News for the ‘Easy Listening’ Category

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.

Edited: November 18th, 2015

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.

Edited: November 16th, 2015

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.

Edited: August 25th, 2015

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.

Edited: July 27th, 2015

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.

Edited: July 12th, 2015

4th Of July Playlist

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4th Of July Playlist

Here’s my own personal 4th Of July Playlist. I’m sure there are songs you feel deserving of such an endeavor. If so, add them and let me know…

 

  1. Woody Guthrie: This Land Is Your Land http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaI5IRuS2aE
  2. Ray Charles: America The Beautiful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRUjr8EVgBg
  3. The Beach Boys: Spirit Of America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc0cvsSwvs0
  4. Grateful Dead: U.S. Blues http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPBLfzTPCDc
  5. Chicago: Saturday In The Park https://youtu.be/PLiMy4NaSKc
  6. John Mellencamp: Pink Houses http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOfkpu6749w
  7. Los Lobos: One Time One Night https://youtu.be/cjq4y9EFLMA
  8. X: 4th Of July https://youtu.be/lhu807VUY24
  9. Aimee Mann: 4th Of July https://youtu.be/vOYI85anqmQ
  10. Bruce Springsteen: 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) https://youtu.be/KgFHM8HMbWQ
  11. Hair Original Cast: Don’t Put It Down https://youtu.be/_w2gyWE0M0k
  12. West Side Story Original Soundtrack: America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy6wo2wpT2k
  13. David Bowie: Young Americans http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFudBQcplj4
  14. The Clash: I’m So Bored With The U.S.A. https://youtu.be/A13vj5vdlCU
  15. Devo: Freedom Of Choice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVGINIsLnqU
  16. Neil Diamond: America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3S7mlRYL-8
  17. Paul Simon: American Tune http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE3kKUEY5WU
  18. Johnny Cash: Ragged Old Flag http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbbGi3mTjCo
  19. Jimi Hendrix: The Star Spangled Banner http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_3uHYd7pV0

 

Edited: July 4th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #39 – Glen Campbell: “Wichita Lineman” b/w “Galveston” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 6093 (S4/T4)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #39 – Glen Campbell: “Wichita Lineman” b/w “Galveston” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 6093 (S4/T4)

Glen Campbell’s long, storied career is Forrest Gump-like in its nature. He was a member of The Champs, who sent the hit “Tequila” up the charts (before he joined them). He was part of The Wrecking Crew, the West Coast studio elite session musicians who played on literally hundreds of hits during the 1960s by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, The Monkees, The 5th Dimension, Jan & Dean, The Beach Boys and Elvis Presley, to name but a few. He was also a touring member of The Beach Boys replacing Brian Wilson on the road in 1964-1965, and playing on the group’s masterpiece Pet Sounds.

He’s a recording artist in his own rite that has sold millions of records and won countless Grammy, Country Music Association and Academy Of Country Music Awards. He’s also a member of the Country Hall Of Fame and was a popular TV host of his own Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour variety show whose connections in the music industry allowed him to feature top-shelf musical guests including The Beatles (on film), The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and dozens of others. He was also a movie star who shared the screen with John Wayne in the film True Grit.

Today’s jukebox classic is a double-shot of Jimmy Webb-penned classics performed by Glen Campbell. The A-side of today’s jukebox single (if you can actually delegate A & B sides to two songs this strong) is “Wichita Lineman,” a million-selling #3 hit from 1968. The song was written by Jimmy Webb who also wrote classic sixties hits like “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Up-Up And Away” and “MacArthur Park.”

Webb’s inspiration for the song came from a drive he took through the telephone pole-lined roads of Washita County, Oklahoma. As he passed through an endless stream of telephone poles, he noticed a single county lineman in the distance working atop one of the poles. He saw the man as a picture of loneliness, which got him reflecting back on a failed relationship he had with a woman who also served as the inspiration for his song “MacArthur Park.” Webb placed himself on top of the pole speaking into the telephone receiver for the song.

Webb: “I’ve never worked with high-tension wires or anything like that. My characters were all ordinary guys. They were all blue-collar guys who did ordinary jobs…They came from places like Galveston and Wichita and places like that…I (had) a very specific image of a guy I saw working up on the wires out in the Oklahoma panhandle one time with a telephone in his hand talking to somebody. And this exquisite aesthetic balance of all these telephone poles just decreasing in size as they got further and further away from the viewer – that being me – and as I passed him, he began to diminish in size. The country is so flat, it was like this one quick snapshot of this guy rigged up on a pole with this telephone in his hand. And this song came about, really, from wondering what that was like, what it would be like to be working up on a telephone pole and what would you be talking about? Was he talking to his girlfriend? Probably just doing one of those checks where they called up and said, ‘Mile marker 46,’ you know. ‘Everything’s working so far.’” (SongFacts.com)

The song’s orchestral swells were created by Al DeLory to reflect the shimmering sound of the wind “singing through the wires” atop the poles. The musicians playing on the track were all Wrecking Crew stalwarts including Campbell, Al Casey and James Burton on guitar, Carol Kaye on bass, Jim Gordon on drums and Al DeLory on piano. It has been covered by the likes of Tom Jones, Johnny Mathis, Robert Goulet, Andy Williams, Bobby Goldsboro, Engelbert Humperdink, Jose Feliciano, Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66, James Taylor and R.E.M.

On the flip is Campbell’s take on an anti-war song that Jimmy Webb wrote while hanging out on the beaches of Galveston, Texas. It came to Campbell’s attention via Hawaiian singer Don Ho, who recorded a version of the song that was released as the flip side of his “Has Anybody Lost A Love” single in 1968. When Ho appeared on Campbell’s Goodtime Hour TV show in 1969, he gave him a copy of his recording of the song and suggested that he give it a whirl in the studio.

When Campbell recorded the song, he changed the lyrics, replacing the line “Wonder if she could forget me, I’d go home if they would let me, put down this gun and go to Galveston” with “I still hear your sea waves crashing/as I watch the cannons flashing/ I clean my gun/And dream of Galveston.”

Campbell’s version climbed to #4 on the Billboard Pop Charts, and topped the Country and Easy Listening charts in 1969. It also sold over a million copies. “Galveston” was the title track of his 1969 album of the same name which topped the Country Charts and charted at #2 pop. Like his previous album, the musicians included such Wrecking Crew stalwarts as Campbell and Al Casey on guitar, Hal Blaine and Bob Felts on drums, Jo Osborne on bass and Dennis McCarthy on piano.

Currently Campbell is battling Alzheimer’s disease. After completing his final album, he took to the road several years ago. The exceptional documentary I’ll Be Me follows him on his last tour before retiring for good.

“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.

Edited: June 7th, 2015

The Jukebox Series #35 – Neil Diamond: “Solitary Man”

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #35 – Neil Diamond: “Solitary Man” b/w “The Time Is Now” – Bang 45 RPM Single 45 578 (K4/L4)

I’ve always been willing and able to give Neil Diamond a pass for syrupy hits like “September Morn,” “Heartlight,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” and the many other middle of the road cringe-worthy songs that he cut during the 1980s, in exchange for the greatness of hits like “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Holly Holy,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “I Am…I Said,” “Song Sung Blue,” “Cherry Cherry,” “Kentucky Woman,” “Thank The Lord For The Night Time,” “I’m A Believer,” “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon,” and today’s jukebox classic, the sublime “Solitary Man.” How could you not?

“Solitary Man” was Neil Diamond’s first single as a recording artist after seeing success as a songwriter of hits for others around the Brill Building. Diamond was one of the first signees to the Bang record label which was formed in 1965 by Bert Berns, Ahmet Ertegun, Neshui Ertegun and Jerry (Gerald) Wexler. (Their first initials gave the label its name.) Some of Berns’ other early signings on the label were The Strangeloves (“I Want Candy”), The McCoys (“Hang On Sloopy”) and Van Morrison (“Brown Eyed Girl”).

“Solitary Man” was produced by Diamond’s Brill Building cohorts Jeff Barrie and Ellie Greenwich and it was a minor hit when released as a single in 1966 climbing to #50 on the pop singles charts. After signing with UNI Records and having more mainstream success, the song was re-released as a single by Bang in 1970 and it charted again at #21.

Neil Diamond: “Solitary Man was my first song where I tried to really raise the level of my songwriting. It was inspired by the Beatles’ song ‘Michelle,’ which was also written in a minor key. I don’t think I’d ever written a song in a minor key before, it was the first and it kind of broke the dam for me.” (Mojo) It was also an early example of Diamond looking inside to write more personal material about himself. Diamond: “After four years of Freudian analysis I realized I had written ‘Solitary Man’ about myself.” (Pete Paphides from The Times.)

The song was the lead track on Diamond’s debut album for Bang called The Feel Of Neil Diamond. The album included several original compositions including “Cherry Cherry,” “Do It” and “Oh No No (I’ve Got A Feelin’),” plus covers of “Hanky Panky,” “Red Rubber Ball,” “Monday Monday” and “La Bamba.”

The song has been covered by Johnny Cash, Cliff Richard, Chris Isaak, T.G. Sheppard (who scored a #14 Country hit with the song in 1976), Billy Joe Royal, Johnny Rivers, Jay And The Americans, The Sidewinders, B.J. Thomas, the metal band HIM (who took the song into the UK top ten) and many others.

Diamond was one of Bang Records’ early success stories, but he left the label and signed to UNI records because he felt that Berns was holding him back artistically by not releasing his introspective song “Shilo” as a single. After Berns died suddenly in December of 1967, his wife took control of the label and she took to releasing older Diamond song as singles in order to compete with his latest output for UNI. And wouldn’t you know it that one of the singles she released was “Shilo,” which climbed into the top forty.

The flip of today’s single was one of two B-sides that graced the “Solitary Man” single. The original 1966 issue of the single featured the track “Do It” on the flip; the 1970 rerelease featured the bluesy “The Time Is Now.”

The Neil Diamond we hear on “The Time Is Now” isn’t the syrupy sweet balladeer of “Heartlight” and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” nor is it the fun-loving Brill building party boy of “Cherry Cherry.” Instead, we get a rough-cut Diamond totally ensconced in the blues.

Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Additionally, he was an honoree at the Kennedy Center Honors in 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.

Edited: May 28th, 2015

The Jukebox Series #34 – Dusty Springfield: “The Look Of Love”

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #34 – Dusty Springfield: “The Look Of Love” b/w “All I See Is You” – 45 RPM Single 45 (I4/J4)

Her voice was smooth, and her delivery was as sultry as it comes. While she was a much bigger star in her native England, Dusty Springfield sent numerous singles up the charts on these shores as well, including “I Only Want To Be With You” (#12/1963), “Wishin’ And Hopin’” (#6/1963), “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” (#3/1964 UK), “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (#4/1966), “Son Of A Preacher Man (#10/1969), “The Windmills Of Your Mind” (#31/1969) and “What Have I Done To Deserve This” with The Pet Shop Boys (#2/1987).

She was also credited with introducing the Motown Sound to English music fans by helming a special edition of the British music TV show Ready Steady Go!, that featured the first UK TV appearances by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, The Temptations, The Supremes, the Miracles and Stevie Wonder. She also covered her share of Motown hits for consumption by the UK market and some of her versions were more popular than the originals.

Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien (aka Dusty Springfield) got her start as a member of the “sister” act The Lana Sisters performing on TV and as part of shows on military bases around the UK. From there, she joined the family folk group called The Springfields with her brothers Tom and Tim who were best known by their recording of “Silver Threads And Golden Needles.”

Today’s jukebox classic is one of Dusty Springfield’s signature hits, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the James Bond film parody Casino Royale. The song was originally intended to be an instrumental until David wrote lyrics to the song. It was nominated for Best Song in the 1968 Grammy Awards. Springfield recorded the song twice. Her first recording was released on Colgems Records on the soundtrack to the film Casino Royale.

Burt Bacharach: “When I’m scoring a picture, whether it’s Butch Cassidy or Casino Royale or What’s New Pussycat?, all those melodies that turned into what became hit songs came from what I saw on the screen when I was scoring and what I heard. The first thing is you service the motion picture. If you’re lucky enough and you have a theme that turns into a hit whether it was Dusty (Springfield) singing ‘The Look Of Love’ in Casino Royale, what was most important there was the sexuality of Ursula Andress wearing very little clothes and making very sexy theme with the saxophone playing the melody of ‘The Look Of Love.’ Then we put Dusty on. First and foremost is it’s written for the picture, you don’t force it in.” (Record Collector via Songfacts)

Springfield then rerecorded the song for the Philips label in 1967, where it was relegated to the B-side of her “Give Me Time” single. It also appeared on The Look Of Love album, which was her last U.S. album for Philips Records in 1967 before signing with Atlantic and releasing the landmark Dusty In Memphis record. (Tracks for her last Philips album entitled Dusty Definitely in England were not released in America until the 1990s, and then they were released under the title Dusty In London.)

The song has been covered by a myriad of artists including Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 (whose version charted at #4 on the pop charts), Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Isaac Hayes, Ahmad Jamal, Claudine Longet, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Dionne Warwick, Andy Williams, The Delfonics, Tony Joe White, The Meters, The Vanilla Fudge, The Zombies, Diana Krall (whose recording made it into the top ten of the Canadian charts), Anita Baker and literally dozens more.

The flip is Springfield’s 1966 single “All I See Is You”, written by Ben Weisman & Carl Westlake, which also reached the US Top 20.

“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.

Edited: May 26th, 2015

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Buckets Of Rain” by Bette Midler with Bob Dylan

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Buckets Of Rain” by Bette Midler with Bob Dylan

Here’s one for Bob Dylan’s birthday…

Today’s Song of the Day is a great Bette Midler/Bob Dylan duet from Midler’s 1976 album Songs For The New Depression. The session came about because Dylan had hoped Midler would join him on the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour with an eye towards her being a part of his four-hour Renaldo and Clara movie which was filmed on the tour.

The duo’s original intention was to cut a new version of Moogy Klingman’s song “Friends” that Midler had recorded on her The Divine Miss M album several years earlier. When that didn’t work out, they worked up this rough and ready version of a song that was from Dylan’s then-current Blood on the Tracks album.

While there’s no topping Dylan’s own version of the song, I’ve always thought this one had a lot of personality and it sounds like they were both having a hoot recording it. Dylan and Midler would find themselves together in the studio one more during the USA For Africa sessions in the 1980s for the charity record of “We Are The World.”

