Here’s a pleasant, relaxing, soothing piece of pop with a rather disturbing title:
The Strangers – “Looking Through The Eyes Of A Beautiful Girl“ (1970)
And now it’s trivia time…
There are four versions of “Looking Through The Eyes Of A Beautiful Girl” and they were all recorded around the same time. The song was written by an Irish chap by the name of Tommy Swarbrigg and recorded in 1970 by his band, The Times. That’s the original version.
The next two versions were both Australian. You’ve already heard the one by The Strangers (see above), and the other one is by Autumn. Here’s what it sounds like:
Autumn – “Looking Thru The Eyes Of A Beautiful Girl” (1970)
That was very nice.
But back to the version by The Strangers. Unlike Autumn, who celebrated the song by releasing it as an A-side, The Strangers’ version was relegated to B-side status and, to make matters worse, was the B-side to the apparently loathsome “Mr. President.” (I haven’t heard “Mr. President” but my friend Col assures me that it’s an awful country-ish ditty that has no place in a power pop blog, and that’s good enough for me.*)
Apart from the unsettling title (it creeps me out, man – I’m wondering what kind of person would actually look through the eyes of a woman… maybe an ophthalmologist), there’s a technical aspect of The Strangers’ version that I find very interesting. The lead singer’s voice is at a fairly regular volume (i.e., you can ‘ear ‘im) most of the song’s length, but something weird happens at 1:45: his voice becomes much quieter. It doesn’t drop in volume just a little bit – it becomes the quietest thing in the song. Now, I don’t know if this was deliberate or not but I have two possible scenarios to explain the volume drop:
Option 1 – He moves away from the microphone.
Option 2 – The producer didn’t like his voice and decided to turn it down after being fed up with hearing it.
Option 2 is distinctly possible, because the volume of his voice sneaks up a bit at about the 2:00 mark, and he valiantly tries to sing louder at 2:07 (he almost shouts here) but the volume drops down again, and from that point the singer’s volume gradually creeps up a little only to drop down again until the fade-out. Hmmm… It all makes me wonder if the singer and producer were getting along with each other when they recorded that song.
Regardless of how well (or otherwise) the participants got along during the recording session, it’s a weird bit of recording.
By the way, I just found out that one of The Strangers was John Farrar, a fact that blows my tiny mind because John contributed to Olivia Newton-John‘s stellar career, producing Livvy’s output throughout the 70’s as well as writing the occasional hit single (e.g., “Hopelessly Devoted To You” and “You’re The One That I Want“).
Here’s an early interview with John:
I have a feeling that this post is turning into one big rambling post, and that’s not fair to anyone reading it – especially you. I certainly don’t want to waste your time (any more than I have already), so I’ll try to wrap it up…
The fourth version is by a New Zealand band, Kal-Q-Lated Risk.
I’ll give you some time to let that name sink in.
I couldn’t find the version by Kal-Q-Lated Risk – or the original version by The Times – so I guess you’ll have to be content with the two Australian versions.
And that, hopefully, is the end of this post.
Update (July 3, 2011):
It’s not quite the end of this post. I finally found the two other versions:
Times – “Looking Thru’ The Eyes of A Beautiful Girl” (1970)
The Kal-Q-Lated Risk – “Looking Through The Eyes of A Beautiful Girl” (1971)
(*Col sent me a copy of “Mr. President“. It’s dreadful, and sounds like a third-rate Byrds cover band playing a Byrds song that was rejected by The Byrds. The only reason I’d put this song on the blog is if someone dared me.)