Sunday, September 4, 2016

God Rock Sunday: The Kimberlys - "I Don't Know How to Love Him/Everything's Alright" (1971)

The Kimberlys - "I Don't Know How to Love Him/Everything's Alright" (Billboard #99, entered 3/20/71). Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Produced by Ray Pohlman. 45: "I Don't Know How to Love Him/Everything's Alright"/"Hello and Happy Birthday" (Happy Tiger 1971).

The Kimberlys' short but auspicious appearance on the music biz radar started when they teamed up with Waylon Jennings, who'd discovered them in Las Vegas, for a 1969 album called Country-Folk. They were two twin sisters, Verna and Vera Gay, with their husbands, brothers Harold and Carl Kimberly.

Things got messy in the relationship department after Jennings came along. Here's how he put it in his 1996 autobiography: "I liked Verna Gay Kimberly. We had a thing going; she was unhappy and so was I... Her and her husband were splitting up, and she and her twin sister didn't get along." Hoping to save the group, who reminded him of his family band in Littlefield, Texas, Jennings got them signed to RCA.

Things then got messy in the music department. Waylon agreed to record "MacArthur Park," the famously overwrought Jimmy Webb song, as part of the sessions. It had been part of the Kimberlys' repertoire, and it led off the Country-Folk album released in August 1969 under the billing "Waylon Jennings and the Kimberlys." Although the sessions spawned uncharacteristic arrangements and song choices for Jennings (even then, in his pre-outlaw years) and plenty of head-butting with co-producer Danny Davis, "MacArthur Park" ended up wangling a Country Vocal Group Grammy out of the Recording Academy. (The song reached #93 on Billboard's Hot 100.)

A 1970 Billboard reference to the "Kimberly Sisters" leads one to assume that the group had lost the brother component by then, but all three of their post-Waylon albums show the full lineup. Male voices, too, appear on their shrewd medley of Jesus Christ Superstar's "I Don't Know How to Love Him" and "Everything's Alright." The non-album 45 popped in for a short stay at #99, after which the group faded out like the record's echo-drenched choruses.

(A Kimberlys offspring project called Kimberly Springs took a Jerry Fuller song called "Slow Dancin'" to #49 on the country singles chart in 1984.)  

The Kimberlys - "I Don't Know How to Love Him/Everything's Alright"

See also: The "Jesus Christ Superstar" hit parade

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