This Diamond Ring

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"This Diamond Ring" is a 1965 song written by Al Kooper, Bob Brass and Irwin Levine. It was first recorded by Sammy Ambrose on Musicor #1061, then by Gary Lewis & the Playboys[1] on Liberty #55756. Lewis' version charted first, #101 on the January 2, 1965, Billboard "Bubbling Under" chart. Both versions charted on January 9, Lewis still at #101 and Ambrose at #117. Ambrose dropped off the charts at that point, but Lewis made #65 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the next week (January 16) and his version continued to climb until it reached #1 on February 20, 1965.

Gary Lewis & the Playboys version[edit]

"This Diamond Ring"
This Diamond Ring - Gary Lewis & the Playboys.jpg
Single by Gary Lewis & the Playboys
from the album This Diamond Ring
B-side
  • "Hard to Find" (original B-side)
  • "Tijuana Wedding" (later pressings)
ReleasedJanuary 1965 (1965-01)
RecordedNovember 30, 1964 (1964-11-30)
GenrePop rock
Length2:01
LabelLiberty
Songwriter(s)Al Kooper, Bob Brass, Irwin Levine
Producer(s)Snuff Garrett
Gary Lewis & the Playboys singles chronology
"This Diamond Ring"
(1965)
"Count Me In"
(1965)

According to David Brackett, Lewis' vocals were heavily supported by Ron Hicklin's overdubs.[2] The session drummer was Hal Blaine,[3] Joe Osborn played bass[4] and Leon Russell both played keyboards and arranged the music. The song was produced by Snuff Garrett.[citation needed] Lewis has denied claims that the Playboys did not play on the record, and says that not only was the band largely self-contained, but the Wrecking Crew session musicians only came to do overdubs or solos.[5]

Stylistically, the song's recording features the then common "basic 'combo' instrumentation...(electric guitar, organ, bass, drums), modal (dorian) inflections in the harmony and melody of the verse and a basic rock beat pattern." Unusually the chorus features timpani and the transition between verse and chorus creates a daring modulation from C minor (dorian) to G-flat major.[6] "The musical style," writes Brackett, "skims aspects from contemporary rock songs, and is then produced and arranged from the vantage point of 'easy-listening' music." The song's harmonic progression resembles those of Beatles songs such as the G-flat/F/E-flat/D-flat descending bass line ("Bad to Me") and the vi-iii movement ("Please Please Me," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You," "And I Love Her," and others). The melodic turn on "true" of "if you find someone whose heart is true" resembles those in "Please Please Me" ("Last night I said these words to my girl") and "Do You Want to Know a Secret" ("nobody knows, just we two").[7]

Although it has been his biggest commercial success as a songwriter, Al Kooper has reportedly stated many times that he was unhappy with the record.[8] He originally hoped the song would be recorded by a group like The Drifters and based on the original demo of the song as recorded by Jimmy Radcliffe. Kooper would later re-visit the song, recording a funky version for his 1976 album Act Like Nothing's Wrong.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1965) Peak
position
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 1

Other versions[edit]

Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song for their 1965 album Chipmunks à Go-Go.
Billy Fury recorded a cover which was included on the 1965 Decca album 14, also known as The Lord's Taverners Charity Album.[10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Gary Lewis & The Playboys, The Complete Liberty Singles, Collectors' Choice CCM-2013 (2009)
  2. ^ Brackett, David (1995/2000). Interpreting Popular Music, p.2-3. ISBN 0-520-22541-4.
  3. ^ Brackett (1995/2000), p.5.
  4. ^ Drabløs, Per Elias (3 March 2016). "The Quest for the Melodic Electric Bass: From Jamerson to Spenner". Routledge – via Google Books.
  5. ^ http://www.songfacts.com/blog/interviews/gary_lewis/
  6. ^ Brackett (1995/2000), p.3-4.
  7. ^ Brackett (1995/2000), p.4.
  8. ^ Kooper, Al (2008). Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards: Memoirs of a Rock 'N' Roll Survivor (2nd ed.). Backbeat Books. p. 26. ISBN 0-8230-8257-1.
  9. ^ "Gary Lewis and the Playboys Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  10. ^ "Various – 14". Discogs. Retrieved 2017-09-12.