Posts Tagged ‘Rock’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: December 7th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: November 30th, 2015

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

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

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

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

Edited: November 26th, 2015

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

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

Happy 44th birthday to this performance!

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: November 17th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: November 3rd, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: October 21st, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: October 4th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: September 28th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: September 21st, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: September 20th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: August 30th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: August 26th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: August 24th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Edited: August 18th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: August 11th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: August 10th, 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)

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 #61– The Shocking Blue: “Venus” b/w “Hot Sand” – Colossus 45 C-108 (A7/B7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: August 4th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: August 2nd, 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 #52– The Monkees: “Pleasant Valley Sunday” b/w “Words” – Colgems 45 66-1007 (C6/D6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: July 14th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: July 13th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited: July 6th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #47 – Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band: “Garden Party” b/w “So Long Mama” – Decca 45 32980 (N5/P5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #47 – Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band: “Garden Party” b/w “So Long Mama” – Decca 45 32980 (N5/P5)

There are only a few artists that have more than one record in my jukebox, and today’s song is the second record by Rick Nelson. Previously, The Jukebox Series #30 focused on a double slab of rockabilly by way of Ricky Nelson’s “Stood Up”/”Waitin’ In School” single from the late 1950s when he was at the pinnacle of his popularity recording for Imperial Records. Today’s jukebox classic looks at “Garden Party,” Nelson’s last big hit single from the early 1970s.

From 1957 to 1962, Nelson scored 30 Top-40 hits including “A Teenager’s Romance (#2 Pop), “I’m Walkin’” (#4 Pop), “Be Bop Baby” (#3 Pop ), “Stood Up” ( #2 Pop/#8 Country), “Poor Little Fool” (#1 Pop/#3 Country), “Lonesome Town” (#7 Pop), “It’s Late” (#9 Pop), “Never Be Anyone Else But You” (#6 Pop), “Just A Little Too Much” (#9 Pop), “Sweeter Than You” (#9 Pop), “Travelin’ Man” (#1 Pop), “Hello Mary Lou” (#9 Pop), “Young World” (#5 Pop), “Teen Age Idol” (#5 Pop) and “For You” (#6 Pop).

In 1963, Nelson signed a long-term deal with Decca Records. Although his Decca era produced some solidly great albums and singles, his standing on the charts was dismal. As the 1960s came to a close, you pretty much could not give a Rick Nelson record away and things got so bad that Nelson began performing shows on the oldies circuit at county fairs.

By 1972, Nelson had released 15 albums for Decca Records, each one with increasingly diminished sales. Without the radio and TV exposure that Nelson had benefitted from in the past, he was deeply entrenched in a commercial slump that it seemed at the time he would never recover from.

Nelson had formed a sturdy country rock outfit to back him called The Stone Canyon Band that included Nelson on guitar and vocals, Allen Kemp on guitar, Tom Brumley on steel guitar, Stephen A. Love on bass and Patrick Shanahan on drums. The band focused on playing original country rock material that was very much in step with the times, but played against the sensibility of his older fan base who wanted to see their hero only play his hits of the past. His sets usually consisted of mostly originals with a few oldies thrown in for good measure. Even so, oldies like “Hello Mary Lou” were totally reworked as country songs.

In October of 1971, Nelson performed on a rock and roll oldies bill with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Bobby Rydell at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Nelson appeared on stage wearing bell-bottomed pants and a purple velvet shirt with hair down to his shoulders. The band launched into a set that featured mostly new material which was roundly met with boos from the audience. Disgusted by the response his new material received by the audience, Nelson went home, licked his wounds and wrote today’s jukebox classic “Garden Party.”

The song’s lyrics summed up the entire experience thusly: “But it’s all right now, I’ve learned my lesson well. You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”

There were many veiled references throughout the song about the people who attended the concert, the songs Nelson performed on stage, and the other artists on the bill. One lyric speaks about Yoko bringing her walrus (which was John Lennon) and another, “Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes, wearing his disguise” referred to another Beatle. The Mr. Hughes in the song was not Howard Hughes, but Nelson’s good friend George Harrison who was also his next door neighbor. Harrison used the “Hughes” alias when he traveled. The Dylan’s shoes line is a reference to an album of Dylan covers Harrison was planning to record which never materialized.

The line “I said hello to Mary Lou, she belongs to me” is a reference to two songs that Nelson preformed that night, his own hit “Hello Mary Lou” and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “She Belongs To Me,” and the line “I sang a song about a Honky-Tonk” refers to Nelson’s cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Country Honk” he also performed. The last line of the song, “But if memories were all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck,” is a reference to Elvis Presley and the job he had before he became a star.

When released as a single, “Garden Party” became Nelson’s first top ten hit since “For You” in 1963, climbing to #6 on the Billboard Singles charts and topping the Adult Contemporary list. The song has been covered by Johnny Lee, John Fogerty and Phish.

The flip of today’s single is a somewhat nondescript country romp written by Nelson from the Garden Party album that features some great picking in the intro. Nelson died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1985. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.

“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 30th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #46 – Elton John: “Bennie And The Jets” b/w “Harmony” – MCA 45 40198 (K5/L5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #46 – Elton John: “Bennie And The Jets” b/w “Harmony” – MCA 45 40198 (K5/L5)

To think that today’s jukebox classic which was a #1 hit here in the United States, wasn’t even considered for a single release at all in the UK. That says something about the ultra-high quality of the songs on Elton John’s seventh album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Elton John had little faith in the song as a single and was against its release. John: “I fought tooth and nail against ‘Bennie’ coming out as a single,” (The Making Of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Eagle Vision DVD) and he was shocked when the record topped the US charts.

The song was released as a single only after it began to receive airplay in Ontario, Canada and Detroit where it topped the local radio charts. Once it was released, it also topped the national charts and sold almost three million copies. The song also peaked at #15 on the Billboard Soul Singles chart paving the way for John’s appearance on Soul Train in 1975 where he performed the song and “Philadelphia Freedom.”

(It should be noted that while “Bennie And The Jets” wasn’t released as a single in the UK, they got “Candle In The Wind” in its place which wasn’t released here as a single until John re-recorded it in tribute to Princess Diana after her death.)

While “Bennie And The Jets” sounds like a live concert recording, it is actually a studio track. Producer Gus Dudgeon suggested they give it a live concert ambience by mixing reverb and applause from some of Elton’s concerts into the mix of the track. He also used some audience sounds from Jimi Hendrix’s Isle Of Wight concert as well.

In interviews, Bernie Taupin has said that the song was written as a parody of the music industry, and the character of Bennie was a futuristic space age female rocker. Taupin: “‘Bennie And The Jets’ was almost Orwellian – it was supposed to be futuristic. They were supposed to be a prototypical female rock ‘n’ roll band out of science fiction.” (Esquire Magazine) John saw the song as paying homage to the current glam rock scene, and as time went on, he began to dress in more outrageous stage outfits and began to take on the character of Bennie on stage.

It was also Elton’s idea to add the stutter on the word Bennie, which is one of the song’s major calling cards. Taupin: “That’s a little quirk of the song which I’m sad to say I had nothing to do with. That and that wonderful big chord at the beginning, I think those two things are what probably made that song so popular. Neither of which I had anything to do with.”

The song has been covered by rapper Biz Markie and The Beastie Boys, and it was sampled by Mary J. Blige on her track “Deep Inside” (which Elton plays piano on). It was also spoofed in 2008 by Ben Folds on his Way Too Normal album. Folds used “Benny” as the basis for his song “Hiroshima (b b b benny hits his head)” which tells the true story of how he fell off of the stage and cut himself while performing in Japan.

By the 1973 release of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John’s career was so white-hot he could do no wrong. His previous album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (released in 1972) topped the charts in 1973 and sold millions of copies. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road followed suit by selling more than 31 million copies and staying at the top of the album charts for two months. Working titles for the album included Vodka and Tonics and Silent Movies, Taking Pictures.

