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Song Of The Day Blog:

Song of the Day by Eric Berman: Top Albums of 2015

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman: Top Albums of 2015

  1. Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly
  2. Kamasi Washington: The Epic
  3. Wilco: Star Wars
  4. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell
  5. Bod Dylan: Shadows In The Night
  6. Rudresh Mahanthappa: Bird Calls
  7. Alabama Shakes: Sound and Color
  8. Kurt Vile: b’lieve i’m goin down
  9. Sleater-Kinney: No Cities To Love
  10. The Sonics: This Is The Sonics
  11. Jason Isbel: Something More Than Free
  12. The Bad Plus Joshua Redman
  13. D’Angelo & The Vanguard: Black Messiah
  14. Tame Impala: Currents
  15. FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks)
  16. Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit
  17. Darlene Love: Introducing Darlene Love
  18. Ryan Adams: 1989
  19. Miguel: Wildheart
  20. Hollywood Vampires
  21. The Arcs: Yours, Dreamily,
  22. Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear
  23. Paul & The Broken Bones: Half The City
  24. Ike Reilly: Born On Fire
  25. Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Multi-Love

Top Reissues 2015

  1. Miles Davis: At Newport 1955-1975
  2. Bob Dylan: The Cutting Edge 1965-1966 – Bootleg Series Volume 12
  3. Velvet Underground: Complete Matrix
  4. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: The Ties That Bind
  5. Led Zeppelin: Coda
  6. Beach Boys: Party! Uncovered and Unplugged
  7. The Rolling Stones: Live Vault Vinyl/DVD Concert Series
  8. Todd Rundgren: Live at Electric Ballroom 10-23-78
  9. Yes: Seven Shows from Seventy-Two
  10. Neil Young & The Bluenotes: Bluenote Café

Posted: December 15th, 2015 under Music, Top Albums of the Year - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #95 – Len Barry: “1-2-3” b/w “Bullseye” – Decca 31827

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #95 – Len Barry: “1-2-3” b/w “Bullseye” – Decca 31827

Not only was today’s song in my jukebox, but it also held a coveted slot in John Lennon’s jukebox as well.

After singing during his military career for a few years, Leonard Borisoff changed his name to Len Barry and joined Philadelphia vocal group The Dovells in 1958 singing lead vocals on their million selling hit “Bristol Stomp,” plus “You Can’t Sit Down,” “The Continental” and “Hully Gully Baby.” Even better, Len Barry was also the voice on one of my all-time favorite doo-wop hits, “Mope Itty Mope” by The Bosstones (which if you’ve never heard, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oo2Xj44U3o ).

After leaving The Dovells, Barry struck out on his own and within a short time struck gold with this classic AM radio staple from 1965 that went all the way up to number two on the charts. The song was written by Len Barry with John Madara (Medora) and David White who also wrote the hits “You Don’t Own Me” and “At The Hop.”

Soon after the record hit big, Motown Records’ lawyers came knocking on Madara and White’s door, suing them both for plagiarizing the Holland-Dozier-Holland hit “Ask Any Girl” that was recorded by The Supremes.

Madara: “In 1965, with ’1-2-3′ being the #1 record in the country, we were sued by Motown during the period when Berry Gordy was suing anyone whose records sounded like a Motown record. We were sued, saying that ’1-2-3′ was taken from a B-Side of a Supremes record called ‘Ask Any Girl.’ The only similarity between the two songs are the first three notes where the Supremes sang ‘Ask Any Girl’ and Lenny sang ’1-2-3.’ After that, there were no similarities, but their lawsuit said that our goal was to copy the Motown sound. Well, needless to say, Motown kept us in court, tying up all of our writers’ royalties, production royalties and publishing royalties, and threatened to sue us on the follow-up to ’1-2-3,’ which was ‘Like A Baby.’ So after battling with them for two years and having a ton of legal bills, we made a settlement with Motown, giving them 15% of the writers’ and publishers’ share.

We never heard ‘Ask Any Girl.’ The only influence for making ’1-2-3′ was to make a ballad with a beat. And the sound of ’1-2-3′ was definitely the sound of the era. Listen to ‘The In-Crowd’ – that’s not the Motown Sound, that’s the sound of the era – and ’1-2-3′ definitely had a beat! Motown was suing a lot of people at the time.” (Forgotten Hits via Songfacts.com) As a result, Holland-Dozier-Holland received a writing credit for the song which went on to sell close to two million copies.

Musicians on the track include Vinnie Bell, Bobby Eli and Sal Ditroia on guitar, Joe Macho on Bass, Artie Butler on Percussion, Leon Huff (of Gamble and Huff fame) on piano, Artie Kaplan on sax, and Bobby Gregg on drums.

The song was covered by middle-of-the-road pop vocalist Jane Morgan who brought the song to #16 on the Easy Listening charts in 1966, plus there were also covers by Jan & Dean, The Vogues, Jack Jones, David McCallum, P.J. Proby, The Incredible Jimmy Smith, Ramsey Lewis, Sarah Vaughan, Cilla Black, Wayne Newton, Al Stewart and Roy Wood. In fact, for a while during the mid-1960s, it was the go-to song for easy listening singers to sink their teeth into.

I’m surprised the Motown lawyers didn’t come knocking again at Barry’s door with the B-side of today’s jukebox gem. “Bullseye” was written by John Madara, David White, Len Barry and Leon Huff, and it is a dead ringer for Junior Walker’s Motown classic, “Shotgun.”

After the hits began to dry up, Barry worked on a few projects with a local up-and-coming R’n’B group from Philadelphia called Gulliver that featured Daryl Hall in its ranks. Today, Len Barry is primarily known as a writer whose 2008 novel Black Like Me was well received by the public.

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

Posted: December 7th, 2015 under Len Barry, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #90 – Labelle: “Lady Marmalade” b/w “Space Children”– Epic 8-50048

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #90 – Labelle: “Lady Marmalade” b/w “Space Children”– Epic 8-50048

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

“Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?”

With that one line from today’s jukebox classic, American music fans were introduced to a certain creole lady of the night and also got a French lesson. At the same time, America also discovered the wonders of Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash, who collectively went under the moniker of Labelle.

Labelle was not a new entity in the music business. The group formed in the 1960s in Philadelphia under the name The Blue Belles with the same lineup as above, plus Cindy Birdsong (who went on become a member of Diana Ross and The Supremes). They scored several soulful doo wop flavored ballads that highlighted Patti’s huge set of pipes including “Down the Aisle (The Wedding Song),” “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Over the Rainbow.”

The group changed their name to Labelle after Birdsong left for The Supremes in 1967 and shared co-billing with Laura Nyro on her Gonna Take A Miracle, album which in my estimation is one of the greatest records ever recorded. (If you’ve never heard this album, stop reading and go to Spotify immediately!) By 1974, the group changed their persona and became an outlandish funk group. The group’s sexually infused personality and freaky party attire made them huge with the Gay community, and to this day, Patti LaBelle is still one of their main divas.

“Lady Marmalade” was written by Bob Crewe, who also wrote most of the Four Seasons’ biggest hits with Bob Gaudio, and Kenny Nolan, who along with Crewe wrote Frankie Valli’s “My Eyes Adored You” and many others. The track was produced by none other than recently-passed New Orleans’ favorite son, Allen Toussaint, who wrote numerous hits including “Working In The Coalmine,” “Yes We Can-Can,” “Fortune Teller,” “Southern Nights” and “Mother-In-Law,” to name but a few. He is also heard playing piano on the track.

Labelle was not the first group to take a crack at recording the song. It was originally recorded by Nolan’s group, Eleventh Hour in 1974. It was Toussaint who chose the song for Labelle’s chart-topping album Nightbirds. The song topped the R&B and Pop Singles charts in 1975, knocking out another Crewe and Nolan’s composition, “My Eyes Adored You” by Frankie Valli from the top slot.

The song saw a resurgence in popularity in 2001 when it topped the charts again after it was recorded by Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa, and Pink. That version was produced by Missy Elliott for the soundtrack to the film Moulin Rouge. It went on to win the 2001 Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals. It is the only song to top the U.S. and UK charts twice. The song was also covered by All Saints (who topped the UK charts with it), Sheila E., the disco group Boogie Knights and Lords Of Acid.

The aforementioned hook of the song, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?” which translates to “Do you want to sleep with me tonight?,” was originally spoken in the play A Streetcar Named Desire by the character Blanche DuBois. When LaBelle performed the song on TV, they were forced to change the famous line to “Voulez-vous danser avec moi, ce soir?” which means “Do you want to dance with me tonight.”

Patti Labelle: “I swear I had no idea for a while what it meant, until I asked Bob Crewe, who recorded it, ‘what’s voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?’ He told me, ‘Oh gosh’, I said, ‘what will my mother think?’” (New Musical Express via Songfacts.com)

By 1977, Labelle’s popularity began to decline and all three members went their separate ways, each scoring hits on their own. Today, Patti LaBelle is still the most visible member of the group and has rightfully held on to her title as Diva.

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

I’ve posted the whole album here for your listening pleasure!

Posted: December 1st, 2015 under Labelle, Music, R'n'B/Soul - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #89 – The Buckinghams: “Susan” b/w “Foreign Policy”– Columbia 4-44378

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #89 – The Buckinghams: “Susan” b/w “Foreign Policy”– Columbia 4-44378

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

Transistor radios…beaches…the warmth of the sun…crashing waves…Chicago? Yup!

The Buckinghams were the epitome of 1960s sunshine pop with their perfect blend of warm harmonies and sophisticated horn-drenched productions. Their sound was more akin to California than their native Chicago, and they were responsible for a string of perfect pop singles during the late sixties like the number one hit “Kind Of A Drag,” “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” the sublime “Don’t You Care,” “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” “Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song” and today’s jukebox classic, “Susan.”

Digging a little bit deeper than the singles also proves rewarding with some great would-have-been, should-have-been hits from their albums like “You Don’t Care,” “Back In Love Again,” “Where Did You Come From,” “It’s A Beautiful Day (For Lovin’)” and “Difference Of Opinion,” that all feature the group’s trademark baroque horn arrangements and layered harmonies.

The group formed in 1966 as The Pulsations with members Carl Giammarese on guitar, Nick Fortuna on bass, Dennis Miccolis on keyboards and John Poulos on drums. After winning a battle of the bands, they found themselves on WGN, a local Chicago TV station, as the house band for the All Time Hits TV show. It was then they adopted The Buckinghams name to fit in with the British Invasion groups who were all the rage on the charts at the time.

Shortly thereafter, they secured a contract with U.S.A. Records, a local Chicago label, where they recorded an album’s worth of material including covers of Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” James Brown’s “I Go Crazy” and The Beatles’ “I Call Your Name.” But it was their recording of “Kind Of A Drag,” written by a local Chicago songwriter, Jim Holvay that proved to be their ticket to stardom by topping the charts and selling a million copies. (Holvay also co-wrote the hits “Don’t You Care,” “Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song),” and today’s Song Of the Day.)

A record contract with Columbia Records (the big time!) followed and a new producer, James William Guercio, who had been the bassist and road manager for Chad & Jeremy. (Fun fact: Guercio was also once a member of The Mothers Of Invention prior to the recording of their first album, Freak Out.) Around this time Miccolis left the band and was replaced by Marty Grebb.

Guercio’s brass-heavy arrangements kept The Buckinghams on the charts, and prepared him for his future success producing similar brass-rock groups Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears. Guercio was at the production helm for their 1967 hit singles “Don’t You Care,” “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” and “Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song),” but the group had a falling out with him over today’s single, “Susan.”

“Susan” is a pure pop radio gem that suddenly takes a left turn and goes all “A Day In The Life” wonky in the center section, complete with a psychedelic orchestral build-up placed there to remind the public that The Buckinghams really were hip. The group was dead set against it, but Guercio prevailed, causing an irreversible rift between group and producer. The song originally appeared on their third album called Portraits.

The flip of today’s single is a far out Guercio original called “Foreign Policy” that is one of the group’s social statement recordings that features a sample of a JFK speech. It’s certainly of its time and was perfect album track fodder from their second album Time & Changes.

With Guercio out of the picture, the group was unable to repeat any of the chart success they previously had, and they finally called it a day in 1970. Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna revived the Buckinghams in 1982 and continue to tour on the oldies set to this day.

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

Posted: November 30th, 2015 under Music, Rock, The Buckinghams - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Thanksgiving Trifecta #1 – “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” by Arlo Guthrie

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Thanksgiving Trifecta #1 – “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” by Arlo Guthrie

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Arlo’s classic 1967 shaggy dog story of a bunch of hippies doin’ their best to lend a hand to a friend by disposing some garbage on Thanksgiving. It’s a true story about a true Alice, in fact; my Aunt’s sister was good friends with the real Alice back in the day!

What starts off as a silly story about disposing garbage turns comically serious when it gets around to the draft. Enjoy and have a safe, happy and thankful Thanksgiving!

Posted: November 26th, 2015 under Arlo Guthrie, Folk, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #88 – Mason Williams: “Classical Gas” b/w “Baroque- A-Nova”– Warner Bros. 7-7127

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #88 – Mason Williams: “Classical Gas” b/w “Baroque- A-Nova”– Warner Bros. 7-7127

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

It’s from an album that starts with an Overture. No, it’s not an Original Cast album or film soundtrack to a musical; however, it is an album with lofty levels of conceit and pretension that could only have been recorded in the late ‘60s by Mason Williams. And for The Mason Williams Phonograph Album, it all makes sense since Williams is an artist of high conceit and pretension with a supreme talent level to match. Fortunately (for him and his fans), he was coddled by the most artist friendly record label of the 1960s, Warner Bros. Records, for otherwise, a record like The Mason Williams Phonograph Album would have never been possible.

While he is best known for “Classical Gas,” which topped the charts in 1968, won three Grammy Awards for Best Instrumental Composition, Best Instrumental Performance, and Best Instrumental Orchestra Arrangement (for arranger, Mike Post), Mason Williams is also an Emmy-winning comedy writer, a standup comedian, an author and a poet.

During the early 1960s, Williams was a member of several folk groups including The Wayfarers and The Hootenaires who played shows at the Troubadour and many other west coast folk clubs. The Kingston Trio cut his song “More Poems” for their Nick, Bob & John album, and Glenn Yarbrough (of The Limeliters) cut several of his songs on his Honey And Wine album. It was also during the great folk era that he released several albums of instrumental banjo and six-string guitar music that paved the way for today’s Song Of The Day.

As a stand-up comedian, Williams’ format included reciting poems and telling stories in verse while accompanying himself on guitar. Some of his early stand-up can be heard on the album Them Poems which was released by Vee-Jay Records released in 1964. The record and his book The Mason Williams Reading Matter, were reissued in 1969 to capitalize on the success of “Classical Gas.”

Williams wrote comedy for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, as well as for other name brand television personalities including Andy Williams, Dinah Shore, Roger Miller and Petula Clark. With his musical background and cutting edge wit, he was the perfect choice to write for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, where he introduced the Pat Paulsen For President gags that ran on the show during the 1968 election year. (Paulsen was cast on the show as an editorialist whose deadpan delivery during the faux election campaign made him famous with the counterculture.) Mason Williams won an Emmy for his writing on the show, and he also gave Steve Martin his start as a comedy writer.

Williams premiered and performed today’s jukebox classic several times on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour including an indelible clip of him playing it using a clear Plexiglas guitar filled with water and a few goldfish. He also created an early form of music video when he synched the song to a film by Dan MacLaughlin titled 3000 Years of Art in 3 Minutes and aired it on the show.

The hit single version of “Classical Gas” was arranged by Mike Post who would go on to greater fame for writing the themes to the TV shows Law & Order, NYPD Blue, The Rockford Files, L.A. Law, Quantum Leap, Magnum, P.I. and Hill Street Blues. Williams recorded and released “Classical Gas” several other times, including a solo guitar version on his 1970 Handmade album, and in 1987 with Mannheim Steamroller.

He was also one of the flagship counterculture artists at Warner Bros. Records during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s where he released five albums including the best-selling Mason Williams Phonograph Record, The Mason Williams Ear Show, Music, Handmade and Sharpickers.

The Mason Williams Phonograph Record also garnered acclaim for its album cover featuring a Greyhound bus. The original image is an 11′ x 37′ poster that is on permanent display at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

The album is chock full of great ‘60s orchestral band arrangements with backup expertly supplied by members of The Wrecking Crew. There are a few throwaway “link” tracks that are only seconds long and act to bridge between songs and ideas. Along with the hit single, the album includes “One More Time” which sounds like it could have come off of a Glen Campbell album, “Sunflower” that provided the soundtrack to a film project Williams worked on of a skywriting airplane painting the sky with a huge flower. The B-side to my jukebox copy of the “Classical Gas” single is “Baroque-a-Nova” which was arranged by the album’s other arranger, Al Capp. The single is a double A-sided reissue.

“Baroque-A-Nova” is a typical late ‘60s instrumental which has a great arrangement featuring wordless vocals and harpsichord, creating a “hip” orchestral vibe.

Williams also wrote the 1968 UK chart-topper “Cinderella Rockefella” with Nancy Ames for Esther and Abi Ofarim, and in 1980, he briefly served as head writer for NBC’s Saturday Night Live, but left after clashing with producer Jean Doumanian.

Throughout the 1970s, Williams performed his Concert For Bluegrass Band And Orchestra with the Oklahoma City, Sacramento, Eugene and Denver symphonies. In 1987, Williams teamed up with Mannheim Steamroller to release a new album titled Classical Gas on the American Gramaphone label. The album featured a re-recorded version of the title track backed by Mannheim Steamroller and Fresh Aire, and sold more than a million copies. He also went on to record several other memorable albums including A Gift Of Song which was an acoustic Christmas album from 1992.

He also wrote comedy for The Smothers Brothers many TV shows and appearances throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. Today, he still releases music and performs in front of audiences around the world.

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

Posted: November 18th, 2015 under Easy Listening, Mason Williams, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Take Me to the Pilot” by Elton John

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Take Me to the Pilot” by Elton John

Happy 44th birthday to this performance!

I play Elton John’s 11/17/70 album every year on this day as it certainly captures him at his near best…especially on “Take Me to the Pilot,” today’s Song of the Day by Eric Berman.

