Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bobby Rydell - All The Hits (1962)

Bobby Rydell was born Robert Ridarelli in Philadelphia. It was his father who encouraged him to pursue a career in show business. At the age of four, Rydell would sit in front of the TV and impersonate such performers as Milton Berle, Louis Prima and Johnny Ray. He also admired drummer Gene Krupa and began playing the drums at the age of six. At the age of seven and with his father's encouragement, Rydell began performing in nightclubs in Philadelphia.

In 1950, Bobby Rydell entered the amateur show of Paul Whiteman; his first-place win gained him a regular part on the show. He stayed with the Whiteman show for three years and then went to join several local bands in Philadelphia. It was here too that Bobby Ridarelli became the easier-to-pronounce Bobby Rydell. At 16 he began playing with local groups, landing a spot as a drummer for Rocco and the Saints. (Frankie Avalon, another Philadelphia-born musician, played trumpet for the group.) While with the band, Rydell signed a recording contract with Cameo/Parkway Records in Philadelphia. His hit "Kissin' Time," recorded in the summer of 1959, launched his musical career and made him a teen idol at the age of 17. Read on +/-

After making his first hit recording, he pursued a solo career, performing at the Copacabana in New York in 1961, where he was an instant hit. Rydell made his acting debut in 1962 on the television show Combat! One year later, he starred as Hugh Peabody in the famous musical Bye Bye Birdie. It was only after his acting debut that he fervently began playing the nightclub circuit. With records like "We Got Love," "Wildwood Days" and "Sway," Rydell made himself a hit. Along with Frankie Avalon and Fabian, Bobby Rydell is known as a Philadelphia-born teen idol, known not only for his musical genius but also his handsome looks.

Like many other stars at the time -- see a previous post of Bobby Vee -- Rydell recorded a lot of songs from other singers, that were hits at the time. In 1962 Cameo/Parkway released a series records with their most popular recording stars like: Chubby Checker; The Orlons; Dee Dee Sharp etc. The Series got the title "All The Hits" and consisted many of those hit covers. So here two "All The Hits" albums from Bobby Rydell -- still only vinyl, cause they never made it to CD.

1962 LP All The Hits (Cameo C-1019)

01. Bobby Rydell - Twistin' The Night Away
02. Bobby Rydell - Break It To Me Gently
03. Bobby Rydell - Dream Baby
04. Bobby Rydell - What's Your Name
05. Bobby Rydell - The One Who Really Loves You
06. Bobby Rydell - I've Got Bonnie
07. Bobby Rydell - I'll Never Dance Again
08. Bobby Rydell - I Know
09. Bobby Rydell - Don't Break The Heart That Loves You
10. Bobby Rydell - Baby It's You
11. Bobby Rydell - Soldier Boy
12. Bobby Rydell - Hey Baby

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1962 LP All The Hits Volume 2 (US Cameo C 1040)

01. Bobby Rydell - Bobby's Girl
02. Bobby Rydell - Tell Him
03. Bobby Rydell - Ruby Ann
04. Bobby Rydell - Up On The Roof
05. Bobby Rydell - Im Gonna Be Warm This Winter
06. Bobby Rydell - Remember Then
07. Bobby Rydell - Telestar
08. Bobby Rydell - Loop De Loop
09. Bobby Rydell - The Alley Cat Song
10. Bobby Rydell - See See Rider
11. Bobby Rydell - Everybody Loves A Lover
12. Bobby Rydell - Two Lovers

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Four Lovers - Joyride (1955)

The Four Seasons are justifiably among the most fondly remembered pop/rock vocal groups of the early to mid-'60s. Their soaring harmonies, coupled with Frankie Valli's exquisite falsetto lead on romantic, teenage-oriented songs, were as central to the early-'60s music scene as the work of the Beach Boys, Del Shannon, or any other top rock & roll names one cares to invoke from that period. But before Valli and company emerged with their first hit in the summer of 1962, they spent eight years working in music, first as the Variatones and, more permanently, as the Four Lovers. They never charted a record higher than number 62 (their only chart entry), but did record more than two dozen songs, including a complete LP for a major label. And their music roots were closer to Frank Sinatra than to Elvis Presley.

The Four Lovers started out in the early '50s, but the individual members' musical backgrounds went back to the 1930s. Their whole story started with the DeVito family of Belleville, a working-class town in northern New Jersey just outside of Newark, part of the same locale that produced Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, and Lou Costello, among other performing legends during the 1930s. The whole family was musical and, beginning with eldest son Danny, took up singing and an instrument from their father. Tommy DeVito (born June 19, 1928) emerged in music at the age of ten, appearing on Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour.
Read on +/-

Two years later, he was singing and playing guitar with Nickie & the Starliters, an octet modeled after the professional pop (or "sweet," as they were called) bands of the era, led by his older brother Nickie DeVito (born September 12, 1924), who also played bass. They made a decent part-time living, picking up extra cash playing dances, weddings, and parties until World War II and the draft broke up their membership. After World War II, the two DeVito brothers tried keeping their hands in music and hooked up with Nick Macioci (born September 19, 1927, and better-known in later years as Nick Massi) to form what became the Variety Trio. They played local clubs, all of them singing, with Tommy and Nickie DeVito on lead and rhythm guitar, respectively, and Massi playing the upright bass. After a couple of years of successful local gigs, they added a fourth, part-time member who began showing up at their performances, Frank Castelluccio (born May 3, 1934, and later known as Frankie Valli). He was 16, had a distinctive voice, and a repertory of two songs, "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" and "My Mother's Eyes."

The sight of the slightly built teenager with the falsetto voice doing those pre-war songs was a novelty in itself, and they went over well with the group's audience. The trio split up in 1952, and for a time during the next couple of years, Castelluccio and Tommy DeVito worked together in various backing bands and recorded a pair of songs together under the auspices of Corona Records in New York. They formed a new group, the Variatones, with Hank Majewski on rhythm guitar and Billy Thompson on drums, while "Frankie Valley," as he was calling himself by then, handled the bass.

In early 1956, they got an audition for RCA Victor, where they impressed the executives present with their harmony singing and their mixed repertory of country music and R&B. This wasn't an uncommon mix at the time, nor was it unheard of for white vocal groups who were the least bit adventurous. A few white outfits, such as the Crew-Cuts, became notorious in purist circles for making more commercially successful covers of R&B singles by black groups, but many did take up the music with only the most honest and honorable intentions -- because they liked it -- and one outfit from Texas, the Mints, was regarded at the time as a serious white equivalent to the Treniers. The Variatones liked the music and had the talent and years of experience, together and collectively.

The group got a contract and a new name, the Four Lovers, and began a year-long stay with the record label. Thompson was soon gone from the lineup, with Valley moved over to drums and Nickie DeVito back in the fold on bass. They made their recording debut with a decided R&B emphasis, including a pair of Otis Blackwell songs, "You're the Apple of My Eye" and "Diddilly Diddilly Babe," "Honey Love" from the Drifters, a cover of Faye Adams' "Shake a Hand," and "Please Don't Leave Me," written by Fats Domino. There were rocking sides there, though not even necessarily the kind of harmony based music that could be described as doo wop.

Their version of "Shake a Hand" was as much a showcase for Tommy DeVito's hot guitar playing as it was for the group's backup singing, and the lead vocal is closer to Elvis Presley than to the falsetto singing that Valli would succeed with fronting the group six years later. Blackwell's "You're the Apple of My Eye," which had such a mannered and exaggerated performance that it almost sounded like a parody of R&B harmony material, ended up as the Four Lovers' one and only chart entry, peaking at number 62. The group kept trying and RCA kept trying with them, releasing another single and then an entire LP, entitled Joyride.

The latter is interesting to hear, both as a cultural artifact for the variety of vocal material (which includes a rocked up version of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" and a cover of Lloyd Price's "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," and also pop numbers, a concession to the fact that early rock & roll listeners didn't buy many LPs) and as a document of the group's range, stuck in among the vocal numbers is the title track, an instrumental which was a surprise coming from a group known for its singing. By that time, rock & roll was sweeping the charts and the group's act was appropriately oriented toward harmony versions of R&B material. It wasn't enough to sell them to the public and in early 1957, they were dropped by RCA Victor.

