Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/30/2019

1966 Animals – Don’t Bring Me Down

Keyboard player and singer Alan Price led Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo in Newcastle, England in the early sixties. Eric Burdon joined the group in 1962, and by 1963 they had renamed the group the Animals. The group’s performances were primarily covers of American rhythm and blues records. Their first single, Baby Let Me Take You Home, barely reached the charts.

The group’s second single was The House Of The Rising Sun. The song was a traditional folk song, typically sung as a lament by a female singer. Early versions of the song date back to at least 1905, and the first published version of the lyrics appeared in 1925. Other performers did many recordings of the song before the Animals, including Bob Dylan’s version on his first album in 1962. Eric first heard the song sung by a folk singer in Newcastle in 1964, and the band worked up their own version. There are clear echoes of Dylan’s version in the Animals’ recording. The record reached number one in both the US and the UK and was the first British Invasion chart-topper in the US not related to the Beatles.

Give yourself some bonus points if you can name the other British group that had a number one hit in the US a few months before the Animals got there in 1964.

Alan Price was not comfortable touring (especially the flying part) and by 1965 he left the group to form the Alan Price Set. While that group never had much success in the US, they had several top forty singles in the UK including their cover of the Randy Newman song Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear.

The Animals replaced Alan and had a half-dozen top forty singles over the next two years. That string ended with the Carol King-Gerry Goffin composition Don’t Bring Me Down in 1966. The single reached #12 on the Hot 100 and #6 in the UK.

The band performed the song live on The Ed Sullivan show (not lip-syncing) and that version sounded even better than the single version.

After that single, the band’s line-up changed extensively, and the band abandoned their blues roots and ventured into psychedelic territory. The changeover also included a new billing for the group: Eric Burdon and the Animals. Another half-dozen hits followed, but in 1968 the group disbanded completely. Eric joined the Long Island group War for a brief stint before going on with a solo career.

PS – Peter and Gordon’s number one hit single in 1964 was World Without Love, which Beatles wrote for them. The Animals had the first non-Beatles related British #1 in the US that year.


Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/29/2019

In 1960, Dion O’Brien and Tim Feild had been working in England as a duo, “The Kensington Squares.” Dion’s sister Mary joined the group, forming a folksinger trio. Mary and Dion changed their last names to Springfield and the group became known as the Springfields. Oh, and Mary started appearing with her nickname, Dusty.

The group performed folk music with Dusty usually singing lead. They recorded a few singles, but they failed to catch on at first.

In 1962, Mike Hurst replaced Tim and the group began singing on their own fifteen-minute television series. The net result was an increase in exposure and increased popularity in the UK.

Wanda Jackson was a singer performing mostly rockabilly tunes in (coincidence alert!) Springfield, Missouri, from 1955 to 1960. During that time she recorded a few singles that mostly failed to chart. The flip side of Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad was a very Country Silver Threads and Golden Needles.

The Springfields somehow learned, arranged, and released their cover of Silver Threads And Golden Needles in the Summer of 1962. The record reached number twenty on the US Hot 100, making it the first British recording to be that successful. It was a few more months before Telstar became the first US #1 record from England and another two years before the Beatles arrived in force. It may have been seven months after My Boomerang Won’t Come Back hit the charts from Australia, but Charlie Drake’s single only reached #21 in the US.

While the group may have had continued success in the UK, one record that reached #95 was the best they could manage in the US.

Dusty decided to leave the group so she could record something other than folk music, and in 1963 the group disbanded.

Dusty immediately had hit records, leading off with I Only Want To Be With You in 1963 and continuing on until she sang with the Pet Shop Boys on What Have I Done To Deserve This in 1987. She had several more hits after that, but only in the UK.

Tom continued writing songs, including Georgy Girl and several other hits for the original Australian group the Seekers.

Mike reformed a new version of the Springfields with two new singers and they continue to make public appearances.


Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/28/2019

1958 The Shields – You Cheated

We often hear about music using a term that was coined in the 1940s: doo-wop. At least one song from 1958 started with the words, “Bum-bum, doo-wop, ” repeated over and over.