The album was recorded live for a radio broadcast at the A&R Studios in New York City back on this date in 1970. A six song album from the broadcast was released in 1971 to offset bootleg recordings that almost immediately began to circulate after the performance.

Six more songs were performed that day and are still not released to this day. Those songs include early Elton classics like “I Need You To Turn To,” “Country Comfort,” “Border Song,” “Indian Sunset,” “My Father’s Gun” and, of course, “Your Song.” An additional song from the broadcast, “Amoreena,” was issued as a bonus track to the CD reissue in 1997.

The band on this performance includes Elton John on piano, Dee Murray on bass and Nigel Olsson on drums. They give new meaning to the term “power trio” since nary a lead guitar is heard on the recording. That’s New York radio DJ Dave Herman introducing the show on the album and he later went on to say that Elton must have cut his hand sometime during the 80-minute performance because when it was over his piano keyboard was covered in blood.

This year would have been perfect for a deluxe expanded reissue of the complete broadcast since forty-four years later is still is powerful!

Posted: November 17th, 2015 under Elton John, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #87 – Paul Mauriat: “Love Is Blue (L’Amour est Bleu)” b/w “Sunny”– Philips 40495

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #87 – Paul Mauriat: “Love Is Blue (L’Amour est Bleu)” b/w “Sunny”– Philips 40495

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

We’ve all heard about the British Invasion in rock music that took place in the early 1960s, but what about the late ‘60s French Invasion?

Never heard of it? That’s because it consisted of only one record by one artist. OK, technically you could argue that Petula Clark was also part of the French Invasion, but her single “Downtown” is widely recognized as part of the British Invasion. But let’s not split hairs over facts…

The French Invasion took place in 1968 with an instrumental record called “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat, which until recently with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” was the only number-one hit by a French artist to top the Billboard Hot 100 in America.

But “Love Is Blue” was not Mauriat’s first American success. In the early 1960s, he co-wrote a hit song under the pseudonym Del Roma called “Chariot,” which became a big hit for the aforementioned Petula Clark. The record was successful all over the world, except in America. In America, the song was given English lyrics by Arthur Altman and Norman Gimbel and became “I Will Follow Him,” a 1963 number one single by Little Peggy March.

During the 1950s, Paul Mauriat was the music director for French singers Charles Aznavour and Maurice Chevalier and toured the world with both of them. In 1965, Mauriat established Le Grand Orchestre de Paul Mauriat and began to release what would add up to hundreds of recording for the Philips record label over the next 28 years. He also arranged 130 recordings for Aznavour between 1967 and 1972.

“L’amour est bleu (Love is Blue)” was written by French composer, André Popp and was originally sung by Greek singer Vicky (aka Vicky Leandros) where it won fourth place in the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxembourg in 1967.

Mauriat’s recording of the song featured a sweeping orchestral arrangement combining harpsichord with a hint of rock guitars and drums thrown in for good measure. The song was released on the Blooming Hits album in 1967 which topped the charts for five weeks, knocking The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour out of the top slot. The album cover featured an attractive naked woman with a butterfly tattoo on her face. But let’s face it; nobody was really looking at that butterfly anyway…

The album was typical easy listening fare for the late ‘60s, featuring covers of current rock hits like The Beatles’ “Penny Lane,” Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid,” Sandie Shaw’s “Puppet On A String,” Petula Clark’s “This Is My Song,” Sonny Bono’s “Mama” and Herman’s Hermits “(There’s A) Kind Of Hush.”

The original B-side to today’s single was called “Alone in the World (Seuls Au Monde)” which was replaced in January of 1968 for Mauriat’s cover of Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny” which appeared on the More Mauriat album.

Mauriat would only reach the singles charts two more times after “Love Is Blue,” with his recordings of “Love in Every Room” and the title theme from the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Mauriat died on November 3, 2006 at the age of 81.

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

Posted: November 16th, 2015 under Easy Listening, Music, Paul Mauriat - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #86 – Blue Swede: “Hooked On A Feeling” b/w “Gotta Have Your Love”– Capitol 3627

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #86 – Blue Swede: “Hooked On A Feeling” b/w “Gotta Have Your Love”– Capitol 3627

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

“Ooga chaka ooga ooga, ooga chaka ooga ooga” – It makes no sense at all, but if you’re a certain age, just reading the words instantly brings to mind the intro of today’s jukebox classic single!

While most people know “Hooked on a Feeling” by its signature “ooga chaka” intro as performed by Swedish group Blue Swede, the song actually had already been a big hit in 1968 when it hit the #5 spot on the charts as recorded by B.J. Thomas. The song was written by Mark James who also wrote Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds.” There was nary an “ooga chaka” to be heard in Thomas’ version of the song, instead, his version featured electric sitar which made it stand out alongside the other records on the charts.

So, just where did the famed “ooga chaka” intro come from?

In 1971, Jonathan King, who is vaguely remembered in the U.S. by his top twenty hit “Everyone’s Gone To The Moon,” recorded the song and added the “ooga chaka” intro to his version which was based on the Indian chants heard in Johnny Preston’s 1959 chart topper “Running Bear.” King’s cover reached the #23 position on the UK singles charts in 1972.

King’s version of the song was heard by Bengt Palmers who was the head of A&R for EMI Records in Sweden who was working with a group called Bjorn Skiffs and Blablus (loosely translated to Blue Denim). Blaubus began performing the song as part of their shows in Sweden for several months before recording it and changing their name to Blue Swede for the US market.

Blue Swede formed in Sweden in 1973 by Bjorn Skiffs with members Bosse Liljedahl on bass, Anders Berglund on keyboards, Hinke Ekestubbe on saxophone, Jan Guldback on drums, Michael Areklew on guitar and Tommy Berglund on trumpet. When they came to record the song, they jungled up the “ooga chaka” intro, giving it the hook that took it to the top of the U.S. charts in 1974. They were the first Swedish act to top the U.S. singles charts before ABBA.

Blue Swede’s version soundtracked one of the first viral videos (before there was such a thing); the super annoying “Dancing Baby” video that was originally shown on the super annoying Ally McBeal TV show. The song also appeared in Quentin Tarentino’s film Reservoir Dogs, and it was covered by the likes of David Hasselhoff, Vonda Shepard and punk group The Offspring, who sampled the “ooga chaka” refrain for their song “Special Delivery.”

Most of Blue Swede’s hits were somewhat laughable covers of other artist’s songs. Their debut album of the same name featured covers of Lee Dorsey’s “Working In The Coal Mine,” Dionne Warwick’s “(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me,” Jose Feliciano’s “Destiny,” Kenny Rogers & The First Edition’s “Something’s Burning” and a version of The Association’s “Never My Love” which reached #7 on the U.S. charts in August of 1974. The album also featured another chart hit in “Silly Milly” which reached #81 in February of 1975. They also covered a medley of Deep Purple’s “Hush” and Tommy James & The Shondells’ “I’m Alive” (#61/1974) and Cher’s “Half Breed,” to name a few more.

The flip of today’s single, “Gotta Have Your Love” was also from their debut album. It is a passable soul pastiche featuring lead vocals by Bjorn Skiffs that would not have been out of place on R&B stations during the 1970s.

After Blue Swede broke up, Skiffs partook in the cast recording of Tim Rice’s musical Chess along with Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA.

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

Posted: November 3rd, 2015 under Blue Swede, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #84 – Billy Preston: “Will It Go Round In Circles” b/w “Blackbird”– A&M-1411

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #84 – Billy Preston: “Will It Go Round In Circles” b/w “Blackbird”– A&M-1411

He truly was the fifth Beatle…he was also a Rolling Stone, and Billy Preston also did numerous sessions with a stellar cast of characters that included Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, The Beach Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Little Richard, Sly & The Family Stone, Peter Frampton, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and dozens of others. He also co-wrote Joe Cocker’s smash hit “You Are So Beautiful” and sent hits like “Space Race,” “Outa-Space,” “Nothing From Nothing,” “With You I’m Born Again” (with Syreeta Wright) and today’s jukebox classic, “Will It Go Round In Circles” up the charts.

The list of albums he’s appeared on reads like a history of classic rock ‘n’ roll including The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main Street, Goats Head Soup, It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, Love You Live, Black And Blue and Tattoo You, The Beatles’ Let It Be and Abbey Road, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, The Concert For Bangla Desh, Dark Horse, Extra Texture, Thirty-Three & 1/3 and Gone Troppo, and Ringo Starr’s Ringo and Goodnight Vienna. He was, indeed the Forrest Gump of keyboards to the biggest bands in the land. And if that’s not enough, he was also the first musical guest on Saturday Night Live, he inspired Miles Davis who named a song after him on his Get Up With It album, and he also coined the phrase “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” for Stephen Stills.

Preston first came into The Beatles’ circle back in 1962 when he was a sixteen year old touring member of Little Richard’s band. But it wasn’t until 1969 when George Harrison walked out on the Let It Be sessions, and returned with Preston in tow in an effort to get the other three fabs to be on their best behavior during the acrimonious sessions that led to their last two albums as a group. At one point, John Lennon suggested that they add Preston as the fifth member of the band to which McCartney quipped that four Beatles were bad enough. (The Beatles – A/B Road: The Complete Get back Sessions, January 24th via Wikipedia)

“George Harrison, a friend of Preston, had quit, walked out of the studio and gone to a Ray Charles concert in London, where Preston was playing organ. Harrison brought Preston back to the studio, where his keen musicianship and gregarious personality temporarily calmed the tension.” (Harrington, Richard (June 8, 2006). “‘Fifth Beatle’ Billy Preston Made the Greats Even Greater”. Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-10-02 via Wikipedia)

Preston was signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records label where he launched his solo career in 1969 with the gospel single “That’s The Way God Planned It” and the album of the same name that were both produced by George Harrison. After a second Apple LP release went nowhere, Preston signed with A&M Records where he found his greatest solo success.

Today’s jukebox classic was one of two chart-topping singles Billy Preston recorded (“Nothing From Nothing” was the other). The song was written by Bruce Fisher, who was working in the mail room of NBC-TV. Inspiration for the song came after Preston walked into the writing session and told Fisher “I got a song that ain’t got no melody.” The song was originally released on his 1972 solo album Music Is My Life that featured the musicianship of The Brothers Johnson (George Johnson on guitar and Louis Johnson on bass), and a horn section that included Tom Scott and Jim Horn. The flip of today’s single is Preston’s gospel-flavored cover of the Beatles’ classic “Blackbird.”

During his later years, Preston served time in prison for tax evasion and suffered from kidney disease and high blood pressure. He died in June of 2006 after several months in a coma of malignant hypertension which caused his kidneys to shut down and respiratory failure.

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

Posted: October 27th, 2015 under Billy Preston, Music, R'n'B/Soul - No Comments.

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #83 – Lou Rawls: “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing” b/w “Dead End Street”– Capitol/Collectables COL-6081

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #83 – Lou Rawls: “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing” b/w “Dead End Street”– Capitol/Collectables COL-6081

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

Most people remember Lou Rawls for his silky-smooth vocal delivery on his disco era hit “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” but by the time he had that hit in 1976, Rawls had already been recording albums, and yes many hits, for 14 years.

Chicago-born Rawls got his start by replacing Sam Cooke in the Gospel group, The Highway QC’s. After a stint in the Army, Rawls joined another Gospel group called Pilgrim Travelers. While on the road with Sam Cooke and The Travelers, Rawls was in a serious car accident that left him pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. He was revived but was in a coma for five days before regaining consciousness. After he recuperated, Rawls began doing session work, most notably singing background vocals on Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.”

He was signed to Capitol Records by staff producer Nick Venet (The Beach Boys, The Kingston Trio, Nat King Cole, Glen Campbell) and recorded his first album, Stormy Monday, for the label in 1962 backed by the Les McCann Trio. The Les McCann Trio was a stalwart of the Sunset Strip jazz clubs and was also signed by Nick Venet to Pacific Jazz Records. Their lineup included McCann on piano, Leroy Vinnegar on bass and Ron Jefferson on drums. Rawls’ early albums featured a mix of jazz and blues standards, but it wasn’t until Rawls cut a proper soul album in 1966 that his star began to rise in the industry.

That album was called Soulin’ and it featured the top side of today’s double-sided reissue jukebox single, Rawls’ first top forty hit “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing,” which climbed to #13 on the pop charts, while topping the R&B charts in 1966. The song was written by Ben Raleigh and Dave Linden, and covered by several artists including The Temptations and Big Maybelle.

The flip of today’s single was one of Rawls’ patented soul monologues called “Dead End Street” which painted a bleak picture of Chicago ghetto life circa 1967. The song was originally on Rawls’ David Axelrod-produced 1967 album called Too Much.

The monologue or spoken recitation hit was not a new idea when Rawls brought it to the soul charts. Country artists had been doing spoken word records for years, whether by Hank Williams under the guise of Luke The Drifter, or songs like T. Texas Tyler’s “Deck Of Cards,” Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John,” Red Sovine’s “Phantom 49” and later on with songs like Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue,” Charlie Daniels Band’s “Uneasy Rider” and C.W. McCall’s “Convoy.”

The difference between these songs and Rawls’ take on the spoken hit is far more organic since Rawls’ recordings began as unprepared monologues that sprang up during concert recordings or recording sessions that in essence worked to set the songs up before launching into them properly.

Rawls: “I was working in little joints where the stage would be behind the bar. So you were standing right over the cash register and the crushed ice machine. You’d be swinging and the waitress would yell, ‘I want 12 beers and four martinis!’ And then the dude would put the ice in the crusher. There had to be a way to get the attention of the people. So instead of just starting in singing, I would just start in talking the song.” (http://www.lourawls.com/rawlsbio.html)

Rawls’ “Dead End Street” climbed to the #3 Position on the R&B charts (and #29 pop) and won him a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance in 1967. While the single was on the charts, Rawls performed at The Monterey Pop festival alongside such luminaries as Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix.

He continued to record for Capitol scoring hits like “Tobacco Road” and “Your Good Thing (Is About To End),” plus many others. He also opened for The Beatles on their 1966 tour in Cincinnati. In total, Rawls recorded over twenty albums for the label before signing with MGM in 1970.

While he only recorded three albums for MGM, he did score his Grammy-winning hit “Natural Man” for the label. He signed to Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Records label in 1976, where he had his greatest successes releasing million-selling albums and the hits “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” “Lady Love,” “Let Me Be Good To You,” and “See You When I Git There.” Rawls died of cancer in 2006 and left behind a legacy of gritty blues and silky soul recordings.

Posted: October 26th, 2015 under Disco & Dance, Lou Rawls, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #82 – Reunion: “Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)” b/w “Are You Ready To Believe”– RCA PB-10056

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #82 – Reunion: “Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)” b/w “Are You Ready To Believe”– RCA PB-10056

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

The challenge was to memorize every word of this aural history/laundry list of musical groups, radio DJs, songwriters and record labels circa 1974, and be able to regurgitate every nuance at will. Many of my friends were up to the challenge and managed the seemingly impossible feat with ease. As for myself, I never was too enthralled with today’s Jukebox classic “Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)” by Reunion, and when it hit the airwaves in 1974 I never felt the need to rise to the challenge simply because I didn’t care.

So how did this genuine novelty that climbed to the #8 slot on the singles charts in 1974 end up joining the ranks of the jukebox if it is a track I couldn’t stand the first time around? I’ll tell you in one word: “plastics…,” actually the word is “nostalgia.” As I have opined before, oftentimes the worst, most cringe-worthy pieces of trivial trash that were incessantly played on the radio go on to become the songs that make us feel warm and nostalgic for simpler times, and today’s jukebox classic certainly fits the bill for me.

The song was written by Paul DiFranco and Norman Dolph several years before it was recorded by a studio incarnation called Reunion featuring Joey Levine on lead vocals. And if that name isn’t familiar to you, you’ll know some of the bubblegum classics his lead vocals have graced including “Chewy Chewy,” and “Yummy Yummy Yummy” by Ohio Express, “Quick Joey Small” by Kasenetz and Katz and “Run Run Run” by The Third Rail. When Levine joined the Reunion fray, he also received a writing credit on the record.

After his success with Reunion, Joey Levine got into the commercial business writing such memorable jingles as “Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut” for Mounds, “Gentlemen Prefer Hanes” for Hanes underwear, “Just For The Taste Of It” for Coke, “Heartbeat Of America” for Chevy, “You Asked For It, You Got It, Toyota” for Toyota and “This Bud’s For You” for Budweiser beer.

Today’s song has been covered by Tracey Ullman on her You Broke My Heart In 17 Places album and Rudy Crenshaw for the Disney album Mickey’s Dance Party. Chicago radio fans will also remember two versions of the song that were customized for local radio, including a version for WCFL with the late legendary Chi-town disc jockey Larry Lujack and one for WLS. The WCFL version “Life Is A Rock (But CFL Rolled Me)” was the last song played on the station in 1976 before it changed formats, and the WLS version was the first song played on the station when it returned to the airwaves in June of 2008. The song was also repurposed for a McDonalds commercial campaign with a recitation of menu items taking the place of the original lyrics.