While releasing a double album was not their initial intention, John and Taupin were so prolific during this period that they’d worked up more than enough quality material for a single album. The album captures Elton John at his commercial apex and at the height of his creative powers. The fact that it contained several of his most indelible singles, “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” “Bennie And The Jets,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Candle In The Wind,” was just the icing on the cake.

But it’s the lesser known gems here that really steal the show – “This Song Has No Title,” “I’ve Seen That Movie To,” “Grey Seal” (which had been kicking around since 1970), “All the Girls Love Alice” and the flip side of today’s single “Harmony” – they are indeed some of the best songs John has ever written and recorded.

All of the album’s lyrics were written by Taupin in two weeks, while John composed the music over a three day period at The Pink Flamingo Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica. John wanted to record the album in Jamaica because The Rolling Stones had just completed Goats Head Soup in the same studio. But problems with the sound system and complications from the Joe Frazier/George Forman boxing match taking place in the city forced the band to move to France.

John’s fantastic touring group, consisting of Davey Johnstone on guitar, Dee Murray on bass, Nigel Olsson on drums and Ray Cooper on percussion, settled in at Château d’Hérouville in France where the two previous Elton John albums were recorded. Sessions took place over a two week period and the band was augmented by Kiki Dee on background vocals and Del Newman providing the orchestral arrangements.

The flip of today’s single is Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’s final track. “Harmony” was originally considered to be released as the fourth single from the album, but by the time they were ready to release it, John’s next album Caribou was ready to hit the racks. The song ultimately received plenty of airplay anyway and charted regionally. It’s a great track and the perfect closer to Elton’s magnum opus album. When it was finally released as a single in Britain in 1980, it failed to chart.

Superstardom continued for Elton and company for a few more years until the inevitable decline brought on by hard living. But fear not for Elton, he ultimately weathered the dry patch that lasted almost ten years (and to be fair, did include a few hits), cleaned up his hard-partying act and recovered nicely by writing songs for Disney films, most notably The Lion King.

His latest album The Diving Board was released last year to mostly positive reviews.

“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: June 29th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #44 – Blood, Sweat & Tears: “Spinning Wheel” b/w “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” – Columbia Hall Of Fame 45-4-33168 (G5/H5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #44 – Blood, Sweat & Tears: “Spinning Wheel” b/w “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” – Columbia Hall Of Fame 45-4-33168 (G5/H5)

“What goes up…must come down…” not only is this the first line to Blood Sweat & Tears’ signature hit, but it also foreshadowed the group’s red hot ascent to the top, and its equally quick drop out of fashion.

Blood, Sweat & Tears had their genesis in an experiment by ex-Blues Project member and Bob Dylan sideman, Al Kooper. Kooper wanted to create a group that melded jazz horns to rock rhythms for a fresh new sound. Kooper: “Like Maynard Ferguson’s band from the years 1960-1964, I wanted a horn section that would play more than the short adjectives they were relegated to in R&B bands; but, on the other hand, a horn section that would play less than Count Basie’s or Buddy Rich’s. Somewhere in the middle was a mixture of soul, rock, and jazz that was my little fantasy.” (Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards by Al Kooper).

Kooper formed Blood Sweat & Tears with Jim Fielder, Fred Lipsius, Randy Brecker, Jerry Weiss, Steve Katz and Bobby Colomby. Kooper was fond of the production that James William Guercio provided for The Buckinghams and for the first BS&T album, Child Is Father To The Man, the two paved the way for horn-laden groups like Chicago Transit Authority, The Ides Of March and Chase that would soon rule the charts.

After working on BS&T’s debut album, Kooper left the group moving on to Super Session fame with a whole host of recording artists. With Kooper gone, BS&T members Bobby Colomby and Steve Katz began looking for a new vocalist and had considered Alex Chilton (of The Box Tops and later Big Star), Stephen Stills and Laura Nyro for the job, before going with a throaty Canadian singer named David Clayton-Thomas who was recommended to them by Judy Collins.

Not only did Clayton-Thomas bring a bona-fide personality to the band via his rough and raw vocal prowess, but he also wrote their biggest hit (and today’s jukebox classic) “Spinning Wheel.” Clayton-Thomas: The song was “written in an age when psychedelic imagery was all over lyrics…it was my way of saying, ‘Don’t get too caught up, because everything comes full circle.” (Hyatt, Wesley (1999). The Billboard Book of #1 Adult Contemporary Hits (Billboard Publications), page 74.)

The song quickly climbed to the #2 position on the charts in 1969 and was nominated for three Grammy Awards, winning one for Best Instrumental Arrangement in 1970. As a goof, the band interpolated an Austrian tune from 1815 called “O Du Lieber Augustin” (or “The More We Get Together”) to end the song.

The song was like catnip to the many middle-of-the-road vocalists of the late sixties and was covered by Shirley Bassey, James Brown, Sammy Davis Jr., Peggy Lee, Chet Baker, Ted Heath and many others.

The flip of today’s jukebox classic is “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.” The song was originally a Motown hit written by Berry Gordy, Frank Wilson, Brenda Holloway and Patrice Holloway, and recorded by Brenda Holloway who brought the song to the #39 position of the charts in 1967. It was initially Kooper’s idea for the band to record the song, but by the time they committed it to wax, he’d already left their ranks. It was one of three singles that climbed to the #2 position on the pop charts from their Blood Sweat & Tears album. (The other two were “Spinning Wheel” and the Laura Nyro song “And When I Die.”)

Like “Spinning Wheel,” the song saw numerous east listening covers by the likes of Lou Rawls, Gloria Estefan, John Davidson, Rosemary Clooney, Cher, Shirley Bassey, Damita Jo, Eydie Gorme, Ray Conniff, Diana Ross, Ramsey Lewis, Candi Staton, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Dusty Springfield and many others.

The eponymously titled album topped the charts for seven weeks in 1969, sold over four million copies and won the Grammy for Album Of The Year, beating out The Beatles Abbey Road. It featured the stellar lineup of David Clayton-Thomas on vocals, Lew Soloff on trumpet, Bobby Colomby on drums, Jim Fielder on bass, Dick Halligan on keyboards, Steve Katz on guitar, Fred Lipsius on saxophone, Chuck Winfield on trumpet, Jerry Hyman on trombone, performing an eclectic mix of songs including a version of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child,” Laura Nyro’s “And When I Die,” Traffic’s “Smiling Phases” and several classical pieces composed by Erik Satie.

The group appeared at Woodstock at the height of their popularity; however their performance wasn’t filmed at the insistence of their manager who hadn’t negotiated terms for the filming of their set. By the time of the release of the Woodstock film, Blood Sweat & Tears had missed the boat on being accepted by the hip rock cognoscenti and were subsequently seen as a lightweight AM radio singles band.

The band’s quick decline came on the heels of several other equally bad decisions including their participation on a tour of Eastern Europe sponsored by the U.S. Department Of State (during a time when their fan base was highly suspect of all things government), and then playing shows in Vegas. Even though their record sales dramatically slumped, they have continued to persevere and still tour today with American Idol runner-up Bo Bice as their lead singer and Glenn McClelland of Ween on keyboards.

“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: June 17th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #41 – Gary Puckett & The Union Gap: “Woman Woman” b/w “Young Girl” – Columbia Hall Of Fame 45 RPM Single 13-33133 (A5/B5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #41 – Gary Puckett & The Union Gap: “Woman Woman” b/w “Young Girl” – Columbia Hall Of Fame 45 RPM Single 13-33133 (A5/B5)

Today’s jukebox single features two songs with perfect trebly production that sound great coming out of the jukebox speakers, and if memory serves me right, even better pouring out of the mono speaker of the GE transistor radio I had as a kid. Gary Puckett and the Union Gap scored numerous hits during a short period in the late sixties including “Woman Woman,” “Lady Willpower,” and “Young Girl,” featuring horn-soaked arrangements and plaintive soulful vocals.

