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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On the Record: The Rising Fall........ A November to Remember............... and The Kids in Bristol

The Rising Fall

My original collection of 45s started with a Dave Clark Five record. In the spring of 1964 my dad drove me up the interstate to Camp Hill so that we could check out the new discount department store called Korvette’s (E.J. Korvette). The moment we arrived dad made a beeline for the lawn & garden department to price one of those futuristic power lawn mowers. I kid you not. The blades and the wheels turned all by themselves! It was like something straight out of the Jetsons!

I headed for the record department where I picked out the first three 45s of my collection: “Please, Please Me” b/w “From Me To You” by the Beatles, “I Get Around” b/w “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys, and “Do You Love Me” by the Dave Clark Five, an excellent cover that I liked better than the Contours original.

With their big beat sound and distinctive, gravel-voiced lead vocals by the late Mike Smith, The Dave Clark Five were the Beatles’ chief rivals in those early months of the British Invasion.

Although the popularity of the Dave Clark Five was declining by 1966, their release that fall, “Nineteen Days,” became one of my favorite DC5 songs and a big hit at the Dell. With a running time of less than 2-minutes, “Nineteen Days” was unusually short in duration at a time when pop songs were getting longer. Falling just outside the Shady Dell Top 100, “Nineteen Days" is the only Dave Clark Five song to make my Dell hits survey. The record found its way into the jukebox around Halloween and remained a Dell favorite for the rest of the year.

A November to Remember

Terry “Grand Funk Railroad” Knight’s version of “I (Who Have Nothing)” was another one of those tear jerking slow jams that filled the Dell dance floor with cuddling couples several times a night. Granted, Knight’s overwrought, exaggerated dramatic reading sounded corny, but Dell rats didn’t care. We loved that kind of stuff and made “I (Who Have Nothing)” a huge Dell hit from November of 1966 into the winter of 1967. As a result, the song ranks way up there at #31 on the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell.

I don’t remember hearing it played at the Dell...

...but the flipside of the Lucky Eleven 45, “Numbers,” a genuine 60s nugget in the garage/psych category, also became one of my favorites.

The Kids in Bristol

The Kit Kats were a Philly area bar band whose popularity was confined mainly to southeastern Pennsylvania. They were also huge at the Shady Dell.

The group’s first Jamie single “That’s The Way” b/w “Won’t Find Better Than Me” rocketed to #1 in Lancaster, PA during the summer of 1966 while failing to make a dent in the Billboard chart.

At the Dell, meanwhile, the quartet achieved a gigantic double-sided hit with their next single.

The A side, “Let’s Get Lost On a Country Road,” wound up with a lofty ranking of #26 on my survey of the Dell's Greatest Hits.

The fab flip, ”Find Someone (Who’ll Make You Happy),” was equally popular with the Dell cartel.

Ranked at #66 and played hard and heavy from Thanksgiving till Groundhog Day, "Find Someone" was one of the Dell's most memorable killer bees of the mid 60s.

During the holiday season of 1966 the Kit Kats generated nearly as much buzz at the Dell as the Magnificent Men and the Emperors.

The recordings of the Kit Kats reveal a variety of influences for the group that include doo-wop, soul, folk-rock and classical baroque. Their arrangements and harmonies have been compared to those of the Left Banke, the Four Seasons, the Happenings, the Beach Boys, the Association and the Zombies. Although the cheery “Let’s Get Lost” was the group’s second regional hit, it was also their second miss on a national scale. The song spent Thanksgiving week Bubbling Under at #119 before dropping off the list.

I know what happened!
The Kit Kats hurt their chances by choosing a nondescript group name and adopting a wholesome, retro image at a time when fans and critics were starting to reward bands that looked tough and played hard. In 1969, the Kit Kats changed their name to New Hope and finally made the Billboard Hot 100 with an updated recording of “Won’t Find Better Than Me.”

England's DC5, Terry Knight & the Pack from the Motor City, and the Kit Kats, the kids from Bristol, exemplify the mixed bag that kept Dell rats busy in the barn during the autumn of '66 and winter of '67.

Have a Shady day!

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