11 years ago I wrote the liner notes to the Hip-0 Select version of Bobby Hebb's Sunny, the first U.S.A. CD release of the disc, remastered by Gavin Lurssen and Heather Whitten. There was a Japanese version that didn't have as pure a sound quality.
Well, the UMG site appears to be down, the Hip-0 catalog not on the Universal Music Group site, but here are those liner notes that I wrote over a decade ago.
Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" for Hip-O Select webpagehttp://www.hiposelect.com/catalogue_hebb.asp
Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" (Philips 40365) has captivated generations with its immaculate melody and philosophy to always look at the bright side. Though many have speculated that Hebb wrote the song for God or for his brother and mentor, Hal Hebb, the singer has stated many times the tune is about a "sunny disposition." And though this one title loved by millions led to Bobby touring with The Beatles in 1966 and brought the Hebb name to prominence, the eleven other performances on the album are also of great substance and filled with entertainment value.
"Sunny" became a #1 hit in Cashbox Magazine and #2 in Billboard the week of Bobby Hebb's 28th birthday, July 26, 1966. Less than four months later track #7, "A Satisfied Mind", would break the Billboard Top 40. The song was a #1 Country hit for Porter Wagoner eleven years earlier, but more important to Bobby, it was in the repertoire of Roy Acuff, the man called "the king of the hillbillies." It was as a member of Acuff's band that Hebb appeared on the Grand Ole Opry A third hit from the album, "Love Love Love", was co-written by the album's producer, Jerry Ross along with Joe Renzetti, the album's arranger. "Love, Love, Love" (the flip side of "A Satisfied Mind) became a hit recording in England in 1972, six years after its initial release. The "Northern Soul" phenomenon started in Europe has also brought attention to this important work. "Crazy Baby" (Philips 40421) became a third release from the album with a brilliant non-lp B side co-written by the great Kenny Gamble and Jerry Ross, a song entitled "Love Me" which is a kind of second-cousin to "Sunny", if you will.
Kenny Gamble composed "You Don't Know What You Got Until You Lose It" with producer Jerry Ross, as essential as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's contribution on the album's shortest track, "Good Good Lovin' ", as vital as the legendary Van McCoy's album closer, the elegant and Drifter's-styled "For You."
Though in the new millenium Mr. Hebb is still the "song a day man", his vast repertoire was not tapped for the dozen tunes that appeared on his debut lp, in fact only "Crazy Baby" along with "Yes Or No Or Maybe Not" joined the classic "Sunny" as ideas from the singer's fountain pen. And though "Love Love Love" and "A Satisfied Mind" have shown up on various compilations and continue to get attention, it is "Sunny" that has maintained classic status being awarded the #25 position on BMI's Top 100 Songs of The Century. That organization credits "Sunny" with at least 5 million performances, wonderful acknowledgment for a composition that crosses genres and keeps finding chart action decade after decade. Cher and Georgie Fame had British hits with "Sunny", while Mieko Hiroto actually charted in Japan with a version prior to Bobby Hebb's rendition. Yambu found fame on the 1970s dance floors with this melody, as did Boney M. who hit #1 in Germany with "Sunny" in 1977. The Boogie Pimps sampled the Boney M. version in 2003 and hit with it in 2004..
Recorded by hundreds of artists from Vibraphonist Dave Pike to Frank Sinatra & Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Pat Martino, Stan Kenton, Herbie Mann, Frankie Valli, Roger Williams and so many others, the song and this album have a secure place in popular culture. Hearing the composition as interpreted by others is fascinating and a treat, but it is Bobby Hebb's original "Sunny" with backing vocals by his friends Melba Moore, Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson that endures.
(C)2004 Joe Viglione http://www.joeviglione.com
DID YOU KNOW? Thirty eight years after the world first discovered "Sunny", Hip-O Select is releasing it the week of the birthday of the creator of this great song (coincidentally, a man born in 1938). Thirty Eight years to the week when Sunny hit #1 in Cashbox.