A group of students at Lamar High School in Austin, Texas, formed a vocal group in the mid-fifties. They named the group the Spades after the suit in a deck of cards. They recorded the single You Cheated, and the small Domino record label immediately signed them up and released the song as a single. Domino could not afford to break the record nationally, so they leased it to Dot Records, and it ended up on the Liberty label. When Liberty began national distribution, there was resistance to the record because the group’s name got interpreted as a racial slur. Without telling the group, Liberty changed their pressings of the record to credit the Slades, and that became the group’s permanent name. The A-side of the record was The Waddle, but disc jockeys turned it over and played You Cheated instead. The single climbed the charts, peaking at #42 on the Hot 100, enough success that the group even appeared on American Bandstand.

Sales of the Liberty release were slower than they had been on the Domino label, but Domino was unwilling to lease the record to another record company.

Another distributor saw a chance to succeed with a cover version of the song. They hired George Motola to produce a cover record. He had written and produced Goodnight My Love, which Jesse Belvin recorded and took to #7 on the R&B chart in 1956. George put together a group he named the Shields with Jesse and lead singer Frankie Ervin and recorded the cover version of You Cheated. The new recording was much more successful, reaching #12 on the Hot 100 and #11 on the R&B chart in 1958. Instead of appearing on American Bandstand, the Shields got to lip-sync their hit on Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beechnut Show with a small set that for some reason included the wheel from a sailing ship.

That may have been the first time a black group covered a record by a white group and had a bigger hit!

Neither the Slades nor the Shields reached the Hot 100 again. Jesse had two minor hits as a solo artist before his untimely death in a car crash in 1960. Frankie recorded additional music and continued appearing live without reaching the charts again until his death in 2009.

The Slades reunited in their seventies and appeared on at least one PBS special (YouTube has a video of them practicing for the show).


Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/27/2019

Mötley Crüe was formed in the US in 1981 and started life as a hard rock and heavy metal band. The four singles from their first album failed to chart at all. In 1984 the group was the opening act for Ozzy Osbourne’s tour, and that helped them reach a larger audience. The third and fourth singles from their second album reached the teens on the Mainstream Rock chart but still failed to get near the top forty on the Hot 100.

That all changed with their third album. Their live shows took a turn towards glam metal as they began to add flame thrower guitars, roller coaster drums kits, and heavy use of pyrotechnics to their shows. Their first single from the album was Smokin’ In The Boys Room, a 1985 cover of the Brownsville Station single that reached #3 in 1973. The single reached #7 on the Mainstream Rock chart but more importantly reached #16 and gave the group their first top forty single on the Hot 100.

The original video by Brownsville Station mostly featured smoking apes and monkeys while the Mötley Crüe video was a more involved drama of life in high school.

Mötley Crüe went on to sell over 100 million albums and have six more top forty singles by 1991. Their success on the Mainstream Rock chart still continues as they had a top ten single there in 2019.


Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/26/2019

1970 Lulu – Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You)

Most people in the US probably consider Lulu to be a one-hit wonder thanks to her chart-topping single To Sir, With Love in 1967. While many can probably point to Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You) from 1970 as a song that disqualifies her from that title, it was actually her third highest-charting record in the US.

Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie grew up Glasgow, Scotland. By the time she turned 13, she was already singing with the Bellrocks on Saturday nights. She got her stage name from a comment made by her future manager: “Well, all I know is that she’s a real lulu of a kid.” She was only 15 when her cover of the Isley Brothers’ song Shout reached #7 on the UK charts (the single only managed to touch #94 on the US Hot 100).

Several more singles followed, but none reached the US charts and she moved to new record label. She also began appearing as a co-host on a television show in the UK.

Her big break came when they selected her to act and sing in the film To Sir, With Love in 1967. She sang the title song as a thank you to her teacher (played by Sidney Poitier) as part of the film’s climactic scene. After the success of that single, her former record company re-released Shout, but that time it fared even worse, peaking at #96 in the US in spite of an extra 12 seconds that were added to the song.

Thanks to the exposure of the film, Lulu could finally host her own television series. She also married Maurice Gibb, one member of the Bee Gees.

1970 brought her to a third record label, and the first single she recorded for them was Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You). The single reached #22 in the US.

Lulu’s last hit record in the US came in 1981 with the release of I Could Never Love You (More Than I Do). The single peaked at #18 and reached #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The record barely made it to #62 in the UK and was her last visit to the US Top Forty.

Lulu was still touring and singing live in 2019.


Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/25/2019

Today is National One-Hit Wonder Day, so it’s only fair to talk about what counts as a one-hit wonder.