Gary Puckett was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, the same town that gave us Bob Dylan. He cut his teeth in a band called The Outcasts with band mates Kerry Chater on bass, Gary “Mutha” Withem on keyboards, Dwight Bement on saxophone and Paul Wheatbread on drums. They released two singles that went absolutely nowhere.

In 1967, the band renamed themselves The Union Gap, from the town Puckett grew up in, Union Gap, Washington which was also the site of the famous Battle of Fulbright Park during the Civil War. As a result they began to wear Civil War uniforms at performances. They also furthered the gimmick by taking on ranks. (Puckett was a general, while Whitbread and Withem were privates, etc.).

After hearing their demo, the band was signed by A&R man Jerry Fuller at Columbia Records on the strength of Puckett’s earthy voice. Their debut single was “Woman Woman,” which sold over a million copies and climbed to the #4 position on the pop charts in 1967. The song was written by Jimmy Payne and Jim Glaser (of 70s country artists Tompall and The Glaser Brothers) and covered by the likes of Glen Campbell, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Lettermen and big band legend Ted Heath.

Their follow-up hit was the song featured on the flip of today’s double A-sided single “Young Girl” which climbed to #2 on the charts in 1968. “Young Girl” was written by Jerry Fuller (who also wrote their hits “Lady Willpower” and “Over You,” as well as Ricky Nelson’s “Traveling Man”).

The song came off innocently enough back in 1968, but today sounds somewhat creepy. Fuller: “I was on the road a lot as an artist, fronting various groups for many years. I guess every entertainer goes through a time when 14-year-olds look like 20-year-olds. That’s somewhat of an inspiration not from my own experience, just knowing that it happens.” (1000 UK #1 Hits) “Young Girl” was also covered by Gary Lewis and the Playboys and Frida (aka Anni-Frid Lyndgstad) of ABBA.

The group’s other hits included “Lady Willpower” (#2/1968), “Over You,” (#7/1968), “Don’t Give In To Him” (#15/1969) and “This Girl’s A Woman Now” (#9/1969), and in 1968 they sold more singles in the U.S. than The Beatles.

Fuller was responsible for their magically crafted sound that fit in perfectly on radio playlists along with then current hits by Blood Sweat and Tears and The Chicago Transit Authority. In 1969, they were nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy, but lost out to Jose Feliciano. The group soon grew restless with the middle-of-the-road pop power ballads that Fuller was providing for them to record and Puckett wanted to take the group in a different direction.

Things came to a head when they were to participate in a session Fuller booked for them with a full blown studio orchestra. Puckett and the group refused to record the song and the session was canceled, ending their relationship with Fuller…and their run of big hits at Columbia Records. Puckett then embarked on a largely unsuccessful solo career and by 1972 he found himself without a recording contract.

In 1981, Puckett resurrected The Union Gap and ever since they have been regulars on the oldies circuit. His most recent album is a holiday collection in 2001 called The Gary Puckett Christmas Album. The current Union Gap lineup consists of Woody Lingle on bass, Jamie Hilboldt on keyboards and Mike Candito on drums.

“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: June 14th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #38 – The Zombies: “She’s Not There” b/w “Tell Her No” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 3556 (Q4/R4)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #38 – The Zombies: “She’s Not There” b/w “Tell Her No” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 3556 (Q4/R4)

The Zombies’ fingerprints can be felt all over the music of The Byrds, The Doors, Crowded House and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Elvis was a big fan and they were hugely influenced by The Beatles, as well as being an influence on The Beatles. John Lennon wanted to produce them, and the sound of today’s double A-sided jukebox single with their debut hit “She’s Not There” on the A-side and the ultra-Lennonesque “Tell Her No” on the flip is, in my estimation, a perfect single.

They were a British Invasion band every bit as good as The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and The Who. In their ranks, they had one of the greatest vocalists of the entire British Invasion in Colin Blunstone, who could be at once breathy and plaintive, and then gritty and soulful, sometimes in the same song.

Add to that, not one, but two inspired songwriters in Chris White and Rod Argent, whose compositional abilities made perfectly crafted ‘60s pop records, high on melody and infused with great harmonies. It was all held together by Argent’s jazz-infused piano and organ playing, the tasty and tuneful guitar work of Paul Atkinson, and the air-tight rhythm section of White on bass and Hugh Grundy on drums, providing a danceable and infectious back beat.

Yet their impact was far greater in the U.S. than at home where their very first single “She’s Not There” peaked at #12 on the British charts, but made it all the way to #2 on these shores. Its follow up, “Tell Her No,” climbed to #6 in the U.S., but didn’t even make it into the UK top 40.

“She’s Not There” was the group’s debut single which was recorded in one take after the band won studio time in a talent contest. The song makes its impact right from the onset with its folk infused introduction which was rare for early 1960s rock recordings. In the early 1970s, the song was re-recorded by Zombies vocalist Colin Bluestone under the name Neil McArthur. This version climbed to the #34 position of the UK charts, and it also charted again in 1977 by Santana from their Moonflower album. “Tell Her No,” on the flip, was later recorded by Juice Newton in 1983 who brought the song into the pop top thirty.

After a string of great single releases here and abroad including “What More Can I Do,” “I Love You,” “I Can’t Make Up Your Mind,” “Summertime,” “Goin’ Out Of My Head” and “Is This The Dream” that didn’t seem to ignite the imagination of the public, The Zombies released their final magnum opus album, Odessey and Oracle in 1968 and then called it quits.

But timing is everything…so it is somewhat ironic that the group’s biggest worldwide hit, “Time Of The Season,” happened after they disbanded. Odessey and Oracle wouldn’t have even received a release on these shores had it not been for Al Kooper who worked for the group’s U.S. label and convinced them that the album was worth a proper release. Even though the group was no longer together, the album’s release was accompanied by the “Time Of The Season” single which went on to become their biggest hit all over the world.

After the breakup, Rod Argent went on to form the group Argent with Chris White (who wrote songs for the group, but did not perform.) They scored a hit with “Hold Your Head Up” in 1972, and had the distinction of having both KISS and Christian rock group Petra cover their song, “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You.”

Colin Blunstone recorded many solo records, some with the help of his former band mates; he released three albums on Elton John’s Rocket Record Company label during the 1970s, and recorded vocals for The Alan Parsons Project albums Eye In The Sky and Ammonia Avenue. Throughout the years, Argent and Blunstone have toured many times together as a duo, or under the Zombies moniker performing hits from all phases of their intertwined careers. The definitive Zombies collection available today is Zombie Heaven, a four CD box set released by Ace Records in the U.K.

“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: June 2nd, 2015

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)

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 today’s 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 Andres 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 1968 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 theme from the TV show 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 in 2012 on the Select-O-Hit record label called The King.

“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: June 1st, 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

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 #33 – Unit 4+2: “Concrete And Clay” b/w “When I Fall In Love” – London 45 RPM Single 45-LON-9754 (G4/H4)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #33 – Unit 4+2: “Concrete And Clay” b/w “When I Fall In Love” – London 45 RPM Single 45-LON-9754 (G4/H4)

Today’s song is a somewhat forgotten British Invasion classic from 1965, featuring future members of The Kinks and Argent amongst its band members.

Unit 4 was a British harmony vocal group that was started in the early 1960s by Brian Parker who was a member of Adam Faith’s backing band The Roulettes. Parker set out to form his own band and recruited Buster Meikle on vocals and guitar, Tommy Moeller on vocals and piano and Peter Moules on bass. Soon thereafter, they added two more members, Rod Garwood (bass) and Hugh Halliday (drums) who became the “+2” of their namesake. Their first British single was “The Green Fields” which was a top 50 hit in 1964.

By 1965, they were joined by two guest musicians, Bob Henrit who later went on to become a member of The Kinks and Russ Ballard who was a founding member of Argent. Both had worked with Parker and were also members of The Roulettes. Henrit and Ballard later joined Unit 4 + 2 as full members in 1967.