The Four Lovers came to an end as a name but not a group during the next few years. They did a lot of backup singing on behalf of other artists in sessions run by Crewe, and occasionally cut records of their own for local labels under various names until they finally settled on the Four Seasons in 1961. Their lineup, by then, was Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi. The group wasn't working nearly full-time or making much money, however, and by 1962, Valli was making his living in construction. It was in the spring of that year that Bob Gaudio came up with a song called "Sherry," that he insisted by given to Valli and their group to cut. Crewe agreed and released by the Vee-Jay label, it hit number one nationally barely a month after release, thus beginning a new, more visible and successful phase in the history of the Four Seasons.

1955 LP Joyride (US RCA Victor LPM-1317)

01. The Four Lovers - I Want A Girl (Just Like The Girl That Married Dear Old Dad)
02. The Four Lovers - Such A Night
03. The Four Lovers - (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons
04. The Four Lovers - Joyride
05. The Four Lovers - This Is My Song
06. The Four Lovers - Memories Of You
07. The Four Lovers - It's To Soon To Know
08. The Four Lovers - San Antonio Rose
09. The Four Lovers - White Christmas
10. The Four Lovers - Night Train
11. The Four Lovers - Cimarron
12. The Four Lovers - Lawdy Miss Clawdy

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The Castells - So This Is Love (1962)

The Castells were a male vocal quartet from Santa Rosa, California best remembered for their hits "Sacred" (#20 in 1961) and "So This Is Love" (#21 in 1962). The group originally started with three members in November of 1958. In February 1959 Bob Ussery was added to the group, and that summer joined Joe Kelly after one of the early singers left. Only Tom Hicks and Chuck Girard stayed as first members of the group.

Their sound blended light rock with elements of collegiate harmony singing and jazz, and proved popular with teenagers as well as adults. The Castells was formed at Santa Rosa, CA High School, circa 1959. They were booked for a performance at a local teenage "canteen". They did not have a name, and their pianist, Jeff Bush, suggested the name. It had no meaning other than they thought that it sounded good, and the intent was to be more thoughtful and change it later. They obviously never did. Through a local Santa Rosa KJAX disc-jockey who went by the name of Dan Dillon, they got some Hollywood contacts. Girard's mother financed a demo for $100., which was recorded in a San Francisco studio. Read on +/-

They took their demo and went door-to-door in Hollywood, first to Crystalette Records,which seemed to be defunct, Alladin records, and then Era Records. They were excited that Alladin seemed interested, as they considered themselves to be R&B, but eventually it was Era who signed them with some help of Dillon. Their first release "Little Sad Eyes", went to "Bubbling Under" on the Billboard chart, then came "Sacred", which charted for them. The next,"Make Believe Wedding," went again "Bubbling Under", but then "So This Is Love" again charted.

The Castells played shows for a few years, and were privileged to share the stage with many of their idols, among them Jackie Wilson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bobby Vee, and Brenda Lee. They never again charted, but did continue to record for a few years, first for Warner Brothers Records, and then lastly, Decca Records. They disbanded around 1964.

1962 LP So This Is Love (US Era ES-109)

01. The Castells - So This Is Love
02. The Castells - I Get Dreamy
03. The Castells - Some Enchanted Evening
04. The Castells - The Vision Of You
05. The Castells - Stiki De Boom Boom
06. The Castells - Make Believe Wedding
07. The Castells - Oh! What It Seemed To Be
08. The Castells - Sacred
09. The Castells - Stand There Mountain
10. The Castells - Little Sad Eyes
11. The Castells - Clown Prince
12. The Castells - Dancing In The Dark

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Cleftones - Doo-Wop in Hart And Soul (1961)

Formed in Queens, NY, in 1955, the Cleftones consisted of five friends from Jamaica High School -- Herb Cox (lead), Warren Corbin (bass), Charlie James (first tenor), William McClain (baritone), and Berman Patterson (second tenor). Originally signed to Gee, the group released its first single, "You Baby You," late in 1955; an up-tempo doo wop song, the record became a regional hit. "Little Girl of Mine," the Cleftones' second single, broke nationally, charting at number eight R&B and number 57 pop in 1956; two other similar singles, "Can't We Be Sweethearts" and "String Around My Heart," were released the same year, yet they failed to attract national attention. "See You Next Year," a ballad the group recorded in 1957, did not earn the group an audience outside of New York. Two years later, McClain left the group and was replaced by Gene Pearson from the Rivileers. Patricia Spann was also added to the Cleftones' lineup that year, which helped nudge the band away from traditional group-oriented doo wop harmonies and toward a vocal sound that was dominated by the lead vocals. In 1961, the Cleftones realized the potential of the sound with their smash hit version of the standard "Heart and Soul"; it became the group's biggest hit, reaching number 18 on both pop and R&B charts. Later that year, the group had another hit with "For Sentimental Reasons," but the band had reached a peak with "Heart and Soul" and were never able to reach those heights again. The Cleftones broke up in 1964, three years after their greatest success.

1961 LP Heart And Soul (US Gee SGLP-705)

01. The Cleftones - Heart And Soul
02. The Cleftones - How Do You Feel
03. The Cleftones - A Hunderd Pounds Of Clay
04. The Cleftones - Please Say You Want Me
05. The Cleftones - Can't We Be Sweethearts
06. The Cleftones - Time Is Running Out On Our Love
07. The Cleftones - Little Girl Of Mine
08. The Cleftones - Heavenly Father
09. The Cleftones - Glory Of Love
10. The Cleftones - You And I Can Climb
11. The Cleftones - You Baby You
12. The Cleftones - String Around My Heart

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1961 LP For Sentimental Reasons (US Gee GLP-707)

01. The Cleftones - For Sentimental Reasons.mp3
02. The Cleftones - Blues In The Night
03. The Cleftones - Red Sails In The Sunset
04. The Cleftones - She's Gone
05. The Cleftones - Vacation In The Mountains
06. The Cleftones - My Babe She's A Rolling Stone
07. The Cleftones - Earth Angel
08. The Cleftones - Deed I Do
09. The Cleftones - Shadows On The Very Last Row
10. The Cleftones - What Did I Do That Was Wrong
11. The Cleftones - Hey Babe
12. The Cleftones - Leave My Woman Alone

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Monday, August 23, 2010

The Lively Ones are Surfin' again

One of the best of the many instrumental surf bands working the Southern California region in 1963, the Lively Ones made recordings built around storming, reverb-drenched Fender guitars embellished by occasional raunchy sax breaks. Originality was not the Lively Ones' forte; over a period of about 12 months, they ground out about five albums, filled out with many covers or retitled numbers based on other rock and R&B compositions. They had a couple of hits in the L.A. area in 1963 ("Surf Rider" and "Rik-A-Tik"), but their best moment was probably "Goofy Foot," whose staccato gunfire of riffs deservedly propelled the track onto several modern best-of-surf anthologies. They ranged far and wide for source material, giving the surf treatment to "Telstar," "Exodus," "Rawhide," and Cole Porter's "Night and Day." Even the overdone standards are arranged and executed with panache. One best-of compilation is all you need, but anyone who likes Dick Dale will dig the Lively Ones' similar sleek arrangements and prototypically twangy, classy surf guitar leads.

1963 LP Surf Rider (US Del-Fi DFLP-1226)

By the time their debut LP, Surf Rider! made it to store shelves in 1963, they had already issued a handful of singles, the most successful being a reworking of the Ventures' deep LP cut "Spudnik," rechristened as "Surf Rider." Although it made little impact nationally, the catchy tune and beguiling beat became a local smash, prompting Del-Fi to compile an album's worth of material with previously available sides, a few new originals, as well as some songs that would have been familiar to the audience. During an era marked by a plethora of nominally talented and ersatz sound-alike cover bands, in retrospect the Lively Ones' music remains noteworthy for their strong self-penned numbers. Among those highlights are the bouncy mid-tempo "Happy Gremmie," the driving rhythm behind "Walkin' the Board," and above all the gritty "Goofy Foot." As was customary, they also retooled and personalized concurrently popular melodies, including obligatory interpretations of Dick Dale's "Misirlou," "Let's Go Trippin'," and the solid opener "Surf Beat." Buoyed by incisive interplay between Masoner and Willenbring, other standouts are "Guitar Man" -- a Top 20 hit for Duane Eddy -- and the darkly brooding "Caterpillar Crawl."

