Uptown

Album: Twist Uptown (1962)
Charted: 13

Songfacts®:

  • This hit single from the Crystals' debut album, featuring lead vocals from Barbara Alston, was written by the Brill Building songwriting duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. In a 2000 interview with NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Weil recalled the song: "It really tells a story of a man who, because of his race, is regarded one way in the workplace and then another way with his friends and family and the woman who loves him."
  • When producer Phil Spector got hold of the song, he changed a couple notes because no one could hit them. Mann & Weil weren't happy. "We were so young and insane that those things really mattered, and one note could drive both of us over the edge," Weil explained. "And we begged him to come in and record it again with another singer that we had found who happened to be Carole King and Gerry Goffin's babysitter named Eva."

    Eva would soon be known as Little Eva, singer of the #1 hit "The Loco-Motion."

    "Before Little Eva did 'The Loco-Motion,' we dragged her into a studio with Phil, and it was the first time she'd ever been on mic, and Phil was driving her crazy. And she didn't realize that when she was on the mic, even if we weren't recording you could hear what she was saying in the control booth. So she was ranting about hating Phil during the whole thing."

    Little Eva's version of "Uptown" was included on her debut album,LLLLLoco-Motion.
  • Alston sang lead on the Crystals' first three singles, but was terrified to perform them live. She eventually confided in La La Brooks, who took over as lead singer. Brooks recalled in a Songfacts interview: "From that day on I sang the lead for 'There's No Other Like My Baby' and 'Uptown' on stage, and then when we'd add other repertoires to the group, I had the strongest voice, so I was the lead singer. Barbara, she really didn't like doing the lead. Plus, her voice wasn't as powerful as mine from singing gospel and we just had a completely different tone and projection. So that's how I became the lead singer."

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