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

Friday, March 26, 2010

The D-Team: Episode 6

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!

"Don't Ever Leave Me" - Connie Francis (November 1964)

By the autumn of 1964, the prolific pop vocalist Connie Francis had sold millions of albums domestically and internationally. Her 45rpm releases were another story. Connie's singles weren't hitting the top of the chart like they did in 1962 and earlier. She had John, Paul, George and Ringo to thank for that. Like many established American artists, Connie was getting lumped in with yesterday's news as young audiences, myself included, became captivated by all things British.

The decline in Connie's chart success had nothing to do with the quality of her work. Connie's fall 1964 recording, the Sedakaesque "Don't Ever Leave Me," fell short of the top 40 but is among her career best! Click here to listen and be sure to click "back" to return to this page.

"Minstrel and Queen" - Impressions (October 1962)

"I'm not worthy," is Curtis Mayfield's lament in this sweet, sad, transitional (doo-wop to soul) recording by the Impressions that deals with the familiar theme of two lovers separated by the class barrier. The song, known in some circles as "Queen Majesty," spent six weeks on Billboard's Bubbling Under chart and finished at #113.

"Minstrel and Queen" was charting in the month of October. As you will see in my upcoming Soul Smackdown series, four of the top five songs on my list of the All Time Greatest Soul Ballads were reaching their peak of popularity during the month of October. Do I detect a pattern?

"Grow Closer Together" - Impressions (February 1962)

Like many other artists of the 60s, Mayfield and company gradually shifted the focus of their music away from traditional love songs and more toward themes of social awareness and activism. Yet, it is the sweet soul output from the group's early years that remains most dear to a Dell rat's heart. Listen now to another Impressions classic from the period....the simple, straightforward, humble, life affirming love song "Grow Closer Together."

"She's a Heartbreaker" - Gene Pitney (May 1968)

Don'tcha love it when a solo artist, group or band breaks out of the mold and succeeds in crossing over? The Platters and The Flamingos, famed for their 1950s doo-wop ballads, reinvented themselves in the 60s and released superb up-tempo northern soul records. Just when I thought I had Connie Francis figured out she surprised me a batch of rock 'n roll and girl group gems. Just when I thought I had the Everly Brothers figured out they hit me with a stone cool version of "Lucille."

Just when I thought I had Pat Boone figured out...

well...let's not go there!

Gene Pitney pulled off one of the biggest transitional surprises of all. In a radical departure from his string of mainstream pop hits earlier in the decade Pitney came roaring back in 1968 with "She's a Heartbreaker," a top 20 stormer that became a staple on England's northern soul circuit.

This is not your daddy's Gene Pitney. The intensity of Gene's soulful vocal treatment keeps the excitement meter pegged from start to finish. "Hearbreaker" is regarded by many as his finest career performance!

"You Wouldn't Listen" - Ides of March (July 1966)

This Chicago area band cranked out two of the best and most refreshingly different songs of the rock era. They were calling themselves the Shon-Dels (hmmm, sounds familiar) until they started thinking outside the box and changed their name to the Ides of March. The group's initial release on Parrot barely missed cracking the top 40 in the summer of 1966. Let's prove the guys wrong and listen to "You Wouldn't Listen."


In the spring of 1970, the Ides of March scored a huge national hit with the bold and brassy "Vehicle."

The Ides rode "Vehicle" in the fast lane all the way to #2 on Billboard and #1 on Cash Box!

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!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Perfect Storms: The 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever! (Part 5)

Let's continue now with our search for the 10 Most Exciting Records ever made. Here are the top 6 in the post-Beatles pop/rock category:

6. “Midnight Hour” - ? (Question Mark) & the Mysterians (September 1966)

The killer bee on the back of "96 Tears" is one of the greatest garage rock recordings of the 60s. All of the essential elements are present: bold, swaggering male p.o.v.; ad-libbed, hard-to-understand lyrics laced with sexual innuendo; bitchin' organ solo; and spontaneous, unrehearsed, make-it-up-as-you-go jam session sensibilities. There's no Question Mark about it, "Midnight Hour" rocks! Unfortunately, YouTube has seen fit to delete and disallow this song due to copyright issues. If you promise to click back to this page you can listen to a 30 second sound sample on Amazon (track #11) by clicking here.

