Archive for the ‘Imperial’ 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.

The Hollies

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Listen: Jennifer Eccles / The Hollies
Jennifer

What on earth was Graham Nash thinking? Leaving this band?

Seems every once in a while, some visiting UK group lost a member to the lure of the Los Angeles folk contingent. None of that soft rock ever appealed to me, not to mention their unkept and drab dress sense. But probably in the 60′s, the modern living, mid-century designs that still prevail to this day were so magnetic, who could resist champagne bubble wall dividers, sparkle ceilings and aqua kitchens.

I can’t quite recall when he actually made the move, seems around ’68. Still somehow, The Hollies vocal sound didn’t really change. Not to my ears.

US radio were always very fickle when it came to their records. The wise man’s “be happy with life’s small pleasures” slogan applied here, and at least The Hollies got some airtime. I even recall, shortly after their switch to Epic, with ‘Carrie Anne’ going Top 10, former label Imperial re-released ‘Pay You Back With Interest’ as a 7″. It too got on the air, eventually charting in BILLBOARD (#28).

Luckily, all of the band’s records were played regularly on the upstate New York stations. Even WNDR, the most commercial Top 40 in Syracuse stayed loyal. ‘I’m Alive’ sounded massive over my little orange transistor, and ‘Jennifer Eccles’ was everywhere airwaves-wise during the Spring of ’68. Right there next to my other successful radio request line missions: The Small Faces ‘Lazy Sunday’, Grapefruit ‘Elevator’ and The Scaffold ‘Thank You Very Much’. Oh, and Madeline Bell too.

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Friday, December 28th, 2012

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.

T-Bone Walker

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Listen: Cold Cold Feeling / T-Bone Walker
Cold

The sanitation guys that collect our trash every Tuesday and Friday are my kindreds. Seriously. For a good fifteen years now, they’ve been dropping off boxes of records other folks discard. In exchange, I stop at Dunkin’ Donuts every few weeks and pick up some hot coffee and treats for them after I drive the girls to the subway stop three blocks away, on their way to school. A perfect arrangement, given the fellows show up on the button about ten minutes later.

I figured out years ago to canvass the supers at the condo and co-op buildings in my neighborhood for records their tenants were trashing. They get homemade pies at Thanksgiving and Christmas, stuff like that and I get first dibs on the vinyl.

‘Cold Cold Feeling’, probably my preferred T-Bone Walker single, came from those sanitation pals.

His recording/label timeline is all over the place, I honestly can’t follow it very well nor can I ultimately connect the dots. Seems he recorded for Imperial from ’50 – ’54, yet this one was issued in ’63. Go figure.

It does sound like a bit of standard blues fare, polished up with some horn arrangements and issued when all that stuff was becoming chic.

Whatever. By pure accident, ‘Cold Cold Feeling’ was the last record on the stacker, and played maybe ten times on repeat. Usually, I can stand said recording no more, and just race to make a switch. In this case, the single hit me, and is now a favorite.

I haven’t filed it away for months, continually adding it to the stack on the multi-player turntable, suitcase-like portable that’s my version of a flat screen, ie: this guy’s preferred electronic entertainment device. An audiophile I am not.

Jimmy McCracklin

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Listen: Dog (Part 2) / Jimmy McCracklin
Dog

‘Dog (Part 2)’ was the second of eight singles Jimmy McCracklin issued between ’67 and ’70 on Minit, a sister label of Imperial, where he’d been signed since ’62 and had an additional seventeen releases. All in all, twenty five 45′s during an eight year run with basically one label group, Liberty Records, of which both Minit and Imperial were imprints .

At 90 years old, he can boast a recording career that began in 1945, continuing until most recently, 1999. Yes, 54 years. Given that he performed during 2010, his recording days may not be over yet. I would sure like to shake this guy’s hand.

Like the A side, ‘Dog (Part 1)’, this flip is largely an instrumental style backing track. For all we know, those female voices just may have been The Ikettes. Remember, Ike & Tina Turner were on Minit during this period as well.

Having co-written the Otis Redding and Carla Thomas hit, ‘Tramp’ with Lowell Fulson, released in ’67, and this having been issued around that same time, maybe ‘Dog (Parts 1 & 2)’ were the formative demo beginnings of ‘Tramp’.

Regardless, a great jukebox filler on a winter Sunday afternoon, and a needed artifact, if only for the title.

