#66: There Ought To Be A Law by Mickey & Sylvia

City: Hamilton, ON
Radio Station: CHML
Peak Month: March 1957
Peak Position in Hamilton ~ #6
Peak position in Vancouver ~ #13
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #47
YouTube: “There Ought To Be A Law
Lyrics: “There Ought To Be A Law

Mickey and Sylvia were a calypso-pop duo who were popular in the mid to late 50s. MacHoustonMickeyBaker was born in 1925 in Louisville, Kentucky. His mother was black and his father is believed to be white. Baker was put in an orphanage at age 11 in 1936. After a series of escapes from the orphanage, at age 16 he headed to New York City. It was there he found work as a laborer and then a dishwasher. But after hanging out in the pool halls of 26th Street, he gave up regular work to become a full-time pool shark. At the age of 19, he saved $14 and bought a guitar. In 1949, he formed his own band. In the early 50s, Mickey Baker started working as a session musician.

Over the years he appeared in the recording studio with many recording artists. These include Earl Bostic, Dinah Washington, Big Maybelle on “Candy” and the original “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”, Little Willie John, Bill Doggett, Louis Jordan, Champion Jack Dupree, Memphis Slim, Nappy Brown, Dion, Ruth Brown, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Little Esther, Larry Darnell, Big Joe Turner on “Chains Of Love”, “Shake, Rattle and Roll”, and “Honey Hush”, Varetta Dillard, Amos Milburn on “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer”, Ray Charles on “It Should Have Been Me” and “Mess Around”, Annie Laurie on “It Hurts To Be In Love”, LaVern Baker, Coleman Hawkins, King Curtis, The Coasters, Ivory Joe Hunter, Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, Ike and Tina Turner on “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine”, Woody Herman, Solomon Burke, Joe Tex and others.

Sylvia Vanderpool was born in May 1935 in Harlem. She dropped out of school at the age of 14 and began recording in 1950 under the stage name Little Sylvia.

In 1954, Mickey Baker and Sylvia Vanderpool formed the duo Mickey & Sylvia.

There Ought To Be A Law by Mickey & Sylvia

An EP on Vik Records contained a track titled “There Ought To Be A Law”. It received airplay in a number of radio markets and was also released as a single in the USA.

There Ought To Be A Law by Mickey & Sylvia

In “There Ought To Be A Law”, Mickey and Sylvia make a list of things people do in relationships that make them fractious: 1) making people cry, 2) breaking people’s hearts, 3) tearing couples apart, 4) leave them longing all the day, 5) “I do the work, you do the play”, 6) cruelty (in response) to love, 7) driving me insane, 8) loving someone in vain. The singers suggest these infractions that undermine a relationship land a person in jail for “thirty days.”

After making their list in the song, Mickey and Sylvia consider their own culpability in straining the relationship.
They sing:
Then I’d be guilty, and you’d be too,
they’d lock us up together, just us two.
There ought to be a law to say
that I must be with you.

“There Ought To Be A Law” peaked at #3 in Toronto, Bethesda (MD), and Arlington (VA), #6 in Hamilton, #8 in Pittsburgh and Tucson (AZ), #9 in Buffalo and Boston, and #13 in Vancouver.

In 1959, Sylvia restarted her solo career shortly after her initial split from Baker, first under the name Sylvia Robbins. That year she married Joseph Robinson Sr. In 1960 Sylvia Robbins’ cover of “Frankie and Johnny” climbed to #21 on the CFUN pop chart in Vancouver (BC). In 1960, as Sylvia Robinson, she produced the record “You Talk Too Much” by Joe Jones, but she did not receive credit. In 1961, Robinson provided backing vocals for Ike & Tina Turner’s “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine”. “I paid for the session, taught Tina the song. that’s me playing guitar,” Robinson said in a 1981 interview with Black Radio Exclusive.

Recording duo Mickey & Sylvia split up in 1958. Subsequently, Baker moved to France in 1964.

In 1966, Sylvia and Joseph Robinson Sr. launched All Platinum Records. They signed The Moments to their Stang label, who subsequently had an R&B hit in 1968 titled “Not on the Outside”. In 1970, the group had a number-one R&B hit titled “Love On a Two-way Street” which also peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Moments had a half dozen Top Ten R&B hits (and 14 Top 20 R&B hits) between 1968 and 1978. The Moments other notable hits were “Sexy Mama” and “Look At Me (I’m in Love)”.

In 1973, Sylvia had a number-one hit on the Hot 100 and Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles charts titled “Pillow Talk”. For her effort, Sylvia Robinson was nominated at the 1974 Grammy Awards in the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance category. Though she released a dozen more singles in the 1970s, only three of these cracked the Hot 100. In 1975, Robinson’s “Shame, Shame, Shame” was recorded by Shirley & Company. The single for her record company became a #1 hit in Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, and West Germany, as well as a Top Ten hit in seven other nations – including Canada. However, “Shame, Shame, Shame” stalled at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1979, Sylvia Robinson was a co-writer for the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”. Though the single stalled at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100, it reached number-one Canada, the Netherlands and Spain. It was also a Top Ten hit in at least ten others nations. While in 1980, Robinson’s song “Funk U Up” was a million seller for the R&B group The Sequence. And in 1982, Robinson co-wrote and produced “The Message”, a highly influential hip-hip tune by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Her label, Sugarhill Records folded in 1985.

In 2004, “Love Is Strange” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. At the age of 76, Sylvia Robinson died of congestive heart failure in September 2011. The following year, Mickey Baker died at the age of 87 of kidney and heart failure.

May 29, 2024
Ray McGinnis

Bruce Weber, “Mickey Baker, Guitarist, is Dead at 87,” New York Times, November 30, 2012.
Dan Charnas, “The Rise and Fall of Hip-Hop’s First Godmother: Sugar Hill Records’ Sylvia Robinson,” Billboard, October 17, 2019.

There Ought To Be A Law by Mickey & Sylvia

CHML 900-AM Hamilton (ON) Top Ten | March 29, 1957

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