5. “Shaggy Dog” – Mickey Lee Lane (October 1964)

Mystery shades, black leather jacket, motorcycle boots, wavy blonde hair. No, it's not Marlon, it's Mickey, Mickey Lee Lane. A Brill building songwriter and pianist whose credits included working with Neil Sedaka and Bill Haley, Lane made a go of it as a singer and wound up recording several excellent pop records of his own. In the fall of 1964, Mickey Lee Lane unleashed "Shaggy Dog" and it scampered into the top 40.

After only a few plays on the Mighty 9-10, I was sold on "Shaggy Dog." It was a refreshingly different kind of record with sparkling production, a high energy beat, and crazy novelty lyrics. When Mickey Lee Lane appeared on the Lloyd Thaxton Show and lip-synced his hit single, he didn't just show up...the dude was showin' out...simply oozing cool. Mick's charismatic performance was the tipping point that turned me from appreciative listener into a buyer. Before the closing credits were finished rolling on Thaxton, this reporter was headed over to Mailman's Queensgate to grab a copy of "Shaggy Dog."

4. "Hey Sah-Lo-Ney" - Mickey Lee Lane (September 1965)

Mickey Lee Lane released several 45s on the highly collectible Swan label. As you might recall, the company often printed the words "Don't Drop Out" on the labels of its 45s for the benefit of school age record buyers. "Shaggy Dog" was the only Swan release by Mickey Lee Lane to make the domestic record chart. Like many American artists Lane enjoyed greater popularity in Britain. His 1965 release "Hey Sah-Lo-Ney" became a dance hit on the UK northern soul circuit and was covered by a Liverpool mod band called The Action. In terms of excitement, the infectious, hi-energy "Hey Sah-Lo-Ney" picks up where "Shaggy Dog" left off. Mickey sends this one into orbit!

3. “Shakin’ All Over”- Chad Allan & the Expressions (the original personnel of Guess Who?) (May 1965)

Spring 1965: At first, I swore that WSBA was playing the latest single by the Beatles, but Guess Who? was Chad Allan & the Expressions, a group from Winnipeg with their American hit "Shakin' All Over." To my ears the song was more exciting than anything the Beatles had released to date, prompting me to hustle back over to Mailman's where I rolled the dice and purchased the group's album as well as the single. Guess What? I didn't regret my buying decision. The original lineup of that Canadian group produced a refreshingly different sound and several tracks on that LP became favorites including "Till We Kissed," "Stop Teasing Me," "Hey Ho," and "Goodnight Goodnight." When I wanted quivers down my backbone, however, my Pick to Click was "Shakin' All Over!"

2. “It’s Summer Time, U.S.A.” – Pixies Three (July 1964)

In 1964
our neighbor girls
from Hanover,
the Pixies Three,
dominated the
radio airwaves
of WSBA-Land
with the
feel-good record
of the summer.

"Summer Time U.S.A." is the quintessential girl group song, brimming with youthful energy and exuberance.

You can actually hear the smiles coming through in their voices as Kaye, Debby and Bonnie sing their school's out forever anthem.

1. “The Hootch” – Pixies Three (July 1964)

The Pixies sprinkled their magic dust on both sides of this Mercury release. "The Hootch," which was designated by the record company as the A side, has the live feel of Stevie's "Fingertips" and ranks as #1 on my list of the Most Exciting Records in the post-Beatles American/Canadian pop/rock category! Go, Pixies!

"The Hootch" could easily have gone top 40 but the song's title which innocently refers to a new dance from Liverpool somehow got misinterpreted as an endorsement of underage drinking. As a result some radio stations were reluctant to play it.

Hey, mister program director - get a clue! If a benign ditty like "The Hootch" makes you nervous wait'll you get a load of gangsta rap!

As it turned out a substantial number of programmers flipped the 45 and played the killer bee, allowing "It's Summer Time, U.S.A." to become a mid-Atlantic regional hit.