Their 1965 single, “Concrete And Clay” topped the British charts due to its inclusion on pirate radio playlists. In America, Unit 4 + 2’s recording of the song competed on the charts with a rival version by singer and Bob Crewe protégé Eddie Rambeau. Rambeau’s version climbed to number 35 on the charts, while Unit 4 + 2’s made it up to number 28. Both recordings kind of cancelled each other out, so neither was able to attain the attention that it should have.

A full length album was rush-recorded and released to capitalize on the success of the single in England, but the material was lacking and attempts to find a suitable follow up single failed to catch fire on the charts. As time went on, the band delved into psychedelic music as they strived to keep up with the ever changing times. During the late 60s, the group with Henrit and Ballard now full members recorded a version of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” that failed to compete well with the more successful version by The Byrds.

“Concrete” was covered by Gary Lewis And The Playboys, Cliff Richard, Martin Plaza (of the group Mental As Anything) who brought the song to the #2 position on the Australian charts in 1986, Randy Edelman who brought the song to #20 on the UK charts in 1976, Kevin Rowland (of Dexy’s Midnight Runners) and They Might Be Giants.

The flip of today’s single is a cover of the Victor Young and Edward Heyman standard “When I Fall In Love” which was popularized by Nat “King” Cole and hundreds of other pop vocalists. The group’s cover puts them more into the category of easy listening artists like The Lettermen.

All in all, Unit 4 + 2 released 16 singles and two albums in England between 1964 and 1969. The song was rerecorded by songwriter and original vocalist, Tommy Moeller for a UK album in 2011. Moeller was also known as the public face of another British one-hit wonder, Whistling Jack Smith who had a number five whistling hit with “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman.” In the U.S. Unit 4+2 are barely remembered for this one great track, which to my ears sounds like a prequel to today’s faux folk groups like Mumford And Sons and The Lumineers.

“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 20th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #32 – The Trashmen: “Surfin’ Bird” b/w The Castaways “Liar Liar” – Eric 45 RPM Single 247 (E4/F4)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #32 – The Trashmen: “Surfin’ Bird” b/w The Castaways “Liar Liar” – Eric 45 RPM Single 247 (E4/F4)

Today’s jukebox classic is a near-perfect pairing of two garage rock classics by two different artists on one solid 45 RPM record (and on the Eric label, no less). One side gives us the stompin’ “Surfin’ Bird,” a song that set ‘60s frat parties into motion by The Trashmen. It is paired with another garage classic on the flip, The Castaways’ one-hit wonder “Liar Liar,” in all its primal glory.

The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” was itself an amalgam of two other hits originally by The Rivingtons, one being “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow,” and the other, “The Bird Is The Word.” The Trashmen took the chorus to both Rivington songs and strung them together to make this nonsensical garage rock classic. When the record came out, the songwriting was credited to the group’s singer and drummer Steve Wahrer whose idea it was to string the two songs together. After legal representatives from The Rivingtons’ camp contacted The Trashmen, later copies of the single gave The Rivingtons sole writing credit of the song.

The Trashmen formed in Minneapolis in 1962 and consisted of Tony Andreason on lead guitar and vocals, Dal Winslow on guitar and vocals, Steve Wahrer on drums and vocals and Bob Reed on bass guitar. Along with “Surfin’ Bird,” they placed five other singles in the charts including “Bird Dance Beat” which climbed to #30 in 1964.

The song has been covered by the likes of The Ramones, Silverchair, The Cramps and Pee Wee Herman who sang it in the movie Back To The Beach. It has also been awarded screen time in the movies E.T., Full Metal Jacket and in John Waters’ classic cult film Pink Flamingoes.

Most recently, the song was used in a 2009 episode of Family Guy which brought the track back to the #50 position on UK singles charts, and #10 on the iTunes chart. It was also the subject of a Facebook campaign to send the song up the UK charts in 2010 in order to keep the winner of X-Factor off the top of the charts during the Christmas season. The campaign resulted in the song’s highest chart position of #3. The group broke up in 1967, but reformed in the 1980s and have toured on and off in some form ever since.

On the flip of today’s double A-sided single is another garage classic, “Liar Liar” by the one-hit-wonder garage rock group The Castaways. The Castaways were also from Minnesota and consisted of James Donna on keyboards, Robert Folschow and Dick Roby on guitar, Roy Hensley on bass and Dennis Craswell on drums.

The group formed to play frat parties where today’s song became popular enough to allow the group to record and release the track on the Soma record label. It is Folschow’s falsetto that is heard on the single which climbed up to the #12 position of the singles charts in 1965. The group became so popular on the heels of this song, that they performed it in the 1967 beach movie It’s A Bikini World.

The song was also used in the films Good Morning Vietnam and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and was covered by Debbie Harry of Blondie in 1988 for the film Married To The Mob. Harry’s version climbed to #14 on the Modern Rock charts. The group still exists today with James Donna the only original member.

“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 19th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #30 – Ricky Nelson: “Stood Up” b/w “Waitin’ In School” – Imperial 45 RPM Single X5483 (U3/V3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #30 – Ricky Nelson: “Stood Up” b/w “Waitin’ In School” – Imperial 45 RPM Single X5483 (U3/V3)

Growing up in public must be very hard to pull off gracefully. And for every artist who has achieved some semblance of normality in the public eye, there are dozens whose lives were ruined by it. Ricky Nelson managed, but just barely…

Nelson’s father Ozzie was a big band leader and his wife Harriet, a big band vocalist who supported Red Skelton on his popular radio show. When Skelton was drafted in 1944, his producer John Guedel created a radio show around the couple and their family called The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet. The Nelson’s children were first played on the radio series by professional child actors until Dave and Ricky (aged 12 and 8 respectively) joined the show on February 20, 1949.

Ricky didn’t have any inkling to make records until telling a girl he was trying to impress that he was going into the studio to cut his first record. At the time, he didn’t have a record contract, but he did have connections. Ricky’s father arranged for him to record Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin’” for Verve records in 1957. Crucially, he then lip-synched the song on the TV show before the single came out, resulting in a #4 hit on the Billboard charts. Its flip side “A Teenager’s Romance” climbed all the way to #2 after he also performed it on the show. Nelson was one of the few fortunate artists who had a built in mechanism to get his songs heard by a mass audience through exposure on the family show which ran on TV from 1952 through 1966.

After this success, Ozzie negotiated a long-term deal with Imperial Records for Ricky that gave him approval of what songs he would record and final say over sleeve artwork, which was unheard of at the time. His first single for the new label “Be Bop Baby” went on to sell over a million copies. While on Imperial, he scored hits with “Poor Little Fool” (#1 Pop/#3 Country), “Lonesome Town” (#7 Pop), “It’s Late” (#9 Pop), “Never Be Anyone Else But You” (#6 Pop), “Just A Little Too Much” (#9 Pop), “Sweeter Than You” (#9 Pop), “Travelin’ Man” (#1 Pop), “Hello Mary Lou” (#9 Pop), “Young World” (#5 Pop), “Teen Age Idol” (#5 Pop) and “For You” (#6 Pop), mostly propelled by his performances of the songs on TV.

From 1957 to 1962, Nelson scored 30 Top-40 hits, more than any other artist except Elvis Presley who had 53, and Pat Boone with 38. For some, Nelson was the consummate teen idol with dreamy good looks and a smooth voice that sugar-coated the numerous gooey ballads he committed to wax. But today’s double shot of rockabilly illustrates that Nelson was so much more than just a teen idol. He was a way-out rockin’ cat whose backing band was also one of the hottest in the land.

Early in his recording career, Nelson became fed up with the contemptuous attitude toward rock and roll of the jazz musicians his father chose for him to record with. In 1957 he formed one of the sturdiest bands of all time. He didn’t have to look far for his guitarist since his 18 year old friend James Burton was already living in his home. With the nimble-fingered Burton and his distinctive sound on electric guitar, he added James Kirkland on bass, Richie Frost on drums and Gene Garf on piano. Elvis Presley’s backup vocalists, The Jordanaires were also featured on Nelson’s recordings but they were not credited at Presley’s request.

