Archive for the ‘WOLF’ Category

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

DDDBMTZabadakUSA, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, Imperial

Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Listen: Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
Zabadak

In honor of yet another year owning ‘Zabadak’, one of my all time favorite singles by an all time favorite band, I’m continuing my annual tradition of reposting that original entry about the single’s history from December 28, 2008 at SO MANY RECORDS SO LITTLE TIME.

Footnote: In the original post linked above, I mention the single’s strong airplay at the time. Click here after reading the post to check out some of the US Top 40 stations that played and charted the record. This link organizes the airplay by date, and note there are 6 pages of station listings viewable. See upper right corner to scroll though all 6.

Willie Mitchell

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

That Driving Beat / Willie Mitchell

That Driving Beat / Willie Mitchell

Listen: That Driving Beat / Willie Mitchell
That Driving Beat / Willie Mitchell

Seems Willie Mitchell had that soulful teen dance thing down, not too ghetto but just right. ‘That Driving Beat’ is one of the few he’s ever released with vocals, to my knowledge, and I’ve got about thirty of his 7′s. Admittedly not sure if it’s the man himself or one of his Hi rhythm section doing the singing, but it’s way hot. Check out the ‘Satisfaction’ riff in there too.

The single’s featured on many UK comps, being a well liked Mod track back in ’65 too. ‘That Driving Beat’ was exactly that, a purple hearts eye opening bumper. You can see why it became a favourite.

Listen: Bad Eye / Willie Mitchell
Bad Eye / Willie Mitchell

WOLF Chart 5-14-66

I actually got to hear Willie Mitchell regularly on my local Top 40 station in the 60′s. Yeah, for some reason WOLF always played his singles. Mind you only for a few weeks, just enough to chart in the 30′s then off (click on the WOLF survey above to enlarge and have a look). Maybe they did it for flavor or favor, the station did play a lot from London Records and their imprints. Lucky me.

Prayer meetin' / Willie Mitchell

Listen: Prayer Meetin’ / Willie Mitchell
Prayer Meetin' / Willie Mitchell

I took interest in the Hi Label as well, being part of London Records, one of my favorites. This led me to check out their other acts, thereby discovering Ann Pebbles, O. V. Wright, Otis Clay and Al Green, all of whom Willie Mitchell produced. His singles never ever disappoint. If you see them, buy them. And then buy a jukebox to put them in. Best money you’ll ever spend.

Willie Mitchell’s releases always had great titles, like ‘Prayer Meetin’ from ’68. This heavy Hammond Jimmy Smith written instrumental being his more typical vein, all bluesy with a bit of slither.

Mitty Collier

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Listen: I Had A Talk With My Man / Mitty Collier
I Had A Talk With My Man / Mitty Collier

The oddest things can happen, and will.

Mitty Collier got pop play on my local Top 40 when I was a kid. Now, her records were strictly black hits, even though ‘I Had A Talk With My Man’ did cross to some pop outlets in major cities. I did not, however, grow up in a major city. But WOLF, as I’ve raved on about before, was indeed an educational source in it’s day. Right there next to The Rolling Stones and Them we could hear The Vibrations, Irma Thomas and yes, Mitty Collier, thanks to their programming excellence.

Basically, the single was a secularised version of James Cleveland’s gospel song ‘I Had A Talk With God Last Night’ and reached #41 on Billboard’s Top 100.

Gloria Lynne, who had jazzier material and therefore more grown up appeal, grabbed some airplay on the easy listening formats, as it was referred to then. So my parents’ stations played her, and I regularly heard ‘Watermelon Man’ at our local barbers. There’s a definite resemblance between their voices, both full and heavy.

I actually bought ‘I Had A Talk With My Man’ at Walt’s Records instead of a new Searchers single one particular week. If you’re listening, this is it, rough around the edges but still intact.

Listen: Free Girl (In The Morning) / Mitty Collier
Free Girl (In The Morning) / Mitty Collier

Despite being a freezing November Saturday, ‘I Had A Talk With My Man’ brings back warm, vivid winter memories of rushing from the bus into Walt’s, desperate to find this record. Once back home, I played it over and over. But in the weeks that followed, B side ‘Free Girl (In The Morning)’ ended up grabbing my attention and by Christmas break, I probably made everybody nuts with it.

These RnB records really did go over the heads of my friends. Motown was way okay, but the hardcore stuff, not so easily tolerated. A twisted little kid, yes, happy to have been one.