Edited: May 25th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #26 – Dionne Warwick: “Knowing When To Leave” b/w “Make It Easy On Yourself” – Scepter 45 RPM Single SCE-12294 (L3/M3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #26 – Dionne Warwick: “Knowing When To Leave” b/w “Make It Easy On Yourself” – Scepter 45 RPM Single SCE-12294 (L3/M3)

The great thing about having a jukebox is that you get to decide what the A-side of the single will be by the way you place the single into its slot. Case in point is today’s jukebox classic. I bought the single specifically for “Knowing When To Leave” which is technically the B-side. The real A-side is a live version of “Make It Easy On Yourself,” but not in my jukebox.

“Walk On By,” “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” “You’ll Never Get To Heaven (If You Break My Heart),” “Message To Michael,” “Alfie,” “”Do You Know The Way To San Jose,” “I Say A Little Prayer” — the list goes on and on, making an argument for the notion that the songwriting partnership of Burt Bacharach and Hal David was one of the most important in the history of pop music on par with Lennon and McCartney. Add the sophisticated stylings of Dionne Warwick into the mix and you got recordings that resulted in pure pop perfection.

It was a marriage made in heaven, but soon after this recording, the marriage would dissolve into lawsuits and acrimony.

But for now, things were good. Bacharach and David were coming off of their 1968 hit Broadway musical Promises, Promises which was based on Neil Simon’s film The Apartment. The musical ran for 1,281 performances and featured several hit songs (all recorded by Warwick) including the title hit, “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” “Wanting Things” and today’s Song of the Day, “Knowing When To Leave.”

After recording her 1968 album, also titled Promises, Promises, with Bacharach and David, Warwick went to Memphis where she recorded an album of soul covers called Soulful with Chips Moman. So the time was ripe for Warwick to return to her winning partnership with Bacharach and David, which they did for the 1970 album, I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.

The reunion of Warwick with Bacharach and David resulted in their last great album together, it would also be one of the last albums Warwick would record for Scepter Records where she spent the entirety of her career up to that point. The album featured a clutch of some of the writing team’s greatest songs including “Loneliness Remembers What Happiness Forgets,” “The Wine Is Young,” “Paper Mache,” “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” and today’s song. Added to the album’s tune stack was Warwick’s own version of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” plus covers of George Harrison’s “Something,” Jimmy Webb’s “Didn’t We” and Paul Anka’s “My Way.”

The album’s title song was originally a last minute addition to the musical Promises, Promises. “’I’ll Never Fall In Love Again’ was written quicker than any song that I ever wrote with Hal. I had just gotten out of the hospital. I’d been on the road and gotten pneumonia. We were on the road with Promises, Promises and we’d try to get this song written and into the show the next night or two nights later. That’s where Hal’s line came from, ‘what do you do when you kiss a girl, you get enough germs to catch pneumonia, after you do she’ll never phone ya.’ So having been in the hospital for five days with pneumonia, I got out and struggled to write that song feeling not too great.” – Burt Bacharach (Record Collector)

After the release of this album, Warwick signed a lucrative contract with Warner Bros. Records. Her new contract specified that subsequent recording would be made with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s involvement. Their first album for the label, titled Dionne was a minor hit, only landing at #57 on the album charts.

At the time, Bacharach and David had just wrapped their first film musical Lost Horizon which when released was a colossal flop resulting in the bitter dissolution of the two writers’ songwriting partnership. This left Warwick in a precarious position with Warner Bros. facing the prospect of a breach of contract law suit. As a result, she was forced to sue Burt Bacharach and Hal David for breach of contract, ending their partnership as well.

It would be many years before Warwick would work again with Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

The true A-side to today’s jukebox classic is Dionne Warwick’s live recording of “Make It Easy On Yourself.” The Bacharach-David song was originally a hit for Jerry Butler in 1962. The song made it into the pop top twenty and reached #18 on the R&B charts. Butler originally heard the song from a demo featuring Warwick’s vocal. Warwick was under the impression that the song would be her debut single, but Scepter Records honcho Florence Greenberg rejected that idea and gave the song to Butler.

A very disappointed Warwick balked at Bacharach and David’s assurance that they would give her a song to record every bit as good as “Make It Easy On Yourself” by telling them “Don’t make me over, man.” Bacharach took her rebuke and wrote the song “Don’t Make Me Over” which ultimately became Warwick’s debut single. Warwick’s demo recording of “Make It Easy On Yourself” became an album track on her 1963 debut album called Presenting Dionne Warwick.

Warwick would later return to the song with a live single version in 1970 recorded at the Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. The concert version of the song peaked at #2 on the easy listening charts while climbing to #37 on the pop charts.

The Walker Brothers topped the UK charts with their version of the song in 1965, although it only climbed to #16 on the U.S. pop charts. The song was also covered by The Carpenters (as part of a Bacharach medley), Johnny Mathis, Cilla Black, Tony Bennett, Glen Campbell, The Four Seasons, Sarah Vaughan, Long John Baldry and Rick Astley.

“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.

Edited: May 10th, 2015

Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass: Whipped Cream & Other Delights

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #24 – Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass: 6 Track Jukebox EP: Whipped Cream & Other Delights “A Taste Of Honey,” “Green Peppers,” “Whipped Cream” b/w “Bittersweet Samba,” “Lollipops And Roses,” “El Garbanzo” – A&M 33 1/3 RPM Jukebox EP SP 410 (G3/H3)

Jukebox EPs (or extended plays, or tiny albums) were made for the jukebox market during the 1950s through the mid-1970s. They were small-holed 7” records that played at 33 1/3 RPM and cost 25-50 cents per play. They typically included four to six tracks from an album and afforded the listener at a diner or bar an extended taste of a record by their favorite artist.

Today’s jukebox EP is culled from a record with the most iconic album cover of all time, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass’ classic Whipped Cream & Other Delights featuring half of the album’s twelve tracks.

Before forming the Tijuana Brass and a record company (A&M) that still lives today, Herb Alpert was best known for co-writing Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World” and producing tracks for Jan & Dean. All that changed in 1962 when he recorded the single “The Lonely Bull” in his garage and gave birth to one of the biggest recording acts of the 1960s, rivaling The Beatles.

The first few Tijuana Brass albums were recorded with a cadre of Los Angeles studio musicians. For the group’s fourth album, Whipped Cream & Other Delights, Alpert recruited future Tijuana Brass members John Pisano (guitar) and Bob Edmondson (trombone) and augmented them with Wrecking Crew members Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Chuck Berghofer, and Russell Bridges (aka Leon Russell). Once the album took off, Alpert solidified the TJB lineup by adding Nick Ceroli (drums), Pat Senatore (bass), Tonni Kalash (trumpet), Lou Pagani (piano), and Julius Wechter who played marimba and vibes only on studio recordings.

The food-themed Whipped Cream album, featuring such tasty tunes as “Tangerine,” “Butterball,” “Peanuts” and “Love Potion No. 9,” topped the charts and sold over 6 million copies in the United States. It also won five Grammy Awards, three for the single, “A Taste of Honey” which is the lead track on today’s EP. Sol Lake, who contributed numerous original songs to the TJB repertoire, wrote “Green Peppers,’ “Bittersweet Samba” and “El Garbanzo” for the album. The other track on this EP is “Lollipops And Roses.”

“Whipped Cream,” the album’s title track, is an Allen Toussaint-penned creation (under the pseudonym Naomi Neville) that was heard regularly on the TV game show, The Dating Game, as bachelorettes were being introduced to the audience. Three other songs from the album, “Lollipops And Roses,” “Lemon Tree” and “Ladyfingers” were also used on the show as musical cues, as well as “Spanish Flea” from the TJB’s follow-up album, Going Places!.

“A Taste Of Honey” was written by Bobby Scott and Rick Marlow for the 1960 Broadway musical of the same name. The song was originally recorded as an instrumental by Bobby Scott. The lyrics were specifically written by Marlow so Tony Bennett could record it. Lenny Welch recorded a vocal version of the song in 1962 that was heard by The Beatles who adapted it for their own recording on the Please Please Me album in 1963. The song was also a part of The Beatles’ live repertoire, and can be heard on 1962 recordings from The Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany.

The oft-covered song was also committed to vinyl by Barbra Streisand, Julie London, Tony Bennett, Chet Baker, Trini Lopez, Martin Denny, Acker Bilk, Chat Atkins, Bobby Darin, The Hollies, Tom Jones, Allan Sherman (as “A Waste Of Money”), Andy Williams, Lionel Hampton, The Ventures, Peggy Lee, The Temptations and The Rascals, to name but a few of the hundreds of versions of the song that exist.

And then there’s the album and EP cover…the most iconic in all of recorded music…the cover that launched millions of young adolescent boys sex lives!

The model on the cover, Dolores Erickson, was three months pregnant when the photo was taken! It was parodied by such artists as Pat Cooper (Spaghetti Sauce & Other Delights), Soul Asylum (Clam Dip & Other Delights), Cherry Capri and the Martini Kings (Creamy Cocktails & Other Delights), The Frivolous Five (Sour Cream & Other Delights), plus on Herb Alpert tribute albums by Peter Nero and Dave Lewis.

Thanks to my buddy Kent Rayhill (of Ohana Films), I am the proud owner of not one…not two…but 151 copies of this record…can you really ever get enough Whipped Cream & Other Delights?

Several years ago, I went to see Herb Alpert perform with his wife Lani Hall (of Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66) perform at a club. These days, Alpert covers his entire Tijuana Brass era by performing a cursory medley of their hits. The format of the show included questions and answers from the audience between songs. At the show I attended, I remarked from the audience that I have 151 copies of Whipped Cream on vinyl. Herb was somewhat taken aback by this random fact and went on to tell the story of the album cover image.

After the show, I met Alpert backstage and had him sign a sealed copy of the album for me. He asked me why I had so many copies of the album and if they were worth anything. I told him that musically, they were priceless, but since he sold millions of copies of the album back in the 1960s, they are plentiful and sell for about 25 cents each. He took it all in stride.

The following night, he performed another show in the Chicago area of which a few of my friends were in attendance. When an audience member inquired about the Whipped Cream album, he remarked that he met a guy the previous night that owns 151 copies of the album. I guess I made an impression on him (however nutty an impression that may have been).

“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.

Edited: April 29th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #21 – Peggy Lee: “Is That All There Is” b/w “Me And My Shadow” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 2602 (A3/B3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #21 – Peggy Lee: “Is That All There Is” b/w “Me And My Shadow” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 2602 (A3/B3)

Records seldom get any darker than today’s jukebox classic by Peggy Lee. “Is That All There Is” was written by songwriters Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, the team who gave us such classic hits as “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Searchin’,” “Young Blood,” “Charlie Brown,” “Poison Ivy,” “Kansas City,” “Stand By Me,” “Love Potion No. 9,” “Spanish Harlem” and many others, too numerous to mention here.

The impetus for the song came to Jerry Lieber from his wife Gaby Rodgers, who introduced him to the 1896 short story Disillusionment by Nobel Prize winning author Thomas Mann. Many of the song’s lyrics including its title were picked up directly from the text of the story. Lieber picked two specific incidents in the story, the house fire and the breakup of a romance for the verses, and then he added his own verse about the circus to complete the record. When Mike Stoller read Lieber’s lyrics he said that the story “ached with the bittersweet irony of the German cabaret.” As a result, Stoller based the music on that of Threepenny Opera composers Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. (songfacts.com)

The song was originally recorded by Georgia Brown, Tony Bennett, Guy Lombardo, Marlene Dietrich and Leslie Uggams before making its way to Peggy Lee. Lieber and Stoller also offered it to Barbra Streisand’s management who turned it down for their charge. When Streisand finally heard the song, she complained that she got passed over for a crack at recording it.

By the time that Lee got around to recording this song in 1969, the big band era from which she got her start as a vocalist with Benny Goodman was long over, as well as the many hit making years that followed during the 1950s. Her last top ten hit before today’s Song of the Day was “Fever” back in 1958.

The song’s orchestral arrangement was written by Randy Newman who also conducted the orchestra on the record. The track was included on Lee’s 1969 album of the same name in which she covers Neil Diamond’s “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” George Harrison’s “Something,” Randy Newman’s “Love Story” and Lieber & Stoller’s “I’m A Woman.” She also revisited the song “Me And My Shadow” that she had recorded many years earlier for the album, making it the B-side to the single.

When Lee agreed to record the song, she was very specific as to how many times she would sing the song for them. Jerry Lieber picks up the story in the book Hound Dog: The Lieber And Stoller Autobiography: “I’ll do three takes, she said, and no more … The initial takes weren’t great. She had to ease her way into the mood and find that sweet spot. At take 10, she still didn’t have it. But being a trouper, Peggy kept going. At take 15, I suspect that she took a belt because her takes were improving. Take 30 was good, but take 36 was pure magic. I looked at Mike and Mike looked at me and we could do nothing but jump up and down with joy. This was one of the greatest performances ever. Peggy had done it. We had done it. The enormous potential of this little song had been realized.” (via songfacts.com)

Continues Lieber: “Let’s hear it back, I told the engineer. We waited. Silence. We waited a little longer. More silence. What’s wrong?, asked Peggy. I’m dying to hear the last take. Then came the words that cut through me like a knife. I forgot to hit the record button, said the engineer. What do you mean you forgot to hit the record button?, I screamed at the top of my lungs. This has to be a f*ckin’ prank! No one forgets to hit the record button. This was the greatest take in the history of takes! Stop joking! Let’s hear it! Play the goddamn thing!”

“But there was nothing to play. Nothing to do. Nothing had been recorded. Killing this kid would have been too kind. Yet Peggy, bless her heart, was stoic. Guess I’ll have to sing it again, she said bravely. And she did. Take 37 was nothing short of marvelous. That’s the take the world knows today. She is melancholy, she’s sultry, she’s fatalistic, she is in tune, and she delivers the song with a wondrous sense of mystery. It is good — it is, in fact, very, very good — but it is not, nor will ever be, take 36.” The 37th take was thus used as the master, with various splices from the other takes. (via songfacts.com)

Lee’s recording climbed to the #11 position on the pop charts and topped the easy listening charts in 1969. The song also went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance the following year. Throughout the years, it has been covered by the likes of Chaka Khan, Sandra Bernhard, P.J. Harvey, Bette Midler and rock group Giant Sand.