And in case you were wondering, the lyrics to today’s jukebox classic are as follows:

“B.B. Bumble and the Stingers, Mott the Hoople, Ray Charles Singers

Lonnie Mack and twangin’ Eddy, here’s my ring we’re goin’ steady

Take it easy, take me higher, liar liar, house on fire

Locomotion, Poco, Passion, Deeper Purple, Satisfaction

Baby baby gotta gotta gimme gimme gettin’ hotter

Sammy’s cookin’, Lesley Gore and Ritchie Valens, end of story

Mahavishnu, fujiyama, kama-sutra, rama-lama

Richard Perry, Spector, Barry, Archies, Righteous, Nilsson, Harry

Shimmy shimmy ko-ko bop and Fats is back and Finger Poppin’

 

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me (whoa whoa whoa whoa)

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

 

FM, AM, hits are clickin’ while the clock is tock-a-tickin’

Friends and Romans, salutations, Brenda and the Tabulations

Carly Simon, I behold her, Rolling Stones and centerfoldin’

Johnny Cash and Johnny Rivers, can’t stop now, I got the shivers

Mungo Jerry, Peter Peter Paul and Paul and Mary Mary

Dr. John the nightly tripper, Doris Day and Jack the Ripper

Gotta go Sir, gotta swelter, Leon Russell, Gimme Shelter

Miracles in smokey places, slide guitars and Fender basses

Mushroom omelet, Bonnie Bramlett, Wilson Pickett, stop and kick it

 

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me (whoa whoa whoa whoa)

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

 

Arthur Janov’s primal screamin’, Hawkins, Jay and

Dale and Ronnie, Kukla, Fran and Norma Okla

Denver, John and Osmond, Donny

JJ Cale and ZZ Top and LL Bean and De De Dinah

David Bowie, Steely Dan and sing me prouder, CC Rider

Edgar Winter, Joanie Sommers, Osmond Brothers, Johnny Thunders

Eric Clapton, pedal wah-wah, Stephen Foster, do-dah do-dah

Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda, Surfer Girl and Little Honda

Tighter, tighter, honey, honey, sugar, sugar, yummy, yummy

CBS and Warner Brothers, RCA and all the others

 

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me (whoa whoa whoa whoa)

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

 

Listen–remember, they’re playing our song!

Rock it, sock it, Alan Freed me, Murray Kaufman, try to leave me

Fish, and Swim, and Boston Monkey,

Make it bad and play it funky.

(Wanna take you higher!)”

 

Several other Reunion singles were released with no chart action whatsoever, so the collective went their separate ways. They never even recorded an album. However for better or worse, the song seemingly did go on to inspire another chart-topping hit, “We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel.

Posted: October 25th, 2015 under Music, Reunion/Joey Levine, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #81 – Donovan: “Hurdy Gurdy Man” b/w “Teen Angel”– Epic 5-10345

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #81 – Donovan: “Hurdy Gurdy Man” b/w “Teen Angel”– Epic 5-10345

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

If Donovan’s vibrato hum at the top of this track doesn’t gain your attention from the get-go, then you will certainly be sold down the road by the time the guitar solo grabs you by the nads. And who exactly is the mystery axe man on this track anyway?

A hurdy gurdy is a stringed instrument that produces sound by turning a crank attached to a rosined wheel, acting like a violin bow on top of strings. The instrument gained popularity during the Renaissance era and again became famous with musicians known as organ grinders who roamed the streets of London during the 1800s.

Donovan composed today’s jukebox classic in 1968 for a band called Hurdy Gurdy that included his friend and guitar mentor Mac MacLeod. Donovan had intended to produce the song for the group, but creative differences led to Donovan committing the song to tape himself affording him another top five single in 1968. The song does not include a hurdy gurdy in its instrumentation.

“Hurdy Gurdy Man” was recorded in early 1968 and the session (according to the liner notes of the Troubadour box set) featured Donovan on vocals, acoustic guitar and tamboura, Alan Parker and Jimmy Page on electric guitar, John Paul Jones on bass and John Bonham and Clem Cattini on drums. If the personnel listing is accurate (more on this later), this song gave us three-fourths of Led Zeppelin before there even was a Led Zeppelin.

However, exactly who played the ultimate guitar solo on the track is still in question. According to Jones, it was Alan Parker who played the blistering guitar solo (and Bonham wasn’t on the session at all), but Donovan remembers it differently with Page performing the axe chores. Nevertheless, Donovan originally planned for Jimi Hendrix to play the guitar solo, but he was not available for the session.

Jimmy Page weighed in on the situation in the liner notes to the 2005 reissue of The Hurdy Gurdy Man album: “I know it’s rumored that I played on that, but I didn’t – and the most bizarre part about this whole story I heard about this story actually when I was in USA, it was about the time we were talking about the deal with Led Zeppelin. We were at Miami with Jerry Wexler. And I heard about the story by there and then, across from England, and on the shores over here. And what the story was – and it’s very true. That they had Jeff Beck go in, and Jeff Beck played on it, and the producer decided to wipe the track. And Donovan had asked for me to do it, but of course I wasn’t there. And they had a guitarist, he basically filled, you know. He went into the session – and I wouldn’t say filled my shoes – but he went in the door, and his name was Alan Parker. I mean, none of you even know of him. It’s not the film producer. But anyway, he’s the guy who played the guitar solo, so you know, as you say, some people might have thought Beck did it, or me, but it was neither of us. But I think it was tragic that Beck got wiped off. That was absolutely crazy. They just decided that they didn’t like what he did. And I mean, perish the thought, you know.”

The song originally had a third verse which was composed by George Harrison while Donovan and Harrison were in Rishikesh, India visiting with the Mahrishi Mahesh Yogi in 1968. Harrison’s verse went as such: “When the truth gets buried deep / Beneath the thousand years of sleep / Time demands a turn-around / And once again the truth is found / Awakening the Hurdy Gurdy Man / Who comes singing songs of love.”

Donovan: “I was intrigued by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s teachings of transcendental meditation, which were also followed by The Beatles. I went with The Beatles and George’s wife, Pattie Boyd, Cynthia Lennon and Jane Asher to stay with the Maharishi in the Himalayas for 3 months. For a while, Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence, shared the bungalow next to mine. She inspired John Lennon to write “Dear Prudence.” “Hurdy Gurdy Man” was influenced by the sounds I heard there.” (London Daily Mail)

In order to keep the running time of the single below three and a half minutes, producer Micky Most opted for the guitar solo over the third verse. Today, Donovan performs the Harrison verse in concert when he plays the song. The tamboura that Donovan plays on the track was, in fact a gift from George Harrison from when they were both in India.

The song has been covered by the likes of Steve Hillage, The Butthole Surfers, Wild Colonials, L.A. Guns and Howard Stern. The hypnotic flip of today’s single is “Teen Angel” which was recorded during the sessions for the Hurdy Gurdy Man album, but was ultimately relegated to the B-side- of the single.

Posted: October 21st, 2015 under Donovan, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #79 – Led Zeppelin: “D’yer Mak’er” b/w “The Crunge”– Atlantic 45-2986 (S8/T8)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #79 – Led Zeppelin: “D’yer Mak’er” b/w “The Crunge”– Atlantic 45-2986 (S8/T8)

I jumped onto the Led Zeppelin bandwagon after the release of Led Zeppelin IV (Zoso) and the single “Stairway To Heaven” in 1972 when I was eleven years old. You couldn’t escape “Stairway” on FM radio and, at the time, I had no notion that they had existed before that record. With further investigation, I came to discover the three records before Led Zeppelin IV, although that came much later.

So when the mighty Zeppelin (Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham) delivered their fifth album Houses Of The Holy in 1973, I was firmly in their camp as a fan as was most of my peer group. But for older, long-time fans of the band, the release of Houses was met with much derision and whisperings of selling out due to the album’s first single “Dancing Days,” which was the most radio-friendly track the band had ever released. When fans began playing the record, they found several other tracks to gripe about including today’s jukebox classic and second single from the album, “D’yer Mak’er” backed with “The Crunge,” which really made the die-hard rockin’ blues-based Zep fans really cry foul.

“D’yer Mak’er” is an awkward hybrid of reggae and doo wop that is loaded with charm, a term seldom used to describe Led Zeppelin, and an attribute that Led Zep fans didn’t find to their liking. Jimmy Page: “I didn’t expect people not to get it. I thought it was pretty obvious. The song itself was a cross between reggae and a ’50s number, “Poor Little Fool,” Ben E. King’s things, stuff like that.” (Schulps, Dave (October 1977). “Interview with Jimmy Page”. Trouser Press via Wikipedia)

It was one of the few in the Zeppelin catalog where all four members of the band shared writing credits since it sprang forth from a studio jam. The band was never serious about the track as it was initially conceived as a joke, and bassist John Paul Jones went out of his way on numerous occasions to let it be known that he never liked the song. As a result, it was never performed in its entirety by the band in concert, although it did occasionally feature in the medley of tunes the band would incorporate into “Whole Lotta Love” on stage. That said, it was a commercial track and Atlantic Records in America chose to release it as a single which climbed to #20 on the charts.

The title of the song has several meanings including a slang for the phrase “Did you make her” which loosely translates to did you get to have sex with her. Another interpretation of the title was derived from an old Jamaican joke that went like this: “My wife’s gone to the Caribbean.” “Jamaica?” (which in Jamaican patois is pronounced “D’you make her?”) “No, she went down on her own.” Yuk, yuk, yuk…Ba-da, bum! (Wikipedia)

The flip of today’s single finds the mighty Zep tapping into their inner James Brown with aplomb on an ultra-funky workout that evolved out of another studio jam session. It is one of the greatest recordings the band ever committed to vinyl showing off just how tight they were while capturing a jerky groove with ever-changing time signatures. It is also one of John Paul Jones’ favorite Zeppelin recordings.

The song pays homage to James Brown with it’s ending line, “Where’s that confounded bridge?” The line is a reference to James Brown’s penchant for recording live in the studio and shouting out orders to the band on the fly, including “Take it to the bridge.” Since “The Crunge” doesn’t have a bridge, the line grinds the song to an abrupt halt. Additionally, the lyrics “Ain’t gonna call me Mr. Pitiful, no I don’t need no respect from nobody,” pay tribute to Otis Redding’s recordings of “Mr. Pitiful” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: October 4th, 2015 under Led Zeppelin, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #78 – Stealers Wheel: “Stuck In The Middle With You” b/w “José”– A&M 1416 (Q8/R8)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #78 – Stealers Wheel: “Stuck In The Middle With You” b/w “José”– A&M 1416 (Q8/R8)

Some songs are forever changed by the movies that they appear in. For instance, Roy Orbison’s rather innocuous “In Dreams” took on a more sinister tone when it was used by David Lynch in the film Blue Velvet, forever changing the hue of the song for all of those who saw the movie. And one can’t help but feel the pain and helplessness of the police officer in the sadistic torture scene of Quentin Tarentino’s film Reservoir Dogs when listening to today’s jukebox classic, “Stuck In The Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel.

Tarantino: “That was one of those things where I thought [the song] would work really well, and [during] auditions, I told the actors that I wanted them to do the torture scene, and I’m gonna use ‘Stuck in the Middle With You,’ but they could pick anything they wanted, they didn’t have to use that song. And a couple people picked another one, but almost everyone came in with ‘Stuck in the Middle With You,’ and they were saying that they tried to come up with something else, but that’s the one. The first time somebody actually did the torture scene to that song, the guy didn’t even have a great audition, but it was like watching the movie. I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is gonna be awesome!’” (Rolling Stone)

The song was written by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan who formed the group Stealers Wheel in Scotland. The hand-clappy folk-bubblegum confection was released on Stealers Wheel’s 1972 self-titled debut album which was recorded at The Beatles’ Apple Studios at 3 Saville Row in England and engineered by Beatles’ engineer Geoff Emerick. The album and today’s jukebox single were produced by legendary songwriters Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller and the single reached the #6 position of the US Hot 100 charts in 1973, selling well over a million copies. The group consisted of Gerry Rafferty, Joe Egan, Paul Pilnich, Tony Williams and Rod Coombes.

Rafferty left the band a few months after the debut album was recorded and was replaced by Luther Grosvenor (of Spooky Tooth), but with the success of the single, Rafferty was persuaded to rejoin the group. Rafferty: “I was going through a very strange period in my life right then, I’d got married, had a child, I was twenty-four, and one day it was like I’d been living in a dream for six or eight years and suddenly I woke up. It was a pretty scary kind of feeling. Perhaps I was on the edge of a nervous break-down — that’s how it felt, anyway. I just had to get away, away from groups, managers, record companies, the whole thing. So I picked up and moved [from London] back to Scotland to sort myself out.” (Rolling Stone 8/24/78)

The group then became just Rafferty and Egan and whomever they chose to back them since Grosvenor, Pilnich, Williams and Coombes left upon Rafferty’s return. In the loopy, stoned-out video, Joe Egan is seen lip synching the song, however it was Rafferty who handled the vocal chores on the track.

The lyrics were written as a parody of a Hollywood cocktail party using the vernacular of Bob Dylan, and the song has seen covers by Juice Newton, Jeff Healey, Susanna Hoffs, Michael Bublé, Keith Urban, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and many others. The flip of the single is the polar opposite of its top side. While “Stuck” is an incredibly infectious poppy confection, José is a lowdown, bluesy rocker that was also taken from the group’s debut album.

Rafferty stuck in the middle of Stealers Wheel for two more albums before taking off for a solo career that gave us the smash hits “Baker Street” and “Right Down The Line” from his second solo album City To City, which earned the distinction of knocking the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack out of the top slot of the album charts in 1978. Rafferty continued to record music throughout the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s until his alcoholism got the best of him. He succumbed to liver failure in January of 2011.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: September 29th, 2015 under Film Soundtracks, Music, Rock, Stealers Wheel - No Comments.

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #77 – The Rolling Stones: “Honky Tonk Woman” b/w “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”– London 45-910 (N8/P8)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #77 – The Rolling Stones: “Honky Tonk Woman” b/w “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”– London 45-910 (N8/P8)

The first thing that grabs you is the cowbell, and if that doesn’t get your immediate attention, then you’re dead. Then comes Charlie Watts’ rim-shot snare attack that sets up one of the funkiest drum patterns this side of Memphis. Enter the hip-swaying guitar crunch of Keith Richards and Bill Wyman’s funk-infused bass playing that sets this track (and you, the listener) into motion. The rest of the band kicks into the groove…yes, on this one, it’s all about the groove. And the groove of “Honky Tonk Woman” is as infectious as it is incessant.

It’s got all the makings of not only one, but two great tracks on a double sided single paired with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” on the flip. It’s what made 45s great back in the day. Two great songs with the flip side of the single equally as strong as the top side. The Beatles’ did it with “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” cohabitating on the same seven inch. The Beach Boys also did it with “Wouldn’t It Be Nice and “God Only Knows.” The Monkees gave us “I’m A Believer” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” on one single, and then there was the pairing of “Till The End Of The Day” and “Where Have All The Good Times Gone” by The Kinks. The world of vinyl is littered with hundreds of others. (At the end of this post, share some of your classic single pairings…anyway, back to the music at hand…)

Several versions of “Honky Tonk Woman,” the top side of today’s jukebox classic, were recorded by The Stones in 1969. There was today’s single version that found its way onto the compilation album Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2). The original was a country version that was based on Hank Williams’ “Honky Tonk Blues” and recorded before the electric version. It was later released on their Let It Bleed album under the title “Country Honk” with a much slower tempo with different lyrics. A third version was performed in concert and captured on Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! with a different second verse. Doesn’t matter which version’s your pleasure, they’re all superb! The single topped both the US and UK charts in 1969, and it’s been a staple of The Stones’ concerts ever since.

The “Country Honk” version was the group’s first attempt at the song and it is notable for being Brian Jones’ last recording with the band. According to Keith Richards, the electric take of the track was influenced by Jones’ replacement Mick Taylor. Richards: “… the song was originally written as a real Hank Williams/Jimmie Rodgers/1930s country song. And it got turned around to this other thing by Mick Taylor, who got into a completely different feel, throwing it off the wall another way.” (Crawdaddy via Wikipedia). However, since memory isn’t Mr. Richards’ strong suit, Mick Taylor says: “I added something to ‘Honky Tonk Woman’, but it was more or less complete by the time I arrived and did my overdubs.” (McPherson, Ian. Track Talk: Honky Tonk Women via Wikipedia) Over the years, Ry Cooder has also taken credit for inspiring the electric riff as well.

The original British single was released the day after Brian Jones death on the fourth of July, 1969, and copies of the record were given away free to those who stayed to clean the park up after the tribute concert they gave in Hyde Park in Jones’ memory. The song has been covered by the likes of Ike & Tina Turner, Waylon Jennings, Joe Cocker, Gram Parsons, Travis Tritt, Elton John, Billy Joel, Taj Mahal, Leslie West, The Meters, The Pogues, Tesla and Def Leppard.

On the flip lies the epic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” another stone cold classic from Let It Bleed that broke boundaries of what an AM hit record could be. The album version of the song clocked in at seven and a half minutes and featured vocals on the intro and the long fade by the London Bach Choir. The single version which clocks in at a still-long-for-radio five minutes, eschews the choir intro. The song did not chart when it was first released, however it ultimately reached #42 on the charts in 1973 and remains one of their most popular songs in concert. Once Let It Bleed was released, The London Bach Choir unsuccessfully tried to have their name removed from the credits because of the album’s title and the inclusion of the song “Midnight Rambler” which was about a serial killer.

The group had a hard time recording “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” because Charlie Watts could not get catch the groove of the song. As a result, producer Jimmy Miller handles the drum duties on this track. Mick Jagger: “‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ was something I just played on the acoustic guitar—one of those bedroom songs. It proved to be quite difficult to record because Charlie couldn’t play the groove and so Jimmy Miller had to play the drums. I’d also had this idea of having a choir, probably a gospel choir, on the track, but there wasn’t one around at that point. Jack Nitzsche, or somebody, said that we could get the London Bach Choir and we said, ‘That will be a laugh.” (Loewenstein, Dora; Dodd, Philip (2003). According to the Rolling Stones. San Francisco: Chronicle Books via Wikipedia) The lineup on the song also featured Al Kooper, who played the organ and the French horn part.

This is another Rolling Stones classic that has seen its share of cover version by the likes of Bette Midler, Aretha Franklin, George Michael, Def Leppard, Luther Allison, Rusted Root, Steel Pulse, the cast of Glee and numerous others.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. And no jukebox is complete without a single by The Rolling Stones!

Posted: September 28th, 2015 under Music, Rock, The Rolling Stones - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #76 – Martha and the Vandellas: “Wild One” b/w “Dancing Slow”– Gordy 7036 (L8/M8)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #76 – Martha and the Vandellas: “Wild One” b/w “Dancing Slow”– Gordy 7036 (L8/M8)

Today’s Song of the Day is the second single in the jukebox by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. As a result, I will pick up some of the biographical information I wrote about the group from my piece on “Jimmy Mack” (Jukebox Series #23) for this article.

