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

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Smashed - a Double Shot of the Swingin’ Medallions

Smash label recording artists The Swingin’ Medallions from South Carolina were principal purveyors of the Shag...

...a popular dance on Carolina beaches.

Shag? Oh, behave! Shag is my middle name, baby - Yeah!

Records by the Swingin’ Medallions fall into the categories of beach music and frat rock. Two of their singles made a big splash at the Dell during the spring and summer of 1966...
“Double Shot (of My Baby’s Love)” and “She Drives Me Out of My Mind.”

A boisterous bunch of guys that sounded like fugitives from Animal House, The Swingin’ Medallions chanted in unison and did lots of screaming and shouting on their two hit recordings. Actual singing was held to a bare minimum.

Neidermeyer: What's that on your chest, mister?
Flounder: It's a pledge pin, sir.
Neidermeyer: A pledge pin!!! On your uniform?!!!

Dean Vernon Wormer: Mr. Dorfman?
Flounder: Hello!
Dean Vernon Wormer: Zero point two...

Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

On their top 20 national chart hit “Double Shot”...

the Medallions' rollicking free-for-all antics convey the impression that the song was recorded in the midst of a drunken fraternity bash.

At our beloved Phi Della Ratta “Double Shot” began to intoxicate the brotherhood in May of ’66.

The wild party platter was especially popular with Dell dudes who loved its rowdy theme, kegger atmospherics, and suggestive lyrics. “Double Shot” enjoyed heavy jukebox play throughout the summer, earning it a spot in the Shady Dell Top 50.

Greg: What do you intend to do sir? Della Ratta’s already on probation.

Dean Wormer: Then as of this moment...

“Double Shot” was still on the jukebox at Della House in August when the Medallions’ swung again with “She Drives Me Out of My Mind,” another rowdy record that injected a healthy dose of testosterone into the proceedings.

Featuring the same jock sensibilities and borderline dirty lyrics that allowed “Double Shot” to resonate with the male contingent, “She Drives Me Out of My Mind” quickly became a Dell favorite.

Doug Neidermeyer: And most recently of all
a "Roman Toga Party" was held...

...from which we have received more than TWO DOZEN

reports of individual acts of perversion SO profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here.

Figure 3: Phi Della Ratta aka Della House
Photo taken during "Dell Week" 1966
“Double Shot” and “She Drives Me Out of My Mind” were the perfect fun songs to help while away the hours at the Dell during school vacation. The Swingin’ Medallons kept the gang singing, dancing and laughing from the start of summer until fall rush week!



Seven years of college down the drain!
What are we gonna do?
Road trip...Starcross road trip!

Have a Shady day!

Monday, August 24, 2009

200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell Part 19 (#20 to #11)

Dell rats, it's time to get serious.

The hardest of the hardcore Dell songs are all that you'll find from here on in as my countdown of the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell nears its conclusion.

Each of the 10 songs in this week's countdown is a certified Dell smash and a guaranteed dance floor filler! Look at the lyrics and name the tunes.

Signpost up ahead. Your next stop...

I start grinnin' 'cause my head starts spinnin'

(Came from your embrace)

nothing can sew it, and I know it

If your hands are tied
And you just can’t seem to get ‘em free

when I take you out somewhere
and bus fare is all I can spare

If you get cold I’ll be your cover.

I'll be looking every day
I know I'm gonna find a way

I had enough of
bright party lights

Oh, can’t you see
they’re calling me

look at that girl dressed in red

(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:

20. "This Old Heart of Mine" - Isley Brothers (February '66)

19. "You Gave Me Something (And Everything's Alright)" – Fantastic Four (June '67)

18. "All Your Lovin's Gone to My Head" - Magnificent Men (December '65)

17. "Take Some Time Out for Love" - Isley Brothers (June '66)

16. "I Got Everything I Need" - Sam & Dave (April '66)

15. "Hold On, I'm a Comin'" - Sam & Dave (April '66)

14. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" - Jimmy Ruffin (August '66)

13. "I'll Take Good Care of You" - Garnet Mimms (April '66)

12. "Big City Lights" - Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs (August '65)

11. "The Boogaloo Party" - Flamingos (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!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The D-Team: Episode 2

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!

"Keep Searchin' (We'll Follow the Sun)" - Del Shannon (December 1964)

Del Shannon possessed one of the most distinctive voices in rock 'n roll. He was one of the few American recording artists to successfully withstand the relentless attack of the British invaders. Del's many fine recordings stand today as durable evergreens. His songs still sound fresh and vital rather than stale and dated like those recorded by some of his early 60s contemporaries. Here's Del Shannon with "Keep Searchin'(We'll Follow the Sun)," a song that landed on the chart Thanksgiving week of 1964, worked its way into the top 10, and remained popular well into the new year!

