Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cozy Cole

This guy was a jazz drummer. He played with Louis Armstrong, with Jelly Roll Morton, with Cab Calloway. His pop music success was a footnote, but there you have it.

Cozy Cole:

Topsy Part II – An organ based instrumental with a great back beat and decent pre-Bonzo drum solo. When the horns come in after half time we hear what may the ultimate swing-rock fusion hit. Who knows why Part II was top 10, and Part 1 was only top 30, though part I was more jazzy. The follow-up was called… wait for it… Turvy. From the fall of 1958.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kate McGarrigle

I saw Kate & Anna play at the Winnipeg Playhouse in 1979. (If you tell me it was ’78 I’ll believe you.) I remember that Anna was visibly pregnant, but I didn’t notice until my date pointed it out. Typical male.

She wasn’t impressed, my date. I said ok, they didn’t come across in that venue, you don’t get the harmonies, the subtleties of the banjo – accordion – harmonica interplay. I said come down to the radio station tomorrow.

She came. It was the university radio station, consisted of two rooms, and I had a spot for an hour a week, dj the DJ. Listen, I said. I don’t remember what I played, probably something from the first album, The Swimming Song maybe, or Foolish You, which is what I’d play now. She listened and said ok, you’re right, I get it, they are amazing.

I cottoned on to the McGarrigle Sisters when Stereo Review labeled their debut Best Of The Month. It was not my normal practice to go out and buy albums based on reviews, and I don’t know why I did then. The magazine, I believe, was the February 1976 issue, though I was out of the country then; it must have been later, in the summer perhaps, that I picked up the magazine at the library, back in the day.

The album didn’t thrill me, I’ll be honest. It was ok, it had its moments. I didn’t care for Go Leave, to stark, and Talk To Me Of Mendocino, the one that everyone raves over, well, I don’t know, I was underwhelmed.

But the fast songs, all those banjos going on, they sold me. Complainte Pour Ste Catherine, I loved it, though I had no idea what it was about until I came here to Montreal, and read somewhere that it’s about the main street downtown. And having picked up a smattering of French I can even make out a few of the words.

The slow stuff, it grew on me. Heart Like A Wheel, who could resist. I kept up with them until Heartbeats Accelerating. I didn’t know too many people who listened to them. In fact, I don’t know if I knew anyone else who listened to them. I guess they were one of pop music’s best kept secrets.

When I came to live in this neighbourhood, and that was in June of 2008, I found their CDs in abundance at the local library, so I’ve been listening to them all over again, and rediscovering their music, and so yeah, as clichéd as this sounds, and I’m sorry for that, but Kate’s passing personally affected me. And seeing her obituary in this morning’s Gazette was strange, like she was just another person, just like any one of us, but I guess that’s exactly what she was, except one of us with amazing talent and gift that was unique in the world.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

October, 1958

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Teddy Bears

Remember Napster? Oh there’s still a Napster, but you know that’s not what I’m talking about. Hey, we all know that Fisher used to make high quality electronics, right?

But Napster – music publishers had us believing that the world was coming to and end, and only they could save us, by getting rid of the evil Napster.

Napster is gone, but now what. Everywhere there’s blogs and blogs and blogs offering free music downloads. Most of them have disclaimers, this music is for sampling only, just to listen to once, then to delete, and if anyone objects, or if it violates a copyright, then tell me, and I’ll remove it.


I don’t care. I just wonder what happened to the men in suits, how they seem to let this go by. I get it, you know, how music is a commodity, how it costs money to produce and sell, how it’s for sale, not for free. I have views though, and I won’t share them, because I don’t anyone to shut down my blog.

But it’s amazing how much music is out there, and how free it is. Get an account on Rapidshare (I don’t have one), and the world is your oyster.