Martha and the Vandellas was one of the most successful girl groups to come out of Motown. Unlike The Supremes, the Vandellas’ sound was far grittier and more danceable than the sugary pop that catapulted The Supremes to fame. Their list of classic hits includes “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave,” “Nowhere to Run,” “Come And Get These Memories,” “Quicksand,” “Live Wire,” “Jimmy Mack,” “My Baby Loves Me,” “You’ve Been In Love Too Long,” and their signature single “Dancing in the Street.”

Today’s jukebox classic was not one of Martha and the Vandellas’ biggest hits, but it is one that has a distinctive uptown Brill Building sound to it, by way of Detroit. The song was written by William “Mickey” Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter who also were two of the three songwriters of the group’s defining hit “Dancing In The Street.” In fact, the backing track to this song was an alternate version of the backing track to “Dancing In The Street,” with the crucial difference of a heavily boosted drum track that sends the record into the dance floor stratosphere.

The song climbed to #11 on the R&B charts, but only placed at #34 on the Hot 100 singles chart. However, don’t let the somewhat anemic chart stats fool you; this song is every bit as potent as their biggest hits with its larger than life drum sound, tinny AM radio horn charts, and of course, the sultry vocal talents of Martha Reeves. The song was a tribute to bikers and was inspired by The Shangri-Las’ “Leader Of The Pack” and The Crystals’ “He’s A Rebel.”

Personnel on the track includes Martha Reeves on lead vocals, Rosalind Ashford, Betty Kelly, William “Mickey” Stevenson and Ivy Joe Hunter on background vocals, with instrumentation by various members of Motown’s session group The Funk Brothers, including Benny Benjamin on drums, James Jamerson on bass, Jack Ashford and Ivy Jo Hunter on percussion and Robert White and Eddie Willis on guitar.

The song was included on The Vandellas’ 1965 Dance Party album, as was the flip of today’s jukebox classic “Dancing Slow.” The album centered on a clutch of singles that were released during the previous year including the hits “Dancing In The Street” and “Come And Get These Memories,” plus the popular album track “Motoring.”

The flip of today’s single, “Dancing Slow” was a supper club ballad that was supposed to cast Martha Reeves in a new light as a nightclub performer. Around this time, Diana Ross and The Supremes scored three consecutive chart-topping singles, so Motown did not want The Vandellas’ to compete on the charts with the label’s new superstar group (even though Martha Reeves could sing circles around Diana Ross). As a result, the group was sent to the studio during the summer of 1964 to record a selection of MOR pop ballads, Broadway tunes and standards for a supper club album that never saw the light of day. Ultimately, The Supremes went on to become Motown’s biggest recording act, pushing Martha and the Vandellas to the side and ultimately off the label.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: September 27th, 2015 under Martha & The Vandellas, Music, R'n'B/Soul - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Who By Fire” by Leonard Cohen

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Who By Fire” by Leonard Cohen

It’s that time of year when Jews atone for sins and pray for forgiveness… in exchange for another year on the planet. It’s an unspoken deal Jews strike each year with God and I am just superstitious enough to continue to go along with it.

Today’s song is a track from Leonard Cohen’s fourth studio album New Skin For The Old Ceremony. The song derives from the Unetanneh Tokef prayer that is said on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jewish High Holy Days. The song is sung as a duet on the album with fellow folk singer (and also a Jew), Janis Ian.

Leonard Cohen: “That song derives very directly from a Hebrew prayer that is sung on the Day of Atonement…according to the tradition, the book of life is opened and in it is inscribed all those who will live, all those who will die for the following year…In that prayer is cataloged all the various ways in which you can quit this veil of tears. The melody is, if not actually stolen, is certainly derived from the melody that I heard in the synagogue as a boy. But, of course, the conclusion online casinos of the song as I write it is somewhat different…”who shall I say is calling”…that is what makes the song into a prayer for me. In my terms, which is who is it, or what is it that determines who will live or who will die.” (from the Harry Rasky film The Song of Leonard Cohen 1979 -http://www.leonardcohen-prologues.com/who_by_fire.htm)

The album also includes the Leonard Cohen classics “Chelsea Hotel #2,” a song about a sexual encounter Cohen had at the Chelsea Hotel with Janis Joplin, “Take This Longing” and “Field Commander Cohen.”

May you, Leonard Cohen and I all be inscribed in the book of life…G’mar Tov…

Posted: September 21st, 2015 under Folk, Leonard Cohen, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #75 – David Essex: “Rock On” b/w “On And On”– Columbia 4-45940 (J8/K8)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #75 – David Essex: “Rock On” b/w “On And On”– Columbia 4-45940 (J8/K8)

It was the era of T. Rex’s Electric Warrior, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and Lou Reed’s Transformer. Glam rock was all the rage as were Roxy Music, Mott The Hoople and The New York Dolls. And there was also a new brand of power pop taking the charts by storm at the same time with hits like “Little Willie” by Sweet, “Go All The Way” by Raspberries and later “Saturday Night” by Bay City Rollers.

Enter David Essex…British actor and future glam rock pinup star. Essex had an acting career appearing in the musical Godspell in 1971 and later in the film That’ll Be The Day where he came to the attention of British and American audiences alike.

So it was just a matter of time for him to take on the world of recorded music with today’s self-penned jukebox classic and two-time hit from 1973. The bass player on this sinuous track is Herbie Flowers who went on to play bass for David Bowie on the Diamond Dogs album the following year. This song is the ultimate glam-pop confection, a sticky piece of ear candy with a slicing string arrangement and echo-laden bass riff. It should be no surprise that the track made it into the U.S. top five by 1974. Such was the popularity of the song that it would eventually top the charts again in 1988, when it was recorded by TV soap opera star Michael Damien.

While Essex will forever be associated mainly with this song in America, and perhaps his appearance in Jeff Wayne’s musical interpretation of The War Of the Worlds from 1978, he has led a long acting career primarily in the UK, where he has performed in the musicals Evita (and scored the top-five British hit “Oh What A Circus.”), Aspects Of Love and Footloose.

The flip of today’s Song of the Day is “On And On,” a fine ballad that is also another self-penned track from Essex’s Rock On album.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: September 20th, 2015 under David Essex, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #74 – The Who: “I Can See For Miles” b/w “Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hand”– Decca 32206 (G8/H8)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #74 – The Who: “I Can See For Miles” b/w “Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hand”– Decca 32206 (G8/H8)

The Who have several masterpieces in their canon including Tommy, Who’s Next and Quadrophenia. However, one record that doesn’t get name-checked enough when it comes to The Who’s masterworks is The Who Sell Out which is by far my all-time favorite of all of their albums.

Back in 1967, The Who managed to do what Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys couldn’t. The Beach Boys’ Smile was meant to create a painterly picture of Americana through music and inject a broad sense of humor into the music. The Who’s 1967 album, was a quintessentially British album that was injected it through and through with humor to burn.

The Who took their British concept one step further by building the album around a fake pirate radio station concept, complete with commercials and public service announcements between each song. The album’s release was met with a flurry of law suits because some of the fake jingles were for real products including Heinz Baked Beans and Odorono Deodorant.

Furthermore, the album cover depicted a photo of each band member advertising a product. Pete Townshend is shown applying Odorono Deodorant to his underarm, Roger Daltrey is shown sitting in a bathtub full of Heinz Baked Beans, Keith Moon is shown putting Medac zit cream on his face and John Entwistle is shown with a woman flexing his muscles and holding a teddy bear depicting the album’s Charles Atlas jingle. British first pressings of the album came with a psychedelic poster of a butterfly which was originally considered for the album’s cover art. (Sure wish I had one of those!) Copies of the album with the poster sell for thousands of dollars on eBay.

The album includes the single “I Can See For Miles” which is today’s jukebox classic, and along with “Pictures Of Lily,” is amongst The Who’s very best singles. The song was written by Pete Townshend and it remains the group’s biggest hit reaching #9 on the U.S. singles chart. The track was recorded in both England and the U.S., and the single version differs from the album version featuring an overdubbed second bass track.

The song was said to inspire Paul McCartney who read a review of “I Can See For Miles” that claimed it was one of the heaviest songs ever released. Not being the type to be one-upped, McCartney set out to write an even heavier song (even though he hadn’t heard “Miles”) resulting in “Helter Skelter.” (songfacts.com)

The song features a one-note guitar solo that was a reaction to the arrival of Jimi Hendrix on the scene. Townshend believed that he couldn’t possibly complete with the American axe man, so why bother trying. (songfacts.com) While the record was The Who’s best showing on the charts, Townshend was sure that the song would be their first number one single and was disappointed when it only climbed into the top ten. It has been covered by the likes of Tina Turner, Styx, Marty Stuart and Old Crow Medicine Show and Petra Haden who not only covered the song, but also covered the whole album.

The flip of today’s single is an alternate mix of another Who Sell Out track, “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand,” which is another essential psychedelic Who track. The song describes a woman who is afflicted with hand tremors, but many believe that the song is their second stab at creating a great song about masturbation (following “Pictures Of Lily”) because of the line “What they’ve done to a man, those shaky hands.”

Several versions of the song exist. The album version included an acoustic guitar part with Latin rhythms on it, while a second version trades the acoustic guitar for an electric and features an organ solo courtesy of Al Kooper. The version on the flip of today’s single is a mono version with the electric guitar and without the organ solo.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: September 15th, 2015 under Music, Rock, The Who - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #73 – Aretha Franklin: “Day Dreaming” b/w “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” – Atlantic 45-2866 (E8/F8)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #73 – Aretha Franklin: “Day Dreaming” b/w “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” – Atlantic 45-2866 (E8/F8)

Today’s jukebox classic is a self-penned nugget from Aretha Franklin’s classic Young, Gifted and Black album. The song features some of the most lilting and sensuous vocals Reethy ever captured on record.

Young, Gifted and Black was Aretha’s most consistent platter and it captured her at her absolute prime in a year that saw the release of classic soul albums like Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book, Curtis Mayfield’s Super Fly, Al Green’s I’m So In Love With You and Let’s Stay Together, Bill Withers’ Still Bill and Cymande’s self-titled debut. Amongst its tune stack are the hit singles “Rock Steady” and “Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool for You Baby),” along with today’s song “Day Dreaming.” The album won Aretha her sixth Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Female Artist in 1973.

“Day Dreaming” was released in 1972 and climbed to #5 on the pop charts, while topping the Hot Soul Singles charts for two weeks and selling over a million copies. The track features Donny Hathaway on electric piano, jazz great Hubert Laws on flute, session greats Chuck Rainey and Cornell Dupree on guitar and Bernard Purdie on drums. It was produced by the Atlantic Records supreme team of Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd and it has been covered by the likes of Mary J. Blige, Natalie Cole, Will Downing, Corinne Bailey Rae and many others.

The subject of Aretha’s day dreaming was said to be Temptations singer Dennis Edwards, however Franklin has never disclosed who the man of her day dreams really was. Franklin: “’Day Dreaming’ was rather personal and I was thinking about someone who used to be a friend of mine. I’ll give you a hint. Used to be with one of the hottest groups in the country, tall, dark and fine. ‘OOOOwww wooo wooo wheee!” – he could sing!” (Aretha Franklin: The Queen Of Soul by Mark Bego via songfacts.com)

The song was released during the height of the singer songwriter era casting Aretha Franklin in a new light as one of the most influential female singer songwriters of the day, along with Roberta Flack, Carole King and Carly Simon who composed and performed their own material.

The flip of today’s single is Aretha’s take on the Otis Redding classic “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” which originally appeared on his Otis Blue album in 1965. The song was written by Otis Redding and Jerry Butler, who also recorded his own version. Aretha’s cover was also included on Young, Gifted and Black. The song has been covered by a myriad of artists including The Rolling Stones, Percy Sledge, Ike and Tina Turner, Etta James, The Tindersticks, Joe Cocker and Seal.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: September 14th, 2015 under Aretha Franklin, Music, R'n'B/Soul - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #72–Curtis Mayfield: “Freddie’s Dead” b/w “Underground” – Curtom CR-1975 (C8/D8)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #72–Curtis Mayfield: “Freddie’s Dead” b/w “Underground” – Curtom CR-1975 (C8/D8)

They called them “Blaxploitation” films. They were films that were created specifically for the African American urban market during the early 1970s. They weren’t known for their story lines or for the greatest acting, but they were chock full of action, and they were soundtracked by some of the greatest soul artists of all time.

No list of great Blaxploitation soundtracks would be complete without Across 112th Street by Bobby Womack, Shaft by Isaac Hayes and Trouble Man by Marvin Gaye. And then there were dozens of “second tier” films and soundtracks that were not as well known, but had their musical moments of potency including Black Caesar by James Brown, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadass Song by Melvin Van Peeples, The Mack by Willie Hutch and Together Brothers by Barry White. Perhaps the finest Blaxploitation soundtrack of them all is Super Fly by Curtis Mayfield, where not coincidentally, today jukebox classic comes from.

Super Fly was directed by Gordon Parks, Jr. and starred Ron O’Neal as an African cocaine dealer. It is one of the few Blaxploitation films where the soundtrack out grossed its parent film. The soundtrack was released in 1972 on Curtis Mayfield’s own Curtom record label and spawned two million-selling singles, including the title track which climbed to #8 on the pop charts and #5 on the soul charts, and today’s jukebox classic “Freddie’s Dead,” which placed at #4 on the pop charts and #2 on the black singles charts in 1972 before the release of the film. Additionally, the soundtrack also included the song “Pusherman” which also garnered significant airplay and would not be out of place on any Curtis Mayfield greatest hits collection.

Like Marvin Gaye’s colossal What’s Goin’ On from the same period, the album featured socially conscious lyrics that reflected the reality of inner city life which were an anomaly for the times. When it was released, record company brass at Buddah (which distributed Curtom Records) didn’t believe the record would sell, however the album ultimately topped the pop charts for four weeks and the black charts for six weeks.

Interestingly, the song was only featured in the film as an instrumental which kind of makes sense since the song’s stance is decidedly anti-drug use, while the film centers on the doings of a bad-ass drug dealer. As a result, it was not eligible for an Academy Award nomination because the lyrics were not heard in the film. The song was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rhythm & Blues Song, but lost out to The Temptations’ “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone.”

Personnel on the single includs Curtis Mayfield on vocals and guitar, Joseph Lucky Scott on bass, Master Henry Gibson on percussion, Morris Jennings on drums and Craig McMullen on guitar. It has been covered by Fishbone, MFSB, The Derek Trucks Band and E.U.

The flip of today’s single features an atmospheric spoken intro that morphs into a scuzzy lowdown, sinister vibe with a spiraling guitar figure. It’s a sound that only Mayfield could pull together with his otherworldly falsetto. It was culled from his previous album, Roots which was released in 1971.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: September 8th, 2015 under Curtis Mayfield, Music, R'n'B/Soul - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #71–The Box Tops: “Cry Like A Baby” b/w “Soul Deep” – Collectables COL-3176 (A8/B8)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #71–The Box Tops: “Cry Like A Baby” b/w “Soul Deep” – Collectables COL-3176 (A8/B8)

Today’s jukebox classic was written by legendary songwriters Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn who also wrote such soul classics as “I’m Your Puppet” (for James & Bobby Purify), “A Woman Left Lonely” (for Janis Joplin) and “It Tears Me Up” (for Percy Sledge). The song was recorded by The Box Tops, the purveyors of blue-eyed soul that took the pop charts by storm in 1967 with their debut single “The Letter.” The group’s lead singer, Alex Chilton was only 16 years old when he joined the group.

The Box Tops formed as The Devilles in Memphis, Tennessee in 1963. By 1967, the lineup included Alex Chilton on lead vocals and guitar, Gary Talley on guitar, Bill Cunningham on bass, Danny Smythe on drums and John Evans on keyboards. The following year, Smythe and Evans left the band because they were unhappy with Penn’s penchant for using studio musicians on their records instead of the band. They went back to school in order to avoid the draft and were replaced by Rick Allen (of The Gentrys) on bass and Thomas Bogg on drums.

The A-side of today’s single, “Cry Like A Baby,” climbed to the #2 slot on the pop charts in 1968. It was kept out of the top slot by Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey.”

Dan Penn was producing The Box Tops and looking for a follow-up to their debut chart-topping hit “The Letter.” He called his friend Spooner Oldham up to help him write a song. The two got together and holed themselves up in a recording studio and worked all night, but alas, nothing came to them suitable for a follow up single.

After working all night to no avail, the two went across the street to a diner for breakfast. Oldham: “I remember I was putting my head on the table. There was nobody in there, I don’t think, but us and the cook. And I tiredly put my head on the table, my arms under my head, just for a few seconds. Then I lifted my head up and looked at Dan, and because I felt sorry that he needed another record and we were no help to each other that evening, I said, ‘Dan, I could just cry like a baby.’ And he says, ‘What did you say?’ And I said it again.” (Songfacts)

Penn: “I said ‘That’s it!’ I’m sure my eyes must’ve flashed. I said, ‘To hell with the food. Here’s some money—just keep it.’ By the time we got halfway across the street, I was already singin’, ‘When I think about the good love you gave me, I cry like a baby.’ And then the key was in the lock to open the studio back up, and I said, ‘Spooner, you run to the organ, piano or whatever you wanna play; I’ll get the lights on and the gear runnin’ again. So I got the lights on and he was crankin’ up the little organ. I had the mike open, I got one of the machines going, I put on a reel of tape, went out into the studio and we wrote it before that reel of tape was done. After we did that, it was just like we’d had eight hours of sleep. Alex was supposed to be there the next morning at 10 o’clock, so my back was against the wall, and it was just like it dropped out of the sky. They came in, I gave it to Alex, everybody loved it and we cut it in a few takes. So there’s nothin’ like right now. When you try your best, I think the Lord just gives you somethin’, you know?” (http://www.conqueroo.com/danpennandspooneroldhambio.html)

The song was recorded at American Studios in Memphis and features an electric sitar played by Reggie Young and Spooner Oldham plays keyboards on the track. It’s been covered by the likes of Cher, Betty Wright, Lulu and Kim Carnes.