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

DDDBMTZabadakUSA, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, Imperial

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

Listen: Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich 05 Zabadak!.mp3

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.

Jimmy McCracklin

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

The Walk / Jimmy McCracklin

Listen: The Walk / Jimmy McCracklin
The

His biggest chart hit, ‘The Walk’, was the result of an AMERICAN BANDSTAND appearance in ’58, although the record had been released in ’57. Thus was the power of a very few, limited music outlets at the time. Then it was called television.

Dick Clark’s weekly program must have been aggressively worked for such precious exposure. To Dick Clark’s credit, many of the black acts, often who’s records were covered by white performers thus robbing the originals of the hit, were given shots. Jimmy McCracklin was one.

‘The Walk’ is a great combination of RnB and Jump Blues, which he carried over from the release of his first single, ‘Miss Mattie Left Me’ in 1945.

He went on to record for a few labels including Imperial and Stax, where with Lowell Fulson, co-wrote the massive ‘Tramp’ as recorded by Carla Thomas & Otis Redding, and as recently as 2007 played the San Francisco Blues Festival for the sixth time.

This copy came with the original jukebox tab stapled to it’s sleeve, where it shall remain.

The Hollies

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

HolliesAliveUK, The Hollies, Imperial, Parlophone

HolliesAliveUSA, The Hollies, Imperial, Parlophone

Listen: I’m Alive / The Hollies
I'm Alive / The Hollies

Talk about an explosive and immediate intro, here’s one of the most. This tore through my hand sized orange AM transistor radio, an item that almost needed surgically removing from my hand after a couple of years. We went everywhere together, to school, on lunch breaks, to the barber, dentist, shopping for records, the shower and even to bed.

I would wait religiously for the latest single from the UK’s Hit Parade to get an initial airing. Decades before info was a click away, we seemed to know pretty fast about new singles from the English groups, and would wait for that first listen. Many times wait and wait and wait to hear them, unsuccessfully.

I recall writing a letter to Jim O’Brien, the 7-midnight disc jockey on Syracuse’s WNDR, asking would he please play more of the new English bands and he actually read it. This was spring ’66, when playlists were fairly loose but didn’t exist at all to a kid listener. Back then, the stations took and played requests and as well, read letters on-air. I mentioned a few bands, The Alan Price Set being the only one I can recall at this moment. And he read my letter, rattled off all my requests and said “We’d love to play these but they just don’t get released in the USA”.

Not true.

I knew about these records via BILLBOARD. Not only were they printed in the HITS OF THE WORLD section of the publication, whereby they reproduced international Top 10′s and in the case of the UK, their Top 50 chart; but the magazine also listed weekly new US releases in their SINGLES REVIEW section, with label and catalog number. They were all released here, it’s why I wrote the letter.

And so, in hindsight, my mistrust of American radio officially began.

I will say this, Jim O’Brien clearly got some free plays during his shows. For a short period, he did a feature called ECHOES OF ENGLAND, during the British Invasion years. I heard some great stuff on that program: Them, The Silkie, The Yardbirds, The Honeycombs, even The Pretty Things ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’. And for a few weeks in September ’67, he opened most of his shows with The Pink Floyd ‘See Emily Play’. But he did tell a disappointing fib that night.

Regardless, to his credit, it was the grand man himself who played ‘I’m Alive’ one evening. Holy whoever, did it sound fantastic. Dwarfed the songs on either side of it. I loved ‘I’m Alive’ immediately, and excitedly thought I’d be hearing it often, but never did, not ever again.

It had an equally short lived life nationally, a one week spike at #103 on BILLBOARD’s BUBBLING UNDER THE HOT 100 chart, and that my friends, was that.

The Swinging Blue Jeans

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Swinging Blue Jeans - Don't Make Me Over USA

Swinging Blue Jeans - Don't Make Me Over

Listen: Don’t Make Me Over / The Swinging Blue Jeans
Don't Make Me Over / The Swinging Blue Jeans

Who says if you get a song for free, you won’t buy a copy later anyways – for whatever the reason: loyalty to the artist, love of the song, wanting a particular configuration or maybe even just doing your part.

Even though I’d gotten ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ at no charge during one of my early Friday night “I’m here to collect records for the children’s hospital” scams instigated on our local MOR station, WMCR, at an alarmingly young age, I bought a copy anyways. I passed up the stock of ‘She Needs Company’ by Manfred Mann to expend that particular dollar, which in hindsight was a wrong gamble. Never seen one since, although this Swinging Blue Jeans non-charter (actually it did Bubble Under The Billboard Hot 100 at #116) is a bit more common.

