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

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The D-Team: Episode 4

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!

"Everybody" - Tommy Roe (November 1963)

In the fall of 1963, Tommy Roe's ABC single "Everybody" became a solid national hit, finishing #3 in the land.

"Come On" - Tommy Roe (February 1964)

Tommy's next single release, "Come On," sounded a lot like "Everybody."

The point is, ladies and gentleman, that derivative, for lack of a better word, is good (sometimes).

Following up a hit record with the release of a sound-alike was and is a common practice, one that makes good business sense. In their attempt to capitalize on a winning formula, however, Tommy Roe and his handlers forgot to factor in the Beatles. Released at the start of 1964, "Come On" should have been another top 5 smash for Tommy. Instead, it got lost in the shuffle as songs by the Beatles and other English acts clustered around the top of the charts. "Come On," a song that I now like even more than "Everybody," wound up its chart run at the lower end of the top 40.

"Wrapped, Tied and Tangled" LaVern Baker
(late 1960s, unreleased)

She was Young and Restless...
Bold and Beautiful...
Brash and Sassy...

Sultry, seductive soul sister LaVern Baker is best known for her string of fine R&B recordings on Atlantic.

In recent years, I discovered a lost treasure that LaVern recorded later in her career on Brunswick, Chicago's legendary soul label.

Feast your ears on a genuine gem of northern soul.

It's a power packed late 60's track called
"Wrapped, Tied, and Tangled."

"Younger Girl" - Critters (July 1966)

As the summer of 1966 was getting underway the Critters, a group of Jersey boys who got the inspiration for their name from the Animals, had their first single on the chart. The Critters version of the John Sebastian song "Younger Girl" stopped just short of the Billboard top 40, but established the guys as a sunshine pop group with hit making potential.

"Mr. Dieingly Sad" - Critters (September 1966)

During the late summer, the Critters were back on the chart with their follow-up single "Mr. Dieingly Sad." This one proved to be a better chart performer for the Kapp label recording artists, breaking the top 20. Listen now and feel the flower power!

"This Can't Be True" - Eddie Holman (February 1966)

"Clean living." That's what Eddie Holman recently offered as an explanation when asked how he has managed to stay in such great shape and great voice all these years. His was one of the finest vocal instruments in all of pop music. Eddie Holman helped create the ultra cool Philadelphia soul sound that started in the 60s and flourished during the 70s. His biggest hit was "Hey There Lonely Girl" a 1970 answer to the 1963 recording "Hey There Lonely Boy" by Ruby & the Romantics. My Pick to Click for Eddie Holman is his first hit record, "This Can't Be True," a sensational ballad that knocks me out in seconds flat!

"That's Life (That's Tough) - Gabriel & the Angels
(December 1962)

Here's another great Swan song. Swan, a Philadelphia-based record label distributed by Cameo-Parkway, offered 45rpm releases with maximum appeal for teenagers. Swan was home to Freddy Cannon and Mickey Lee Lane, artists recently featured on this blog. Some Swan singles were released with the words "don't drop out" printed on the label as a public service announcement aimed at the youth market. Arguably the coolest of all Swan releases was "That's Life (That's Tough)" by Gabriel and the Angels.

When Gabriel and the Angels waxed "That's Life," the one-hit-wonder group laid down one of the most unique sounds of the early 60s. A seldom heard lost treasure with a distinctive call-and-response hook, "That's Life (That's Tough)" charted around Christmas 1962 and just missed the Billboard top 50.

What's tough? Life!

What's Life? It's a breakfast cereal made of whole grain oats, introduced in 1961 and distributed by the Quaker Oats Company.

Hey, Mikey!!!

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!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shady Dell, the College Years: October/November 1967

Hard to believe, but life went on at the Dell even when I wasn't around. My recently completed countdown of the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell covered the 22-month period from December 1965 through September 1967 at which time I left York to attend college. Over the next four years I returned home on Christmas breaks, spring breaks and summer vacations and spent as much time as possible at the Dell catching up with friends and finding out which tunes were popular on the jukebox.