The group’s final top 40 hit (and the flip of today’s single), “Soul Deep” was written by Wayne Carson Thompson who co-wrote Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind” and also wrote “The Letter and “Neon Rainbow” for The Box Tops. The song was the group’s final US Top 40 hit during the summer of 1969, peaking at #18 on the Hot 100. By 1970, the final original members Chilton and Talley left the band, however their record label kept releasing singles through 1971. The group did not own their name, so recordings followed under The Box Tops name through 1974 featuring studio groups with no original members of the band.

Chilton went on to form Big Star, one of the most influential power pop groups in music history with very little commercial success. After the demise of Big Star, he embarked on a solo career that saw the release of many quirky and inconsistently charming releases. The Box Tops reunited several times during the late 1980s and 1990s (as did Big Star) for tours and performances. They released the album Tear Off! In 1998.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: August 30th, 2015 under Music, Rock, The Box Tops - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #70–The Beach Boys: “California Girls” b/w “Let Him Run Wild” – Capitol 5464 (U7/V7)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #70–The Beach Boys: “California Girls” b/w “Let Him Run Wild” – Capitol 5464 (U7/V7)

The A-side of today’s jukebox classic, “California Girls” has the greatest introduction to any record I have ever heard, and it’s a sound that slays me every time I hear it, even after all these years. It is indeed pure perfection from the pen of Brian Wilson. Brian Wilson: “I came up the introduction first. I’m still really proud of that introduction. It has a classical feel. I wrote the song ‘California Girls’ in the same key as the introduction. It took me some time. I wanted to write a song that had a traditional country and western left hand piano riff, like an old country song from the early ’50s. I wanted to get something that had kind of a jumpy feeling to it in the verses.” (Goldmine)

No matter how sublime that track is (and it totally is), it’s the single’s B-side that guaranteed it a slot in my jukebox. “Let Him Run Wild” is as close to perfection as it gets. Gossamer harmonies…incredible lyrics…music that superbly captures the mood of uncertainty. It’s hands down, one of their best recordings reflecting a simpler time for the band…and the world.

The 1966 release of The Beach Boys’ masterwork Pet Sounds ushered in a new mature era for the band. Gone were the simple, innocent paeans to girls, fun, sun and cars, and in their place was a new mature sound complete with lyrics reflecting feelings of ennui and uncertainty for the future, combined with complex musical arrangements and instrumentation.

Under closer inspection, the seeds of Pet Sounds were sown on the two previous Beach Boys album, Beach Boys Today! and Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), where both of today’s jukebox classics were culled from, showing glimmers of the new mature sound and making those two platters every bit as potent and, dare I say it, as good as the coveted masterpiece that followed.

Beach Boys Today! was still pretty much steeped in that good old Beach Boys sound, especially on songs like “Do You Wanna Dance,” “Dance Dance Dance,” “I’m So Young” and “Help Me, Rhonda.” These songs reflected the feelings of teenage innocence that put the band on the map in the first place.

However, behind the scenes things were changing. Certainly, drug use by the band members played a huge part in the maturation of their sound, but they were also beginning to outgrow the dominance of Murray Wilson (their dad), who was a constant impediment to the progress the group was making in the studio.

This can be heard in session tapes for “Help Me, Rhonda” (on the bootleg recording called Capitol Punishment) where Murray can be heard constantly badgering and inserting his influence into the proceedings, much to the chagrin of the band and especially Brian. This was not a new occurrence for the group; they had to put up with Murray’s presence at their sessions since their inception. But during this session you can hear the members of the group cracking wise behind Murray’s back about his suggestions.

Things finally come to a head when (probably) for the first time in his career, Brian has the confidence to tell his father off and sternly ask him to leave the studio. All of this is invisible when playing back the final product, but it is all captured on tape for posterity giving fans a taste of the underbelly of one of their most jovial performances.

Several of the songs on Beach Boys Today! (released in March of 1965) reflect a new mature sound, especially on the wondrous single “When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)” where Brian tackles his uncertainty about the future in the lyrics, while making it all seem easy with its tight intricate harmonies. You can also hear Wilson’s compositional sophistication in the arrangements of “In The Back Of My Mind” and “Don’t Hurt My Little Sister.” In the plaintive “Please Let Me Wonder,” the aforementioned feelings of ennui that began to underpin Wilson’s entire being are perfectly encapsulated.

The first half of the follow up album, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) (released in June of 1965), takes a giant step backwards with a clutch of songs that hearken back to the group’s more innocent sound including “Salt Lake City,” “The Girl From New York City,” “Amusement Parks U.S.A.” and “Then I Kissed Her.” And even though jubilance can be heard pouring forth from the record’s grooves the sounds on the flip side of the platter tell a completely different story.

The second side of the record acts as a fairly accurate precursor of what was to come the following year on Pet Sounds. By this point, The Beach Boys’ touring schedule was pretty much non-stop, and Brian felt intense pressure to come up with more hit singles and albums to meet the demands that Capitol Records put upon him. As a result, Wilson began having panic attacks on the road and found it harder and harder to deal with day to day life on the road.

You can hear the pressures of being an in-demand Beach Boy wreaking havoc on him in the songs themselves. Sure, the group was still singing about relationships and girls, but the complex arrangements and instrumentation pointed the group in a new, stylistically bold direction that they would take once Brian Wilson pulled himself off of the road and camped himself inside the studio. You can hear it in the overall feeling of depression and dread inherent in one of their all-time greatest tracks (and the flip of today’s jukebox classic), “Let Him Run Wild.”

Wilson’s arrangements were becoming more sophisticated as heard in the spectacular orchestral intro to “California Girls,” and in “The Little Girl I Once Knew,” which has several false stops that confused DJs who ultimately took a pass on playing it on the radio. And the album’s one goof track “I’m Bugged At My Old Man” wasn’t really a joke after all.

“California Girls” climbed to #3 on the charts in 1965. The song’s inspiration came from an LSD trip of Brian Wilson’s. After initially feeling paranoid and running up to his room to hide, he came down and began to work on piano figure that runs through the song. Within an hour, he had the “East coast girls are hip” part of the song worked out. The following day, he and Mike Love finished writing the song together. (Beautiful Dreamer documentary via Wikipedia) The song was also Bruce Johnston’s first appearance on a Beach Boys record.

The song was very influential at the time and, most notably, The Beatles’ paid homage to it with their song “Back in the U.S.S.R.” from The White Album in 1968. McCartney came up with the idea for the song while in India studying Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Yogi with Mike Love, the rest of The Beatles, Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence (of “Dear Prudence” fame). Mike Love: “Paul came down to the breakfast table one morning saying, ‘Hey, Mike, listen to this.’ And he starts strumming and singing, ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.,’ the verses. And I said, ‘Well, Paul, what you ought to do is talk about the girls around Russia, Ukraine girls and then Georgia on my mind, and that kind of thing.’ Which he did.” (Songfacts)

David Lee Roth brought the song back to the #3 position on the pop charts propelled by a hedonistic MTV video that was played in heavy rotation in 1975.

Musicians on the track featured the best of The Wrecking Crew including Hal Blaine on drums, Frank Capp on vibraphone, Jerry Cole on guitar, Al de Lory on organ, Carol Kaye on bass, Leon Russell on piano, Billy Strange on tambourine, plus a whole slew of horn players.

During the tour behind these albums, Wilson’s panic attacks became too much to bare, ultimately forcing him to leave the touring band for good. Glen Campbell was brought in as his replacement on the road and Brian Wilson set up shop full time in the studio to work. The results can be heard on Pet Sounds.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: August 26th, 2015 under Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #69–Barbra Streisand: “He Touched Me” b/w “I Like Him” – Columbia 4-43403 (S7/T7)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #69–Barbra Streisand: “He Touched Me” b/w “I Like Him” – Columbia 4-43403 (S7/T7)

I’m not really a fan of Barbra Streisand, but you couldn’t grow up in suburban New Jersey in a middle class home with Jewish parents and not be surrounded by her “like buttuh” voice emanating from the Zenith stereo. Back in the day when there was a real musical generation gap between parents and kids, the sound of Streisand ringing through the walls of my bedroom was anything but music to my ears. To be perfectly honest, it’s not really her voice (which is sublime) that bothered me about ol’ Babs, it’s the shtick that comes with it that to this day, still makes my skin crawl.

However, I must give Streisand credit because she actually could (and still can) sing. After being bombarded by the likes of Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and even Rhianna, whose recordings are so processed that any sense of reality have been squeezed out of the grooves, I’ve come to appreciate real vocal talent…and Streisand’s had it then, and still has it to burn today.

That said, there are a few Streisand recordings that have become part of my musical DNA, and one of them is the A-side of today’s jukebox classic. “He Touched Me” was the lead track on Streisand’s fourth album My Name Is Barbra…Two” which was released by Columbia Records in 1965. The album was the second soundtrack album from Streisand’s first TV special called My Name Is Barbra, but only the medley at the end of the album was actually featured in the show. The rest of the album was comprised of all-new Streisand recordings. The album peaked at #2 on the U.S. album charts and was certified platinum for over one million copies in sales. It was produced by Robert Mersey with arrangements by Peter Matz and Don Costa.

“He Touched Me” was written by Ira Levin and Milton Schafer, and was from the Broadway musical Drat! The Cat. The musical was about a cat burglar that was plundering the upper crust society folk of New York City during the late 1800s. The musical opened on October 10, 1965 and ran for only eight performances before closing. In the show, the song was called “She Touched Me” and was sung by Elliot Gould, who was Streisand’s husband at the time. Additionally, Columbia Records, which was Streisand’s record label, invested $50,000 into the show, which is probably why both sides of today’s jukebox single were comprised of songs from the show.

The single reached #53 on the singles charts in October of 1965. The flip of the single, “I Like Him” was also from Drat! The Cat and never appeared on a Streisand album. In England, “He Touched Me” was released as the flip side of the “Second Hand Rose” single which was also from the My Name Is Barbra…Two album.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: August 25th, 2015 under Barbra Streisand, Easy Listening, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #68–The Rascals: “A Beautiful Morning” b/w “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long” – Atlantic Oldies Series OS 13039 (Q7/R7)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #68–The Rascals: “A Beautiful Morning” b/w “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long” – Atlantic Oldies Series OS 13039 (Q7/R7)

Before Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, The Rascals were the group that put New Jersey on the musical map. The group consisted of Eddie Brigati on vocals, Felix Cavaliere on keyboards and vocals, Gene Cornish on guitar and Dino Danelli on drums. Cavaliere, Cornish and Danelli were all members of Joey Dee and the Starlighters along with Eddie Brigati’s brother David. The group formed in the basement of Brigati’s house in Garfield, New Jersey calling themselves The Rascals. They changed their name to The Young Rascals after their manager Sid Bernstein found another group called The Harmonica Rascals who objected to them using their original name.

Their sound was pure blue-eyed soul and the group began by performing covers, scoring hits with songs like “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore,” “Good Lovin’” and “Mustang Sally” before trying their own hand at writing songs for themselves. What followed was a string of stunning, indelible original hits including “You Better Run,” “Groovin’,” “A Girl Like You,” “How Can I Be Sure,” “It’s Wonderful,” “People Got To Be Free,” and the two songs that inhabit today’s jukebox single “A Beautiful Morning” and “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long.”

“A Beautiful Morning” was the group’s first “grown up” single, meaning that The Young Rascals drop the “Young” in their name to be forever known as just The Rascals. However, the song was just as innocent and vibrant as many of their many other hit singles, adding a welcome relief to some of the heavier sounds that graced the charts in 1968. It was also the perfect follow-up single to “Groovin’.”

The song, which was written by Cavaliere and Brigati, climbed to the #3 position of the pop charts in 1968 and sold well over a million copies. It was originally released as a stand-alone single with “Rainy Day” on the flip side, and made its first appearance on an album on Time Peace: The Rascals’ Greatest Hits in 1968. The album would go on to be the most popular album in the group’s entire canon topping the charts in September 1968. In its wake, the song has been featured in movies and used countless times to sell products in TV commercials.

The flip of today’s jukebox classic is another stellar single “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” which was originally released on the group’s second album Collections. The song was written by Felix Cavaliere, although early copies of the 45 credited it to Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati. The song climbed to #16 on the charts when released as a single in January of 1967.

Cavaliere: “That song was our savior. Before that, there was disgruntled talk in and out of the ranks, and thank God, it was a hit. In retrospect, “Good Lovin”‘ launched The Rascals, but it was “Lonely Too Long” that proved the band was more than a one-hit wonder.” (www.therascalsarchives.com/)

Rock critic Dave Marsh included the song in his book The Heart Of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made and said the following: “Holland-Dozier-Holland deserve royalties for the intro, but after Felix’s organ comes in, The Rascals are on their own with one of the most distinctive performances in blue-eyed soul. The highlight, though, is Dino Danelli’s drumming, which merges Benny Benjamin funk with Keith Moon power.”

By the end of the 1960s, The Rascals’ popularity began to wane, leading to the departure of Eddie Brigati in 1970 and Dino Danelli in 1971. The group carried on for a few more years, releasing several really good jazz-rock albums for Columbia Records in a similar vein to Blood Sweat & Tears and Chicago, before calling it quits.

The Rascals went dormant for the next 40 years except for a brief tour that featured three of the members in 1988, a performance at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony in 1997, and another tour where they were booked as The New Rascals featuring only Cornish and Danelli. Meanwhile, Cavaliere formed his own version of The Rascals (calling it Cavaliere’s Rascals) to perform the group’s repertoire, and Brigati also got in on the acrimonious touring game by putting together a group he called The Boys From The Music House, that also featured his brother to perform the Rascals’ repertoire.

After many years of not speaking to each other, the original quartet reunited in 2009 for a benefit show for Kristen Ann Carr (a member of Bruce Springsteen’s camp) at the behest of Springsteen guitarist Steve Van Zandt who joined the group with Springsteen for their encore of “Good Lovin’.”

The Carr benefit led to the creation of a jukebox musical by Steve Van Zandt and his wife Maureen with lighting director Marc Brickman called The Rascals: Once Upon A Dream. The show starred the original lineup of the band performing in front of projection screens and debuted for six performances at The Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York in December of 2012. After the brief residency, the show moved to Broadway where the group gave 14 more performances the following spring, and then it hit the road and toured throughout North America to rave reviews.

As a longtime fan of the group, I never thought the day would come that I would actually ever get the opportunity to see the group in action…in any form. However, I was fortunate enough to catch them a few years ago in Chicago. The group was every bit as good as they ever were, and the material has surely stood the test of time. If the show comes around again, I urge any fan of the group to go see it at once.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: August 24th, 2015 under Music, Rock, The Rascals - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #67–Jeannie C. Riley: “Harper Valley PTA” b/w “Yesterday All Day Long Today” – Plantation #3 (N7/P7)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #67–Jeannie C. Riley: “Harper Valley PTA” b/w “Yesterday All Day Long Today” – Plantation #3 (N7/P7)

Today’s jukebox classic goes out to all of those “Harper Valley hypocrites” who scorn mini-skirts, casual sex and social drinking.

Jeannie C. Riley’s recording of “Harper Valley P.T.A.” sold six million copies worldwide in 1968 and catapulted her to instant notoriety, earning her a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and the Country Music Association Single of the Year award. The Tom T. Hall-written ditty topped both the Country and Pop charts in 1968, a feat that would not be repeated by a song until Dolly Parton did the trick with “9 to 5″ in 1981.

Jeannie C. Riley had been a receptionist at Passkey Music on Music Row in Nashville before recording the song. She came to the attention of Plantation Records chief Shelby Singleton from a demo she recorded called “Old Town Drunk.” Singleton thought that Riley would be perfect for another demo he was sitting on called “Harper Valley P.T.A.” written by a then-unknown Tom T. Hall.

The song was literally recorded in 15 minutes right after Riley left work at Passkey and walked into the studio that just happened to be next door. After it was recorded, it was suggested that Riley change the song’s final line from “the day that momma broke up the Harper Valley P.T.A.” to “the day my momma socked it to, the Harper Valley P.T.A.” The line sealed the deal on the song, as well as Jeannie C. Riley’s fate as the notorious vixen of Harper Valley.

Before the song got to Riley, it was originally given to Skeeter Davis who passed on it. In the meantime Billie Jo Spears and Margie Singleton also recorded versions of the song, but Riley’s recording not only topped the charts, but gave her a TV variety show of her own to star in. Later, it was turned into a 1978 major motion picture and a 1981 TV series, both starring Barbara Eden.

While Riley went on to have hit records with “The Girl Most Likely,” “There Never Was A Time,” “The Rib,” “The Back Side of Dallas,” “Country Girl,” “Oh Singer” and “Good Enough to Be Your Wife,” she will always be remembered by today’s Song Of The Day.

The flip of today’s single is a Clark Bentley-penned tune that was featured on her 1970 album, Country Girl. Today’s video is not the actual 45 rpm version. This one has some great dobro work of Harold Morrison.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: August 19th, 2015 under Country, Jeannie C. Riley, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #66–Raspberries: “Go All The Way” b/w “Let’s Pretend” – Capitol/Collectables COL-63367 (L7/M7)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #66–Raspberries: “Go All The Way” b/w “Let’s Pretend” – Capitol/Collectables COL-63367 (L7/M7)

Power pop never came more powerful, and yes, more poppier than today’s jukebox classic “Go All The Way” by Raspberries. And if there ever was a song that summed up the sound of ‘70s AM radio, this is the track with its crunchy guitar riff designed to instantly get your attention, and its soaring, stacked Beach Boy-inspired harmonies that pretty much paved the way for groups like Electric Light Orchestra and Queen. Over their five year existence, Raspberries pretty much invented their own brand of ultra-melodic rock with indelible singles like “Go All The Way,” “I Wanna Be With You,” “Let’s Pretend” and “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record).”

Like many groups from the 1970s, Raspberries were inspired by The Beatles, even going as far as wearing matching suits early on. While the repeated “come on” chants in today’s song paid homage to the fabs’ first single “Please Please Me,” the lyrics were inspired by The Rolling Stones’ performance of “Let’s Spend the Night Together” on The Ed Sullivan Show when the band had to change the song’s lyrics to “let’s spend some time together.” Carmen: “I knew then that I wanted to write a song with an explicitly sexual lyric that the kids would instantly get but the powers that be couldn’t pin me down for.” (Blender Magazine) As a result, the song was banned by the BBC in England for its suggestive lyrics.

