Sunday, May 16, 2010

Freddy Cannon

This guy was part of the stable of artists from Philadelphia, though he wasn’t from Philly, who were in some way associated with Dick Clark. Most recorded for Cameo-Parkway (Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell) or Chancellor (Frankie Avalon), and Cannon recorded for Swan, which released some Beatle records before Capital got hold of them. The difference was that Cannon wasn’t wimpy, and he wasn’t derivative. He wasn’t, on the other hand, a great artist nor was he particularly innovative, but he sang his records with gusto, and you really couldn’t argue.

I watched him on TV, on Where The Action Is, when I was young, about 8, and I barely remember, but I remember.

This album was a Rhino collection called 14 Booming Hits; I picked it up at Records On Wheels, and it was decent. It had all 8 of his top 40 records, and 4 more top 100 singles that didn’t make the top 40.

Freddy Cannon:

Tallahassee Lassie – “She has a hi fi chassis” says our hero of his lassie from Tallahassee, and I don’t know if he refers to something in her living room or some aspect of her anatomy, in which latter case I wonder if it’s something good or something less good. He does, I admit, sound highly enthused. I was in Florida when I was about 14, but I don’t think that we went through Tallahassee. I’d remember, because we always made a point of seeing state capital buildings. This tribute to a greal gal from FLA was Cannon’s debut hit, in the summer of 1959.
Palisades Park – The ultimate fantasy, some slightly post-adolescent lad goes to the amusement park, alone, meets the girl of his dreams, hangs out all evening with her, the ferris wheel, hot dogs, the works. Anything at all can happen in a pop song. From the summer of 1962. This song has the distinction of having been covered by both Jan & Dean and The Beach Boys, several decades apart. And I still don't know what a "shoop de shoop" is.
Way Down Yonder In New Orleans – The stuff of legend, cities of music: Nashville, Memphis, Detroit, Philadelphia, New Orleans. There may even be a bit of the Big Easy in the sound of this. And old song, recorded by Louis Armstrong et al. From the winter of 1959 / 1960.
Transistor Sister – My partner in music, someone to share all those groovy sounds with, someone totally in tune. Ok, I’m reading into it. Truth is, I’m not at all sure whether “sister” here is metaphorical or actual. You can read this song any way you want. Nobody today recognized the association between “transistor” and “radio” anyway. From the fall of 1961.
Jump Over – This is something akin to Kierkegaard’s leap of faith, the inappropriateness of over-analyzing, in this case, matters of the heart. No, I haven’t lost my mind, comparing … ok, maybe I have. From the summer of 1960.
Boston (My Home Town) – We’ve heard about Tallahassee and about New Orleans, why not Boston. They all begin to sound alike after a while. The Standells also sang about Boston (Dirty Water) and they were from LA.
Teen Queen Of The Week – Her moment of glory backfires on him. Her head gets too big. Not even Degrassi stooped this low. It was the winter of 1962, and this song just barely snuck into the top 100.
Action – A total party record, and the theme of the TV show Where The Action Is. I remember watching that, but man was I young, about 8. From the late summer of 1965.
Abigail Beecher – She’s the history teacher, and from the sound of it, the coolest teacher ever. What other teacher gets such a down and dirty Bo Diddley beat all to herself? From the winter of 1964.
Buzz Buzz A-Diddle-It – The Bo Diddley thing was no accident. This time they even got the lyrics to match. From the summer of 1961.
Beechwood City – Another song about the greatest city in the world. At least this time the name too is fictional. A Honda’s all you need to get around, says our hero, and he’s not referring to a Civic
Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy – An old country standard. Freddy put it back in the chart in the winter of 1960. I was in Chattanooga when I was about 14 but I don’t remember what I saw or what we did.
If You Were A Rock ‘N’ Roll Record – I know they’d sell a million of you, says our hero. Is that a good thing? Comparing your one and only to your favourite music, now that’s true love. From the winter of 62 / 63.
The Dedication Song – They used have the dedication hour, or five minutes, or something. Maybe they still do. Here we have the ups and downs and ins and outs of relationships, expressed as all manner of song dedications. His last hit, from the winter of 1966.

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