01. The Lively Ones - Surf Beat
02. The Lively Ones - Let's Go Trippin'
03. The Lively Ones - Misirlou
04. The Lively Ones - (Dance With The) Guitar Man
05. The Lively Ones - The Caterpillar Crawl
06. The Lively Ones - Walkin' The Board
07. The Lively Ones - Paradise Cove
08. The Lively Ones - Goofy Foot
09. The Lively Ones - Surf Rider
10. The Lively Ones - Happy Gremmie
11. The Lively Ones - Hotdoggen
12. The Lively Ones - Surfer's Lament

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1963 LP Surf Drums (US Del-Fi DFLP-1231)

The second Lively Ones long-player, Surf Drums (1963), was compiled in much the same way their debut had been created, comparable to the vast majority of rush-released platters of the era. Del-Fi Records owner Bob Keane collected a few of the band's previous singles alongside a variety of already established covers, many of which were concurrent hits for other artists. The instrumental quintet had gained a sizable name for themselves in and around the Orange County, CA, scene, scoring regionally on covers of the Ventures' dynamic "Spudnik" and the Fireballs' effervescent "Rik-A-Tic." The album opens up with a remake of Duane Eddy's mid-tempo, ambling "40 Miles Bad Road." The track is the perfect vehicle for Jim Masoner (guitar) and Joel Willenbring (sax), whose collaborations became an integral ingredient not only in the Lively Ones' sound, but helped to separate them from the plethora of similar units. Providing support for the soloists and rounding out the personnel are solid contributions from Ed Chiaverini (guitar), Ron Griffith (bass), and Tim Fitzpatrick (drums). Despite the dearth of original compositions, the aggregate muscle through some choice overhauls of genre favorites, most notably the soulful strut of the Rockin' Rebels' "Wild Weekend," the high-energy yakety sax on the Belairs' "Mr. Moto" and the analogous rearrangement of "Tuff Surf," an R&B entry from the relatively obscure Nobel Watts.

01. The Lively Ones - Surf Beat
02. The Lively Ones - Let's Go Trippin'
03. The Lively Ones - Misirlou
04. The Lively Ones - (Dance With The) Guitar Man
05. The Lively Ones - The Caterpillar Crawl
06. The Lively Ones - Walkin' The Board
07. The Lively Ones - Paradise Cove
08. The Lively Ones - Goofy Foot
09. The Lively Ones - Surf Rider
10. The Lively Ones - Happy Gremmie
11. The Lively Ones - Hotdoggen
12. The Lively Ones - Surfer's Lament

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1963 LP Surf City (US Del-Fi DFLP-1237)

Following in much the same format as preceding releases, the platter consisted primarily of cuts that had been previously issued as singles or were initially left off previous LPs -- perhaps the most egregious example being "Surf Rider" (the title track from their 1963 debut album) -- in addition to a handful of "new" sides. As was fairly common practice at the time, there are several high-profile cover versions of well-established hits, which is how Surf City commences. The instrumental reworking of Jan & Dean's June 1963 chart-topper was undoubtedly a recent supplement to the Lively Ones' repertoire, as the original had only been around for a few months. Conversely, their carbon copy of Dick Dale's anthemic "Miserlou" -- another repeat from Surf Rider -- and the subdued interpretation of Santo & Johnny's "Sleepwalk" had already become surf rock staples. "Head's Up," a lesser-known entry from R&B guitarist Freddie King, is given a punchy reading that motors along with some tasty interplay between saxophonist Joel Willenbring and lead guitarist Jim Masoner. Speaking of King, they close with a spirited translation of his "Butterscotch," cleverly rechristened as "Forty Miles of Bad Surf." The languid and moody "Malibu Run" is one of two group-penned numbers, proving that while not as prolific as their record company might have desired, the Lively Ones easily made up for it with quality.

01. The Lively Ones - Surf City
02. The Lively Ones - Telstar Surf
03. The Lively Ones - Heads Up
04. The Lively Ones - Malibu Run
05. The Lively Ones - Miserlou
06. The Lively Ones - Surf Rider
07. The Lively Ones - Soul Surfer
08. The Lively Ones - Sleep Walk
09. The Lively Ones - Crazy Surf
10. The Lively Ones - Livin'
11. The Lively Ones - Tranquilizer
12. The Lively Ones - Forty Miles Of Bad Surf

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1964 LP Surfin' South Of The Border (US Del-Fi DFLP-1240)

The dozen cuts on 1964's Surfin' South of the Border are split among the Lively Ones and the Surf Mariachis -- the latter consisting of five renowned West Coast studio session instrumentalists under the direction of Del-Fi Records owner Bob Keane. The results yielded what was arguably one of the first "concept albums" of the surf rock subgenre. The project was unabashedly designed as a vehicle to release the remnants of the the Lively Ones' previous endeavors. The remaining time was filled with new Latin-flavored versions of tunes already well known by the targeted teen audience. Regardless of how opportunistic those terms might seem, give credit where credit is due, as Keane pulls off yet another inspired collection. Truth be told, it is curious why Lively Ones tracks such as the spirited opener, "Torquay," and the echoplex-happy reading of Ernest Gold's 1960 Oscar-winning composition "Exodus" were initially left on the editing room floor. The personnel of the Surf Mariachis boasted Conte Candoli (trumpet), Tom Scott (sax), Jay Migliori (sax), Billy Strange (guitar), and Frankie Capp (percussion), so it isn't that difficult to understand why they sound comparatively polished. "Watermelon Man" is a particularly tasty groove, as is Lalo Schifrin's frenetic "Undertow" and Lee Hazlewood's "Baja Surf," all of which strike a perfect balance between cool and kitsch.

01. The Lively Ones - Torquay
02. The Surf Mariachis - Baja Surf
03. The Lively Ones - Mexico
04. The Surf Mariachis - Limbo Rock
05. The Surf Mariachis - More
06. The Lively Ones - Exodus
07. The Lively Ones - Tequila
08. The Surf Mariachis - Watermelon Man
09. The Surf Mariachis - Undertow
10. The Lively Ones - Walking Memories (aka Surfing Mem
11. The Lively Ones - Latinia
12. The Surf Mariachis - Surf Fiesta

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Golden Earrings - The early years (1965-1967)

In 1961 four schoolboys, all from one neighborhood in The Hague, The Netherlands, started a band 'The Tornadoes.' The band consisted of young Rinus Gerritsen (bass), George Kooymans (guitar), Hans van Herwerden (guitar) and Fred van der Hilst (drums). In their early phase the Tornadoes played mostly covers of instrumentals of The Ventures and The Shadows like so many other bands in that period. When, in November 1962, the British Tornadoes scored a huge hit with "Telstar," their counterpart from The Hague realized that a new name must be invented. "Golden Earrings," a 1961 instrumental of the British guitar band 'The Hunters,' and also on the playlist of the boys, offers the solution. The band renamed itself to 'The Golden Earrings,' and first in the line of shuffling took place; Van Herwerden was replaced by Peter de Ronde (guitar).