I sampled this music, The Teddy Bears, on someone’s blog. The album is called Original Collection, and it has all 3 of their chart singles, or I should say all 2, because 2 songs were on one single. It’s Phil Spector, not singing, at least not lead, that’s Annette Kleinbard, but he’s there, he wrote the hit, produced it (I’m told), got it out there. I don’t think he was 20 yet. Phil Spector’s Greatest Hits came out in the 70s. That’s when the idea of producer as artist really took hold. And then the box set came later, Back To Mono. I had my hands on both collections at one time or another.

Let It Be, I got it in 1970, I was 13. Phil Spector was credited as producer, (justifiably, since he was the producer) and as far as I know that was the first time I’d heard of him. I knew The Righteous Brothers, and barely some of the girl groups he did, The Ronettes, The Crystals, but I had no idea till much later of the connection. After Let It Be he produced Lennon, Harrison. Now he’s in jail, convicted of murder in the second degree. I read Ronnie Spector’s autobiography; she was married to him, Veronica Bennett, of The Ronettes. She does not paint a charming portrait of the man. But nobody said that there was a correlation between artistic genius and personal integrity…

The Teddy Bears:

To Know Him, Is To Love Him – A statement of such unabashed romantic idealization that it’s tantamount to idol worship, or a teenage crush, whichever comes first. Surprisingly few pop songs use waltz time, but this is one that does. A number one hit as 1958 drew to a close. Both Peter & Gordon and Bobby Vinton put it back on the charts in the 60, and in both cases it was titled To Know You Is To Love You, with the brain-dead comma removed. Also The Beatles did it, just switching around the gender (To Know Her...) and it was on their Decca audition, which can be had by the astute searcher, and on their BBC album.
Don’t You Worry My Little Pet – Just to prove that they didn’t just do ballads, this is flat out rock and roll. A bit weird, but still. This was the flip side of To Know Him, Is To Love Him, and it’s been alleged that Spector played all the instruments on it.
Til You Be Mine – An instrumental, very strange for a vocal group.
Oh Why – This song, another ballad, was the one side of the only other record besides the first one to reach the top 100. The tune and arrangement suggest a rewrite of To Know Him, but the words are a different story altogether. From the winter of 1959.
Unchained Melody – This was Spector’s first crack at this. It’s a bit odd, more of a rock band version than the one he was to do so spectacularly with The Righteous Brothers about 8 years later.
My Foolish Heart – Head vs. heart, an unfair contest…
You Said Goodbye – The post-mortem.
True Love – Extraordinary. Patsy Cline did this, and Annette is no Patsy…
Little Things Mean A Lot – Another cover, this one originally by Joni James, though I only have the version by The McGuire Sisters. She sings a bit off key I think, but it’s true, little things do mean a lot…
I Don’t Need You Anymore – About the sudden dissolution of a relationship. And yes, it really happens. This was the other side of Oh Why, and both sides hit the top 90 in the winter of 1959.
Tammy – The Debbie Reynolds hit, the Ames Brothers hit. Annette sounds a bit like Debbie.
Long Ago And Far Away – Seems there are a few songs called that. James Taylor did one, Mantovani did one. Maybe this is the same as Mantovani, I can’t tell.
Don’t Go Away – A straightforward request.
If I Give My Heart To You – I have a version of this by Doris Day, and I don’t know who else did it, but Doris is all you need…
Seven Lonely Days
Wonderful Loveable You – A shameless slow dance…

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cliff Richard

Having cash in one’s pocket is not to be underrated.

And so it was one day in March, 1996, I had cash in my pocket when I walked into Into The Music (ha! That’s funny!). I’d just settled some major law suit, and my client, being the grateful type, handed me a bit of a cash tip. Shh. I actually used some of the money to buy groceries. But some of it, well I just decided to go and buy whatever I felt like buying.

So I spent some money on vinyl. These were all second hand copies you understand. I bought Creation by Fever Tree, and there is a story behind that that hopefully I’ll get to later, and some other titles, and 2 best of’s by Cliff Richard. That is, I got The Best Of Cliff and The Best Of Cliff vol. 2. And that’s where much of my collection comes from.