Listen: Together / Mitty Collier
Together / Mitty Collier

Keeping up with the B side infatuations, ‘Together’, the flip to her next single ‘No Faith, No Love’, was really a gem. A most obvious similarity between ‘Together’ and ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ is undeniable. I wonder which of the two was written first.

Not long after releasing her final records for Chess, Mitty Collier was stricken with throat problems, polyps, which ultimately threatened to end her career. Never to sing again, she became completely devoted to her Christian beliefs. By ’72, there was an unexpected turn of events, Mitty’s voice regained strength and her ability to sing restored.

One of the first recordings as a result: ‘I Had A Talk With God Last Night’. Gospel albums followed. She established a Bible Study Telephone Prayer Line and a community outreach program, “Feed-A-Neighbor” (FAN), for which she received the key to the city of Birmingham in 1987.

Mitty Collier became a preacher, and was ordained in 1989, later being appointed pastor of the More Like Christ (MLC) Christian Fellowship Ministries in Chicago. She has received a number of humanitarian and other awards, including the National Council Of Negro Women (NCNW) and Woman Of Wonder Award 2000.

If that doesn’t warm someone’s heart, nothing will.

The above UK demo gifted to me by Vicki Wickham, a living saint. Thank you dearest Vicki. XXX

Wayne Fontana / Jackie Edwards

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Come On Home / Wayne Fontana

Listen: Come On Home / Wayne Fontana
Come

Wayne Fontana’s version of ‘Come On Home’ came on the radio during the summer of 1966 and it was an instant favorite.

Sixteen months earlier, he was the apparent leader of the first live band I’d ever seen, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. They opened for Freddie & The Dreamers. And so from my initial baptism into the live music world, I had a tendency to favor the support acts, especially if they were English.

By early ’66, they had split into two. It seemed like an eternity at the time. Both had several hits in the UK, with only The Mindbenders getting any real airplay here with ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ and ‘Ashes To Ashes’.

By that summer though, I was over anxious to finally hear a solo record from Wayne Fontana, having scoured the UK singles chart in BILLBOARD as part of my weekly ritual at Smith’s Records each Friday after school and seen one too many by him that had not entered my life.

Alas, ‘Come On Home’ got a few weeks worth of spins locally upon release, but then on the more mainstream leaning Top 40, WNDR, as opposed to the looser and much better WOLF. And yeah, I loved it immediately.

I recall mustering up the guts to shout it out at the London Palladium in April ’01. Along with Dave Berry, he was supporting Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Seriously, he was hysterically funny between songs and pretty great vocally as well. He ignored me when it came to my audience request although.

Listen: Come On Home / Jackie Edwards
Come

Little did I know at the time, ‘Come On Home’ was written by Jackie Edwards, the same guy who’d composed my early favorites by The Spencer Davis Group: ‘Keep On Running’, ‘Somebody Help Me’ and ‘When I Come Home’.

Years later, I discovered his history in ska, duets with Millie amongst others and several pop singles, many of which I’ve managed to obtain over time.

It was while digging through one of the seemingly endless storage cupboards at Island’s St. Peter’s Square office in London that I unearthed an unplayed promotional pressing of his ‘Come On Home’. I still experience a deja vu hot flash to that moment every time I hold this copy.

Manfred Mann

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

If You Gotta Go, Go Now / Manfred Mann

Listen: If You Gotta Go, Go Now / Manfred Mann
If

Manfred Mann may have been the first rock band to successfully lose a lead singer, yet bounce back as popular as ever. Not once but twice. Therefore, there are several Manfred Mann lineups to write about. This was the first. Lead vocalist, Paul Jones, was from the blues blueprint prevalent at the time. His authenticity rings true to this day, as he still hosts one of the most popular and longest running BBC Radio 2 shows……about the blues.

This lineup released many greats. Despite ‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy’ and ‘Sha La La’ being huge in ’64 – ’65, dependably wretched American radio just stopped playing their followups. It wasn’t possible to these ears that ‘If You Gotta Go, Go Now’ didn’t get traction in the States. Luckily, there were pockets of radio loyalty, and my hometown was one.

