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Sniff 'N' The Tears: Still in the Drivers Seat

Updated on April 24, 2009

A Salute to the The Tune I Couldn't Get out of my Head

Have you ever been in the situation where you hear a tune on the radio once or twice that you really, really like, but neither the title nor the artists name is identified. Then it mysteriously disappears, only to pop up now and then over the years? Each time you hear it though, you're not able to find out who does the song, or what the title of the song is? Talk about frustrating!

This Lens is a salute to one such song and to the group who performed it. With the help of the internet and another chance encounter with the song, this time identified over a local oldies radio station, the song is now revealed as "Drivers Seat" by Sniff 'N' The Tears, a British rock band.

I love this song and it's been playing in my head for the past 30 years. In my mind that makes it a great rock n roll song - a classic. But who were these guys and why didn't they have any more U.S. hits? I was determined to find out.

Sniff 'N' The Tears Band History

Paul Roberts 1978: "Drivers Seat"

Sniff 'n' the Tears was a British, new wave band, perhaps best known for their 1978 song "Driver's Seat", a hit in many countries (including number eleven on the American Billboard Hot 100 chart).

The exception was the UK itself where a problem with EMI's pressing plant meant that the single was not available following the band's appearance on Top of the Pops and it peaked just outside the Top 40.

Fickle Heart, the album containing "Driver's Seat", was followed by three more for the Chiswick record label: The Game's Up (1980), Love/Action (1981), and Ride Blue Divide (1982).

Singer and songwriter Paul Roberts went on to make two solo albums for Sonet Records, City Without Walls (1985) and Kettle Drum Blues (1987).

When an advertising campaign saw "Driver's Seat" top the Dutch charts in 1992, Roberts took Sniff 'n' the Tears out on the road in the Netherlands and Germany, followed by a new album No Damage Done. Since then Roberts put out one more record, 2001's Underground, and is currently working on new material.

From Wikipedia:

'Drivers Seat' was featured in the 1997 Movie "Boogie Nights"

The band has had various musicians, but the original member is lead singer and songwriter Paul Roberts.

Musicians comprising Sniff 'N' The Tears:

Paul Roberts (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar) 1978–*,**

Loz Netto (Guitars) 1978*

Mick Dyche (Guitars) 1978–80*

Les Davidson (Guitars, Background Vocals) 1981–1992, 2001–

Chris Birkin (Bass Guitar) 1978*

Nick South (Bass) 1980–81

Jeremy Meek (Bass) 1992

Luigi Salvoni (Drums) 1978, came back to band briefly in 1992

Rick Fenn (Guitars) 1981–82

Jamie Lane (Drums) 1981–82

Steve Jackson (Drums) 1992

Alan Fealdman - (Keyboards) 1978*

Mike Taylor - (Keyboards) 1980–81

Andy Giddings - (Keyboards) 1992

Robin Langridge - (Keyboards) 2001

Keith Miller - (Synthesizer) 1978*

* = played part in their only hit "Driver's Seat"

** = In 2001, played Bass Guitar, Mandolin, and additional Keyboards

Sniff 'N' The Tears Performing 'Drivers Seat' - Bringing Back the 70's

Tremendous Rock Song - and the Synthesizer Awesome

Fickle Heart [Digipak] by Sniff'N The Tears

Best Review of Fickle Heart

George_Chabot's Full Review: Fickle Heart [Digipak] by Sniff'N The Tears

Sniff'n The Tears - Fickle Heart (1978)

This is one of my favorite albums that I have kept current with from the original cassette I got w-a-a-a-y back, who knows where through a couple of CDs I am doing my best to wear the tracks off.

This group, Sniff'n The Tears, is a one hit wonder that should have had more airplay. You rock n roll fans probably remember the one hit "Driver's Seat," a huge hit that received worldwide airplay around 1980. It's one of those songs that once you hear it, automatically becomes one of your favorites, kind of like Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky." Nobody knows how he came up with it, but everyone who has heard it is glad he did. It's one of those rock songs that could easily be included on a "100 Greatest Rock n Roll Songs of All Time" list; and so is "Driver's Seat."

