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  1. #1

    Len Barry talks about "1-2-3" / "Ask Any Girl"

    Len Barry (credited by his real name: Leonard Borisoff) wrote this with the Philadelphia songwriting/production team of John Madara and David White, who also wrote the hits "You Don't Own Me" and "At The Hop."

    In an interview with Forgotten Hits, Madara explained: "In 1965, with '1-2-3' being the #1 record in the country, we were sued by Motown during the period when Berry Gordy was suing anyone whose records sounded like a Motown record. We were sued, saying that '1-2-3' was taken from a B-Side of a Supremes record called 'Ask Any Girl.' The only similarity between the two songs are the first three notes where the Supremes sang 'Ask Any Girl' and Lenny sang '1-2-3.' After that, there were no similarities, but their lawsuit said that our goal was to copy the Motown sound. Well, needless to say, Motown kept us in court, tying up all of our writers' royalties, production royalties and publishing royalties, and threatened to sue us on the follow-up to '1-2-3,' which was 'Like A Baby.' So after battling with them for two years and having a ton of legal bills, we made a settlement with Motown, giving them 15% of the writers' and publishers' share.
    We never heard 'Ask Any Girl.' The only influence for making '1-2-3' was to make a ballad with a beat. And the sound of '1-2-3' was definitely the sound of the era. Listen to 'The In-Crowd' - that's not the Motown Sound, that's the sound of the era - and '1-2-3' definitely had a beat! Motown was suing a lot of people at the time."

    http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=4937

  2. #2
    The production on "1-2-3" is, if anything, bigger and better than a lot of Motown from that time. Even the stereo mix really kicks ass.

    I just love this track. With its epic intro, it used to be a surefire floor filler when I was a mobile DJ back in the 70s and 80s.

    I've also got a remix on a Dutch Various Artists double LP compilation that includes a count in, and a count in to such an intro as this is even better.

    What I can't understand is why the production on the follow-up, "Like A Baby" wasn't as good (going by the stereo mix that I have). It's just so wimp-ish, and it's not helped by a relatively workmanlike arrangement. Was it recorded and/or mixed in a different studio?

  3. #3
    Didnt George Harrison say he may have "unconsciously "been affected by Hes So Fine? I imagine Len and co. were in a hurry for a follow up, hence Like A Baby. yuk

  4. #4
    Greetings All
    It is really strange how things pop up over the years.
    We (THE ORIGINAL TYMES) and a girl group,
    If I can remember it was THE COOKIES? I will find out for sure.
    I had no idea that there was that much going on, in the back.
    But those were some happy sessions.
    Len Barry still to this day, is a good friend.
    We talk very often. ut wow that stuff happens.
    I may try to but me a book together.
    I know, it would be a best seller ( smiles )
    NOTE,
    We were on all of the LEN BARRY songs
    Take care
    Ceasar
    The
    Original
    Tymes




    0

  5. #5
    Didnt know that Ceasar-very cool. Has Len pretty much retired?

  6. #6
    just like in '63 when you had all the Phil Spector copycats,from 64 on you had alot of Motown Sound copy cats, however, songwise its quite a stretch to think 1-2-3 is Ask Any Girl.Yes, it tries to duplicate the Motown sound but so was alot of others.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    just like in '63 when you had all the Phil Spector copycats,from 64 on you had alot of Motown Sound copy cats, however, songwise its quite a stretch to think 1-2-3 is Ask Any Girl.Yes, it tries to duplicate the Motown sound but so was alot of others.
    It's funny, but I don't really associate 1-2-3 with The Motown Sound specifically.

    Instead, I associate it with mid-60s dance and soul in the more generic sense since Motown was just one of a number of companies turning out fabulous soulful and danceable sounds.

    Sure, Motown pioneered a lot of stuff and had a load of imitators, but 1-2-3 has a lot of other non-Detroit influences plus - to my mind - a second to none production that barely anything else could match. Even "Like A baby" failed to come close.

  8. #8
    never thought they sounded a like

  9. #9
    The first time I heard "1-2-3" I thought it sounded like "Ask Any Girl", and that was long before I knew of the lawsuit.

  10. #10
    This from co writer/producer John Madara on 1-2-3:-

    "The drummers are Bobby Gregg and Bernard Pretty Purdie, Vinnie Bell, Trade Martin and Bobby Eli on guitars, Joe Mack on Bass, Leon Huff and Artie Butler on keyboards and the Artie Kaplan horn section. The background singers are The Tymes and The Sweet Three. The studio was Bell Sound."

  11. #11
    "I-2-3" is as much like "Ask Any Girl" as "It May Be Winter Outside" is like "Everything Is Good About You".

  12. #12
    1-2-3 was Lens break from the Dovells and became his biggest hit as a solo artist I guess after learning that being a solo artist paid more than being a member of a group......A much slicker production than the previous Dovells tracks... Hey there Ceasar...Hope all is well...

