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Oct 03

DREAMWEAVERS – “It’s Almost Tomorrow”

Popular49 comments • 4,796 views

#43, 16th March 1956

The Dreamweavers knew – absolutely knew – their song was a hit, but nobody wanted to record it. At this distance we can only guess as to why – too sad, perhaps? Too defeatist? Too old-fashioned? So the group did something remarkable: they recorded it themselves. Their arrangement was primitive – just a piano and crooning voices – and their singer wasn’t the finest, with a wimpy voice and an audible lisp. But their instincts were right – “It’s Almost Tomorrow” was a smash. Self-written, self-produced, a portrait of male weakness and romantic defeat – The Dreamweavers had made the first ever indie record, and had taken it to the top of the charts.

In all seriousness, this is a lovely single (the jarring ending flourish aside). The singer is doomed and knows he is doomed – in the morning he will meet his lover, and it is certain that she will leave him. So sure is he of this that his best hope lies not in her relenting, but in tomorrow somehow not arriving. The tune is terribly pretty and vulnerable, a lullaby of abjection, and the delivery is almost comically pathetic – imagine Droopy the cartoon dog writing a 50s pop ballad. Except British. I don’t actually know for sure that the Dreamweavers were British but my goodness this record sounds it: its buttoned-down misery and polite hopelessness strikes a national chord which has kept on resonating down to this day. “The saddest songs are the lonely songs, so easily outgrown” – British pop hasn’t outgrown this yet.

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Comments

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  1. 1
    tim davidge on 4 Mar 2008 #

    Though it sounds and feels British, this song, for all its old-school diction, is American. And while it’s true that it has “indy” origins and was given regional airplay as originally recorded, it soon excited the interest of a big-company record exec, and was duly redone before going on to greater things. In this way, of course, it avoided the poor recording quality that afflicted one of the other great records of the time, namely the Penguins’ “Earth Angel” (not featured here), which became world famous complete with poor balance, bad level and even some distortion! Whatever the circumstances surrounding its origins, “It’s Almost Tomorrow” is a lovely record-at least an eight from me. Finally, I think that the strange dissonance at the end is effective and poignant, signifying that something sweet and wonderful has come to an end.

  2. 2
    Keith W on 21 Mar 2008 #

    Is it me, or does Puff the Magic Dragon borrow heavily from this melody?

  3. 3
    wichita lineman on 13 Jun 2008 #

    Great piece on a properly obscure no.1. While having a memory of hearing it on Jimmy Savile’s Old Record Club in 1978, I knew the song better from Mark Wynter’s 1963 version which entirely lacks the pathos of this wimpy rendition – proto-indie in more than one way.

    I may have missed a crucial line but it sounds to me as if the couple are together as the sun is due to rise, and the girl is unaware that the singer has sussed out her infidelity. Which would make it a very adventurous lyric for 1955, and plenty more sad.

    The lyrics were written by one Wade Buff, which sounds quite rude as well.

  4. 4
    Mark G on 13 Jun 2008 #

    Never heard this!

    OK, you lot with yr “Never heard Baby Jump”, this is mine.

  5. 5
    wichita lineman on 13 Jun 2008 #

    That grub-rock cause celebre, Baby Jump, is the whole reason I discovered this blog. I was googling one day, wondering whether I was on my own in having no recollection of a 1971 chart topper… and of course I wasn’t! I may have talked about this at length before…

    But I do love the idea of someone discovering Popular because they were curious about the Dreamweavers.

  6. 6
    wichita lineman on 13 Jun 2008 #

    And checking the lyrics on a dubious website, I think there’s no doubt it’s an all-nite last date. The emotional fatigue of the weakling singer becomes doubly poignant, the poor proto-indie sap.

  7. 7
    mike on 18 Jul 2008 #

    Well, well – it turns out that the late Jo Stafford took this to #14 on the Billboard chart in November 1955. Having listened to both, I prefer the tenderly lilting understatement of this, the original version.

    (Some interesting comments re. its origins on YouTube, by the way.)

  8. 8
    Matthew on 10 Jan 2009 #

    Ooh, Before Sunrise for the 1950s generation. An enduringly irresistible premise, I’m not surprised it made number one.

  9. 9
    nixonradio on 14 May 2009 #

    Well, unbelievably, I did indeed find this website because I was curious to see if anyone else had ever written about this record. (I wrote a thing about It’s Almost Tomorrow on my own blog a couple of weeks ago. It has swears, sorry.)

    Wichita Lineman: I had the same thought, that they’ve spent the night together and he’s awaiting the inevitable morning breakup. And I also really like the ending.