“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.

Edited: April 26th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #20 – Frank Sinatra: “Summer Wind” b/w “Strangers In The Night” – Reprise “Back-To-Back Hits” 45 RPM Single GRE-0710 (S2/T2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #20 – Frank Sinatra: “Summer Wind” b/w “Strangers In The Night” – Reprise “Back-To-Back Hits” 45 RPM Single GRE-0710 (S2/T2)

There was something magical about easy listening music from the early and mid-1960s. It was a strange confluence of male vocalists, some more talented than others, like Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Steve Lawrence, Johnny Mathis, John Davidson, John Gary, Tony Bennett and of course, the “Chairman of the Board,” Frank Sinatra. They were smooth singers with worldly good looks. The ladies were just as compelling, from the likes of Eydie Gorme, Vikki Carr, Julie London, Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand. There was a sophistication level in their craft that hasn’t been matched since that particular era.

1966 was a very good year for pop vocal music in general, and especially for Frank Sinatra. He broke through again on the pop charts with a number one album called Strangers In The Night and the number one single of the same name that appealed to both young and old alike. The album would go on to win Album of the Year at the 1967 Grammy Awards and Record of the Year for the title track.

The album was Sinatra’s last one with Nelson Riddle providing arrangements, and Riddle went out with a bang on the swinging “All or Nothing At All” featuring a driving arrangement not unlike the one he did for “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” On top of that, there are masterful Sinatra versions of sixties easy listening staples like “Call Me,” “On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)” and “Downtown.”

“Doobey Doobey Doo.”

For a while back in the late ‘60s, that’s all that could be heard pouring out of the mono AM radio speakers in the car my dad drove. At the time, that music was much better than rest of his automotive musical fodder which consisted of the kind of instrumental music that the “Beautiful Music” stations would broadcast.

“Strangers’” evocative melody was written by Bert Kaempfert (who was famous for writing such easy listening fare as Wayne Newton’s “Donke Schoen,” Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” and “A Swingin’ Safari,” which was also known as “The Theme from The Match Game” TV game show. ) The melody was originally titled “Beddie Bye” and it was written for the film A Man Could Get Killed. The lyrics were written by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder, who both also wrote the lyrics to Al Martino’s immortal “Spanish Eyes.”

Jack Jones actually recorded the song before Sinatra got around to it, and Sinatra was said to hate the song calling it “a piece of shit” and “the worst fucking song that I have ever heard.” (Sinatra: The Life) However, he managed to warm up to its powers as it rose to the top of the charts, and it became a staple of his performances for the rest of his life.

On the flip of this double A-sided single is “Summer Wind,” which really is the essence of the classic summer single…light, warm and breezy, with a hint of the kind of ennui you can only feel as the summer comes to a close thrown in for good measure. The song’s intro sets the perfect mood with its mélange of Wurlitzer styled organ and sexy Nelson Riddle horn arrangements. “Summer Wind” sports lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Heinz Meier, and Wayne Newton had a #78 chart his with the song in 1965 before Sinatra got around to recording it also for the Strangers In The Night album.

The song has been used numerous times in advertisements, movies and in TV shows. One of the song’s greatest TV uses was in the summer-themed episode of The Simpsons called Bart Of Darkness which is based on the Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window. In the episode the family gets a pool and the Simpson’s back yard attracts all of the neighborhood kids. Bart breaks his leg and spends his summer at his bedroom window looking at the festivities below until he thinks he’s witnessed a murder at the Flanders’ house.

“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.

Edited: April 22nd, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #18 – Richard Harris: “MacArthur Park” b/w “Didn’t We” – Dunhill 45 RPM Single D-4134 (O2/P2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #18 – Richard Harris: “MacArthur Park” b/w “Didn’t We” – Dunhill 45 RPM Single D-4134 (O2/P2)

Along with Glen Campbell and Art Garfunkel, Richard Harris was one of a handful of great interpreters of the songs of Jim Webb. When he wasn’t acting in films like A Man Called Horse, Camelot and, of course playing the part of Albus Dumbledore in the first few Harry Potter films, he made records. While most of his records were dreadful, his first album of Jim Webb songs called A Tramp Shining was a winner, including today’s jukebox classic “MacArthur Park.”

Who knows what was really going on in songwriter Jimmy Webb’s mind when he wrote the somewhat nonsensical lyrics to this song, but one thing for sure is that it is a classic brought to the upper regions of the charts not once, but twice.

The song has its roots in a twenty minute cantata that Webb wrote that ended with “MacArthur Park.” When the cantata was offered to producer Bones Howe for The Association to record, the group declined because they didn’t want to give up that big a chunk of their album to such a long track.

The inspiration for the song came from a breakup between Jim Webb and Susan Horton who worked across the street from MacArthur Park in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles where the two would meet for lunch. The very same relationship also spawned Webb’s song “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.”

The “cake in the rain” lyric of the song was recently explained by Colin McCourt who used to work for the publisher of the song. When Webb heard that Susan Horton was getting married in MacArthur Park, he attended the wedding but hid in a gardener’s shed so as not to be noticed by the bride. It began to pour during the ceremony and Webb saw the wedding cake through the rain running off the roof of the shed and it looked like it was melting. (songfacts.com)

The track was recorded at Armin Steiner’s Sound Recorders in Hollywood with backing from members of the Wrecking Crew including Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, Joe Osborn on bass and Mike Deasy on guitar, along with Jim Webb on harpsichord.

During the recording, Webb kept correcting Harris who continually uses the possessive form “MacArthur’s Park” throughout the song. After a while, Webb realized it was futile and let Harris have his way, resulting in many subsequent covers of the song carrying the incorrect possessive form in the lyrics. Like The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” the single was also one of the longer songs to hit the top-ten of the singles charts during the late 1960s, clocking in at over seven minutes. The song also won a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement for Accompanying Vocalist in 1969.

The single was released in 1968 and reached the number two slot on the charts. It was subsequently covered by artists as diverse as Donna Summer (who took it to the top of the charts in 1978 with her disco version), Frank Sinatra, Waylon Jennings, Liza Minnelli, The 5th Dimension, The Supremes, Justin Hayward (of The Moody Blues), Ferrante & Teicher, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and “Weird Al” Yankovic, who parodied it with his version “Jurassic Park.”

The flip of the single, “Didn’t We” was the opening track to A Tramp Shining, Harris’ album of Jim Webb compositions. Reviewer Bruce Eder had the following to say about this song: “Harris treaded onto Frank Sinatra territory here, and he did it with a voice not remotely as good or well trained as his, yet he pulled it off by sheer bravado and his ability as an actor, coupled with his vocal talents.” (Allmusic) The song was covered by a whole host of pop vocalists during the sixties and seventies including Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Thelma Houston, Matt Monroe and Jim Webb.

“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.

Edited: April 20th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #17 – Nancy Sinatra: “These Boots Are Made For Walking” b/w “Sugar Town” – Rhino/Collectables 45 RPM Single 033 (M2/N2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #17 – Nancy Sinatra: “These Boots Are Made For Walking” b/w “Sugar Town” – Rhino/Collectables 45 RPM Single 033 (M2/N2)

Talent doesn’t always run in the family, but back in the late 1960s a lesser talent was matched with the likes of producer, arranger and all-around Svengali Lee Hazlewood, and solid gold was minted. Case in point is today’s Jukebox classic, “These Boots Are Made For Walking” by Nancy Sinatra.

Let’s face it, Nancy Sinatra would have never received the breaks she got in the music business had it not been for her iconic father, Frank and his record label. That’s not to say that Nancy Sinatra is untalented. She possesses a passable voice, and during the 1960s she wasn’t too hard to look at either.

Today’s Song of the Day was written and produced by Lee Hazlewood who encouraged Sinatra to sing the song as if she were “a sixteen year old girl who fucks truck drivers.” Hazlewood had originally intended to record the song himself, but the song worked much better coming from the perspective of a woman. (Perhaps, not coming from a 16 year old girl, but certainly an empowered woman.) Sinatra: “The image created by ‘Boots’ isn’t the real me. ‘Boots’ was hard and I’m as soft as they come.” (songfacts.com) That said, the song established Nancy Sinatra as a no-nonsense, take no prisoners kind of artist, and it ultimately went on to sell over six million copies worldwide.

Nancy Sinatra was no fly-by-night artist and during her career, she managed to land 10 hits on the Billboard charts including “How Does That Grab You Darlin’,” “Friday’s Child,” the Lee Hazelwood duets “Summer Wine,” “Jackson,” “Oh, Lonesome Me” and “Some Velvet Morning,” “You Only Live Twice,” and her chart topping duet with her famous father “Somethin’ Stupid.” And even though she was signed to her father’s Reprise record label, she was still in danger of being dropped from her contract.

Lee Hazlewood: “When ‘Boots’ was #1 in half the countries in the world, Nancy came over to my house, and she was crying. She said, ‘They didn’t pick up on my option at Reprise and they said I owed them $12,000.’ I said, ‘You’re kidding, we’ve got the biggest record in the world.’ I rang my lawyer in New York and I rang Nancy the next day and said, ‘How would you like $1 million? I’ve got 3 labels that are offering that for you right now and I can get something pretty good for myself as well.’ She talked to her father and he said she could write her own contract with Reprise – after all she was selling more records than him at the time.” (1000 UK #1 Hits via songfacts.com)

Wrecking Crew stalwarts including Al Casey, Tommy Tedesco and Billy Strange (guitar), Carole Kaye (electric bass), Hal Blaine (drums), Don Randi (keyboards), Chuck Berghofer (string bass) and Ollie Mitchell, Roy Caton and Lew McCreary (horns) were all present and accounted for on the session that gave us this number one hit in February of 1966. A video was also shot for the song to be played on “Scopitone Video Jukeboxes,” and in 1966 and 1967, Sinatra traveled to Vietnam to perform the song for the troops, who adopted it as their unofficial anthem.

So what ever became of the boots that Sinatra wears on the cover of the Boots album? The now-famous boots were made into table lamps that sit on either side of Sinatra’s couch at home.

The flip of today’s double A-sided single, “Sugar Town” climbed to the #5 position on the pop charts in December of 1966, and also reached the top slot on the Easy Listening charts in January of 1967. The song appeared on the follow-up album to Boots called Sugar, and was also performed on Sinatra’s Movin’ With Nancy TV special in 1967.

As light and innocuous as it may seem, “Sugar Town” was actually written about taking LSD, Hazelwood: “I was in a folk club in LA which had two levels. I could see these kids lining up sugar cubes and they had an eye-dropper and were putting something on them. I wasn’t a doper so I didn’t know what it was but I asked them. It was LSD and one of the kids said, ‘You know, it’s kinda Sugar Town.’ Nancy knew what the song was about because I told her, but luckily Reprise didn’t.” (songfacts.com)

“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.

Edited: April 19th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “The Alley Cat” by Bent Fabric

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “The Alley Cat” by Bent Fabric

Dance crazes come and go, but they are never forgotten.

Most recently there was Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” wreaking havoc across dance floors all over the world while the youth of America (and Myley Cyrus) began to twerk. In the 1990s, there was “The Macarena.” In the 1980s, country line dancing and “The Lambada” had their day in the sun, and the ‘70s gave us “The Electric Slide.” But in the early 1960s, there was only one communal synchronized dance that kids and adults alike shared in, making it a staple at weddings, proms and east coast Bar Mitzvahs.

That dance was “The Alley Cat.”

In actuality, “The Alley Cat” began life as a 1961 hit for Bent Fabricius-Bjerre in Denmark under the title “Omkring et Flygel” (“Under The Table”). The song was picked up for U.S. distribution by Neshui and Ahmet Ehrtegun and released on their Atco label in 1962, where it became a million-selling top-ten hit. The song also went on to win a Grammy Award for, get this, Best Rock and Roll Record of 1962!

Fabric released six albums on Atco between 1962 and 1968, with titles like The Happy Puppy, The Drunken Penguin and Operation Love Birds, with animal-centric album covers to match. He was also paired up with Atco’s other big instrumentalist, Acker Bilk, for a series of recordings. But no matter how many albums were released, in America he is still only associated with one thing, “The Alley Cat.”

Fabric got his start playing Jazz piano in Denmark before moving into the realm of film scores, where he wrote music for 27 different Danish films. He also founded Metronome Records in 1950, which went on to become one of the most successful Danish record companies. One of his signings was Jorge Ingmann who scored a #2 hit in America with his classic instrumental “Apache.”

While Fabric has seemingly faded from view in America, he’s continued to release recordings in Denmark over the years, most recently scoring two top-ten hits in 2006 from his album called Jukebox. That album’s title track also got airplay in dance clubs across America, where a remix of “Alley Cat” was also re-released.

Surprisingly, in Mexico, ice cream trucks co-opted “The Alley Cat” as their calling card, so when children hear it blaring through the streets, it means the ice cream man is in the neighborhood.

Edited: April 12th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #10 – Jack Jones: “Wives And Lovers” b/w “Toys In The Attic” – Kapp 45 RPM Single K-551 (1963) (S1/T1)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #10 – Jack Jones: “Wives And Lovers” b/w “Toys In The Attic” – Kapp 45 RPM Single K-551 (1963) (S1/T1)

I know I’ve featured this 1963 classic before, but it’s one of my very favorite Burt Bacharach-Hal David compositions. I just love the nonchalance of Hal David’s lyrics – “Hey! Little Girl Comb your hair, fix your makeup. Soon he will open the door. Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger. You needn’t try anymore.” It is so innocent and yet so chauvinistic in a “ring-a-ding-ding” early sixties kind of way at the same time.

Add to it the 1950s bobby sox/teen idol production sheen of the recording and Bacharach’s light-as-air musical accompaniment and you’ve got all of the makings of a classic pop record right up there with the likes of Johnny Mathis’ “Chances Are,” Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet” and Steve Lawrence’s “Go Away Little Girl.”

While it is widely assumed that “Wives And Lovers” was written as the title song to the 1963 film of the same name, it never actually appeared in the film. Hal David: “We were asked to write what would be called an “exploitation song.” It wasn’t going in the film, but it was meant to come out and every time it got played the name of the film would be performed. It was a song made to promote the film, but it was never in the film. It was never meant to be in the film. Exploitation songs were very common in those days.” (songfacts.com)

Jack Jones won his second Grammy award for “Wives” in the category of Best Pop Male Performance in 1964. He also won one in 1962 in the same category for his hit “Lollipops and Roses.” Along with the equally talented pop vocalist, Robert Goulet, he was also known for his recording of “The Impossible Dream” from the musical Man Of LaMancha. Jones also scored chart hits with “The Love Boat” from the TV show of the same name and “Lady.”

