#1161: A Sunday Kind of Love by Jan and Dean

Peak Month December 1961
6 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
CFUN Twin Pick November 18, 1961
Peak Position #11
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #95

Jan and Dean were a pop duo who formed in 1958. They met in 1957 while they were students at Emerson Junior High School in Los Angeles. A year later they were on the football team of University High School. They had adjoining lockers and began singing and harmonizing in the showers with a number of other football players. Dean Torrence was drafted into the US Army Reserve in 1958. Jan Berry went on to record his first single with Arnold P. “Arnie” Ginsburg under the name Jan & Arnie. (Ginsburg happened to have a namesake, Arnie “woo woo” Ginsburg, who was a career DJ in Boston including on WMEX). The hit, “Jennie Lee,” was penned by Ginsburg and inspired by a poster of a local Hollywood burlesque performer. Jan and Arnie performed on American Bandstand in May and the tune went to #8 on the Billboard charts. When Dean Torrence returned Jan & Dean recorded their first Top Ten hit, “Baby Talk,” peaking at #10 in 1959 (#20 on CKWX in Vancouver).

Jan & Dean cut a striking figure on television. Tall, blonde, and physically handsome, the duo typically sported loafers, casual slacks, and ultra-hip matching sweaters or jackets. By all accounts, the finger-snapping, shuffle-stepping Jan & Dean stood out in sharp contrast compared to the dark-haired, suit-and-tie crooners who were cranking out hits on the East Coast. In Jan & Dean, Lou Adler had found a definite “West Coast” marketability — and the ride was just beginning.

His growing musical talents had taken Jan beyond the realm of “Jan & Dean.” In May 1961, with a deal secured by manager and producer Lou Adler, Liberty Records released a single by The Gents called “Jump in the Line.” The song was written primarily by Tony Minichiello and Manuel Sanchez — both of whom, like Berry, were alumni of University High School. It was produced by Jan Berry, with assistance from Don Altfeld — and both tunes were quite a departure from the established Jan & Dean sound. “Jump In The Line” was a Chubby Checker-like rocker (with perhaps a hint of Harry Belafonte) with tight, three-part backing harmonies. Lou Adler was given official credit for producing The Gents’ single. While it didn’t burn up the charts, it showcased Jan’s burgeoning talents in the studio. He was twenty years old.

After their hit single “Baby Talk,” Jan and Dean recorded a number of songs that mostly met with limited or modest success. These included a recording of the folk standard “Clementine,” a cover of the 1953 R&B classic by The Crows called “Gee.” They had their first Top Ten hit in Vancouver with “Heart and Soul,” a pop standard from 1938 with music by Hoagy Carmichael and lyrics by Frank Loesser. The song did less well in the USA peaking on the Billboard Hot 100 at #25 on July 29, 1961. Earlier that summer the doo-wop group, The Cleftones, took “Heart And Soul” to #18 on June 24, 1961 on the Billboard Hot 100, though their version didn’t chart in Vancouver. Their next single, “Julie,” was a cover of a #5 hit by the Crescendos in 1958.

Coming off their eighth charting song on the local pop charts in Vancouver, the ninth song to appear on the Vancouver pop charts by Jan and Dean was “A Sunday Kind of Love.” This was their fifth single release in a 22-month period, beginning in January 1960, where they recorded a cover version of an earlier hit tune. In this case, the duos choice was a popular song composed by Barbara Belle, Anita Leonard, Stan Rhodes, and Louis Prima published in 1946. That year Fran Warren had a minor hit with the song backed by Claude Thornhill and his Orchestra. Ella Fitzgerald chose to record it in 1947.

In 1953, Harlem doo-wop group, The Harptones, gave an inspiring cover of the song now considered an R&B classic. However, distribution problems prevented it from becoming a national hit in the USA. The Harptones were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002. They performed as a group between 1951 and 2014 with a rotating line-up anchored over six decades by Willie Winfield, William Dempsey and Raoul Cita.

Dinah Washington recorded the song for her 1959 album, What a Difference a Day Makes. On her 1960 album, At Last, Etta James also gave the song a fine performance. The Marcels featured the tune on their Blue Moon album released with their smash #1 hit single in March ’61 called “Blue Moon.” Though over twenty recording artists had made a record of the song, no one had much of a hit beyond regional success. Jan and Dean hoped their version could be a hit for them, appealing to listeners hopeful of going steady and not being frustrated with dates that went nowhere.

Jan & Dean - A Sunday Kind Of Love 45 (London Liberty Canada).jpg

Bop-p-p-bop bop dip-d-dip-d-dip dip
I want a Sunday kind of love,
a love to last past Saturday night.
I’d like to know it’s more than love at first sight,
I want a Sunday kind of love.
Bop-p-p-bop bop dip-d-dip-d-dip dip

I want a love that’s on the square,
can’t seem to find somebody to care.
I’m on a lonely road that leads me nowhere,
I want a Sunday kind of love.

I do my Sunday dreamin’ and all my Sunday scheming’,
every minute, every hour, every day.
I’m hopin’ to discover a certain kind of lover,
who will show me the way.

My arms need someone to enfold,
to keep me warm when Mondays are cold.
A love for all my life to have and to hold,
I want a Sunday kind of love.

Bop-p-p-bop bop bop-p-bop-p-bop bop

“A Sunday Kind Of Love” was written by Louis Prima, Anita Leonard, Barbara Belle and Stan Rhodes. Of the four songwriters, Louis Prima was the one who wrote numerous compositions, while the other three had hardly any further output. Prima wrote songs recorded by Glenn Miller, Lawrence Welk, The Andrews Sisters, Vaughan Monroe, Kay Starr, Jimmy Dorsey, Mr. Acker Bilk and others. In the song the singer wants “a love that’s on the square.” The term, on the square, comes from Freemasonry. The square reprents fairness, balance, and firmness which is reflected in phrases such as “on the square” and “squared away.” Something that is squared is something that is stable, a foundation for building upon. And the singer of the song wants someone who is solid enough to build a life with, not just someone to have a one-night stand with and fool around on a Saturday night.

Instead of the usual slow ballad, Jan and Dean chose to make “A Sunday Kind Of Love” an uptempo doo-wop tune. It caught on in Vancouver peaking at #11 and became their fifth Top 20 hit in the city. But in the USA the song didn’t catch on, peaking at #95 on the Billboard Hot 100. That it even made the Hot 100 was owed to its chart performance in Cleveland (#17) and Boston (#18).

Jan and Dean weren’t finished covering oldies with “A Sunday Kind of Love”. Just before they turned to the surfing sound with their summer #1 hit in 1963 called “Surf City,” the duo dusted off an oldie from the late 40s called “Linda.” Buddy Clark recorded the original hit which was the #4 song for the year in 1947. Jan and Dean’s “Linda” peaked at #21 on CFUN and #28 on the Billboard Hot 100. As for “Surf City,” it was the first surfing’ song to reach #1 prior to the Beach Boys topping the charts.

Jan and Dean would go on to have a series of hits identifying them with the Surfing Sound. Of their Top 30 hits, they had three prior to “Surf City” in the USA. But in Vancouver they had nine Top 30 singles. Prior to their surfing craze, Jan and Dean already were a hit in Vancouver. From “Surf City” onward they charted ten singles into the Top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and twelve singles into the Top 30 in Vancouver. These included “Little Old Lady From Pasadena” and “Dead Man’s Curve.”

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