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"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

Monday, March 22, 2010

Perfect Storms: The 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever! (Part 5)

Let's continue now with our search for the 10 Most Exciting Records ever made. Here are the top 6 in the post-Beatles pop/rock category:

6. “Midnight Hour” - ? (Question Mark) & the Mysterians (September 1966)

The killer bee on the back of "96 Tears" is one of the greatest garage rock recordings of the 60s. All of the essential elements are present: bold, swaggering male p.o.v.; ad-libbed, hard-to-understand lyrics laced with sexual innuendo; bitchin' organ solo; and spontaneous, unrehearsed, make-it-up-as-you-go jam session sensibilities. There's no Question Mark about it, "Midnight Hour" rocks! Unfortunately, YouTube has seen fit to delete and disallow this song due to copyright issues. If you promise to click back to this page you can listen to a 30 second sound sample on Amazon (track #11) by clicking here.

5. “Shaggy Dog” – Mickey Lee Lane (October 1964)

Mystery shades, black leather jacket, motorcycle boots, wavy blonde hair. No, it's not Marlon, it's Mickey, Mickey Lee Lane. A Brill building songwriter and pianist whose credits included working with Neil Sedaka and Bill Haley, Lane made a go of it as a singer and wound up recording several excellent pop records of his own. In the fall of 1964, Mickey Lee Lane unleashed "Shaggy Dog" and it scampered into the top 40.

After only a few plays on the Mighty 9-10, I was sold on "Shaggy Dog." It was a refreshingly different kind of record with sparkling production, a high energy beat, and crazy novelty lyrics. When Mickey Lee Lane appeared on the Lloyd Thaxton Show and lip-synced his hit single, he didn't just show up...the dude was showin' out...simply oozing cool. Mick's charismatic performance was the tipping point that turned me from appreciative listener into a buyer. Before the closing credits were finished rolling on Thaxton, this reporter was headed over to Mailman's Queensgate to grab a copy of "Shaggy Dog."

4. "Hey Sah-Lo-Ney" - Mickey Lee Lane (September 1965)

Mickey Lee Lane released several 45s on the highly collectible Swan label. As you might recall, the company often printed the words "Don't Drop Out" on the labels of its 45s for the benefit of school age record buyers. "Shaggy Dog" was the only Swan release by Mickey Lee Lane to make the domestic record chart. Like many American artists Lane enjoyed greater popularity in Britain. His 1965 release "Hey Sah-Lo-Ney" became a dance hit on the UK northern soul circuit and was covered by a Liverpool mod band called The Action. In terms of excitement, the infectious, hi-energy "Hey Sah-Lo-Ney" picks up where "Shaggy Dog" left off. Mickey sends this one into orbit!

3. “Shakin’ All Over”- Chad Allan & the Expressions (the original personnel of Guess Who?) (May 1965)

Spring 1965: At first, I swore that WSBA was playing the latest single by the Beatles, but Guess Who? was Chad Allan & the Expressions, a group from Winnipeg with their American hit "Shakin' All Over." To my ears the song was more exciting than anything the Beatles had released to date, prompting me to hustle back over to Mailman's where I rolled the dice and purchased the group's album as well as the single. Guess What? I didn't regret my buying decision. The original lineup of that Canadian group produced a refreshingly different sound and several tracks on that LP became favorites including "Till We Kissed," "Stop Teasing Me," "Hey Ho," and "Goodnight Goodnight." When I wanted quivers down my backbone, however, my Pick to Click was "Shakin' All Over!"

2. “It’s Summer Time, U.S.A.” – Pixies Three (July 1964)

In 1964
our neighbor girls
from Hanover,
the Pixies Three,
dominated the
radio airwaves
of WSBA-Land
with the
feel-good record
of the summer.

"Summer Time U.S.A." is the quintessential girl group song, brimming with youthful energy and exuberance.

You can actually hear the smiles coming through in their voices as Kaye, Debby and Bonnie sing their school's out forever anthem.

1. “The Hootch” – Pixies Three (July 1964)

The Pixies sprinkled their magic dust on both sides of this Mercury release. "The Hootch," which was designated by the record company as the A side, has the live feel of Stevie's "Fingertips" and ranks as #1 on my list of the Most Exciting Records in the post-Beatles American/Canadian pop/rock category! Go, Pixies!

"The Hootch" could easily have gone top 40 but the song's title which innocently refers to a new dance from Liverpool somehow got misinterpreted as an endorsement of underage drinking. As a result some radio stations were reluctant to play it.

Hey, mister program director - get a clue! If a benign ditty like "The Hootch" makes you nervous wait'll you get a load of gangsta rap!

As it turned out a substantial number of programmers flipped the 45 and played the killer bee, allowing "It's Summer Time, U.S.A." to become a mid-Atlantic regional hit.

In Part 6 of my series, I'll be counting down the most exciting Motown sounds along with other entries in the 60s Soul/R&B categories. I hope you'll join me!

Have a Shady day!

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