The first bit comes from The Early Years, a collection of 12 tracks spanning 12 years (ok, 13). And I got some stuff on random 45s (including Don’t Talk To Him) and I downloaded some tracks from The Hit List from Those tracks are on a CD, the rest are on tape like usual, so this is a bit of a bastardized list.

Also some stuff comes from a tape I picked up at Woolco; those are early tracks.

Some stats: Cliff Richards’s biggest North American hit was Devil Woman, that reached number 6 on Billboard in the fall of 1976, and for some reason I don’t have that one. Surprising that it wasn’t on The Hit List. Otherwise I have an impressive collection here, well I only have 5 of his 9 Billboard singles (that's up to 1978), but he had 50 top 20 singles on the UK charts between 1958 and 1973, and I have 41 of them. Oh, and 5 extra to 40 hits post 1978, which is when my top 100 book ends. This is confusing. Most of the references here to chart stuff is UK based. Remember that…

Oh, and up to sometime around 1966, most of his records were Cliff Richard & The Shadows.

Cliff Richard:

Move It – Move It rhymes with groove it, and that’s how the song goes. His first hit was a tribute to the music that he was getting into, which, at that time, was pretty solid rock and roll. From the fall of 1958, a number 2 hit in the UK.
Livin’ Doll – This was a false start for Richard; it reached number 30 on Billboard in the late fall of 1959, but it didn’t lead to anything more of substance, and Richard remained a UK phenomenon. In England it reached number 1, in the summer, and the Canadian radio stations played it in the fall, like their American counterparts.
Travellin’ Light – Another UK number 1, this one if the fall of 1959. Cliff tells us of his journey to meet his “baby,” and the spare arrangement matches the contents of his suitcase.
Please Don’t Tease – The old story, she’s driving him nuts. It’s a short walk from here to Stop Teasing Me by Chad Allen & The Expressions, lyrically and stylistically. A UK number 1 in the summer of 1960.
Theme For A Dream – Who *are* those singers; they sound like mice. Otherwise this is a more than respectable sappy teen idol song. A hit in the winter of 1961.
The Young Ones – A suitable sappy celebration of youth, and young love, with strings and all. A UK number 1 in the winter of 61 / 62 and top 10 in TO in the spring.
Do You Want To Dance – Cliff does his version of the Bobby Freeman classic. Extra points to The Shadows on this. Top 10 in the UK in the spring of ’62.
It’ll Be Me – Cliff goes country, not for the last time. From the fall of 1962. Jerry Lee did this. It reached the Canadian radio stations in the summer of 1963.
Bachelor Boy – Advice from a father to a son, unlikely advice. A UK number 1 in the winter of 62 / 63, and top 100 US hit in the summer of 1964.
Summer Holiday – From the movie. Another number 1 hit, this one from the winter of 1963, in England and in Canada.
Congratulations – Yet another UK number 1, this one from the winter of 1968.
Hello Sam, Goodbye Samantha – I guess this is meant to be a growing up song, sort of a dumbed down version of Bobby Sox To Stockings, if you can imagine. The moral is that you can’t be friends with boys and with girls at the same time. Sheesh. A UK hit in the summer of 1970. This is one that I’m not sorry that it didn’t make it across the pond.
High Class Baby – Shades of Elvis, shades of High School Confidential, good rockabilly by Cliff and The Shadows, believe it or not. This was the follow-up to Move It, a UK hit in the fall of 1958.
My Feet Hit The Ground – This is really High Class Baby soundalike.
Mean Streak – More good rock and roll, from the spring of 1959.
Apron Strings – This isn’t a song about motherhood, not exactly, but there is surely something oedipal about singing “I want to be tied to your apron strings” to one’s loved one.
A Voice In The Wilderness – A good example of Cliff’s early ballad style, before the bathos set in, though it’s a corny as all get out. From early 1960.
Gee Whiz It’s You – This hit from the winter of 1961 was a song of regret, think of I Want You Back by The Jackson Five, but this is upbeat and optimistic, if hopeless in reality.
We Say Yeah – A song of defiance. Everyone says “no;” we say “yeah.” What else. Pretty basic. But by the end, he has everyone convinced.