  13. #13
    “1-2-3” bore enough superficial resemblance to “Ask Any Girl” that I think fifteen percent was probably a reasonable solution. The two bore about the same resemblance as “He’s So Fine” and “My Sweet Lord” did. The lift was probably inadvertent, but perhaps was residing in Madara or White’s subconscious. There's very little that's new under the sun in music after all. There are only so many notes on the scales and all. The tempo and arrangement are very similar. “1-2-3” bears a good dose of Cameo-Parkway, however, in addition to Hitsville, and "Ask Any Girl" isn't particularly loaded with Hitsville touches anyhow. HDH were subsequently given co-writing credit, which is a bit far-fetched but apparently it settled the dispute.
    Last edited by BigAl; 11-15-2019 at 02:43 PM.

  14. #14
    I wonder how much HDH actually earned from that song?

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    I wonder how much HDH actually earned from that song?

    It couldn't have been that much, because it wasn't a hit. They probably earned more from Len Barry's song lawsuit.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    It couldn't have been that much, because it wasn't a hit. They probably earned more from Len Barry's song lawsuit.
    I thought royalties were split equally between a- and b-sides of singles, which would have meant that HDH earned as much from "Ask Any Girl" as they did from "Baby Love".

  17. #17
    I saw a bunch of famous Aussie musos performing this song live in a charity benefit. I knew I'd heard the song before but couldn't place it until later. At the time I thought it was definitely the Motown sound and it most reminded me of Stevie's 'Uptight'.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by 144man View Post
    I thought royalties were split equally between a- and b-sides of singles, which would have meant that HDH earned as much from "Ask Any Girl" as they did from "Baby Love".
    I thought you meant just from the song "Ask Any Girl". Then if that's the case , I am sure they made money off it and Baby Love all the way up through the 70s.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by 144man View Post
    I thought royalties were split equally between a- and b-sides of singles, which would have meant that HDH earned as much from "Ask Any Girl" as they did from "Baby Love".
    I believe thatís accurate

    I recall Diana Ross put somebodyís song either on an album or as the B side of Muscles or some such song so they would benefit

  20. "1-2-3", "My Sweet Lord". I couldn't hear THAT much that suggested either was copied years ago, and I still can't today.

    On the other hand, "I Can't Satisfy" by The Impressions...THAT was a VERY obvious copy of "This Old Heart Of Mine" (and a very good copy at that!)

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    I believe that’s accurate

    I recall Diana Ross put somebody’s song either on an album or as the B side of Muscles or some such song so they would benefit
    That was Janie Bradford's "I Am Me." IMO, it was a wonderful way to assist an old friend in need.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    That was Janie Bradford's "I Am Me." IMO, it was a wonderful way to assist an old friend in need.
    Good man for that bit of knowledge

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by luke View Post
    Has Len pretty much retired?
    Luke ...here's Len ...singing 1-2-3 ...2 years ago...!

    Grape

  24. #24
    He still sounds pretty good but sure has aged

  25. #25

  26. #26
    There is actually a clip of Len singing 123 on an American tv show and The Supremes are sat at a table watching him...I wonder if they thought it sounded like their song.

  27. #27
    Just my opinion and observation...Growing up back in the day where I was exposed to listening to "1,2,3" on my radio and hearing "Ask Any Girl" played over and over on my turntable, it never dawned on me that the two songs were similar. I never said, "Oh, that sounds like....!" I have always been known by my friends to have a keen sense and awareness of anything musical. Only now that am learning there was a settlement involved am I beginning to hear some (not much, imo) similarities between the two.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by mowsville View Post
    There is actually a clip of Len singing 123 on an American tv show and The Supremes are sat at a table watching him...I wonder if they thought it sounded like their song.
    Supremes briefly circa 1:33.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post

    On the other hand, "I Can't Satisfy" by The Impressions...THAT was a VERY obvious copy of "This Old Heart Of Mine" (and a very good copy at that!)
    Oh yeah. How that escaped a suit is mind boggling.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by RanRan79 View Post
    Oh yeah. How that escaped a suit is mind boggling.
    Hey Ran, I thought Motown did sue over that, and H-D-H (and Sylvia Moy) got writing credit?

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by TomatoTom123 View Post
    Hey Ran, I thought Motown did sue over that, and H-D-H (and Sylvia Moy) got writing credit?
    I guess so. I see HDH and Moy credited instead of Mayfield on various sites.

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by TomatoTom123 View Post
    Hey Ran, I thought Motown did sue over that, and H-D-H (and Sylvia Moy) got writing credit?
    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    I guess so. I see HDH and Moy credited instead of Mayfield on various sites.
    Thanks for the info Tom and Reese. I guess Motown was serious about soundalikes, whether real ("I Can't Satisfy") or imagined ("1-2-3").

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    That was Janie Bradford's "I Am Me." IMO, it was a wonderful way to assist an old friend in need.
    It was to help Freddy Gorman (the other writer) though, wasn't it?

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Levi Stubbs Tears View Post
    It was to help Freddy Gorman (the other writer) though, wasn't it?
    I'd always heard that Janie had contacted Diana for a loan and that Diana came up with that solution. Perhaps it could have been for Gorman.

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by sansradio View Post
    I'd always heard that Janie had contacted Diana for a loan and that Diana came up with that solution. Perhaps it could have been for Gorman.
    I recall reading an interview with Janie and she mentioned how her daughter picked up the phone and it was Diana on the line.

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