With cover photography from Miles Laboratories, the Alka-Seltzer theme song that went Top Five in America in December of 1965 is the jewel on this 12-song instrumental recording from Ventures producer Joe Saraceno and Phil Spector arranger Perry Botkin Jr. They had worked together on Gene McDaniels' "A Hundred Pounds of Clay" in the same capacity (for Liberty, the same label), so they were poised at the right place and time to enable this television commercial to cross over to the pop charts. Musicians are not credited, but three of them are guitarist Dan Hamilton, bassist Joe Frank Carollo, and drummer Tommy Reynolds of Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds, who would land in the Top Five again in 1971 with "Don't Pull Your Love" and top the charts almost ten years after this initial hit with the middle-of-the-road classic "Fallin' in Love." This album has interesting versions of "Let's Hang On" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," both hits for the Four Seasons in the exact same time frame (winter 1965), taking a cue from The Bob Crewe Orchestra Plays the 4 Seasons' Hits LP of instrumental recordings. But don't think Saraceno and Botkin Jr.'s emulation of Crewe went unnoticed: In 1967, two years after this, the Bob Crewe Generation (as in Pepsi Generation) hit with a Diet Pepsi commercial, "Music to Watch Girls By." It's a business where people borrow liberally, and the best borrowing Saraceno does is from himself, as his Ventures became the template. The Knickerbockers' "Lies" may sound more like the Kingsmen than the other material here, but the compact songs with no voices that do take from the Ventures' sound are very entertaining. "Chiquita Banana" was, of course, another big commercial, and years before Steve Gottlieb's TVT Records label issued a CD of famous television advertisements; perhaps the T-Bones should have capitalized on their vision and cut a few more memorable ones. "Sippin' & Chppin'" could be a second cousin to the big hit, "No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In)," and "My Headache's Gone" is the definite sequel, though the medication is a bit watered down by this point. "Hole in the Wall," "Pizza Parlor," and the very odd "What's in the Bag, Goose" (the only song on the record with any vocal sounds whatsoever) are interesting enough, but it's the title track that is classic.
No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In) Review
by Joe Viglione