pop within the confines of Eurocovers.

Reply Songs
In those Thriller days I used to DJ and a favorite cliché of mine was mixing Billie Jean with the reply song Superstar by Lydia Murdock (I'm Billie Jean And I'm Mad As Hell).
The question arose, has there ever been a reply song for a Eurovision song? (Any excuse for a Eurocovers post with a Michael Jackson tie).

I actually found one, and even though it's a song heavily featured in some recent Eurocovers posts it's here again. Researching it of course lead to finding more about the singer etcetera, Eurocovers style. And incidentally there turned out to be more Michael Jackson links than I expected.

Rocky Roberts (1941 - 2005)
An interesting CV for Rocky Roberts. Born in Miami, spent some time in the U.S. navy, was a welter weight championship boxer and got his first musical cudo's with the Airedales, recording in the U.S. and in France. In the second half of the sixties he moved to Italy where he recorded most of his songs (as a solo artist) and he was a guest in every other popular TV music show. His American accent didn't stop him from having a great hit with Stassero Mi Butto (amazing YouTube link restored), watch the footwork MJ fans) and he was well known for his energetic Italian language coverversions of Motown and Atlantic soul hits, live and on record. Reach Out I'll Be There (Four Tops, also recorded by the Jackson 5), Chain Of Fools (Aretha Franklin) and Same Old Song (Four tops)

Yes Yes Dear Dear, Perhaps Next Year, Or maybe even never…

It's with the Airedales that Rocky Roberts recorded a reply song (in English) to Gigliola Cinquetti's Non Ho L'eta (Per Amarti).
Yes Yes My Love from the French 10"inch LP Rocks Et Slows - T.Bird from 1964 (BARCLAY 92.107)

The original track by Gigliola Cinquetti is about being too young to love and Rocky Roberts, always a gentleman, is prepared to wait. I don't know if they ever got together…

Here's some lyrics excerpts from both songs:
Non ho l'eta (from Italian)
"I don't have the age to love
I don't have the age to go out with you
I wouldn't know what to say as you know so much more than me
If you want to wait for me one day all my love will be for you".

Yes Yes My Love (original is in English)
"Yes Yes My Love, I know you're too young.
I'll wait for you
These tender years, I'll think of you
when the waiting is through, no more can I do
I'll watch the moon and the stars when I think of you
I'll wait with all my heart to be standing by you".

The track and album are from Rocky Roberts time in France where he mostly recorded French and American classics in English.
This Is My Prayer, the 'original' English version of Non Ho L 'Eta didn't have the being too young theme, which was just as well, as Vera Lynn from the previous Eurocovers post was well into her 40's when she recorded her version.

Yes Yes My Love is not the only Eurocover by Rocky Roberts. In 1970 he recorded Volare as an amazing soul ballad. Accept my apologies for overlooking that one in last years Anno Domenico posts, it's a Eurocover that is not to be missed.
Volare was a b-side to I Won't Think Hard Of You, released in the U.S. on the Chess label (Chess 2096). It can also be found on the compilation CD I Grande Successi Originali.

In 1969 Roberts entered the San Remo contest with La Belle Donne and in 1970 with Accidenti (together with Il Super-gruppo).
Rocky Roberts died in 2005, but his son Randy Roberts continues the family tradition, and hey presto, his MySpace features some nice acoustic Michael Jackson coverversions.

Rocky Roberts MySpace tribute.

One final link for the anoraks: The Airedales continued in the late 60's and 70's with band member (bassist) Wess Johnson as the new lead singer who took over from Roberts in 1967. And Wess is of course known from the 1975 Eurovision entry Era by Wess and Dori Ghezzi, which ended third for Italy and was a reasonable European hit. Contrary to popular myth only Dori is a Ghezzi.

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