Monday, December 28, 2009

The Olympics

The Marathons had one hit, and that was in the summer of 1961. It was called Peanut Butter. It is subsumed here under the collection by The Olympics, because The Marathons were actually The Olympics, and the song is on the same collection. There is another story, though, that The Marathons were actually The Vibrations. If so then it’s the same group that did The Watusi and My Girl Sloopy (the original, later released as Hang On Sloopy by The McCoys). And they may also be The Jayhawks. Whitburn insists that The Marathons were The Vibrations / Jayhawks, but the liner notes of my LP said no, they were The Olympics. Go know.

The album is called The Official Record Album Of The Olympics, and it played up the Olympics association It was a Rhino album, which is no longer in print, which sucks, Rhino used to be so cool, but the album, it had 12 of their 14 hits, or 13 of their 15 hits, if you count Peanut Butter, which I guess you should, because it’s on here. Their biggest was their first, Western Movies in 1958, which placed them firmly into The Coasters’ territory, where they seemed to find a comfort zone for the greater part of their chart career, which lasted until late 1966.

Searching for the group, though, on Google or YouTube or EBay, sucks.

The Olympics:

Western Movies – Before there was texting and social networking there was just sitting there in front of a console black and white TV and watching Bat Masterson and Have Gun Will Travel and Cheyenne. Our poor narrator can’t divert his girl’s attention to save his life, literally – he just got hit in the head with a brick. Oh! Says his girl. Thanks for reminding me. Maverick’s on. From the fall of 1958.
The Bounce – The piano strides in with a riff slightly reminiscent of What’d I Say, but the song takes off in a different direction. And it’s a direct line from The Twist to The Bounce. From the summer of 1963.
Dooley – The story of a mountain hick. Porter Wagoner did this, but not like this. From the summer of 1961.
Peanut Butter – Quick! How many songs can you think of about food? I thought so. A variation of (Baby) Hully Gully, just to prove that not only can one write a song about anything, but one can do it well. This song was officially by The Marathons, so called because of some kind of label issue. From the summer of 1961. Scarf now!
Dance By The Light Of The Moon – Uptempo, and while Western Movies intruded into The Coaters’ territory, this one was clearly in the same universe as The Drifters. Ok shoot me, no way, say the pundits. Too bad, I hear what I hear. And meanwhile our heroes contemplate the romantic evening of which they sing, when they will dance with the darling “with the hole in her stocking.” From the winter of 1961.
Mine Exclusively – By the time of this record, spring 1966, the group was sounding fairly Motownish.
(Baby) Hully Gully – The original, a dance going ‘round like an awful disease. It seems that nothing these guys did was serious. That’s alright. The Beach Boys covered this on their Party album. From the winter of 1960.
Good Lovin’ – This isn’t bad, swings a bit, and the group took it to number 81 in the spring of 1965. But a year later, The Young Rascals put it into overdrive and sent it to number 1.
Big Boy Pete – Another cartoon story set to music. Another song that could have been straight out of The Coasters’ repertoire. Covered by The Righteous Brothers, among others. From the fall of 1960.
Private Eye – Here we have Western Movies updated to include occupation envy; not only does he commiserate watching his girl who is now watching detective shows, but he thinks that he can divert her attention by being a dick himself. “I wanna be a private eye!” he intones, as his baby watches Peter Gunn. From the fall of 1959, the flip side of (Baby) Hully Gully.
Shimmy Like Kate – A song about dance envy. I can shimmy like Kate! insists our hero. Sure. We believe you. From the fall of 1960.
Workin’ Hard – Yackity Yak, adult style.
Little Pedro – Another humourous tale, this one about a diminutive psychopathic killer from Mexico. From the spring of 1961.
Baby Do The Philly Dog – Their last hit, from the fall of 1966. By this time, of course, the group was no longer competing with The Coasters; they were competing with The Four Tops and The Impressions and The Temptations and all those singers from Memphis, and it shows – somewhat. They still have quite a bit of their style intact, as they sing this tribute to a recipe, in common with The Mak-Keys, who did a song called Philly Dog.

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