In my quest to find something else of interest and great obscurity for Scott Parker’s monthly series about Forgotten Music, I’ve tracked down some very rare footage from a genuinely forgotten musical written in 1966 for television called On the Flip Side. The musical featured former teen idol Ricky Nelson, who sought to mark his transition to entertaining a more mature audience by the cunning device of changing his name to – Rick Nelson. Joanie Somers co-starred.
The musical was written by (you guessed it) Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and, although a few of the songs – notably the excellent ‘They Don’t Give Medals to Yesterday’s Heroes’) - survived and were covered by the likes of Dionne Warwick, Chuck Jackson and Jackie De Shannon, the musical itself promptly disappeared from sight and even diehard Bacharach-David fans were mostly unaware of it until its rediscovery a few years back. The soundtrack is now available on CD, and the music is enjoyable, as you might expect from two songwriters who were at their peak. Some years ago, a friend sent me a grainy VHS recording of the show, and it has to be said that the performances (let alone the clothes) have not stood the test of time as well as the music.
But it’s a curiosity, and I’ve now discovered a link to a good quality Youtube
clip which features three of the songs. Enjoy!
Incidentally, although On the Flip Side was no masterpiece, it paved the way for Bacharach and David’s one and only stage musical, Promises, Promises. That show was enormously successful, and it’s just about to be revived on Broadway. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice say that Promises, Promises changed the way in which stage musicals were written. But perhaps it might never have happened but for the groundwork of On the Flip Side.