Today’s jukebox classic features two rockabilly blasts from 1958. The A-side “Stood Up,” climbed all the way to the #2 slot on the pop charts, while its flip, “Waitin’ In School,” which was written by Johnny and Dorsey Burnette, rose to #18.

In 1963, Nelson signed a long-term deal with Decca Records. His Decca era produced some solidly great albums and singles, although his standing on the charts was dismal. As the 1960s came to a close, you pretty much could not give a Rick Nelson record away. Things were so bad that Nelson began performing shows on the oldies circuit at county fairs.

His last big single was “Garden Party” from 1972, which was about being an artist on the oldies circuit before his time. While performing at Madison Square Garden as part of a multi-act oldies bill, Nelson’s penchant for performing new material was met with boos from the audience. Disgusted by his audience’s expectations, he wrote “Garden Party” which when released climbed to #6 on the Billboard charts and topped the Adult Contemporary charts.

Nelson died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1985. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.

“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 17th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #22 – Bob Dylan: “Lay Lady Lay” b/w “I Threw It All Away” – Columbia 45 RPM Single 13-33178 (C3/D3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #22 – Bob Dylan: “Lay Lady Lay” b/w “I Threw It All Away” – Columbia 45 RPM Single 13-33178 (C3/D3)

The late 1960s introduced a new Bob Dylan to the world. With his motorcycle accident and requisite seclusion in Woodstock behind him, he emerged with John Wesley Harding, a rootsy, back-to-basics album in 1968 that flew in the face of the flamboyant psychedelic music that was currently all the rage at the time.

However, nothing could prepare Dylan fans for what followed in 1969: A content Dylan who was seemingly happy with his lot in life, complete with a new soulful, melodic croon of a voice that replaced the nasal monotone of the past. Most crucially, the 1969 model Dylan marked another shift in musical direction away from the mainstream, with an album of country influenced tunes called Nashville Skyline that was quite simply, unlike anything else he had recorded up to that point.

The album was recorded with a who’s who of Nashville’s finest session musicians including Norman Blake on guitar and dobro, Kenny Buttrey on drums, Fred Carter, Jr. on guitar, Charlie Daniels on bass, Pete Drake on pedal steel guitar, Charlie McCoy on guitar and harmonica, Bob Wilson on piano and organ and several others including Johnny Cash who provided duet vocals on “Girl From The North Country.”

“Lay Lady Lay,” the A-side of today’s jukebox classic was originally intended for the soundtrack of the movie Midnight Cowboy, but it was submitted too late to make the film and Nilsson’s cover of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talking” was used in its place. Dylan then offered the song to the Everly Brothers backstage at a concert. When Dylan played “Lay Lady Lay” for them, they thought he was singing “lay across my big breasts, babe” instead of “lay across my big brass bed” and didn’t’ think that the song was appropriate for them to record. When they finally heard the correct lyrics in Dylan’s recording, they realized what a mistake they had made. They finally got around to recording the song for their EB 84 album in 1984. (songfacts.com)

“Lay Lady Lay” became one of Dylan’s biggest singles climbing all the way to #7 on the Billboard pop charts. According to Johnny Cash, Dylan introduced the song in a circle of song writers who congregated at Cash’s house that included Shel Silverstein who played “A Boy Named Sue,” Joni Mitchell who broke out “The Circle Game,” Graham Nash who performed “Marrakesh Express” and Kris Kristofferson who played “Me And Bobby McGee.” (songfacts.com)

Over the years, “Lay Lady Lay” has been covered by the likes of Cher, The Byrds, The Everly Brothers, Melanie, The Isley Brothers, Keith Jarrett, Neil Diamond, Isaac Hayes, Richie Havens, Steve Howe, Booker T. & the MGs, Buddy Guy, Duran Duran and Ministry.

The flip of today’s single was the first single release from Nashville Skyline, although it only charted at #85 on the Billboard pop charts. After writing the song, Dylan shared it with George Harrison who brought it to The Beatles’ Let It Be recording sessions. Session tapes reveal that George took the song out for a spin during The Beatles’ session for a performance . The song was also covered by Cher, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Lambchop and Yo La Tengo.

“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 27th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #19 – Steve Miller Band: “The Joker” b/w “Something to Believe In” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 3732 (S2/T2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #19 – Steve Miller Band: “The Joker” b/w “Something to Believe In” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 3732 (S2/T2)

By the time of “The Joker” single, The Steve Miller Band were five years and seven albums into a career that spawned only four chart singles, the highest being “Living In The U.S.A.” which charted at a paltry #49 when reissued in 1972. (It only reached #94 when originally issued as a single in 1968.) Something had to change, or The Steve Miller Band would find themselves without a recording contract.

Salvation came in the form of the group’s 1973 album The Joker, where they abandoned their psychedelic blues-based ways for a more concise, radio-ready approach, resulting in the title track and today’s Song Of The Day topping the charts, with the album climbing to the #2 position on its heels.

The band consisted of Steve Miller on guitar and vocals, Gerald Johnson on bass, Dick Thompson on keyboards and John King on drums, with Lonnie Turner (bass) and “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow (pedal steel) making guest appearances on various tracks. It was Miller who gave the song its biggest hook with his screaming whistle-like guitar figure that repeats throughout the song.

Miller described his inspiration for “The Joker” to British magazine Mojo in 2012: “I got this funny, lazy, sexy little tune, but it didn’t come together until a party in Novato, north of San Francisco. I sat on the hood of a car under the stars with an acoustic guitar making up lyrics and ‘I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, ‘I’m a midnight toker’ came out. My chorus! The ‘some people call me the space cowboy’ and ‘the gangster of love’ referred to earlier songs of mine and so did ‘Maurice’ and ‘the propitious of love.’ You don’t have to use words. It was just a goof.”

The lyric “Some people call me the space cowboy” came from the 1969 song “Space Cowboy” originally on the Brave New World album, “Some call me the gangster of love” refers to the track “Gangster Of Love” on the Sailor album, and several references were derived from the song “Enter Maurice” on the group’s 1972 album Recall The Beginning…A Journey From Eden. That song contained the name Maurice, the name of the central character in “The Joker,” and the phrase “pompitous of love” got its first airing there as well.

The song’s famous use of the word “pompitous” also has interesting origins. “Pompitous” is actually a real word as defined by The Oxford English Dictionary as “to act with pomp and splendor.” However, when Miller used the word in the line “Cause I speak of the pompitous of love,” he misheard it from the 1954 Medallions’ single “The Letter,” where it appears in the following line: “Let me whisper sweet words of dismortality, and discuss the “puppetutes” of love.” Vernon Green, who wrote “The Letter,” defined his made-up word “puppetutes” as “A secret paper-doll fantasy figure who would be my everything and bear my children.” (Song Facts)

The song also borrows the line “You’re the cutest thing I ever did see / I really love your peaches wanna shake your tree / Lovey dovey, lovey dovey all the time” from The Clovers’ 1954 #2 hit “Lovey Dovey” which was written by former Atlantic label chief Ahmet Ertegun. Ertegun later successfully sued Miller for plagiarism. Miller: “To me, it was an old blues double entendre, but I had to give him credit. I don’t mind having Ahmet’s name beside mine though.” (Song Facts)

While today’s Jukebox Classic topped the US charts in 1974, it didn’t chart until 1990 in the UK when it topped their charts after it soundtracked a Levi’s Jeans TV commercial. The flip of today’s jukebox classic is “Something to Believe In” which was an album cut from The Joker.

“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 21st, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #16 – The Beatles: “Paperback Writer” b/w “Rain” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 5651 (K2/L2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #16 – The Beatles: “Paperback Writer” b/w “Rain” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 5651 (K2/L2)

We’ve hit ground zero for classic singles! It really doesn’t get any better than the coupling of “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” on a single slab of 45RPM vinyl. And, the single wasn’t even intended to be a double A-side, it just worked out that way on the strength of the material.

