documenting the optical sounds of '60s pop, Acid Punk & Psychedelia

Gary Lewis & the Playboys – The Loser (With A Broken Heart) (Liberty)

“The Loser (With A Broken Heart)” / “Ice Melts In The Sun” (Liberty 55949) February 1967

Gary Lewis burst onto the U.S. charts at the tail end of 1964 with the bittersweet love song “This Diamond Ring.” Launched by his famous father, Jerry Lewis, in tandem with producer Snuff Garrett, Gary chalked up a long list of Top 10 hits including “Count Me In,” “She’s Just My Style,” “Save Your Heart For Me,” “Sure Gonna Miss Her,” and “Green Grass.”

For two years, Gary Lewis was at the top of the charts and personally at the top of his game.

But as tastes changed, so did Gary’s life. Drafted in 1967, political and social tumult would form a crossroads in Gary’s world and cause a storm in his charmed career.

At the beginning of 1967, a new single from Gary Lewis & the Playboys was released to lacklustre reviews. “The Loser (With A Broken Heart)” written by Don Nix / Leon Russell was a perfect sounding pop hit in the making, but it flopped and failed to enter the Top 40.

Personally I think it’s an endearing pop-beat swinger with a memorable melody, it reminds me so much of those early Monkees singles. There’s a whimsical mid-song lament that slows down the songs flow and fast tempo. We’ll call that a ray of Beach Boys sunshine.

Sadly, “The Loser (With A Broken Heart)” was the beginning of Gary Lewis’ commercial downfall.

“I kinda liked that song,” remarks Gary. “It was Darlene Love and The Blossoms singing the backgrounds, which was wonderful. But things were moving into a direction I was unfamiliar with, Iiked it, but the only comments I got from radio people who were listening to it for the first time was: “Oh, I don’t know about that middle (section of the song). People can’t dance to it. What are they gonna do? (I thought), “Take a drink and then dance again.”

The flip, “Ice Melts In The Sun” is a pleasant enough pop number, co-written by Ron Dante, the bubblegum king. With it’s bouncy rhythm and sweet-sounding chorus, the song could have easily made the radio playlist. The other side of the picture sleeve even lists “Ice Melts In The Sun” as the A-side.

I suppose it was up to the disc-jockey to choose.

Record reviews from the British music press:
Gary Lewis sounds like The Monkees on “The Loser.” (Disc & Music Echo, 08/04/67)

Don’t know why it is, but so many of Gary Lewis and the Playboys’ discs sound the same! Actually “The Loser” (Liberty) is better than usual, because it has a hectic, driving up-tempo beat and generates much more enthusiasm than most of his records. Great stuff for energetic dancing, but little tune. (NME, 08/04/67)

Gary Lewis and the Playboys just can’t make it big here – but their growing number of fans will surely go for the sad-tinged “The Loser” (Liberty 55949). (Record Mirror, 08/04/67)

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