Carmen: “I remember ‘Go All The Way’ vividly. The year was 1971. I was 21. I had been studying for years. I had spent my youth with my head between two stereo speakers listening to The Byrds and The Beatles and later on The Beach Boys – just trying to figure out what combinations of things…I must have worn out 10 copies of that first Byrds album listening to it over and over, and turning off the left side and turning on the right side trying to figure out why these certain combinations of instruments and echo and harmonies made that hair on your arms stand up. I did the same thing with Beatles records, and I tried to learn construction. Then I went to school on Brian Wilson. That was a real breakthrough for me because he was doing things that I thought were so incredibly sophisticated before anybody was doing anything even close. The Pet Sounds album is, to me, the best pop album of all time…So when I sat down to write ‘Go All The Way,’ there were a couple things I had in mind. I thought, ‘What part of the song is it that people really want to hear? It’s the chorus.’ As a result of all that, ‘Go All The Way’ has a 10 second verse, and then the chorus is a minute long. I figured just to get to the chorus as fast as I can. That was the plan behind the song. I repeated that when I wrote ‘I Wanna Be With You.’” (EricCarmen.com)

The group formed in the early 1970 in Cleveland, Ohio and consisted of Eric Carmen on vocals and bass, Wally Bryson on guitar, Dave Smalley on guitar and Jim Bonfanti on drums. While trying to come up with a moniker for the band, one of the members responded to a suggestion he didn’t like by saying “ahh, raspberries,” hence their name.

They signed with Capitol records in 1971 and were teamed with producer Jimmy Ienner who helmed all four of their albums. After they broke big with “Go All The Way” which climbed to #5 on the pop charts in 1972, Smalley and Carmen switched instruments so Carmen could be the front man on stage. The song was included on their stellar self-titled debut album which came with a scratch and sniff sticker on its cover. After all these years, the sticker on my copy still carries a hint of raspberry essence. The song has been covered as a duet by Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs and also by The Killers.

The flip of today’s double A-sided reissue single is “Let’s Pretend,” another prime example of the Beach Boys-inspired pop that was Raspberries’ stock in trade. The song was the second single charting at #35 from their second album, Fresh.

With the acrimonious breakup of Raspberries in 1975, producer Jimmy Ienner brought Carmen to the fledgling Arista record label where, under the aegis of Clive Davis, he took on a more baroque ballad style. Carmen hit the ball right out of the park with the first single from his self-titled debut album, “All By Myself,” which went all the way to the number two position on the charts.

After Carmen’s second Arista album, the hits began to dry up. However, he continued to have hits via others covering his songs like Olivia Newton John, Samantha Sang and Mike Reno and Ann Wilson, whose “Almost Paradise” from the movie Footloose was a huge hit in 1984. Carmen returned to the top ten again in 1987 with his singles “Hungry Eyes” and “Make Me Lose Control,” from the movie Dirty Dancing. The original lineup of the group reunited for a tour in 2005. Let’s hope they “go all the way” and do it again soon.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

 

Posted: August 18th, 2015 under Music, Raspberries, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #65–The Drifters: “On Broadway” b/w “I’ve Got Sand in My Shoes” – Atlantic Oldies Series OS-13013 (J7/K7)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #65–The Drifters: “On Broadway” b/w “I’ve Got Sand in My Shoes” – Atlantic Oldies Series OS-13013 (J7/K7)

It was one of the greatest songs to emanate from the Brill Building in New York City, and it was recorded by The Drifters, one of the greatest R&B groups of all time. “On Broadway” was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, with an assist from Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, four of the most hit-laden songwriters to come out of the hallowed halls of the Brill Building. The story behind the song’s inception exemplifies the creative and collaborative spirit of the writers who were also very much in competition with each other.

The Brill Building sound actually came from two buildings. There was the actual Brill Building at 1619 Broadway where Lieber and Stoller had their offices, and there was the offices of Aldon Music which were housed at 1650 Broadway. Weil and Mann worked at Aldon Music and originally recorded versions of “On Broadway” with The Cookies and The Crystals. Lieber and Stoller, who were housed at 1650 Broadway had booked a recording session the day after The Cookies’ session in the same studio and put word out that they were still looking for one more song for The Drifters to record. Weil and Mann forwarded “On Broadway” to Lieber and Stoller who liked it, but wanted to make some changes. An all-night writing session ensued with all four songwriters, culminating in a simpler rhythm and different lyrics.

Cynthia Weil: “We originally wrote “On Broadway” for a group called The Cookies. Our friends Carole King and Gerry Goffin were writing for them and Gerry was producing and they were short one song. Barry had this concept of writing a “Gershwinesque” pop song and I, being a Broadway fanatic wanted to write a lyric about my favorite street and all it stood for. The ideas seemed to mesh so we wrote the first version of “On Broadway.” The Cookies and later The Crystals cut it but neither record was released. Then our publisher told us that Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller were looking for songs for The Drifters. We played them our song and they thought we needed to make some changes for their group. They said we could go home and work on it or rewrite it with them. We idolized them and jumped at the chance to team up. Using the basic melody that Barry had written and my opening lines all we created the “On Broadway” that went on to be a hit by The Drifters and George Benson.” (Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil Website – http://www.mann-weil.com)

The Drifters had an ever-changing lineup (hence the group’s name) that included three main lead vocalists in succession. Their original lead vocalist was Clyde McPhatter who was with the group for one year and sang on the hits “Such A Night,” “Money Honey,” “Lucille” and “Honey Love.” The second main incarnation of the group featured Ben E. King who sang on the hits “There Goes My Baby,” “Dance With Me,” “This Magic Moment,” “I Count The Tears” and “Save The Last Dance For Me.” After King’s departure for a solo career, Rudy Lewis came on board and lent his golden tones to “Some Kind Of Wonderful,” “Up on the Roof” and today’s jukebox classic. Lewis was with the group from 1961 until his untimely death in 1964.

The musicians on the track included Phil Spector who played the guitar solo, Joe Newman and Ernie Royal on trumpet, Billy Butler, Bill Suyker and Everett Barksdale on guitar, Russ Savakus on Bass, Gary Chester on Drums and Phil Kraus, Nick Rodriguez and Martin Grupp on percussion. The song appeared on the group’s 1964 album Under The Boardwalk which featured Rudy Lewis’ last recordings with the group before his death, and the emergence of their next lead singer Johnny Moore, who had been McPhatter’s temporary successor in the 1955 incarnation of the group. (The numerous lineup changes within The Drifters are confusing to say the least and I won’t delve much farther into this here.)

The song reached the #9 position on the pop charts in 1963 and it was covered by George Benson, whose smooth jazz rendition brought it back to the top ten of the charts in 1978. The song has also seen covers by The Coasters, The Dave Clark Five, Eric Carmen, Bobby Darin, Tom Jones, Johnny Mathis, James Taylor, Gary Numan, Tito Puente, Lou Rawls, Neil Young, Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra and Sly & The Family Stone. Both David Bowie and Genesis quoted the melody and lyrics of this ever popular favorite in their respective songs “Aladdin Sane” and “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.”

The flip of today’s single is “I’ve Got Sand in My Shoes” was written by Kenny Young and Arthur Resnick who also wrote “Under the Boardwalk.” This sequel is strongly reminiscent of “Under the Boardwalk,” and just as good, to boot! It’s got a great guitar line at the front of the tune, and it appeared on The Drifters’ 1965 album I’ll Take You Where the Music’s Playing. The personnel on the track includes Johnny Moore on lead vocals, Charles Thomas on tenor vocals, Eugene Pearson on baritone vocals, John Terry on bass vocals and Billy Davis on guitar. The album was the first Drifters record to be released after the death of Rudy Lewis.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: August 17th, 2015 under Music, R'n'B/Soul, The Drifters - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #64–The Beatles: “Slow Down” b/w “Matchbox” – Capitol 5255 (G7/H7)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #64–The Beatles: “Slow Down” b/w “Matchbox” – Capitol 5255 (G7/H7)

The Beatles not only had three of the greatest songwriters of all time in their band, but early on they were also great tastemakers, choosing unknown American R&B, Country, Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll tunes and repurposing them for the UK market. As a result of their world domination of the music charts, they pretty much reintroduced songs like “Please Mr. Postman,” “Rock And Roll Music,” “Anna,” “Act Naturally,” “Baby It’s You,” “You Really Got A Hold On Me,” “Money (That’s What I Want),” “Honey Don’t,” “Long Tall Sally,” “A Taste Of Honey,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Devil In Her Heart” and even a Broadway tune “Till There Was You” to the American market.

Today’s jukebox classic features two such cover records, although I have taken some liberties and flipped the single in the juke to make the B-side of the single, the A-side instead. Both of today’s songs originally appeared on the British Long Tall Sally EP released in 1964.

“Slow Down” is a cover of a Larry Williams tune from 1958. The Beatles probably first heard it as the flip side of Williams’ single “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” which they also covered. The Beatles would also return to Larry Williams’ cannon of material for a third time to record his song “Bad Boy.” Williams was a New Orleans R&B recording artist who was far more influential across the pond than here in the U.S., which is probably why The Beatles covered three of his songs.

The song has also seen covers by The Young Rascals, The Flamin’ Groovies, The Jam, Led Zeppelin, Golden Earring, Tom Jones, Elvis Costello and many others. Today, The Beatles’ recording can be found on the compilation album Past Masters Vol. 1 and also on the first Live at the BBC album.

The other side of today’s single is one of three Carl Perkins songs that the Beatles recorded. (“Honey Don’t” and “Everybody’s Tryin’ To Be My Baby” were the other two.) The song was first recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1927, but The Beatles based their version of “Matchbox” on Carl Perkins’ 1956 single version released on the Sun record label.

The Beatles began performing the song as early as 1961 with Pete Best handling the vocal chores. The group continued to perform the song and live versions have turned up from The Star Club in Hamburg, Germany featuring Lennon on vocals. By the time the group got around to performing the song for BBC radio (as heard on the Live at the BBC album), Ringo was featured on vocals. The song later turned up on The Beatles’ Long Tall Sally EP in England, and on the Something New album in America also with Ringo on the vocals.

The Beatles’ recording of “Matchbox” was issued as the A-side of today’s single in a nice picture sleeve and climbed to number 17 on the pop charts. Today, it also can be found on The Beatles’ Past Masters Volume 1 album. For the studio recording, the group was augmented by George Martin who played piano on the track.

The song has also been covered by Jerry Lee Lewis, Ronnie Hawkins, Johnny Rivers, Bob Dylan (unreleased), Derek and the Dominos, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Jeff Beck & The Big Town Playboys, Duane Eddy and “The Silver Wilburys” (featuring George Harrison, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Taj Mahal & Jesse Ed Davis).

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: August 11th, 2015 under Music, Rock, The Beatles - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #63–Bachman-Turner Overdrive: “Let It Ride” b/w “Tramp” – Mercury 73457 (E7/F7)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #63–Bachman-Turner Overdrive: “Let It Ride” b/w “Tramp” – Mercury 73457 (E7/F7)

There’s something to be said about what I call “big dumb rock records.” They’re the riff-crazy tracks that make you grab for your air guitar whilst rocking your head back and forth…oh, and don’t forget the obligatory pain-ridden facial expressions a la Carlos Santana.

We’ve all been there and I still go there today from time-to-time. Anybody who’s been to a concert with me can attest to this fact. It ain’t pretty…but it’s the rock abandon that tracks like today’s jukebox classic, “Let It Ride” conjures that makes it all happen. Simply put, the track is the consummate air guitar song and one the band’s most riff-heavy moments.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive consisted of Randy Bachman on guitar and vocals, Robbie Bachman on drums, Tim Bachman on guitar and Fred Turner on bass and vocals. During the 1970s, the band sold well over seven million albums while propelling hard rock nuggets like “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” “Takin’ Care of Business,” “Hey You” and “Roll On Down The Highway” up the charts.

The group’s leader, Randy Bachman was a founding member of The Guess Who, who charted with such classics as “These Eyes,” “Laughing, “No Time,” “American Woman,” “Share the Land” and “Albert Flasher.” After his departure from The Guess Who, Bachman recorded a solo album called Axe and then formed the band Brave Belt with Guess Who vocalist Chad Allan. Brave Belt went on to release two albums before Allan left due to creative differences. Bachman brought Fred Turner and his two brothers Tim and Robbie into the lineup forming Bachman-Turner Overdrive. When the band shopped around their debut record, they were turned away by 25 record labels before signing with Mercury Records in 1973.

Today’s jukebox classic was certainly not one of their biggest hits, but “Let It Ride” encapsulated all that was good about larger-than-life, radio-ready rock riffage of the mid-1970s. With its meat and potatoes guitar riff combined with totally relatable of-the-people, blue collar lyrics and Fred Turner’s gargled with nails vocals, the song stretched itself right down the center lane of the pop culture highway and onto the charts settling in at number 23 in 1974.

“Let It Ride” was written by Randy Bachman and Fred Turner while the band was on tour in their van. While driving, several truckers boxed the band’s van significantly slowing them down. The band followed the truckers to the next rest stop with the intent to tell them off, however upon catching a glimpse of how big they were, they decided to “Let It Ride.” (songfacts.com)

The band would have to wait for their next single, “Takin’ Care Of Business” (also from BTO II) to firmly establish themselves as top-tier hitmakers, but it was “Let It Ride” that set the groundwork for their enduring popularity.

Randy Bachman left BTO in 1977 and went on to from Ironhorse who recorded two albums that went nowhere. Bachman has since taken on reunion tours with The Guess Who and BTO.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: August 10th, 2015 under Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #62– Johnny Rivers: “Secret Agent Man” b/w “Memphis” – Liberty Silver Spotlight Series 45 XW-101 (C7/D7)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #62– Johnny Rivers: “Secret Agent Man” b/w “Memphis” – Liberty Silver Spotlight Series 45 XW-101 (C7/D7)

Johnny Rivers is a singer, songwriter, record producer and record label owner who is probably best known for the numerous live records he released featuring cover versions of popular songs recorded at The Whiskey A Go-Go on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, California. He scored numerous hits during the ‘60s and ‘70s, including “Maybellene,” “The Midnight Special,” “Mountain Of Love,” “The Seventh Son,” “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?,” “Poor Side Of Town,” “Baby I Need Your Lovin’,” “Memphis” (the B-side of today’s jukebox classic) and today’s song, “Secret Agent Man.”

“Secret Agent Man” was written by P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri for the American adaptation of the British TV spy show Danger Man. The song was picked up for use on American TV for the show Secret Agent which ran from 1964 through 1966. The original demo used the Danger Man title instead of Secret Agent Man.

The original studio incarnation of the song was one verse and the chorus, however once the song and the show gained in popularity, two more versus were written and added to the song. The full version of “Secret Agent Man” was recorded live at The Whiskey A Go-Go and released on the …And You Know You Wanna Dance album in 1966. Personnel on the album included Chuck Day on bass, Mickey Jones on drums, Larry Knechtel on organ, Joe Osborn on bass and guitar and Johnny Rivers on vocals and electric guitar. The song was later retouched in the studio before it was released as a single. The single climbed all the way to number three on the charts in 1966 and sold over one million copies. P.F. Sloan was responsible for the indelible guitar riff that drives the song.

Sloan: “Somebody thought I should do a full length instrumental of the song. So I did. Meanwhile the song was picked by CBS and Johnny Rivers recorded the quick 15-second song for the TV show. The Ventures, the genius guitar instrumental group, heard the demo and recorded and released the song way before Rivers even had a finished song. The publishers asked me to finish the song, Rivers recorded it, not one of his favorite songs back then, but he’s happier with it now.” (P.F. Sloan Website via Songfacts.com)

The song has been covered by the likes of Devo, Mel Tormé, Blotto, The Toasters, Agent Orange, Blues Traveler, Hank Williams Jr., Bruce Willis, Alvin & The Chipmunks, and dozens of punk bands who performed this song live on stage as part of their shows. The song has also been used to hawk everything from Wal-Mart to Chase Bank, and was also featured in the movies Repo Man, Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.

The flip of today’s double A-sided single is Rivers’ recording of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis” which was also recorded live at The Whiskey A Go-Go and featured on Rivers’ debut album the Johnny Rivers Live At The Whiskey A Go Go album. Rivers’ recording of “Memphis” climbed to the number two position of the charts in 1964 and also sold well over one million copies.

In 1966, Rivers’ launched his own record label called Soul City Records and signed The 5th Dimension who scored numerous hit records for the label. As the sixties faded, Rivers’ changed gears and began to record psychedelic music to keep up with the times. His Realization album was not a big hit, but is nevertheless well worth seeking out.

Rivers hit the charts again in the 1972 with “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” which climbed to number six and also sold over a million copies. He continues to perform and record to this day. If ever an artist deserved to be a member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame, Johnny Rivers is the man.

Growing up, “Secret Agent Man” was my son’s favorite song in the jukebox. When he was small he used to think the lyrics said “Secret Asian Man” and he’d run around the living room whenever it was played singing those lyrics as loud as he could. Today he’s 18 and proud to admit that he now knows better…

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: August 9th, 2015 under Johnny Rivers, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #61– The Shocking Blue: “Venus” b/w “Hot Sand” – Colossus 45 C-108 (A7/B7)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #61– The Shocking Blue: “Venus” b/w “Hot Sand” – Colossus 45 C-108 (A7/B7)

The group behind today’s jukebox classic was truly a one hit wonder in the United States, but Dutch band The Shocking Blue scored numerous hits in their native Holland. Even so, their biggest worldwide hit, “Venus” which topped the charts in seven countries, only made it to #8 on the Dutch charts.

The Shocking Blue consisted of Mariska Veres on lead vocals, Robbie van Leeuwen on guitar, Klaasje van der Wal on bass and Cor van Beek on drums. The record was produced by Jerry Ross who also found success on these shores producing “Ma Belle Amie” by Tee Set.

