High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Going Cruisin' with Jumpin' George & The Robin

On a summer day in 1970...

...I marched into a record store and bought 7 albums...

...the first 7 volumes of the Cruisin' series on Increase Records.

Over the next two years, I added half a dozen more Cruisin' albums to my collection.

Famed KHJ Los Angeles Program Director Ron Jacobs,
creator of the Cruisin' series, assembled some of the greatest deejays of the rock 'n roll era in seamless reproductions of their radio programs.

The shows included authentic patter by the jocks along with original commercials, jingles, and sound effects.

Each volume of Cruisin' was highly collectible, not only because of the radio hall of famers and the oldies they played, but because of the distinctive Mike Royer cartoon cover art.

As I salute the Cruisin' series in the months to come, I will spotlight my favorite song from each volume and then offer a favorite song or two of my own from that same year.

I'll also be adding some more of these nostalgic soda pop print ads to help bring back the period.

Let's start where Cruisin' started, in 1955 San Francisco and in Dearborn, Michigan, 1956.

"Jumpin'" George Oxford - KSAN, San Francisco

"I've Got a Woman" - Ray Charles (February 1955)

Brother Ray's R&B classic "I've Got a Woman" aka "I Got a Woman" was released as a single in December of 1954. It spent 20 weeks on the black music chart and went all the way to number one.

Early Ray Charles (late 40s to mid 50s) is where it's at for me because he was doing the raw, unpolished R&B thing. Rolling Stone ranked "I've Got a Woman" #235 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Frankly, I don't think I could place that many songs above it!

"Memories are Made of This" - Dean Martin (December 1955)

Dean Martin was the only singer that my parents and I both loved. No question about it, Dean was a cool cat. Better make that rat. At the age of 6, I spent many hours in my subterranean game room sifting through mom and dad's collection of 45s and playing them on my tiny (and tinny) record player. "Memories are Made of This" was one of my favorites back then and it still is today.

My curiosity soon led me to flip the record over and, to my delight, I discovered one of my first killer bees...a song called "Change of Heart."

Robin Seymour - WKMH, Dearborn, MI

"In the Still of the Nite" - Five Satins (September 1956)

I had the pleasure of meeting group leader Fred Parris in the 1970s when the Five Satins performed at a Central PA nightclub. This, of course, is one of the best known and most often heard songs of the 50s. It was also one of Helen Ettline's favorites and played frequently on her restaurant jukebox at the Shady Dell.

Time to pause for a word from our sponsor: Bardahl auto engine additive.

My favorite article of clothing at age 6 was a T-shirt with the Bardahl logo...

...and the 4 bad guys featured in the product's 1950s ad campaign: Dirty Sludge, Sticky Valve...

...Gummy Ring, and Blacky Carbon.

"Transfusion" - Nervous Norvus (June 1956)

Here are two more records that I found in the stack of 45s in my cellar at age 6. These wacky novelty records, recorded by Nervous Norvus (Jimmy Drake), belonged to my older brother. I probably played "Transfusion" more often than any other record that I encountered as a child. I loved the outrageous theme, the gruesome car crash sound effects, and funny lyrics like put a gallon in me Allen. Many radio stations banned the record because it made light of motor vehicle accidents.

You'd never know it from listening to "Transfusion," but Jimmy Drake was very shy, so much so that he turned down an offer to sing his crash hit on the Ed Sullivan Show! Why so Nervous, Norvus?

"Ape Call" - Nervous Norvus (August 1956)

"Transfusion" was still riding high on the chart when Drake put another novelty song into the top 30, this one entitled "Ape Call."

Don't miss the next installment of Cruisin'...coming soon!

Have a Shady day!

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