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

Friday, March 27, 2009

The D-Team: Pilot Episode

In 1972, a crack Dell Rat unit was sent to prison by the Unific Court of Love for a crime they didn't commit..... (Death by Disco).

These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the York, PA underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of soul and revivers of rock ‘n roll.

If you have a problem (with hip hop divas and gangsta rap)...

if no one else can help...

and if you can find them...

maybe you can hire...

The D-Team!

I pity the fool who don't like these songs!

"A Patent on Love" - Newbeats (November 1966)

Direct from the Lloyd Thaxton Show, it's Larry Henley and the Newbeats! I saw the Nashville trio perform several of their hits and misses on that televised music, comedy, and dance program. By the way, don't miss my 7-part tribute to the late Lloyd Thaxton coming up later this year!

The Newbeats will turn up again and again on this blog because my respect for them has grown tremendously in recent years. Granted, some of their recordings missed the mark. Their lame cover versions of million sellers by super groups like the Beatles and the Supremes did not help the cause; but other covers and original songs are right in the groove. These Nashville cats made old school cool! Here's a great example - a superb yet non-charting single called "A Patent on Love."

"Funky Broadway" - Dyke & the Blazers (April 1967)

During the late summer of 1967, Wilson Pickett scored a top 10 smash with "Funky Broadway." Pickett's record is ranked #123 on my list of the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell. Dell rats liked what the Wicked Pickett was puttin' down, but they loved the original and played it more often. From the spring of '67, charting at #79 on the Dell's Greatest Hits survey, here's "Funky Broadway" by Dyke & the Blazers.

"She Comes in Colors" - Love (December 1966)

Here’s one of the greatest songs never to be played at the Shady Dell. I remember getting blown away when I heard a local York band perform "She Comes in Colors" in the spring of 1967.

Until then, I never knew that the original version had been recorded months earlier by a band called Love. On faith alone, I bought the first two Love albums and was elated to find a treasure trove of rock gems; although the trippy, flower pop psychedelia of "She Comes In Colors" remained my favorite. Ever since, I have been addicted to Love!

The racially mixed, five-man Los Angeles group led by the brilliant Arthur Lee was the first rock band signed by Elektra records. Love’s recording of Burt Bacharach’s "My Little Red Book" became the label’s first 45 release. Love’s music is a complex, sophisticated, innovative fusion of folk-rock, baroque pop, flamenco and psychedelia. Using instruments avoided by most bands such as flute, saxophone and harpsichord, Love created music that still sounds fresh and interesting.

Love’s odd refusal to tour hurt them, as did the limited commercial appeal of their music.

Love remained a cult band in the shadow of their successful label mates, the Doors. Vindication has come with time. Today, Arthur Lee’s band of musical misfits is lauded by critics, and generations of rock fans have discovered that there’s a lot to Love!

"Back on My Feet Again" Foundations (March 1968)

The Foundations were a mixed race octet from England who exported some refreshingly different sounding northern soul to America. Theirs is a mod beat sound that stands up remarkably well to repeated listening.

"Back on My Feet Again" was only a minor hit stateside for the group, halting at #59 on the Billboard chart in the early spring of 1968. Nevertheless, it is one of my Foundations faves, and I'd like you to hear it.

"My Best Friend Barbara" - Connie Francis (December 1963)

For many years, I had a pesky blind spot where Connie Francis was concerned. I kept lumping her in with country artists, easy listening artists, and singers who recorded in foreign languages. I avoided Connie's music, unaware of her significant contributions to rock 'n roll and the girl group sound.

Listen to Connie rocking out on "My Best Friend Barbara," a Neil Sedaka composition that includes backing vocals by the Brill Building dream team of Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, and Mr. Sedaka. It's the ginchiest!

Oh, her lipstick's all a mess.
She thinks that she's the best.
She's walkin' down the street in a tight yellow dress.
My best friend Barbara.

Yo, Mister Neil Sedaka. FOUR ONE ONE!
Listen up and listen up good my friend, aaah-IGHT?

Looks like I owe you an apology. I made fun of your dancin' on Valentine's day, but dat was before I knew you could write such phat lyrics! Take it from me - what the world needs now is more songs about women in tight dresses with messed up lipstick. When I heard dat, zing went the strings, know what I mean? As a sincere token of my esteemed symbolic eternal friendship gratitude gesture thingy, I hereby bestow upon you, Mister Neil Sedaka, the honor of receiving, absolutely free of charge, a lifetime membership in the Tracy Jordan Fan Club with all the inherent, implied, implicit and illicit rights and privileges therein, thereof, and therefore. It's the least I can do!

Don't miss the next thrill-packed episode of The D-Team, coming soon!

I love it
when a plan comes together!

Have a Shady day!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Righteous Brothers - Blue-Eyed Soul & Inspiration (Part 2)

I have every confidence that the Righteous Brothers were steady hit makers at the Shady Dell in the months and years before I showed up on the scene.