In 1963 the first beat sounds blew over from England and brought the Golden Earrings to their senses that popularity of instrumentals was over. Beat vocals did take their place, and the recruitment of a singer was their most logical next step. Frans Krassenburg became that new vocalist. At the end of 1964 also Fred van der Hilst was leaving the Earrings and the band recruited the more talented Jaap Eggermont. In the meantime the band worked on its own repertoire, supplemented with covers of The Kinks and The Zombies. Read on +/-

1965 Turned out to be a crucial year in the existence of the Golden Earrings. During a gig in Scheveningen, the band was discovered by Fred Haayen, who at that time was still a student with a part-time job in the warehouse of Polydor records. But nevertheless he brought the young group to a recording contract. With the growing success of his discovery, also the star of Fred Haayen was rising. Later on he became director of Polydor and made career in America in the music industry. Haayen would produce the Golden Earring (without the 's' at that time) till the mid-70s, and was -- until a decade later -- business adviser to the group.

The year sixty five also saw their debut LP, "Just Earrings." A charming, but also not really perfect beat record. You still can hear how close the band was with their examples. The Golden Earrings played the classic rhythm & blues song "Sticks And Stones" note for note like The Zombies covered it a few months earlier -- including the excited cries. One of their own songs, "Please Go," showed up as the first single release. It ends on #10 of the Dutch 'Veronica hit list.' The release of the second single, "Lonely Every Day," was withdrawn the last minute, because they found out that the b-side, "Not To Find," had a grammatically incorrect title. You see... 'Yesterday's Gold' is not the only place with bad English. (Sorry!)

The year 1966 began with a ringing top three hit, "That Day." The first Dutch pop single recorded in England. The breakthrough of the Earrings was a fact. The band was the figurehead of an exploding The Hague beat scene, which yields groups as Q 65, Shocking Blue, The Motions and hundreds of lesser known bands. The Hague was for for several years the 'Liverpool of Holland'. The Golden Earrings scored several other hits with fresh beat songs as: "If You Leave Me;" "Daddy Buy Me A Girl;" and "Don't Run Too Far." Shortly before the release of their second album, "Winter Harvest," guitarist Peter de Ronde left the band.

Just after the release of Winter Harvest, in 1967, also Frans Krassenburg disappeared from the band, but one year later he would still live on old glory by his #20 hit single "Golden Earrings." Krassenburg was replaced by Barry Hay, from 'The Haigs.' Hay refuses an offer of 'Shocking Blue,' and saw the Golden Earrings as a better choice . "Sound Of The Screaming Day" was the first single release with him in the band, but Barry was heard only on flute. George Kooymans handled the vocals. It was a new big hit for the band. The year ended with "Together We Live, Together We Love." But after all, The Golden Earring stood just at the beginning of a long international career.

The Golden Earrings - The Early Singles 1965-1967

The Golden Earrings - Please Go / 1965 Polydor S1181
The Golden Earrings - Chunk Of Steel / 1965 Polydor S1181
The Golden Earrings - Lonely Everyday / 1965 Polydor S1185 (withdrawn)
The Golden Earrings - Not To Find / 1965 Polydor S1185 (withdrawn)
The Golden Earrings - That Day / 1966 Polydor 421.023
The Golden Earrings - The Words I Need / 1966 Polydor 421.023
The Golden Earrings - If You Leave Me / 1966 Polydor 421.036
The Golden Earrings - Waiting For You / 1966 Polydor 421.036
The Golden Earrings - Daddy Buy Me A Girl / 1966 Polydor 421.050
The Golden Earrings - What You Gonna Tell / 1966 Polydor 421.050
The Golden Earrings - Don't Run To Far / 1966 Polydor 421.056
The Golden Earrings - Wings / 1966 Polydor 421.056
The Golden Earrings - In My House 1967 Polydor / S1223
The Golden Earrings - Smoking Cigarettes 1967 Polydor / S1223
The Golden Earrings - Sound Of The Screaming Day / 1967 Polydor S1244
The Golden Earrings - She Won't Come To Me 1967 Polydor / S1244
The Golden Earrings - Together We Live, Together We Love / 1967 Polydor S1250
The Golden Earrings - I Wonder / 1967 Polydor S1250

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1965 LP Just Earrings (NL Polydor 007)

01. The Golden Earrings - Nobody But You
02. The Golden Earrings - I Hate Saying These Words
03. The Golden Earrings - She May Be
04. The Golden Earrings - Holy Witness
05. The Golden Earrings - No Need To Worry
06. The Golden Earrings - Please Go
07. The Golden Earrings - Sticks And Stones
08. The Golden Earrings - I Am A Fool
09. The Golden Earrings - Don't Stay Away
10. The Golden Earrings - Lonely Everyday
11. The Golden Earrings - When People Talk
12. The Golden Earrings - Now I Have

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1967 LP Winter Harvest (NL Polydor Special 736.068)

01. The Golden Earrings - Another Man In Town
02. The Golden Earrings - Smoking Cigarettes
03. The Golden Earrings - In My House
04. The Golden Earrings - Don't Wanna Loose That Girl
05. The Golden Earrings - Impeccable Girl
06. The Golden Earrings - Tears And Lies
07. The Golden Earrings - You've Got The Intention To Hurt Me
08. The Golden Earrings - Dream
09. The Golden Earrings - You Break My Heart
10. The Golden Earrings - Baby Don't Make Me Nervous
11. The Golden Earrings - Call Me
12. The Golden Earrings - Happy And Young Together
13. The Golden Earrings - Lionel The Miser
14. The Golden Earrings - There Will Be A Tomorrow

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs - Sugar Shack (1963)

On request, two nice 1963 albums from the Fireballs. The first one, 'Torquay,' was in line with several very good more early instrumental platters from the group. 'Sugar Shack' was titled to the first million seller for Gilmer, and credited as 'Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs.' The title song was written in 1962 by Keith McCormack and Faye Voss. Gilmer, then aged 23, came from Amarillo, Texas, and began singing as a youngster in La Grange, IIIinois. In 1951 he moved with his family to Amarillo where he studied the piano for four years at the Musical Arts Conservatory. In 1957, he organized his own rock 'n' roll band, playing for schools and other teenage functions. While attending Amarillo College (for an engineering degree), he continued to perform.

Jimmy Gilmer, born in Chicago, 1939, met the Fireballs (Stan Lark, Eric Budd and George Pomsco) at Norman Petty's recording studios in Clovis, New Mexico. The Fireballs had already some success on disc, and Jimmy teamed up with them as singer and rhythm guitarist. Their first hit was "Quite a Party" (#27 in 1961). Then came "Sugar Shack", and subsequent tours of Canada and Europe. The disc was #1 for five weeks in the U.S.A., with 15 weeks in Billboard hot 100; #45 in Britain and eight weeks in the bestsellers, and a top rhythm-and blues seller. It was also a huge hit in many other countries all over the world. The Fireballs, sans Gilmer, made one last unexpected comeback in 1968, when their "Bottle of Wine" (featuring vocals by the group themselves) made the Top Ten.

1963 LP Torquay (US Dot DLP-25512)

01. Fireballs - Torquay
02. Fireballs - Alone
03. Fireballs - Joey's Song
04. Fireballs - Last Date
05. Fireballs - Chief Whoopin`Koff
06. Fireballs - El Ringo
07. Fireballs - Wheels
08. Fireballs - Honey
09. Fireballs - Rawhide
10. Fireballs - Tuff-A-Nuff
11. Fireballs - Dumbo
12. Fireballs - Quite A Party

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1963 LP Sugar Shack (US DOT DLP-25545)

01. Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - Sugar Shack
02. Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - Let's Talk
03. Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - Linda Lu
04. Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - Lonesome Tears
05. Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - Let The Good Times Roll
06. Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - Red Cadillac And A Black Mustache
07. Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - Won't Be Long
08. Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - Little Baby
09. Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - I Wonder Why
10. Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - Suzie Q
11. Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - Pretend
12. Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs - Almost Eighteen

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Marv Johnson - Marvelous And More (1960)

Best remembered for a handful of hits including the Top Ten smashes "You Got What It Takes" and "I Love the Way You Love," Marv Johnson was also a seminal figure in the early history of Motown Records. Marvin Earl Johnson was born in Detroit, MI in 1938, and was raised in a musical environment that mixed the gospel music of the Baptist church with the jump-jazz of Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five. By the time he was in high school he had joined a local singing group, playing carnivals and fairs. In 1958, he cut his first sides, "My Baby-O" and "Once Upon a Time;" the single failed to sell, but the recording session resulted in a meeting with songwriter and would-be record producer Berry Gordy. Read on +/-

After Johnson played his original song "Come to Me" for Gordy and his future wife Raynoma, the couple chose Johnson as the first artist for their fledgling record label, Tamla. Because the new label didn't have distribution outside of Detroit, "Come to Me" (credited to Gordy and Johnson) was released nationally by United Artists, and rose to No. 6 on the R&B charts and No. 30 on the pop charts. Gordy soon lost direct control of his first discovery after United Artists signed Johnson directly, but continued as the singer's manager. Johnson also toured with Motown acts such as the Miracles in addition to appearing on Alan Freed's rock & roll revues and media venues such as American Bandstand, and joined early package tours and stage revues where he shared bills with his idols Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson.