Each week charts come out that list the top hits of the week. There are numerous charts, but I usually only consider the Billboard Hot 100. Other charts have listed Country hits, R&B hits, Easy Listening hits, and Mainstream Rock hits.

To qualify as a  one-hit-wonder, a group should only have one record that hits the charts. Most radio stations only listed or did countdowns for the Top Forty records. The most popular countdown was Casey Kasem and his American Top Forty, which continues to this day (although without Casey). Wikipedia has a list of of all the one-hit wonders that meet that criteria.

A few notable wonders were even more amazing because the groups hit number one and never again hit the Hot 100. This list covers 1955-1989, my usual era of interest. I’ve excluded records where two or three artists with other solo hits sang together and hit the charts only once as well as records like At This Moment by Billy Vera and the Beaters since Billy had several other solo hits as well.

  • Let Me Go Lover – Joan Weber in 1955
  • Moonglow and Theme From “Picnic” – Morris Stoloff in 1956
  • He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands – Laurie London in 1958
  • Get a Job – The Silhouettes in 1958
  • Little Star – The Elegants in 1958
  • Alley Oop – Hollywood Argyles in 1960
  • Dominique – The Singing Nun in 1963
  • In The Year 2525 – Zager & Evans in 1969
  • Pop Musik – M in 1979
  • Funkytown – Lipps Inc. in 1980
  • Chariots of Fire – Titles – Vangelis in 1982
  • We Are The World – USA For Africa in 1985
  • Miami Vice Theme – Jan Hammer in 1985
  • Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin in 1988
  • When I’m With You – Sherriff 1989 (the same record reached #61 in 1983

Most people would expect songs like Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye by Steam (1969 again) to be on that list, but they followed that number one single with I’ve Gotta Make You Love Me, which reached #46 a year later. There are a lot more records like that if you only look at artists that only hit the top forty once.

While this list of one-hit wonders is interesting, all of these records regularly get airplay (with the possible exception of the early fifties records since most stations ignore those years now).

I continue to be more interested in one-hit wonders like Ariel by Dean Friedman. The record was his only visit to the top 100, reaching #26 in 1977. If you’ve never heard the record, you’re in for a treat! Shucks, you can even watch him sing the song live.

Useful book for searching for one-hit wonders: Billboard Hot 100 Annual – Joel Whitburn (2006)

Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 09/24/2019

David Gates grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and began playing in bands while still in high school. He recorded his first single in 1957 and continued to write songs consistently after that. In 1961 he moved to Los Angeles and got work as a studio musician and producer. He wrote Popsicles And Icicles, which was a #3 hit for the Murmaids in 1964.

One of the albums that David produced was the 1967 album by the band called The Pleasure Fair. One of the members of the group was Robb Royer, who frequently wrote songs with Jimmy Griffin. In 1968, David, Jimmy, and Robb formed a group and signed with Elektra Records. They named the group Bread after they saw a truck labeled Barbara Anne Bread at a stoplight. Initially, drummer Jim Gordon was playing with the group, but he signed onto a tour with Bonnie and Delaney (and Eric Clapton) and had to be replaced. David had worked with Mike Potts when he produced an album where Mike was the drummer, and Mike became the group’s permanent drummer in 1970.

Bread’s first album was not very successful, but they made up for that with the release of On The Waters and their chart-topping single, Make It With You. Nearly a dozen additional top forty singles followed during the next three years.

In addition to the group’s singles, Jimmy and Robb wrote For All We Know for the soundtrack of Lovers And Other Strangers. The song won the Academy Award for best song and gave the Carpenters a number one record in 1971. Robb left the group that Summer and was replaced by studio musician Larry Knechtel (who was a member of the infamous Wrecking Crew studio musician group).

The band’s fifth album was Guitar Man which was released in 1972. The first two singles from the album both reached number one on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart and got into the teens on the Hot 100.

The third single from the album was Aubrey. It only reached #15 on the Hot 100 in 1973 but managed to get into the top five on the AC chart. Like all the other Bread hits, it was written by David and he also sang lead, which was a continued bone of contention in the group.

In May 1973 the band was still on tour promoting their latest album. When the tour reached Salt Lake City, all their equipment and instruments were stolen. The stress from the theft on top of the escalating friction between David and Jimmy was too much for the band and they split up for over three years.

They reunited and recorded one last album in 1977 and hit the top ten one last time with Lost Without Your Love.