She Needs Company / Manfred Mann

Listen: She Needs Company / Manfred Mann
She

Wolf All American Survey 5-7-66

The very, very underplayed ‘She Needs Company’ was Top 5 on WOLF, see chart above. I foolishly passed up buying the only stock copy I’d ever seen at W.T. Grants on Salina Street for The Swinging Blue Jeans ‘Don’t Make Me Over’. Well, foolish is an unfair word given that record is life support necessary as well, it’s just a bit easier to find than a stock ‘She Needs Company’, which is plain and simple pretty impossible.

Thank God I had a few promo copies, as it took me until 2011 to find an elusive Manfred Mann stock.

Pretty Flamingo / Manfred Mann

Listen: Pretty Flamingo / Manfred Mann
Pretty

Some airplay reprieve was granted Manfred Mann as ‘Pretty Flamingo’ did well during the summer of ’66. I always thought it sounded better than just about any other record current at the time, so its BILLBOARD peak of #29 was rather unsatisfying. To Manfred Mann, on behalf of all the deaf programmers during the period, I apologize.

On a side note, check out the Airheads Radio Survey Archive. It’s a website that has attempted to gather and document charts positions from many local stations in the 60′s. It’s easy to use and unfortunately horribly addicting.

The Olympics / The Young Rascals

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Listen: Good Lovin’ / The Olympics
Good

One of the obscure RnB singles that got Top 40 play on WOLF, the miracle pumping AM radio anomaly transmitting 24/7 in upstate New York from ’64 – ’67. The station is referenced many times on this blog, and introduced endless English bands, as well American RnB acts to it’s teenage listenership. Myself included. Bless whoever was in charge.

‘Good Lovin’ rocked my little red transistor, and always sounded way dirtier being broadcast via a compressed AM signal than off my vinyl pressing at home. The single stalled at #81 nationally, like so many others did when from the wrong side of the tracks. Ironically, these records never seemed to get the BILLBOARD chart moves local airplay implied they should. As a result, The Olympics ‘Good Lovin’ disappeared off the airwaves rather fast and temporarily felt like an anthem never to be.

I picked up my copy in the 39¢ bin at W.T. Grants only weeks after initially hearing it.

Listen: Good Lovin’ / The Young Rascals
Good

Within a year though, the more established Atlantic Records issued The Young Rascals version, a result of band member Gene Cornish allegedly hearing The Olympics’ original and suggesting his band cover it live. Without question, they documented a livelier performance onto vinyl, added some garage rock, and went to #1 on the Hot 100.

Despite The Young Rascals having recorded the wilder, many I say better, version doesn’t take away from The Olympics tempered and understated cool. Both are lifers in this collection, convenient necessities for different occasions.

The McCoys

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Listen: Beat The Clock / The McCoys
Beat

If ever there was a slogan, ‘Beat The Clock’ may take the cake. I guess it’s what we all try doing throughout life.

The McCoys had endless great singles. I don’t recall a bad one actually.

‘Beat The Clock’ was released spring ’67, and stumbled around the lower rungs of some radio playlists, only managing a pathetic peak of #92 nationally. Unlike with many of the garage bands and English groups nationally, there was a consistent loyalty toward their releases by the local Top 40′s in the northeast, certainly the upstate New York region. In this case, both Syracuse stations, WNDR and particularly WOLF, played every record by The McCoys. ‘Beat The Clock’ was no exception.

I still love the sound of time dripping by via the keyboard intro, and the continual return to it throughout the song.

The McCoys were one of the support acts to The Rolling Stones that previous summer, when they toured the AFTERMATH album. As a little kid, each moment was a lifetime of excitement, and The McCoys’ sing-a-long set was no exception. We all walked out of the place more addicted to The Rolling Stones than ever, but no short changing the other bands as a result. Every friend I knew went out and bought whichever McCoys records they could find within days.

The Easybeats

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Listen: Make You Feel Alright (Women) / The Easybeats
Make You Feel Alright (Women) / The Easybeats

Having signed a then lucrative five year deal with United Artists for territories outside of homeland Australia in early ’66, part of the plan to launch The Easybeats in the US, I’m guessing, was to immediately release their biggest hit, ‘Make You Feel Alright (Women)’, while new material was being recorded. As a result, in early Spring, UA’s subsidiary label, Ascot, coupled the band’s first #1 at home with another Australian A side ‘In My Book’, and housed the single in a now very scarce picture sleeve.

Some of the Boston stations, like WBZ charted it, but nationally, not much transpired. Except as luck would have it, at WOLF in Syracuse, the hometown life changing Top 40 station forever glued to my ear as a kid. Spring ’66 found this youngster, who should’ve been knee deep in coloring books, instead becoming a fan of The Easybeats, amongst many.

