Lori Burton: Breakout

They don't make records like the Whyte Boots' "Nightmare" anymore.

Lori Burton


Label: Rev-Ola
US Release Date: Available as import
UK Release Date: 2005-09-26
Amazon affiliate
Insound affiliate

They don't make records like the Whyte Boots' "Nightmare" anymore. They didn't make any like it in 1966, either. Straight out of a 1950s juvenile delinquent movie, this Shangri-Las-with-brass-knuckles melodrama tells the story of a catfight gone bad as a gang of misbehaved coeds urges the narrator to "get" her arch rival, who had stolen her Bobby and, to add insult to injury, has been putting her down and "showin' everybody his ring."

Get her, get her, push her to the ground

Get her, get her, push her down

So goes the chorus, and the would-be assailant soon acts on the urges, confronting the love stealer (presumably in some park, as leather-jacket-clad onlookers watch) -- but only "to scare her a little ... I never meant to hurt her or anything."

But to the screaming encouragement from her friends -- all readily and loudly audible halfway through the song -- the jealous lover hits the target, knocking Bobby's new girl to the ground as witnesses suddenly gasp in dismay. "What happened?" one of them asks, horrified at the sight of a motionless young lass laying on the ground. "What should I do?" the narrator repeats twice. "Run! Run!" her friends say.

I tried running but it was too late

The cop held me, said 'Girl you'd better wait'

"It's all my fault she's dead," the narrator laments, all the while tearfully begging the cops not to take her into custody as the song fades to the repeated -- and regretful -- harmony-vocal refrain of "she didn't want to fight." All this in under three minutes for what the late, great Greg Shaw called "one of the top five girl-group records of all time" in the summer 1974 issue of the seminal Who Put the Bomp fanzine.

"Nightmare" would make an even better story had the Whyte Boots actually existed. In spite of two brilliantly fraudulent stories in Go magazine -- one an apparently fictitious tour diary reprinted in the booklet -- to coincide with its release, the single was in fact songstress Lori Burton, who had already written such hits as the Young Rascals' "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" with her songwriting partner, Pam Sawyer. The two combined to pen everything on Burton's 1967 Breakout album, which put the Whyte Boots myth to rest by including "Nightmare" -- perhaps saving rock 'n' roll historians some trouble.

"Nightmare," however, was only the beginning of Breakout, an album Ken Barnes (also writing in Who Put the Bomp, three issues later, in 1976) dubbed "an inspired conception all the way around." In addition to being a first-rate songwriter, Burton was also quite versatile, focusing her musical lens on soul, pop, and mainstream girl-group sounds with photogenic results each time.

"Bye, Bye Charlie" and "Let No One Come Between Us" (the flip of the Whyte Boots' single) are excellent girl-group numbers in the vein of the title track, the former showing Brill Building verve with its insistent percussion and piano lick. Dropping to a lower register in the vein of Baby Washington, Burton sings "Since I Lost Your Lovin'" and "Love Was" with a more bluesy, gospel feel, accentuating the drama on each song's choruses with an assist from tasteful orchestration. And on "There Is No Way (To Stop Lovin' You)" and "Gotta Get Over You," she gets frantic to the point of conceiving Motown vibes without Berry Gordy.

Sawyer, in fact, went on to pen hits such as the Supremes' "Love Child" and David Ruffin's magnificent "My Whole World Ended" for the fabled imprint, splitting in 1968 from a partner who had become impatient with record-industry bureaucracy. Burton had more luck assisting her hubbie Roy Cicala (who produced John Lennon) at his Record Plant studios, but reunited with Sawyer by 1995.

So far, there have apparently been no followups to "Nightmare." Then again, how could one possibly follow it?


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.