Both songs were cut during the sessions for Revolver in which The Beatles began to spread their creative wings and experiment in the studio. “Paperback Writer” was recorded with a boosted bass sound because Lennon wanted to emulate the bass sound on a Wilson Pickett record he liked. It was also cut much louder than other singles of its time to make its searing guitar riff stand out on the radio, and as a result, the song topped the charts in 1966.

The lyrics were in response to a comment that McCartney’s Aunt Lil made to him challenging him to write a song that wasn’t about love. Paul: “Years ago my Auntie Lil said to me, ‘Why can’t you ever write about a horse or the summit conference or something interesting?’ So I thought, All right, Auntie Lil. I’ll show you.” (songfacts.com)

The song is written in the form of a letter from an author to his publisher talking about a book he’s written based on “a man named Lear.” Lear was Edward Lear, a Victorian painter who wrote poems and prose whom John Lennon admired. Paperback books were seen to be a cut-rate second cousin to hardcover books which were looked upon as works of art, so the writer in the song is only striving to be a paperback writer. During the song, Lennon and Harrison interpolate the French nursery rhyme, “Frere Jaques” as a counter melody.

The “meat and dolls” photo that graced first pressings of the Yesterday And Today album was originally taken to promote this single in the trades, and a promotional film directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg was created showing the Fabs traipsing around an English garden.

On the flip, is “Rain,” one of The Beatles’ all-time greatest tracks exemplifying the amount of experimentation the group were putting into their recordings of the time. “Rain’s” backing track was recorded faster than normal and played back at a slightly slower speed giving the record a psychedelic off-kilter feel. Conversely, Lennon’s vocals were recorded at a slightly slower speed and sped up during playback making his vocals sound slightly higher than normal.

The song also features one of the first uses of backwards vocals on a rock record. Lennon: “After we’d done the session on that particular song—it ended at about four or five in the morning—I went home with a tape to see what else you could do with it. And I was sort of very tired, you know, not knowing what I was doing, and I just happened to put it on my own tape recorder and it came out backwards. And I liked it better. So that’s how it happened.” (songfacts.com)

The backwards vocal at the end fade out is actually the songs first line: “When the rain comes they run and hide their heads.” Beatles engineer, Geoff Emerick said “From that point on, almost every overdub we did on Revolver had to be tried backwards as well as forwards.” (songfacts.com)

The song reached number 23 on the charts as a B-side, and Ringo Starr considers his drumming on the track to be his best recorded performance. The single’s picture sleeve inadvertently depicted Lennon and Harrison playing left handed because Capitol’s art department mistakenly reversed their photos.

Three videos were created to promote “Rain,” directed again by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. (Lindsay-Hogg first worked with the group on the set of Ready Steady Go several years earlier.) One was filmed at Chiswick House in London and shows The Beatles walking and singing in a garden, while the other two feature the band performing on a soundstage.

“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 15th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #15 – Tommy James & The Shondells: “Hanky Panky” b/w “It’s Only Love” – Collectables Roulette Reissue 45 RPM Single COL-0261 (I2/J2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #15 – Tommy James & The Shondells: “Hanky Panky” b/w “It’s Only Love” – Collectables Roulette Reissue 45 RPM Single COL-0261 (I2/J2)

Today’s song was written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich under the name The Raindrops in twenty minutes as a quickie B-side to the 1963 single “That Boy John.” Jeff Barry: “As far as I was concerned it was a terrible song. In my mind it wasn’t written to be a song, just a B-side.” (songfacts.com)

Tommy Jackson sneaked into a club at the age of 13 and heard a local group perform “Hanky Panky”and after seeing its effect on the crowd, decided that he also wanted to record the song. Jackson and his group The Shondells recorded the song at their local radio station in Niles, Michigan. It was then released on the tiny Snap label and got local airplay before fading into obscurity. Meanwhile, the Shondells went their separate ways after graduating from high school.

Two years later, Bob Mack, a Pittsburgh promoter started to play the single at dance parties and it began to get local radio play and gain in popularity. Demand for the record began to take off and bootleggers got into the game making up to 80,000 illicit copies of the record to meet the demand. Pittsburgh DJ “Mad Mike” Metro contacted Tommy and asked him if he would like to come perform the song for fans, however he no longer had a band. He was matched with a local band called The Raconteurs consisting of Joe Kessler (guitar), Ron Rosman (keyboards), George Magura (saxophone), Mike Vale (bass) and Vinnie Pietropaoli (drums), and they became The Shondells, and young Tommy Jackson changed his name to Tommy James.

Record companies like Atlantic, Columbia, Epic and Kama Sutra lined up to sign the group, but the small independent Roulette label ended up signing them. Roulette was owned by Morris Levy who had reported ties to the mob.

Tommy James: “One by one all the record companies started calling up and saying, ‘Look, we gotta pass.’ I said, ‘What? What are you talking about?’ ‘Sorry, we take back our offer. We can’t…’ There was about six of them in a row. And so we didn’t know what in the world was going on. And finally Jerry Wexler over at Atlantic leveled with us and said, Look, Morris Levy and Roulette called up all the other record companies and said, ‘This is my freakin’ record.’ (laughs) And scared ‘em all away – even the big corporate labels. And so that should have been the dead giveaway right there. So we were apparently gonna be on Roulette Records.” (songfacts.com)

The single hit the number one position on the charts in 1966. The flip side of this reissue single was the title track to Tommy James & The Shondells’ 1966 album It’s Only Love, written by Morris Levy, Ritchie Cordell, and Sal Trimachi. The song reached number 31 on the Billboard pop singles charts in 1966.

Tommy James and the Shondells became one of the most commercially successful singles groups of the 1960s, selling millions of record and placing bubblegum classics like “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mony, Mony,” “Crimson And Clover,” “Sweet Cherry Wine” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion” onto the upper echelon of the charts.

However, things came to a dramatic end in March of 1970, when the group played their last concert together in Birmingham, Alabama. As James was leaving the stage, he collapsed and was initially pronounced dead after suffering a bad reaction to drugs. The band continued to tour without James for a time under the name Hog Heaven, while he retired to the country to recuperate.

While recuperating, James wrote and produced the million-selling single “Tighter, Tighter” for the group Alive And Kickin’ which reached #7 on the Billboard singles chart, and followed it with his biggest solo hit, “Draggin’ The Line.”

So now it’s time to sit back and rewind to the sounds of Tommy James!

“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: April 13th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #12 – The Johnny Otis Show: “Willie And The Hand Jive” b/w “Willie Did The Cha Cha” – Capitol Starline 45 RPM Single X-6040 (C2/D2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #12 – The Johnny Otis Show: “Willie And The Hand Jive” b/w “Willie Did The Cha Cha” – Capitol Starline 45 RPM Single X-6040 (C2/D2)

Johnny Otis was known as the original “King Of Rock & Roll” long before Elvis Presley donned the title. He was an influential performer, disc jockey, record producer, TV show host and talent scout who discovered such artists as Jackie Wilson, Little Willie John, Hank Ballard, Big Mama Thornton and Little Esther.

Otis scored 15 Top 10 R&B hits between 1950 and 1952, including his #1 cover of the jazz standard “Harlem Nocturne.” He was a keen talent scout who opened up his own club in L.A., the Barrelhouse, and discovered many R&B and jazz greats.

He discovered Etta James when she was only 13 years old and produced and co-wrote her first hit single “Wallflower (Roll With Me Henry).” He also discovered Big Mama Thornton singing while cleaning hotel rooms. He co-wrote, produced and played on her seminal recording of “Hound Dog” in 1953, several years before Elvis Presley brought the song to the charts; however Otis’ songwriting credit was removed from Elvis’ recording by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. He also wrote “Every Beat of My Heart” which was a hit for both The Royals in 1952 and Gladys Knight & The Pips in 1961, and played on and produced Johnny Ace’s number one hit “Pledging My Love” and The Fiestas’ classic hit “So Fine.”