The flip of today’s Jukebox Classic was written by George Duning as the title song from the 1963 film Toys In The Attic, starring Dean Martin and Geraldine Page. (Not to be confused with the Aerosmith song of the same name.) As of several years ago, Jones was still performing and releasing new music.

“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.

Edited: March 25th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “All or Nothing at All” by Frank Sinatra

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “All or Nothing at All” by Frank Sinatra

So, Bob Dylan officially announced today that he will be releasing a new self-produced record of Frank Sinatra covers called Shadows in the Night during the first week of February.

I say, bring it on!

But then again, I said the same thing when Dylan announced he was going to put Christmas Through the Years out several years ago, and lo and behold, it was an artistic success that has become one of my go-to Christmas records every year since its release in 2009.

Say what you will about Dylan’s vocals, but he’s been nothing short of brilliant throughout his career when it comes to reinterpreting his own material. So the jump to record songs associated with the world’s greatest interpreter of them all could provide some very interesting results.

Through an announcement on his website, here’s what Dylan had to say about the project:

“It was a real privilege to make this album. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time but was never brave enough to approach 30-piece complicated arrangements and refine them down for a 5-piece band. That’s the key to all these performances. We knew these songs extremely well. It was all done live. Maybe one or two takes. No overdubbing. No vocal booths. No headphones. No separate tracking, and, for the most part, mixed as it was recorded. I don’t see myself as covering these songs in any way. They’ve been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day.” (BobDylan.com)

I think his motives for this project are spot on, but it’ll be interesting to see if he can pull off stripped down versions of arrangement-heavy songs like today’s Song of the Day by Eric Berman, which comes from Frank Sinatra’s 1966 classic Nelson Riddle-arranged Strangers in the Night.

Edited: December 9th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #58– The 5th Dimension: “Medley: Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)” b/w “Don’tcha Hear Me Callin’ To Ya” – Soul City 45 SCR-772 (Q6/R6)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #58– The 5th Dimension: “Medley: Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)” b/w “Don’tcha Hear Me Callin’ To Ya” – Soul City 45 SCR-772 (Q6/R6)

“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.

It was 1969…and Hair was everywhere. I’m not talking about long, beautiful hair…or shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen hair. Nor am I referring to the hair that reaches down to here, down to there…way down past the shoulders hair. I’m talking about Hair – The American Tribal Love Rock Musical.

The Broadway musical opened in 1968 to rave reviews and introduced the hits “Good Morning Starshine,” “Easy To Be Hard” and the title song which were brought to the charts by the likes of Oliver, Three Dog Night and The Cowsills respectively. It is also the show that introduced today’s jukebox classic, “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures),” which topped the charts for six weeks during the spring of 1969 by 5th Dimension.

All of the songs in the musical were written by Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni and James Rado. MacDermot also wrote the music to the 1971 musical Two Gentlemen Of Verona and released several influential funk and instrumental jazz albums that are currently the rage amongst those “in the know” of the hipster cognoscenti.

I’ve been listening to the cast album of Hair since I was seven years old…way before I knew the meaning of songs like “Sodomy,” “Hashish,” “Colored Spade,” “Walking In Space” and the numerous other titillating-for-their-time songs in this musical. It is indeed part of my musical DNA.

When “Aquarius” hit the radio in 1969, it was one of the grooviest records I had ever heard. It was a record that was so prevalent within the pop culture, but it was also a record that divided the hippies from the establishment. You see, The 5th Dimension records weren’t nearly as cool as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Donovan or the Bob Dylan albums in the record collections of my sister and her friends. To the hippies, The 5th Dimension were the establishment, very much in line with other “uncool and lightweight” artists like Neil Diamond, Glen Campbell, The Monkees and Bobbie Gentry. Of course, time has proven that these latter artists were just cool and, yes groovy and the others.

The 5th Dimension consisted of Billy Davis Jr., Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo, Lamonte McLemore and Ron Townson, and were no strangers to the charts during the 1960s and early 1970s landing such classic hits as “Up, Up And Away,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “One Less Bell To Answer,” “Never My Love” and “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All” into the upper regions of the charts.

After being turned down by Motown Records, the group was signed to Johnny Rivers’ then-new record label Soul City Records. Their brand of groovy sunshine pop featuring soaring harmony vocals was just the tonic for the top-notch material that was being submitted to them by songwriters like Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach and Hal David and Laura Nyro.

When the group brought their desire to record today’s song to their producer Bones Howe, he had some reservations which he detailed in the book By The Time We Got To Woodstock: The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Revolution Of 1969: “The thing that bothered me about it was that there’d been other releases of ‘Aquarius’ and none had done anything, so I was concerned about what we would do that would be any different. I went to see the show and there’s a place where they do “The Flesh Failures” and at the end of the song is just a three bar repeated thing of ‘Let the sunshine in’ where Ragni was swinging across the stage on a chandelier and there was all kinds of craziness going on. That really stayed with me and I came out of the theater saying, I wonder if I could stick that on the end of ‘Aquarius’ and make that the ending. So I went back to the hotel and I called the publisher… I said, look the 5th Dimension would like to record ‘Aquarius,’ but I’d like to make it a medley and I’d like to use the last three bars of ‘The Flesh Failures’ and I don’t want to do it without permission. So he said okay, you can go ahead and do it.” (Song Facts)

The song is set up with one of the most indelible introductions from a 45 of the era, which made it stand out on radio. The intro was later expertly sampled by The Beastie Boys for their track “Finger Lickin’ Good” from their masterpiece album Paul’s Boutique.

Like many artists of the era, The Age Of Aquarius album was recorded on the west coast with backing from The Wrecking Crew including Tommy Tedesco on guitar, Joe Osborn on bass, Hal Blaine on drums, Milt Holland on percussion and Pete Jolly, Larry Knechtel and Jimmy Rowles on keyboards.

The 5th Dimension’s recording of “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” went on to win the Grammy for Record Of The Year and for Best Pop Vocal Performance in 1970. The song has been covered by the likes of Donna Summer, Engelbert Humperdinck, Andy Williams, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Ventures, The Undisputed Truth, George Shearing, The Moog Machine, Andy Williams with The Osmonds, Spencer Davis Group (in German, no less), Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll and dozens of others.

The cast album to Hair has managed to stand the test of time and the musical has enjoyed numerous successful revivals and tours around the world. The musical was also taken to the big screen in 1979 by director Milos Forman with choreography by Twyla Tharpe, introducing it to numerous later generations. While I was too young to catch the musical on Broadway in its original incarnation, I did manage to see a revival on Broadway during the 1980s.

FYI: The Age of Aquarius is when the sun is in the constellation Aquarius during the springtime. The next time that this will happen is 2448. We are currently in the age of Pisces.

The single’s flip, “Don’tcha Hear Me Callin’ To Ya” is a breezy confection that was putty in the capable hands of the 5th Dimension. The song is also from The Age Of Aquarius album and was written by Rudy Stevenson who also wrote songs recorded by Herbie Mann, George Benson and Dexter Gordon.

Edited: November 20th, 2014

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Lordy” by Neil Diamond

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Lordy” by Neil Diamond

If ever an album was ripe for reissue and expansion, it would be Neil Diamond’s 1970 live album called Gold.

While most people reach for their copy of the Hot August Night when they want a live fix of Neil Diamond, his Gold album finds him sweating it out backed by a small group in front of an intimate audience, and is a far more satisfying listen.

The album was recorded live at The Troubadour in Hollywood, California on July 15, 1970. Diamond’s small but powerful backing band included Carol Hunter on guitar, Randy Sterling on bass and Eddie Rubin on drums. While the band was small in numbers, they manage to whip up a frenzy throughout this essential Neil Diamond live document.

The Neil Diamond we hear on this album isn’t the syrupy sweet balladeer of “Heartlight” and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” Instead, we get a rough-cut Diamond with straight-up unpretentious readings of some of his greatest songs, including his current single at the time, “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” and “Sweet Caroline,” way before it became the property of karaoke stars doing Elvis Presley.

Diamond digs into his Bang catalog for spirited performances of some of his early singles like “Cherry, Cherry,” “Kentucky Woman,” “Solitary Man” and “Holly Holy,” no gratuitous medley’s here, we get the full performances of each song. The set also included a hushed intimate reading of what he said at the time was one of his own favorite songs, “And The Singer Sings His Song,” as well as a reading of his hit cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.”

But it’s the album’s opener and today’s Song Of The Day by Eric Berman, “Lordy,” finds Diamond rocking out harder than he ever had before (and would ever do again) as he spits out the opening lyrics “Hey, Lady, she got painted eyes, Have a way of talking to you, Cut your heart out for the prize, While the bitch sings hallelujah.” The song gained much notoriety when it was issued as the B-side of the “Cracklin’ Rosie” single.

I’ve often wondered if the tapes from this all too brief album still exist, and if so, why the whole show hasn’t been issued. Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Additionally, he was an honoree at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2011. He recently released his 32nd studio album Melody Road and will take to the road once again to promote it. You really can never go wrong seeing Diamond in concert, but he would never reach the heights he did back in 1970 at The Troubadour ever again.

Shine on you crazy Diamond!

Edited: November 9th, 2014

Groovy Ghouls and Haunted Hits – The Ultimate Halloween Playlist by Eric Berman

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Groovy Ghouls and Haunted Hits – The Ultimate Halloween Playlist by Eric Berman

For your Halloween party pleasure, cue this ghoulish playlist up in Spotify!

  1. This Is Halloween from the Nightmare before Christmas
  2. Monster Mash – Bobby Boris Pickett
  3. Boris the Spider – The Who
  4. Haunted House – Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs
  5. I Put a Spell on You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  6. Theme from the Munsters – Billy Strange
  7. The Blob – The Five Blobs
  8. The Adams Family Main Theme – Vic Mizzy
  9. Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
  10. Witch Doctor – David Seville
  11. They’re Comin’ to Take Me Away – Napoleon XIV
  12. Frankenstein – Edgar Winter Group
  13. Welcome to My Nightmare – Alice Cooper
  14. Witchy Woman – The Eagles
  15. Season of the Witch – Donovan
  16. Hocus Pocus – Focus
  17. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  18. Thriller – Michael Jackson
  19. Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.
  20. Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo
  21. Ghost Town – The Specials
  22. Twilight Zone – Golden Earring
  23. Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
  24. Abracadabra – Steve Miller Band
  25. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
  26. Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) – David Bowie
  27. The Creature from the Black Lagoon – Dave Edmunds
  28. Pet Semetary – Ramones
  29. Zombie Zoo – Tom Petty
  30. Devil Inside – INXS
  31. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow

Edited: October 30th, 2014

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Savoy Truffle” by Ella Fitzgerald

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Savoy Truffle” by Ella Fitzgerald

A few days ago, I featured Fats Domino’s recording of “Lady Madonna” from the 1969 album Fats Is Back. That record was produced by Richard Perry for Reprise Records, and today’s Song of the Day by Eric Berman follows Perry to the very next project he worked on, Ella by Ella Fitzgerald.

Reprise records of the late ‘60s was an artist’s haven due in no small part to the approach label head Mo Ostin took towards nurturing his roster. As a result, the label attracted top-shelf folk and rock attractions like Neil Young, Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Ry Cooder and Arlo Guthrie.

But let’s face it, Reprise was once Frank Sinatra’s label and it always had a sweet spot for its easy listening releases. Under Sinatra’s leadership, the Reprise roster featured records mostly by him and cronies like Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Jo Stafford. When Sinatra sold the label in 1963 to Warner Bros., the label came under the direction of Mo Ostin.

Under Ostin’s tutelage, the label’s easy listening roster grew hipper and included releases by Theo Bikel, Petula Clark, The Vogues, Gordon Lightfoot, Rod McKuen, Randy Newman, Dion, Harper’s Bizarre, Lee Hazelwood, Tom Lehrer, Mike Post Coalition and Kenny Rogers & The First Edition.

One of the label’s early strategies was to find worthy artists who had fallen out of the spotlight, and match them up with a sympathetic producer who could give their recordings a contemporary sheen. For Ella Fitzgerald’s Reprise debut, Ostin matched her up with producer Richard Perry.

Perry booked time at Olympic Studios in London and had Ella record no less than three tunes by Smokey Robinson, including a sumptuous take on “Ooh Baby Baby,” The Temptations’ “Get Ready” and a sultry and soulful version of “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game.” And under Perry’s direction in choosing repertoire, she also turned in more than credible versions of songs by Randy Newman (“Yellow Man” and “I Wonder Why”), Bacharach and David (“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”), STAX men Steve Cropper and Eddie Floyd (“Knock On Wood”) and Harry Nilsson (“Open Your Window”).

However, no late ‘60s career resuscitation could be complete without a couple of Beatle tunes thrown in for good measure, and on this album Ella sings “Got To Get You Into My Life” which had been covered by numerous artists, and George Harrison’s “Savoy Truffle,” which was covered by almost no one, making Ella’s version such a treat. Although Ella sang well throughout the album, no hits ensued and the album quickly went out of print.

For her second and last album for Reprise, Things Ain’t What They Used To Be (And You Better Believe It), Ella teamed up with the late, great arranger Gerald Wilson and producer Norman Granz to record a record with far more traditional jazz arrangements, while still offering some outstanding cover choices like “Sunny,” “Mas Que Nada,” “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “A Man And A Woman” and “Days Of Wine And Roses.”

Edited: October 21st, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Bond Street” by Enoch Light

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Bond Street” by Enoch Light

Shagadelic indeed! Literally hundreds of records were released during the 1950s and 1960s carrying the Enoch Light name. Light was born in Ohio and led The Light Brigade, which was a big band that primarily played on the radio and in theaters that scored the 1937 hit “Summer Night.” After they disbanded, they became a studio-only entity.

Light was a vice president of the Grand Award easy listening record label before founding Command Records in 1959. Light’s stock in trade was state-of-the-art mood music records pressed on virgin vinyl that took full advantage of the capabilities of stereo hi-fi systems of the day by featuring ping-pong stereo effects. The albums were some of the first to use 35mm film as a recording method instead of tape, providing crystal-clear distortion free sound.