‘Make You Feel Alright (Women)’ reminded me of The Pretty Things ‘Big City’, both depending on bar chords sliding around way up high on the guitar neck, a style and sonic I found ridiculously addictive. The Pretty Things performed ‘Big City’ that way on SHINDIG, and I forever recognized the technique introduced to me by their guitarist Dick Taylor, while sitting about 2 feet from the black and white TV screen.

Have a look at the May ’66 WOLF chart below, and you’ll begin to make sense of how great records like ‘Make You Feel Alright (Women)’ took over my life.

WOLF Charts May 7, 1966

Dee Jay & The Runaways

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Listen: Peter Rabbit / Dee Jay & The Runaways
Peter Rabbit / Dee Jay & The Runaways

Recorded in their homemade Milford, Iowa studio, ‘Peter Rabbit’, originally released on the band’s own ILG label (ILG 103), eventually got the attention of Smash Records out of Chicago who reissued it during the winter of ’66. Having supposedly sold 5,000 copies locally in three weeks, it logically ended up attracting the interest of majors. The first of two singles for Smash, ‘Peter Rabbit’ eventually reached #45 nationally during that summer.

But by June 6, it was already #3 on my hometown Top 40 WOLF, the far superior station to rival, safer playlisted WNDR (see chart below). Garage band records populated the airwaves a lot during those 60′s summers. Who knew then they were garage band recordings at all. Or that their sound would find a place in pop history. They were just great singles.

Dee Jay & The Runaways’ Iowa Great Lakes Studio reportedly turned out to be a decent place, smack dab in the middle of nowhere, and became referred to as the house that ‘Peter Rabbit’ built. For aspiring local Iowa rockers, word is the boys offered a three hour recording session and one thousand 45rpm singles on either the IGL or the sister Sonic label, all in for $345. Probably most have appreciated much like Apple stock over the years.

I’d been humming ‘Peter Rabbit’ for weeks, and decided to do some digging, thereby discovering The Smash Records Story, part of bigger and great site, Both Sides Now. If you are looking for several hours of enjoyment, then click through.

The Who

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Substitute / The Who

Listen: Substitute / The Who
Substitute / The Who

I missed the junior prom because of this record. My childhood sweetheart girlfriend Marianne was an Anglophile like me, most kids were back then really. But the two of us, we were hardcore.

Basically, as soon as I’d get home from school on Fridays I would head to Smith’s Records in Oneida, either on my bike or my Dad would drive me, bless him. Mrs. Smith gave me her week old Billboard magazines like clockwork, and I’d always buy something as well. Occasionally, one of the special orders we’d put through would actually show up. And every time, she’d buy two extras for the shop. Usually either my two friends, Mark or Denny, or Marianne, would buy those copies. Some pretty great things ended up in our collections that way, like The Pink Floyd ‘The Gnome’, The Yardbirds ‘Ten Little Indians’ or The Pretty Things ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’.

On this particular day in May ’66, I was shocked to discover that ‘Substitute’ had come in, only a week after placing the special order. Most records never did turn up as Mrs. Smith was forced to buy from a one-stop, and they’d pretty much stick to the mainstream hits. You had to be set up direct with the major labels to get their obscure non-hits. Being a tiny Mom & Pop store, she could never do enough business for them to be opened up as a direct client. Hence always a surprise when an obscurity arrived at Smith’s.

I tore into her little listening booth seconds after she handed me the single saying “One of your records came in” upon entering the shop. My insides knotted up. I’d wanted this single so much, having seen it scale the UK charts those previous few weeks. The seconds it took to get it out of the sleeve and onto the thick spindle of the automatic turntable, then waiting for it to drop and the tonearm to connect felt like fucking minutes. Half way through, I was losing it. ‘Substitute’ was so good.

That wasn’t to be the last claustrophobic meltdown I’d have in that little booth let me tell you.

The Who were very left of center to programmers then, not having a US hit until the next year with ‘Happy Jack’. They got no airplay to speak of nationally but our crazy local Top 40, WOLF, played all their singles (click on chart below to enlarge). This US only version has the lyric “I look all white but my Dad was black” swapped out for “I try moving forward but my feet walk back”. ‘Substitute,’ being the only US single by The Who available on Atco (6409), was issued with a far superior mix than any other version ever – hands down.

