Friday, December 31, 2010

"Smoke From A Distant Fire" by Sanford-Townsend Band.

OK, more one-hit wonders: These two blue-eyed soul keyboardists from Alabama reunited in L.A. in the 70's as a songwriting team. Their credits include, among others, "I Keep Forgettin' " for Michael McDonald. Their hit came in '77, topping the Cashbox charts and peaking at #9 on Billboard. Recorded at the noted Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama. They opened for Fleetwood Mac during their Rumours Tour to promote their record. Kenny Loggins sings background vocals.

Yesterday's answer: "Silhouettes" by the Rays. The doo-wop group The Silhouettes, as in "Get A Job", took their name from this song.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Silhouettes" by The Rays.

OK, more one-hit wonders: Bob Crewe was riding on a train in Philly in '57 when he saw a couple embracing through a window shade. He took the idea to his co-writer Frank Slay and the rest is doo-wop history. It became the only hit for a Brooklyn-based vocal quartet (#3 - sold over one million copies and was Certified Gold). Legend goes that a local DJ fell asleep while premiering the record and it played on the radio repeatedly for many hours. A minor hit (#60) for Canada's The Diamonds shortly thereafter. Herman's Hermits took it to #5 in '65; their 3rd US hit. The Beatles' "No Reply" is said to have been inspired by this song. Sha Na Na played it at Woodstock. Part of the "Jersey Boys" soundtrack. Song? Group?

Yesterday's answer: "Hey Girl" by Freddie Scott. WAY up there on the all-time makeout songs hit parade!

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Hey Girl" by Freddie Scott.

OK, back to the 60's: Freddie Scott's only Top Ten hit came in '63 with the 1st recording of a Gerry Goffin/Carole King ballad (#10 Pop Singles and R&B). Donny Osmond's '72 rendition peaked at #9, higher than Scott's original version. Also covered by The Righteous Brothers ('66), The Temptations ('69), Billy Joel ('97) and by Ray Charles/Michael McDonald ('04).

Yesterday's answer: "Zigeunerweisen" (Aires Gitanos or Gypsy Airs) by Pablo de Sarasate.
My father had the privilege of seeing Heifetz perform "Zigeunerweisen" at the U. of Puerto Rico Theater as a student - he was hooked after that! I have seen Stern and Perlman perform it - memorable! Papa, remember seeing Stern walking around the grounds at the Caribe Hilton during El Festival Casals?

"Zigeunerweisen" by Pablo de Sarasate.

OK, back to the classics: This 19th century Spanish virtuoso is widely considered to be one of the greatest violinists ever - "impeccable technique and tone of unsurpassed sweetness and purity". As a composer he published at least 54 works. He originally composed his magnum opus in 1878 for violin and piano but subsequently orchestrated it, which is as we know it today. Inspired by the csardas of the Roma people (Romani or Gypsies). A staple on virtuosi repertoires, the composer himself recorded it in 1904. Its one movement is divided into 4 sections. Memorable interpretations by Elman, Francescatti, Heifetz, Stern and Perlman. Artist? Work?

Yesterday's answer: "Up On The Roof" by Laura Nyro. Incredible songwriter - "Wedding Bell Blues", "Stoned Soul Picnic", "And When I Die", "Eli's Coming", "Stoney End", ....!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Up On The Roof" by Laura Nyro.

OK, back to the 70's: This prolific Brill Building composer/lyricist/singer/pianist left us in '97 after a battle with ovarian cancer. She was a classmate of Janis Ian at NYC's High School of Music and Art. Her songs were extensively covered by the likes of Peter, Paul & Mary, The 5th Dimension, Blood, Sweat & Tears and Barbra Streisand, to name a few. Ironically, her ONLY charting single as a solo artist (#92 in '70) was her version of a Gerry Goffin/Carole King '62 tune 1st recorded by The Drifters. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Long Tall Sally" by Little Richard. Curiously, Pat Boone DID record it - NOT one of his major hits!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

"Long Tall Sally" by Little Richard.

OK, back to the 50's: This '56 Blackwell/Johnson/Penniman early rock classic was originally titled "The Thing". Enotris Johnson wrote the core of the lyrics for Penniman to record so she could pay her ailing aunt Mary's medical bills. Killer 12-bar blues chord progression, smokin' piano by the singer and memorable sax solo by Lee Allen. Pat Boone had a hit with his cover of the artist's "Tutti Frutti" so they purposefully made it so upbeat and fast that Boone couldn't cover it. #1 R&B and #6 Pop - #56 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. The Beatles covered it in '64 as part of an EP. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Homeward Bound" by Simon and Garfunkel. Sometimes I forget Paul Simon's understated mastery of the folk guitar while listening to their ethereal harmonies but then I hear "Homeward Bound" and I say, "DANG HE'S GOOD!"!

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Homeward Bound"

OK, back to the 60's: A 22 year-old Paul Simon was stranded overnight at the Widnes train depot in north England in '65 when he wrote one of his signature songs about missing his then-girlfriend Kathy Chitty and longing to get back to the U.S. It appeared on Simon and Garfunkel's "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" album in '66, peaking at #5 and staying on the charts for 12 weeks. Memorable duet with George Harrison on Saturday Night Live in '75.

