Archive for the ‘Jeff Barry’ Category

The McGuire Sisters / Connie Francis

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Sugartime / The McGuire Sisters

Listen: Sugartime / The McGuire Sisters

My Dad’s cousin, Dominic Bruno, owned a nightclub in the 50′s/60′s called the Three Rivers Inn, somewhere near Syracuse. I suppose it was that period’s version of today’s Casinos, but on a way smaller scale. The acts would do a week or so. The many headliners included Jayne Mansfield, Sammy Davis Jr, Mae West, Paul Anka, Tony Bennett, very lounge and nowadays known as Bachelor Pad stuff.

The first act I ever saw live, at the Three River Inn, were The McGuire Sisters. They scored big (#1 in ’57) with ‘Sugartime’, and it appealed to all little kids for years to follow. My Mom and Dad had a copy. It was probably my first discovery of music. How was I to know then that the “sugar in the morning, honey in the evening” being referred to was about sex. Other than their ballads, most of the uptempo ones, like this, were completely rock and roll, especially those clean Chet Atkin’s hollow body solos.

They were the first victims of my record collecting as well. I pestered my parents, even aunts and uncles, to buy me every last record they had out. Anytime a present was due, I wanted a McGuire Sisters record. Whether it be Easter, Halloween, birthday, Christmas, getting a passing report card, you name it, The McGuire Sisters were the gift that kept giving in my world.

Then Mom and Dad faithfully took me along to see them, all arranged through Uncle Dominic, as we knew him. His house was mad, never will I forget the all pink kitchen, including appliances, that he and Aunt Elia had. Whew.

I don’t really know the year of that show, I may have been five, it was the mid 60′s. They were most likely running out of steam career-wise by then. Clearly out of obligation, The McGuire Sisters invited me up on stage. I froze but couldn’t let my folks down, so trembled onwards. I sang along to ‘Sugartime’, probably spoiling everyone’s reason for attending. And the cherry on top was a visit to their dressing room afterwards, a motel room actually, part of the club’s complex, where the three of them were playing cards and eating sandwiches between shows.

Pretty good start, right? My first taste.

Don't Ever Leave Me / Connie Francis

Listen: Don’t Ever Leave Me / Connie Francis

Shortly thereafter, I got into Connie Francis. This all preceded The Ronettes and Shangri-Las fixations which were just around the corner. Suggestive women in tight skirts was the common thread I guess.

I’m not quite sure what my infatuation with Connie Francis was all about but I went off her pretty quickly, probably due to a chilly and quick dressing room visit right after the show. Hey I was a little kid, lighten up lady. Still, to be fair, it was probably cramping her style. She absolutely made many, many great records.

‘Don’t Ever Leave Me’, her one and only attempt at the girl group sound, written and produced by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, the team you went to for just this type of material then, is a keeper. A classic single in fact. (#42, 10/64).

She wore a very nice blue chiffon ensemble that night, that I do remember, and she smelled great.

Andy Kim

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Listen: How’d We Ever Get This Way / Andy Kim
How'd We Ever Get This Way / Andy Kim

After writing countless, seriously countless, hits with Ellie Greenwich during their Brill Building, girl group days, plus together discovering and producing Neil Diamond, Jeff Barry set out on his own. Initially producing The Monkees, then establishing Steed Records and signing Andy Kim.

As well as having later hits with some of those Brill Building classics, Andy Kim’s co-written Steed debut, ‘How’d We Ever Get This Way’ made it’s way to the US Top 30. It was omnipresent in ’68, taking years to shuck the overplayed curse.

Not to be overshadowed, the two conjured up ‘Sugar Sugar’ for The Archies, another song that brought on cringes for ages, and now sounds pretty great.

Years later, they’re part of a continuing testament to Jeff Barry’s writing and production genius, and how contributions from Andy Kim proved he was far from a parasite in the midst of it all.

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.