  10. 10
    CHILD OF THE 50's on 4 May 2010 #

    I remember this song well when it 1st came out. The Dreamweavers were a college group from Florida…I keep saying U. of F, but I think I remember it was actually Univ of Miami. For the time, this was a great song and was played several times every school dance. It is a poor production compared to other recordings, but it hit the mood of teen-agers of that time. I rank this as one of the top ten love songs of the mid-50’s along with ‘Earth Angel’, ‘Unchained Melody’, ‘Love Is A Many-splendored Thing’, ‘In The Still of The Nite’, etc.

  11. 11
    Eli on 20 Jan 2011 #

    nixonradio, your blog does seem to read as incredibly harsh. If you’re a person who happens to enjoy a lot of those early #1s, it’s actually rather soul-destroying to read! (It even makes Tom here sound complimentary.) I think it’s a myth that all teenagers *hated* pre-rock music; it just sounded very dated next to what came subsequently. The music wasn’t *for* teenagers, but I’m sure it wasn’t just adults buying Guy Mitchell records.

    Anyhoo, glad to see this record got a good write-up from Popular, but assuming they’re British seems a very careless error. And the likelihood of the Dream Weavers having heard anything British is minimal: only a select few artists like Vera Lynn, David Whitfield and Mantovani had managed hits in the early 50s across the pond. Just checking, and the only other UK acts to make the US top 20 were Frank Chacksfield, Eddie Calvert and Frank Weir. (All Decca except Eddie… hmmm!) I’d be interested to know what Tom makes of this…

    I echo Tim’s comments here. To me, it sounds like teen-angst, 50s style: I can imagine Glee doing this if it weren’t so obscure. Hardly surprising it was covered by Mark Wynter in the “teen” era.

  12. 12
    wichita lineman on 20 Jan 2011 #

    Teenagers certainly dug pre-rock and rock at the same time. Elvis’s main rival for teen record sales in 1957 wasn’t Little Richard, or even Pat Boone, but Perry Como. Elvis was for parties, Perry was whatever chillwave would have been called back then. There’s a contemporary piece on this in the Faber Book of Pop.

    The Decca connection is no coincidence – they really pushed their UK recordings on the US London label. Lita Roza and Dickie Valentine both had American-only albums! Most EMI product, as far as I can make out, was never released in the States. Eddie Calvert’s Oh Mein Papa (EMI-owned HMV in the UK), nine weeks at number one over here, was released in the US on Essex, a tiny Philadelphia-based independent.

  13. 13
    enitharmon on 20 Jan 2011 #

    wichita @ 12: I don’t think that’s quite right. Elvis was for playing on the juke box in the coffee- or milk- bar and feeling edgy. Perry Como (or his equivalent) was for dancing to at the local Locarno, although his songs would probably have been played by the band rather than Perry himself. I don’t know what ‘chillwave’ is although I can imagine. I don’t think it’s music for smooching to though, which is what Perry Como was! (I get the sense that teenagers don’t smooch much these days but I don’t doubt somebody will correct me if I’m wrong). I don’t get the sense that there were that many teenage parties, n ot as I knew them fifteen years later – can you imagine Billy Fisher being allowed to have a party?

    I’m currently enjoying reading (at last – it’s been on my must-read list for at least twenty years) Richard Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy, published as it happens in 1957, the same year as this record. Some fascinating insights into that world. But of course it should be easy to to get first-hand accounts of the time as the original audience for Elvis and others are now all in their seventies. Just pop along to the local bridge club!

  14. 14
    wichita lineman on 20 Jan 2011 #

    I’m interested to know when teenagers started records to friends’ houses – which is why I imagine so many 50s/60s 45s have names or initials on them. Was this for parties? Or just for lending? I can’t think of many initialed records I’ve got prior to 1958.

    Something to do with Dansettes? Or parents letting kids off the leash a little? Or just that most kids bought 78s rather than 45s before 1958 because that was the technology their parents had? The first record player I ever had was a handed down wind-up gramophone and that must have been 1969/70.

    Perry Como for dancing! Thanks, I’d never have guessed.

  15. 15
    Eli on 20 Jan 2011 #

    @wichita. Thanks for confirming (with slight disagreement from enitharmon!) what I had thought. I was thinking of teenagers enjoying pre-rock before they had RnR, but the fact they enjoyed both, when given the choice, is very interesting. I wouldn’t mind reading that Faber article. Someone I know who was 16 in 1956 told me that at the time, he was buying both Bill Haley and the Carousel OST LPs. Although most people in his class weren’t. However, the charts indicate that the “crooners'” sales didn’t fall off overnight. Perry Como’s records were geared towards the teen market, if you listen to them – and he managed a good few sizeable hits in the “rock era”.

  16. 16
    enitharmon on 20 Jan 2011 #

    No need to be snarky, wichita! “Dancing” meant something different in 1957, partner dancing seems to be almost extinct in 2011. So-called ‘dance’ music since the late 80s hasn’t, I think, had much of a sexual connotation.

