SHE WHO LAUGHS LAST…(Found In the Connection: Rattling Loose End #84)

I’m pretty sure there’s never been a bad version of “Everlasting Love,” and while Carl Carlton’s will remain definitive, there’s only one version that has a video attached featuring Rachel Sweet in white jeans and a bridal veil. I’ve resisted posting it for years because the only video on YouTube was of pretty poor quality and I’ve managed to find other ways to sing Rachel’s praises.

But now somebody has posted the full video–slightly better quality and it includes an intro I was previously unaware of where the bride rolls up to the church on her motorcycle and the pursuant story-line casts her and Rex Smith as a sort of white trash Marvin and Tammi.

I can’t not post that.

No music industry that couldn’t make this girl a star deserved to survive. And the one that didn’t….didn’t. (She went into television production, including Dharma and Greg, one of the few post-seventies’ shows I like, and made enough money to buy Madonna’s house. I’d call that taking sweet revenge. But I’ll never let go of what might have been.)

 

DIAMONDS IN THE SHADE (Rachel Sweet Up)

“Shadows of the Night”
Rachel Sweet (1981)
Not released as a single. #13 in Billboard for Pat Benetar in 1982
Recommended source: Fool Around: The Best of Rachel Sweet

rachelsweet1

Rachel Sweet was too early and too late. Too late to be a straightforward heir of the Brenda Lee rasp (which, as of the mid-seventies, had been taken over by adults like Stevie Nicks), and too early to catch the wave of teen angel-dom she helped create (of which Tiffany and Debbie Gibson were the prime beneficiaries and formers of the bridge to Britney and Miley and whoever’s hustling the mall crowd right now, working for the day when they, too, are chosen) none of whom could sing like Rachel Sweet.

Her early records on Stiff excited some critics and a hardcore cult, just enough to ensure that a small, fierce, purely informal band would carry on even if she left the biz. I count myself an enthusiastic member.

Later on, she did indeed leave the biz–at least the rock and roll part of it. She grew up, graduated from Columbia (the university), and made a mint writing and producing for television. According to Wikipedia she was eventually worth enough to buy and sell one of Madonna’s houses for some ridiculous sum.

Good for her.

But those of us in the shameless cult still remember what might have been. She flirted with stardom throughout the late seventies and early eighties. Her cover of Carla Thomas’s “B-A-B-Y” made the UK top forty. A slightly surreal duet with Rex Smith on “Everlasting Love,” after she signed with Columbia (the record label), did the same in the U.S. She scraped other charts here and there across the western world.

But, on the whole, her records worked best as secrets and the best secret of all was “Shadows of the Night.” Ex-pat Helen Schneider had a big, contemporary hit with her version in Germany and other parts of Europe. That may have been why Sweet’s American label didn’t release her version as a single.

Or maybe they were just stupid.

It took a lot of miscalculation to prevent Sweet from being a star. And, as my dad used to say about certain other inexplicable things, sometimes you have to assume it must have taken a genius, because no ordinary man could have done it.

The stupidity all around was exposed a year later when Pat Benetar had one of the biggest hits of a hit-machine career with a version that was half as good.

I’m glad Rachel got rich. I only wish it had been for the best of reasons and not just one more proof of a world gone sideways.

Stiff Records 1978