In Part 6 of my series, I'll be counting down the most exciting Motown sounds along with other entries in the 60s Soul/R&B categories. I hope you'll join me!

Have a Shady day!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Perfect Storms: The 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever! (Part 4)

My quest to identify the 10 Most Exciting Records...Ever! continues now with Part 4. Included in this competition are American and Canadian pop, garage, acid rock, hard rock and psychedelic records released after the Beatles went global at the start of 1964. Let the countdown begin!

11. “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida” – Iron Butterfly (September 1968)

For years this was my favorite album. Remember the video that was produced in 1969 using the full length version of "In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida"? It was a 1960s retrospective covering the major news events of the decade including the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK, the long hot summers of tense race relations and rioting, the Vietnam War, manned space flight and the lunar landing. The video was played several times on the Hy Lit Show. These days I rarely take the entire 17 minute Garden of Eden ride but I have grown to love the songs on side 1 of the album and play them often.

10. “Ain’t That Loving You Baby” – Elvis Presley
(October 1964)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a theory called the earlier the better which states that the early career recordings made by a solo artist, group or band are usually their best. Jackie Wilson's early work fronting Billy Ward's Dominoes supports this theory. There are exceptions, however. They include Rick Nelson’s great mid-60s two-sider, "The Very Thought Of You" b/w "I Wonder," Bobby Rydell’s fine rendition of "A World Without Love," and Freddy Cannon’s theme from "Where The Action Is."

Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'N Roll, was struggling in the new normal created by the Beatles and their British Invasion counterparts. For Elvis and other domestic recording acts, major hits were a lot harder to come by in 1964 than they had been in the 50s and early 60s. With his top 20 hit "Ain't That Loving You Baby," Elvis proved that he still had fire in his belly. This rambunctious Presley platter is a throwback - similar in sound and feel to his best 50s material.

9. “Treat Her Right” – Roy Head & the Traits
(September 1965)

Roy Head was a cross between James Brown and Jerry Lee Lewis. When Head performed his hit "Treat Her Right" on The Lloyd Thaxton Show in the fall of '65, he didn't just phone it in. He worked! He made sparks fly! Head's spontaneous soul shouting was accompanied by outrageously gymnastic dance moves. Head lost his mind! Let's give a listen to Roy Head as he conducts his patented male sensitivity workshop on Action.

8. “Lies” – Knickerbockers (December 1965)

With their top 20 hit "Lies," the Knickerbockers did a remarkable job of imitating the sound of the early Beatles. Essentially one-hit wonders, the Knicks might have been more successful if they had released "Lies" a year or two earlier; but by early 1966 when "Lies" was reaching its high water mark on Billboard, the Beatles were transitioning away from boy-girl love songs and taking their music in an entirely different direction.

7. “Louie Louie” – Kingsmen (November 1963)

Note: Although it was released in late 1963, "Louie Louie" fits much better in this post-Beatles category than it would if lumped in with songs of the 50s and early 60s.

"Louie Louie" would probably make more "Most Exciting" lists than any other song. As you recall it was the record that Belushi and his drunken fraternity brothers sang and danced to in the movie Animal House. With its allegedly dirty words hidden in the production mix under wailing guitars, organ, drums, and crashing cymbals, "Louie Louie" was the song that officially ended the tranquil Eisenhower 50s era and ushered in the tumultuous 60s.

I'll finish my countdown of the most exciting post-Beatles American/Canadian pop and rock songs next time. See ya then!

Have a Shady day!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

On the Record: Standing in the Shadows of Knight!

In March of 1966 the Shadows Of Knight crept into the barn and brought with them another legendary Shady Dell two-sider.

Side A was a steamy cover of Van Morrison’s "Gloria."

The Dell crowd, especially the guys, loved the song’s refreshing new garage punk sound and bold, racy, hot blooded theme.

“Gloria” was a Dell smash and played heavily throughout the spring and into summer.

We all know "Gloria" by heart; but now, let's take a walk on the "Dark Side," shall we?