The driving beat is catchy and you find yourself toe-tapping as the song builds from the rhythm guitar augmented by the drum kit and the lead guitar joining in, outlining the opening riff and the singer, with a great tenor rasps out -

"We're doing all right

a little jiving on a Saturday night

come what may

gonna dance the day away

Jenny was sweet

she always smiled for the people she'd meet

on trouble and strife

she had another way of looking at life"

Meanwhile the music is cut by a slide guitar as clean as broken glass and the lead guitar furiously sizzles alongside as the song reaches its crescendo. The organ chimes in and the back up singers join, harmonizing like a gospel choir.

And it just keeps getting better as ten more songs equally tuneful follow. The group plays in the progressive rock idiom with heavy doses of blues, gospel, and pop. There is nothing HEAVY in there, but neither is it lightweight. It is just straight ahead rock n roll with enough frills to keep you interested but infectious enough to make you get up and dance.

The group had lots of personnel changes with Paul Roberts (vocals/guitar) and Loz Netto (guitars) responsible for most of the great sounds, aided and abetted by Mark Dyche (guitars), Chris Birkin (Bass), Alan Fealdman (keyboards), and Keith Miller(synthesizers). There is no drummer listed so they must have hired a session drummer. In addition, the album cover lists about a half dozen other musicians who contributed various pieces to some songs, but the named individuals did the most. For whatever reason, it was the disco era and progressive rock was not selling so this group never went very far, but they were as good as anybody at playing their own sound.

The full song list is:

1. Driver's Seat - hard charging introductory piece that became a radio hit

2. New Lines on Love - a dreamy romantic piece that takes you above the clouds with a sharply defined slide rhythm

3. Carve Your Name on My Door - an earthy barrelhousing tune that will get your toe tapping

4. This Side of the Blue Horizon - an ethereal romantic piece with a call and response vocal and slide guitar that will make it one of your blue favorites

5. Sing - a repetitive chanting song that builds to and earth shattering climax

6. Rock n Roll Music - an anthem that is unique, and just as good as any other song that purports to be about rock n roll

7. Fight for Love - besides Mom, country, and apple pie, something else that's worth fighting for. Caribbean flavored rhythm adds interest

8. The Thrill of it All - how a guy lives his life and gets his thrills. Thrilling and one of the standout songs on a very strong album. Great harmonizing between slide guitar and vocals

9. Slide Away - a droning, tragic piece perfect for that melancholy mood

10. Last Dance - Starts with just a repetitive acoustic guitar riff, over which Roberts sings -

"She was fighting in the dark she was fine and fierce

she'd rail against the days that she was crowded out

by people without hearts to pierce

she was the taper to a stick of dynamite

she was the trigger to gun without a bullet to fire

to make it all all right."

11. Looking for You - pop song that could have been a hit. Clever lyrics and Roberts speaks French - the original audience when they were playing this live.

Every song is either a four or a five with most of them fives.

The album has been digitally remastered and it sounds so clean they might have recorded it yesterday. Very good quality reproduction from Big Beat Records.

The album cover is interesting it looks like a photograph, but according to the liner notes, multi talented Paul Roberts painted it. It depicts a woman's well turned legs and lower torso clothed in a short fur wrap and high heels standing over a corpse in evening dress and pointing a silver automatic at a menacing black cat.

Recommended:

Yes

Great Music to Play While: Driving

Sniff 'N' The Tears Auction Items

1978 Hit Drivers Seat by Sniff 'N' The Tears

Guitar Chords and Base Tabs

Drivers Seat Chords by Sniff N The Tears, www.Ultimate-Guitar.Com

Chords used in this song :

Bm

e ---|-x-|---|---|---|

B ---|---|-x-|---|---|

G ---|---|---|-x-|---|

D ---|---|---|-x-|---|

A ---|-x-|---|---|---|

E ---|-o-|---|---|---| A

e ---|---|---|---|---|

B ---|-x-|---|---|---|

G ---|-x-|---|---|---|

D ---|-x-|---|---|---|

A ---|---|---|---|---|

E ---|---|---|---|---| G

e ---|---|-x-|---|---|

B ---|---|---|---|---|

G ---|---|---|---|---|

D ---|---|---|---|---|

A ---|-x-|---|---|---|

E ---|---|-x-|---|---|

Throughout the whole song it stays the same.

Intro, verse, prechorus and chorus.

Chords used: Bm, A, G

Intro:

| Bm A | G Bm |

Rest of the song:

Bm A G (Bm)

Doing alright

Bm A G (Bm)

A little jiving on a Saturday night

And come what may

Gonna dance the day away

The hardest part of this song is to get the rhythm right.