It was the heat of the moment. I was overtaken with supporting the team. I really thought I could help it nudge up the chart. The naiveness of youth. I’d actually heard it on my local Top 40, WNDR in March – it was a one listen record. Although Dionne Warwick had a hit with it in ’62, to me it was an unknown track by ’66, when this arrived.

If you grew up in the Northeast, quite possibly songs are seasonal. This was a winter single, along with others at the time that left a life long impression like The Mindbenders ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ or The Walker Brothers ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)’.

By May it had struggled onto the local survey (below) with several other greats. And on this particular week – it was the featured record thereby affording the lyrics be printed on the survey’s reverse side.

WNDR Chart 5-13-66

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

DDDBMTZabadakUSA, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, Imperial

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

Listen: Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich 05 Zabadak!.mp3

In honor of yet another year owning ‘Zabadak’, I’ve decided it’s an annual tradition to repost my original entry about the single’s history from December 28, 2008.

Irma Thomas

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Listen: Nobody Wants To Hear Nobody’s Troubles / Irma Thomas IrmaNobody.mp3

B side ‘Nobody Wants To Hear Nobody’s Troubles’ is basically a carbon copy arrangement of ‘Time Is On My Side’. It too was a flip side from four singles prior. The style became a dependable blueprint for Irma Thomas. Started with ‘(You Can Have My Husband But) Don’t Mess With My Man’, her first record.

I want to say she was an early rapper, but I suppose that could be contradicted in a flash. God knows where a pulpit reading during the breakdown first began, but you certainly had to be an Irma Thomas to pull it off.

Not sure which of her nine Imperial (Liberty in the UK) singles clocks in as favorite, but coincidentally, a box lot of any did cross my mind, and had me searching for just how singles used to be manufactured, something I always meant to check out years back when Kent Cooper offered me a trip to the plant during our Elektra years. Regretfully never did get around to that. The fantasy of employment at a pressing plant in the 60′s crossed my mind, sent me on a search only to discover this:

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.

John Lee Hooker / Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

I really do appreciate Van Morrison for many reasons. He toured about 10 years back, maybe more, with Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames as his band, and John Lee Hooker supporting. I figured the Georgie Fame bit would mean more cohesive song structure as opposed to some of the free form shows he’d done. True, it did. But not before giving Georgie and his band a 4 song spotlight set, whereby they played his biggest US successes (‘Get Away’, ‘Yeh Yeh’, The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde’ and remarkably ‘Daylight’). In addition Van did ‘Gloria’ much to everyone’s surprise, especially as he and Georgie kept it pretty close to the original.

JohnLeeHookerBoom, John Lee Hooker, Vee Jay, Columbia UK

Listen: Boom Boom / John Lee Hooker JLHookerBoomUKA.mp3

Up first was John Lee Hooker, during possibly his last tour. What an unexpected treat. There was none of that new material stuff to endure, instead the classics, played raw and fluidly, all the while seated. No surprise for him to play ‘Boom Boom’, ‘I Love You Honey’ and ‘Dimples’.

JLHookerBigLegs, John Lee Hooker, Vee Jay, Columbia UK

Listen: Big Legs, Tight Skirt / John Lee Hooker JLHookerBigLegs.mp3

Most surprising was when pulling out a more obscure favorite ‘Big Legs, Tight Skirt’. Not only was hearing the song a thrill, but the set up story was hysterical beyond belief. You can just imagine.

GeorgieFameYehUKA, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Imperial, Columbia UK

GeorgieFameYehUSA, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Imperial, Columbia UK

GeorgieFameYehUS, Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Imperial, Columbia UK

Listen: Yeh Yeh / Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames GeorgieFameYehYeh.mp3

To be honest, I hadn’t realized Georgie Fame was even involved until a few days prior. Nor did I expect a solo set. To say it was a treat is vastly understating the moment. Voice still perfectly intact, players easily replicating the groove.

But the most unexpected bonus of the night: a jukebox tab.