Johnson's second single fared poorly, but his third, 1959's "You've Got What It Takes," exploded onto the charts, becoming a Top Ten hit and earning a gold record. The 1960 follow-up "I Love the Way You Love" also landed in the Top Ten; among his subsequent singles, "You've Got to Move Two Mountains" was a more pop-flavored effort that reached the Top 20, while "Happy Days" got to number seven on the R&B charts late in 1960. "Merry-Go-Round," issued in early 1961, was Johnson's last chart success. Even many R&B and soul fans have overlooked the greatness of Marv Johnson, whose smooth, exuberant, and sometimes poignant style helped turn some weepy numbers into triumphant outings. He sounded uniformly great throughout this early '60s albums, doing everything from light pop to anguished soul and singing with strength, conviction, and intensity.

1960 LP Marvelous Marv Johnson (US United Artists UAL 3081)

01. Marv Johnson - September In The Rain
02. Marv Johnson - You've Got What It Takes
03. Marv Johnson - Summertime
04. Marv Johnson - 's Wonderful
05. Marv Johnson - I Can't Get Started
06. Marv Johnson - Come To Me
07. Marv Johnson - Let Me Love You
08. Marv Johnson - Almost Like Being In Love
09. Marv Johnson - Love Is Here To Stay
10. Marv Johnson - I'm Coming Home
11. Marv Johnson - When I Fall In Love
12. Marv Johnson - Don't Leave Me

1960 LP More Marv Johnson (US United Artists UAL-3118)

01. Marv Johnson - Baby, Baby.mp3
02. Marv Johnson - This Heart Of Mine (Will Surely Sing)
03. Marv Johnson - I Love The Way You Love Me
04. Marv Johnson - River Of Tears
05. Marv Johnson - Clap Your Hands
06. Marv Johnson - Ain't Gonna Be That Way
07. Marv Johnson - When You've Lost Your Love
08. Marv Johnson - I Need You
09. Marv Johnson - Easier Said (Than Done)
10. Marv Johnson - Let Me Love You
11. Marv Johnson - What A Need
12. Marv Johnson - All The Love I've Got

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Manfred Mann - The Manfred Mann Album (1964)

Manfred Mann's debut full-length U.S. platter was probably their strongest, and indeed one of the stronger British Invasion albums of the very competitive year of 1964. Besides the smash "Do Wah Diddy Diddy," it contained a number of fine soul and R&B covers. Standouts were the versions of "Untie Me" and Ike & Tina Turner's "It's Gonna Work Out Fine," as well as the strong pounding Paul Jones original, "Without You."

1964 LP The Manfred Mann Album (US Ascot AM(S)-13015)

01. Manfred Mann - Do Wah Diddy Diddy
02. Manfred Mann - Don't Ask Me What I Say
03. Manfred Mann - Sack O'woe
04. Manfred Mann - What You Gonna Do
05. Manfred Mann - I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man
06. Manfred Mann - Smokestack Lightning
07. Manfred Mann - Got My Mojo Working
08. Manfred Mann - It's Gonna Work Out Fine
09. Manfred Mann - Down The Road Apiece
10. Manfred Mann - Untie Me
11. Manfred Mann - Bring It To Jerome
12. Manfred Mann - Without You

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One of Manfred Mann's finest early records, My Little Red Book of Winners was, aside from being a fine album that captured the band's early sensibility, a highly influential record. The hit song "My Little Red Book," an excellent arrangement of the Bacharach/David masterpiece, was included in the hit movie What's New Pussycat. It was there that Love's lead singer Arthur Lee first heard it, after which he arranged it for his band. Lee also aped a sense of style and phrasing from Mann's lead singer, Paul Jones, and did so to great effect. The rest of this record is equally brilliant in spots. "The One in the Middle," an excellent midtempo blues from Jones, proved what a fine and witty songwriter he was. Other covers on the album include "Oh No, Not My Baby" and "With God on Our Side," which illustrate how effectively the band could capture any style and make it their own.

1965 LP My Little Red Book Of Winners! (US Ascot ALM(S)-13021)

01. Manfred Mann - My Little Red Book
02. Manfred Mann - Oh, No, Not My Baby
03. Manfred Mann - What Am I To Do
04. Manfred Mann - The One In The Middle
05. Manfred Mann - You Gave Me Somebody To Love
06. Manfred Mann - You're For Me
07. Manfred Mann - Poison Ivy
08. Manfred Mann - Without You
09. Manfred Mann - Brother Jack (Frére Jacques)
10. Manfred Mann - A Love Like Yours (Don't Come Knocking Everyday)
11. Manfred Mann - I Can't Believe What You Say
12. Manfred Mann - With God On Our Side

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Jimmy Jones - Good Timin' (1961)

Best known for his 1960 R&B smash "Handy Man," Jimmy Jones sang in a smooth yet soulful falsetto modeled on the likes of Clyde McPhatter and Sam Cooke. Born in Birmingham, AL, Jones moved to New York with his family and began his entertainment career as a tap dancer. In 1954, he joined his first doo wop group, the Berliners, who soon changed their name to the Sparks of Rhythm. Jones recorded a few sides with them in 1955, then left to form his own group, the Savoys. They recorded for Savoy in 1956, then jumped to Rama and changed their name to the Pretenders (after the Platters song). The Pretenders cut sides for several labels over the next few years, a few under the name the Jones Boys, before disbanding in 1959. Tired of serving as a group leader, Jones embarked on a solo career with the MGM-owned Cub label later that year. Read on +/-

Teamed with writer/producer Otis Blackwell, Jones recorded a song he'd written back in his Sparks of Rhythm days called "Handy Man." By early 1960, "Handy Man" had rocketed into the Top Five on both the pop and R&B charts. Jones followed "Handy Man" with another Top Ten hit, "Good Timin'," later that year. That proved to be the full extent of his major commercial success, although he kept recording through most of the '60s. He remained with Cub until 1962, scraping the lower reaches of the charts with "That's When I Cried" and "I Told You So." He recorded for Ro-Jac and Vee Jay over the next two years, and his work gradually took on a New York-style uptown soul flavor. From 1965-1967, he cut sides for Roulette, Parkway, and Bell, none of which restored his commercial standing despite some fine performances.