In the coming months I'll be presenting some of the most memorable Dell songs from my college years. Let’s get the ball rollin’ and keep the ball rollin’ with some of the Dell biggies from October and November of 1967.

October 1967

"(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It’s You That I Need” – Temptations

“Don’t Send Me Away” – Temptations

"Keep the Ball Rollin’” – Jay & The Techniques

“Boogaloo Down Broadway” – Fantastic Johnny C

November 1967

"Daydream Believer" – Monkees

"I Heard It Through The Grapevine" – Gladys Knight & The Pips

"Piece Of My Heart" – Erma Franklin

"Skinny Legs And All" – Joe Tex

"Honey Chile" – Martha & The Vandellas

It's Christmas 1967 at the Dell in next month's installment of College Years. Don't miss it!

Have a Shady day!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On the Record: The Rising Fall........ A November to Remember............... and The Kids in Bristol

The Rising Fall

My original collection of 45s started with a Dave Clark Five record. In the spring of 1964 my dad drove me up the interstate to Camp Hill so that we could check out the new discount department store called Korvette’s (E.J. Korvette). The moment we arrived dad made a beeline for the lawn & garden department to price one of those futuristic power lawn mowers. I kid you not. The blades and the wheels turned all by themselves! It was like something straight out of the Jetsons!

I headed for the record department where I picked out the first three 45s of my collection: “Please, Please Me” b/w “From Me To You” by the Beatles, “I Get Around” b/w “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys, and “Do You Love Me” by the Dave Clark Five, an excellent cover that I liked better than the Contours original.

With their big beat sound and distinctive, gravel-voiced lead vocals by the late Mike Smith, The Dave Clark Five were the Beatles’ chief rivals in those early months of the British Invasion.

Although the popularity of the Dave Clark Five was declining by 1966, their release that fall, “Nineteen Days,” became one of my favorite DC5 songs and a big hit at the Dell. With a running time of less than 2-minutes, “Nineteen Days” was unusually short in duration at a time when pop songs were getting longer. Falling just outside the Shady Dell Top 100, “Nineteen Days" is the only Dave Clark Five song to make my Dell hits survey. The record found its way into the jukebox around Halloween and remained a Dell favorite for the rest of the year.

A November to Remember

Terry “Grand Funk Railroad” Knight’s version of “I (Who Have Nothing)” was another one of those tear jerking slow jams that filled the Dell dance floor with cuddling couples several times a night. Granted, Knight’s overwrought, exaggerated dramatic reading sounded corny, but Dell rats didn’t care. We loved that kind of stuff and made “I (Who Have Nothing)” a huge Dell hit from November of 1966 into the winter of 1967. As a result, the song ranks way up there at #31 on the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell.

I don’t remember hearing it played at the Dell...

...but the flipside of the Lucky Eleven 45, “Numbers,” a genuine 60s nugget in the garage/psych category, also became one of my favorites.

The Kids in Bristol

The Kit Kats were a Philly area bar band whose popularity was confined mainly to southeastern Pennsylvania. They were also huge at the Shady Dell.

The group’s first Jamie single “That’s The Way” b/w “Won’t Find Better Than Me” rocketed to #1 in Lancaster, PA during the summer of 1966 while failing to make a dent in the Billboard chart.

At the Dell, meanwhile, the quartet achieved a gigantic double-sided hit with their next single.

The A side, “Let’s Get Lost On a Country Road,” wound up with a lofty ranking of #26 on my survey of the Dell's Greatest Hits.

The fab flip, ”Find Someone (Who’ll Make You Happy),” was equally popular with the Dell cartel.

Ranked at #66 and played hard and heavy from Thanksgiving till Groundhog Day, "Find Someone" was one of the Dell's most memorable killer bees of the mid 60s.