Yesterday's answer: "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". My all-time fave is "Oh Holy Night" but this one is also way up there.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"

OK, a little more Christmas cheer: According to ASCAP, this Hugh Martin/Ralph Blane composition is the 3rd most-played Christmas song. Introduced by Judy Garland in the '44 musical film "Meet Me In St. Louis", where she sang it to her sad 5 year-old sister. It became extremely popular among G.I.'s serving overseas during WWII, often bringing them to tears. In '57 Frank Sinatra asked Martin to "jolly up" the lyrics, as he found them too depressing - his version is the most popular one today. It was further re-written to remove any religious references.

Yesterday's answer: "Little Saint Nick" by The Beach Boys. The B-side was "The Lord's Prayer", a Beach Boys "rarity". Sometimes referred to as "Run Run Reindeer". Even though I'm a Diet Dew guy (not proud to admit it), I loved the Coke commercial.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Little Saint Nick" by The Beach Boys.

OK, a little Christmas cheer (easy!): This B. Wilson/M. Love "modern" Christmas classic was released in December 1963 - a bit of cheer for a nation mourning President Kennedy's recent assassination. #3 on Billboard's Christmas chart and #69 on Cashbox. Very similar in structure and rhythm to "Little Deuce Coupe", released earlier that year - also uses car analogies, "candy apple red", "...with a 4-speed stick". Covered by John Denver and The Muppets in '79 and by Hanson in '97. Used during a recent Coke commercial with polar bears and penguins. Group? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Yes It Is" by The Beatles. John's vocals are probably some of his best ever. George taught my generation how to play the guitar - with this song he showed us how to use 6th chords.

"Yes It Is" by The Beatles.

OK, more Fabdom: This doo-wop style Lennon ballad was released in '65 as the B-side to "Ticket To Ride" and on "Beatles VI". It features some of The Beatles' most intricate 3-part harmonies - their 2nd song using 3-part harmony lead vocals which they didn't use again until "Because" in '69. Recorded in a 5 hr. session during which they also taped "I Need You" (!). The 1st Beatles tune to include guitar effects - George experimented with tone pedal swells. John didn't particularly care for the song, " attempt to re-write 'This Boy' that didn't work". Macca, however, called it "a very fine song of John's".

Yesterday's answer: "Pata Pata" by Miriam Makeba. We had fun with it in '67 when it came out as, in Spanish, "pata" means a female duck and is also slang for leg and lesbian!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Pata Pata" by Miriam Makeba.

OK, back to the 60's: This South African Grammy winner and civil rights activist nicknamed "Mama Africa" left us two years ago. In the 60's she was the 1st artist to popularize African music in the US and worldwide. Banned from her homeland due to her anti-Apartheid campaigning. Her signature song was written in Xhosa by Dorothy Masuka and translates "touch touch". She first recorded in in '57 and it became immensely popular in Africa. Released in '67 in the US, peaking at #12 on Billboard and at #7 R&B. She died of a heart attack in 2008 in Italy shortly after performing her biggest hit. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Hey, Pachuco!" by Royal Crown Revue. Some tremendous ensembles followed in their footsteps - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Cherry Poppin' Daddies and The Brian Setzer Orchestra, to name a few. The L.A. Zoot Suit Riots started in '43 at the height of WWII when sailors and Marines stationed in the L.A. area antagonized (or vice versa?) local zoot suit-clad Latino youths who called themselves "pachucos".

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Hey, Pachuco!" by Royal Crown Revue.

OK, more 80's: This Los Angeles-based ensemble formed in 1989 and is widely credited for starting the Swing Revival Movement. Inspired by Louis Prima, a masterful big-band blend of swing and jump blues with a rockabilly inflection. Their biggest hit was inspired by the L.A. Zoot Suit Riots and popularized when they appeared on "The Mask" and "Swingers" playing it. Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough did a memorable quickstep to the song, winning Season 5 of "Dancing With The Stars". Group? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Stand" by R.E.M. It might be "inane" but I still love the song.

"Stand" by R.E.M.

OK, more 80's: This Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe '89 composition was the group's 2nd Top 10 hit, peaking at #6. "It's about making decisions and actually living your life rather than letting it happen...". They challenged each other to write "the most inane and 'bubblegummy' " music and lyrics they could (!). The last two rounds of the chorus are each played one whole step higher than the last one. Great parody and video by "Weird Al" Yankovic. Group? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "La Vie En Rose" by Edith Piaf.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"La Vie en Rose" by Edith Piaf.

OK, back to the 40's: "La Mome" wrote the lyrics to this somewhat autobiographic classic at the height of World War II, during which she secretly assisted the French resistance. The melody is by Louis "Louiguy" Gugliemi, who also wrote "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White". Mack Davis penned the English version. Won a Grammy Hall Of Fame Award in '98. It debuted in 1946 and appeared in most of the chanteuse's subsequent albums. Sung by Audrey Hepburn in "Sabrina" ('54). Among the many covers, two outstanding ones are Chet Atkins' on solo acoustic guitar and Susan Werner's a capella version. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "I Want To Be A Beatle" and "Since I've Been Wearing My Hair Like a Beatle". (Dang, maybe I should start wearing my hair like a Beatle - hey, miracles can happen!) As you might recall, Bobby Wilding co-wrote "Hurt So Bad" with Teddy Randazzo and Bobby Hart.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bobby Wilding

OK, more PseudoFabdom (?!): Bobby Wilding recorded two Beatles-themed Barr/Meshel/Weinstein compositions in 1964. Name them.