One of my favorites by Bill and Bobby was “Unchained Melody” a song that went into heavy rotation on WSBA in July 1965 and duked it out with “Satisfaction” for summer supremacy.

Trouble is, Hollywood ruined “Unchained Melody” for me when the love ballad became the theme of the blockbuster chick flick Ghost and suffered a severe case of media overexposure. The ghostly tie-in also changed my memory of the song. Before 1990 and Ghost, "Unchained Melody" always reminded me of floating in my back yard pool.

Now, every time I hear it, my mind conjures images of teary-eyed Demi and that blasted wet clay!

Look at me now!....


It sure would be swell if Tinseltown and the Mad Men would stop contaminating our memories by turning cherished boomer classics into movie themes and commercial jingles for toilet bowl cleaners and itch ointments!

All was not lost, however, because there was a lot to like on the flip side of "Unchained Melody."

The killer bee, “Hung on You,” steadily grew on me over the years and is now one of my all-time faves, surpassing “Unchained Melody.”

"You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” was the Righteous Brothers biggest hit and for decades has been played to death on oldies radio. After I heard the song a thousand times, listener fatigue set in.

Let's bottom line it. While I enjoy listening to "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" occasionally, there are many other Righteous Brothers songs that I like better and never get tired of hearing, like "Just Once in My Life," the Phillies release that followed "Lovin' Feelin'" in April of 1965.

And last but not least, let’s go way back to the Moonglow years and listen to Shady Del’s Pick to Click.

From May 1963, one of the most exciting records of the rock ‘n roll era, the Righteous Brothers’ version of “Little Latin Lupe Lu.”

In 1983, I was fortunate enough to be in attendance when Bill Medley & Bobby Hatfield performed before a SRO crowd at a concert venue in Valley Forge. The Righteous Brothers were still sensational, still testifyin’, and they received several standing ovations.

Sadly, 20 years later, rock 'n roll heaven sent for another one of the greats. Bobby passed away unexpectedly just minutes before a scheduled concert in 2003. Bill sang solo at Bobby's funeral.

The Righteous Brothers: major contributors to the soundtrack of our youth.

Thanks, guys!

Have a Shady day!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Righteous Brothers - Blue-Eyed Soul & Inspiration (Part 1)

March Madness is the term I use to describe the big bang...

...the music explosion that took place at the Dell starting in the early spring of 1966 and continuing through June. Some of the greatest soul records of the 60s came out during that period as well as releases by soulful white artists with crossover appeal.

The Dell’s blue-eyed soul craze got its start in the months leading up to March with songs like “Peace of Mind” by the Magnificent Men, “Jenny” by Mitch Ryder, and “Unchained Melody,” “Hung on You,” and “Ebb Tide” by the Righteous Brothers all paving the way.

In March, the Young Rascals joined the club and helped to ratchet up the excitement in the barn, and the Righteous Brothers were back with their biggest Dell hit of all.

A record doesn’t make it into the coveted Shady Dell Top Ten unless it kills. “Soul And Inspiration,” a towering wall of sound, kills!

For months on end this exquisite Righteous Brothers ballad kept the Dell’s slow dancers in a blissful state of nirvana. Couples by the score streamed to the dance floor and swayed teary-eyed as “Soul and Inspiration” washed over them like a wave of intense feeling. Bill and Bobby’s dueling vocal harmonies spiraled upward toward the heavens and then fell and rose and fell again until, by song’s end, all within earshot were emotionally depleted.

The Righteous Bros. are shoutin’ the blues on the killer bee...

"B Side Blues" received enough jukebox plays and crowd reax to earn it a spot in the Shady Dell Top 100!

Two more exceptional Righteous Brothers ballads made their mark during my tenure as a Dell rat, and both also made it into my Dell Top 100.

At position #80 is the song mentioned earlier - “Ebb Tide,” one of the Dell’s most frequently played slow songs from December 1965 through the end of winter.

At position #92 is “He,” a ballad with an overtly religious theme similar to that of another Dell classic, ‘Human” by Tommy Hunt.

"He” was a warm weather Dell song, first capturing our attention in June of 1966 and keeping us company until the school bells rang.

Key point: Many of the Dell’s greatest hits were songs that walked the fine line between gospel and secular without becoming preachy or self conscious.

Too late for Halloween, but a Ghost story is coming up next.

(to be continued)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell Part 14 (#70 to #61)

Golly, it's been quite a while since our last installment of the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell. Let's roll!

At this point in the countdown, the hardcore Dell songs are emerging! Regional acts are responsible for 4 out of the 10 songs in this week's countdown list. Examine the lyrics below and see if you can name those tunes!

That road goes nowhere

Let it flow like the river

And I might wave, come up here
But I don't see you wavin now

Don't judge a book by it's cover

Don’t sit there and stew

She told me that she loves me
And that I must believe
She put no one above me
And that she’ll never leave

You're earthquakin', soul shakin'

I’m gonna relax like everybody should

You know I'll bring her in someday

No squeaks from the swings
No kids are at play

(end of clues)

Remember the grading scale:

All 10 right – Congratulations! You’ve been appointed dean of the College of Musical Knowledge

7-9 right – Licensed lyric lover

4-6 right - Lyrically challenged

1-3 right – Sign up for remedial classes at the School of Rock

0 right – You just dance and hum along!