The packaging on his records, like the classic Persusasive Percussion and Provocative Percussion albums, featured minimalist modern art usually designed by Josef Albers on the covers. The covers were designed to stand out in record bins with heavy cardboard gatefold sleeves featuring copious liner notes about the recording techniques employed within. When you saw one of the covers, you automatically knew it was a Command release.

Light sold the label to ABC in 1965, who in turn sold it to MCA. MCA proceeded to run Command as a budget label, reissuing the records on cheap vinyl with abbreviated single-pocket sleeves minus the original high-gloss art. Light continued to run the label under the new ownership where his later recordings were still recorded, packaged and marketed with the same attention to detail as they were from before the sale.

Today’s Song Of The Day comes from one of Light’s later Command projects, the 1969 album Enoch Light Presents Spaced Out – Exploratory Trips Through The Music of Bach, Bacharach & The Beatles – Integrating The Moog, The Guitar Scene, Electric Harpsichord, Flugel Horns, etc…. The album included super swingin’ stereo versions of the Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs “Walk On By,” “What The World Needs Now Is Love” and “Knowing When To Leave,” plus Beatle covers of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Get Back,” “Norwegian Wood” and “Eleanor Rigby.” The cover had some of the coolest period graphics I’ve ever seen on any record cover ever.

By 1970, the label was no longer profitable and MCA shut it down. Light continued working, both as an arranger/conductor and headed up an all new audiophile record label, Project 3 Records, which was marketed by London Records.

Edited: September 21st, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore” by Dusty Springfield

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore” by Dusty Springfield

This record has a complete feel to it and the production values really make this Randy Newman-penned track come alive.

Great song and all the production in the world wouldn’t matter if there wasn’t that voice…smoky…sultry…Dusty!

Matching Dusty with the talents of Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin, not to mention the Memphis mob, was genius. Today’s Song Of The Day by Eric Berman hails from one of the greatest pop albums of all time, Dusty In Memphis.

Edited: August 17th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Cry Me A River” by Julie London

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Cry Me A River” by Julie London

It would be hard to think of Julie London without all of the sexy cheesecake album covers, but behind all of the va-va-voom was the va-va-voice which was soft, supple and sexual.

Today’s Song Of The Day was written by Arthur Hamilton specifically for Ella Fitzgerald to record. However, Ella didn’t get around to recording it until her 1961 album called Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie.

Julie London recorded the song in 1955 for her Julie Is Her Name album and sang it in the film 1956 The Girl Can’t Help It which propelled it up to the #9 position of the charts. Backing London on this recording was the great guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Ray Leatherwood.

Barbra Streisand waxed the song for her 1963 debut album The Barbra Streisand Album, and it has also been covered by a who’s who of singing stars including Dinah Washington, Shirley Bassey, Ray Charles, Etta James, Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis Jr., Nina Simone, Cher, Anne Murray, Linda Ronstadt, Olivia Newton-John, Rick Astley, Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall, Susan Boyle, Michael Bublé, and somewhat improbably by Jeff Beck and Aerosmith.

To most people my age, “Cry Me A River” is probably best known by Joe Cocker’s indelible rockin’ version from 1970’s Mad Dogs And Englishmen album and tour. Cocker’s version is great, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the original.

Edited: July 22nd, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Rednecks” by Randy Newman

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Rednecks” by Randy Newman

Here is what Randy Newman had to say about the lead song from his 1974 masterpiece Good Old Boys:

“I wrote ‘Rednecks’ soon after I saw Lester Maddox (Georgia Governor from 1967-1971) on The Dick Cavett Show. They sat Maddox next to Jim Brown, a black man and one of the greatest football players of all time. It looked like in a fair fight Brown would whip Maddox pretty bad; Brown had about 40 pounds, half a foot, and 30 years on him. The audience hooted and howled, and Maddox was never given a chance to speak, let alone put on the gloves. It bothered me, so I wrote the song, and Northerners have recognized ever since that they are as guilty of prejudice as the people of the South. I’m sure glad I wrote it. I wrote “Marie, “Rollin’,” “Birmingham,” and “Mr. President (Have Pity On The Working Man)” for the same character.” (Jordan, Scott (2008). (“Backtalk with Randy Newman”. offBeat Magazine.)

Good Old Boys had its origin as a musical piece called Johnny Cutler’s Birthday that featured most of the source material for Good Old Boys and several other songs that didn’t make the final cut. Newman went into the studio in early February of 1973 to lay down one-take piano versions of each song and a draft of the story line for the intended Cutler album.

The tape was never meant for release, and remained in the can until the deluxe Good Old Boys CD reissue from Rhino Records in 2002. Listening to the Cutler tape gives one a real appreciation of how Newman thinks, as well as a window into the creative process he uses in developing the rich character studies of his songs.

If you’ve never heard the whole Good Old Boys album, you are missing out on a humorous, tongue-in-cheek American treasure. The version of today’s Song Of The Day comes from The Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey as recorded on February, 11 1978.

Edited: July 14th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Easy Come Easy Go” by Cass Elliot

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Easy Come Easy Go” by Cass Elliot

Only in the 1960s could someone as robust as Cass Elliot become an equally big star. Sure, she had talent to burn and a set of unrivalled pipes, but in this day of the thinner than thin in showbiz, she just would not have stood a chance…and a shame it would have been indeed.

The former Ellen Cohen was born in Maryland and got her start as part of the folk trio, The Big Three along with James Hendricks, whom she was married to for a time in an effort for him to avoid the draft, and Tim Rose. When Rose left the group in 1964, future Lovin’ Spoonful member Zal Yanovsky and Denny Doherty joined their ranks and they became The Mugwumps.

Shortly thereafter, Yanovsky joined forces with John Sebastian while Doherty joined The New Journeymen who counted John Phillips and his wife Michelle amongst their ranks. After Cass joined the fold, the group would soon become The Mamas And The Papas. Of course you can listen to their track,“Creeque Alley” to have the blanks filled in for you.

It would only be a matter of time before Cass, the ultimate hippy chick would record on her own, and with the help of extensive television work, she began to have her own hits. Her records were pure pop affairs cut at Western Recorders in LA in the late 60s and early 70s featuring a who’s who of Wrecking Crew favorites including on this track Hal Blaine, Joe Osborne, Larry Knechtel, Steve Barri and Phil Kaye.

Today’s song of the day is better known for Bobby Sherman’s version than Cass’, but I think the 1971 production values and arrangements on this version make it much better. It is originally from her album Bubble Gum, Lemonade &…Something For Mama whose cover image was framed in chewed bubble gum. Elliot died in London in 1974 of a heart attack (and not from choking on a ham sandwich) in the same flat that Keith Moon would die, at the same age four years later.

Edited: June 24th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #96 – Oliver: “Good Morning Starshine” b/w “Jean” – CEMA/American Pie 9057

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #96 – Oliver: “Good Morning Starshine” b/w “Jean” – CEMA/American Pie 9057

North Carolina born William Oliver Swofford got his start in the band The Good Earth when he traded under the name Bill Swofford. But it wasn’t until 1968 when he teamed up with producer Bob Crewe and recorded “Good Morning Starshine” from the then brand new Broadway musical Hair, that he quickly shot to stardom and became a household name.

Written by Gerome Ragni and James Rado on the lyrics and hipster musician Galt MacDermot on the music, the Broadway musical Hair was originally billed as “The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical.” It was responsible for generating several pop chart hits including “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” by The 5th Dimension, “Easy To Be Hard” by Three Dog Night and “Hair” by The Cowsills. MacDermot also wrote the music to the 1971 musical Two Gentlemen Of Verona and released several influential funk and instrumental jazz albums that are currently the rage amongst those “in the know” of the hipster cognoscenti.

The original Broadway cast album to Hair has managed to stand the test of time and the musical has enjoyed numerous successful revivals and tours around the world over the years. I’ve been listening to the record since I was seven years old…way before I knew the meaning of “Sodomy,” “Hashish,” “Colored Spade,” “Walking In Space” and the many other titillating-for-their-time songs in this musical. It is indeed part of my musical DNA.

Oliver’s signature version of the song featuring a cosmic instrumental intro, a soaring Nilsson-esque vocal and a dynamic arrangement to match climbed to #3 on the charts in 1969 selling well over a million copies.

The flip of today’s jukebox classic, his cover of the Rod McKuen classic “Jean” was an even bigger hit for Oliver. The song was originally from the film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.  McKuen was best known as a poet and an easy listening recording artist who garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song even though it didn’t chart. Oliver’s version climbed to #2 on the pop charts and topped the easy listening charts. The song has been covered by dozens of easy listening stars during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Most recently it was covered by Aaron Freeman who is better known as Gene Ween from the now defunct dada-esque rock group Ween.

Oliver became such a huge pop phenomenon at the time that he performed both sides of today’s Jukebox single on The Ed Sullivan Show in January of 1970, along with the song “Sunday Morning” which climbed to #35 on the charts.

All three songs were featured on Oliver’s Good Morning Starshine album that featured his covers of The Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday,” The Beatles’ “In My Life” and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” along with three classics from the Broadway musical Oliver  including “Who Will Buy,” “Where Is Love” and the title song. The album was produced by Bob Crewe who along with Bob Gaudio co-wrote many hits for The Four Seasons, and also produced artists like Bobby Darin, Roberta Flack, Freddy Cannon, Michael Jackson, Peabo Bryson, Patti LaBelle and many others. It  reached #19 on the charts in 1969.

After his meteoric rise to the top with his first two singles, it was unfortunately all downhill from there. Oliver would go on to score several more minor hits including “Sunday Mornin’” (#35), “I Can Remember” (#25 Easy Listening) and “Early Morning Rain” (#38 Easy Listening) before the hits totally dried up.  He split from working with Bob Crewe in 1971 over the direction of his career. Crewe saw Oliver as an easy listening artist while Oliver saw himself as a folkie.

During the 1970s, Oliver toured college campuses under the name Bill Swofford before leaving the music industry entirely. During his later life, Swofford sold real estate and managed a pharmaceutical company. He died of cancer on February 12, 2000 at the age of 54.

“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 twelve 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.

Edited: April 3rd, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #88 – Mason Williams: “Classical Gas” b/w “Baroque- A-Nova”– Warner Bros. 7 Arts 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 Arts-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 a Broadway 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 today’s jukebox classic “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 twelve 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 Mason Williams Phonograph Album – Full Album:

Edited: March 13th, 2014

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 last year 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 twelve 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.

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Edited: March 11th, 2014

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)

“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.

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.

Edited: January 30th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #58– The 5th Dimension: “Medley: Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)” b/w “Don’tcha Hear Me Callin’ To Ya” – Soul City 45 SCR-772 (Q6/R6)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #58– The 5th Dimension: “Medley: Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)” b/w “Don’tcha Hear Me Callin’ To Ya” – Soul City 45 SCR-772 (Q6/R6)

“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.

It was 1969…and Hair was everywhere. I’m not talking about long, beautiful hair…or shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen hair. Nor am I referring to the hair that reaches down to here, down to there…way down past the shoulders hair. I’m talking about Hair – The American Tribal Love Rock Musical.

The Broadway musical opened in 1968 to rave reviews and introduced the hits “Good Morning Starshine,” “Easy To Be Hard” and the title song which were brought to the charts by the likes of Oliver, Three Dog Night and The Cowsills respectively. It is also the show that introduced today’s jukebox classic, “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures),” which topped the charts for six weeks during the spring of 1969 by 5th Dimension.

All of the songs in the musical were written by Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni and James Rado.  MacDermot also wrote the music to the 1971 musical Two Gentlemen Of Verona and released several influential funk and instrumental jazz albums that are currently the rage amongst those “in the know” of the hipster cognoscenti.

I’ve been listening to the cast album of Hair since I was seven years old…way before I knew the meaning of songs like “Sodomy,” “Hashish,” “Colored Spade,” “Walking In Space” and the numerous other titillating-for-their-time songs in this musical. It is indeed part of my musical DNA.

When “Aquarius” hit the radio in 1969, it was one of the grooviest records I had ever heard. It was a record that was so prevalent within the pop culture, but it was also a record that divided the hippies from the establishment. You see, The 5th Dimension records weren’t nearly as cool as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Donovan or the Bob Dylan albums in the record collections of my sister and her friends. To the hippies, The 5th Dimension were the establishment, very much in line with other “uncool and lightweight” artists like Neil Diamond, Glen Campbell, The Monkees and Bobbie Gentry. Of course, time has proven that these latter artists were just cool and, yes groovy and the others.

The 5th Dimension consisted of Billy Davis Jr., Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo, Lamonte McLemore and Ron Townson, and were no strangers to the charts during the 1960s and early 1970s landing such classic hits as “Up, Up And Away,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “One Less Bell To Answer,” “Never My Love” and “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All” into the upper regions of the charts.

After being turned down by Motown Records, the group was signed to Johnny Rivers’ then-new record label Soul City Records. Their brand of groovy sunshine pop featuring soaring harmony vocals was just the tonic for the top-notch material that was being submitted to them by songwriters like Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach and Hal David and Laura Nyro.

When the group brought their desire to record today’s song to their producer Bones Howe, he had some reservations which he detailed in the book By The Time We Got To Woodstock: The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Revolution Of 1969: “The thing that bothered me about it was that there’d been other releases of ‘Aquarius’ and none had done anything, so I was concerned about what we would do that would be any different. I went to see the show and there’s a place where they do “The Flesh Failures” and at the end of the song is just a three bar repeated thing of ‘Let the sunshine in’ where Ragni was swinging across the stage on a chandelier and there was all kinds of craziness going on. That really stayed with me and I came out of the theater saying, I wonder if I could stick that on the end of ‘Aquarius’ and make that the ending. So I went back to the hotel and I called the publisher… I said, look the 5th Dimension would like to record ‘Aquarius,’ but I’d like to make it a medley and I’d like to use the last three bars of ‘The Flesh Failures’ and I don’t want to do it without permission. So he said okay, you can go ahead and do it.” (Song Facts)

The song is set up with one of the most indelible introductions from a 45 of the era, which made it stand out on radio. The intro was later expertly sampled by The Beastie Boys for their track “Finger Lickin’ Good” from their masterpiece album Paul’s Boutique.

Like many artists of the era, The Age Of Aquarius album was recorded on the west coast with backing from The Wrecking Crew including Tommy Tedesco on guitar, Joe Osborn on bass, Hal Blaine on drums, Milt Holland on percussion and Pete Jolly, Larry Knechtel and Jimmy Rowles on keyboards.  

