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, April 30, 2009

On the Record: Dynamite Duo Does Double Duty at the Dell!

'Twas the spring of 1966 and

the Dell hits just kept on comin'!

The music explosion included another colossal Dell two-sider, “Hold On! I’m a Comin’” b/w “I Got Everything I Need” by the Dynamite Duo, Stax soul men Sam & Dave. This powerhouse single is in the top 5 on my list of the highest ranked 2-sided hit records at the Dell!

“Hold On! I’m a Comin’” fell just short of the nationwide top 20 on Billboard, but vaulted into that exclusive club on my Greatest Hits of the Dell survey.

The 45's killer bee “I Got Everything I Need” shares a top 20 Dell ranking. In a classic case of Shady's Law (the greater the song, the lower the chart position), the fab flip never showed up on the Billboard chart. This awesome ballad is Memphis soul at its best, and it's Shady Del's Pick to Click!

"Hold On" and "I Got Everything I Need" turned up in the Dell's jukebox in April of 1966. Like several other spring arrivals that I have been showcasing, these back-to-back barnburners remained popular at the Dell all the way through the warm weather months.

By the time school bells rang in September, yet another
Sam and Dave double-sider was rocking the Shady Dell.
“Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody” was a crowd-pleaser
that flooded the floor with dancers several times each night.
Soon after the rat pack discovered it, the killer bee “If You Got the Loving (I Got the Time)” became another slow dance fave at the Dell.

In January of 1971, the Miller Brewing Company launched an advertising campaign for its High Life brand of suds with the slogan, “If you’ve got the time…we’ve got the beer.” Every time I heard that slogan, I wondered if the agency Mad Men were influenced by and referencing Sam & Dave’s “If You Got the Loving (I Got the Time).”

“Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody” and “If You Got the Loving (I Got the Time)” were two more evenly matched Dell hits, both occupying positions in the prestigious Shady Dell Top 40. Both of these great Sam & Dave songs played in heavy rotation on the Dell’s barnbox throughout the fall of 1966.

The following year, Sam & Dave placed two more of their recordings among the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell.

At #173 on my list of the Dell's Greatest Hits is "Soul Man," Sam and Dave's biggest Billboard hit and their signature song.

"Soul Man" was spinning gold at the Dell during September
of 1967 at the tail end of my 22-month survey period. I flew the coop for college while this on was still hot in the Shady.

The song that I found every bit as soul satisfying was the shouting, down-tempo killer bee “May I Baby” which landed
at #137 on the Dell 200.

I'm sorry but there is no clip available for "May I Baby."

1968 is beyond the scope of my Top 200 Dell Songs survey, but I just wanna testify that Sam & Dave were still going strong that year.

The duo scored three more big Dell hits, starting in January of ’68 with their top 10 Billboard charter “I Thank You” b/w the fabulous killer bee, “Wrap it Up.”

In December of ’68, Sam & Dave were packing more Dell dynamite.

“Soul Sister, Brown Sugar,” which fell just short of the national top 40, packed the dance floor on a nightly basis well into the new year.

The evidence is in. I rest my case.

Sam & Dave were two of the most exciting soul shouters of the 60's. They were major contributors to the Dell soundtrack and to our Dell experience.

Have a Shady day!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Too Cool for Old School - A "Love" Match Between Nathaniel Mayer and The Volumes


Two of the most evenly matched songs that you’re ever likely to encounter are “Village of Love” by Nathaniel Mayer

and his Fabulous Twilights and “I Love You” by the Volumes, a doo-wop vocal group fronted by Ed Union (below).

The similarities are many:

* Both were vocal groups from Detroit.

* Both groups recorded for tiny local labels, (Fortune and Chex).

* Both songs are electrifying, up-tempo R&B dancers.

* Both songs
entered the
Billboard chart on the same date,
April 28, 1962.

* Both songs lasted 12 weeks on the Billboard chart.

* Both songs attained a position of #22 on Billboard before fading away.

* Both songs are on my list of
The Most Exciting Records Ever Made!