Yesterday's answer: "I Wanna Be Your Man". Ringo happens to be my favorite Beatle. He was "allowed" to sing one song per album and it was always a "leftover" song - "throw him a bone!".

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"I Wanna Be Your Man"

OK, more Fabdom: This is THE ONLY Beatles song ever covered by the Rolling Stones. Legend goes that Mick and Keith ran into Paul and John on a street in London on their way to a Stones recording session. Jagger asked them if they had any new material that they could record. Lennon/Macca had previously written some lines to be sung by Ringo. They finished it sitting on the studio floor as The Stones watched in amazement. They released it only as a single 3 weeks before The Beatles did (B-side to "Not Fade Away"). It peaked at #12 in the UK. One of the very few Stones tunes featuring Brian Jones on backup vocals. The Beatles version was released on their 2nd studio album in Nov. '63 with Ringo on double-tracked lead vocals. The "oldest" Beatles song they performed during their last concert 8/29/66 at Candlestick Park in S.F.

Yesterday's answer: "Lambada" by Kaoma.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Lambada" by Kaoma.

OK, back to the 80's: This '89 multi-Platinum release was subtitled "Chorando Se Foi"; the title loosely translates as "whiplash". Recorded by a French pop ensemble fronted by Brazilian vocalist Loalwa Braz. It became a world-wide dance sensation - a blend of northern Brazilian carimbo and Dominican merengue. "A woman makes her lover cry and now she regrets what she did as she sees him leave with tears in his eyes" - (Sam Kinison, where are you?!). It hit #1 on 11 charts worldwide. Based upon an '81 release by Los Kjarkas from Bolivia titled "Llorando Se Fue". Group? Song? For extra credit do the dance dressed appropriately (or inappropriately, as the case may be)!

Yesterday's answer: "Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon) by The Mamas and The Papas. "Wicked bass line". And those harmonies!!! This one, along with "Look Through My Window" happen to be my 2 favorite M&P songs. Legend goes that there was indeed a steeple outside of John's window in Greenwich Village with a broken clock stuck at 12:30. My daughter Lauren is an avid M&P fan (go figure!) and her fave is "Dancing Bear". "The canyon" is LA's Laurel Canyon.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Twelve Thirty (Young Girls are Coming To The Canyon) by The Mamas and The Papas.

OK, back to the 60's: John Phillips wrote this melancholic song in '65, shortly after The Mamas and The Papas relocated from NYC to the L.A. suburb which inspired the tune. First released as a single in '67, it became the lead cut on their last album together in '68. Considered by many their "last great single", it peaked at #20. Rolling Stone Magazine called it "the last recording of the self-proclaimed 'Golden Era''s probably the best realized song the group has recorded". Genial transition from Baroque minor chords in the beginning to emphatic majors through the body of the song. The chorus refers to the steady stream of groupies frequenting Denny's house when John moved in with him after one of his many breakups with Michelle.

Yesterday's answer: "Morning Morgantown" by Joni Mitchell. What a beautiful tune! She's the undisputed master of alternate tunings. I saw her in '76 at the Spectrum in Philly - one of the best concerts ever! Three years later I saw her again at the Valley Forge Music Fair during her "jazz" phase - horrendous - one of the very few times I've ever walked out of a concert. Stick to folk, Joni!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Morning Morgantown" by Joni Mitchell.

OK, back to the 70's: When a teen-aged Roberta Joan Anderson (Joni Mitchell) left her native Saskatoon she told her mother, "I'm going to Toronto to be a folksinger". She subsequently attended West Virginia University for a short time - the beautiful setting inspired this haunting first cut from her '70 third album, "Ladies Of The Canyon" (Platinum U.S.).

Yesterday's answer: "Puppy Love" by Paul Anka. He writes two songs for her and she one for him and then she goes and marries his manager - what the.....?! WHERE'S SAM KINISON WHEN WE NEED HIM???!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Puppy Love" by Paul Anka.

OK, more 50's/60's: Paul Anka wrote this '59 teen classic about Annette Funicello, whom he dated during a tour. It peaked at #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 for 2 weeks in '60 and at #3 in the UK. Their romance was a media high spot; he referred to her as "glamorous...the kind of girl you want to marry". He also wrote "Talk to Me, Baby" for her. She, in turn, wrote and recorded "Tall Paul" for him - the first time a female artist reached the Top 10 with a rock-and-roll single. She married Paul's manager after the tour (!). Anka had 4 Top 10 hits in less than a year between '59 and '60 with "Lonely Boy", "Put Your Head On My Shoulder", "It's Time to Cry" and this one. Donny Osmond's '72 cover went to #3 in the US and topped the charts in the UK.

Yesterday's answer: "You Can't Judge A Book By The (Its) Cover" by Bo Diddley. Thought about it yesterday while listening to an NPR feature on e-books. They called them "the great concealers". With e-books you have privacy - you don't have to hide your trashy romance novel (Favio!) inside Dostoevsky while reading in public.

"You Can't Judge A Book By The (Its) Cover" by Bo Diddley.