The 5th Dimension’s recording of “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” went on to win the Grammy for Record Of The Year and for Best Pop Vocal Performance in 1970. The song has been covered by the likes of Donna Summer, Engelbert Humperdinck, Andy Williams, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Ventures, The Undisputed Truth, George Shearing, The Moog Machine, Andy Williams with The Osmonds, Spencer Davis Group (in German, no less), Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll and dozens of others.

The cast album to Hair has managed to stand the test of time and the musical has enjoyed numerous successful revivals and tours around the world. The musical was also taken to the big screen in 1979 by director Milos Forman with choreography by Twyla Tharpe, introducing it to numerous later generations.  While I was too young to catch the musical on Broadway in its original incarnation, I did manage to see a revival on Broadway during the 1980s.

FYI: The Age of Aquarius is when the sun is in the constellation Aquarius during the springtime. The next time that this will happen is 2448. We are currently in the age of Pisces.

The single’s flip, “Don’tcha Hear Me Callin’ To Ya” is a breezy confection that was putty in the capable hands of the 5th Dimension. The song is also from The Age Of Aquarius album and was written by Rudy Stevenson who also wrote songs recorded by Herbie Mann, George Benson and Dexter Gordon.

Edited: January 14th, 2014

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)

“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.

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.

Edited: December 22nd, 2013

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)

“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.

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) and several years after recording the song, Neil fulfilled the promise of the lyrics to both songs and gave up the music business entirely in favor of living near the ocean in Florida and 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.

Edited: December 19th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #39 – Glen Campbell: “Wichita Lineman” b/w “Galveston” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 6093 (S4/T4)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #39 – Glen Campbell: “Wichita Lineman” b/w “Galveston” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 6093 (S4/T4)

“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.

Glen Campbell’s long, storied career is Forrest Gump-like in its nature. He was a member of The Champs, who sent the hit “Tequila” up the charts (before he joined them). He was also part of The Wrecking Crew, the West Coast studio elite session musicians who played on literally hundreds of hits during the 1960s by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, The Monkees, The 5th Dimension, Jan & Dean, The Beach Boys and Elvis Presley, to name but a few. He was also a touring member of The Beach Boys replacing Brian Wilson on the road in 1964-5, and playing on the group’s masterpiece Pet Sounds.

He’s a recording artist in his own rite that has sold millions of records and won countless Grammy, Country Music Association and Academy Of Country Music Awards. He’s also a member of the Country Hall Of Fame and was a popular TV host of his own Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour variety show whose connections in the music industry allowed him to feature top-shelf musical guests including The Beatles (on film), The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and dozens of others. He was also a movie star who shared the screen with John Wayne in the film True Grit.

Today’s jukebox classic is a double-shot of Jimmy Webb-penned classics performed by Glen Campbell. The A-side of today’s jukebox single (if you can actually delegate A & B sides to two songs this strong) is “Wichita Lineman,” a million-selling #3 hit from 1968.  The song was written by Jimmy Webb who also wrote classic sixties hits like “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Up-Up And Away” and “MacArthur Park.”

Webb’s inspiration for the song came from a drive he took through the telephone pole-lined roads of Washita County, Oklahoma. As he passed through an endless stream of telephone poles, he noticed a single county lineman in the distance working atop one of the poles. He saw the man as a picture of loneliness, which got him reflecting back on a failed relationship he had with a woman who also served as the inspiration for his song “MacArthur Park.” Webb placed himself on top of the pole speaking into the telephone receiver for the song.

Webb: “I’ve never worked with high-tension wires or anything like that. My characters were all ordinary guys. They were all blue-collar guys who did ordinary jobs…They came from places like Galveston and Wichita and places like that…I (had) a very specific image of a guy I saw working up on the wires out in the Oklahoma panhandle one time with a telephone in his hand talking to somebody. And this exquisite aesthetic balance of all these telephone poles just decreasing in size as they got further and further away from the viewer – that being me – and as I passed him, he began to diminish in size. The country is so flat, it was like this one quick snapshot of this guy rigged up on a pole with this telephone in his hand. And this song came about, really, from wondering what that was like, what it would be like to be working up on a telephone pole and what would you be talking about? Was he talking to his girlfriend? Probably just doing one of those checks where they called up and said, ‘Mile marker 46,’ you know. ‘Everything’s working so far.’” (Song Facts)

The song’s orchestral swells were created by Al DeLory to reflect the shimmering sound of the wind “singing through the wires” atop the poles. The musicians playing on the track were all Wrecking Crew stalwarts including Campbell, Al Casey and James Burton on guitar, Carol Kaye on bass, Jim Gordon on drums and Al DeLory  on piano. It has been covered by the likes of Tom Jones, Johnny Mathis, Robert Goulet, Andy Williams, Bobby Goldsboro, Engelbert Humperdink, Jose Feliciano, Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66, James Taylor and R.E.M.

On the flip is Campbell’s take on an anti-war song that Jimmy Webb wrote while hanging out on the beaches of Galveston, Texas.  It came to Campbell’s attention via Hawaiian singer Don Ho, who recorded a version of the song that was released as the flip side of his “Has Anybody Lost A Love” single in 1968. When Ho appeared on Campbell’s Goodtime Hour TV show in 1969, he gave him a copy of his recording of the song and suggested that he give it a whirl in the studio.

When Campbell recorded the song, he changed the lyrics, replacing the line “Wonder if she could forget me, I’d go home if they would let me, put down this gun and go to Galveston” with “I still hear your sea waves crashing/as I watch the cannons flashing/ I clean my gun/And dream of Galveston.”

Campbell’s version climbed to #4 on the Billboard Pop Charts, and topped the Country and Easy Listening charts in 1969. It also sold over a million copies. “Galveston” was the title track of his 1969 album of the same name which topped the Country Charts and charted at #2 pop. Like his previous album, the musicians included such Wrecking Crew stalwarts as Campbell and Al Casey on guitar, Hal Blaine and Bob Felts on drums, Jo Osborne on bass and Dennis McCarthy on piano.

Currently Campbell is battling Alzheimer’s disease. After completing his final album, he took to the road this past summer one last time before retiring for good.

Edited: December 4th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #37 – Jose Feliciano: “Light My Fire” b/w “California Dreamin’” – RCA Victor 45 RPM Single 47-9550 1968 (P4/Q4)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #37 – Jose Feliciano: “Light My Fire” b/w “California Dreamin’” – RCA Victor 45 RPM Single 47-9550 1968 (P4/Q4)

“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.

Two songs from the 1960s that are unquestionably classics today…and Jose Feliciano had a hand in making them so…

The Doors’ “Light My Fire” topped the US charts in July of 1967, at the height of the Summer Of Love. Along with Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” It became one of the most covered songs by bar bands of the late 1960s.  A year later, the song found its way again on the pop charts peaking at the #3 position as covered by Jose Feliciano as the A-side of today’s single.

Song writer Robby Krieger said in an interview about the cover: “It’s really a great feeling to have written a classic. I think I owe a big debt to Jose Feliciano because he is actually the one, when he did it, everybody started doing it. He did a whole different arrangement on it.” (Wikipedia – James, Gary (1994). “Interview With Robby Krieger”. Classic Bands. Retrieved January 18, 2011.) Feliciano’s version won two 1969 Grammy Awards, for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Best New Artist and firmly established him with the American record buying public.

The flip of the single is Feliciano’s take on The Mamas & Papas’ “California Dreamin’.” The also song made the rounds as another one of the most covered of its era including versions by Wes Montgomery, The Carpenters, The Four Tops, Melanie, Bobby Womack, Hugh Masekela, The Seekers, Raquel Welch, The Beach Boys , Wilson Phillips, and it still gets regularly licensed for use in film and commercials today.

Puerto Rican born Jose Feliciano was permanently blind from his birth in 1945. As a child he learned to play guitar at an early age and was influenced by classical guitarist Andre Segovia, jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery and Ray Charles for his vocal skills.

Feliciano came up from the same fertile Greenwich Village folk ground as Bob Dylan, Fred Neil, John Sebastian and Joan Baez, and he signed with RCA Victor Records in 1964 to begin his long and legendary recording career. He was a virtuoso Latin guitarist whose early records ran the gamut from traditional Latin tunes and pop hits of the day performed in a crossover folk, pop, jazz and soul bag.

By 1967, Feliciano relocated to Los Angeles. He was already a household name in Latin America and RCA teamed him up with producer Rick Jarrod who had worked with Jefferson Airplane and Harry Nilsson to record the both sides of today’s classic single and the album Feliciano!

The album is one of the quintessential albums of the late sixties and features near definitive versions of often covered sixties classics including Gerry & The Pacemakers’ “Don’t Let The Sun Catch Your Crying,” Bacharach & David’s “Always Something There To Remind Me,” Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny,” Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing On My Mind” and of course the requisite Beatles covers “In My Life,” “And I Love Her,” and “Here, There And Everywhere.”

Musicians on the record included José Feliciano on guitar, vocals, arrangements, Ray Brown on bass, Jazz percussionist Milt Holland, Jim Horn on alto flute, recorder and Harry Nilsson’s production team of producer Rick Jarrod, George Tipton providing orchestration, string & woodwind arrangements and Perry Botkin Jr with song arrangements. The single and album were recorded in November 1967 and January 1968 at RCA Victor’s Hollywood studios.

By 1968, Feliciano’s superstardom from the Grammys, hit records and numerous TV appearances was short lived.  Feliciano’s star fell quickly after performing an impassioned and very personal performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” before Game 5 of the 1968 World Series which proved very controversial to many Middle Americans who were never exposed to Latin music. As a result, radio stations stopped playing his records for several years after.

After scoring a surprise hit with his self-penned Christmas classic “Feliz Navidad” in 1970, his career seemed to stall in America, however he has constantly continued to be a strong draw in Latin American countries. During the 1960s and 1970s, he appeared on dozens of TV variety and came back in 1976 with his hit TV theme to Chico And The Man. He also composed music for the 1970s TV shows McMillan & Wife and Kung Fu.

Feliciano is a perennial of the summer shed circuit and continues to perform around the world today.His “Feliz Navidad” has become a regularly played as a Christmas holiday staple during the last months of every year. His latest release is a tribute album to Elvis Presley released last year on the Select-O-Hit record label called The King.

Edited: December 2nd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #35 – Neil Diamond: “Solitary Man” b/w “The Time Is Now” – Bang 45 RPM Single 45 578 (K4/L4)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #35 – Neil Diamond: “Solitary Man” b/w “The Time Is Now” – Bang 45 RPM Single 45 578 (K4/L4)

“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.

I’ve always been willing and able to give Neil Diamond a pass for syrupy hits like “September Morn,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” and the many other middle of the road cringe-worthy songs that he cut during the 1980s, in exchange for the greatness of hits like “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Holly Holy,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “I Am…I Said,” “Song Sung Blue,” “Cherry Cherry,” “Kentucky Woman,” “Thank The Lord For The Night Time,” “I’m A Believer,” “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon,” and today’s jukebox classic, the sublime “Solitary Man.” How could you not?

“Solitary Man” was Neil Diamond’s first single as a recording artist after seeing success as a songwriter of hits for others around the Brill Building.  Diamond was one of the first signees to the Bang record label which was formed in 1965 by Bert Berns, Ahmet Ertegun, Neshui Ertegun and Jerry (Gerald) Wexler. (Their first initials gave the label its name.) Some of Berns’ other early signings on the label were The Strangeloves (“I Want Candy”), The McCoys (“Hang On Sloopy”) and Van Morrison (“Brown Eyed Girl”).

“Solitary Man” was produced by Diamond’s Brill Building cohorts Jeff Barrie and Ellie Greenwich and it was a minor hit when released as a single in 1966 climbing to #50 on the pop singles charts. After signing with UNI Records and having more mainstream success, the song was re-released as a single by Bang in 1970 and it charted again at #21.

Neil Diamond: “Solitary Man was my first song where I tried to really raise the level of my songwriting. It was inspired by the Beatles’ song ‘Michelle,’ which was also written in a minor key. I don’t think I’d ever written a song in a minor key before, it was the first and it kind of broke the dam for me.” (Mojo) It was also an early example of Diamond looking inside to write more personal material about himself. Diamond: “After four years of Freudian analysis I realized I had written ‘Solitary Man’ about myself.” (Pete Paphides from The Times.)

The song was the lead track on Diamond’s debut album for Bang called The Feel Of Neil Diamond. The album included several original compositions including “Cherry Cherry,” “Do It” and “Oh No No (I’ve Got A Feelin’),” plus covers of “Hanky Panky,” “Red Rubber Ball,” “Monday Monday” and “La Bamba.”

The song has been covered by Johnny Cash, Cliff Richard, Chris Isaak, T.G. Sheppard (who scored a #14 Country hit with the song in 1976), Billy Joe Royal, Johnny Rivers, Jay And The Americans, The Sidewinders, B.J. Thomas, the metal band HIM (who took the song into the UK top ten) and many others.

Diamond was one of Bang Records’ early success stories, but he left the label and signed to UNI records because he felt that Berns was holding him back artistically by not releasing his introspective song “Shilo” as a single. After Berns died suddenly in December of 1967, his wife took control of the label and she took to releasing older Diamond song as singles in order to compete with his latest output for UNI. One of the singles she released was “Shilo,” which climbed into the top forty.

The flip of today’s single was one of two B-sides that graced the “Solitary Man” single. The original 1966 issue of the single featured the track “Do It” on the flip; the 1970 rerelease featured the bluesy “The Time Is Now.”

The Neil Diamond we hear on “The Time Is Now” isn’t the syrupy sweet balladeer of “Heartlight” and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” nor is it the fun-loving Brill building party boy of “Cherry Cherry.”  Instead, we get a rough-cut Diamond totally ensconced in the blues.

Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Additionally, he was an honoree at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2011.

Edited: November 24th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #34 – Dusty Springfield: “The Look Of Love” b/w “All I See Is You” – Stardust 45 RPM Single 45-URC-1258 (I4/J4)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #34 – Dusty Springfield: “The Look Of Love” b/w “All I See Is You” – Stardust 45 RPM Single 45-URC-1258 (I4/J4)

“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.