Now, here are this week's 10 Shady Dell countdown songs:

70. "Kicks" - Paul Revere & the Raiders (March '66)

69. "Open the Door to Your Heart" - Darrell Banks (July '66)

68. "96 Tears" - (?) Question Mark & the Mysterians (September '66)

67. "Beauty is Only Skin Deep" - Temptations (September '66)

66. "Find Someone (Who'll Make You Happy)" - Kit Kats (November '66)

65. "Lookin' for My Baby" - Emperors (May '67)

64. "I Got a Feeling" - Four Tops (March '67)

63. "Gimme Some Lovin'" - Jordan Brothers (February '67)

62. "Searchin'" - Emperors (May '67)

61. "It's Now Winter's Day" - Tommy Roe (January '67)

Do you have a Shady Dell Top Tunes list of your own that you would like to share? I'd love to see it, especially if it covers a different period of Dell history. It doesn't have to contain 200 songs; even a Top 10 would be interesting and instructive. Submit your Dell's Greatest Hits list in the form of a comment and I'll get it posted.

Have a Shady day!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, John!

John Ettline was born 103 years ago today
on March 12th, 1906.

Things to know and remember about John:

* John was a graduate of York High School.

* John played football and baseball, and was considered very athletic.

* John was an extremely intelligent man and attended a junior college until his father pulled him out to help with the family farm in Foustown, the Cousler Park area north of York.

* John was an antiques collector, purchasing many pieces from his youngest brother, the late Paul Ettline who was an antiques dealer. Paul always spoke very highly of his oldest brother.

* Looking back at John Ettline’s life, it's safe to say that he was a John of all trades and a master of many.

* John worked in coal mines.

*John was a music agent, scheduling bands for local clubs.

* John managed various York clubs including the historic Valencia Ballroom, America’s first air conditioned dance hall!

* John also managed Lehmeyer’s the classy men's clothier on North George St.

* John was a dapper dresser, a great dancer, and a very handsome gentleman.

* John was a ladies' man, a man's man, and very much his own man.

* Most of all, John was a wise man, and he shared his wisdom with us. I thought it fitting, therefore, to offer this video...

...and this timeless message of hope as we remember John today:

Happy birthday, John.....

We love you and miss you!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

On the Record: Soul Brothers Isley

Some might disagree, but I thought the Isley Brothers were at their best during their stint at Motown in the mid 60s.

Two of the superb recordings that the Isleys released on the Tamla subsidiary landed in the top 20 on my list of the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell.

“This Old Heart of Mine,” which fell just short of the top 10 on Billboard, lit a fire under the Dell crowd in February of 1966. The dance floor was jammed whenever this Motown memory maker started playing!

I vividly recall one of the Dell regulars, a young guy around fifteen. He was arguably the best male dancer in the place, and his older sister was the best female dancer. Everybody watched with awe and envy as that brother and sister duo danced together to “This Old Heart of Mine” and other up-tempo sounds. That young dude had such a great smile and so much energy, confidence and charisma that he often had two girls dancing with him at the same time. Hey, save some for the rest of us!

Unsolved history:

That brother & sister dance team –
What were their names?
Where are they now?

“This Old Heart of Mine” was still going strong in June when the Brothers Isley launched phase two of their Dell assault, setting summer nights ablaze with the scintillating dance number “Take Some Time Out for Love.” I liked “This Old Heart of Mine,” but I found “Take Some Time Out for Love” even more exciting. That's why I ranked it higher on my Dell’s Greatest Hits list. Shady’s Law certainly applies to “Take Some Time Out…” because the song’s poor performance on Billboard (lasting only 4 weeks and halting at #66) is both a mystery and a travesty. "Take Some Time Out for Love" is one of the most electrifying northern dancers ever produced!

Many Dell rats tried and many Dell rats failed...

It was simply impossible to stay seated when the Brothers Isley began to wail!

These two Isley smashes were part of an extraordinary run of Dell classics that exploded onto the scene during the first half of 1966. It is the time span that yielded the heaviest concentration of high-ranking Dell hits on my 22-month survey.

* 7 of the top 10 Dell songs were released during the first six months of 1966

* 14 out of the top 20 and

* 28 out of the top 50.

A key point that I would like to make is that the music of 1966 and earlier was somehow "greater" than the music of 1967 and later.

FACT: As the official Pac Man pie chart illustrates...

...75% of the songs in the Dell Top 100 were released in 1966 or earlier.

The Isley Brothers, already veteran performers by the mid 60s, ultimately became one of the longest-lasting recording acts in music history, placing records on the charts in six different decades!

Can you say longevity?

Have a Shady day!