Listen: Black Is Black / Los Bravos
Black Is Black / Los Bravos
Without a doubt, this was a signature song to my Summer ’66 soundtrack. This guy’s voice was almost scary. Between that and the lyrics, it especially sounded powerful late at night. I spent a week in Brooklyn that August, glued to the various New York City stations and heard this often. Along with The Lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘Summer In The City’, this song faithfully brings me back to that un-airconditioned summer vacation of listening to the radio by night and dragging my Aunt Nancy round the record shops by day: The House Of Oldies, King Karol and Colony basically. I spent hours in them. Thank God for her patience. Colony was really well stocked, but very expensive – list price: 98¢! This was huge money for a kid in his single digits. Much more interesting were the shops in the East Village. Most of them sold promos for a quarter. Lots of white label Fontana’s, pink label Decca’s and the London Group’s orange swirls. You could spot those a mile away. I vividly recall getting Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours ‘Don’t Stop Loving Me, Baby’ in one such place.
Los Bravos, from Spain, big in England, well ‘Black Is Black’ was. Now big here. What a concept. Play good music on the radio, people buy it.
You still catch this one occasionally on the Oldies stations in smaller US markets and it does pop right out .
Listen: I Don’t Care / Los Bravos
I Don't Care / Los Bravos
The UK followup actually did okay, #16. It was easily a song that band and producer Ivor Raymonde worked hard on. I still would bet my last dime they all knew it wasn’t quite good enough despite the almost good enough parts, yet my guess is they needed something out quick and just went with it, hoping no one would notice.
Their US label, London Records’ offshoot Press, did notice. It never got released Stateside.
Listen: Going Nowhere / Los Bravos
Going Nowhere / Los Bravos
Instead, ‘Going Nowhere’ was the US followup to ‘Black Is Black’. Not a big showing chartwise, it peaked at #91. In a very signature Ivor Ramonde production, it sounds identical to his approach with The Fortunes. He had his sound down. I heard this a bit around Christmas of that year (see chart below). Turns out lead singer Mike Kogel was German, adding a great accent to his Gene Pitney vocal style. Spanish band and the first ever to chart in Billboard, German singer, pretty exotic for the day.
Listen: Bring A Little Lovin’ / Los Bravos
Bring A Little Lovin' / Los Bravos
What a surprise. Almost two years later, an eternity then, when no one expected it, Los Bravos finally really followed up ‘Black Is Black’ with a song equal in greatness. ‘Bring A Little Lovin’ sounded fantastic on the radio. I lit up every time I heard that intro. It was everywhere in Spring of ’68. Oddly, it didn’t chart in the UK, making the British pressing a very pricey item. Even US copies are hard to unearth now. Had they come with this straight after ‘Black Is Black’, the sky would’ve been the limit.