It’s All In The Game – He’s left The Shadows behind. Actually a harp seems to serve here as lead instrument, as Cliff applies his vocal prowess to the evergreen. It had been a number 1 hit for Tommy Edwards in 1958, and it would be a top 40 hit for The Four Tops in 1970. Cliff’s version was a phenomenon in that it hit the Billboard top 40, though it only reached number 25, and that was in the winter of 1964, so it may have been somehow related to the British invasion that was going on then. If so then it’s too bad, because it was the wrong song. Interesting that the song was number 2 in England the previous fall, and reached number 1 on the CHUM chart in Toronto, also in the fall of ’63.
Don’t Talk To Him – If anyone ever asks you what the British Invasion sounded like, play him this song. It’s all here, the singer giving a straight rendering of what would be melodramatic, or downright silly, lyrics, great uncomplicated but irresistible lead guitar, a drummer who puts fills in all the right places, harmonies as required. And man, that tune, that tune… For my money, this is the best he ever did, and The Shadows shine. The irony, if it is such, is that this is British Invasion music that didn’t invade. It did not crack the US top 100. It was a top 20 hit in Canada, of course, Canada being light years ahead of our American counterparts, and in the good old UK the song reached number 2 in the fall of 1963.
Blue Turns To Grey – Cliff & The Shadows, in their waning days together, and they let out all the stops on this, the closest he came to hard rock, appropriately, given that this was a Stones song, originally on the December’s Children album. A hit for Cliff (in the UK of course) in the spring of 1966.
The Minute You’re Gone – I’m listening to this and I could swear that it’s a cover, and I’m right, though Wikipedia identifies it as a Cliff Richard song. Good for Cliff, but Sonny James did it first, in 1963. Cliff’s version, which was respectable country, was number 1 in the UK in the winter of 65, around the time that This Diamond Ring was a hit in the US.
On My Word – Here is where Cliff thinks he is Neil Diamond, and Neil hadn’t had a record out yet. A UK hit in the spring of 1965.
The Time In Between – Listen hard, and you can hear The Shadows of old, but the style overall is more pop, less rock, and typical of Cliff’s mid-60s stuff. Reminds somewhat of groups like The Fortunes.
Wind Me Up (Let Me Go) – Another variation of the Puppet On A String theme, but here’s it’s not a good thing. Think String Along by Rick Nelson / Fabian, but slower. A hit in the fall of 1965.
Visions – The harp from It’s All In The Game makes a reappearance here, if anything more up front and centre. The visions in the song are romantic ones, not religious ones, not surprising perhaps, but Cliff was to get religion later, so nothing is to be taken for granted. A UK hit in the summer of 1966.
Time Drags By – Cliff does Dylan, not literally, but stylistically, sort of. He tries, harmonica and all. From the fall of ’66.
In The Country – Very similar to what Three Dog Night was doing on Out In The Country, and Lighthouse on Take It Slow. From the winter of ’66 / ’67. He assures, toward the end, that “it belongs to you and I.” Oh my…
It’s All Over – A ballad, vaguely country. From the fall of ’67.
I’ll Come Running – This is one of those classic songs that Neil Diamond wrote and recorded back when he recorded for Bang Records. All of his stuff was overproduced and tinny, and transcendent. Cliff does ok with this, at least he got the song some deserved recognition, I guess he did, though it didn’t make the top 20, so it’s not in my book.
The Day I Met Marie – I don’t know who wrote this, but it sounds like something Jacques Brel might have done. From the fall of 1967.
All My Love- This song in waltz time sounds very much like something from the Engelbert Humperdink songbook. From the fall of 1967.
Marianne – Another syrupy ballad, and he pronounces “Marianne” funny. Not the Stephen Stills song.
Throw Down A Line – A cry for help, but I’m not sure what the actual danger is, it’s all metaphor, but I don’t know for what. Here Cliff is getting into a style that was typical of late 60s early / 70s pop. From the fall of 1969.
Jesus – Here is where he goes religious on us. Lucky he didn’t turn into a gospel singer.