It was originally set up for Van Morrison to do the honors via management. Rumored to be difficult, I was pretty shocked when a confirmation call came through with instructions to meet stage door right post show, and get escorted in to see Van, which I promptly adhered to. In a small dressing room, Van was standing waiting. This seemed rather bizarre. Why was I so lucky? He’d been briefed on my request, so when he inquired about song choice, I asked would he do one for Them as well. “Sure, just show me what to write and where”. ‘Richard Cory’ was my choice, I indicated clearly where to write what, Van took the penned signed his name (see tab below) and huffed from the room. Although disappointed at being so close to a signed jukebox tab for Them, I thought it was pretty interesting that this signature, and the accompanying story, was how he wanted to be remembered:

VanMorrisonJukeboxTab, Van Morrison

Georgie Fame, on the other hand, was just the opposite, even recalling the B side, which I hadn’t had the chance of researching prior to the show:

GeorgieFameJukeboxTab, Georgie Fame

The Hollies

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

HolliesLetGoUSA, The Hollies, Imperial, Parlophone

Listen: I Can’t Let Go / The Hollies [audio:

http://www.somanyrecordssolittletime.com/records/HolliesLetGo.mp3]

Discount Records, in the mid 60′s through to the early 70′s, was what you’d call a full catalog store. Owned by CBS, the classical and non-classical titles ran very deep. It wasn’t just the bins that’d be full, so too were the ‘understock’ shelves below. These were arranged by label, then numerical within each. Almost daily, stock would need checking, business was so brisk. Not only did you have to count quantities of big sellers, but also determine missing titles by number, checking them against the respective label’s current catalog, all the while entering the quantities onto inventory sheets. The designated store buyer would eventually decide how many of each to order.

Everyone hated taking inventory, but not me. I couldn’t wait to get started on my first day in mid ’74. Within a week or so, I was on fire. I didn’t even need the catalogs. I’d been studying labels for years at that point. Basically when it came to records, I could remember every detail, still can. Bob at the second location in Syracuse was the same. To us, the catalog numbers were fun. They basically made up our entire conversations. When it came to doing anything else – I was useless. If I had to hang a picture, I’d bend the nail. But this stuff was easy.

Like anywhere, there were store regulars, all with their specific and peculiar tastes. One guy would visit almost daily, trolling the $1.99 bins for country titles. His name was Dave Disinger. We had these large, fluorescent red markdown stickers, and once something sat long enough, you’d eventually price it cheap to make it move. Plus, overstock from other locations would be shipped in for just these bins. Occasionally, some location in Michigan or somewhere would close, and we’d get boxes of their stuff – always really good finds in those. I vividly remember getting several copies of THEM AGAIN this way. It was like Christmas morning when those boxes would arrive.

Well Dave was addicted to country markdowns. I made amusement for myself by intentionally pulling full price, more obscure titles and throwing on the sticker, then wait and watch. Sure enough, he’d be joyous at these finds. One day we get to talking – I was sorting a bunch of newly arrived 45′s at the front counter. He mentions he used to be a singles guy, rock and soul, but moved on to country LP’s. He didn’t even play his singles anymore. Clearly, I was his direct opposite. Somehow or another, he mentions as a kid, he worked at WNDR, the tighter Top 40 in the market but very popular in the 60′s.

So wait Dave, do you have a lot of old stuff? Now I’m getting interested – and pretty quickly I’m offering a lot of on the spot country markdowns in exchange for some of those radio station copies from the day. He heads home then and there, returning with a box, probably 200-ish.

Fantastic! Fuck me – this was a goldmine. He brought them till his supply was dry. Only drawback was he’s written his name on every last one. Still, the stuff was crazy. That first box included The Riot Squad ‘How Is It Down’ and The Kinks ‘Waterloo Sunset’, plus, as you can see, ‘I Can’t Let Go’. It was the very copy that WNDR never did play.

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Monday, December 28th, 2009

DDDBMTZabadakUSA, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich, Imperial

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

Listen: Zabadak / Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich 05 Zabadak!.mp3

In honor of yet another year owning ‘Zabadak’, I’ve decided it’s an annual tradition to repost my original entry about the single’s history from December 28, 2008.

Irma Thomas / The Rolling Stones

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

IrmaTimeUKB, Irma Thomas, Liberty, The Roliing Stones

Listen: Time Is On My Side / Irma Thomas IrmaTime.mp3

Believe it or not, things moved fast in ’65. Technology being what it was, it’s amazing that records were made in days, while presently, with FTPs galore, they take months – sometimes years.

