1970 5th Dimension – Puppet Man

1970 5th Dimension – Puppet Man

Neil Sedaka had a brilliant career in the late fifties and early sixties, but hit a rough patch when the British Invasion arrived in 1964: he did not reach the US  top forty again for an entire decade. Some of his records did better in the UK, and he eventually ended up moving there and reigniting his career in the early seventies.

Neil released the single Ebony Angel in 1969 in the UK but not in the US. The b-side of the single was the song Puppet Man.

The 5th Dimension group left Soul City Records after a long string of hit records and began releasing new music on Bell Records in 1970, starting with the album Portrait. Soul City continued releasing older recordings during that year, making for some confusion at radio stations that had to choose which songs to play.

The group performed two songs from Portrait in an episode of It Takes A Thief that aired on February 23, 1970. They sang a cover version of Puppet Man in the episode.

Bell released the song as the group’s second single from their label, and it jumped onto the Hot 100 in April, eventually peaking at #24 on the Hot 100.

Save The Country was the next single from Portrait, but that stalled at #27. The band also recorded and released On The Beach (In The Summertime), but that failed to even reach the top forty.

Fortunately for the group, somebody finally paid attention to the other song from Portrait that appeared on It Takes A Thief. Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote the song One Less Bell To Answer for Keely Smith in 1967 and her single had not accomplished much.

The show used the 5th Dimension’s cover version from Portrait as a plot device on the episode (the ending of the song was set to cause an explosion). Near the end of 1970, Bell released the song as a single, and it ran up to #2 on the Hot 100 and topped the Adult Contemporary chart. The 5th Dimension never again had a record that successful.

Tom Jones also recorded a cover version of Puppet Man in 1970, but his version was not released in the US until 1971. That single peaked at #26 on the Hot 100 but reached #4 in Canada.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_5th_Dimension
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puppet_Man_(song)

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1972 Yes – Roundabout

1972 Yes – Roundabout 

Bass player Chris Squire formed the band Mabel Greer’s Toyshop in London in 1967. The owner of a nearby club introduced Chris to Jon Anderson, and the two discovered they shared interests in harmonies and music by Simon and Garfunkel. Drummer Bill Bruford, piano player Tony Kaye, and guitar player Peter Banks joined the pair to form the band Yes.

They released their first album in 1969. Roger Dean designed the covers for most of the group’s early albums, giving them a distinctive look.

The group first breached the US Hot 100 in 1971 with Your Move, the first single from their second album. The song was roughly the first half of the album track I’ve Seen All Good People; the entire song ran over six minutes. The record only reached #40 on the Hot 100.

While touring in a bus in support of the album, the group encountered an endless number of roundabouts (many years before they became common in the US). That bus ride led a stoned Jon to jot down lyrics that eventually turned into the lead song on Fragile, their third album. The album version of Roundabout ran over eight minutes.

They cut that down to three and a half minutes on the single. The single reached #13 on the Hot 100, making it the group’s second most successful single in the US.

The group recorded their next single in 1972 as part of the sessions for Fragile. The song was a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s album cut, America, from their 1968 album, Bookends.

Yes did not include the full version of the song on any of their albums until years later. The original recording ran over ten minutes. They again cut down the single version, this time to about four minutes. It snuck up to #40 on the Hot 100 and then faded away.

The only way fans could initially listen to the original long version was to buy one of their record company’s sampler albums, The New Age of Atlantic. The record company finally included the complete version of the song on the group’s compilation album Yesterdays in 1975. The song later got added onto the remastered Fragile CD (which is where it belonged).

Even classic rock stations seem to have misplaced their copy of Roundabout and seem much more likely to play their chart-topping single Owner Of A Lonely Heart instead. The single only ran about four minutes, but the video lasted over six minutes thanks to some footage of the group members morphing into animals, a snake, and a bird.

The lineup for the band has changed over the years, with 19 different musicians working in the band full-time. Yes disbanded in 2004 and reformed in 2008.