Sunny Honey Girl – The intention was probably to do a Sugar Sugar type song, but while this is poppy (think My Baby Loves Lovin’) it isn’t poppy enough to qualify. Cliff Richard isn’t Bobby Sherman after all. From the winter of 1971, just a bit late for this kind of thing anyway.
Ain’t Got Time Anymore – A hit in North America for Glass Bottle. Cliff’s version was far less dramatic.
Flying Machine – A loop de loop type song, (The Beach Boys, not Johnny Thunder) but a bit too serious sounding for the subject.
Sing A Song Of Freedom – Not to be confused with the Bobby Darin song, this was undoubtedly Cliff Richard trying to jump on the same bandwagon. Rather mild, I’d say, given the ambition. From the fall of 1971.
With The Eyes Of A Child – Not The Moody Blues song, but probably the same idea. A song about innocence, ballad-like. From the winter of 1969 / 1970.
Good Times (Better Times) – This definitely sounds like a song that Bobby Sherman would have done, but it’s a bit before Sherman’s time (by about a year) and Bobby would have done it better. From the winter of 1969.
I’ll Love You Forever Today – A song about not committing, dressed up as a love ballad. And there’s that harp again…
The Joy Of Living – Another song with a message, this one about the environment and stuff. Prescient.
Silvery Rain – Cliff goes la-dee-da, almost John Denver.
Big Ship – A song with clichés about love, except the title refrain. “Love is a big ship following me?” From the summer of 1969.
Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon – Kudos to Cliff for covering this, but he doesn’t do much with it. Listen to Urge Overkill for a good cover (on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack as well as elsewhere), or go for the Neil Diamond original.
Fall In Love With You – Back to days of The Shadows, this hit from the winter of 1960 has more than a little of teen idol written all over it, but The Shadows still kick butt.
Nine Times Out Of Ten – A swaggering tale of romantic frustration. I say “romantic” but that a kind of euphemism. From the fall of 1960.
I Love You – Well it can’t get more basic than that, can it. A different song from all the other songs called “I Love You.” From the fall of 1960, later fall than Nine Times Out Of Ten.
A Girl Like You – Not The Rascals song. From the summer of 1961.
When The Girl In Your Arms Is The Girl In Your Heart – Cliff does a real syrupy rendition of the Connie Francis’s hit. It was a hit in the fall of 1961.
Lucky Lips – This is a cover of Ruth Brown’s hit. I know it’s a pop song and all, but still it strikes me as downright bizarre. From the spring of 1963, and it was on Canadian radio in the summer.
Power To All Our Friends – A tepid variation of Power To The People. A hit from the winter of 1973.
We Don’t Talk Anymore – 20 years after his US debut with Livin’ Doll, Richard puts his second hit on the Billboard top 10 (the first was Devil Woman). In the interim he has transformed himself into every conceivable kind of pop music entertainer, and he’s arrived at the point where he is doing right up-to-date California style pop worthy of fellow Britons Fleetwood Mac. And it’s a song about failure to communicate, the deterioration of a relationship, and very real stuff. From the fall of 1979.
Carrie – The follow up to We Don’t Talk Anymore, very dramatic indeed, every bit as good as its predecessor, except for the melodrama perhaps, but it only made number 34 on Billboard. And nothing better illustrates Cliff Richard’s strange difficulty maintaining a career in America. From the spring of 1980.
Wired For Sound – A celebration of music, written for the iPod age before it existed.
Daddy’s Home – From the winter of 1982. This song, originally done by Shep & The Limelites in the early 60s, was successfully covered by Jermaine Jackson in the 70s.
Some People – A treatise on human nature, similar to and at the same time very different from Whacha See Is Whacha Get by The Dramatics.
Mistletoe And Wine – Cliff Richard’s contribution to the Christmas canon.
The Best Of Me – Cliff Richard becomes Barry Manilow…
I Just Don’t Have The Heart – Cliff Richard goes disco…
Miss You Nights – The big ballad, but not really…
Green Light – Not the American Breed song. Not much more to report.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, starring Warren Covington