“Venus” is an infectious power pop confection that was based on a 1963 folk song called “The Banjo Song” which was originally released in 1963 by The Big 3 (the group that introduced Mama Cass Elliot to the world). The guitar riff also bears a strong resemblance to The Who’s “Pinball Wizard,” however all that “borrowing” shouldn’t stop anyone from loving this chart-topping single that sold well over one million copies in 1970.

A typo in the English translation of the song resulted in lead singer Mariska Veres pronouncing the word “Goddess” in the song’s first line as “Goddness.” (Listen for yourself!) (songfacts.com)The song appeared on the group’s second album At Home, which was released in 1969 and also holds the distinction of containing the original version of “Love Buzz” which Nirvana covered as their debut single in 1988.

Bananarama brought “Venus” back to the top of the US charts in 1986, and it was also brought back into the UK top ten in 1990 by dance producers The BHF (Bisiach Hornbostel Ferucci) who gave the track a house arrangement. The song has also been covered by Southern Culture On The Skids, Tom Jones and Jennifer Lopez.

The flip side of today’s single “Hot Sand,” is a fuzzed out, sitar-driven track that is every bit as good as the A-side and was not included on American copies of their debut album. It was later amended to the CD release.

The song also holds the distinction of sharing its title with another big hit from a different era, in this case “Venus” by Frankie Avalon. Other songs that hold this distinction are “My Love” by Petula Clark and Paul McCartney and “Best Of My Love” by The Emotions and The Eagles. Can you name any others?

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: August 4th, 2015 under Music, Rock, The Shocking Blue - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #60– Bobbie Gentry: “Ode To Billie Joe” b/w “Mississippi Delta” – Capitol 45-5950 (U6/V6)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #60– Bobbie Gentry: “Ode To Billie Joe” b/w “Mississippi Delta” – Capitol 45-5950 (U6/V6)

Over 45 years after its release, people still wonder what Billie Joe McAllister and his girlfriend threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge which led to Billie Joe’s suicide the following day in today’s jukebox classic, “Ode To Billie Joe.” The song is perhaps one of the greatest story songs of all time, and it unfolds over a family dinner conversation about Billie Joe’s suicide that might implicate one of the members sitting around the table.

It is one of the most asked questions Bobbie Gentry gets when people meet her, and over 45 years later, she’s still not telling. When the song was turned into a novel and then a screenplay for the 1976 movie by Herman Raucher, he met with Gentry who stated that she had no idea what was thrown off the bridge. In the book and film, Billie Joe kills himself after a homosexual experience and the object he’s seen throwing off the bridge is the narrator’s rag doll.

Gentry has gone on to say that the song was really about the indifference reflected during the casual dinner conversation relating the tale of a suicide by someone the family sitting around the table apparently knew well. Gentry: “The story of Billie Joe has two more interesting underlying themes. First, the illustration of a group of peoples’ reactions to the life and death of Billie Joe, and its subsequent effect on their lives, is made. Second, the obvious gap between the girl and her mother is shown when both women experience a common loss (first Billie Joe, and later, Papa), and yet Mama and the girl are unable to recognize their mutual loss or share their grief.” (Wikipedia)

Nevertheless, “Ode To Billie Joe” earned eight Grammy nominations, and won three for Gentry and one for arranger Jimmy Haskell in 1968.

Bobbie Gentry performed one of the greatest disappearing acts in all of music history. Unlike Elvis Presley and the still persistent Elvis sightings, Gentry really is alive and well and living in California…in glorious obscurity.

But back in 1967, you couldn’t turn a radio on without hearing her single “Ode To Billie Joe,” or tune into a variety show on TV without seeing her performing it. In her wake, Gentry left seven interesting albums of varying quality including Ode To Billie Joe, the album that established her, a duet album with Glen Campbell, and one bona-fide lost classic, The Delta Sweete, which is the criminally unknown concept album she released in 1968 about growing up in the deep South of the Mississippi Delta.

While “Ode” established Gentry with the American public, the song pretty much overshadowed the album it was culled from, as well as everything else that came after it. However, the album does hold the distinction for being the record that knocked The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper off the top of the charts after holding that position for 15 weeks in 1967.

The song was originally the B-side of a demo recording of “Mississippi Delta” that Gentry made as an audition record for Capitol. It was said to be a straight guitar and voice recording that lasted over seven minutes, encompassing eleven verses. Capitol Records realized how strong “Ode” was and had Gentry cut the song’s length in half and re-record it with strings. It was then released as the A-side with “Mississippi Delta” on the flip. The original long version of the song has never been released and it is questionable if it actually still exists at all. (songfacts.com)

Bob Dylan paid tribute to Gentry’s “Ode” with the song “Clothes Line Saga” which was recorded with The Band during the 1967 sessions for what became The Basement Tapes. The song carried the working title of “Answer To Ode” and in it Dylan parodies the conversational tone of Gentry’s song. (songfacts.com)

Gentry would go on to release six more albums before removing herself from the spotlight entirely after years of performing in Vegas and a failed TV career. She retired in 1978 at the age of 36, never to be professionally heard from again.

Both of today’s songs were culled from Gentry’s first studio album Ode To Billie Joe, and the flip of today’s single is the swampy confection “Mississippi Delta,” that kicked off the album with a very sinister horn part and infectious hook spelling Mississippi as “MI-double S-I-double S-I-double P-I.”

Today, Bobbie Gentry’s career is ripe for rediscovery. Come back Bobbie, the world is still waiting…

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: August 2nd, 2015 under Bobbie Gentry, Country, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #59– Manu Dibango: “Soul Makossa” b/w “Lily” – Atlantic 45-2971 (S6/T6)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #59– Manu Dibango: “Soul Makossa” b/w “Lily” – Atlantic 45-2971 (S6/T6)

Hailing from Cameroon, Africa, Manu Dibango established himself as an in-demand saxophone player working with acts as diverse as Fela Kuti, Don Cherry, The Fania All-Stars and Sly and Robbie.

“Soul Makossa,” Dibango’s signature disco smash, was originally released as the flip side to the 1972 single “Mouvement Ewondo” (a song about the Cameroon national football team) on the French independent Fiesta record label. The song probably would have sunk without a trace if it had not been for Manhattan socialite David Mancuso.

Mancuso was known for throwing exclusive invitation-only loft parties in New York City that served as a precursor to the city’s thriving Disco scene of the 1970s. Mancuso found a copy of the record and gave it a spin at one of his parties where it was heard by DJ Frankie Crocker, who in turn played it on WBLS, New York City’s highest rated urban radio station at the time.

The song became very popular, but the single was so rare that nine cover versions sprung up to fill the demand for the record before Atlantic Records could rush-release Dibango’s original recording in 1973. As a result of the cover versions, Dibango’s recording only climbed up to #35 on the Billboard singles chart; however the chart position didn’t realistically reflect the enormous popularity of the track.

Later, the song’s “ma-ma so, ma-ma-sa, mako-mako-sa” refrain was featured prominently in Michael Jackson’s single “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” the lead track from his Thriller album which went on to be the biggest selling album of all time. It was used without Dibango’s permission and he later settled handsomely with Jackson for use of the lyric.

Dibango released an updated version of the track in 1994, and then again in 2011 under the title “Soul Makossa 2.0.” The flip of today’s jukebox classic is “Lily,” another soul groover written by Dibango that is also from the Soul Makossa album.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: July 29th, 2015 under Disco & Dance, Manu Dibango, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #57– Cher: “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves” b/w “The Way Of Love” – MCA 60035 (N6/P6)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #57– Cher: “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves” b/w “The Way Of Love” – MCA 60035 (N6/P6)

Today’s jukebox classic is as much a testament to performance and great songwriting, as it is to timing and opportunities demonstrating the power of television when it comes to career revival. In 1971, Sonny & Cher were offered their first television variety show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour which debut in August and became a big hit. As a result, many of the songs Cher performed on the show also became her biggest hits. Case in point is today’s Song Of The Day which was performed in September of 1971 on the show, and by November it was sitting atop the charts selling over four million copies in its wake.

When it was released, it had been four years since Cher had had a top ten single with “You Better Sit Down Kids,” and this song not only marked a comeback for Cher, but put her firmly in the spotlight where she has remained ever since. It was also the song that kicked off the era of Cher as a glamour queen wearing dresses designed by Bob Makie rather than the hippie attire she was known for up to this point. As a result, she became an icon to both gay men and middle-aged housewives at the same time.

The song was from her seventh solo album which was simply titled Cher, however the album was retitled Gypsies Tramps & Thieves after the single broke big. It was Cher’s first album for a new record label (Kapp Records) and also her first without Sonny Bono at the production helm.

The song was originally titled “Gypsies, Tramps & White Trash,” but songwriter Bob Stone amended the title upon the urging of the late, great producer Snuff Garrett. The song tells a story about the cyclical nature of life from the vantage point of a sixteen year old girl from a family of gypsys whose mother dances for the men of the town, and then they move on to the next town. The daughter was “born in the wagon of a traveling show” whose mother “used to dance for the money they’d throw.” Years later, the daughter finds herself in the same position dancing for money when she meets a 21 year old guy who travels with the show. Three months later, he finds out that she’s “a girl in trouble” and she “hasn’t seen him for awhile.” The song was performed on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour TV show and was made into a video for the song in 1971.

The song is regularly used to kick off games by the Clyde F.C. Scottish football team. It was covered by the likes of Cilla Black, Vicki Lawrence, Nirvana and the English punk rock band Anti-Nowhere League, amongst others. (songfacts.com)

The flip of this double-A-sided reissue single was the top-ten title hit from Cher’s album “The Way Of Love,” which peaked on the singles charts at #7 selling over one million copies. The melody of this song shares an uncanny resemblance with Perry Como’s 1970 hit, “It’s Impossible,” so much so that Cher took to performing the two songs in a medley during concerts. (And unlike today’s litigious world, no lawsuit was ever filed…take that Pharrell and Robin Thicke)

“The Way Of Love” had its genesis in the French song “J’ai le mal de toi,” and was written by Jack Dieval with French lyrics by Michel Rivgauche. The lyrics to the English version were written by Al Stillman and the song was recorded by British singer Kathy Kirby, whose version of the song charted at #88 on the U.S. Billboard charts in 1965. The song’s lyrics were somewhat ambiguous as to whether the relationship was between a man and a woman, a mother and a daughter, or most notoriously by two women, further giving Cher credibility with her gay fans. (songfacts.com)

The song was covered by Ronnie James Dio in 1964 with his group Ronnie Dio and the Prophets, and has also seen covers by such middle-of-the-road artists as Vikki Carr and Shirley Bassey.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: July 27th, 2015 under Cher, Easy Listening, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #56– Waylon Jennings: “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line” b/w “Right Before My Eyes” – RCA Victor 47-9561 (K6/L6)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #56– Waylon Jennings: “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line” b/w “Right Before My Eyes” – RCA Victor 47-9561 (K6/L6)

He chartered and most famously gave up his seat to The Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) on the plane that took the lives of The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens on “The Day the Music Died” in February of 1959. He was also one of the lead purveyors of the 1970s Outlaw Movement in country music, crossing country music into the world of rock ‘n’ roll. His album Wanted! The Outlaws, that he recorded with Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser and Jessi Colter, went on to become the first platinum country album, and he recorded as one fourth of the country super group, The Highwaymen along with Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson.

Waylon Jennings’ over-thirty year list of hits includes such classics as “Stop The World (And Let Me Off), “(That’s What You Get) For Loving Me,” “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” “The Taker,” “Good Hearted Woman,” “Sweet Dream Woman,” “This Time,” “I’m a Ramblin’ Man,” “Rainy Day woman,” “We Had It All,” “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way,” “Are You Ready For The Country,” “Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love),” “The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don’t Want To Get Over You),” “I’ve Always Been Crazy,” “Amanda,” “Come With Me,” “I Ain’t Living Long Like This,” “Theme From The Dukes Of Hazzard (Good Ol’ Boys),” “Lucille,” “Will The Wolf Survive,” and dozens of others.

Today’s jukebox classic was written by “The Fastest Guitar in the Country,” Jimmy Bryant, who was a well-known session guitarist. (He also played the fiddle on The Monkees’ “Sweet Young Thing” from their debut album.) “Only Daddy” was released as a single in 1968 from Jennings’ Only The Greatest album which also included his #5 hit “Walk On Out Of My Mind” and Jennings’ cover of Neil Diamond’s “Kentucky Woman.” During the recording of the album, Jennings was at odds with producer Chet Atkins and the brass at RCA Victor Records over their penchant of using studio musicians instead of his touring band.

As a result, the record features members of Jennings’ band and a host of studio greats including Wayne Moss, Fred Carter, Pete Wade, Ray Edenton and Chip Young on guitars, Roy Huskey, Norman Putman and Bobby Dyson on bass, Pete Drake on pedal steel, Buddy Harman, Jerry Carrigan and Richie Albright on drums, Hargus “Pig” Robbins, David Briggs and Larry Butler on piano, Charlie McCoy on trumpet and organ and Harold Ragsdale on vibes.

The track peaked at #2 on the Country charts for five weeks in September of 1968 and features Jennings’ plainspoken straightforward delivery atop a chugging honky-tonk guitar intro, and some down-home front porch harmonica playing. It has been covered by the likes of Linda Ronstadt (who changed the gender of the song) and toured with it as part of her repertoire for years, and The Kentucky Headhunters who brought the song back to the country charts (#60) in 1991.

The flip of the single, “Right Before My Eyes” was written by Don Bowman and Jackson King and was featured on Jennings’ previous album from 1968 called Hangin’ On. Bowman is also known as the recording artist who brought the song “Chit Atkins, Make Me A Star” to the country charts in 1964. In 2001, Jennings was inducted into The Country Music Hall Of Fame. He died from complications of diabetes in February of 2002.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: July 26th, 2015 under Country, Music, Waylon Jennings - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #55– R.B. Greaves: “Take A Letter Maria” b/w “Big Bad City” – Atco 45-6714 (I6/J6)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #55– R.B. Greaves: “Take A Letter Maria” b/w “Big Bad City” – Atco 45-6714 (I6/J6)

There’s always been a fine line between country and soul music (i.e. Charley Pride), but never has the line been so thin than on today’s Song of the Day. “Take A Letter Maria,” by R.B. Greaves features a soulful mariachi-flavored horn part that would fit comfortably on both a country and soul track.

The song was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama featuring their crack studio crew including Roger Hawkins on drums, Barry Beckett on electric piano, Eddie Hinton and Jimmy Johnson on guitars, David Hood on bass and Mel Lastie on trumpet. Most of the musicians on the record had recently broken away from FAME studios where they were featured on many Atlantic recordings to start out on their own.

David Hood: “It was our first big hit. First gold record after we had gone out on our own. We were getting pretty nervous, because we thought Atlantic was going to quit using us and we were going to go broke. So it was a big relief when R.B. Greaves came along. ‘Take a Letter, Maria’ was just a fluke. We all thought it was good when we cut it, but we didn’t think it was anything all that special. And here it becomes a hit.” (Song Facts.com)

The song was written by Greaves, but was recorded by both Tom Jones and Stevie Wonder before he committed it to wax at the insistence of producer and record label boss Ahmet Ertegun. It reached the #2 slot on the Billboard pop charts in August of 1969 and sold over a million copies. It also spawned two charting country covers by Anthony Armstrong Jones who brought the song to #8 in 1970, and Doug Stone who landed the song at #45 on the Country charts in 1999. The song has also been covered by the likes of New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Gary Puckett, Boots Randolph, Jimmy Ruffin, Mel Tormé and Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers.

The song was featured on the album R.B. Greaves which was produced by Ahmet Ertegun. David Hood: “He (Ertegun) was a tremendous recognizer of talent and of songs. He knew music and musicians about as well as anybody on earth, but he was very hands off. He sat in the control room…He had his feet propped up on the console and had a yellow legal pad in his lap. We thought, gosh, he’s making all these notes and doing all this stuff. And we go in there, and he’d just been doodling and drawing stars and stuff.” (SongFacts.com)

The album includes covers of Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” and “Ain’t That Good News,” and five songs that were penned by Greaves. (R.B. Greaves was the nephew of Sam Cooke.) The flip of the single is another Greaves composition that did not turn up on his debut Atco album.

Greaves continued to have moderate chart success with such covers as Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “There’s Always Something There To Remind Me” and Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” before leaving Atco Records in the early 1970s. His only other chart single was “Margie, Who’s Watching The Baby,” which bubbled under at #115 in 1972. Greaves died of prostate cancer in September of 2012 at the age of 68.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: July 22nd, 2015 under Music, R'n'B/Soul, R.B. Greaves - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #54– Chuck Berry: “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” b/w “Too Much Monkey Business” – Chess 45-1635 (G6/H6)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #54– Chuck Berry: “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” b/w “Too Much Monkey Business” – Chess 45-1635 (G6/H6)

The great thing about having a jukebox is that you can make the B-side of a single the A-side with a flip of the record in the slot. Today’s jukebox classic is one such record that I purchased specifically for the B-side and changed them around.

“Brown Eyed Handsome Man” was the flip side of Chuck Berry’s fifth single for Chess Records, “Too Much Monkey Business,” and was also from his 1956 debut album After School Session. The track was recorded in April of 1956 and features Johnnie Johnson on piano, L.C. Davis on tenor sax, Willie Dixon on bass and Fred Below on drums. Even though the song was designated as the B-side of the single, it still managed to place at #5 on the R&B charts. It was also one of the few singles in the juke that was originally released as a 78rpm first.

Berry was one of the first literary rock and roll songwriters whose sophisticated prose and observational skills created songs that described his world with pinpoint accuracy. “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” was a sly comment on race relations that was written after Berry witnessed an arrest of a Hispanic man in California. In it, Berry also brags about the appeal of black men to white women, much to the chagrin of 1950s white America.

The song has been covered by the likes of Buddy Holly, Johnny Rivers, Nina Simone, Waylon Jennings, Robert Cray, Paul McCartney, and it was also performed by Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley when they convened at Sun Studios for the relaxed jam session that is now known as The Million Dollar Quartet.

The real A-side to the single is “Too Much Monkey Business,” that according to Chuck Berry’s autobiography was meant to describe the types of hassles a person encounters in everyday life. The song was recorded at the same session as its flip and also featured Johnnie Johnson on piano, Willie Dixon on bass and Fred Below on drums. The song climbed to #4 on the Billboard Jukebox Play chart.