OK, back to the 60's: This Willie Dixon composition was first recorded and released by Bo Diddley in '62 and was one of Diddley's last hits (#21 R&B, #48 Pop). "Willie Dixon's lyrics use a series of metaphors of all sorts of things you can't (discern) by their appearances before landing on the title phrase". Covered by the early Rolling Stones in '62, by The Yardbirds with Eric Clapton in '63 and by The Fabulous Thunderbirds in '92. Stevie Wonder co-wrote and released a completely different song by the same title in '69.

Yesterday's answer: James Moody's "Moody's Mood For Love" was his landmark sax solo on "I'm In the Mood For Love". Masterfully covered by Aretha Franklin, Tito Puente, Queen Latifah, Amy Winehouse and Quincy Jones, among many others.

"Moody's Mood For Love" by James Moody.

OK, back to the 40's (RIP): This jazz giant left us yesterday at the tender age of 85. An accomplished saxophonist and flautist, he was born partially deaf and with a lisp. His best-known piece was a 1949 sax solo which he improvised during a visit to Sweden. Strongly influenced by Charlie "Bird" Parker, vocalese lyrics were later added by Eddie Jefferson. Further popularized by King Pleasure in '54. The original tune was a 1935 McHugh/Fields composition introduced by Frances Langford in the movie "Every Night At Eight". "Alfalfa" sang it in a '36 "Our Gang" short and it became his signature song. Artist? Solo? Original song?

Yesterday's answer: "500 Miles". Great tune! If you like 60's folk, you HAVE to watch Christopher Guest's mockumentary "A Mighty Wind".

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"500 Miles"

OK, more 60's folk: (You remember what Martin Mull said about the "folk music scare of the '60s"--"that s*** almost caught on! ...") This '61 Hedy West composition is also known as "Railroader's Lament". Inspired by "Reuben's Train", an old Southern fiddle tune. Bobby Bare, Curly Williams and John Phillips have also received writing credits in subsequent versions. "The simple repetitive lyrics offer a lament by a traveler who is far from home, out of money and too ashamed to return." First recorded by the Journeymen in '61. Other versions include a live rendition by The Kingston Trio and a studio cut on Peter, Paul & Mary's 1st album, both in '62. A re-written version by Bobby Bare made the Country charts in '63. Also covered by Sonny & Cher, The Seekers, Roseanne Cash and Peter & Gordon.

Yesterday's answer: "Lemon Tree" It compares love to a lemon tree. Not too bad, considering that Gordon Lightfoot has compared girls to rainbow trouts and knotty pines.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Lemon Tree"

OK, more 60's folk: This 60's Will Holt folk classic was inspired by Brazilian composer Jose Carlos Burle's 1937 samba-setanejo "Meu limao, meo limoeiro". "Meu limao" was popularized in Brazil by Wilson Simonal. Covered by Peter, Paul & Mary, The Kingston Trio, The Seekers and Trini Lopez, among many others.

Yesterday's answer: Bobby Darin's "Simple Song Of Freedom". THE COOLEST CAT ever to walk the face of the Earth in my book! It became an anthem during the Vietnam era. Covered by Tim Harding just as Bobby covered Tim's "If I Were a Carpenter". Young Jim (Roger) McGuinn was part of Darin's backup band before The Byrds and he always considered Bobby his mentor. As a child he was called Bobby - legend goes that he got his surname from a neon sign at a Chinese restaurant that read "Darin Duck" instead of "Mandarin Duck". Check out Kevin Spacey's "Beyond The Sea" - spot on!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Simple Song Of Freedom" by Bobby Darin.

OK, more 60's: Walden Robert Perciville Cassotto took his artistic name from his childhood nickname and from a malfunctioning Chinese restaurant sign (!). Sammy Davis Jr. called him "the only person I ever wanted to follow". In '69 he sold all his possessions and lived in seclusion in a trailer near Big Sur, CA. There he wrote this seminal "protest" song which changed his career. He established Direction Records, grew a moustache (he just wanted to look like me!), stopped wearing a toupee and basically re-invented himself. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Jamaica Farewell" by Harry Belafonte. Many believe that the song is called "Kingston Town". Irving Burgie ("Lord Burgess") was a Brooklynite - his mother was from Barbados and his father from Virginia.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Jamaica Farewell" by Harry Belafonte.

OK, more 50's: This lovely calypso was written by Lord Burgess and first released on the '56 album "Calypso". It speaks of the beauty of the islands and of love left behind. Peaked at #14 on Billboard. The album was the 1st LP to sell one million copies, is #4 on Billboard's Top 100 Albums, spent 31 weeks at #1, 58 weeks on Top 10 and 99 weeks on the charts! Covered by Jimmy Buffett, Sam Cooke, Carly Simon and Sting. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Our House" by Madness. What's happened to MTV? Last I heard, MTV stood for "Music Television" - do they even play music anymore? From Jeff Bluml: "No they don't so I feel they should change the name to Stupid Unrealistic Teenage Angst Soap Opera TV."

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Our House" by Madness.

OK, more one-hit wonders: This British ska/pop group's biggest US hit was an '82 Foreman/Smyth composition that peaked at #7 on Billboard's Hot 100 and at #5 UK in '83. Most of its success came from the witty video during the early days of MTV (when they actually played music!). It won Best Song at the '83 Ivor Novello Awards. Even though widely considered a "one-hit wonder", they did have another US Top 40 hit ("It Must Be Love"). Part of the just-released "Love and Other Drugs" soundtrack. Group? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Thirsty Boots" by Eric Andersen. I first saw him at a coffee house shortly after arriving in Philly in '73 - wonderful singer/songwriter - I also love his "Close The Door Lightly When You Go".
Yesterday's answer: "Thirsty Boots" by Eric Andersen.