The English groups were good at finding the latest RnB hits, and non-hits, from The US. In a blink, they’d release their own version introducing an insatiable white youth culture to music that was literally down the aisle from them at the local record shop. ‘Time Is On My Side’, with all due respects, was a great call on The Rolling Stones’ part. It was hidden on the B side of Irma Thomas’ ‘Anyone Who Knows What Love is (Will Understand)’, which peaked at #54 in the Billboard Top 100 on July 4. 1964.

StonesTimeUSA, Irma Thomas, Liberty, London, The Rolling Stones

StonesTimePS, Irma Thomas, Liberty, London, The Rolling Stones

Listen: Time Is On My Side / The Rolling Stones StonesTime.mp3

By October of that year, The Rolling Stones’ word for word, inflection for inflection, rendition (I’ve posted the actual single version above, which starts with organ instead of the guitar) was climbing to an eventual #6, their first US Top 10. Some say they stole her hit. I don’t agree. It was never going to get heard by a white teenage audience, or even liked by them most probably. To begin with, it was a B side. Still, as with Bessie Banks’ original of ‘Go Now’, the raw soul of it is hard not to love.

April Stevens

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

aprilstevens, April Stevens, Nino Tempo, Imperial, Liberty, Duffy, Marilyn Monroe

Listen: Teach Me Tiger / April Stevens AprilStevens.mp3

aprilstevens6501,april stevens

Listen: Teach Me Tiger – 1965 / April Stevens AprilStevens65.mp3

Doing her best Marilyn Monroe imitation, ‘Teach Me Tiger’ was too suggestive for 1958 programmers, resulting in little airplay and just making it to #86 on Billboard’s Top 100.

Not content, possibly renewed confidence took over after going to #1 with brother Nino Tempo via their rendition of ‘Deep Purple’ in ’63. April attempted another stab at ‘Teach Me Tiger’ with new label partner, Atco. ‘Teach Me Tiger – 1965′ starts with a rather awkward ‘Leader Of The Pack’ style intro, otherwise you’d swear it was the exact same version as the original. I had no idea this one existed until stumbling on it a few years back in a stack of promos at a garage sale. Still, what a fantastic track either way.

Why doesn’t anyone make singles like this nowadays? Shouldn’t someone like Duffy take a swing at this kind of camp?

And to think, she was from Niagara Falls.

Sonny & Cher

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

It's The Little Things / Sonny & Cher

Listen: It's The Little Things / Sonny & Cher SonnyCherLittle.mp3

You Better Sit Down Kids / Cher

Listen: You Better Sit Down Kids / Cher CherKids.mp3

Laugh At Me / Sonny

Listen: Laugh At Me / Sonny SonnyLaugh.mp3

Sonny jukebox tab

It’s hard to top ‘I Got You Babe’? Fuck that, ‘It’s The Little Things’ kills it. Splat. I’ve been listening over and over tonight, can’t think of a thing to say – I just keep repeating it. When Cher’s voice cracks at exactly 2:06 on “you’re STILL my guy”, I lose it. They were so in love then – it couldn’t be hidden. Incredible.

Running down a parallel track starting around ’65 was the train known as Cher’s solo career. ‘You Better Sit Down Kids’ was pretty heavy stuff, she even takes on the male role lyrically which always seemed a little off. Despite the song’s message, I still think they were in love though.

One night I was walking past The Bottom Line, the legendary NY club now gone. Out came Sonny with Chastity. Damn if I can remember who was playing that evening. I make a habit of carrying blank jukebox tabs and these are just the moments when I’m happy I do. Sonny was so gracious, and like everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, I have ever asked to fill one out he said “Nobody has ever asked me to do this before”. Neither of us could remember the B side. Chastity and Corinne were of no help.

The real genius behind Sonny & Cher, his tenure on the LA record making circuit with Phil Spector, Leon Russell, Al Kooper etc is now very obvious. He wore it humbly on his sleeve. A real unsung talent.

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

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

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

Last year around this time, Bob Lefsetz, who publishes a fascinating subscription letter you should all Google and sign up for, wrote about hearing The Box Tops during Christmas break in Vermont, ’67. It was a nice piece, time traveling me back to that Christmas/New Year’s week, growing up outside of Syracuse, a ten year old obsessed with records. I wrote him a response with much of the following, but don’t know if he ever read it. He never responded.

Everything happens for a reason. It motivated me to start my own blog, so all good.