1961 LP Good Timin' (US MGM S-3847)

01. Jimmy Jones - Good Timin'.mp3
02. Jimmy Jones - A Wondrous Place
03. Jimmy Jones - Never Had It So Good
04. Jimmy Jones - For You
05. Jimmy Jones - Where In The World
06. Jimmy Jones - Then I'll Know
07. Jimmy Jones - Handy Man
08. Jimmy Jones - To Long Will Be To Late
09. Jimmy Jones - My Precious Angel
10. Jimmy Jones - Ready For Love
11. Jimmy Jones - The Search Is Over
12. Jimmy Jones - I Just Go For You

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ray Stevens - The Best Of (1970)

One of the most popular novelty artists of all time, Ray Stevens enjoyed a remarkably long career, with a stretch of charting singles -- some of them major hits -- that spanned four decades. Unlike parody king Weird Al Yankovic, Stevens made most of his impact with original material, often based on cultural trends of the day. Yet his knack for sheer silliness translated across generations, not to mention countless compilations and special TV offers. Stevens was a legitimately skilled singer and producer who also performed straight country and pop, scoring the occasional serious hit. But in general, comic novelty songs were his bread and butter, and his brand of humor somehow managed to endure seismic shifts in popular taste and style. Read on +/-

Stevens was born Harold Ray Ragsdale on January 24, 1939, in the small town of Clarkdale, GA. He started piano lessons at age six and formed a band at 15 called the Barons, which played at local venues and social events. At 17, he moved to Atlanta and caught on with radioman Bill Lowery's music publishing company; one of his songs, "Silver Bracelet," got him a shot at recording for Capitol subsidiary Prep, but the single never hit outside of Atlanta. Stevens enrolled at Georgia State University to study classical piano and music theory and in the meantime continued to record for Lowery's NRC label. One of his earliest novelty songs, 1960's "Sgt. Preston of the Yukon," was building a national buzz until a copyright infringement suit took it off the racks. Stevens began performing regularly on a radio show called The Georgia Jubilee, which helped lead to a job with Mercury Records as a session musician, arranger, and A&R assistant. Meanwhile, in 1961, he landed his first Top 40 hit with the novelty (obviously) song "Jeremiah Peabody's Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills."

Once Stevens joined the Mercury staff, he recorded several more novelty singles. "Ahab the Arab," released in early 1962, was a smash hit, reaching the Top Five on the pop charts and even crossing over to the Top Ten on the R&B side. The follow-up, "Santa Claus Is Watching You," just missed the Top 40, but 1963's "Harry the Hairy Ape" returned him to the Top 20. Still, Stevens wasn't planning on a singing career; he concentrated more on learning the ropes in the studio. He worked with artists like Brenda Lee, Patti Page, and Brook Benton and sometimes sang as a substitute vocalist with the Jordanaires. In 1963, he played with Elvis Presley himself on the sessions for the Fun in Acapulco soundtrack. With no hits of his own on the way, however, Stevens wound up moving to the Monument label, where he signed on as a producer and arranger. There he worked with a young Dolly Parton and B.J. Thomas, among others, and formed a friendship with producer Bill Justis (best known for his Sun Records classic "Raunchy").

1970 LP The Best Of (US Mercury SR-61272)

Here a 1970 compilation of -- what I think -- his finest and most rock 'n' roll period on Mercury records. In the first three years he recorded for the label (1961-1963), Ray had seven entries on Billboard hot 100, with a #5 for his all time classic "Ahab, The Arab." On this 'The Best Of' sampler -- for what reason -- Mercury chooses for a live performance of the song, but in the file you'll find also the original long LP track as a bonus.

01. Ray Stevens - Ahab, The Arab
02. Ray Stevens - Funny Man
03. Ray Stevens - Harry The Hairy Ape
04. Ray Stevens - It's Been So Long
05. Ray Stevens - Speed Ball
06. Ray Stevens - Santa Claus Is Watching You
07. Ray Stevens - Butch Barbarian
08. Ray Stevens - Loved And Lost
09. Ray Stevens - The Rock And Roll Show
10. Ray Stevens - Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green And Purple Pills
11. Ray Stevens - Bubble Gum The Bubble Dancer

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Patti Page - Golden Hits (1960)

The best-selling female singer during the 1950s, Patti Page in many ways defined the decade of earnest, novelty-ridden adult pop with throwaway hits like "The Doggie in the Window" and "I Went to Your Wedding." By singing a wide range of popular material and her own share of novelty fluff, she proved easily susceptible to the fall of classic adult pop but remained a chart force into the mid-'60s.

Born Clara Ann Fowler in Muskogee, OK, she began singing professionally at a radio station in Tulsa and took weekend gigs on the side. (After being billed as Patti Page for a program sponsored by Page Milk, she decided to take the name even after leaving.) Page toured the country with a band led by Jimmy Joy and ended up in Chicago by 1947, where she sang in a small-group outing by Benny Goodman and gained a recording contract with Mercury. Her first hit, "Confess," came that same year and made her the first pop artist to overdub harmony vocals onto her own lead. After a few more successes, Page gained her first million-seller in 1950 for "With My Eyes Wide Open I'm Dreaming," which cashed in on the novelty effect of overdubbing (the added touch came with listing it as "the Patti Page Quartet"). Also in 1950, "All My Love" became her first number one hit and spent several weeks at the top. That same year produced the biggest hit of her career, "The Tennessee Waltz." Notched at number one for months, it eventually became one of the best-selling singles of all time and prompted no less than six Top 40 covers during the following year.

During 1952-1953, Patti Page scored two more huge hits with "I Went to Your Wedding" and "The Doggie in the Window," both of which spent more than two months at number one. She gained her own television program, The Patti Page Show, in 1955 and moved into full-lengths with In the Land of Hi Fi and Manhattan Tower. Page also proved more resilient to the rise of rock & roll than most of her contemporaries, hitting big in 1956 with "Allegheny Moon" and "Old Cape Cod" the next year. Indeed, she kept reaching the charts (if only in moderate placings) throughout the '60s, paced by the Top Ten theme to the film Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte in 1965. Though she stopped recording for the most part in 1968, she continued performing into the '90s.

1960 LP Golden Hits (US Mercury SR-60495)

01. Patti Page - The Tennessee Waltz
02. Patti Page - Cross Over The Bridge
03. Patti Page - Mockin' Bird Hill
04. Patti Page - Detour
05. Patti Page - Changing Partners
06. Patti Page - Mister And Mississippi
07. Patti Page - The Doggie In The Window
08. Patti Page - Old Cape Cod
09. Patti Page - Allegheny Moon
10. Patti Page - With My Eyes Open I'm Dreaming
11. Patti Page - I Went To Your Wedding
12. Patti Page - Why Don't You Believe Me

Jimmy Justice - Justice For All (1964)

Jimmy Justice probably did not realise his full potential because of a lack of original material and poor decision making. However, he had one of the richest sounding voices in the UK during the early 1960s- even if it failed to make him one of the richest singers. In fact, if you hadn't ever seen or heard of Jimmy Justice before, then his early recordings sounded more like those of an established black American than a young white Londoner. This illusion was reinforced by the choice of material used for his record releases which were mostly remakes and covers of songs taken from US groups.Jim Little had struck up a chance friendship with two of the Checkmates, Dave and George Sweetman- Emile Ford's step-brothers, no less. The fact that he could sing soon came to the attention of Emile who encouraged Jimmy to form his own group and join the coffee bar circuit.
Read on +/-

Emile also suggested entering the same talent competition that he had himself previously won. This led, as it had done for Emile, to an opportunity to record with the Pye record company and with Emile's help on production his first single "I Understand Just How You Feel" was released. This was credited to 'Jimmy Justice and Jury' although the backing musicians were really the Checkmates.Pye tried again with more singles and the pop wizard, Tony Hatch, was brought in to do the production. Jimmy's third release didn't quite reach the charts but did sell well and it's surprisingly easy to find a copy. This song was a cover of the Jarmels' "Little Bit Of Soap" and could be viewed now as a template for what was to come. Hatch chose the Drifters' "When My Little Girl Is Smiling" next- which on the face of it was a hopeless cause- being up against not only the original, but also another well made cover from the established British star, Craig Douglas. Nevertheless, the Justice version managed to share the honors of a #9 chart entry with the more experienced Craig.

The next release produced Jimmy's biggest UK success, "Ain't That Funny". It was a song that had been written by Les Vandyke and Justice was presumably lucky that the song had come to him rather than Eden Kane with whom the songwriter was closely associated at the time. After this splendid original, it was back to the US group catalogue with "Spanish Harlem", which turned out to be Jimmy's final UK chart entry. Sadly, the choice of Jimmy's following material was really not good enough for the competitive UK market. He had a little more luck on continental Europe and in Scandinavia, where the B-sides of some of his releases proved popular- and probably should have previously been released at home as the A-sides. As a result of his disappointment in the UK, Jimmy spent the following years in Sweden and his promising beginnings in the UK were allowed to fade away.