Friday, December 3, 2010

"Thirsty Boots" by Eric Andersen.

OK, back to the 60's: Eric Andersen sang the first part of this Civil Rights Era folk classic to Phil Ochs while at the 14 St. Subway Station in NYC on their way to The Village. "...written to a civil rights worker-friend. Having never gone down to Mississippi myself, I wrote the song about coming back." Ochs liked it and encouraged him to finish it. He wrote the last verse on a matchbook cover while in Judy Collins' bathroom (!). Phil brought Eric onstage at the '66 Philadelphia Folk Festival, where he performed it for the 1st time - he recorded it shortly thereafter. Covered by Judy Collins, The Kingston Trio and John Denver.

Yesterday's answer: "Baby I Love You" by the Ronettes. Check out the beehives on the video! Ronnie was the original "bad girl" of rock & roll, having had liaisons with Keith Richards, John Lennon and, of course, crazy ol' Phil.

"Baby I Love You" by The Ronettes.

OK, back to the 60's: This '63 release was The Ronettes' 2nd single after the hugely successful "Be My Baby". A Barry/Greenwich composition, it was produced by Phil Spector featuring his trademark "wall of sound". It was released shortly after JFK's assassination when the nation was not in the mood for upbeat songs so it only peaked at #24. Veronica (Ronnie), her sister Estelle and cousin Nedra were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in '07. Cher and Darlene Love & The Blossoms added background vocals with Leon Russell on piano. Dave Edmunds' ('73) and The Ramones' ('80) covers were commercially more successful than the original version. Andy Kim's rendition hit #9 in '69.

Yesterday's answer: "Al Di La". Translates as "Beyond" in English and "Mas Alla" en espa~ol. WAY up there on the all-time 60's makeout song hit parade.
Absolutamente! Los Latinos hacian una version bien chevere en los bailes!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Al Di La"

OK, back to the 60's: This Carlo Donida composition is an Italian love song popularized in '61 when Betty Curtis sang it as Italy's entry at the Eurovision Song Contest. It is also one of Connie Francis' best-known performances. Emilio Pericoli's '62 version peaked at #6 on Billboard and at #3 on Easy Listening. He sang it in the '62 movie "Rome Adventure". The Ray Charles Singers took it to #29 in '64.

Yesterday's answer: "April Love" by Pat Boone. Now, don't be dissin' ol' Pat! After all, he starred in one of my favorite movies from childhood, "Journey To the Center Of The Earth", as Alec McKuen. Gotta love his full-leather regalia in '97 as prompted by Dick Clark. Black leather boots instead of his trademark patent-leather white loafers.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"April Love" by Pat Boone.

OK, back to the 50's: This multi-talented artist co-starred with Shirley Jones in his 1st movie (1957). The theme song by the same title, which he also sang, was a Sammy Fein/Paul Francis Weber collaboration. It topped the charts in '57 and was Oscar-nominated for Best Original Song. A devout Christian, he refused to kiss Jones onscreen as she was married in real life. Second biggest-charting artist of the late 50's, 2nd only to Elvis. #9 on Billboard's Top 100 Top 40 Artists 1955-95. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Love (Can Make You Happy)" by Mercy. Great memories from the most fun summer ever '69 - between Jr. and Sr. years in H.S.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"China Grove" by the Doobie Brothers.

OK, back to the 70's: This '73 Doobie Brothers classic was a fictional account loosely based upon an actual small Texas town 10-12 mi. south of San Antonio. Written by original lead singer Tom Johnston before being replaced by Michael McDonald due to illness. The original working title was "Parliament" as Johnston used to name his demos after the brand of cigarettes he was smoking at the time. The lyrics came after the melody when Tom heard keyboardist Billy Payne's "oriental-sounding" riff. Part of the "Field Of Dreams" soundtrack.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Love (Can Make You Happy)" by Mercy.

OK, more one-hit wonders: This Tampa, FL group's only hit came in '69 with a Jack Sigler, Jr. composition. The ensemble formed while the members were still attending Brandon High. It peaked at #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 and on Adult Contemporary. Over a million copies sold in 4 months; RIAA Certified Gold. Featured on the "Fireball Jungle" soundtrack (Lon Chaney's last movie). Group? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "A Thousand Miles Away" by the Heartbeats and "Daddy's Home" by Shep and The Limelites.
I love the "ra-ta-ta-tat" harmony chorus on "Daddy's Home". The girlfriend literally did move 1,000 miles away.

"A Thousand Miles Away" by The Heartbeats.

OK, back to the 50's: This doo-wop group started out as The Hearts but changed its name in '55. Their biggest hit (#53 Billboard, #5 R&B) was co-written in '56 by James Sheppard and Wm. H. Miller when Sheppard's girlfriend moved to Texas. Recorded in '56 and released in '57. Part of the "American Graffiti" soundtrack ('73). Sheppard left the group shortly after and formed his own ensemble, Shep and The Limelites - in '61 they released an "answer" song that peaked at #2. Group? Song? "Answer" song?