Basically, I still like the winter weather as it reminds of that week off school as a kid. Everyone wants to escape it here in NY nowadays but I love staying home, hanging around the deserted city, having friends over especially if they bring Christmas cookies, keeping the fireplace going and hoping for snow.

Growing up near Syracuse was pretty drab but we had one remarkable perk: a Top 40 station, WOLF, that from ’64 – ’67 seemed to flawlessly play the good bits of BILLBOARD’s chart alongside national non-hits, most of them British, and many rightfully considered classics today, including several US flops each by The Who, Them, The Move, The Zombies, The Kinks, The Moody Blues, Unit 4 + 2, The Hullaballoos, The Pretty Things and Manfred Mann.

So I’d spend that whole week glued to the radio, crawling the record shops and record departments at W.T. Grants and Woolworths, collecting chart handouts, asking for discarded Billboard magazines and stocking up on deletions.

One of the UK bands whose label, Fontana, didn’t or couldn’t put the needed payola cash behind them on a national level, actually had hits upstate: Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Some consider them too pop, or zany, but I just loved their image of paisley pants with flowered shirts and their music.

KHJ chart 1-24-68

Eventually, they switched US labels in late ’67, to Imperial, who made a big attempt at breaking them here and almost did. ‘Zabadak’ got a lot of play, charted in many markets and got great reaction. KHJ in Los Angeles took it Top 10. (See chart above). Both my local Top 40′s were spinning it, and even the adult contemporary one.

I was feeling liberated. Finally Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich were having a hit, and The Small Faces too, ‘Itchycoo Park’ was doing equally well. US radio was about to be on pulse. I didn’t need to find a way to live in England after all.

Then thud. ‘Zabadak’ stalls at #52 on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 (above). Seems it’s been all down hill ever since.

December 28th: it’s been 41 years today, the receipt is still in the sleeve, that I bought ‘Zabadak’ at Walt’s Records on Salina Street, doing my part. It’s a fantastic single. All jungle drums with haunting strings and chants. Sounded stunning on the radio then, like nothing else. A lot of stations played it for a few weeks. The kind of record that zaps me right back, hence I always remember the date and I’ll always remember that great record shop.

I can easily visualize the decor and it’s unique record shop smell. I wanted everything in the place, still do. One whole wall was lined with brackets that held 25+ copies of a single, where all the biggest sellers made it. But the obscure records, many of the ones I mentioned, would reside in the back on a four sided carousel that swirled, and had slot like pockets, each able to hold ten or so copies of a single. I would go straight to that unit every visit which was usually once or twice a month, having to decide which two or three singles I could afford on my dollar per week allowance. Some of the ones I had to pass up took me years to locate: The Small Faces ‘All Or Nothing’ with the picture sleeve and The Riot Squad ‘How Is It Done’ come to mind. But there were many I did get like Them ‘Richard Corey’, The Yardbirds ‘Goodnight Sweet Josephine’ and The Herd ‘From The Underworld’.

On December 28, 1967 I tore to that rack and there it was. ‘Zabadak’. My Aunt Nancy, a grand lady, had brought me shopping and kindly paid as a Christmas treat, thereby allowing me to spend my dollar allowance on Inez & Charlie Foxx’s ‘(!-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days’. We went on to visit another relative that afternoon where I was tortured, staring at these jems, jonesing to get home and play them as they did not own a record player.

Now I’m convinced Hot Chip could do a killer remake of ‘Zabadak’.

Oh and one other tid bit about Walt’s. I ran there to buy Traffic’s ‘Hole In My Shoe’ the day after seeing them at Syracuse University’s Jabberwocky Club on their first tour. As I walked in, out came Traffic, with loads of soul and jazz albums. They patiently waited as I bought the single then signed it’s picture sleeve.

Monk Higgins & The Specialties

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Gotta Be Funky / Monk Higgins & The Specialties

Try to ignore the trendy song title. Heavily sampled, well known to breakbeaters of the world, not surprisingly with a drum sound like that. Even though Monk Higgins had some blips of notoriety in jazz circles, he was actually best as an A&R guy, working for One-Derful Records in the 60′s and signing Otis Clay.

The guy did a lot of writing and producing into the 70′s for Imperial, Minit and UA. While there, he recorded a few albums and released ‘Gotta Be Funky’, his biggest hit. He gave his cousin, Barbara Acklin her start (as Barbara Allen on Chess) as well. Seemingly, a pretty great fellow.

The B side of this, ‘Big Water Bed’, is a riot – worth searching out.