1964 LP Justice For All (US Kapp KL-1308)
  1. Jimmy Justice - Ain't That Funny
  2. Jimmy Justice - Drawning
  3. Jimmy Justice - Early In The Morning
  4. Jimmy Justice - I'm Beginning To See The Light
  5. Jimmy Justice - If You Love Me
  6. Jimmy Justice - Like Young
  7. Jimmy Justice - Misty
  8. Jimmy Justice - Once In A Lifetime
  9. Jimmy Justice - Parade Of Broken Hearts
  10. Jimmy Justice - Softly As In A Morning Sunrise
  11. Jimmy Justice - Spanish Harlem
  12. Jimmy Justice - When My Little Girl Is Smiling

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Annette Funicello - Annette / Annette Sings Anka (1959-1960)

Annette Funicello was 13 years old when she was discovered by studio head Walt Disney dancing in an amateur production of Swan Lake in Fullerton, CA. Much to the enmity of her Mickey Mouse Club co-stars, Funicello joined the cast late in the show's first season and was not required to audition. However, Disney's impulses proved correct, as she swiftly became the most popular performer on The Mickey Mouse Club and featured in her own storyline, Adventures in Dairyland. Soon it was obvious that Funicello needed to make records in order to exploit her potential as a teen star, and while Annette wasn't very enthusiastic about her ability to sing, Disney engaged established arranger Tutti Camerata to pilot her career as a recording artist. Funicello's first record, "Tall Paul," peaked at number seven on the Billboard pop charts and spent nine weeks there; it would prove the highest chart position she would enjoy.

Nevertheless, Funicello's enormous audience base -- mostly teen girls -- was enough to support her through 13 albums released through 1965, all but the first appearing on the Buena Vista label, a record company begun by Walt Disney so that Funicello's records need not appear on the Disneyland imprint. Funicello ultimately got accustomed to making records, and genuinely enjoyed working with Camerata, one of the few forty-something arrangers of the time who "got" the basic building blocks of early rock music. Her albums gradually improved starting with the second one, Annette Sings Anka, probably the first LP to treat the work of a rock songwriter as repertoire.

1959 LP Annette (US Buena Vista BV-3301)

01. Annette Funicello - Tall Paul
02. Annette Funicello - My Heart Becames Of Age
03. Annette Funicello - Don't Jump To Conclusions
04. Annette Funicello - Lonely Guitar
05. Annette Funicello - It Took Dreams
06. Annette Funicello - Wild Willie
07. Annette Funicello - Jo-Jo The Dog-Faced Boy
08. Annette Funicello - How Will I Know My Love
09. Annette Funicello - Ma, He's Making Eyes At Me
10. Annette Funicello - Especially For You
11. Annette Funicello - That Crazy Place From Outer Space
12. Annette Funicello - Love Me Forever

1960 LP Annette Sings Anka (US Buena Vista BV-3302)

01. Annette Funicello - Train Of Love
02. Annette Funicello - Teddy
03. Annette Funicello - I Love You
04. Annette Funicello - Hey Mama
05. Annette Funicello - I Love You Baby
06. Annette Funicello - Lonely Girl
07. Annette Funicello - Like a Baby
08. Annette Funicello - Talk To Me Baby
09. Annette Funicello - Tell Me That You Love Me
10. Annette Funicello - Waiting For You
11. Annette Funicello - It's Really Love
12. Annette Funicello - And So Its Goodbye

Dion & The Belmonts

From the working class neighborhood of the Bronx came one of the defining vocal groups of the late nineteen fifties. They were Dion & The Belmonts (named for a neighborhood street - Belmont Avenue), and the members were Dion DiMucci - lead, Fred Milano and Angelo D'Aleo on tenor, and Carlo Mastroangelo on bass. At first Dion and The Belmonts were separate entities although they seemingly traveled in the same circles in their neighborhood, and both first recorded for the small independent Mohawk label - Dion with "The Chosen Few" and "Out In Colorado" on #105 which sounded like a pair of tunes from a grandiose western movie, certainly not the type of songs from the central Bronx of 1957. The Belmonts did not do much better with "Teenage Clementine" and "Santa Margarita" on #106 (who was picking these songs?). Neither record surfaced at all, and on Mohawk #107 both parts of the equation came together and Dion & The Belmonts recorded "We Went Away" and "Tag Along". The record drew another blank and that was the end of Mohawk Records as far as the newly formed vocal group was concerned. Read on +/-

Enter a newly formed record company called Laurie Records (was there a connection with Mohawk, or just neighbors in the same building on New York City's Broadway? ). In any event, whether it was a canny A & R man (maybe Sol Winkler or Ernie Maresca), luck, or divine guidance,the first release for the label by the group on Laurie #3013 "I Wonder Why" exploded on the street like a cannon shot. The tune was in New York everywhere, coming out of every radio, every record player, every open car door. These were their guys and they were hitting the big time. The flip side "Teen Angel" never got a play so dominant was the up tempo 'A' side. Every kid did his five-and-dime imitation of Carlo's stattaco bass intro and that became one of the signature sounds of the rock 'n' roll age. Dion & The Belmonts came off the starting line in full stride and never looked back.

Waiting for a follow up, listeners were surprised by the choice of a sentimental ballad instead of the usual copy cat repeat of the hit. The tune "No One Knows" on #3015, was an earnest story of unrequited teenage love, and it was a winner as fans took to the ballad sound. As for chart sales, it outdid their initial recording for Laurie, getting into the top twenty national pop charts which was a heady accomplishment for a doowop group in 1958 on their second try for the label. With that success, Laurie Records kept the group on track for a number of ballads, and all were successful in varying degrees proving out the direction that the group was taking. Now with a rocking hit and a ballad smash, the group hit the road for a period of extensive touring. They did a number of one nighters in the East and went out nationally on package tours around the country.

Just after the new year in 1959, the new release by the group was Laurie # 3021"Don't Pity Me" and "Just You". The sound of melancholy on "Don't Pity Me" worked for the group and it hit the national pop charts again although not as famously as the previous two records. In support of the new record, the group went out on a touring revue called "The Winter Dance Party" that played the Midwest. This show lives on in infamy because of the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. (The Big Bopper) Richardson near Clear Lake, Iowa. By late spring Dion & The Belmonts were readying their new Laurie release on #3027, called "A Teenager In Love". Once again the song struck a chord in the lives of so many of the listeners that lived the words of the tune, and as a result, sales for the record were phenomenal. A top five best seller and a pop chart record for four months, it was by far the biggest seller to date and the group was certainly a hot property. The song sung in tempo as midway between a ballad and a rocker was also great for dancing.

At this time one of the inevitabilities of any comparable situation arose. There were forces at work to make Dion DiMucci a solo performer and to showcase his talent (and consequently to have a much fewer number of voices) inputting plans and ideas. But for the time being the group moved ahead on their next record. Immediately following the new year of 1960, the quartet went into the studio and tried their hand on a pop standard "Where Or When" which featured a lovely counter melody played on sax in the intro and ending. The interesting flip side was the group's take on The Channels version of the Frankie Laine pop hit of "That's My Desire" which featured impeccable harmony without the bombastic bass which was a feature of the original version on Whirlin Disc. The record on Laurie #3044 was a huge success, dominating the pop charts in early 1960 and challenging for the top position on the national best sellers list (locked out of gaining the top spot by Percy Faith's MOR movie tune "Theme From A Summer Place"). It seemed that Dion & The Belmonts could do no wrong. Everything they put on record was a smash. In the spring they recorded a tune made famous by the Walt Disney movie "Pinnochio". The song was "When You Wish Upon A Star", and again the Belmonts and Dion made the charts though not anywhere as dominant a position as the two previous hits.

There was one more chart hit for the group that summer, "In The Still Of The Night" (the 1930s pop standard, not the Five Satins tune) on #3059. The successful formula that served the group so well for the last two years seemed to be played out now. The record barely charted, getting into the 30s just briefly. By the end of the year the split (mostly amicable according to those involved) took place, and Dion went out into the world as a solo performer and was signed as such by Laurie, while The Belmonts carried on with Carlo taking over the lead singing spot. Both parts of the act had a measure of fame and fortune - the Belmonts certainly must be classified as a moderate success, while Dion had some monumental hit records during the early sixties, with some of his tunes becoming teenage anthems that would last a lifetime.