Yes is still an active group that tours and records music, but the only early members still in the group are Steve Howe and Alan White.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes_(band)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roundabout_(song)

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1968 Bee Gees – Words

1968 Bee Gees – Words

The Bee Gees became such a huge group in the seventies that it’s easy to forget how their singles struggled in the US in the mid-sixties. Their first four singles from their first two US albums stalled between #11 and #17 on the Hot 100, and their fifth single (World b/w Sir Geoffrey Saved The World) didn’t even reach the Hot 100 at all.

Their next singleWords, came out in early 1968. The record featured Barry singing lead and only reached #15 on the Hot 100 before fading from the chart. Their recording is notable for the compressor/limiter effect on the piano that gave it a unique sound.

The group toured with the song and appeared on countless television shows, including a live performance of the song on The Ed Sullivan Show. Barry sang the song as a solo performance during many of the group’s live concerts.

The group’s next single, Jumbo backed with The Singer Sang His Song, only reached #57 on the Hot 100 and #20 in the UK. The group had two top ten hits later in the year, and one more single that peaked at #37 in 1969.

Robin became upset with the selection of the singles the group was releasing. He complained that songs with him singing lead vocals were being overlooked in preference to songs that featured Barry. Robin left the group to pursue a solo career. It would be early 1971 before the group reformed and found their way back onto the top forty in the US.

Robin and Maurice have both died, leaving Barry to record on his own. He released a new album in early 2021 that finally allowed him to concentrate on Country music. Greenfields included a County remake of Words, a duet with Dolly Parton.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee_Gees
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee_Gees_discography

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1967 Brenton Wood – Oogum Boogum Song

1967 Brenton Wood – Oogum Boogum Song

Alfred Jesse Smith was born in Shrevesport Louisiana but his family moved to Los Angeles before he started high school. After graduation, he became proficient at piano and started writing songs.

He began recording singles for Wand Records in 1963 and moved to Brent Records for a few years. He wrote The Oogum Boogum Song and recorded it on Double Shot Records in 1967. The novelty single peaked at #34 on the Hot 100 and #19 on the R&B chart.

Dick Clark sat down and interviewed him after he performed the song on American Bandstand.

Brenton also wrote his next release, Gimme A Little Sign. The single reached the top ten on the Hot 100 and in the UK but stalled at #19 on the R&B chart.

He had one more record reach #34 on the Hot 100 in 1967 (Baby You Got It). He started his own record label and released 18 more singles and four more albums but never again reached the top forty after that single.

While his career faded, numerous films and television shows have used one or more of his three hit singles on their soundtracks for over fifty years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brenton_Wood
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Oogum_Boogum_Song

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1962 Rivingtons – Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow / The Bird’s The Word

1962 Rivingtons – Papa-Oom-Mow-MowThe Bird’s The Word

The Rivingtons were a four-man doo-wop group  that got its start in a Los Angeles high school in the forties. The group recorded under several name and changed its lineup a few times as well. Thurston Harris joined the group briefly, but left for a solo career. The band later sang backup vocals on several of Thurston’s recordings, including his #6 single Little Bitty Pretty One in 1957.

They also sang on recordings by Paul Anka and Duane Eddy.

In 1962, the band finally wrote and recorded their own hit record. Liberty Records released their single Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow and it reached #48 on the Hot 100.

The band recorded an album entitled Doin’ The Bird. The album included their next two singles, Kickapoo Joy Juice and Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow (The Bird), but neither one reached the Hot 100.

Their next record after that was another song the band wrote themselves, The Bird’s The Word. The single peaked at #52 on the Hot 100 in early 1963.

The band never charted again. They broke up in the mid-sixties. They later reformed in the early seventies and performed on the oldies circuit for a few decades.

We might have completely forgotten about the Rivingtons had it not been for the Trashmen,a surf rock group formed in Minnesota in 1962. The band claims they never heard the Rivington’s singles but heard they Sorensen Brothers playing The Bird’s The Word and began playing the song themselves. Somehow, they also connected Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow to the end of their performances, and in 1963 they recorded Surfin’ Bird. The single flew up to #4 on the Hot 100 in 1963.

