Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Rivers’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: August 9th, 2015

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

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

“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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Growing up, “Secret Agent Man” was my son’s favorite song in the jukebox. When he was small he used to think the lyrics said “Secret Asian Man” and he’d run around the living room whenever it was played singing those lyrics as loud as he could. Today he’s 16 and proud to admit that he now knows better…

Edited: January 20th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9-11-13 – “Show And Tell” by Al Wilson

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Show And Tell” by Al Wilson

Today’s Song Of The Day is the signature hit by soul great Al Wilson. While Wilson is closely identified with the song, he wasn’t the first artist to record this classic hit. That honor went to none other than Johnny Mathis, who recorded it in 1972, a year before Wilson took it to the charts.

Al Wilson spent his formative years kicking around San Bernardino, California working odd jobs, singing in soul groups and developing comedy routines with an eye towards a career in entertainment, before joining the Navy and singing in the enlisted men’s chorus.

After two years in the Navy, Wilson relocated to Los Angeles and signed with manager Marc Gordon who got him an audition with Johnny Rivers who ultimately signed him to his Soul City record label. Rivers produced the session that resulted in the Northern Soul classic “The Snake” that made it up to #27 on the pop charts in 1968. Several other minor chart singles followed on the Soul City imprint including a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Lodi” which reached the #67 position on the charts.

By 1973, Wilson was signed to the Rocky Road record label, a subsidiary of Bell Records, where he released the album Show And Tell and its title hit single which sold over 2 million copies. The song was ultimately named the Number One Single Of the Year in 1973 by Cashbox. Most of the songs on the album (including the title hit) were written by Jerry Fuller.

Jerry Fuller was known for writing the Ricky Nelson hits “Travelin’ Man,” “A Wonder Like You,” “Young World” and “It’s Up To You.” He also discovered Gary Puckett & The Union Gap and wrote their hits “Lady Willpower,” “Young Girl” and “Over You,” plus he also wrote and produced hits for The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, O.C. Smith (“Little Green Apples”) and The Knickerbockers (“Lies”).

Wilson’s follow up single from 1974, “The La La Peace Song” made it into the top twenty of the R&B charts, but suffered by a competing version by O.C. Smith that was also climbing the charts at the same time. Two years later, Wilson scored a #3 R&B single with “I’ve Got a Feeling (We’ll Be Seeing Each Other Again)” which also made it into the top thirty of the pop charts. His final chart single was “Count The Days” in 1979.

Wilson continued performing in clubs and soul reviews for the next 25 years, long after the hits stopped coming.  In 1989, Peabo Bryson took “Show And Tell” to the top of the R&B charts, and in 2007 Wilson lost many of his original master tapes when his home recording studio burned down. Wilson died in April of 2008 of kidney failure at the age of 68.

I posted this ear worm of a song the other day sans commentary for laughs, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since…such is the stuff that makes a hit record, an everlasting hit record…

Edited: September 10th, 2013

Song Of The Day – 8/7/11

Song Of The Day – “Secret Agent Man” by Johnny Rivers

 Today is my son, Charlie’s birthday. Growing up, this was and still is his favorite song in my jukebox. When he was small he used to think the lyrics were “Secret Asian Man.” He’s 14 today and proud to admit he now knows better…

Edited: August 6th, 2011