Posts Tagged ‘WT Grants’

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.

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.

Unit 4 + 2

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Listen: Concrete And Clay / Unit 4 + 2
Concrete

Always loved this band’s name. It pre-dated tags given to electronic music acts by about thirty years or so. As it turned out, their acoustic guitar style had a Flamenco thing about it, I guess. It was a thread pretty common to the majority of Unit 4 + 2′s records, even though as a kid, the wilder, trashier, bluesy guitar stuff appealed the most, especially when maracas were involved.

Anything from Decca UK, and released via their London Records Group in America was moved to the top of my pile though. Even the MOR productions of Tom Jones and The Fortunes were fine by me.

‘Concrete And Clay’ would’ve gone Top 10 here, no doubt, if another competing copy cat version by Eddie Rambeau hadn’t been grabbing airplay and sales simultaneously. So instead of reaching a placing near it’s UK #1 slot, the record topped out at #28 on BILLBOARD, victim to a wank American singer who hadn’t moved on fashion wise since Fabian from about five years earlier.

Nice intro as well, ironically similar to but predating label mates, The Rolling Stones’ ‘Honky Tonk Women’ by about three years.

Listen: (You’ve) Never Been In Love Like This Before / Unit 4 + 2
Unit4+2NeverBeen.mp3

Even more appealing was the followup. ‘(You’ve) Never Been In Love Like This Before’, complete with my favorite, an unnecessary bracket within the title, continued their pattern of re-writing the previous single, as ‘Concrete And Clay’ had done with it’s predecessor, ‘Sorrow And Pain’. This can double as either developing a sound, or becoming a perfect target for hater journalists. Both outcomes are common.

Basically, a stiff, it hovered around the lower reaches of the Top 100 for several weeks, eventually topping out at #93. I can still see that unsold chunk in a W.T. Grants record rack, back when vast areas of department store walls were lined with rows and rows of the latest 45′s. There they sat for weeks, until one day, gone. Well, all but the copy pictured above.

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.

The Who

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Listen: Happy Jack / The Who WhoHappyJack.mp3

Pull this out and give it a spin. You’re bound to say, “Man I have not heard this in ages”. Well, my guess is you’ll say that. I loved all the singles up through and including ‘Pictures Of Lily’. Then came ‘I Can See For Miles’. Something about that one, it was good but didn’t hit dead center. Was a first real understanding of my body’s reaction to music. ‘I Can See For Miles’ may have been the record that set the template for an A&R career years later: if I didn’t love it – chances were good it’d be a huge hit. Hey, as long as you know how to read the indicators, that’s all that really matters. ‘I Can See For Miles’ was in fact their only ever US Top 10. Hard to believe I know.

Back then, The Who weren’t much different than The Small Faces or The Move when it came to US radio. You never heard them. Yeah radio was much better in the 60′s, but still fairly narrow. These bands just didn’t get national airplay – if they were lucky, regional exposure was usually the extent of it and then maybe a crossover….leads me to an interesting memory about The Who.

I and my Anglophile friends religiously bought every single by The Who. My teenage girlfriend and I missed our junior prom the night I got ‘Substitute’ it was so good – we just played it over and over and fiddled about, as someone once coined. It was the plan anyways.

There were a few shops around town that would get two to five copies of the non hits, or hopeful to be hits – like Walt’s Records or Smith’s Records or that huge record department in WT Grant’s on Salina Street in Syracuse. So starting with ‘I Can’t Explain’, we bought ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere’, every single right through and including the immaculate ‘Substitute’, ‘I’m A Boy’, ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and this one, the psychedelic ‘Happy Jack’, which actually did crack the Billboard chart peaking at #24 in ’67. A few years later when TOMMY was released, everyone noticed a rock opera similarity between that and it’s predecessor, The Pretty Things S.F. SORROW, still we listened to them both regularly during several weekend Parcheesi matches. The Who finally made a return visit after opening for Herman’s Hermits a few years earlier. Even though in my opinion the glow of those earlier singles had dimmed down noticeably, of course I went along. TOMMY admittedly wasn’t bad.

After the show, a few of us waited around for autographs, brought albums, singles, the works. I wasn’t quite as fussed and brought nothing, but seriously, was there something better to do in Syracuse as a teenager than possibly say hello to The Who? When my best friend Denny went up to Pete Townshend proudly with his MY GENERATION album to get signed, the guy turned his nose away, dismissiveley refusing to sign anything. He proceeded to make his way toward their station wagon with band members including Keith Moon and Roger Daltry already inside waiting. Even Keith Moon jumped out of the car to oblige, looking at Pete with a ‘you asshole’ glare, I couldn’t resist. So I spoke up.

“Pete, you know those few copies of the older singles you used to sell in towns like this prior to your hits, we were were the kids that bought them.” As the car pulled away, plain as day, I recall him hanging out the window, wearing a coat that looked like a piece of ghastly ornate drapery, middle finger on both hands projecting at me and shouting “you got a show for your $6 prick”.

Hmm. Not really, you didn’t play any of the aforementioned songs I came to hear. Not one. Still it was rude, certainly embarrassing and I never bought another record by The Who. Big deal, basically my bitterness toward he and unfairly the other guys in The Who went unnoticed and I’m sure Pete Towshend never lost a wink of sleep because of me.

About thirty years later, his keepers were doing the rounds of labels trying to hawk a new, not very good Pete Townshend album. I was at Columbia then but decided to pass on the record, or more specifically on him, his talent to write those gems long ago withered in my opinion. Still, it was a very hard call. You’d be a fool to not want to work with Pete Townshend. Honestly, he is a higher form of life but I’d experienced his temper. Once bitten, twice shy.

‘Happy Jack’ really is a terrific single.

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.