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

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cruisin' with Johnny H. & Robert W.

It's time to check out two more albums in the Cruisin' series. As always, I selected my favorite song from each volume, added another great song or two released that same year, and nailed some vintage soda pop ads to the wall to enhance the ambiance.

Today's Cruisin' journey takes us to Cleveland and
Boss Angeles. Let's roll!

Johnny Holliday - WHK, Cleveland

"The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)" - Betty Everett (April 1964)

Over the years my favorite records have all shared at least one characteristic. They all had a clean, crisp, uncluttered sound that jumped right out of the grooves. The dynamic production quality to which I am referring is evident on
“The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss),” a delightful recording by Chicago soul songbird Betty Everett that fits neatly into the girl group category.

Released in the USA on the illustrious R&B/soul label Vee-Jay, "The Shoop Shoop Song" climbed the charts during the spring of 1964 at the height of Beatlemania. Had it been released a few months earlier, this irresistible chunk of ear candy might have risen unimpeded to the top of both the Billboard and the Cash Box chart. As it turned out "Shoop Shoop" did reach #1 on Cash Box, but it stopped at #6 on Billboard, held back by no fewer than five Beatles songs all jammed together at the top of the chart!

#1 “Twist and Shout”
#2 “Can’t Buy Me Love”

#3 “Please, Please Me”
#4 “She Loves You”
#5 “I Want to Hold Your Hand”

“The Shoop Shoop Song” was one of the best and most memorable American pop songs to emerge during the initial wave of Beatles hoopla. "Hands Off," the blues-based flip side, is a genuine killer bee!

"As Long As I Have You" - Garnet Mimms (1964)

The 1966 Shady Dell megahit "I'll Take Good Care of You" was one of the superb recordings that resulted from the collaboration of 60's soul singer Garnet Mimms and the iconic East Coast producer Jerry "Rags" Ragovoy. The blistering
"As Long as I have You" is another.

While Mimms felt most confortable singing churchy, gospel-tinged deep soul ballads, this 1964 masterpiece, punctuated by killer guitar riffs, proved that he was quite capable of recording floor filling northern dancers!

Robert W. Morgan - KHJ, Los Angeles

"Downtown" - Petula Clark (January 1965)

English thrush Petula Clark is listed in the Guiness Record Book as the most successful British female solo recording artist of all time. Pet scored a staggering 15 top 40 hits in
a row. The string started with "Downtown," a record that became a huge international hit, going to #1 in the U.S.
in the early weeks of 1965.

"I Know a Place" - Petula Clark (April 1965)

I wound up liking Pet's next top 5 hit "I Know a Place" even more because it reminded me of my favorite hangout way up yonder on Violet Hill. "I Know a Place" featured the same brassy orchestral backing as "Downtown" but the compelling go-go beat packed even more of a punch.

"You're the One" - Vogues (October 1965)

How many times must it happen before the weasels at the big record companies finally wise up? Throughout rock history the major labels have picked up edgy new performers from the indies, insisted on fixing that which wasn’t broken, and succeeded in transforming an exciting artist or group into a tired lounge act!

The Vogues are a textbook example. Far from being considered rockers, the Pittsburgh area quartet nevertheless recorded some fresh, energetic pop for Co and Ce, a small local record company. When they jumped ship, however, and signed with Reprise (home of rat packers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.), the Turtle Creek four went all Lawrence Welk on us, turning out a string of syrupy, heavily orchestrated covers of 50's ballads. When I heard those overproduced, violin happy Reprise recordings, I came down with a bad case of the been there, done thats!

"You're the One" is a great example of the Vogues' earlier career output with Co and Ce. The song seemingly came from nowhere in the fall of 1965 to become a top 5 national hit. Other fine records followed including "Magic Town,"
"The Land of Milk and Honey," and the group's biggest hit
"Five O’Clock World," a song that decades later became the theme of funny man Drew Carey’s network television series. Cleveland rocks, and so did Pittsburgh when the Vogues were at the top of their game!

That's how I want to remember the Vogues - not as fugitives from Sing Along with Mitch! I'm not ballad bashing here! When the Vogues sang "Magic Town" every cell in my body was galvanized. With a theme similar to that of "On Broadway" by the Drifters and Jackie Wilson's "No Pity (in the Naked City)," the slow jam had so much soul that I never doubted for a moment that the Vogues were reaching out to baby boomers like me.

"Magic Town" - Vogues (April 1966)

Later in their career, however, when the Vogues started to let the string section dominate their recordings and released moldy oldies like "My Special Angel," it seemed like they were no longer making music for my ears. The Vogues were targeting the Geritol generation. I have nothing against throwbacks. I love 50's doo-wop, but I prefer the original hits by the original artists: Skyliners and Duprees, Crests and Fireflies, Belmonts and Monarchs, Paragons and Paradons.

Gee whiz, guys. If you're going to do the retro thing, why lull us to sleep with it? Why not think outside the box and do it with pizzazz?

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

Have a Shady day!

1 comment:

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