    The Dansette was a significant agent of change. A lot of the listening would be by teenagers gathering round the Dansette in somebody’s bedroom. Along with much younger siblings, after all this is how I first heard Elvis, in my much older cousin’s bedroom when I was 6.

  17. 17
    wichita lineman on 20 Jan 2011 #

    Sorry, wasn’t meant to be snarky! Even slow dancing to Perry surprises me, though, when so many other crooners and pre-rockers had their pop careers wiped out by R&R. I guess his voice was more teen friendly than the likes of Al Martino, Frank Sinatra (too adult), or femme singers like Rosemary Clooney and Lita Roza who switched to jazz.

    Dansette was registered as a trademark in October 1952, a month before the first seven inch singles were released in Britain and the first NME chart was published. There’s your beginning of modern pop music, right there.

    Back to the Dreamweavers, this had to be a ‘last chance to dance’ smoocher.

  18. 18

    Pop and jazz 78s were generally sold in unprinted and interchangeable brown paper covers, no? (There were box sets and albums for longer-form music — classical and musicals and spoken-word collections, and “Birth of the Cool” possibly.) But 45s were intended to be more hardwearing: did they even come in sleeves at first? Not much point writing your name on a plain cardboard sleeve: a villain after your disc could just switch sleeves!

  19. 19
    Mutley on 20 Jan 2011 #

    Re Elvis v Perry Como fans. Speaking from personal teenage experience, around ’56 – ’57 teenagers and adults attended the same dances in the smaller locations – village halls etc. The music (generally only records or someone on the piano) consisted mainly of pre rock’n’roll stuff (danced as waltzes, quicksteps etc) with a rock’n’roll 30 minute interlude (it wasn’t called that) which was just about tolerated by the older generation, and for which teenagers had to bring their own records. Professional DJs were unheard of. However, from around 1957-8 local rock’n’roll live bands were also becoming more popular, and teenage/rock’n’roll only events started to happen, even in village halls. I’m sure the experience in cities would have been different and music segregation would have happened earlier.

    I think that in the correspondence too much is made of fans liking both rock’n’roll and Perry Como etc. Although I quite like pre-rock now, I couldn’t stand it then. There was quite a sharp division between the generations, probably why crooners tried to cater for the growing and lucrative teenage market (e.g. Perry Como’s Kewpie Doll). For smoochy dancing, teens wanted slow Elvis numbers, rather than Sinatra.

    #18. 45s were definitely in sleeves around 1957. I also think that some 78s (e.g. Parlophone) had printed sleeves in the colours of the label, but my recall is not certain on that one.

  20. 20

    But plain generic sleeves? Not sleeves the the song-name printed on them? I have some children’s seven-inch EPs from the early 60s with picture sleeves — When the Red Red Robin goes Bob Bob Bobbin Along! — but they only came in en mass for chartpop in the 70s, didn’t they?

  21. 21
    wichita lineman on 20 Jan 2011 #

    You’re right Mark, in Britain 45s came in generic company bags on the whole until punk. Even early EMI EPs came in generic company sleeves with no pic. Decca/Brunswick/Capitol (first issued in late ’54) came in almost identically designed picture-free sleeves, but at least had the artist and title printed on them – same artwork for Moondog as for David Whitfield!

    There were always company bags for pop and jazz 78s, and right from the beginning with 45s too – some came in plain brown sleeves (everything on Coral, for instance) but not many.

    ‘Hardwearing’ was certainly seen as the main initial benefit of 45s, along with their compact size. Columbia invented them and initially spurned the LP – early Columbia ‘albums’, just like albums of 78s, came in a box with one song on each side. This was only in the States, though. By the time 45s were introduced here in late 1952 the 33rpm long-playing album was being used by all the major labels.

    The very first batch of 45s, issued by EMI, were all classical. After they introduced ‘pop’ 45s in January ’53 they had a sliding scale of prices. This is from a Columbia catalogue in Jan ’53:

    SCB series, light blue label (proper classical eg Elisabeth Schwarzkopf with the Philharmonia Orchestra – La Boheme) 9 shillings 8 1/2 d

    SCD series, dark blue label (light classical eg Queens Hall Light Orchestra conducted by Sidney Torch – signature music for the Paul Temple programme) 6 shillings 10 d

    SCM series, mauve label (POP!!! eg Jo Stafford’s You Belong To Me, Guy Mitchell’s Feet Up) 6 shillings

    Socio-historical fun with vinyl.

  22. 22
    Eli on 20 Jan 2011 #

    Most 78s certainly did come in ‘generic’ company sleeves, EMI, Philips, Decca. London and Vogue Coral tended to be plain brown paper bags.