Her voice was smooth, and her delivery was as sultry as it comes. She was the British version of Dionne Warwick, Martha Reeves and Mary Wells all wrapped into one. While she was a much bigger star in her native England, Dusty Springfield sent numerous singles up the charts on these shores as well, including “I Only Want To Be With You” (#12/1963), “Wishin’ And Hopin’” (#6/1963), “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” (#3/1964 UK), “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (#4/1966), “Son Of A Preacher Man (#10/1969), “The Windmills Of Your Mind” (#31/1969) and “What Have I Done To Deserve This” with The Pet Shop Boys (#2/1987).

She was also credited with introducing the Motown Sound to English music fans by helming a special edition of the British music TV show Ready Steady Go!, that featured the first UK TV appearances by Martha Reeves And The Vandellas, The Temptations, The Supremes, the Miracles and Stevie Wonder. She also covered her share of Motown hits for consumption by the UK market.

Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien (aka Dusty Springfield) got her start as a member of the “sister” act The Lana Sisters performing on TV and as part of shows on military bases around the UK. From there, she joined the family folk group called The Springfields with her brothers Tom and Tim who were best known by their recording of “Silver Threads And Golden Needles.”

“The Look Of Love” is one of Dusty Springfield’s signature hits. It was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the James Bond film parody Casino Royal and was originally conceived as an instrumental. It is the epitome of sophisticated song craft coupled with Dusty’s slightly removed smooth and soulful croon atop a light an airy samba beat. It’s no wonder that it was nominated for Best Song in the 1968 Grammy Awards, but lost out to Bobby Russell’s “Little Green Apples,” as recorded by O.C. Smith. Springfield recorded the song twice. The first version was released on the Colgems Records soundtrack to the film Casino Royale.

Burt Bacharach: “When I’m scoring a picture, whether it’s Butch Cassidy or Casino Royale or What’s New Pussycat?, all those melodies that turned into what became hit songs came from what I saw on the screen when I was scoring and what I heard. The first thing is you service the motion picture. If you’re lucky enough and you have a theme that turns into a hit whether it was Dusty (Springfield) singing ‘The Look Of Love’ in Casino Royale, what was most important there was the sexuality of Ursula Andress wearing very little clothes and making very sexy theme with the saxophone playing the melody of ‘The Look Of Love.’ Then we put Dusty on. First and foremost is it’s written for the picture, you don’t force it in.” (Record Collector via Songfacts)

Springfield then rerecorded the song for the Philips label in 1967, where it was relegated to the B-side of the “Give Me Time” single. It also appeared on The Look Of Love album, which was her last U.S. album for Philips Records in 1967 before signing with Atlantic and releasing the landmark Dusty In Memphis album. (Tracks for her last Philips album entitled Dusty Definitely in England were not released in America until the 1990s under the title Dusty In London.)

The song has been covered by a myriad of artists including Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 (whose version charted at #4 on the pop charts), Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Isaac Hayes, Ahmad Jamal, Claudine Longet, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Dionne Warwick, Andy Williams, The Delfonics, Tony Joe White, The Meters, The Vanilla Fudge, The Zombies, Diana Krall (whose recording made it into the top ten of the Canadian charts), Anita Baker and literally dozens more.

The flip is Springfield’s 1966 single “All I See Is You”, written by Ben Weisman & Carl Westlake, which also reached the US Top 20. The record itself is kind of an oddity in my collection as I have no recollection as to where I got it, and I’ve never heard of the record label either. (That will be for another day’s research…)

Edited: November 21st, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #26 – Dionne Warwick: “Knowing When To Leave” b/w “Make It Easy On Yourself” – Scepter 45 RPM Single SCE-12294 (L3/M3)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #26 – Dionne Warwick: “Knowing When To Leave” b/w “Make It Easy On Yourself” – Scepter 45 RPM Single SCE-12294 (L3/M3)

“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.

The great thing about having a jukebox is that you get to decide what the A-side of the single will be by the way you place the single into its slot. Case in point is today’s jukebox classic. I bought the single specifically for the track “Knowing When To Leave” which is technically the B-side. The real A-side is a live version of “Make It Easy On Yourself,” but not in my jukebox.

“Walk On By,” “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” “You’ll Never Get To Heaven (If You Break My Heart),” “Message To Michael,” “Alfie,” “”Do You Know The Way To San Jose,” “I Say A Little Prayer” — the list goes on and on, making an argument for the notion that the songwriting partnership of Burt Bacharach and Hal David was one of the most important in the history of pop music on par with Lennon and McCartney. Add the sophisticated stylings of Dionne Warwick into the mix and you got recordings that resulted in pure pop perfection.

It was a marriage made in heaven, but soon after this recording, the marriage would dissolve into lawsuits and acrimony.

But for now, things were good. Bacharach and David were coming off of their 1968 hit Broadway musical Promises, Promises which was based on Neil Simon’s film The Apartment. The musical ran for 1,281 performances and featured several hit songs (all recorded by Warwick) including the title hit, “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” “Wanting Things” and today’s Song Of The Day, “Knowing When To Leave.”

After recording her 1968 album, also titled Promises, Promises, with Bacharach and David, Warwick went to Memphis where she recorded an album of soul covers called Soulful with Chips Moman. So the time was ripe for Warwick to return to her winning partnership with Bacharach and David, which they did for the 1970 album, I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.

The reunion of Warwick with Bacharach and David resulted in their last great album together, it would also be one of the last albums Warwick would record for Scepter Records where she spent the entirety of her career up to that point.  The album featured a clutch of some of the writing team’s greatest songs including “Loneliness Remembers What Happiness Forgets,” “The Wine Is Young,” “Paper Mache,” “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” and today’s Song Of The Day. Added to the album’s tune stack was Warwick’s own version of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” plus covers of George Harrison’s “Something,” Jimmy Webb’s “Didn’t We” and Paul Anka’s “My Way.”

The album’s title song was originally a last minute addition to the musical Promises, Promises. “’I’ll Never Fall In Love Again’ was written quicker than any song that I ever wrote with Hal. I had just gotten out of the hospital. I’d been on the road and gotten pneumonia. We were on the road with Promises, Promises and we’d try to get this song written and into the show the next night or two nights later. That’s where Hal’s line came from, ‘what do you do when you kiss a girl, you get enough germs to catch pneumonia, after you do she’ll never phone ya.’ So having been in the hospital for five days with pneumonia, I got out and struggled to write that song feeling not too great.” – Burt Bacharach (from Record Collector magazine)

After the release of this album, Warwick signed a lucrative contract with Warner Bros. Records. Her new contract specified that subsequent recording would be made with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s involvement. Their first album for the label, titled Dionne was a minor hit, only landing at #57 on the album charts.

At the time, Bacharach and David had just wrapped their first film musical Lost Horizon which when released was a colossal flop resulting in the bitter dissolution of the two writers’ songwriting partnership. This left Warwick in a precarious position with Warner Bros. facing the prospect of a breach of contract law suit. As a result, she was forced to sue Burt Bacharach and Hal David for breach of contract, ending their partnership as well.

It would be many years before Warwick would work again with Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

The true A-side to today’s jukebox classic is Dionne Warwick’s live recording of “Make It Easy On Yourself.” The Bacharach-David song was originally a hit for Jerry Butler in 1962. The song made it into the pop top twenty and reached #18 on the R&B charts. Butler originally heard the song from a demo featuring Warwick’s vocal. Warwick was under the impression that the song would be her debut single, but Scepter Records honcho Florence Greenberg rejected that idea and gave the song to Butler.

A very disappointed Warwick balked at Bacharach and David’s assurance that they would give her a song to record every bit as good as “Make It Easy On Yourself” by telling them “Don’t make me over, man.” Bacharach took her rebuke and wrote the song “Don’t Make Me Over” which ultimately became Warwick’s debut single. Warwick’s demo recording of “Make It Easy On Yourself” became an album track on her 1963 debut album called Presenting Dionne Warwick.

Warwick would later return to the song with a live single version in 1970 recorded at the Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. The concert version of the song peaked at #2 on the easy listening charts while climbing to #37 on the pop charts.

The Walker Brothers topped the UK charts with their version of the song in 1965, although it only climbed to #16 on the U.S. pop charts. The song was also covered by The Carpenters (as part of a Bacharach medley), Johnny Mathis, Cilla Black, Tony Bennett, Glen Campbell, The Four Seasons, Sarah Vaughan, Long John Baldry and Rick Astley.

Edited: November 11th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #24 – Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass: Jukebox EP: Whipped Cream & Other Delights “A Taste Of Honey,” “Green Peppers,” “Whipped Cream” b/w “Bittersweet Samba,” “Lollipops And Roses,” “El Garbanzo” – A&M 33 1/3 RPM Jukebox EP SP 410 (G3/H3)

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #24 – Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass: Jukebox EP: Whipped Cream & Other Delights “A Taste Of Honey,” “Green Peppers,” “Whipped Cream” b/w “Bittersweet Samba,” “Lollipops And Roses,” “El Garbanzo” – A&M 33 1/3 RPM Jukebox EP SP 410 (G3/H3)

“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.

Jukebox EPs (or extended plays, or tiny albums) were made for the jukebox market during the 1950s through the mid-1970s. They were small-holed 7” records that played at 33 1/3 RPM and cost 25-50 cents per play. They typically included four to six tracks from an album and afforded the listener at a diner or bar an extended taste of a record by their favorite artist.

Today’s jukebox EP is culled from a record with the most iconic album cover of all time, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass’ classic Whipped Cream & Other Delights featuring half of the album’s twelve tracks.

Before forming the Tijuana Brass and a record company (A&M) that still lives today, Herb Alpert was best known for co-writing Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World” and producing tracks for Jan & Dean.  All that changed in 1962 when he recorded the single “The Lonely Bull” in his garage and gave birth to one of the biggest recording acts of the 1960s rivaling The Beatles.

The first few Tijuana Brass albums were recorded with a cadre of Los Angeles studio musicians. For the group’s fourth album, Whipped Cream & Other Delights, Alpert recruited future Tijuana Brass members John Pisano (guitar) and Bob Edmondson (trombone) and augmented them with Wrecking Crew members Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Chuck Berghofer, and Russell Bridges (aka Leon Russell). Once the album took off, Alpert solidified the TJB lineup by adding Nick Ceroli (drums), Pat Senatore (bass), Tonni Kalash (trumpet), Lou Pagani (piano), and Julius Wechter who played marimba and vibes only on studio recordings.

The food-themed Whipped Cream album, featuring such tasty tunes as “Tangerine,” “Butterball,” “Peanuts” and “Love Potion No. 9,” topped the charts and sold over 6 million copies in the United States. It also won five Grammy Awards, three for the single, “A Taste of Honey” which is the lead track on today’s EP. Sol Lake, who contributed numerous original songs to the TJB repertoire, wrote “Green Peppers,’ “Bittersweet Samba” and “El Garbanzo” for the album. The other track on this EP is “Lollipops And Roses.”

“Whipped Cream,” the album’s title track, is an Allen Toussaint-penned creation (under the pseudonym Naomi Neville) that was heard regularly on the TV game show, The Dating Game, as bachelorettes were being introduced to the audience.  Three other songs from the album, “Lollipops And Roses,” “Lemon Tree” and “Ladyfingers” were also used on the show as musical cues, as well as “Spanish Flea” from the TJB’s follow-up album, Going Places!.

“A Taste Of Honey” was written by Bobby Scott and Rick Marlow for the 1960 Broadway musical of the same name. The song was originally recorded as an instrumental by Bobby Scott.  The lyrics were specifically written by Marlow so Tony Bennett could record it. Lenny Welch recorded a vocal version of the song in 1962 that was heard by The Beatles who adapted it for their own recording on the Please Please Me album in 1963. The song was also a part of The Beatles’ live repertoire, and can be heard on 1962 recordings from The Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany.

The oft-covered song was also committed to vinyl by Barbra Streisand, Julie London, Tony Bennett, Chet Baker, Trini Lopez, Martin Denny, Acker Bilk, Chat Atkins, Bobby Darin, The Hollies, Tom Jones, Allan Sherman (as “A Waste Of Money”), Andy Williams, Lionel Hampton, The Ventures, Peggy Lee, The Temptations and The Rascals, to name but a few of the hundreds of versions of the song that exist.

And then there’s the album and EP cover…the most iconic in all of recorded music…the cover that launched millions of young adolescent boys sex lives!

The model on the cover, Dolores Erickson, was three months pregnant when the photo was taken!  It was parodied by such artists as Pat Cooper (Spaghetti Sauce & Other Delights), Soul Asylum (Clam Dip & Other Delights), Cherry Capri and the Martini Kings (Creamy Cocktails & Other Delights), The Frivolous Five (Sour Cream & Other Delights), plus on Herb Alpert tribute albums by Peter Nero and Dave Lewis.

Thanks to my buddy Kent Rayhill (of Ohana Films), I am the proud owner of not one…not two…but 151 copies of this record…can you really ever get enough Whipped Cream & Other Delights?

Several years ago, I went to see Herb Alpert perform with his wife Lani Hall (of Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66) perform at a club. These days, Alpert covers his entire Tijuana Brass era by performing a cursory medley of their hits. The format of the show included questions and answers from the audience between songs. At the show I attended, I remarked from the audience that I have 151 copies of Whipped Cream on vinyl. Herb was somewhat taken aback by this random fact and went on to tell the story of the album cover image.

After the show, I met Alpert backstage and had him sign a sealed copy of the album for me. He asked me why I had so many copies of the album and if they were worth anything. I told him that musically, they were priceless, but since he sold millions of copies of the album back in the 1960s, they are plentiful and sell for about 25 cents each. He took it all in stride.

The following night, he performed another show in the Chicago area of which a few of my friends were in attendance. When an audience member inquired about the Whipped Cream album, he remarked that he met a guy the previous night that owns 151 copies of the album. I guess I made an impression on him (however nutty an impression that may have been).

Edited: November 7th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #21 – Peggy Lee: “Is That All There Is” b/w “Me And My Shadow” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 2602 (A3/B3)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #21 – Peggy Lee: “Is That All There Is” b/w “Me And My Shadow” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 2602 (A3/B3)

“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.

Records seldom get any darker than today’s jukebox classic by Peggy Lee. “Is That All There Is” was written by songwriters Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, the team who gave us such classic hits as “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Searchin’,” “Young Blood,” “Charlie Brown,” “Poison Ivy,” “Kansas City,” “Stand  By Me,” “Love Potion No. 9,” “Spanish Harlem” and many others, too numerous to mention here.

