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?






Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.


Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".


The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.


The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.


Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.


​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.


John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".


Roots Rocker Webb Wilder Shares a "Night Without Love" (premiere + interview)

Veteran roots rocker Webb Wilder turns back the hands of time on an old favorite of his with "Night Without Love".


The 10 Best Films of Sir Alan Parker

Here are 10 reasons to mourn the passing of one of England's most interesting directors, Sir Alan Parker.


July Talk Transform on 'Pray for It'

On Pray for It, Canadian alt-poppers July Talk show they understand the complex dualities that make up our lives.


With 'Articulation' Rival Consoles Goes Back to the Drawing Board

London producer Rival Consoles uses unorthodox approaches on his latest record, Articulation, resulting in a stunning, beautiful collection.


Paranoia Goes Viral in 'She Dies Tomorrow'

Amy Seimetz's thriller, She Dies Tomorrow, is visually dazzling and pulsating with menace -- until the color fades.


MetalMatters: July 2020 - Back on Track

In a busy and exciting month for metal, Boris arrive in rejuvenated fashion, Imperial Triumphant continue to impress with their forward-thinking black metal, and death metal masters Defeated Sanity and Lantern return with a vengeance.


Isabel Wilkerson's 'Caste' Reveals the Other Kind of American Exceptionalism

By comparing the American race-based class system to that of India and Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson makes us see a familiar evil in a different light with her latest work, Caste.


Anna Kerrigan Prioritizes Substance Over Style in 'Cowboys'

Anna Kerrigan talks with PopMatters about her latest film, Cowboys, which deviates from the common "issues style" approach to LGBTQ characters.


John Fusco and the X-Road Riders Get Funky with "It Takes a Man" (premiere + interview)

Screenwriter and musician John Fusco pens a soulful anti-street fighting man song, "It Takes a Man". "As a trained fighter, one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned is to walk away from a fight without letting ego get the best of you."


'Run-Out Groove' Shows the Dark Side of Capitol Records

Music promoter Dave Morrell's memoir, Run Out Groove, recalls the underbelly of the mainstream music industry.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.