Listen carefully to get that right.

Bass:

Drivers Seat Bass Tab by Sniff N The Tears, www.Ultimate-Guitar.Com

Main Riff

|-------------|-----------|---------------|------------|

|*------------|-----------|---------------|------------|

|*-------2----|----5---7--|--------2------|--4---7-----|

|--2--5----5--|--3---3----|--2--5-----5---|----------3-|

|---------------|

|--------------*|

|--2----5---2--*|

|---------------|

Sniff 'N' The Tears Lyrics

Lyrics for "Drivers Seat"

Artist: Sniff N The Tears lyrics

Album: Other Song Lyrics

Title: Driver's Seat

Doing all right

A little jiving on a Saturday night

And come what may

Gonna dance the day away

Jenny was sweet

She always smiled for the people she meet

On trouble and strife:

She had another way of looking at life

The news is blue (the news is blue)

Had its own way of getting to you

What can I do (what can I do)

When I remember my time with you?

Pick up your feet

Got to move to the trick of the beat

There is no elite

Just take your place in the driver's seat

Driver's seat, oo-ooh, driver's seat, yeah

Doing all right

A little jiving on a Saturday night

And come what may

Gonna dance the day away

Driver's seat, oo-ooh, driver's seat, yeah

Jenny was sweet

There is no elite

Pick up your feet, pick up, pick up

Pick up your feet, gonna dance the day

away

Driver's seat, oo-ooh oo-ooh, driver's seat, yeah

Driver's seat, oo-ooh, driver's seat, yeah

Yeah

Driver's seat

[ Driver's Seat Lyrics on http://www.lyricsmania.com/ ]

Sniff 'N' The Tears on Amazon

Fickle Heart
Fickle Heart

A re-mastered and re-packaged re-release of Sniff ‘n’ the Tears’ 1978 album 'Fickle Heart'. This edition features the two previously unreleased tracks 'Morocco Bound' & 'Rock'N'Roll Music' (early version) that were recorded at the same sessions, produced by Steve Lipson, in 1978. Also includes the hit 'Driver's Seat' that was a hit around the world. The new Digipak packaging includes sleeve notes by band members Paul Roberts and Lou Salvoni. Big Beat. 2005.

 
Retrospective
Retrospective

West German import release on Chiswick label with 11 tracks. Song list: 1. Driver's Seat; 2. Hungry Eyes; 3. Shame; 4. One Love; 5. Bagatelle; 6. New Lines On Love; 7. Ride Blue Divide; 8. Snow White; 9. Poison Pen Mail; 10. Love/Action; 11. Rodeo Drive.

 
No Damage Done
No Damage Done

12 trx total:

1. Life Is A Cold Stone.

2. The Key.

3. Swoon.

4. Only Love To Tempt Me.

5. Prime Time.

6. Parisian Girl.

7. Some People.

8. I Need You Now.

9. I Want You.

10. No Damage Done.

11. Home.

12. Little Ditty.

Rare Australian release.

 
Love/Action
Love/Action

A top five hit in Billboard's Dance Maxi Singles Breakout chart, '(Just) Me And You' also broke the U.K. top 30! This import single features five mixes of the hit (Original Radio Edit, Grant Nelson Radio Edit, Original Vocal Mix, Joey Negro Club Mix & Harlem Hustlers Vision Mix). 1999 release. Slimline jewel case.

 
One Hit Wonders
One Hit Wonders

FACTORY SEALED WITH WRAPPING TORN ON EDGES! 14 ORIGIONAL HITS BY THE ORIGIONAL ARTISTS! PUTTIN' ON THE RITZ-TACO; DON'T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD-SANTA ESMERELDA; AXEL F-HAROLD FALTERMEYER; WHAN BAM-SILVER; DRIVER'S SEAT-SNIFF 'N' THE TEARS; MICKEY-TONI BASIL; MIAMI VICE THEME-JAN HAMMER; FLOAT ON-FLOATERS; POP MUZIK-"M"; JEANS ON-DAVID DUMAS; PASS THE DUTCHIE-MUSICAL YOUTH; ROCKIN' CHAIR-GEWN MCRAE; LIFE IS A ROCK-REUNION; SOMEBODY'S KNOCKIN'-TERRI GIBBS:

 

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    • James20 profile image

      James20 7 years ago

      I remember their music 5*. I invite you to look at my music lenses.

    • profile image

      tdove 9 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!