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, October 10, 2010

Eye of the Perfect Storm............... James and the Flames!

So now ladies and gentlemen it is star time. Are you ready for star time? Thank you and thank you very kindly. It is indeed a great pleasure to present to you at this particular time, national and international[ly] known as the hardest working man in show business...

the man that sings "I'll Go Crazy" ...
"Try Me" ...
"You've Got the Power" ...
"Think" ...
"If You Want Me" ...
"I Don't Mind" ...
"Bewildered" ...
the million dollar seller, "Lost Someone" ...
the very latest release, "Night Train" ...
let's everybody "Shout and Shimmy" ...
Mr. Dynamite, the amazing Mr. Please Please himself, the star of the show, James Brown and The Famous Flames!

Dell Fact: By late spring 1966, 18 of the top 20 songs on my Dell's Greatest Hits list were in the jukebox at the same time. No wonder I consider April through June of '66 to be the zone, the time when the greatest Dell songs converged to create the perfect storm, the most exciting and memorable weeks of the entire 22-month survey period!

The eye of that perfect storm was James Brown. Around the last week of April 1966, Mr. Dynamite and his band the Famous Flames unleashed a two-headed monster that went on a rampage for months.

Both songs on Brown’s 45 were raw, sweaty, intense ballads.

The mighty A side, “It's A Man's Man's Man's World” was a stone smash, one of the top 5 Dell songs of the mid 60's. Throughout that spring and summer this masterpiece of southern R&B balladry was a guaranteed dance floor filler
at the Dell.

From the opening fanfare to Brown’s passionate shouts during the fade, the drama-packed “Man’s World” made time stand still for amorous Dell couples eager to squeeze.

Not far behind "Man's World" in terms of popularity and jukebox play was the killer bee, “Is it Yes or is it No?” which reached #40 on my list.

“Is it Yes or is it No?” is my Pick to Click because it is seldom heard, underrated, fresh, durable, and another scorcher by Brown.

James Brown wasn’t done at the Dell, not by a long shot. In the fall of 1966, Brown was back with another hit two-sider.

“Don’t Be A Drop-Out” is a cautionary tale that forewarns teenagers about the consequences of quitting school.
The rat pack didn't mind the lecture because JB was packin' street cred. His message was relevant and his influence extended beyond the black community to include white youth and adults. Most important to Dell rats, the record rocked. That’s why “Drop-Out" dropped into the elite Dell Top 30.

The flip side of "Drop-Out," entitled “Tell Me That You Love Me,” was recorded live at the Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa, Florida on 4/23/66. James Brown fanatics at the Dell, mainly the guys, loved his wall-to-wall screaming on this top 100 killer bee. In my estimation, the performance was a bit too over-the-top to suit the ladies. The song’s frantic tempo also made dancing virtually impossible.

I remember the night in October 1966 when James Brown and I “closed” the Dell. I was the last knight of the night, the last man standing as it were. It's the only time I can recall being the lone remaining Dell customer. Finally I had the jukebox all to myself. Let’s see now.....where’s my favorite, “Tiptoe Thru the Tulips”?

Tiny Tim musta got yanked from the lineup, so I decided instead to cap off the evening by playing the raw, intense ‘Tell Me That You Love Me.” As James Brown screeched his way through the song, I stood in the middle of a dance floor that hours earlier had been teeming with rats. Oddly, the jukebox was still blasting at full volume. John usually began to turn the music down around the time his Spring Garden Township neighbors started getting ready for bed. Not this night. The hardest working man in show business was giving me a command performance and he was tearing the roof off with his hysterical wailing!

Click and listen.

Yessiree, Shady Del Knight was feeling good that Shady Dell night, the night that Shady Del Knight and Mr. Dynamite closed the Dell up tight, outta sight.

And feeling good was good enough for me
Good enough for me and my brother JB.

Have a Shady day!


  1. I've always loved, "It's a Man's World."

  2. I always hesitate to embed live performance clips but this one is electric. Thanks for your comment, Belle!

  3. I always was a JB fan and I thought Prisoner of Love might make your top ten Soul ballads.

  4. I'm glad you brought that up, Jerre. "Prisoner of Love" is my favorite James Brown ballad and I realize that some might wonder why it did not make my greatest ballads list. Here's why. James Brown was a confident, powerful, dynamic performer. Even when he sang a song like "Prisoner," a sweet ballad about the pain that love can bring, Brown conveyed the impression that, regardless of what the lyrics were saying, he was totally in command and would survive. When I assembled my greatest ballads list I was looking for deep soul songs rendered with a greater degree of humility, fragility and vulnerability - songs that left some doubt about the protagonist's ability to cope and ultimately survive.

    Thanks for your comment, Jerre!


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