Today’s Song of the Day was a 1958 release that climbed all the way to #9 on the Pop charts and #1 R&B featuring an infectious Bo Diddley beat with terrific guitar work by Jimmy Nolen. The song is about a dance featuring hand movements called “The Hand Jive.”

The dance came from England where teenagers were not permitted to stand and dance at concert venues. Instead they created a hand movement dance that could be done from their seats. When the record came out, Capitol Records included a diagram to show fans how to do the dance. It’s also been said that the “Hand Jive” was also slang for masturbation.

Eric Clapton had a #26 chart hit with the song in 1974 from his 461 Ocean Boulevard album. It was also covered by Johnny Rivers in 1973, The Strangeloves on their 1965 album I Want Candy, Cliff Richard in 1960, The Grateful Dead (in 1980s concerts), New Riders Of The Purple Sage, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Levon Helm and George Thorogood, who also had a minor chart hit with the song in 1985.

The flip is one in a long line of “Willie” follow ups; this one was to capitalize on the cha cha dance craze of the 1950s. During the 1960s, Otis ran for the California State Assembly and lost. He then became chief of staff for Democratic Congressman Mervyn M. Dymally. He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994 and was also the father of soul star Shuggie Otis. Johnny Otis died of natural causes on January 17, 2012.

“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 30th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #11 – Cream: “Sunshine Of Your Love” b/w “SWLABR” – Atco 45 RPM Single 45-6544 (1967) (A2/B2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #11 – Cream: “Sunshine Of Your Love” b/w “SWLABR” – Atco 45 RPM Single 45-6544 (1967) (A2/B2)

Today’s Jukebox classic was the biggest hit single by classic rock supergroup Cream. While some were spray painting the buildings of England with proclamations that Eric Clapton was God, the real star of Cream was the late, great bassist Jack Bruce. Not only was Bruce the songwriter behind some of the group’s biggest hits, but it was his voice that defined the group’s sound. Ginger Baker, of course, laid down the backbeat that drove the machine to greatness, and as for Clapton, he’s been literally coasting on the stellar guitar work he laid down with this group over 40 years ago.

They were, indeed, one of the early “supergroups” with very high pedigree. Clapton had played with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds and had backed blues greats like Sonny Boy Williamson and Champion Jack Dupree. Baker played with Jazz artist Acker Bilk (of “Stranger On The Shore” fame), Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated and the Graham Bond Organisation. Bruce had played with Baker in Korner’s Blues Incorporated and The Graham Bond Organisation, with Clapton in The Bluesbreakers and Powerhouse (that also included singer Paul Jones and Steve Winwood), and briefly with Manfred Mann. And for once, this supergroup was much better than the sum of its parts, especially since Bruce and Baker didn’t get along at all.

Cream never made a solid studio album, and even so, the band’s studio recordings are far more preferable than their live workouts that featured endless jamming extended to maddening proportions. Even though albums like Disraeli Gears, Fresh Cream and the half studio-half live Wheels Of Fire are considered classics today, they really are patchy affairs, each featuring a clutch of classic singles surrounded by throwaways.

Today’s Song of the Day was the first single release from Cream’s 1967 album Disraeli Gears. “Sunshine Of Your Love” was written by Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton with lyrics by beat poet Pete Brown who also wrote the lyrics to the Cream hits “I Feel Free” and “White Room.” The classic bass line riff that runs through the entire song came to Jack Bruce after he and Clapton attended a Jimi Hendrix concert. The song was regularly covered in concert by Jimi Hendrix, who probably didn’t even know he inspired its creation.

The record almost didn’t get a single release because Atco label chief Ahmet Ertegun thought that it was “psychedelic hogwash.” It was only after Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. and the MGs) championed the song that Ertegun green-lighted a single release. When the single was first released before Disraeli Gears came out, it only climbed to the #36 position on the pop charts. The single was re-released in 1968 after the album came out and ultimately rose to the #5 position on the pop charts becoming Cream’s biggest hit single in the states. Over the years, the songs has been covered by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald and The 5th Dimension, to Santana and Frank Zappa.

The single’s B-side is another rip-roaring rocker written by Jack Bruce and Pete Brown called “SWLABR.” Common knowledge dictates that “SWLABR” was an acronym for “She Walks Like A Bearded Rainbow,” however both Bruce and Brown have said that the acronym actually stands for “She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow.”

The song was inspired by a type of flower that Jack Bruce ordered from the florist for his girlfriend. When the delivery man arrived, Bruce and Brown asked the florist about some of the flowers that came in the bouquet and were told that the flower in question was a type of iris called a Bearded Rainbow, hence the song title. Nevertheless, it was the late 1960s, and today the title is still pretty much meaningless.

“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 29th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #7 – Paul & Linda McCartney – “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” b/w “Too Many People” – Apple Records 45 1837 1971 (M1/N1)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #7 – Paul & Linda McCartney – “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” b/w “Too Many People” – Apple Records 45 1837 1971 (M1/N1)

Lyrics were never his strong suit…and the lyrics from “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” are at best incoherent. However, you’d be hard pressed to argue with the musical prowess of Paul McCartney especially on today’s Song of the Day.

Today’s single was culled from Paul McCartney’s second solo album Ram, the only album in his vast catalog credited to Paul & Linda McCartney. The album was recorded in New York City with backing musicians David Spinozza on guitar, Hugh McCracken (who replaced Spinozza for the second half of the sessions) on guitar and future Wings member Denny Seiwell on drums.

The construction of “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” picks up where the second side of The Beatles’ Abbey Road left off. Here we have McCartney dabbling in multi part suites of music, and the song is an amalgam of its many unfinished parts. McCartney wouldn’t perfect this way of song construction until “Band On The Run” two years later.

The song was inspired by Paul’s real Uncle Albert Kendall who married his Aunt Millie. Uncle Albert would habitually get drunk and then read passages from the Bible out loud. The admiral of the song was inspired by American Naval Admiral William “Bull” Halsey,” however Paul’s use of Admiral Halsey’s name was chosen because of the way it sounded and had nothing to do with who Halsey was or what he did.

The single was McCartney’s first chart topper away from The Beatles and it won the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists in 1971. It was never released as a single in the UK, where they got “The Back Seat Of My Car” instead as Ram’s first single. The song’s flugelhorn part was played by Jazz be-bop trumpet player Marvin Stamm who never met McCartney in person, as his parts were recorded in London and overdubbed onto the master in New York. The New York Philharmonic Orchestra was also brought in for the arrangement.

The flip of the single is “Too Many People” which is also the opening track on Ram. After the acrimonious split of The Beatles, Lennon and McCartney cryptically addressed each other in lines from their songs. Several lines from “Too Many People” were seen as snipes at John Lennon, like the line “Too many people preaching practices.” Paul: “[John had] been doing a lot of preaching, and it got up my nose a little bit.” (SongFacts.com) The line “You took your lucky break and broke it in too” was also seen as addressing McCartney’s former writing partner with the lucky break referring to being a member of The Beatles and his breaking it in two about their breakup.

Lennon retorted on his next album Imagine with the scathing “How Do You Sleep.” The album also included a postcard photo in early pressings depicting a smiling Lennon holding a pig’s ears in the same pose as McCartney holding the ram’s horns on the cover of Ram.

The sessions for Ram also produced McCartney’s first solo single “Another Day,” as well as early versions of “Big Barn Bed,” “Little Lamb Dragonfly” and “Get On The Right Thing” which turned up on McCartney’s 1973 album Red Rose Speedway. McCartney released an all-instrumental version of the Ram album in 1977 under the pseudonym of Percy “Thrills” Thrillington.

Ram was roundly panned by the critics when it was released in 1971; however it has grown in stature over the years. I’ve always loved the album and it is still one of my all-time favorite records all these years later. As far as “musical comfort food” goes, this one has been a staple in my diet since it came out – very tasty, always reliable with plenty of room for multiple helpings.

“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 22nd, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Birthday” by The Sugarcubes

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Birthday” by The Sugarcubes

Possessing an otherworldly approach to singing and an obtuse sense of fashion, Iceland’s greatest musical export is Bjork! Go ahead…name another!

