As an arranger, in 1968 he had the chops and nerve to try and top Roy Orbison’s original version of “It’s Over.” While the original had the crescendo ending, Gates decided to START with histrionics, and he sure had the guy to do it, in Jack Bedient.
Jack Bedient (September 12, 1937-June 4, 1998) starts right in, blowing his stopped-up Pitney nostrils with a wail of “IT’S OVER.” Where do you go from there? Isn't it over?? No. With Gates’ arrangement swirling flutes at him, like moths in his face, Jack explains, “your baby doesn’t want you anymore.” Oh. And over the next few minutes, Bedient jacks up the pressure in describing that disobedient bitch who said “there’s someone new, we’re through-ooo-oooo.”
Jack Bedient, from the state of Washington, was a journeyman who first tasted the Top 100 with “The Mystic One,” on the Era label in 1961. He and his trio, The Chessman, played wherever they could, most often in the tourist trap towns of Nevada where the crowds wanted to drink and listen to cover versions of pop and rock hits. One member of the group was Billy Britt, who passed on just a few months ago, February 15, 2016 at the age of 74. While The Chessmen didn’t quite make it to the Las Vegas lounges on a regular basis, the group found steady work in Reno, Carson City and in Lake Tahoe, and sometimes played tourist hotels in Hawaii as well. “Two Sides of Jack Bedient” was his first album, on the Trophy label in 1964.
Jack and his Chessmen managed to sign with Fantasy in 1965, which specialized mostly in jazz and Lenny Bruce. “Double Whammy” scored some minor radio action, and led to their ‘Live at Harvey’s” album, which led back to the minors. Struggling with indie releases on Palomar and Rev, and going through some changes within the group, it seemed doubtful The Chessmen would get another major label chance, but Columbia signed them in 1967. The first 45 was “Love Workshop.”
Three singles were sent out to DJ apathy in 1968: “Pretty One,” “The Pleasure of You” (written by labelmate Gary Puckett, with “It’s Over” on the flip side), and “My Prayer.” In the clubs, patrons could buy souvenir albums on the Chessmen label, including ‘Songs You Requested” and “In Concert,” which was a re-issue of the Fantasy disc.
There’s a minor cult for Jack Bedient and the Chessmen, who managed to turn out some garage band rockers that hold up to stuff by any of their rivals, including The Kingsmen. Jack’s version of Dylan’s “Subterranian Homesick Blues” is a fairly bizarre Paul Rich-as-a-Hillbilly take that somehow works. And through the 70’s, Jack continued to update his song material and work minor clubs in Nevada and California, ultimately retiring from show biz to run a tanning booth business.
But…as Dylan might say, “death is not the end.” It’s not over. Not until you at least hear his take of “It’s Over,” aided and abetted by Mr. Gates. Gates throws out climax after climax, as the tidal wave of emotions ebbs and then lashes back again. All wet? You bet! Roy’s version had the finality of despair. His version has that last primal cry of “It’s OVER.” Bedient? He hits the high note, but there’s a swirl of harp around it. Does that mean he dropped dead and went to heaven?
JACK BEDIENT It’s OVER
JACK BEDIENT SUBTERRANIAN HOMESICK BLUES