This killer bee is a bluesy, downbeat number with heavy guitar distortion, a combo of ingredients that also appealed mainly to the Dell’s male contingent. "Dark Side" is the last track on this YouTube four-song S.O.K. block party. Caution: this is not your father’s slow jam!

Two-and-a-half years after their blockbuster "Gloria," the Shadows of Knight (no relation) made a comeback of sorts with two more excellent garage rock sides.

The A side, "Shake," managed to break into the top 50 on Billboard. The killer bee, a psychedelic workout called "From Way Out To Way Under," failed to chart but took quite a few spins on my turntable.

Watch and listen as the garagers get their freakbeat on with "Shake" (October/November '68), a rocker that borrows a riff from "Ain't Nothin' but a House Party," the hit song by the Show Stoppers that charted a few months earlier.

Three years after ‘Gloria,” the SOK scored a TKO with the release of “Gloria ’69,” an updated, psychedelicized version of their top 10 hit.

"Gloria '69" is nothing more than the original version of "Gloria" with heavy, psyched-out fuzz guitar added to the mix. The new guitar riffs remind me of Hendrix and Cream. They are also quite similar to the licks found on J.J. Cale’s "Cocaine," a song that became a Clapton classic. Although "Gloria ’69" was a flop in terms of record sales and didn’t even register on Billboard’s Bubbling Under chart, the song was played often enough on the radio to get me hooked. Click past the flip side "Spaniard at my Door" if you wish and have a listen to "Gloria '69."

SOK-it-to-me! They say there's a sucker born every minute and I'm no exception. SDK's SOK Pick to Click is: "she ain't lyin', she ain't lyin', she ain't lyin'- "Gloria Sixty-nyin"

I liked the psych version back then and I still like it now. Unlike some, I don't have a problem with the band slathering a fresh coat of day-glo paint on an old favorite.

There was a down side. While I was eager to stay current and tuned-in to the new sounds evolving on the late 60s music scene, I was conflicted - reluctant to let go of the music that had meant so much to me - traditional sweet soul and silly love songs.

"Gloria ‘69" reminds us that by the end of the 1960s the mainstream popularity of psychedelia, acid rock, hard rock and heavy metal had driven many established artists to reinvent themselves by toughening their image and putting a harder edge on their music. Some artists were able to make the transition, but many others could not or were not willing to make the adjustment. As a result, many old school acts dropped off the radar screen and the record chart. By 1969 I knew that popular music would never again be quite as wonderful as it once was. At the age of nineteen I was already waxing nostalgic and embracing the oldies revival.

Have a Shady day!

Jimy Sohns said...
Hey Shady, you`ve done a nice job with our Shadows stuff and I thank you. Please check out my trio: We have some new material. Let me know if you`d like to hear it.

March 18, 2010 2:03 PM

Shady Del Knight said...
Jimy, it's a thrill and an honor to have you pay us a visit and submit a comment. I love your site and I'm happy to know that you're still on the cutting edge of the music scene. Thank you very much for the music and memories and for "autographing" your outstanding work by writing in response to my SOK tribute.

March 18, 2010 3:52 PM

Bob Adams said...
Hi Shady. Got to your site by way of Jimy Sohns facebook wall. Very well done and a great tribute to an awesome garage band. Jimy is playing all over the Chicago area this year and if anyone has the chance to go see him....go see him. He is a true one of a kind wonder. Keep rockin.....

March 27, 2010 6:59 PM

Shady Del Knight said...
Hi, Bob! Thanks for letting us know that Jimy is currently rocking the Windy City. I am also delighted to know that there's a link to Shady Dell Music & Memories on Jimy's wall. SOK it to me! Thank you very much for your comment.

March 27, 2010 7:25 PM

Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, John!

John Ettline was born 104 years ago today
on March 12th, 1906.

Things to know and remember about John:

* John was a graduate of York High School.

* John played football and baseball and was considered very athletic.

* John was an extremely intelligent man and attended a junior college until his father pulled him out to help with the family farm in Foustown, the Cousler Park area north of York.

* John was an antique collector. He purchased many pieces from his youngest brother Paul who was an antiques dealer. The late Paul Ettline always spoke very highly of his oldest brother.