Another one that for the life of me I can’t remember where I picked it up.

This isn’t Tommy Dorsey. That’s key. Dorsey was a major swing practitioner and he died in 1956. His orchestra was taken over by trombonist Warren Covington, and that’s where their one and only post 1955 hit comes from.

Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, starring Warren Covington:

Tea For Two Cha Cha – This is a straggler, and traditional jazz arrangement of a 20s pop standard, written for the musical No No Nanette. There are probably thousands of versions, and it’s a cute song, too cute maybe, and an anachronism by the fall of 1958, when it hit the top 10.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Big Bopper

He wasn’t that huge, or he would have been The Huge Bopper. Had he been small he’d have been The Small Bopper, or The Little Bopper. Maybe he wouldn’t have bopped, and he’d have been The Small Non-bopper. What’s the opposite of a bopper, anyway.

He’d never have been as famous as got if he hadn’t have died with Buddy Holly. He’d undoubtedly have found his way through the entertainment world like so many others like him who made novelty records.

The Big Bopper:

Chantilly Lace – The greatest phone call on record(s). This 50s standard was a hit in the fall of 1958. It was a hit again in the early 70s for Jerry Lee Lewis, and Sha Na Na did an unforgettable version on their first LP in 1969.
Little Red Riding Hood – Not the Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs song, but what may be the most lascivious fairy tale ever. From the winter of 58 / 59.
Big Bopper’s Wedding – Our hero prevaricates at the alter, can’t keep his eyes off the bridesmaids or his prospective father-in-law’s “ugly face” and shotgun. In the end he bails and we can’t help but applaud. The funniest wedding song ever. From the winter 58 / 59 and the B side of Chantilly lace.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Little Anthony & The Imperials

Little Anthony & The Imperials had the distinction of being a 50s group in the 50s and a 60s group in the 60s, and there are not very many groups who made that transition so successfully. I heard them way way back, at the beginning of musical time, which for me was the summer of 1965, when Take Me Back was in rotation.

But the song disappeared from my conscious mind. And it was later as an adolescent that I picked up The Golden Age Of Rock And Roll by Sha Na Na, and it was there that I learned so many great 50s songs, among them Tears On My Pillow, of which I later discovered the original, and I said to myself, Little Anthony & The Imperials, hmm, don’t I know them? And it was later still, when I began collecting in earnest, and when I got the books, Rock Almanac, Whitburn, that I saw it there, Take Me Back, and I said Hey! I remember that! That’s what I know by Little Anthony & The Imperials!

I got The Best Of Little Anthony And The Imperials back in the heady days of my second hand escapades; it came from Argy’s, and it was a bit scratched up, but serviceable, and cheap. The 50s tracks were actually remakes, because the group had changed labels, so I got those elsewhere. The group had hits for many different labels, End, DCP, United Artists, Veep, Avco. The LP I got was on UA and had their some of their DCP hits. All told the group had 19 singles on the top 100 between 1958 and 1974.

Little Anthony & The Imperials:

Tears On My Pillow – Well maybe rock and roll, and R& B, is youth music, and sure it still is, but here is a song of heartbreak by a senior. It must be by a senior. Why else would he sing “you don’t remember me,” especially given that “it was not so long ago.” Johnny Nash also did such a song, but this is the famous one. The songs is as over-the-top as a heartbreak song can get, but a classic nonetheless. From the fall of 1958.
Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop – Another “jungle” tale. I wonder how these guys got roped into doing songs like this. Not that I don’t like it… From the winter of 1960.
Two Kinds Of People – And what would they be? Sure you guessed it – a boy and a girl. Simple, no? The b side of Tears On My Pillow.
Goin’ Out Of My Head – It was Little Anthony who first put this 60s pop standard on the chart. That was in the winter of ’64 / ’65. The Lettermen put it back on the chart a few years later in a medley with Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.
Take Me Back – To my ears this has a style in common with songs like Make The World Go Away, by Eddy Arnold. Not that, you know, The Imperials were country, or that Arnold was R & B, but that’s the point. Both artists seem to abandon his chosen genre in favour of unmitigated mush. There’s a spookiness to this that I can’t quite understand, let alone explain, which may just be the lingering effect of how this sounded to me when I was 8 years old and discovering top 40. From the summer of 1965.
Hurt So Bad – Another song of profound heartbreak. The Imperials on this sound decidedly female, and choir-like. From the winter of 1966. Linda Rondstadt put this back into the top 10 in 1980.
I Miss You So – A cover of Paul Anka’s song of separation and longing. From the fall of 1965.
I’m On The Outside (Looking In) – He ends the relationship, then wonders why she won’t take him back.
Hurt – Yet another song of heartbreak. This was a hit early in 1966. Elvis pulled out all the stops on this, put it on the top 30 in the spring of 1976.
Reputation – This seems to be a theme that surfaces every so often, how your bad deeds come back to you, and it’s almost always about gossip. Not The Byrds song.
Our Song – Another very popular theme in pop music is the inability to let go and move on. Here’s one in which our hero tortures himself by listening to the song that reminds him of his lost love, over and over and over and over and…
Never Again – Do people really swear “never again” in matters of love? Perhaps, but very likely they end up like Little Anthony here, eating his words…
Get Out Of My Life – That’s telling it straight. But the delivery is very gentle…

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Jamies

This is as close as Romper Room got to the top 40. I can’t credit it, really, it’s just so strange.

The Jamies:

Summertime, Summertime – Of all the summertime songs, well, this is one of them. The words are all there, you know, no more school, hang around, go to the beach, have thrills, but the music, well, I guess the group sounds like the Mouseketeers on helium. Covered many years later by The Legendary Masked Surfers, who had something to do with Jan & Dean, years after Jan & Dean existed. From the fall of 1958, this missed the summer first time round, then recharted in the summer of 1962, so it got to be a summer hit after all.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bobby Hendricks

It wasn’t his fault that his surname, at least by pronunciation, would be usurped by a psychedelic guitarist from Seattle. Then there is James Hendricks, not to be confused with Jimi, who wrote Summer Rain, the hit by Johnny Rivers.

This Hendricks sang lead on The Drifters’ Drip Drop, and he put only 2 songs on the top 100, both in 1958 – the one I have, and a novelty song called Psycho, which is just a bit dumb.

Bobby Hendricks:

Itchy Twitchy Feeling – Another song about rock and roll and dancing, with a nod to American Bandstand, another nod to Elvis (Hound Dog) and a few more nods here and there. From the fall of 1958.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Quin-Tones

My entire Quin-Tones collection consists of a single track, which anyway was their only hit, and so it is their greatest hits. So.

Where it comes from is a triple album, kind of a K-Tel type album, featuring dozens of doo-wop songs (I wouldn’t say hits exactly) by dozens of groups, mostly obscure. The LP, all 6 sides, was scratched up beyond redemption, and so it wasn’t all that much use to me; I just salvaged this track, and maybe one or two others, although if so I don’t remember. The LP itself came from Comic World, I’m fairly certain.

The Quin-Tones:

Down The Aisle Of Love – To some that would be in supermarket. Still though, how many marriage songs are there, and how many of them are about walking down the aisle. Ok, there’s The Five Satins, The Bluebelles, this one, any others? A teenage dream hit from the fall of 1958.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bobby Day

Bobby Day? Ok. His name was really Bobby Byrd, and he did Rockin’ Robin. How funny is that. He had 6 top 100 singles, all in the late 50s, including a version of Little Bitty Pretty One, which he apparently wrote, but which was a real hit for Thurston Harris.