The impetus for the song came to Jerry Lieber from his wife Gaby Rodgers, who introduced him to the 1896 short story Disillusionment by Nobel Prize winning author Thomas Mann. Many of the song’s lyrics including its title were picked up directly from the text of the story. Lieber picked two specific incidents in the story, the house fire and the breakup of a romance for the verses, and then he added his own verse about the circus to complete the record. When Mike Stoller read Lieber’s lyrics he said that the story “ached with the bittersweet irony of the German cabaret.” As a result, Stoller based the music on that of Threepenny Opera composers Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.

The song was originally recorded by Georgia Brown, Tony Bennett, Guy Lombardo, Marlene Dietrich and Leslie Uggams before making its way to Peggy Lee. Lieber and Stoller also offered it to Barbra Streisand’s management who turned it down for their charge. When Streisand finally heard the song, she complained that she got passed over for a crack at recording it.

By the time that Lee got around to recording this song in 1969, the big band era from which she got her start as a vocalist with Benny Goodman was long over, as well as the many hit making years that followed during the 1950s. Her last top ten hit before today’s Song Of The Day was “Fever” back in 1958.

The song’s orchestral arrangement was written by Randy Newman who also conducted the orchestra on the record. The track was included on Lee’s 1969 album of the same name in which she covers Neil Diamond’s “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” George Harrison’s “Something,” Randy Newman’s “Love Story” and Lieber & Stoller’s “I’m A Woman.” She also revisited the song “Me And My Shadow” that she had recorded many years earlier for the album, making it the B-side to the single.

When Lee agreed to record the song, she was very specific as to how many times she would sing the song for them. Jerry Lieber picks up the story in the book Hound Dog: The Lieber And Stoller Autobiography:  “I’ll do three takes, she said, and no more … The initial takes weren’t great. She had to ease her way into the mood and find that sweet spot. At take 10, she still didn’t have it. But being a trouper, Peggy kept going. At take 15, I suspect that she took a belt because her takes were improving. Take 30 was good, but take 36 was pure magic. I looked at Mike and Mike looked at me and we could do nothing but jump up and down with joy. This was one of the greatest performances ever. Peggy had done it. We had done it. The enormous potential of this little song had been realized.”

Continues Lieber: “Let’s hear it back, I told the engineer. We waited. Silence. We waited a little longer. More silence. What’s wrong?, asked Peggy. I’m dying to hear the last take. Then came the words that cut through me like a knife. I forgot to hit the record button, said the engineer. What do you mean you forgot to hit the record button?, I screamed at the top of my lungs. This has to be a f*ckin’ prank! No one forgets to hit the record button. This was the greatest take in the history of takes! Stop joking! Let’s hear it! Play the goddamn thing!”

“But there was nothing to play. Nothing to do. Nothing had been recorded. Killing this kid would have been too kind. Yet Peggy, bless her heart, was stoic. Guess I’ll have to sing it again, she said bravely. And she did. Take 37 was nothing short of marvelous. That’s the take the world knows today. She is melancholy, she’s sultry, she’s fatalistic, she is in tune, and she delivers the song with a wondrous sense of mystery. It is good — it is, in fact, very, very good — but it is not, nor will ever be, take 36.” The 37th take was the one that was used as the master, with various splices from the other takes.

Lee’s recording climbed to the #11 position on the pop charts and topped the easy listening charts in 1969. The song also went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance the following year. Throughout the years, it has been covered by the likes of Chaka Khan, Sandra Bernhard, P.J. Harvey, Bette Midler and rock group Giant Sand.

Edited: November 4th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #20 – Frank Sinatra: “Summer Wind” b/w “Strangers In The Night” – Reprise “Back-To-Back Hits” 45 RPM Single GRE-0710 (S2/T2)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #20 – Frank Sinatra: “Summer Wind” b/w “Strangers In The Night” – Reprise “Back-To-Back Hits” 45 RPM Single GRE-0710 (S2/T2)

“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.

There was something magical about easy listening music from the early and mid-1960s. It was a strange confluence of male vocalists, some more talented than others, like Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Steve Lawrence, Johnny Mathis, John Davidson, John Gary, Tony Bennett and of course, the Chairman Of The Board, Frank Sinatra. They were smooth singers with worldly good looks. The ladies were just as compelling, from the likes of Eydie Gorme, Vikki Carr, Julie London, Shirley Bassey and “Babs” Barbra Streisand. There was a sophistication level in their craft that hasn’t been matched since that particular era.

1966 was a very good year for pop vocal music in general, and especially for Frank Sinatra. He broke through again on the pop charts with a number one album called Strangers In The Night and the number one single of the same name that appealed to both young and old alike. The album would go on to win Album of The Year at the 1967 Grammy Awards and Record Of The Year for the title track.

The album was Sinatra’s last one with Nelson Riddle providing arrangements, and Riddle went out with a bang on the swinging “All Or Nothing At All” featuring an arrangement not unlike the one he did for “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”  On top of that, there are masterful Sinatra versions of sixties easy listening staples like “Call Me,” “On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)” and “Downtown.”

“Doobey Doobey Doo.”

For a while back in the late ‘60s, that’s all that could be heard pouring out of the mono AM radio speakers in the car my dad drove. At the time, that music was much better than rest of his automotive musical fodder which consisted of the kind of instrumental music that the “Beautiful Music” stations would broadcast.

“Strangers” evocative melody was written by Bert Kaempfert (who was famous for writing such easy listening fare as Wayne Newton’s “Donke Schoen,” Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” and “A Swingin’ Safari,” which was also known as “The Theme from The Match Game” game show. ) The melody was originally titled “Beddie Bye” and it was written for the film A Man Could Get Killed. The lyrics were written by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder (who both also wrote the lyrics to Al Martino’s immortal “Spanish Eyes”).

Jack Jones actually recorded the song before Sinatra got around to it, and Sinatra was said to hate the song calling it “a piece of shit” and “the worst fucking song that I have ever heard.” (Sinatra: The Life) However, he managed to warm up to its powers as it rose to the top of the charts, and it became a staple of his performances for the rest of his life.

On the flip of this double A-sided single is “Summer Wind,” which really is the essence of the classic summer single…light, warm and breezy, with a hint of the kind of ennui you can only feel as the summer comes to a close thrown in for good measure. The song’s intro sets the perfect mood with its mélange of Wurlitzer styled organ and sexy Nelson Riddle horn arrangements. “Summer Wind” sported lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Heinz Meier, and Wayne Newton had a #78 chart his with the song in 1965 before Sinatra got around to recording it also for the Strangers In The Night album.

The song has been used numerous times in advertisements, movies and in TV shows. One of the song’s greatest TV uses was in the summer-themed episode of The Simpsons called Bart Of Darkness which is based on the Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window. In the episode the family gets a pool and the Simpson’s back yard attracts all of the neighborhood kids. Bart breaks his leg and spends his summer at his bedroom window looking at the festivities below until he thinks he’s witnessed a murder at the Flanders’ house.

Edited: November 2nd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #18 – Richard Harris: “MacArthur Park” b/w “Didn’t We” – Dunhill 45 RPM Single D-4134 (O2/P2)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #18 – Richard Harris: “MacArthur Park” b/w “Didn’t We” – Dunhill 45 RPM Single D-4134 (O2/P2)

“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.

Along with Glen Campbell and Art Garfunkel, Richard Harris was one of a handful of great interpreters of the songs of Jim Webb. When he wasn’t acting in films like A Man Called Horse, Camelot and, of course playing the part of Albus Dumbledore in the first few Harry Potter films, he made records. While most of his records were dreadful, his first album of Jim Webb songs called A Tramp Shining was a winner, including today’s jukebox classic “MacArthur Park.”

Who knows what was really going on in songwriter Jimmy Webb’s mind when he wrote the somewhat nonsensical lyrics to this song, but one thing for sure is that it is a classic brought to the upper regions of the charts not once, but twice.

The song has its roots in a twenty minute cantata that Webb wrote that ended with “MacArthur Park.” When the cantata was offered to producer Bones Howe for The Association to record, the group declined because they didn’t want to give up that big a chunk of their album to such a long track.

The inspiration for the song came from a breakup between Jim Webb and Susan Horton who worked across the street from MacArthur Park in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles where the two would meet for lunch. The very same relationship also spawned Webb’s song “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.”

The “cake in the rain” lyric of the song was recently explained by Colin McCourt who used to work for the publisher of the song. When Webb heard that Susan Horton was getting married in MacArthur Park, he attended the wedding but hid in a gardener’s shed so as not to be noticed by the bride.  It began to pour during the ceremony and Webb saw the wedding cake through the rain running off the roof of the shed and it looked like it was melting.

The track was recorded at Armin Steiner’s Sound Recorders in Hollywood with backing from members of the Wrecking Crew including Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, Joe Osborn on bass and Mike Deasy on guitar, along with Jim Webb on harpsichord.

During the recording, Webb kept correcting Harris who continually uses the possessive form “MacArthur’s Park” throughout the song. After a while, Webb realized it was futile and let Harris have his way, resulting in many subsequent covers of the song carrying the incorrect possessive form in the lyrics. Like The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” the single was also one of the longer songs to hit the top-ten of the singles charts during the late 1960s, clocking in at over seven minutes. The song also won a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement for Accompanying Vocalist in 1969.

The single was released in 1968 and reached the number two slot on the charts. It was subsequently covered by artists as diverse as Donna Summer (who took it to the top of the charts in 1978 with her disco version), Frank Sinatra, Waylon Jennings, Liza Minnelli, The 5th Dimension, The Supremes, Justin Hayward (of The Moody Blues), Ferrante & Teicher, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and “Weird Al” Yankovic, who parodied it with his version “Jurassic Park.”

The flip of the single, “Didn’t We” was the opening track to A Tramp Shining, Harris’ album of Jim Webb compositions.  Reviewer Bruce Eder had the following to say about this song:  “Harris treaded onto Frank Sinatra territory here, and he did it with a voice not remotely as good or well trained as his, yet he pulled it off by sheer bravado and his ability as an actor, coupled with his vocal talents.” (Allmusic) The song was covered by a whole host of pop vocalists during the sixties and seventies including Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Thelma Houston, Matt Monroe and Jim Webb.

Edited: October 30th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #17 – Nancy Sinatra: “These Boots Are Made For Walking” b/w “Sugar Town” – Rhino/Collectables 45 RPM Single 033 (M2/N2)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #17 – Nancy Sinatra: “These Boots Are Made For Walking” b/w “Sugar Town” – Rhino/Collectables 45 RPM Single 033 (M2/N2)

“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.

Talent doesn’t always run in the family, but back in the late 1960s a lesser talent was matched with the likes of producer, arranger and all-around Svengali Lee Hazelwood, and solid gold was minted. Case in point is today’s Jukebox classic, “These Boots Are Made For Walking” by Nancy Sinatra.

Let’s face it, Nancy Sinatra would have never received the breaks she got in the music business had it not been for her iconic father, Frank Sinatra and his record label. That’s not to say that Nancy Sinatra is untalented. She possesses a passable voice, and during the 1960s she wasn’t too hard to look at either.

Today’s Song Of The Day was written and produced by Lee Hazlewood who encouraged Sinatra to sing the song as if she were “a sixteen year old girl who fucks truck drivers.” Hazlewood had originally intended to record the song himself, but the song worked much better coming from the perspective of a woman. (Perhaps, not coming from a 16 year old girl, but certainly an empowered woman.) Sinatra: “The image created by ‘Boots’ isn’t the real me.  ‘Boots’ was hard and I’m as soft as they come.” (Quote from Song Facts) That said, the song established Nancy Sinatra as a no-nonsense, take no prisoners kind of artist, and it ultimately went on to sell over six million copies worldwide.

Sinatra was no fly-by-night artist and during her career, she managed to land 10 hits on the Billboard charts including “How Does That Grab You Darlin’,” “Friday’s Child,” the Lee Hazelwood duets “Summer Wine,” “Jackson,” “Oh, Lonesome Me” and “Some Velvet Morning,” “You Only Live Twice,” and her chart topping duet with her famous father “Somethin’ Stupid.”  And even though she was signed to her father’s Reprise record label, she was still in danger of being dropped from her contract.

Lee Hazlewood: “When ‘Boots’ was #1 in half the countries in the world, Nancy came over to my house, and she was crying. She said, ‘They didn’t pick up on my option at Reprise and they said I owed them $12,000.’ I said, ‘You’re kidding, we’ve got the biggest record in the world.’ I rang my lawyer in New York and I rang Nancy the next day and said, ‘How would you like $1 million? I’ve got 3 labels that are offering that for you right now and I can get something pretty good for myself as well.’ She talked to her father and he said she could write her own contract with Reprise – after all she was selling more records than him at the time.” (Quotes from 1000 UK #1 Hits via Song Facts.)

Wrecking Crew stalwarts including Al Casey, Tommy Tedesco and Billy Strange (guitar), Carole Kaye (electric bass), Hal Blaine (drums), Don Randi (keyboards), Chuck Berghofer (string bass) and Ollie Mitchell, Roy Caton and Lew McCreary (horns) were all present and accounted for on the session that gave us this number one hit in February of 1966. A video was also shot for the song to be played on “Scopitone Video Jukeboxes,” and in 1966 and 1967, Sinatra traveled to Vietnam to perform the song for the troops, who adopted it as their unofficial anthem.

So what ever became of the boots that Sinatra wears on the cover of the Boots album? The now-famous boots were made into table lamps that sit on either side of Sinatra’s couch at home.

The flip of today’s double A-sided single, “Sugar Town” climbed to the #5 position on the pop charts in December of 1966, and also reached the top slot on the Easy Listening charts in January of 1967. The song appeared on the follow-up album to Boots called Sugar, and was also performed on Sinatra’s Movin’ With Nancy TV special in 1967.

As light and innocuous as it may seem, “Sugar Town” was actually written about taking LSD, Hazelwood: “I was in a folk club in LA which had two levels. I could see these kids lining up sugar cubes and they had an eye-dropper and were putting something on them. I wasn’t a doper so I didn’t know what it was but I asked them. It was LSD and one of the kids said, ‘You know, it’s kinda Sugar Town.’ Nancy knew what the song was about because I told her, but luckily Reprise didn’t.” (Quote from Song Facts.)

Edited: October 29th, 2013