A year or so later, they re-released ‘Substitute’ (as Atco 6509) although via a safer, not so wild mix. Well I think it’s the mix but it may indeed be a less hot, less bright mastering. Neither version has ever appeared on a compilation that I know of.

I called Marianne from the shop, told her it had come in and we ended up spending that evening listening to the single over and over and over. True. We missed the prom.

WOLF Charts May 7, 1966

Crispian St. Peters

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010


Listen: But She’s Untrue / Crispian St. Peters CrispianUntrue.mp3

Somehow, this B side got a lot of play on both of our Syracuse Top 40′s: WOLF and WNDR. A few singles down the line from ‘The Pied Piper’, it always looked like the story of a Top 5 was about to be repeated, yet ultimately never happened.

‘But She’s Untrue’, in hindsight, was distinctively very Everly Brothers. Those guys were a generation or two ahead of us and unbeknown to any teen then, their sound was very addictive to an untrained ear. Mix in a nice Joe Meek knockoff production and the resulting single becomes a memorable period piece.

Transports me right back to winter ’67 when this was inescapable. Can vividly recall walking back to school in blizzard-like conditions after lunch, ‘But She’s Untrue’ getting played literally everyday at 12:45…for weeks. A cold transistor radio clamped to my frost bitten ear. It was worth the suffering.

Neil Diamond

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Listen: Solitary Man / Neil Diamond NeilSolitaryMan.mp3

According to Wikipedia, Neil Diamond’s first single for Bang was released May 21, 1966. If so, then I love WOLF even that much more – they tipped it as Hit Bound on May 7 (see below). No joke, this was one hell of a radio station. I know several mid sized cities had them – the ‘other’ Top 40 that played many of the non hit RnB, British Beat and Garage records. Not only a God send, but I have a feeling, these were the stations that created the crazies like myself.

‘Solitary Man’ was a bit dark, or sad – something I still can’t quite put my finger on. It wasn’t his last to have that quality. ‘Shilo’ had it, ‘Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon’ did too. I hadn’t realized it fizzled out at #55 in Billboard that year, maybe because in ’70, when re-released by Bang after he’d left the label for a, by then, very successful run on UNI, ‘Solitary Man’ re-charted and peaked at #21. Bizarre, all those radio programmers that wouldn’t touch it originally now proving their stupidity by playing it a few years later. Justice.

The Choir

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Listen: It’s Cold Outside / The Choir ChoirCold.mp3

Tis the season to be…..playing songs about cold weather. ‘It’s Cold Outside’ peaked at #68 in Billboard in early June ’67 and proves all this nonsense about lyrics fitting the season is hollow. Actually, I recall the record picking up airplay ever so slowly when initailly released in December ’66, so I guess the intention was a wintertime hit.

Despite it’s revered spot in garage rock history, it’s more a sentimental memory for me. I used to light up when it came on the air that winter, as it got played quite early in the upstate New York area. The looser WOLF jumped on it straight off, and by spring/summer slow poke WNDR was on board.

Summer ’67, repeated again in ’77 and even ’87, represents many a fantastic single. It was hard to keep up with all the hits and new releases.

But you gotta love this naive, sloppy garage band performance – despite it currently residing a bit too comfortably in the power pop catagory, a genre that usually has me running in the opposite direction.

Them

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Richard Cory / Them

Listen: Richard Corey / Them
Richard

Wolf Chart 6-25-66

I religiously collected local radio station charts placed in all the record shops and record departments at the variety stores. Every town had them. They’re really fun to scour nowadays for the national non-hits as well as being a great snapshot of the music you could hear at that given moment. If you search ‘music survey’ at eBay, there are always a bunch listed for auction.

I recall WT Grants on Salina Street in Syracuse had a huge record department, and stocked everything you could want, especially as WOLF, one of the town’s two Top 40 stations was pretty adventurous, playing a lot of obscure English rock and US RnB. This was a God send for me from ’65 – ’67, until they buckled and went all Billboard on us. That said record department had a soda counter attached to it, up a few steps with typical glittery colored American Graffiti style booths looking down on the hustle/bustle of kids pawing through and buying records (today you see the same activity at an Apple store or Game Stop), and they had a great jukebox. It was jammed with all the latest up and comers. I remember investing a dime to hear ‘Bend It’, well not only hear it but watch the single spin round on the store’s lavender/purple Rock-ola, at the same time admiring a factory printed Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich jukebox tab to accompany it. I wonder where that tab ended up. Hate to think.