* Looking back at John Ettline’s life, it's safe to say that he was a John of all trades and a master of many.

* John worked in coal mines.

*John was a music agent, scheduling bands for local clubs.

* John managed various York clubs including the historic Valencia Ballroom, America’s first air conditioned dance hall.

* John also managed Lehmeyer’s, the classy men's clothier on North George St.

* John was a dapper dresser, a great dancer, and a very handsome gentleman.

* John was a ladies' man, a man's man, and very much his own man.

* Most of all John was a wise man and he shared his wisdom with us. I thought it fitting, therefore, to offer this video:

...and this timeless message of hope as we remember John today:

Happy birthday, John!

We love you and miss you!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cruisin' with Porky and Woo Woo

It's time to enjoy selected tracks from two more volumes of the Cruisin' series. As always I picked my favorite song from each Cruisin' and then threw in a bonus Pick to Click released that same year.

For added ambiance I posted some classic soda pop ads from the period.

Hop in and let's cruise to Pittsburgh and New England!

Porky Chedwick - WAMO, Pittsburgh

"This I Swear" - Skyliners (July 1959)

The Skyliners, a mixed gender white doo-wop group from Pittsburgh led by Jimmy Beaumont, cracked the top 30 with "This I Swear," the follow-up to their bigger hit "Since I Don't Have You."

As much as I love songs like this one by the Skyliners it is actually hard for me to listen to them. Why? Because they remind me of how much things have changed since the much innocence has been lost in America.

During the 60s, life affirming songs that celebrated the power of a promise and honored the commitment between one man and one woman somehow went the way of the passenger pigeon. In the year 2525, if man is still alive, maybe he will once again embrace these lofty ideals and silly love songs will be back in style.

In the late 50s and early 60s before the Beatles arrived to clean house, the pop chart was littered with novelty records. It could be argued that a disproportionate number of those wacky songs became major hits.

Along with the series of break-in records released by Buchanan & Goodman, novelty ditties by David Seville & the Chipmunks, and a plethora of other songs mainly with horror or sci-fi themes, America fell in love with flag waving patriotic songs recounting historic events both real and fictional.

Here are four history making history-themed records that immediately come to mind.

"Battle of New Orleans" - Johnny Horton (July 1959)

"Sink the Bismarck" - Johnny Horton (May 1960)

"Mr. Custer" - Larry Verne (October 1960)

"North to Alaska" - Johnny Horton (November 1960)

All four of those historic sagas became top 5 national hits.

"The Battle of New Orleans" and "Mr. Custer," the song that reminds us of those politically incorrect arrow shirt jokes, went all the way to number one!

Arnie Woo Woo Ginsburg - WMEX, Boston

"Nadine" - Chuck Berry (April 1964)

Yes, this is an anachronism. Somehow the guys who put together the 1961 volume of Cruisin' went back to the future and inserted a 1964 song. No problem as far as I'm concerned. "Nadine" by the merry Mr. Berry was my favorite track on the album even if it doesn't belong on a 1961 playlist. Here's Chuck-a-go-go slammin' the 1964 T.A.M.I. Show with his rockin' top 30 hit!

"I'm Gonna Knock on Your Door" - Eddie Hodges
(August 1961)

In his 1959 film acting debut Eddie Hodges gave us a classic movie moment when he sang "High Hopes" with Frank Sinatra in A Hole in the Head.

Like several other child actors Eddie Hodges put together a short, moderately successful recording career. A few months before Paul Petersen hit the charts with the similar sounding "She Can't Find Her Keys," Eddie Hodges scored his biggest hit (#12 on Billboard) with "I'm Gonna Knock on Your Door."

Eddie Hodges bonus tracks:

Since they are seldom heard I thought you might enjoy two more great ones by Eddie Hodges including his killer rendition of "New Orleans."

"(Girls, Girls, Girls) Made to Love" - Eddie Hodges (July 1962)

"New Orleans" - Eddie Hodges (July 1965)

More great music from the Cruisin' series is on the way in the weeks and months to come, so please stick around!

Have a Shady day!