"I Can't Let Go"

- Evie Sands

(October 1965)

Woman's got soul. Woman's got talent.
Woman's still looking for a hit record!

"I Can't Let Go" should have been huge, but Brooklynite Evie Sands, one of the greatest singing and songwriting talents of the 60s, fell victim to dirty deals, screw-ups, and bad luck. At least "Take me For a Little While" made the Billboard Bubbling Under chart. "I Can't let Go"? Nothing! Zero!

The Hollies picked up the song and ran with it, earning a modest #42 hit in April of 1966. I liked what the English lads did with the song, but I hereby declare "I Can't Let Go" by Evie Sands to be the Grand Champion - the Mother of all Shady's Law Songs!

"Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon" - Paul Revere & the Raiders (March 1969)

When it came to Paul Revere & the Raiders, it was all good. The Raiders were consistent hitmakers and four of their songs made my list of the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell: "Just Like Me" (#163), "Hungry" (#141), "Good Thing" (#130), and "Kicks" (#70). When the band moved into a sunshine pop phase some tuned out but I turned on and tuned in. "Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon," one of my favorites by the Raiders during that period, climbed the chart and landed in the top 20 in the spring of 1969.

"Let Me" - Paul Revere & the Raiders (June 1969)

The Raiders impressed me with their adaptability during the changng times. The Pac NW band transitioned from straightforward rock 'n roll to sunshine pop, psychedelic, hard rock, and message music. "Mr. Sun" was taken from the album Hard 'N' Heavy (with Marshmallow) and the follow-up single, "Let Me" was extracted from Alias Pink Puzz. "Let Me," a major memory maker from spring term at State College, hit #20 on the chart. First, let's watch the performance clip:

Now, here's more of a good thing...the full length album version of the song:

The Raiders evolution continued with Mark Lindsay's successful solo career in the early 70s.

"Buttered Popcorn" - Supremes (August 1961)

Most of my favorite Supremes recordings have somebody other than Diana on lead. "Buttered Popcorn," the second single released after the girl group signed with Motown, is one of them. This delightful relic features Florence Ballard as the sole lead vocalist. Ballard, a gifted thrush, was considered "too soulful" for pop crossover obsessed Motown and was soon replaced by Lady Di. Listen now to the real sound of young America, Flo Ballard & the Supremes with "Buttered Popcorn."

I dunno, what can I tell ya?

Is it just me, or was Berry Gordy trippin' when he claimed that there's no double meaning to "Buttered Popcorn"? Gimme a break! Any third grader knows that the buttered popcorn those gals are warbling about is the kind served in the back row of the balcony along with a Tootsie Roll and some Handi Wipes. Know what folks...that does it, I am outta here!

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!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

On the Record: Oh, What a Sight (and Sound) – “Big City Lights!”

The potent killer bee gets the spotlight on a 45 by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs that began its seven week chart ride on the last day of July 1965.

“Big City Lights” is one of those quintessential Shady Dell songs. Perhaps more than any other song on my list of the 200 Greatest Hits of the Dell, "Big City Lights" resonated with the Dell’s youth culture. It epitomized, as did "Peace of Mind," a Dell rat's dream to bust loose from his bland existence and make it someday. "Big City Lights" captured the spirit of freedom, independence and adventure that was integral to the Shady Dell experience.

Before the gang at the Dell got hold of it, “Big City Lights” was nothing more than an obscure song on the flip side of "Ju Ju Hand," a moderate chart hit. Before going to the Dell, I had never heard “Big City Lights,” certainly not on the radio. The song might have remained neglected, overlooked and unloved forever if it hadn't been for the Rat Pack. Those kids had radar for cool.

I have often wondered which Dell rat first played "Big City Lights" thereby giving birth to one of the Dell's all time greatest killer bees. Was he or she merely experimenting that the mood to try a new and different sound? It's quite possible that "Big City Lights" was discovered by accident. Occasionally, a Dell rat punched the wrong combination of select buttons on the jukebox and played an unintended song. Sometimes the song that played was a winner - sometimes it wasn’t. I once made the mistake of playing “Tiptoe Thru the Tulips” and was escorted to the parking lot by the Dell's Welcome Wagon committee!

Regardless of who, why, or when “Big City Lights” was taken out for its first spin, the boyz in the barn proceeded to turn the song into a Shady Dell phenomenon. Falling just short of the elite top 10 on the Dell’s Greatest Hits, “Big City Lights” goes into the history books as one of the Dell's most cherished classics!

“Big City Lights” was a surprising departure from the string of novelty–styled recordings that Sam the Sham released during the 60s. “Big City Lights” seemed to have been written with the Shady Dell in mind. The song serves as a metaphor, articulating the magnetic attraction the Dell exerted on so many for so long. Every evening the Dell seemed to be calling out to the faithful – summoning us – admonishing us to leave our cares and our ordinary lives behind and cross over into another dimension where all things are possible.

