My Favorite Record #5

Connie Stevens: Tick Tock (Bell Records, 1970)

Kudos to the A&R man who paired Connie Stevens with Philly “sweet soul” producer, Thom Bell. The single may have done little to revive Connie’s flailing music career, but A-side “Keeps Growing Strong” would become a million-seller for the Stylistics and a proud moment in Philadelphia’s musical history. Thom Bell and co-writer Linda Greer had written “Keeps Growing Strong” specifically for Connie. When they delivered it to Bell Records with the title “Betcha By Golly Wow,” the label balked, complaining that the title sounded too similar to Connie’s early novelty hit “Kookie Kookie Lend Me Your Comb.” Despite Thom Bell’s objections, the label went with “Keeps Growing Strong.” When the record tanked, Thom Bell took it to the Stylistics, whose cover version of “Betcha By Golly Now” has pretty much erased all memory of the original. “Tick Tock” doesn’t have nearly as exciting a story, but this little-known B-side has earned its rightful spot on the Northern Soul scene. Connie Stevens couldn’t be further from a soul singer, but somehow her vanilla voice blends beautifully with Thom Bell’s lush pop-soul arrangements. If only the storming instrumental outro didn’t have to fade so quickly. This is one record that remains permanently in my DJ box since I finally scored it on ebay after a 10-year search!

For more information on Connie Stevens, Thom Bell, and the battle over “Keeps Growing Strong” versus “Betcha By Golly Wow,” check out this fascinating piece.


3 Responses to My Favorite Record #5

  1. Julio Niño says:

    Hi Sheila, wonderful post, thanks. It´s funny, because just a couple of days ago we did a radio program about effeminate voices in Doo Wop and Soul in the sixties, here in Spain, and we talked about Philly´s Soul, and Thom Bell. Philadelphia, and before it New Orleans, were two of the main inspirations for that type of voices and feeling. Philadelphia singers tend to sound like anguished girlish adonis and New Orleans voices much more like libidinous succubus, but both are equally alluring.
    Julio Niño.

  2. admin says:

    Hello Julio! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the post. Researching the Connie Stevens record and Thom Bell has definitely led me to explore more of Philly Soul’s incredible offerings. I need to hear all of Thom Bell’s productions!

  3. Bob McCune says:

    Was delighted to find it in a quarter box and had no idea that a-side was not a cover of the Stylistics, but vice-versa. Like both sides. Became a permanent keeper after one audition.

    Bob McCune

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