If either song had a slight advantage it was “I Love You”
by the Volumes. The high energy vocal group classic fared better on the Cash Box chart, catching a late bullet and reaching #20 in late June whereas “Village” ground to a halt at #26 on that trade chart a couple of weeks earlier.

My Pick to Click, by a very slim margin, is Nathaniel Mayer's rollicking “Village of Love.”

I prefer Mayer's raw, primitive R&B approach to the more refined doo-wop vocal styling on the Volumes recording.

"Village of Love" is off the hook!

In the spring of 1962 when the more polished and sophisticated soul sound was emerging these two R&B relics from the Motor City burned rubber. Retro rocks!

Have a Shady day!

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!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell Part 15 (#60 to #51)

Soul, blue-eyed soul, and British invasion artists dominate the Shady Dell countdown as we close out the top half of the Top 100.

Take a look at the lyric samples and name those tunes!

Somebody tell me I'm dreaming now

walks real cool, catches everybody's eye

I locked my heart till our wedding day

Can't control the quivering inside

I know we can make love bloom, baby, the second time around.

and likewise if behind is in front then dirt in truth is clean

I'm in no position to want competition.

I was so much older then

You got me walking and talking in a trance

I got the fever, yeah an' you got the cure

(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:

60. "Shake Me, Wake Me (When it's Over)" - Four Tops (February '66)

59. "Devil With a Blue Dress On & Good Golly Miss Molly" - Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (October '66)

58. "Third Finger, Left Hand" - Martha & the Vandellas (March '67)

57. "A Groovy Kind of Love" - Mindbenders (April '66)

56. "Don't Look Back" - Temptations (November '65)

55. "A Whiter Shade of Pale" - Procol Harum (July '67)

54. "Don't Mess With Bill" - Marvelettes (January '66)

53. "When I Was Young" - Eric Burdon & the Animals (April '67)

52. "Hypnotized" - Linda Jones (June '67)

51. "Good Lovin'" - Young Rascals (March '66)

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!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On the Record: No Strings Attached - The Pure Soul of the Van Dykes

The Eastern world – it was explodin’ - violence flarin’ – bullets loadin'...and on the home front, racial tension was on the rise.

In the midst of all the chaos and strife came the calming voices of reason... the healing voices of the Van Dykes.

“No Man is an Island” stands alone in its refreshing simplicity and utter purity. Unlike many recordings of the period that were overproduced and overwrought, “No Man is an Island” is performed nearly a cappella with sparse instrumental accompaniment. Dell knights and their ladies danced in silent reverence as the Van Dykes imparted their unifying, spiritually uplifting, and timeless message.

Two months after “No Man is an Island” first appeared in the Dell jukebox, Simon & Garfunkel’s “I am a Rock (I am an Island)” joined the lineup.

For a while, both were on the Dell's playlist at the same time. When the two songs played during the same evening, it highlighted the stark contrast between the hope and sincerity of the Van Dykes song and the bleak cynicism of the Simon and Garfunkel composition.

On the flipside of “No Man is an Island,” the Van Dykes offered another heaping helping of sweet soul harmony.

The crowd pleasing mid-tempo shuffle “I Won’t Hold it Against You” is considered to be the A side of the disc by northern soul clubbers and collectors in Europe.

“No Man is an Island” and “I Won’t Hold it Against You” were enormous back-to-back Dell hits that played several times each night throughout the spring and summer of 1966. “No Man Is an Island,” the quintessential Shady Dell soul ballad, was so huge that it earned a spot in the elite top 5 on my list of the Dell’s Greatest Hits. The killer bee is way up there, too, placing in the Dell top 40.

I have a bonus Van Dykes track for you. "Save My Love for a Rainy Day" by the Temptations has always been one of my favorites. The excellent Van Dykes version is currently available on their anthology CD, Tellin' It Like It Is: The Mala Sessions. Here again are the Van Dykes with the northern soul dance floor filler “Save My Love for a Rainy Day.”

At a time when recording studios were using the wall of sound to move product, the Van Dykes dared to take a different approach. They laid down simple, straightforward, heartfelt vocals with minimal instrumental clutter. In doing so, the Van Dykes proved to the world that less is more.

Have a Shady day!