My only problem with WT Grants or Walt’s being there were so many choices, and not enough money to buy them all on my $1 a week allowance and some cash from mowing lawns. I still get cold sweats hearing a lawn mover. I would literally walk up and back neighbor’s yards behind their mowers deciding what record this torturous act would earn me and I distinctly remember suffering through several yards earning enough to buy The Cream FRESH CREAM. I went cheap, and sprung for the mono pressing as they were $1 less. Who knew then that monos would end up way more valuable than their stereo counterparts. Man, am I happy I bought them: The Pink Floyd PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, The Jimi Hendrix Experience AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE and Big Brother & The Holding Company CHEAP THRILLS to mention a few that reaped incredible returns. Well if I ever decide to sell them that is. I soon figured out other ways to get all these records and more for free. That saga is covered in my Jack Dupree post for the more curious of you.

Meanwhile, the one record that got played by WOLF (and I bet only by WOLF in the whole of the US as I’ve never seen it on any other local chart, ever) but not stocked, was ‘Richard Corey’ by Them. It’s actually a Paul Simon cover and Van Morrison reportedly hated it.

If you couldn’t find something at Grant’s there was also Walt’s Records, just down a block and right next to a peanut shop, freshly roasting their wares.

Walt’s was a great shrine to obscure stuff, and very RnB heavy. The place smelled fantastic, a constant mixture of vinyl and those roasted nuts. Like Grant’s, I was told they “couldn’t get” this single by Them either. “Couldn’t get”, what the hell does that mean? Turns out the lyric “He went home last night and put a bullet through his head” was a big deal….I’m guessing neither outlet dared stock it just in case. Guns were not cool once. It’s a shame that’s changed. And it took me years to find this as I’m sure not many were pressed. How WOLF got away with playing ‘Richard Corey’ heavily for several weeks without a problem is surprising, but they did.

Clefs Of Lavender Hill / Dee Jay & The Runaways

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

ClefsLavender, Clefs Of Lavender Hill, Date, WOLF

Listen: Stop – Get A Ticket / Clefs Of Lavender HillClefsStop.mp3

I’m sure this happens to us all – occasionally there are a couple of records that basically get connected at the hip in one’s memory. For whatever reason, with me it’s usually a time period that links them.

On first airing, I was sure ‘Stop – Get A Ticket’ was the new Byrds single. Must’ve been that electric twelve string sound in the solo. Still feels like a Roger McGuinn moment.

No. it was a local garage band, one of hundreds that sprung up as a result of the British Invasion. The Clefs Of Lavender Hill were from Florida, and their followup singles were just, well not very good. This, in fact, was originally a B side, eventually getting national release and reaching a Billboard #80 as a result of play and instant reaction in Miami.

When Corinne, the kids and I ventured down for a long weekend last winter, there was an arts and crafts street fair just off the main drag of Collins Ave, with it’s endless blocks of beautifully restored art deco hotels and such. One local oldies station, their van set up, complete with free bumper stickers and ghastly t-shirts, was blaring a live feed, audible a couple blocks away. I was pleasantly surprised when The Small Faces ‘Itchycoo Park’ came on – man did it sound great and definitely out of place, but when The Clefs Of Lavender Hill got played about half an hour later, I was genuinely floored. Huh? What’s up? I had no idea then it was in fact a massive local smash.

Trust me, when both these songs were mixed in amongst a pretty common array of the usual overplayed hit staples, they were hands down standouts.

DeeJayPeterRabbit, Dee Jay & The Runaways, Smash, WOLF

Listen: Peter Rabbit / Dee Jay & The Runaways DeeJayPeterRabbit.mp3

You’ve all heard of Spirit Lake, Iowa I’m sure. If not, let me tell you ‘Peter Rabbit’ probably still gets played down / over there. This band put the town on the map and from all accounts, the place is still pretty proud of the fellows.

Why not, great single. Heard it constantly at the time. It and ‘Stop – Get A Ticket’ always getting back to back spins on WOLF. These singles played a big part in my soundtrack of that summer. Proof below:

WOLF6_4_66, WOLF, Dee Jay & The Runaways, Clefs Of Lavender Hill

Radio London

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

A few posts back, Manfred Mann on April 24th to be exact, I mentioned a terrific site lovingly maintained by Mary Payne and dedicated to 60′s pirate station Radio London. A day later, I get an email from this very iconic lady – thanking me for the kind words. I couldn’t have been more pleased – or so I thought.