Like a mythological siren luring ships and sailors onto the rocks, the Dell lured us with her music onto that Violet hillside. She dazzled us with her twinkling lights. She enticed us with the promise of fun, excitement and adventure. Kids from all over York and York County heeded the call and made a nightly pilgrimage to this magical musical mecca, drawn to the Dell like moths to a flame. Once the Dell cast its spell you were addicted to the rush.

Of all the Dell songs that I am introducing on Shady Dell Music & Memories, "Big City Lights" is the purest example of the killer bee phenomenon. Dell dancers totally ignored the A side, the derivative “Ju Ju Hand,” a weak knock-off of “Wooly Bully,” and spun “Big City Lights” into solid Dell gold!

Have a Shady day!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cruisin' with the Rockin' Bird & Silver Dollar Jack

It's time to salute two more volumes of the Cruisin' series while we gaze at a few more of those evocative vintage soda pop ads.

Let's cruise east to Philly and then west to Saint Lou.

Joe Niagara - WIBG, Philadelphia

"A Thousand Miles Away" - Heartbeats (January 1957)

Wiggage radio icon Joe "the Rockin' Bird" Niagara loved his do-wop, and "A Thousand Miles Away" by the Heartbeats was one of the 50s' finest. Group leader "Shep" Sheppard later lent his distinctive vocals to "Daddy's Home" when he changed groups and formed Shep & the Limelites.

By late 1957 when I turned 8 years of age, I had already been playing deejay for three years in my downstairs game room. I spent hours at a time sifting through the stack of 45s that belonged to my parents and older brother and digging the sounds on both sides.

"Wake Up Little Susie" by the Everly Brothers and "Peggy Sue" by Buddy Holly were two of my brother's 45s that played in heavy rotation on my tinny toy turntable.

At that tender age my tastes were already eclectic. I loved my brother's rock 'n roll records but I also enjoyed my parents' collection of mellow pop and crossover country, among them "Just Walking in the Rain" by Johnnie Ray, "Singing the Blues" by Guy Mitchell, "The Green Door" by Jim Lowe, "Bo Weevil" by Teresa Brewer, "Sixteen Tons" by Tennessee Ernie Ford, "Tammy" by Debbie Reynolds, the wailin' instrumental "Raunchy" by Ernie Freeman, and "Catch a Falling Star" by Perry Como, a song that came along at the start of 1958. Yes, I admit that I even enjoyed Pat Boone's hit singles which included "Don't Forbid Me," "Love Letters in the Sand," and "April Love."

"You Send Me" - Sam Cooke (November 1957)

Yet, the records endorsed by my parents didn't send me like the music of soulful black recording artists like Sam Cooke. Sam's voice was like butta and "You Send Me" became one of my favorite songs.

My earlier the better rule applies to Sam Cooke, because I prefer the early secular phase of his career immediately after he left the Soul Stirrers gospel group and began releasing pop songs on Specialty.

Jack Carney - WIL, St. Louis

It was great to be 8 in '58. Everywhere I looked, there was entertainment seemingly designed with me in mind: Annette, Spin and Marty, Boys of the Western Sea , The Hardy Boys,

The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Cisco and Pancho, "Hoppy" Cassidy, Roy and Dale, Wild Bill Hickok and Jingles, Cheyenne, Sugarfoot, Mike Nelson (Sea Hunt), Ricky, it was all must see TV!

Drive-in theaters screened low budget horror and sci-fi flicks in a double feature format. All across America, crazy mixed-up kids like me were getting their kookie, way-out kicks!

"Short Shorts" - Royal Teens (February 1958)
"Short Shorts," the squeaky sax novelty number by the Royal Teens brings it all back alive for me. Royal Teens personnel included Bob Gaudio, who later partnered with Frankie Valli to form the Four Seasons, and Al Kooper, one of the leading figures in rock music in the 60s who toured and played guitar with the group in 1959. In January of '58 the self-contained band was jamming and goofing in the studio at the end of a recording session when "Short Shorts" came together. The guys grabbed two girls who were hanging around the studio and pressed them into service on the call-and-response parts of the song. Two different short shorts girls were later used in this capacity when the band performed the song on TV and in concert. "Short Shorts" is way out there, daddy-o...crazy, man, crazy!

"Dede Dinah" - Frankie Avalon (February 1958)

In 1958, a lot of rock wasn't too far from schlock but it sure kept me interested. Frankie Avalon held his nose when he recorded portions of "Dede Dinah." He later held his breath as he waited to see if audiences would hold their noses and plug their ears. Most didn't. The record went top 10 and ranks as one of my guiltiest pleasures. Go! Go! Go!

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

Have a Shady day!