During the holiday season of 1966 the Kit Kats generated nearly as much buzz at the Dell as the Magnificent Men and the Emperors.

The recordings of the Kit Kats reveal a variety of influences for the group that include doo-wop, soul, folk-rock and classical baroque. Their arrangements and harmonies have been compared to those of the Left Banke, the Four Seasons, the Happenings, the Beach Boys, the Association and the Zombies. Although the cheery “Let’s Get Lost” was the group’s second regional hit, it was also their second miss on a national scale. The song spent Thanksgiving week Bubbling Under at #119 before dropping off the list.

I know what happened!
The Kit Kats hurt their chances by choosing a nondescript group name and adopting a wholesome, retro image at a time when fans and critics were starting to reward bands that looked tough and played hard. In 1969, the Kit Kats changed their name to New Hope and finally made the Billboard Hot 100 with an updated recording of “Won’t Find Better Than Me.”

England's DC5, Terry Knight & the Pack from the Motor City, and the Kit Kats, the kids from Bristol, exemplify the mixed bag that kept Dell rats busy in the barn during the autumn of '66 and winter of '67.

Have a Shady day!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lloyd Thaxton's Greatest Hits, Pt. 7

I saved some of the best (and one of the worst) for last as we wind up our 7-part salute to Lloyd Thaxton and the songs that I remember being played and performed on his 1960s television show.

(January, February 1966)

“Like a Baby” – Len Barry

The third great Len Barry song that is linked in my mind to Lloyd Thaxton is "Like a Baby." Although every bit as good as "1-2-3"..."Like a Baby" wasn't as big a hit for Len, stopping at #27 on the Hot 100.

Len Barry's work still sounds fresh to this day and his solo tracks are heavy hitters on YouTube!

(February, March 1966)

“The Dedication Song” Freddy Cannon

I had dinner with Freddy Cannon in 1984 following one of his concert appearances. Great guy! With a long string of hits skewed toward the novelty category, Freddy's records were a perfect fit for The Lloyd Thaxton Show.

Here's one of my favorites by Freddy, "The Dedication Song," a rousing roll call that stopped just short of the top 40 in March 1966.

(July, August 1966)

“They’re Coming to Take Me Away Ha-haaa” Napoleon XIV

Listen, Marge - they're playing our song!
Who could ever forget (even if they really really tried) the incessant drone of this hellacious hit from the summer of 1966? "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa" by Napoleon XIV is arguably the most annoying record ever made. The maddening magpie saw his numbing novelty number go all the way to #3 on the Billboard chart!

(August 1966)

“Evil Eva” – Newbeats

My 7-part salute to Lloyd Thaxton concludes with another great song that I saw the Newbeats perform on Lloyd's show. The little-known "Evil Eva" is a dynamic rocker and my favorite Newbeats recording; yet in accordance with Shady's Law, the song did not even make a dent in Billboard’s Bubbling Under chart! You're kidding, right?

While other groups were scrambling to adjust to the British invasion by tinkering with their image and their music...

...the Newbeats maintained a wholesome, clean cut, retro image and delivered straightforward, traditional group harmonies reminiscent of the doo-wop era.

The Newbeats’ string of charting singles ended at the close of the turbulent 1960’s decade with the optimistic "Groovin’ (Out On Life)."

As you can probably tell, the Newbeats are my favorite Lloyd Thaxton-linked recording act, with the fabulous Len Barry running a close second. Barry's "Lip Sync" and the Newbeats' "Evil Eva" are my two Picks to Click for the entire Lloyd Thaxton series. Both songs are beyond cool - and both are undeserving victims of Shady's Law.

On the blog that he authored until his death Lloyd Thaxton wrote: “I’ve always maintained that I really don’t care what anybody says about me, as long as they spell my name right.”

That’s what I liked most about Lloyd. He knew that the business he was in was (and still is) 99% b.s. and he wasn’t afraid to clue us in.