Bobby Day:

Rockin Robin – Ok, we know about the birds and the bees. So let’s hear more about the birds. If there has ever been a more salacious song about song birds, I’ve surely never heard it. A hit in the fall of 1958, and redone by Michael Jackson, whose version I hated, back then, when I was about 14, in 1972. Both versions reached number 2 on Billboard.
Over And Over – A song about a failed pickup. This was the B side of Rockin’ Robin, and was also a hit in the fall of 1958. It was redone by Dave Clark Five, whose version I dug, in 1965, and which version reached number 1. The original just missed the top 40.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tommy Edwards

He was more R & B than, say, Johnny Mathis, but he wasn’t as R & B as, say, Sam Cooke or Clyde McPhatter. In that he was uniquely 50s, similar in a way to Brook Benton, though their styles were highly dissimilar.

My possession of this collection dates back to the early days of my haunting all those used record hangouts. I’m sure I got it at Pyramid, sure in the sense of “I’m not all that sure,” but I can’t imagine where else I got it, it was definitely second-hand, and usually if I can’t remember where I got a used record, that means I got it at Pyramid.

It’s a decent collection too. 11 of his 14 hits are on here; of his top 40 records, only The Morning Side Of The Mountain is missing.

Tommy Edwards:

I Really Don’t Want To Know – Every guy wants to be the first, that’s what I hear. I’m sure I read it somewhere. This paean to the desire to be that special guy has had an usually prolific life, seeing versions by Les Paul & Mary Ford, Ronnie Dove, Solomon Burke, and a remarkable one by Elvis. Edwards’ version, suitably dressed in strings and pathos, was a hit in the summer of 1960.
My Melancholy Baby – A song written in 1912. This also appears everywhere, but more in the MOR and jazz world. Another song about being a hero, though there is an element of emotional fusion that doesn’t sound all that healthy to me. From the summer of 1959.
Don’t Fence Me In – This tribute to open spaces was originally a hit for Bing Crosby. I prefer Edwards, I have to admit to not being a huge Crosby fan, though I’ve almost gotten dissed to death for admitting that I’m not a Johnny Mathis fan. Truth is, though, I don’t find it all that convincing, not by Crosby, not by Edwards. From the spring of 1960.
Blue Heartaches – Ah, but what other colour is there. Our Hero is playing mind games, a bit, with the one who broke his heart.
It’s Only The Good Times – It’s what he remembers of a relationship gone sour. I don’t think it’s like that in real life. I think we remember the bad stuff too. Sometimes it’s all we remember. It’s Only The Bad Times he should sing. From the summer of ’59, the B side of My Melancholy Baby.
Unloved –He has his heart set on one girl, and it’s all very romantic and wonderful. The title refers to his only other alternative. It’s an odd way to phrase it, “nobody loves me, I am unloved…”
New In The Ways Of Love – Really. I hear that every woman wants to be the first… He professes to a degree of inexperience that would be embarrassing if he were serious, which in the end he isn’t. This is from the winter of 1959 / 1960.
I’ve Been There – “Don’t tell me about her arms” sings our hero off the top. Now how weird is that. Well, she has a birth mark above her left elbow… From the fall of 1959.
It’s Not The End Of Everything – Oh no? Of course it is, that’s the point. Ask Skeeter Davis, after all. From the fall of 1960, Edwards’ last hit, which is kind of ironic I suppose…
Love Is All We Need – It’s an ok ballad this, with the chorus and all, but listen to Mel Carter’s recording from 1966. This is from the winter of 58 / 59.
Please Mr. Sun – In which our hero calls upon the very elements to come to his aid. Done before by Johnny Ray, but Edwards brings an element of civility. From the spring of 1959.
It’s All In The Game – His signature tune, the one for which he is remembered. He recorded this in 1951, and I’ve never heard that version. This one is from the fall of 1958, and it reached number one. I heard it first by The Four Tops who did it in 1970, and there is one by Cliff Richard from 1964, and even a version by Van Morrison from 1979’s Into The Music.
Romance as dialectic.
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