Friday, August 31, 2012

Dick & Dee Dee

In the 50s there Johnnie & Joe, Mickey & Sylvia, The Kalin Twins, male-female duos all. In the 60s there was Sonny & Cher, Peaches & Herb, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood, even Johnny Cash & June Carter. They didn’t have much in common, but they all operated within certain musical and aesthetic limits.

That’s where Dick & Dee Dee differed. Their sound is so shrill, so ethereal, so out there, that one can’t help wonder what drugs they were on. Helium would be my first guess.

The duo, who were never married or anything, at least not to each other had 8 hits between 1961 and 1965.

Dick & Dee Dee:

All My Trials – The Minnie Mouse version of a college folk music standard. Typical of what Joan Baez was recording in those days. I don’t who thought this would work. It doesn’t. From the winter of 1964. 
Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right – This is not the strangest version of Dylan’s song; that honour would have to go to The Wonder Who. This may just be the most inappropriate. The song can be done any number of different ways, but some aspect of what’s going on has to come through. Here, it doesn’t. The flip side of All My Trials.
Young And In Love – Not the Ruby & The Romantics hit. I want to know what happens when you’re old and in love. From the spring of 1963.
Thou Shalt Not Steal – The 10 commandments in the service of romantic fidelity, or something. From the winter of ’64 / ‘65
The Mountain’s High – Their big hit, their moment in the sun. It is where the Dick & Dee Dee approach to music making pays off. Hard to say why exactly, the style is so outré that it does not lend itself to easy analysis. From the fall of 1961.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Blue Jays

Described on Wikipedia as a “short-lived doo wop group.” Indeed, they lasted about a year, long enough to have a single hit on the top 40.

The Blue Jays:

Lover’s Island – Not sure about the singular possessive in the title, is it only open to one at a time? The lyrics on this are so “romantic paradise” as to be virtually meaningless, and while the group is described as doo-wop, this is actually what R & B sounded like before doo-wop. From the fall of 1961.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


She was Kim in Bye Bye Birdie. Now what else do you want to know?
Her career was acting. She made recordings as a sideline. Her voice was sultry. I say “was” but she is still around. She is 71.


I Just Don’t Understand – Isn’t this what it all boils down to sometimes? Turn it over this way, that way, no way to make sense of it. There is a cover by The Beatles on their BBC Sessions, and another by Freddie & The Dreamers. From the fall of 1961.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Barry Mann

So who was Barry Mann? Let’s check Whitburn. Hm. Four entries. No notes. Couldn’t have been anyone significant. Of those four entries, only one made the top 10, the rest didn’t make it higher than 78. Each was on a different label, and they were chronologically spread out – 1961, 1964, 1970, 1976.

I would say it was typical of Whitburn, who puts little notes after listings by artists of significance, not to acknowledge songwriters, because he doesn’t say anything about Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich either, but then he does acknowledge Carole King. So let’s just forget about Joel Whitburn.

Actually Barry Mann was an architect of rock and roll, having co-written, mostly with his wife Cynthia Weil, the following: She Say (Oom Dooby Doom), I Love How You Love Me, Blame It On The Bossa Nova, He’s Sure The Boy I Love, Hungry, I Just Can’t Help Believing, I’m Gonna Be Strong, Kicks, Looking Through The Eyes Of Love, Magic Town, Make Your Own Kind Of Music, On Broadway, Only In America, Proud, Rock And Roll Lullaby, Shapes Of Things To Come, Uptown, Walking In The Rain, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, (You’re My) Soul And Inspiration, and You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling. That is, of course, a very partial list.

He married Cynthia in 1961. Apparently they are still married.

Barry Mann:

Who Put The Bomp (In The Bomp, Bomp, Bomp) – One of those self-referential songs, pop/rock about pop/rock. This is said to be satirical, but I think that through the humour and self-deprecation there is a lot of truth. As silly as some of those songs are on paper, hearing them, dancing to them, opens up worlds. And of course, the real joke is that it was Mann himself who put that bomp bomp bomp there in the first place. He wrote this one with Gerry Goffin, Carole King’s then (or soon to be) husband. It was Mann’s only real hit, in the fall of 1961.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Jive Five

The Jive Five had but one top 10 hit, 2 top 40, 5 top 100, and in one form or another they’ve been kicking around for 5 decades.

The Jive Five:

My True Story – Names have been changed, they sing, “to protect you and I.” It’s true. Anyway, we all have a story, at least one sad story in our repertoire. I know that this is a great classic hit and all, but to me it sounds a bit flat. It was late, anyway, for doo-wop when this was a hit, which was the fall of 1961. “Love will make you happy, love will make you cry.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ricky Valance

This guy was a UK teen idol. He was Welsh. UK teen idols were generally Cliff Richard Wannabes, and this guy was no exception, except that he was Welsh. He never had a hit in North America, and he only had one in the UK, but he also had a few in Australia and Scandinavia.

