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, June 11, 2009

Summer Means Fun (Part 2) ----- The Boys of Summer

The Boys of Summer brings together male recording artists from several different categories: big band and jazz standards, R&B soul, pop instrumentals, crossover country, pop solo, and Broadway show tunes.

Let's get things started by turning back the clock 46 years to May and June of 1963. A top 10 hit nationally, and a frequent flier on the airwaves across WSBA Land, here's Nat King Cole with "Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer."

Another highlight of the summer of '63 was the soulful dance hit "The Monkey Time" by Major Lance.

"The Monkey Time" began its journey on the Billboard chart in July and kept us dancing all the way through York Fair week in September, finishing in the top 10.

"The Monkey Time" takes me back to those marvelous days of late summer in Central Pennsylvania – warm days and cool nights, low humidity, cobalt blue skies, and locusts buzzing in the fields.

Surf instrumentals proliferated during the early 60s.

“The Lonely Surfer” by Jack Nitzsche had a greater impact on me than any other instrumental before or since. "The Lonely Surfer" exemplifies the “wall of sound” production style used with great success by record mogul Phil Spector. French horns placed high in the mix evoke a sense of loneliness, adventure and danger as the surfer summons the courage to ride a monster wave to shore.

From August of 1963, here's the mother of all surf rock classics, "The Lonely Surfer" by Jack Nitzsche.

It would be incorrect to call Jack Nitzsche a one-hit wonder. In a career that spanned 40 years, the legendary arranger, composer, songwriter, producer and studio musician played a key behind-the-scenes role in creating many of the biggest rock ‘n roll and pop hits of the 60s.

Eddie Rambeau's contribution to our sounds of summer collection was the biggest hit of his career - a def cover of "Concrete and Clay," a song recorded by the UK band Unit 4 Plus 2.

Featuring that clean production style I like so well, Eddie Rambeau's "Concrete and Clay" is pure delight. I defy anybody to stay depressed while listening to it. The record played in moderate to heavy rotation on the Mighty 9-10, becoming a Central Pennsylvania regional favorite and surpassing the original in popularity. Charting in May and June of 1965 and reaching #35 on Billboard, here's Eddie Rambeau's version of "Concrete and Clay."

Although more famous for Camelot, the late Robert Goulet recorded one of my favorite warm weather anthems.

"Summer Sounds" was not a major hit for Goulet, barely cracking the Billboard top 60. Yet, the record got enough play on WSBA to make a lasting impression on me. Another seasonal favorite from June of 1965, here's a sampling of Robert Goulet's "Summer Sounds."

Country pop artist Ronnie Dove had a string of crossover hits to his credit by the time he released "Happy Summer Days" in 1966.

Ronnie's songs were always well received in Central PA and got plenty of exposure on WSBA radio. "Happy Summer Days" was no exception.

The single climbed the Billboard ladder in June and July, reaching its zenith at #27. Listen now to Ronnie Dove's evocative "Happy Summer Days."

I had already finished picking songs for Summer Means Fun when I realized there is only one song in the entire 6-part series that was released after 1966. "What about the Summer of Love, 1967?," you might ask. "What about songs from the summer of 1968 and '69?" No! I chose songs from earlier years because summer fun was more innocent then as was the music. By 1967 the tide had turned. Beach songs, surfing songs, hot rod songs, and other sounds celebrating the California lifestyle (a lifestyle that kids everywhere wanted to adopt) were vanishing from the pop music charts, radio & TV, and the record stores.

The high water mark for summer-themed songs, fun songs, and for sweet, innocent love songs was probably somewhere around March of 1966. "Nowhere Man" by the Beatles, a hit song that month, signaled the beginning of the end. As the All Music Guide points out, "Nowhere Man" was the first Beatles song to move beyond romantic themes entirely. Silly love songs and good time rock ‘n roll were rapidly giving way to music for the thinking man. Like it or not - and if I’m to be honest, deep down inside I really didn’t like it - the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and others were ushering in an era of deep, serious, introspective music.

Not to worry, there's lots more mindless retro fun coming up in Parts 3, 4, 5 and 6 of my Summer Means Fun series.

Have a Shady day!

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