Of course, its use on Family Guy has immortalized the song.

The Trashmen’s single listed drummer/singer Steve Wahrer as the writer of the song, but it didn’t take long for the threat of legal action to change that to the four members of the Rivingtons.

The Trashmen reached #30 on the Hot 100 with Bird Dance Beat in 1964, but that was their last visit to the chart. The band retired from performing in 2015.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-rivingtons-mn0000502806/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rivingtons
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trashmen
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surfin%27_Bird

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1963 Connie Francis – I’ll Follow The Boys

1963 Connie Francis – I’ll Follow The Boys

Connie Francis had one of her biggest hits in 1961 when she appeared in and recorded the theme song to the film Where The Boys Are.

Her second appearance in a film came in 1963. She appeared in the film I’ll Follow The Boys and again sang the opening theme song for the film. Benny Davis and Murray Mencher wrote the song, the same team that wrote her chart-topping single Don’t Break the Heart That Loves You.

She recorded the version of the song that was used in the film in June 1962 over an instrumental recording produced by Norman Newell at Abbey Road Studios.

In September, Connie recorded a new version of the song in New York City with producer Danny Davis that used LeRoy Holmes as the conductor.

Her record company released that version as a single that reached #17 on the Hot 100 in 1963.

Connie went back into the studio and recorded a new vocal over the same instrumental backing as the single that was used on a stereo album comprised of five songs from the film and five new songs.

The British Invasion took its toll on Connie’s career: Follow The Boys proved to be her last single to reach the top twenty on the Hot 100. She continued releasing singles through 1969 but only had five more top forty singles on the Hot 100. She did have another half-dozen top ten singles and seven more top twenty hits on the Adult Contemporary chart.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connie_Francis
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connie_Francis_discography#US_singles

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1971 Daddy Dewdrop – Chick-A-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes’ Love It)

1971 Daddy Dewdrop – Chick-A-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes’ Love It)

Dick Monda was born in Ohio. His family moved to California in the mid-forties and Dick and his sister found work as young vaudeville performers. Dick began acting in films in 1951. Two years later, he appeared as a young Eddie Cantor in The Eddie Cantor Story as the young Eddie Cantor. He not only acted but also danced and sang six songs in the film.

Dick began recording music for Moonglow Records in 1965. He issued a few singles using his own name and a few more singles using the name Daddy Dewdrop. None of them charted.

Dick produced music for the Saturday morning cartoon show Groovie Goolies in 1970. One of the songs on the show was Chick-A-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes’ Love It). After the show ended, Dick put together a collection of studio musicians and recorded his own version of the song for Sunflower Records. The single reached #9 on the Hot 100 in 1970.

Several more singles and a pair of albums followed, but Dick never charted again.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/daddy-dewdrop-mn0000667037/biography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daddy_Dewdrop
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chick-A-Boom_(Don%27t_Ya_Jes%27_Love_It)

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1970 Ferrante And Teicher – Midnight Cowboy

1970 Ferrante And Teicher – Midnight Cowboy

Arthur Ferrante and Louis Teicher met in 1930 while studying at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. They began performing as a duo, playing pianos. They became members of the faculty at the school after they graduated.

The pair began playing in clubs and touring in concert in 1947. To prepare for their shows, they practiced at Steven Tyler’s grandmother’s house. They began recording singles in 1950 and albums in 1952. Their major sales came with a series of recordings of movie theme songs beginning with the top ten single Theme from The Apartment in 1960. After two more top ten releases on the Hot 100, they continued selling albums but were unable to have much of an impact on the charts until 1969.

John Barry composed the score for the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy. They used his recording of the theme song in the film’s soundtrack and eventually won a Grammy award for the Best Instrumental Theme, but his single release didn’t even reach the Hot 100.

Johnny Mathis released a version of the song in 1969 using lyrics written by Jack Gold, who also produced the recording. His single reached #20 on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart, also without reaching the Hot 100 chart.

Ferrante & Teicher had the hit version thanks, in part, to the guitar part on their record. The single peaked at #10 on the Hot 100 and reached #2 on the AC chart.