Ricky Valance:

Tell Laura I Love Her – A cover of the Ray Peterson hit, the teen dream expressed as death through martyrdom. Buying her flowers would have been easier and healthier. From the summer of 1961.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Eddie Hodges

I found the 45 in a pile in a box at Comic World and I brought it up to the front counter. It had no price on it. There’s no price on this, I said. I’ll give you a buck. Hey Doug! Yelled the clerk. I got a 45 no price! He looked at it. Read out the title as if it were some kind of poison: “Girls, Girls, Girls (Made To Love)”. After some “how much does he want to pay” discussion, he took my dollar, and away I went, one 45 richer.

Eddie Hodges:

I’m Gonna Knock On Your Door – At 14, Eddie Hodges barely even qualified as a teen idol. Here he is though, determined as ever, surrounded by some of the greatest, if rather unsophisticated, sound effects, ever. This is hard to resist. From the summer of 1961. 
Girls, Girls, Girls (Made To Love) – As bad as the former is good, this atrocious sexist objectification was a hit in the summer of 1962.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bob Moore

He was a cofounder of Monument Records, he played on sides by Elvis, Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Moby Grape and Sammy Davis Jr. The bass you hear at the beginning of King Of The Road by Roger Miller is played by Bob Moore. But under his own name, he only had one hit. That’s the one-hit wonder for you

Bob Moore:

Mexico – An instrumental with a vaguely Latin flavour, Moore’s one and only hit reached the top 10 in the fall of 1961. Herb Alpert took the style and made an entire career out of it.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

September, 1961

  • Crying - Roy Orbison
  • Little Sister / Marie's The Name (His Latest Flame) - Elvis Presley
  • Take Good Care Of My Baby - Bobby Vee
  • Who Put The Bomp (In The Bomp Bomp Bomp) - Barry Mann
  • Without You - Johnny Tillotson
  • I Just Don't Understand - Ann-Margaret
  • Amor - Ben E King
  • Lovers Island - The Blue Jays
  • Transistor Sister - Freddie Cannon
  • Let Me Belong To You - Brian Hyland
  • Don't Cry Baby - Etta James
  • Michael - Lonnie Donegan
  • Someday - Kenny Ball
  • Baby You're Right - James Brown
  • Mountain's High - Dick & Dee Dee
  • When We Get Married - The Dreamlovers
  • A Little Bit Of Soap - The Jarmels
  • Frankie & Johnnie - Brook Benton
  • Years From Now - Jackie Wilson
  • Bright Lights Big City - Jimmy Reed
  • Silver City - The Ventures
  • One Track Mind - Bobby Lewis
  • It's Gonna Work Out Fine - Ike & Tina Turner
  • Big Cold Wind - Pat Boone
  • Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick Disolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green And Purple Pills - Ray Stevens
  • When The Girl In Your Arms Is The Girl In Your Heart - Cliff Richard
  • Hit The Road Jack - Ray Charles
  • You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby - Bobby Darin
  • Mexico - Bob Moore
  • Bristol Stomp - The Dovells
  • More Money For You And Me - The Four Preps
  • Take Five - Dave Brubeck Quartet
  • Missing You - Ray Peterson
  • Muskrat - The Everly Brothers
  • Walking Back To Happiness - Helen Shapiro
  • Hole In The Bucket - Harry Belafonte & Miriam Makeba

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Highwaymen

This is not the supergroup consisting of Wayon, Willie, Kris K, and Johnny Cash. No. These Highwaymen were what Wikipedia convincingly calls part of the “collegiate folk revival” of the early 60s. Taking their cue from The Kingston Trio, the group had 4 singles (5 songs) on the top 100 during 1961 and 1962, all hootenanny- friendly.

The Highwaymen:

Michael – A spiritual. It seems to me that the lyrics they use are a rather non-denominational subset, only hinting at the theological implications of the original. I do believe that this was done earlier by The Weavers; it seems that 90% of songs recorded by these groups were taken from The Weavers’ repertoire. This record reached #1 in the fall of 1961. 
Cotton Fields – Known to be by Leadbelly, but who knows for sure. Recorded and recorded and recorded again, the apotheosis of this song may be the version by CCR on their Willie And The Poor Boys LP. The Beach Boys also had a crack at this at the end of the decade. From the winter of 1962. 
Gypsy Rover – The B side of Cotton Fields, this one just missed the top 40 in its own right, in the winter of 1962. One of those minstrel-style songs about a roving vagabond who sang his way into the hearts of the ladies, and, you can be sure, lead them all astray.
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