Yesterday's answer: "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" by Bobby Vee. Bobby still looks and sounds great! Talking about the Brill Building, on the 1st floor, right on Times Square, is Colony Records. You die and go to heaven!!! EVERY recording and sheet music ever published is there - I could spend... days just browsing!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" by Bobby Vee with The Johnny Mann Singers.

OK, more 60's: This '63 Weisman/Wayne/Garrett composition marked Bobby Vee's "plunge" into Brill Building teen idol pop music. It peaked at #2 on Billboard's Hot 100, at #2 on Easy Listening and #9 on R&B. Part of the "Dark City" soundtrack in '98. Bobby was also a pioneer of the music video genre.

Yesterday's answer: "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando and Dawn. They did get annoying after a while but they sold A LOT of records! " The origin of the idea of a yellow ribbon as a token of remembrance may have been the 19th century practice that some women allegedly had of wearing a yellow ribbon in their hair to signify their devotion to a husband or sweetheart serving in the U.S. Cavalry". The song found new life in '81 during the Iran hostage crisis. John Wayne's movie was titled "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon".

"Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando and Dawn

OK, back to the 70's: This '73 Levine/Brown composition was based on the true story of a convict returning home as told in a '71 N.Y. Post article. Refers to a 19th century Puritan tradition which also inspired a John Wayne movie. It became an anthem for absent loved ones in the 70's and thereafter. #1 and top-selling single of the year US and UK in '73. Sold 3 million copies in 3 weeks! Billboard's #37 Biggest Song Of All Time. Song? Group?

Yesterday's answer: "The Beatles' "Thank You, Girl". Not one of their biggest hits but I always loved the song. First time I heard it was while having pizza at Mastro's Pizza Palace on Central Ave. in San Juan. It was playing on the little tableside jukebox (remember those?).

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Night Walkers

Okey, mas Nueva Ola: Esta agrupacion mayaguezana de los 60-70's comenzo en la television del oeste de la isla en "El Club De Las 5". "Descubiertos" por Alfred D. Herger, vinieron a San Juan donde se popularizaron. Tocaban frecuentemente en "Fin De Semana Musical", "El Show De Iris Chacon" y con Chucho Avellanet. Grabaron 2 discos de larga duracion en el '68. Aunque era un cuarteto, otros musicos se les unian en concierto y para grabar. Gil Rivera, influenciado por el "folk" estadounidense, era director y guitarrista. Enrique (Kiko) Rivera, de tendencia R&B, tocaba la bateria. El roquero Jose (Pepito) Valentin era la primera guitarra. Fernando Ayala tocaba el bajo y su hermano Felix, el "semi-clasico" era arreglista y guirarrista. Jose Raul Feliciano a~adia guitarra. El baladista romantico Oscar (Solo) Vicenty era el cantante. El luego dejo la agrupacion para aparecer como el solista Oscar Solo. Quienes eran?

Respuesta: The Night Walkers. Su mayor exito fue una version del tema de la telenovela "Natacha" del peruano Raul Vasquez.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"Thank You, Girl" by The Beatles.

OK, more Fabdom: This '63 release was dedicated to the band's many adoring female fans. B-side to "From Me To You". Lennon wrote the verses and Macca the chorus. First Beatles song to utilize double-tracked vocals to emphasize John's lead (he had a bad cold that day!). Two other songs, "One After 909" and "What Goes On?", were recorded during the same session but were not released until much later - "Let It Be" and "Rubber Soul" respectively.

Yesterday's answer: John's Aunt Mimi always asked him which guitar part was his on Beatles recordings - he tuned the 4th string slightly flat so she could tell which one was out of tune. The other "unofficial" reason was to annoy the much more obsessive/compulsive Paul.

Flat D-string.

OK, more Fabdom: John Lennon had a habit of tuning his D-string (4th) slightly flat during Beatles recording sessions. Why?

Yesterday's answer: "Scotch And Soda". Considered by many to be "the ultimate saloon song". For some reason I thought Kenny Rankin had covered it - I checked his entire discography and came out empty - hmm.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Scotch And Soda"

OK, back to the 50's: This Kingston Trio classic was 1st released in '58 as part of an album only to be re-released as a single in '62. Despite peaking at #81, it remains one of the group's most popular numbers. They happened upon it through Tom Seaver's parents (yes, THAT Tom Seaver!) who heard it during their honeymoon in Phoenix in '32. They had the pianist jot down the lyrics to make it "their song". Years later Trio member David (Dave) Guard heard it while at the Seaver home and the rest is history. Even though it is copyrighted to Guard, it appears to have been written in '32 by saxophonist/bandleader/composer Charlie Barnett. Wonderful cover by Manhattan Transfer in '76.

Yesterday's answer: "Undercover Angel" by Alan O'Day. Actually, pretty "steamy" story behind the song: " The song begins with a man commiserating his loneliness, when a woman suddenly appears in his bed, and encourages him to make love to her. The rest of the song describes his feelings about her, then he discovers she must leave him, and he is saddened. She tells him to 'go find the right one, love her and then, when you look into her eyes you'll see me again.' "He then explains that was his story, as apparently he has been singing this song to a woman whom he is trying to seduce, and how he wants to look in her eyes to see if she is the reincarnation of the angel he found.
'77 was a great year in my life!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Undercover Angel" by Alan O'Day.