It has been covered by the likes of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Hollies, The Yardbirds, the Kinks and Eric Clapton to name but a few, and the song was a huge influence on Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: July 21st, 2015 under Chuck Berry, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #53– Mary Wells: “The One Who Really Loves You” b/w “I’m Gonna Stay” – Motown 45 MT-1024 (C6/D6)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #53– Mary Wells: “The One Who Really Loves You” b/w “I’m Gonna Stay” – Motown 45 MT-1024 (C6/D6)

She was Motown’s first big star and a favorite of The Beatles , and songs like this Smokey Robinson-penned gem that climbed to the #2 position of the R&B charts and the #8 position of the pop charts in 1962 are the reason why.

Wells came to Motown after passing Berry Gordy a song demo that she had intended for Jackie Wilson to record. Gordy had her sing the song for him and was suitably impressed enough to have her record “Bye Bye Baby” and released it as her first single which climbed to #8 on the R&B charts in 1961.

After this success, Gordy teamed her up with Smokey Robinson. Today’s jukebox classic was one in a long line of hits composed specifically for Mary Wells by Smokey Robinson, that also included “My Guy,” You Beat Me To The Punch” and “Two Lovers,” that established Wells as Motown’s first big star before leaving the company at the height of her powers in 1964.

“The One Who Really Loves You” is one of the finest examples of Robinson’s compositional magnificence. The song features a super-catchy ear worm of a tune highlighted by Wells’ cool lilting vocal that projects just the right amount of adult sophistication aloft in the mix. It all comes to you backed by a Harry Belafonte- influenced Calypso beat and smooth harmony vocals by The Love Tones (Carl Jones, Joe Marls & Stanford Bracely) who recorded backing vocals on many Motown sessions in 1962, but were never afforded a single of their own. The song was from Wells’ 1962 album of the same name which also included hit single “You Beat Me To The Punch.”

The flip of the single is every bit as good as the A-side, and was culled from Mary Wells’ 1961 debut Motown album called Bye Bye Baby I Don’t Want To Take A Chance. The single was reissued in 1965 after Wells left the label with the sides flipped to minimal chart action.

Wells’ success came to an end at Motown after a dispute with the label over the royalties from her recording of “My Guy” which she claimed were used to promote The Supremes’ single “Where Did Our Love Go” rather than one of her own records. Wells freed herself from Motown giving up royalties from the records she recorded for the label and the use of her own likeness to promote them, and signed with 20th Century Fox records where she had little chart success.

After recording many good records for Atco, Jubilee and Reprise that failed to chart, she finally found herself back on the charts again in 1981 with the Disco hit “Gigolo.” More records followed for a succession of smaller record labels that offered little promotion until Wells was diagnosed with cancer in 1990. She also sued Motown for unpaid royalties and reached a settlement with the label. Wells succumbed to laryngeal cancer in July of 1992 at the age of 49 leaving a legacy of soulful gems in her wake that are ripe for reinvestigation.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: July 20th, 2015 under Mary Wells, Music, R'n'B/Soul - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #52– The Monkees: “Pleasant Valley Sunday” b/w “Words” – Colgems 45 66-1007 (C6/D6)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #52– The Monkees: “Pleasant Valley Sunday” b/w “Words” – Colgems 45 66-1007 (C6/D6)

You know you’re really talented when you can write a song as great as “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” and then give it away for someone else to record. In this case, the songwriters are Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and the lucky recipients were The Monkees whose recording of the song climbed to the #3 position of the singles charts in 1967.

“Pleasant Valley Sunday” is a comment on social stature and suburban life that takes place on a street (Pleasant Valley Way) in upper crust West Orange, New Jersey, where King and her husband, Gerry Goffin, were living at the time. (It’s about five minutes away from where my mother currently lives.) The hilly winding neighborhood is the epitome of tree-lined suburban living with large palatial houses sporting well-manicured lawns that are visited regularly by landscaping companies.

The song hails from the group’s fourth and most consistent long player, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. Not only is it the group’s very best album…it is also one of the best albums to come out in 1967, the year that gave us classics like Sgt. Pepper, The Doors, Are You Experienced, Surrealistic Pillow, John Wesley Harding, Disraeli gears, Piper At The Gates of Dawn and The Velvet Underground And Nico.

Like their previous Headquarters album, the group actually played their own instruments on Pisces, rather than being forced to sit on the sidelines while session musicians did their bidding in the studio. Due to the popularity of their TV show and hit singles, the group had gained enough clout by 1967 to demand that they play all of the instruments on their records which they opted to do on Headquarters. For Pisces, they were again augmented by studio session musicians including Eddie Hoh on drums, Chip Douglas and Bill Martin on piano, Chip Douglas on bass, Douglas Dillard on banjo and Paul Beaver on Moog synthesizer, but ultimately played most of the instruments themselves.

All of the band members played on the “Pleasant Valley Sunday” single except for Mickey Dolenz who is one of the two lead vocalists on the track along with Mike Nesmith. The album was produced by Chip Douglas who plays the drums here. The Mono and Stereo version of the song have entirely different vocal tracks, and the Mono version was the one used on the single.

The album was notable for being one of the first rock albums to feature the newly invented Moog synthesizer. Mickey Dolenz had purchased one of the first twenty Moog synthesizers available and used it on the tracks “Daily Nightly” and “Love Is Only Sleeping” giving the album a psychedelic edge. (Paul Beaver of Beaver & Krause is heard playing the synth on the track “Star Collector.”)

The album’s title comes from the astrological signs of each band member: Mickey Dolenz is a Pisces, Peter Tork is an Aquarius and Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones were both Capricorns. Since Nesmith and Jones shared the same birthday (December 30th), they added Jones’ name to the title to delineate the two Capricorns.

It is by far their most consistent platter including some of the group’s best material including “Cuddly Toy,” “Star Collector,” “Salesman,” “She Hangs Out,” “The Door Into Summer” and the two songs that make up today’s jukebox classic. It sold three million copies and topped the album charts in 1967.

The flip of the single is the Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart song “Words,” one of the group’s most psychedelic singles. Dolenz and Peter Tork are heard doubling up on the lead vocals, and the song climbed its way to the number eleven position of the charts which was no small feat considering that it was the flip of the single. It was the second time the group took a crack at recording the song, the first was for their second album More Of The Monkees. As with “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” the single version of “Words” is different than the album version. The song was featured in five different episodes of their TV show.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: July 14th, 2015 under Music, Rock, The Monkees - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #51– The Cryan’ Shames: “I Wanna Meet You” b/w “We Could Be Happy” – Columbia 4-43836 (A6/B6)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #51– The Cryan’ Shames: “I Wanna Meet You” b/w “We Could Be Happy” – Columbia 4-43836 (A6/B6)

The Cryan’ Shames hail from the Chicago suburb of Hinsdale, Illinois and consisted of Tom “Toad” Doody (vocals), Gerry “Stonehenge” Stone (guitar), Dave “Grape” Purple (keyboards), Denny Conroy (drums), Jim Fairs (guitar), Jim “J.C. Hooke” Pilster (who was born without a left hand and wore a hook in its place) (tambourine) and Bill Hughes. The group formed in 1966 under the name The Travelers, but soon found out that name was already taken. When trying to decide on a new name, Hooke commented that it was a cryan’ shame that they had to find a new name…hence, their new name.

Their first big U.S. hit was a cover of “Sugar And Spice” which was a big British hit by The Searchers in 1963. The song was written by Tony Hatch under the pseudonym of Fred Nightingale. While The Cryan’ Shames’ version was a minor hit, climbing to the #49 position on the national charts, it did top the local Chicago charts on WLS. Such would be the fate of the band as they moved forward.

The group started out as primarily a cover band that performed hits of the day by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Byrds, adept at handling harmonies with four vocalists in their ranks. Pilster also gave the band some visual novelty value as he was a one-handed tambourine player.

The band released their first album Sugar and Spice on Columbia Records in 1967 featuring a clutch of original tunes written by Jim Fairs, plus covers of current hits of the day including “(Love Is Like A) Heatwave,” “Hey Joe,” “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” “If I Needed Someone” and “Sugar And Spice.”

Today’s jukebox classic was the follow up single to “Sugar And Spice” which was not a big hit only climbing to a paltry number 85 on the singles charts. But chart position doesn’t always translate to quality, for if it did, the Jim Fairs original, “I Wanna Meet You” would have topped the charts all over the world. The song makes a case for all that was great about The Cryan’ Shames: tight, heavenly four-part harmonies accompanied by rough and tumble instrumentation, which easily paved the way for the sunshine pop sounds that followed on their second album. The flip of the single was a far more easy listening affair that was also featured on the album.

The group continued to release singles throughout the end of the 1960s that charted much better locally than on the national charts. Along the way, the group lost several key members to the draft until they finally broke up at the end of 1969.

Growing up on the east coast, The Cryan Shames’ was known for its sole top-fifty hit and nothing else. What I’ve picked up in the 15 years I’ve lived in the Chicago suburbs is that the The Cryan Shames was a legendary band that is still loved and revered all these years later.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: July 13th, 2015 under Music, Rock, The Cryan Shames - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #50– Johnny Mathis: “Chances Are” b/w “The Twelfth Of Never” – Columbia 45 4-40993 (U5/V5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #50– Johnny Mathis: “Chances Are” b/w “The Twelfth Of Never” – Columbia 45 4-40993 (U5/V5)

Fluff piece…or Pure Pop for Then People? Neither of the above…just another great jukebox classic.

Smooth and intimate. Those are adjectives you don’t hear that often to describe much of the music being made today. But there was a time when smooth and intimate was the basis for an entire genre of music. I’m talking about Pop Music…The Pop music of the pre-rock era…Pop music your mom and pop listened to. Real pop music…Mitch Miller Pop…Ray Conniff Pop…Pop music that came from unforgettable singers like Doris Day, Bobby Vinton, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett and, of course Johnny Mathis.

Sure, there were many more accomplished vocalists back then too, vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé and Carmen McRae, who worked with some of the finest jazz players and arrangers of the day. But, with the exception of Sinatra and Cole, they really didn’t rule the airwaves.

So, if Michael Jackson was the King of Pop of the ’80s and beyond, then Johnny Mathis was his predecessor, the king of late 1950s and early 1960s pop. (I guess that leaves Barry Manilow for the 1970s.)

“Chances Are” was written by the songwriting team of Robert Allen and Al Stillman. They were the same team that also wrote Mathis’ “It’s Not For Me To Say,” The Four Lads’ “Moments To Remember,” “No Not Much,” “Enchanted Island,” and the holiday classic “Home For The Holidays.”

It’s all pillow talk from Mathis. The first thing that gets you is the fabulous echo-laden sound that puts the listener smack dab in the middle of cloud nine, provided courtesy of producer Mitch Miller. Then there’s the piano, gently caressing and embellishing the melody. But it all wouldn’t mean a hill of beans if it wasn’t for the gossamer-smooth Mathis magic on the vocals. “Chances Are” is one of the iconic records of the late 1950s. It’s a heavenly slice of pop production and much more than just a great song, it’s a great record. It’s the culmination of songwriting craft, performance and production that creates the whole sonic picture, and makes this record one for the ages.

When released as a single back in 1957, “Chances Are” soared all the way to the number four spot on the charts, while its flip side, “The Twelfth Of Never” also became a big hit.

“The Twelfth Of Never” was written by Jerry Livingston and Paul Francis Webster and when it was released as the flip of “Chances Are” in 1957, it rose to the #9 position of the pop charts. The song’s melody (minus the bridge) was based on the old English folk song called “The Riddle Song” which is also known as “I Gave My Love A Cherry.”

The song was also brought to the charts by Cliff Richard who scored a #8 UK hit with it in 1964 and Donny Osmond who rode the song to the #8 position in the US, while topping the UK charts with the song in 1973. Others who have had their way with the song include Nina Simone, Cher, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell, Johnny Nash, Roger Miller, The Chi-Lites, Tammy Wynette, Roger Whittaker, Olivia Newton-John, Dolly Parton, Barry Manilow and Jeff Buckley.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: July 12th, 2015 under Easy Listening, Johnny Mathis, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #49– Nilsson: “Everybody’s Talkin’” b/w “I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City” – RCA Gold Standard 45 447-0838 (S5/T5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #49– Nilsson: “Everybody’s Talkin’” b/w “I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City” – RCA Gold Standard 45 447-0838 (S5/T5)

Harry Nilsson was a puzzlement. He was a brilliant songwriter who wrote some of the greatest pops songs of the 1960s. Songs like “One” (Three Dog Night), “Cuddly Toy” (The Monkees) and “Without Her” (Glen Campbell) came pouring from his pen providing many artists with some of their biggest hits. Yet the hits he scored on the charts were primarily written by others. Go figure…

Today’s jukebox classic is one of Nilsson’s biggest hits; some would say it is his signature song. And it is one that Nilsson (the songwriter) did not write. “Everybody’s Talkin’” was written and originally recorded by singer/songwriter Fred Neil. Neil was a big deal of the Greenwich Village folk music scene in New York City of the early 1960s.

Neil’s version was the last song written and recorded for his essential eponymously titled album which was released by Capitol Records in 1967. Neil was itching to get back to Florida and the ocean but needed one more song for his debut album. The song was hastily written as an afterthought at the urging of his producer, and recorded in one take. The album also included Neil’s song “The Dolphins” (covered most famously by Jefferson Airplane). In fact, several years after recording the song, Neil made good on the promise of the lyrics and gave up the music business entirely in favor of living in Florida near the ocean, working with dolphins until the end of his life in 2001.

Nilsson recorded the song at the behest of his producer Rick Jarrard for his second album Aerial Ballet in 1968. The Beatles’ press officer Derek Taylor was a big fan of Nilsson’s 1967 debut album Pandemonium Shadow Show, and famously ordered a case load of the album and gave them out to all of his friends including The Beatles who also became huge fans and good friends with Nilsson.

Taylor suggested Nilsson to film director John Schlesinger who was actively looking for a theme song to his current movie Midnight Cowboy. Schlesinger had been using Nilsson’s recording of “Everybody’s Talkin’” as a place holder in the film until the right song came along. Nilsson suggested that he use “I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City,” a song he wrote from his 1969 Harry album for use in the film. Schlesinger had grown so used to hearing the song matched with the corresponding scene that he decided to keep “Everybody’s Talkin’” in the film. At the same time, Bob Dylan also pitched a newly-penned song that he specifically composed for the film called “Lay Lady Lay,” however his submission came too late for its inclusion. Ultimately, Dylan’s recording of “Lay Lady Lay” became one of his biggest hits climbing all the way to #7 on the singles charts in 1969.

After its appearance in the movie, Nilsson’s version climbed to the #6 position of the singles charts in 1969 and sold over a million copies. It also won Nilsson a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Male in 1970. After the song became a hit for Nilsson, Capitol Records rereleased Fred Neil’s self-titled 1967 album under the name Everybody’s Talkin’ and released his version as a single.

The song has been covered numerous times by artists including Tom Jones, The Beach Boys, The Ventures, Tony Bennett, Matthew Sweet, Neil diamond, Arlo Guthrie, Percy Faith, The Four Tops, Iggy Pop, Engelbert Humperdinck, Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison, The Kingston Trio, Liza Minnelli, Chet Atkins, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Buffett, Willie Nelson, Bill Withers, Linda Eder, Dwight Yoakam and many others. Nilsson’s version of the song is also heard in the films Forrest Gump, Borat and The Hangover III.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: July 7th, 2015 under Harry Nilsson, Midnight Cowboy/John Barry, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #48– Argent: “Hold Your Head Up”

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #48– Argent: “Hold Your Head Up” b/w “God Gave Rock And Roll To You” – Epic Memory Lane Series 45 15-2332 (Q5/R5)

When the British Invasion band The Zombies disintegrated in 1969 before the posthumous release of their biggest hit single “Time Of The Season,” keyboardist Rod Argent formed the band Argent with Jim Rodford on bass, Bob Henrit on drums and Russ Ballard on guitar. (The latter two musicians were members of the group Unit 4+2, the subject of The Jukebox Series #33.)

While The Zombies’ music consisted of finely tuned ear worms that were designed to climb up the charts and go directly into the hearts of music fans around the world, Argent’s music was a far more difficult mix of jazz, prog rock and classical influences. While the group’s first two albums didn’t make any significant waves on the single or album charts, the song “Liar” from their debut became a top ten hit by Three Dog Night.

Today’s jukebox classic is the song Argent is best known for. “Hold Your Head Up” was written by Rod Argent and Chris White (who also wrote songs for The Zombies) and was released in 1972 on their third album All Together Now. The heavily edited single version of the song (from 6:15 on the album down to 3:15 for the single) sold over a million copies and climbed to the #5 spot of the U.S. and UK pop charts. (For our purposes, today’s audio clip is of the far superior unedited version of the song.)

With its propulsive beat, layered vocal harmonies and long sinuous organ solo, the song grabbed hold of the AM charts in 1972, and fit in perfectly alongside tracks by Yes, Genesis and Jethro Tull on the FM radio playlists of the early 1970s. Over the years, the song has been covered by the likes of Steppenwolf, Uriah Heap and the 1980s hard rock band Mr. Big.

The flip of today’s single is “God Gave Rock And Roll To You” which is probably best known by the covers it spawned by KISS and the Christian rock band Petra. The song was actually recorded during sessions for Argent’s All Together Now album but was not released as a single until it appeared on their 1973 album In Deep.

The KISS cover of the song (titled “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You II”) was featured in the 1991 film Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and its soundtrack album, and later appeared on KISS’ Revenge album. Petra converted the song into a well-known Christian rock anthem and recorded it twice, once on their 1977 album Come And Join Us, and again on 1984’s Beat The System.

After running its course with little follow up success, Argent broke up in 1976 and Jim Rodford joined The Kinks while Rod Argent focused on producing albums. The original lineup reformed in 2010 for the High Voltage Festival in London, and these days Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone (of The Zombies) tour under their own names and as The Zombies performing Argent and Zombies hits.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: July 6th, 2015 under Argent, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,