Records have often been rerecorded or edited for airplay on radio stations, but this is possibly the strangest edit ever.
Steely Dan was hired to create the theme song for the movie FM. While Fagen and Becker played most of the instrumental parts themselves, they did have all-star backup: the saxophone player from the Tonight Show (Pete Christlieb) and some vocal backup from three of the Eagles.
Even though the song successfully poked fun at “modern” FM radio, there was some reluctance on the part of AM radio stations to play a song that seemed to be promoting the competition at a time when FM was overtaking AM as the dominant music force in the US. A special version of the record was cut that overdubbed “F” with “A”.
The normal single version of the song still did fairly well in spite of jealous AM disc jockeys, reaching #22 on the charts in the Summer of 1978.
A live version from approximately 2000 gave them a chance to exercise their jazz muscles.
Della Reese began recording in 1953 but did not have much chart success until 1957. The single And That Reminds Me got up to #13 on the pop charts in 1957 (it did slightly better on the R&B charts). The record sold over a million copies; here’s an early recording of the song.
Kay Starr released the same song with a different title (My Heart Reminds Me). Although that version entered the charts a week later, it reached the top ten. The higher chart position is possibly eclipsing Della’s version on modern oldies playlists.
A different version of Della’s record was released in 1965, but it garnered little attention.
Della was unable to follow up her hit record with any success until 1959. She began that year when her last single release on Jubilee records (Sermonette) spent one week at #99. In the Fall she moved to the RCA record label and had the biggest hit of her career when Don’t You Know nearly made it to number one.
Beginning in the late 1960s Della began appearing regularly on a series of television shows, and she is most remembered now for her role as a supervising angel on the show Touched By An Angel.
The Royalettes were a girl group from the sixties that was made up of two sisters and two other sisters that were their cousins. In 1965 they released the original version of It’s Gonna Take A Miracle. The record barely missed the Billboard’s Pop top forty but did get up to #28 on the R&B charts.
The group followed that record up with I Want To Meet Him, a second single that dented the top 100. The songs sound a lot like Little Anthony and the Imperial’s records from that era; no doubt this is because both of those records, as well as a slew of Little Anthony’s hit singles, were written and produced by Tony Randazzo.
A performance video of the group shot in the mid-sixties somehow managed to survive.
The song was covered by Deniece Williams in 1982. Her version made it up to #10 and was followed by her number one hit Let’s Hear It For the Boy, but it doesn’t have the dreamy oldies feeling of the original version.
Today’s oldie comes from a Scottish group that selected a very unusual name: Danny Wilson. No member of the trio is named Danny or Wilson; in fact, the source of the group’s name is spoiled by the title of their first album: Meet Danny Wilson.
That title isn’t an invitation to attend one of their performances…it’s the name of a 1952 movie that featured Frank Sinatra in the title role. It’s a forgettable film, but the group’s first single, Mary’s Prayer, was their ticket to success. The single was released twice without much success in the UK in 1987, but the record made it up to the low 20s on the US charts later that year…and the third release of the single in the UK got up to number three in that country.
The song was later used in the film There’s Something About Mary in 1998, but its appearance there failed to ignite renewed interest in the song.
Since it was the eighties, MTV was still showing music videos, including the video for this song. A live version in 2014 shows the singer could still sing nearly three decades later, while the stereo version sounds much, much better.
Maxine Brown’s career started with a pair of hit records on a small record label. The singles made it into the top three on the Rhythm and Blues charts and into the top 25 of Billboard’s pop charts. That early success allowed her to sign with ABC records, but after she failed to reach the charts again, she moved to a subsidiary of Scepter Records. She found success again there, both as a single artist and on duets with Chuck Jackson.
While her records found airplay mostly on soul stations, in 1964 Oh No Not My Baby again allowed her to cross over to the pop charts, reaching as high as number 24. She continued to find minor success on the pop charts, but no records again reached the top forty. Her career continued to find support on R&B radio through the rest of the decade, with several singles reaching the top 20 on the R&B charts.
A 2007 broadcast on PBS proved her voice to still be powerful and impressive at age 68, while a studio version still sounds better than most vocals on the radio today.
Jackson Browne spent a half-dozen years in various groups, often writing songs that were recorded by other artists. He finally found success as a solo act in 1972 with the release of the top ten single Doctor My Eyes.
He released two more albums over the next five years, but the best he could manage on the singles chart came in 1977 when the release of Here Come Those Tears Again managed to climb up to number 23. That single was followed by the release of the title song from his fourth album, The Pretender. That release did even more poorly (it only got as high as #53), but it got significant airplay on album-oriented rock stations.
Here he is with a live version of the song, as well as the studio release.
Numerous successful albums followed The Pretender, and Jackson’s most successful single came from the soundtrack of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, She Must Be Somebody’s Baby.