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

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Perfect Storms: The 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever! (Part 1)

The task seemed simple enough at first. I wanted to present my list of the 10 Most Exciting Records Ever Made. I had every intention of limiting it to 10, but my list kept growing until it reached more than 50 with no end in sight.

To make the task less daunting I separated the songs into four music categories and ranked each song within that category. Next, I took the winners, the highest ranking songs in each category, and conducted a spinoff competition to determine the 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever!

As you might expect I limited the entries to songs released during the baby boom era of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Today, in Part 1 of my 13-Part series, I kick off the competition with a countdown of the most exciting records from the pre-Beatles years, the mid 50s through 1963.

Let the games begin, Jungle Lad!

15. “The Lonely Surfer” – Jack Nitzsche (August 1963)

This classic sun & surf instrumental starts out like a ripple on a pond and steadily builds in intensity until it is a towering 50-footer. "The Lonely Surfer" is a powerful metaphor for facing life's greatest challenges alone and conquering them!

14. “All Shook Up” – Elvis Presley (April 1957)

In the spring and summer of 1957, "All Shook Up" was on the radio, on record players, and on people’s lips. In America and abroad, the phrase “all shook up” became a commonly used slang expression for millions of young people. Songwriter Otis Blackwell allegedly invented the catch phrase when somebody shook up a bottle of coke and challenged him to write a song about it. “All Shook Up” reminds me of another pop culture phrase in ‘50s America, “crazy, mixed-up kid.” Most likely the expression came from one of the many movies that dealt with troubled teens and juvenile delinquents like those portrayed by actors Marlon Brando and James Dean. In the mid 60s, the girl group Patty & the Emblems seemingly combined the two phrases into one for their hit song, "Mixed-Up, Shook-Up, Girl."

13. “I Love You” – Volumes (May 1962)

There's a word for this song: EXCITING! In the spring of 1962, "I Love You" by the Volumes and "Duke of Earl" by Gene Chandler were the two hottest records on the jukebox in the lobby of Dallastown Area High School. While the boys played ping pong, the girls danced nearby in front of that record machine. Meanwhile, guys like me who were more interested in girls than in table tennis spent lunch break engaged in that welcome distraction known as girl watching. Can I get a witness?

12. “Don’t Be Cruel” – Elvis Presley (August 1956)

I was six when my older brother brought home the 2-sided blockbuster "Hound Dog"/"Don’t Be Cruel". From the start I was hooked on Elvis Presley and the new brand of music he performed called rock ‘n roll. Although only a child, I could tell that Elvis was the real deal. He was much more exciting to listen to and to watch than Bing Crosby and the other big band era crooners that my parents liked. I knew that something was happening here...something big!

11. I Need Your Loving – Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford
(June 1962)

When it comes to gravel-voiced shouter Don Gardner, too much of a good thing is never enough. That's why my drug of choice is Don's full length, five-minute-plus version of "I Need Your Loving." Don's hit 1962 call-and-response duet with Dee Dee Ford is an R&B classic. The call-and-response song style is a favorite of mine. It has been successfully performed by Ike and Tina, Mickey and Sylvia, and Peaches and Herb to name a few. Those recordings are all great but this sizzler by Don & Dee Dee is the most exciting!

My countdown of the most exciting pre-Beatles recordings continues soon, so stick around!

Have a Shady day!

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