OK, more one-hit wonders: This L.A. native was a composer for Warner Brothers when they created Pacific Records, a label for their songwriters who also performed. He was the 1st artist signed and his only hit was their 1st release. Launched in early '77 as a single, it topped the charts 4 months later, was the #4 song of '77, sold over 2 million copies and was Certified Gold. Described as a "nocturnal novelette". Dolly Parton sang background vocals. He also wrote "Angie Baby" for Helen Reddy and "Rock And Roll Heaven" for The Righteous Brothers. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Never Gonna Let You Go". Beautiful tune - WAY up there in the all-time makeout song hit parade.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Never Gonna Let You Go"

OK, more 80's: This '82 Weil/Mann romantic ballad was first recorded by Dionne Warwick but failed to chart. It was then offered to Earth, Wind and Fire who chose not to record it. Sergio Mendes' '83 version with Joe Pizzulo and Leza Miller on vocals peaked at #4 on Billboard's Hot 100, topped the Adult Contemporary charts and reached #28 on R&B. Beautifully covered by Patti Austin and Peabo Bryson. Is this a record number of key changes in a song? I lost count!

Yesterday's answer: "Got My Mojo Workin' ". A little controversy as Muddy Waters "tweaked" with the lyrics and gave himself writer's credit. Hmm!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Got My Mojo Workin' "

OK, back to the 50's: This '56 Preston Foster blues classic was first recorded by gospel singer Ann Cole but made popular in '57 by Muddy Waters, with whom she toured. #359 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time, Grammy Hall Of Fame 2000 as well as RIAA and NEA Songs Of The Century. Covered by, among many others, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Manfred Mann, The King, Canned Heat, B.B.King and Buddy Guy. "Pulverized" by The Shadows Of Knight on their '66 "Gloria" album.

Yesterday's answer: "Silver Threads And Golden Needles". Jack Rhodes co-wrote Porter Wagoner's "A Satisfied Mind" with Joe "Red" Hayes, later covered by The Byrds on their "Turn, Turn, Turn!" album. Linda's version of "Silver Threads" is my fave but, as you know, Linda can "sing the phone book". Earlier covered by The Springfields, a duo with Dusty and her brother Tom.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Silver Threads And Golden Needles"

OK, back to the 50's: Dick Reynolds was a very talented composer but, unfortunately, due to a lifelong battle with alcoholism he was never able to "pull it together". He co-wrote this '56 classic with Jack Rhodes about his fiancee who broke up with him - his first and only love. He never recovered from the breakup. B. C. Money, Jr. also claimed to have written the song but most sources attribute it to Reynolds/Rhodes. First recorded by rockabilly great Wanda Jackson, widely regarded as the 1st female rock & roll artist. Her rendition contained a verse not included in later covers. Linda Ronstadt's '73 version was a Top 20 Country hit.

Yesterday's answer: "Cherish" by The Association is a perennial on the Top Make-Out Songs Hit Parade ("pa' brillar hebilla"). Actually, my favorite version is The Four Tops'.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Cherish" by The Association.

OK, back to the 60's: Keyboardist Terry Kirkman wrote this '66 romantic ballad about unrequited love in 1/2 an hour. It became a staple of his L.A. band's concert repertoire and their 2nd hit, topping the charts in both the US (3 weeks) and Canada. David Cassidy's rendition in '72 was his 1st solo hit (#9). Also covered by Nina Simone, Petula Clark, The Four Tops and the sensitive Barry Manilow. Featured in the "Pretty In Pink" soundtrack. Group? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat". I always liked Herman's Hermits - regulars on "Shindig". I saw them with Peter Noone years ago at the River Fest in Ft. Madison and @ the Ia. State Fair - they STILL sounded great.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Can't You Hear My Heartbeat" by Herman's Hermits.

OK, more British Invasion: John Shakespeare and Ken Hawker formed a skiffle band in Birmingham in the late 50's named LVI. They subsequently moved to London and composed under the pseudonyms John Carter and Ken Lewis. They wrote a minor UK hit for Goldie and The Gingerbreads, a cover of which was a #1 US hit in '65 for Herman's Hermits (one of 3 Top 3 hits for them that year).

Yesterday's answer: "Don't Give Up On Us (Baby)" by David Soul. Doggone it, I liked that song (in my ultra-cool powder blue double-knit polyester leisure suit)!
"Soul recorded a new version of the song in 2004, allegedly after being embarrassed when hearing it by chance in an elevator as sung by Owen Wilson in the film version of Starsky and Hutch."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Don't Give Up On Us" by David Soul.

OK, more one-hit wonders: The only US hit for this "Starsky and Hutch" star came in '77 with a Tony Macaulay composition. He actually started out as a singer before pursuing an acting career. #1 US for 13 weeks (!), #1 Adult Contemporary and #1 UK. #93 on VH1's 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Only The Lonely" by Roy Orbison. "Lonely No More" was recorded by the Wilburys. In my book Chris Isaak and Raul Malo are the two modern day crooners that have been left to carry the Orbison torch.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Only The Lonely" by Roy Orbison.

OK, more "Big O": When Roy Orbison co-wrote this "operatic" ballad with Joe Melson in 1960 he intended for it to be recorded by either Elvis or The Everly Brothers. The Everlys convinced him to record it himself and it became his 1st major hit, #2 Pop, #14 R&B, #1UK. "A clenched, driven urgency". Grammy Hall Of Fame Award in 2004 and #232 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. Sonny James' cover topped the Country charts in '69; masterfully interpreted by Chris Isaak. Orbison wrote a "sequel" to the song while with the Traveling Wilburys.

