Sunday, January 22, 2012

July, 1961

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Phil Upchurch Combo

Phil Upchurch During his active career (he still plays), Phil Upchurch was a session musician who played guitar and bass for everyone from B.B. King to Mose Allison to Jimmy Smith. His active and prolific career is belied by his one-hit-wonder status. I guess he wasn’t that fond of the spotlight.

Near as I can tell, the “combo” was short-lived. And I don’t know who was in it.

Phil Upchurch Combo:

You Can’t Sit Down – True to its title, this digs a deep groove. It's one of those part 1 part 2 records, and apparently it was part 2 that was the hit. That was a hit in the summer of 1961, and then again, with lyrics added, it was a hit for the Dovells in 1963, but the original is superior. Covers abound.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Cleftones

The CleftonesAnother group who put out at least two dozen singles, but who remain known for one hit, which itself comes down through the ages courtesy of American Graffiti.

The Cleftones:

Heart And Soul – Lots of competition here, but the only other notable hit version in the so-called rock and roll era was the one by Jan & Dean, which was more doo-wop than this slick but soulful arrangement by an actual doo-wop group. The song was by Hoagy Carmichael (Georgia On My Mind, Stardust etc) and Frank Loesser, an old Tin Pan Alley standard. From the summer of 1961.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Little Caesar & The Romans

Little Caesar & The Romans Not to be confused with Little Caesar & The Consuls, though the none other than Joel Whitburn himself does so confuse them. The Romans were American, the Consuls Canadian, just so we’re clear.

They’ve had warnings on re-recordings for a while now; sometimes the warnings sound positively glowing. This is where some recording artist (or group, though not likely the original group) rerecords some old hit, and they make a collection of these, and release it on some budget priced CD. And it sounds like crap. But of course the recording techniques are more modern and the sound itself is probably superior (at least technically, not necessarily atmospherically) to the original. And so the warning, telling us that we are not getting what we may think we are getting, often lauds the improved sound quality, and downplays the inauthenticity of the experience.

But that’s all material for reflection. It didn’t used to be like that. And back in the day I got burned once or twice. I remember buying a double album that positively brimmed with great 60s oldies, but as luck would have it they were almost all bogus. One of the exceptions (out of a maximum of three, I can’t remember now) was the one hit by Little Caesar & The Romans. The sound on it is so primitive that it’s a giveaway. A lesson learned.

Little Caesar & The Romans:

Those Oldies But Goodies (Remind Me Of You) – This was a hit in the summer of 1961, so I don’t know how old the oldies were, though one could go back to Palestrina if one wants, I suppose. And Little Caesar (I assume that’s him singing, though apparently at least 2 members of the group each claimed to be him) repeatedly commits one of the great grammatical gaffes of pop music when he keeps singing how “those oldies but goodies reminds me of you.” But beyond all the silliness, there is something truly profound about the songs that comprise the soundtrack of one’s life. Just ask me. “Yes dear, they’re playing OUR song…”

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bobby Lewis

Not to be confused with Jerry Lewis or Jerry Lee Lewis, Shari Lewis or Rudy Lewis or Ramsey Lewis, Bobby Lewis had 2 top 10 hits, and two more that didn’t make it higher than number 77, but I only have one of them anyway, and I got that from the Sock Hoppin' Sixties volume of Baby Boomer Classics.

Bobby Lewis:

Tossin’ And Turnin’ – The all-too-real phenomenon of staying awake all night stressing about things (romantic things of course) over which we have virtually no control. It wasn’t anything for Lewis to sing about the milkman showing up early, either. I knew this first because The Guess Who covered it in the summer of 1965, back when they were Chad Allen & The Expressions. Lewis’ original was a number one hit in the summer of 1961, and was Billboard song of the year. Note: apparently the version on the single did not have the “baby baby” intro, but reissues show up variously with and without.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Edsels

The EdselsA group named after what must have been the biggest marketing disaster in history. (I’m sure “new Coke” was the second biggest). Thing is, though, that at the time nobody knew that yet.

They recorded a lot during the 50s and early 60s, but they only had one hit. Butwhat a hit it was…

The Edsels:

Rama Lama Ding Dong – Recorded or originally during the waning years of doo-wop (1957 to be exact), the song languished until the doo-wop revival of the early 60s. Pulled out of retirement to become a hit in the summer of 1961, the song is complete and utter and delightful nonsense, everything that a good rock and roll record should be.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

June, 1961

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Eden Kane

Eden Kane Kane was the brother of Peter Sarstedt, and had 5 top 10 hit in the UK before Liverpool took over. One can only thank heaven for The Beatles.

Eden Kane:

Well I Ask You – A major harumph that reached number 1 in the spring of 1961.
Forget Me Not – Life as a flower. From the winter of 61/62.
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