Lloyd never took his show, the music, life, or himself too seriously.

With an ever-present twinkle in his eye and toothy show biz grin that made him look like the cat that ate the canary, Lloyd Thaxton enjoyed getting into mischief for our amusement.

Like clown prince Jerry Lewis....

Lloyd invited the kid inside each of us to come out and play. We eagerly did.

I didn’t know Lloyd personally, but I sense that he believed that life was meant to be fun; and if it’s not, you aren’t doing it right - change it.

Thank you, Lloyd Thaxton, for your vast contribution to our lives!

Have a Shady day!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lloyd Thaxton's Greatest Hits, Pt. 6

As the timeline moves forward through the summer of 1965 it's time to reveal more of the great songs played and presented on The Lloyd Thaxton Show.

(June 1965)

“Little Child” – Newbeats

"Bread and Butter" was their bread and butter, but the Newbeats impressed me more with the string of hits and misses that followed. Presenting "Little Child," another Shady's Law hall of famer. Recorded in June of 1965 and released as a single, "Little Child" is an excellent song that should have been a hit. Instead, it remained uncharted.

(June, July 1965)

“You Turn Me On (Turn on Song)” - Ian Whitcomb

Sounding like a fugitive from When Harry Met Sally, England's Ian Whitcomb gasped all the way to the bank after his song "You Turn Me On" became a top 10 hit in America. I remember Lloyd Thaxton performing one of his patented goofy lip syncs to this record circa June 1965.

(September, October 1965)

“Treat Her Right” – Roy Head

Cross Jerry Lee Lewis with James Brown and what do you get? Roy Head! Head blew my mind (pun intended) when I saw him on the Lloyd Thaxton show lip-syncing to his hit record "Treat Her Right."

I loved how Head abruptly shifted gears in the middle of the performance. He started by calmly dispensing advice to men on how to win a woman’s affection, preaching that the keys to good lovin’ are patience and respect rather than the heavy-handed cave man approach.

Suddenly, without warning, Head’s subdued male sensitivity training ended and he exploded like T-N-T. He shouted, he shook, he shimmied, he swaggered, and he strutted.

With commanding vocals, bold, dynamic stage presence, and gymnastic dance moves that resembled those of Mr. Dynamite, Roy Head proved that he was the real deal!

Talented as he was, Roy Head enjoyed only limited chart success in his career and joined the ranks of one-hit-wonders. Today Roy is acknowledged as one of the best blue-eyed soul singers of the 60s.

(October, November 1965)

"Road Runner" - Gants

The Gants originated in Greenwood, Mississippi, but when I heard WSBA play their Beatlesque recording "Road Runner" for the first time, I swore they were the Liverpoolians. "Road Runner," a novelty tune inspired by the Warner Brothers cartoon character, found its way into Lloyd Thaxton's comedy sketches. The song did fairly well on the Billboard chart, breaking into the top 50. The Mighty 9-10 helped the cause by giving the record moderate to heavy exposure. "Road Runner" is a truly exciting rock ‘n roll performance!

"Road Runner" was a promising start for the Gants yet they remained one-hit-wonders in spite of or perhaps because of their ability to sound like the Beatles.

(October thru December 1965)

"1-2-3" - Len Barry

Len Barry's biggest solo hit was also a favorite with the Lloyd Thaxton crowd. "1-2-3" went top 5 nationally in the fall of 1965 and enjoyed a powerful 15 week run on the Billboard Hot 100.

(October, November 1965)

“Run, Baby Run” Newbeats

The Newbeats were studio guests on The Lloyd Thaxton Show in October 1965. Larry's lads performed a lip sync to their latest hit, "Run, Baby Run" a song that climbed to #12 and enjoyed an impressive 13 week stay on the Billboard chart.

You've come this far. Please join me next time for the conclusion of my 7-part tribute to Lloyd Thaxton.

Have a Shady day!