Yesterday's answer: "Ask Me Why" by The Beatles. Not one of their biggest hits but I always loved this tune - one of the 1st Beatles songs I ever heard.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Ask Me Why" by The Beatles.

OK, more Fabdom: This '62 Lennon/McCartney gem represents THE first time that the two blokes actually wrote a song physically together. B-side to "Please Please Me", their first US single. Used in the early Parlophone auditions when Pete Best was still their drummer. The opening guitar line comes from Smokey Robinson and The Miracles' "What's So Good About Goodbye?". Lennon was greatly influenced by Robinson.

Yesterday's answer: "White Room" by Cream. " country, no gold pavements, tired starlings.Silver horses run down moonbeams in your dark eyes. Dawn-light smiles on you leaving, my contentment....". Clapton WAS GOD! Guitar line suspiciously similar to "Tales Of Brave Ulysses" - hmm, Eric, what were you thinking - or not!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"White Room" by Cream.

OK, more 60's: Beat poet Pete Brown wrote the lyrics and Jack Bruce the music. About "depression and hopelessness...images of waiting in an English railway station 'under the influence' ". Unusual 5/4 time signature - wicked drummin' by Ginger Baker. Features Felix Pappalardi on viola. Perhaps Clapton's most notable use of the Vox Clyde McCoy Picture Wah. #6 US, #24 UK in '68. #367 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All time. Song? Band?

"We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" by The Animals. The Animals were arguably one of the, if not THE, first punk bands, laying the foundation for the genre in the 70's and 80's. Bad boys!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" by The Animals.

OK, back to the 60's: This '65 Mann/Weil composition was originally intended for The Righteous Brothers. A North England working-class band recorded it and different versions from the same sessions were released in the UK (#2) and the US (#13). It became an anthem during the Vietnam War. Very recognizable bass lead and organ lines. #233 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time and inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Song? Band?

Yesterday's answer: "Stuck In The Middle (With You)" by Stealers Wheel. Definite Dylan and even Don McLean inflections. Man, Tarantino can be bloody!

"Stuck In The Middle (With You)" by Stealers Wheel.

OK, back to the 70's: This Joe Egan/Gerry Rafferty '72 composition was recorded by their band, peaking at #6 US and #8 UK in '73. Conceived as a parody of Bob Dylan's style, it was a tribute to Scottish comedian/singer Billy "The Big Yin" Connolly. Featured prominently during the torture scene on Tarantino's '92 "Reservoir Dogs". Covered by Juice Newton, Susanna Hoffs and blind guitarist Jeff Healy. Band? Song?

Yesterday's answer: Elle McPherson was Billy Joel's muse for "Uptown Girl". In my book, one of the best music videos ever. Outstanding Frankie Valliesque harmonies and falsetto as well as seamlessly changing keys twice before returning to the original one. Even though not written about her, Christie Brinkley looked mighty good in the video!

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel (tricky!).

OK, short and sweet: Billy Joel's muse for his 1983 #3 classic "Uptown Girl" was model_________________.

Yesterday's answer: Marvin Hamlisch, "The Entertainer." "His styling of tempo of the same song set the tone for many scenes". Great music from a great movie! He won 3 Oscars in '73 - only the 2nd person to ever do so.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"The Entertainer" by Marvin Hamlisch.

OK, more one-hit wonders: Even though this American composer has won Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, Tonys, Golden Globes and Pulitzers, his ONLY hit as a performing artist came in '74 with his cover of a 1902 Scott Joplin piano rag as part of his score for "The Sting" ('73). #3 Pop; #1 Easy Listening. #10 on RIAA's "Songs Of The Century". Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Let's Face The Music And Dance". Doggone it, they just don't make 'em like that anymore!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Let's Face The Music And Dance"

OK, back to the 30's: Irving Berlin wrote this romantic classic in 1936 for the movie "Follow The Fleet". It was sung by Fred Astaire who danced to it with Ginger Rogers in a performance for the ages. Steve Martin lip-synched Fred in "Pennies From Heaven" ('81). Jennifer Grey ("Baby"!) and Derek Hough did a very respectable quickstep to it Monday night on "Dancing With The Stars".

Yesterday's answer: The Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "From the New World", Op. 95, B. 178 (Czech: Symfonie č. 9 e moll „Z nového světa“) by Antonin Dvorak. From my dear friend Dr. Alberto Rodriguez ("Papa Dios"): "Fue su novena y se ha comentado que los temas son eslavos y tienen muy poco que ver, si algo, con el folklore de EE.UU. La mandición es que los compositores llegan a la novena y se mueren. Pero creo que la sinfonía era la 5 porque Dvorak no había ordenado cronológicamente su producción sinfónica. Cuando las puso en orden, la 5 pasó a ser la 9. Buena pregunta." From me: "Well, Papa, I didn't expect any less of you since, after all, you were the one who introduced me to this symphony while in high school and for that I'll always be grateful! He did "cheat" a little bit as far a the order of the compositions but, as you know, Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner, Mahler and Vaughan Williams died after writing their 9th symphonies without completing their tenth.