1959 LP Presenting Dion And The Belmonts (US Laurie (S)LLP-2002)
  1. Dion & The Belmonts - I Wonder Why
  2. Dion & The Belmonts - Teen Angel
  3. Dion & The Belmonts - Where Or When
  4. Dion & The Belmonts - You Better Not Do That
  5. Dion & The Belmonts - Just You
  6. Dion & The Belmonts - I Got The Blues
  7. Dion & The Belmonts - Don't Pity Me
  8. Dion & The Belmonts - A Teenager In Love
  9. Dion & The Belmonts - Wonderful Girl
  10. Dion & The Belmonts - A Funny Feeling
  11. Dion & The Belmonts - I've Cried Before
  12. Dion & The Belmonts - That's My Desire
  13. Dion & The Belmonts - No One Knows [UK release]
  14. Dion & The Belmonts - I Can't Go On (Rosalie) [UK release]

1960 LP Wish Upon A Star (US Laurie (S)LLP-2006)
  1. Dion & The Belmonts - When You Wish Upon A Star
  2. Dion & The Belmonts - In The Still Of The Night
  3. Dion & The Belmonts - A Lover's Prayer
  4. Dion & The Belmonts - My Private Joy
  5. Dion & The Belmonts - My Day
  6. Dion & The Belmonts - Swinging On A Star
  7. Dion & The Belmonts - Every Little Thing I Do
  8. Dion & The Belmonts - All The Things You Are
  9. Dion & The Belmonts - It's Only A Paper Moon
  10. Dion & The Belmonts - Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)
  11. Dion & The Belmonts - I'm Through With Love
  12. Dion & The Belmonts - When The Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along
  13. Dion & The Belmonts - September Song
  14. Dion & The Belmonts - Faith

1960 LP Alone With Dion (US Laurie (S)LLP-2004)
  1. Dion - Lonely Teenager
  2. Dion - After The Dance
  3. Dion - P.S. I Love You
  4. Dion - Save The Last Dance For Me
  5. Dion - Little Miss Blue
  6. Dion - Havin' Fun
  7. Dion - Heaven Help Me
  8. Dion - Close Your Eyes
  9. Dion - Fools Rush In
  10. Dion - My One And Only Love
  11. Dion - North East End Of The Corner
  12. Dion - One For My Baby
  13. Dion - Then I'll Be Tired Of You
  14. Dion - The Kissin' Game

Betty Harris - Soul Perfection (1969)

During a 1965 tour Betty Harris met New Orleans composer and producer Allen Toussaint, and with the superbly slinky "I'm Evil Tonight" she became the first artist to record for his fledgling Sansu label. With Toussaint at the helm, the bluesy balladry of Harris' Jubilee sides gave way to a funky, sensual dynamic that heralded a new era of New Orleans R&B. The 1966 ballad "Sometime" was backed by the brilliant "I Don't Want to Hear It," Toussaint's edgiest and most aggressive production to date. The subsequent "12 Red Roses" further refined the approach, and with 1967's "Nearer to You" Harris finally returned to the R&B Top 20, delivering another sublimely emotional performance.

"Love Lots of Lovin'," a duet with fellow Toussaint charge Lee Dorsey, closed out the year -- Harris planned to support the record on tour with Otis Redding, but on December 10, the soul giant lost his life in a plane crash. Harris forged on, with 1968's "Mean Man" delivering her grittiest effort to date; backed by a session group that would soon evolve into the Meters. She ended her Sansu tenure with the fierce "Trouble with My Lover."

1969 LP Soul Perfection (US Action ACLP-6007)

01. Betty Harris - Ride Your Pony
02. Betty Harris - What A Sad Feeling
03. Betty Harris - Bad Luck
04. Betty Harris - I'm Gonna Git You
05. Betty Harris - Show It
06. Betty Harris - Can't Last Much Longer
07. Betty Harris - I Don't Want To Hear It
08. Betty Harris - Sometime
09. Betty Harris - Mean Man
10. Betty Harris - Lonely Hearts
11. Betty Harris - Hook Line 'N' Sinker
12. Betty Harris - What'd I Do Wrong
13. Betty Harris - Trouble With My Lover
14. Betty Harris - Nearer To You
15. Betty Harris - I'm Evil Tonight
16. Betty Harris - 12 Red Roses

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jack Good's Oh Boy! (1958)

The 'Oh Boy!' UK ABC Television show first appeared as two trial broadcasts in the Midlands region. The show then went nationwide and was televised each Saturday evening, live from the Hackney Empire, in direct competition to the BBC's '6.5 Special' teen show. Within the first 6 weeks, the show became a smash hit and the number of viewers had doubled. Many top British vocalists who went on to achieve international fame made their early TV appearances on the show. Cliff Richard, Shirley Bassey, John Barry, Marty Wilde and Billy Fury are some examples. The cast listings read like a who's who of UK 'Hit Paraders' of the time and were household names - The Dallas Boys; Ronnie Carroll; The Vernons Girls; Emile Ford; The King Brothers; Lonnie Donegan; Vince Eager; Dickie Valentine and Alma Cogan. The show was even blessed with appearances by non British acts: The Inkspots; Conway Twitty and Brenda Lee from the USA and the Marino Marini Quartet from Italy all appearing to promote their latest recordings. Jimmy Henney and Tony Hall would take it in turns each week to compere the show.

In an interview for TV Times in 1958, Jimmy Henney explained how he came to be a compere for the show: "I'd known Jack Good as a telephone voice for years, but I'd never actually met him. One day he came over to my house and, during our conversation, he asked: 'Why don't you do some TV?' I replied that if someone liked to ask me I'd be only too happy. Jack said he'd try and do something about that, and when this show came up he gave me a camera test." He added "I'd never done a show like this, and was a bit worried. But it was so exciting that I couldn't have felt happier once it started."

The recording for the album was made in one session on the evening of October 19, 1958, the day before ABC Television had transmitted the sixth edition of 'Oh Boy!' and already the show was a smash hit. The number of viewers had doubled. Stage shows and films were being mooted. And now the L.P. In six short weeks 'Oh Boy!' had grown to the stature that '6.5 Special' had taken nine months to achieve. For, by an odd coincidence, October 19, 1958 marked to a day the first anniversary of the session at which the '6.5 Special' LP was made. And at that time '6.5 Special' had been running nine months. Both discs were made by Norman Newell and at both sessions I held a watching brief as producer of the television programme concerned. The difference of these two occasions formed a clear reflection of the changes that have taken place in the world of popular music.

1958 LP Jack Good's Oh Boy! (UK Parlophone PMC-1072)

01. Cliff Richard - TV Hop
02. Vernon Girls - Little Jonah
03. Cliff Richard - Rockin' Robin
04. John Barry Seven - When The Saints Go Marching In
05. Vince Eagar - Buzz, Buzz, Buzz
06. Neville Taylor & The Cutters - Good Good
07. Cliff Richard - High School Confidential
08. Vernons Girls - Bad Motorcycle
09. Cuddly Dudley - Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey
10. Dallas Boys - Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart
11. Peter Elliott - Your Hands, Your Heart, Your Love
12. Cliff Richard - Early In The Morning
13. Cliff Richard - King Creole
14. Two Vernons Girls - There's Never Been A Night
15. Neville Taylor & The Dallas Boys - Leroy
16. John Barry - Seven Pancho
17. Vince Eager - Blue Ribbon Baby
18. Neville Taylor & The Cutters - Little Miss Ruby
19. Cliff Richard - I'll Try
20. Vernons Girls - Don't Look Now, But
21. Cuddly Dudley - Let's Rock While The Rocking's Good
22. Dallas Boys - Joshua
23. Peter Elliott - The End
24. Cliff Richard - Somebody Touched Me

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