Bjork started out as a children’s recording artist making her first record at the age of 11. By the late ’80s, she joined The Sugarcubes and had a large alternative hit with “Birthday.” The band could not sustain its Fleetwood Mac-like relationship issues and broke up after a few albums allowing Bjork to spread her wings (ever seen that dress) and become the most original vocalist since Yma Sumac.

Her new album is entitled Vulnicura.

Edited: March 19th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #4 – The Kinks – “Starstruck” b/w “Picture Book” – German Pye 45 DV-14795 (G1/H1)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #4 – The Kinks – “Starstruck” b/w “Picture Book” – German Pye 45 DV-14795 (G1/H1)

In a year that saw the release of The Beatles’ White Album and Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, it’s no surprise that a low-key gem like The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks would fall through the cracks. However, when one considers the high caliber and quality of the album, it is surprising that it took so long for it to take its place amongst the greatest albums of the 1960s, easily equaling, if not surpassing the two aforementioned albums.

Part of the explanation for the record being ignored is that it was totally out of step with what was going on musically during the late 1960s. While bands were letting their freak flags fly with psychedelia, The Kinks dropped a laid-back nostalgic look at England on an unsuspecting public. Perhaps the record was also a little too British for American ears, but the fact is that The Kinks hadn’t had a proper hit on the U.S. charts since “Sunny Afternoon” hit the top twenty in 1966, and the band’s decision not to tour in support of the album upon its release didn’t help matters either.

The last album by the original quartet of Ray and Dave Davies, Pete Quaife and Mick Avory also had a tough birthing process which saw an early 12-track version pulled at the last minute by Ray Davies because he wasn’t satisfied with its quality. The band’s label then balked at Davies’ request to turn it into a double album, finally settling on the 15-track masterpiece we know today.

Today’s Song Of The Day inhabits position G1/H1 in the jukebox and comes from a German single on the Pye record label. I purchased the single on EBay about ten years ago and it was quite pricey for a 45rpm record, but considering the greatness of both songs, it was well worth the price of admission to be able to have these tracks cycle through on the juke.

The single was released in many territories around the world including the U.S., and failed to chart in all of them. The A-Side of the single is “Starstruck” which is a tuneful cautionary tale about the foibles of living the nightlife, something Ray Davies was probably no stranger to at the time. While I’ve always loved the song, it’s the B-side that got me to seek out a copy of the single for the juke.

“Picture Book” was one of a trilogy of songs about nostalgia for photographs that Ray Davies wrote around this time. The other two are “People Take Pictures Of Each Other” which ended up on the Village Green album, and “Pictures In The Sand” which wasn’t released until 1973 on The Great Lost Kinks Album compilation.

The song finally gained wide exposure in 2004 when it was used in an award-winning Hewlett-Packard ad campaign for digital photography. After all those years as an album cut that was only familiar to die-hard Kinks fans, the song finally got heard. Ray Davies: “I always knew that song would have its day…sometimes you just know. It was never a hit, but it’s become a hit in another way.” (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 fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: March 9th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #2 – Brian Wilson “Caroline No” b/w “Summer Means New Love” – Capitol 45 5610 (C1/D1)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #2 – Brian Wilson “Caroline No” b/w “Summer Means New Love” – Capitol 45 5610 (C1/D1)

“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.

Today’s record inhabits position C1/D1 in the juke and it’s the only single attributed to Brian Wilson during his reign within the Beach Boys. The single was the first release from the group’s masterpiece Pet Sounds, although it was released in advance of the album. It really was a Brian Wilson solo record, as none of the Beach Boys appear on it. Rather, the musicians were members of the famous Wrecking Crew, a West Coast studio collective that played on hundreds of hit records during the 1960s featuring Hal Blaine on drums, Frank Capp on vibraphone, Carol Kaye on electric bass, Glen Campbell on guitar, Barney Kessel on guitar, Lyle Ritz on ukulele, Al De Lory on harpsichord, Bill Green on flute, Jim Horn on flute, Plas Johnson on flute, Jay Migliori on flute and Steve Douglas on tenor sax.

The song was written by Wilson and Tony Asher and while it only reached #32 on the charts, the meager chart position shouldn’t fool you into thinking that this is a minor recording. It is a major artistic achievement in every way possible! The original title for the song was “Caroline I Know,” however Brian misheard the title as “Caroline No” and both he and Asher decided that the title was more in keeping with the ennui of the song’s lyrics.

Many people believe the song is about Brian’s wife of the time, Marilyn Rovell, however the song was a composite of an ex-girlfriend of Asher’s who cut her hair and moved to New York, and Carol Mountain, an unrequited high school crush of Brian’s.

The drum heard at the beginning of the song was actually a large upside down empty water bottle that was lying around the studio. On the Pet Sounds album, the track ends with the sounds of trains which were pulled from the studio’s sound effects library meshed with the barking of Wilson’s dogs Banana and Louie. The sounds do not appear during the fade on the single release. It is also alleged that Murray Wilson (Brian’s father) took the master tape of the song before it was submitted to Capitol and sped it up in an effort to make Brian sound younger on the record. Nevertheless, to this day the sped up version is the one that is used on the album.

The single’s flip is a gorgeous instrumental that originally appeared on the Beach Boys’ 1965 album Summer Days (And Summer Nights). It is another Brian Wilson solo recording with none of the Beach Boys present in the studio. The song features many of the same Wrecking Crew members listed above. In a little under two minutes, Wilson conjures the feeling of that first blush of romance and hope, without ever uttering a single word.

Edited: March 4th, 2015

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #1 – Dale Hawkins: “Susie Q” b/w “Don’t Treat Me This Way” – Checker 45 #863 – 1957 (A1/B1)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #1 – Dale Hawkins: “Susie Q” b/w “Don’t Treat Me This Way” – Checker 45 #863 – 1957 (A1/B1)

Today marks the beginning of a new semi-regular series for Song of the Day by Eric Berman. “The Jukebox Series” will focus on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had the jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little almost 14 years and in that time I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. (Well, at least I think so.)

Today, I will begin with “A-1” on the jukebox and systematically proceed through all of the records with a focus on why the tune is worthy of inclusion and how I got it.

I always thought that I’d have the Dave Edmunds single “A-1 On The Jukebox” in the “A1” position within my jukebox, but I don’t have a copy of the single, and as a rule don’t choose songs based on the novelty value of a visual pun that most people won’t see, so “A-1” in my juke box is Dale Hawkins’ swamp rock classic “Susie Q.”

I purchased an original Checker 45rpm pressing of the record at a garage sale several years ago for 10 cents and it was money very well spent. Sonically, it sounds killer pouring out of the vintage juke speakers.

Dale Hawkins wrote the song, although when it was released it was also credited to Stan Lewis who owned the record label and Eleanor Broadwater who was the wife of Nashville DJ Gene Nobles. Such was the way the music biz worked back in the 1950s, royalties had to be spread around if you wanted your record released and played on the radio.

Once the track was recorded, the master was licensed to Checker Records who released the single in 1957 where it climbed to #7 on the R&B charts and #27 on the pop charts. The guitarist on the track was a young 15 year old future Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Famer James Burton, who went on to play with the likes of Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, John Denver, Glen Campbell, Gram Parsons, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Costello, Roy Orbison, Joni Mitchell, Vince Gill and many others.

Over the years, the song has seen notable covers by The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival (who issued it at their debut single), Jose Feliciano, Suzie Quatro (a real Suzie Q), Lonnie Mack, The Crew-Cuts, Gene Vincent, Johnny Rivers, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Everly Brothers, Linda McCartney (as Suzy and the Red Stripes), Bobby McFerrin and Flash Cadillac. None of the covers can even approach the greatness of the original, which is why it is included in my jukebox.

The flip is a sturdy rockabilly rave up which doesn’t get as much play time as it should; however when it does come up, it always sounds great.

Edited: March 3rd, 2015