Mary certainly did some trolling around, finding my post about the history of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich’s ‘Bend It’ in the US, and proceeded to include some of those details on her Radio London site. What an knockout – thank you Mary. If ever I’d have thought as a kid that someday, even my name alone would get a mention by Radio London, I would’ve expired.

DDDBMTTouch, Fontana, Pirate Radio, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, Radio London

Listen: Touch Me, Touch Me / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich DDDBMTTouch.mp3

Well within her post, she wonders what US Fontana did about a later single ‘Touch Me, Touch Me’, by the band for the American market – given ‘Bend It’ had been cock blocked due to suggestive lyrics. My real belief is US dj’s didn’t want to bother learning the band’s name – that simple. Add to it, they only visited Stateside once for press and local TV’s, never playing live, which also didn’t make for a successful recipe.

As for ‘Touch Me, Touch Me’, US Fontana simply didn’t release it. A few months later, (June ’67), it was included on the band’s US GREATEST HITS album, a collection of all their singles that traded pretty exclusively off some regional US hits like ‘Bend It’ and ‘Hold Tight’ (although I did hear ‘Hideaway’ twice on WOLF). It faltered at #155 in Billboard’s Top 200. Even that was a surprise showing. The icing on the Fontana brainforce’s cake was to NOT include the band’s then current single ‘Okay’ (released July ’67) on the LP – despite the group getting their first National US TV that very summer (August ’67) performing…..’Okay’. It was to be their last release with Fontana.

Debuting on Imperial with ‘Zabadak’ the following November, they finally got a loads of airplay and ultimately cracked Billboard’s Top 100.

As if the mention was not enough, I find on closer examination of her posting, that the Radio Caroline site has now been updated to include their weekly charts from the 60′s as well.

Oh boy. I’ve been there for a few hours and have barely had time to do this here post. Visit it and prepare. You will need to set aside even more hours.

Thank you again Mary, you’ve made my year – and keep up the great work on your Radio London site.

Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

ianwhitcombsporting, Ian Whitcomb, & Bluesville, Tower, The Bonzo Dog Band, Tiny Tim

Listen: This Sporting Life / Ian Whitcomb & BluevilleIanWhitcombSporting.mp3

I knew Ian Whitcomb was English, he had a huge hit as part of the British Invasion. It seems he relocated to the US quite quickly during that period. His first recordings, with Bluesville, despite being good attempts at the damp, Soho, St. James Infirmary sound, somehow lacked that final ‘something’, I’m guessing because of his vocal style. ‘This Sporting Life’, also recorded and released by Mickey Finn in ’65, finds him beautifully out of place with the music, actually becoming part of the appeal.

This one crawled slowing upward under Billboard’s Top 100, then placed for one week at #100, before returning to the ‘Bubbling Under The Hot 100′ section for a few more. It’s chart progression was as follows: 134, 122, 101, 101, 100, 104, 104, 124.

Ah the good old days of the Billboard charts, but talk about keeping an artist at the edge of their seat.

ianwhitcombturn, Ian Whitcomb, & Bluesville, Tower, The Bonzo Dog Band, Tiny Tim

Listen: You Turn Me On / Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville IanWhitcombTurn.mp3

The balance between voice and music found the perfect match in ‘You Turn Me On’. The suggestive gasping surprisingly didn’t manage to keep it off the airwaves, and it scaled to #8 in Billboard’s Top 100 during that summer.

ianwhitcombrobinson, WNDR, WOLF, Ian Whitcomb, & Bluesville, Tower, The Bonzo Dog Band, Tiny Tim

Listen: What Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday On Saturday Night? / Ian Whitcomb & His Seaside Syncopators IanWhitcombRobinson.mp3

Where Ian Whitcomb really found his footing, and a comfortable vocal home, was with the above single. More suited to the era of vaudeville and silent films, his voice worked perfectly on a remake of Al Jolson’s 1916 hit, and almost became a smash here in the US. Indeed, during the week of November 14, 1966 it was playlisted at both my local Top 40 stations (see their charts below) and sounded fantastic coming out of my transistor. If you told anyone this was a classic version by the deservedly credible Bonzo Dog Band, you wouldn’t be challenged.