    Some 45rpm ones are here
    http://www.samholloway.co.uk/rsleeves.php?page=3

    A few charity shops still have 78s – take a look if you see a box, punk lord…

  23. 23

    Almost all of those 45 sleeves are from the 70s or 80s though. My dad had a lot of 78s, and they were all in plain brown paper sleeves — not sure if I’ve ever seen one recently on sale that was in anything but a plain sleeve.

  24. 24
    wichita lineman on 20 Jan 2011 #

    I’ve got dozens! Honest! Some lovely pre-war ones on labels like Zonophone.

    What 78s did your dad have? Pop, jazz, or classical? Mine are mostly late 40s to mid 50s pop.

    This book has pretty much every label and sleeve variation on the major UK labels from the birth of the 45 and 33. Pretty dry but, hell, I could look at it for hours:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Labelography-Major-U-K-Record-Labels/dp/9189136071

  25. 25

    The ones I remember best were all the goon show and similar stuff — but he had some pop and a fair amount of classical, no jazz I don’t think.

  26. 26
    enitharmon on 20 Jan 2011 #

    Eli @ 22
    Many thanks for that link. It brought back a lot of memories and made an old woman very happy!

  27. 27
    Eli on 20 Jan 2011 #

    Glad to be of service, enitharmon!

    I also have tons of 78s; putting them online is another matter! Go on eBay and browse 78rpm records; you can see lots of examples there.

    A lot of the time they were replaced by ‘shop’ sleeves, thick card advertising the shop you bought the record from.

  28. 28

    Here’s a lovely one!

  29. 29
    nixonradio on 21 Jan 2011 #

    #11: I barely even remember writing that, truth be told (I just arrived because of an inexplicable spike in hits from here) and on rereading it I do slightly regret “various other unlistenable grey-voiced tw*ts”, but I wasn’t going for gratuitously nasty, and certainly not soul-destroying; if you love How Much Is That Doggie In The Window, O Mein Papa and I Believe, more power to you!

    I was just trying to imagine what that immediate postwar pre-Dansette era must have been like for teenagers, a generation for whom popular music existed but didn’t really cater – from my “don’t know, wasn’t there” perspective, at least. I find it fascinating, and not just on this level (e.g. whether Perry Como and Elvis ever happily coexisted in people’s collections), but even deeper – the whole notion of teens in 1953 who might have dug the Sex Pistols or Bananarama or Slipknot if they’d been born later, what did they listen to instead? Did people just make the best of whatever was available, or stay away from pop music altogether, or what?

    Anyway, sorry if I offended. I haven’t written anything of substance on that blog for a while (I have a whole Popular-inspired thing going on where I’m trying to review ever Motown record ever made, and which is taking over my entire life), but if I ever get back to it I’ll try and set the balance right with some nice words about some good early-Fifties records I actually like.

  30. 30
    Eli on 21 Jan 2011 #

    #29: Apology accepted! It did read as a little vicious, particularly the comment you quote. I accept that these singers aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I doubt even rock ‘n’ roll kids in 1956 disliked them *that* much!

    I could probably write on this topic at great length… IMO, some “pre-rock stars” have voices that transcend the era, but have been sadly forgotten – like Johnnie Ray, who the young Bob Dylan was a fan of – and some, like Dickie Valentine, can verge on the bland side. “Pre-rock stars” a bit of a loose term anyway, as it lumps in Ella Fitzgerald with Ruby Murray. Both have their merits, but Ella wasn’t really a ‘pop star’, which Ruby certainly was. People seem to have forgotten that the early 50s was the birth of the modern-day pop star as we know it, thanks to Mitch Miller’s stable of acts (Frankie Laine, Guy Mitchell etc). Not so very far removed from the X Factor ‘stars’ of today. Prior to that, the bands were (by and large) the stars, and sheet music sales far outstripped those of records. Listen to the Live LPs recorded by Dickie Valentine and Johnnie Ray – and hear the screaming girls! (I’ve no proof of who was in the audience, but I think we can all agree middle-aged women just don’t scream for their idols like that.)

    This clip really does tear apart the myth that teenagers disliked pop music before rock came along:
    http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=48369

    Teenagers are fickle; I can imagine half those girls switching their allegiance to Elvis a few years later. I think you’re right on both counts; they made the best of what was available, and some did perhaps stay away from pop music altogether – but I think the only ‘alternative’ stuff in those days was jazz, blues or classical, and it was often limited to Ted Heath and the like.

    Hey, songs like Doggie and I Believe aren’t high art by any means, but they’re just as disposable as any number of RnR songs I could name. I’m listening to every UK 50s hit in order, and I’m currently up to 1956. Some is forgettable pap, some is plain kitsch, but there’s a lot of forgotten gems in there.

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