The pair recorded dozens of albums and continued appearing in concert until they retired in 1989.

Louis died after a heart attack in 2008. Arthur often said he intended to live one year for each key on a piano, and he died twelve days after his 88th birthday in 2009.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrante_%26_Teicher
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_Cowboy#Theme_song

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1960 Danny and the Juniors – Twistin’ USA

1960 Danny and the Juniors – Twistin’ USA

Danny Rapp, Frank Maffei, Joe Terry, and Dave White met while singing together while in junior high school in Philadelphia in the mid-fifties. They started appearing at parties and minor events as the Juvenaires.

Record producer John Madara began working with the group and introduced them to Artie Singer, who ran Singular Records. Artie, John, and Dave wrote the song Do The Bop and recorded it as a single.

The record did not even do well locally. When they presented the song to Dick Clark, he suggested they change their name to the Juniors and then change the name of the song to At The Hop. That led them to change a few of the lyrics as well. The new recording began doing well, but had trouble breaking outside of the local area.

Dick Clark had a solution for them: in exchange for half the publishing rights, he would promote the record (primarily on American Bandstand). Fortunately for all involved, that sort of payola wasn’t illegal yet. ABC-Paramount Records licensed the national distribution for the record and after the group appeared on Dick’s show, sales exploded. The record sat at the top of the Hot 100 for five weeks at the start of 1958.

Dave wrote the group’s next singleRock N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and Artie produced it. The single peaked at #19 on the Hot 100.

The group had one more single stall at #39 and couldn’t get near the Hot 100 until 1960. That year band moved to Swan Records (which Dick Clark had a financial interest in).

Kal Mann wrote Twistin’ USA and Danny and the Juniors reached #29 on the Hot 100 with their recording. The song hit the chart about a month after Chubby Checker’s The Twist first arrived on the Hot 100.

The group never reached the top forty again. David left the group, and the others remained together and kept recording until 1964.

The band reformed several times, and by 1976 there were two bands touring as Danny and the Juniors: one led by Danny, and one led by Joe and Frank.

Danny died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head in 1983.

Joe and Frank’s version of the group still continues to tour.

David continued producing and writing songs, often with John. His biggest hits included You Don’t Own Me by Leslie Gore and 1-2-3 and Like A Baby by Len Barry. He also was a member of several other groups from time to time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danny_%26_the_Juniors
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At_the_Hop

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1961 Matt Monro – My Kind Of Girl

1961 Matt Monro – My Kind Of Girl 

Terence Edward Parsons was born and raised in London. His singing voice attracted little attention until he served in the British armed forces. While stationed in Hong Kong, he appeared on the local television competition show Talent Time. He won the show multiple times before performing on his own show in 1953.

After returning to England, he began working in the Show Band at BBC. Pianist Winifred Atwell became his mentor and convinced him to use the name Matt Monro for public appearances. He released an album in 1957, but sales were minimal.

George Martin asked Matt to record a song imitating Frank Sinatra as a demo for a Peter Sellers movie, but it turned out so well that Peter used the song in his film. Unfortunately for Matt, the soundtrack credited the song to Fred Flange. On the plus side, it led to more work with George, and he helped Matt get a recording contract with Parlophone Records.

In 1960, the second song that George and Matt recorded resulted in his first hit record. His single Portrait Of My Love reached #3 on the UK chart.

The single did not chart in the US, where Steve Lawrence’s cover version reached #9 on the Hot 100 in 1961 and led to a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. The Tokens also covered the song in 1967 and reached #36 on the Hot 100.

 

Matt’s next single was My Kind Of Girl. The record took him to #5 in the UK. In the US, Matt’s release reached #18 on the Hot 100, making him the first British act to reach the US top twenty since 1958.

The single did even better on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart, peaking at #6.

Matt appeared on several television shows and often performed the song live.

Matt continued to score hits on the UK charts and had five more records on the US AC chart. In 1964, he reached the US top forty on the Hot 100 one last time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Monro
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrait_of_My_Love
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Kind_of_Girl

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