66, WNDR, WOLF, Ian Whitcomb
661, WNDR, WOLF, Ian Whitcomb

Warm Sounds

Friday, October 9th, 2009

warmsoundsbirds, Warm Sounds, Deram, Mike Hurst

Listen: Birds And Bees / Warm Sounds WarmSoundsBirds.mp3

In May ’67, my Mom went off to Ireland to visit her sister for a few weeks, armed with my 45 want list. She came back with some life-changers (see my post from October 7th, 2008 titled: The Move / The Who / The Small Faces / The Cream). An added unexpected bonus were two pull-out Top 50 charts from RECORD RETAILER, the UK equivalent of BILLBOARD. If I could scan them for you, I would. They’re too large, purposely made to hang on your shop’s wall so kids can easily identify their purchases. Sliding gently back from a #26 peak (to #27, then #28) was ‘Birds And Bees’ by Warm Sounds. It was on Deram. It had to be good.

The psychedelic summer of ’67 was just about to happen, and the great music that would define it was in full tsunami mode. Every week handfuls of ‘must hears’ were arriving in stores, at the radio stations and in trade magazine listings.

Before I could even worry about it, one of my local Top 40′s, WNDR, was playing ‘Birds And Bees’ (see chart below). Occasionally, they or the more loosely programmed, UK and garage band leaning WOLF, would add a gem that never went on to national success. Unlike WOLF, WNDR wouldn’t stick with them too long, but at least we’d have a chance to get a taste – and usually one of the local shops (Walt’s Records in particular) would stock 5 or 10 copies. You had to move quick to secure one though, there was fierce competition amongst us sickos.

Despite it’s rather mainstream pop leanings, it was undeniably English on first listen, the string breakdowns were perfectly LSD’d out, and the lyrics, so blatant (“don’t be afraid, come with me please, that’s all there is to the birds and the bees”).

I was in. Yet how did the program director not notice those lyrics?

wndrwarmsounds6_12-67, WNDR

The Standells

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

The Standells - Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear Black

Listen: Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White / The Standells StandellsGoodGuys.mp3

Most people were disappointed by follow up singles, I was usually the opposite. Accepting that my tastes fell off the straight and narrow, the mid chart followups pleased me more every time. Like with this one, I always had wished they were the bigger hits. A real testament to this song’s quality came when The Cramps started covering it during the Kid Congo era.

I had seen The Standells open for The Rolling Stones, along with The McCoys, on July 6, 1966. While trolling backstage to nervously reacquaint The Rolling Stones with myself (as if they cared) – having gotten into their dressing room the previous October (see my Alvin Robinson post for the full story) – I stumbled on most of The Standells. They looked old and kind of fake to this little kid. Indeed, they weren’t true beat group long hairs and were slightly advanced in years having done the early 60′s LA circuit during the surf days. Never mind. I was way more interested in seeing The Rolling Stones. Years later I did regret not knowing enough about The Standells history at the time. Like, for instance, that Gary Walker from The Walker Brothers had once been a member. Missed opportunity, I’m ashamed to say.

This followup to ‘Dirty Water’ was all over my local station that summer (see local WOLF chart below). God, it sounded fantastic on the air. Bless him, Little Steven plays it on his Sirius channel, but unfortunately, it might be the remastered, digitally polished and shined stereo version. So just in case, here my friends, is the mono single, taken right off my original 7″ purchased at WT Grants that very summer.

WOLF charts 7 23 1966

Wailers

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Out Of Our Tree / Wailers

Listen: Out Of Our Tree / Wailers WailersOutOfTree.mp3

Imagine growing up and hearing this stuff on the radio. It happened to me. See my post on The Riot Squad from two days ago (March 1) with the local Syracuse radio survey. Even I couldn’t believe all the seminal singles WOLF played when reading it over. Probably would have done better in school if hadn’t been for that station. I couldn’t concentrate.

It’d been ages since I pulled this one out of the shelf. The past several years have seen a religious honoring of 60′s garage rock – so much so that I don’t need to play much of it at home anymore. And now that Holly over at Sirius gave me a radio, Little Steven’s Underground Garage covers me totally. I heard The Hullaballoos on there last week. Last time I heard them on the radio was……1965.

‘Out Of Our Tree’ has to be at the top of it’s genre. Fuck me does it soar! Not many singles swing as hard as this one.

It eventually peaked at #3 at WOLF (see below – click to enlarge). Do you think any other station in the country, outside Tacoma, their home town, even played it?

WOLF 4-30-66