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, December 12, 2010

Cruisin' with Johnny, Harv and Kris

We've reached the final leg of our Cruisin' journey. As we head into the home stretch of our cross country road trip we'll check out the sounds in Baltimore, Washington, and Chicago.

Johnny Dark - WCAO, Baltimore

"Cry Like a Baby" - Box Tops (April 1968)

The Box Tops, a Memphis group led by the late Alex Chilton, was one of the finest blue-eyed soul acts of the 60's. In the late summer and fall of 1967, the Box Tops achieved their biggest career hit with the number one smash "The Letter."

"Cry Like a Baby," a song that charted in the late winter and spring of 1968, performed nearly as well. It soared to #2 on both Billboard and Cash Box only to be blocked from the top spot by Bobby Goldsboro's tear jerker, "Honey." Over the years weepy ballads like Bobby's sold a gazillion records by pandering to our obsession with death. Not my cup of tea.
When I feel like cryin' I "Cry Like a Baby."

"I Love You" - People (June 1968)

"I Love You," a psychedelic, sunshine pop single that charted in the spring and summer of 1968, was performed by People, a one-hit-wonder group based in California. The song finished at #14 but spent an impressive 18 weeks on the Billboard chart! Gentle, wistful, melancholy and moody, "I Love You" reminds me of recordings by the Zombies, the Left Banke, and Love, the West Coast folk rock/psych band headed by Arthur Lee.

"And Suddenly" - Cherry People (August 1968)

If regular People don't have enough flava for you, maybe Cherry People will be more to your liking! "And Suddenly," the only single by these one-shot-wonders, wound up at #45 during that same summer of 1968.

Harv Moore - WPGC, Washington, D.C.

"Israelites" - Desmond Dekker & the Aces (June 1969)

Outside of Jamaica few people understood all of the lyrics to "Israelites," a song performed by reggae singer-songwriter-musician Desmond Dekker and his group The Aces. That didn't stop the song from becoming a smash. "Israelites" has the distinction of being one of the first Jamaican songs ever to become an international hit. It went to #1 in the UK and became the first reggae record to break into the U.S. top 10.

"Will You Be Staying After Sunday" - Peppermint Rainbow (February 1969)

The Peppermint Rainbow exemplified the late 60's trend in which the names of groups and the titles of songs made reference to fruit flavors, candy flavors and neon colors. (The song "Jelly Jungles of Orange Marmalade" by the Lemon Pipers took the craze to its absurd limits.) The Peppermint Rainbow had a sound that reminded me of Spanky and Our Gang. The Baltimore based sunshine pop vocal group is best remembered for "Will You Be Staying After Sunday," a feel good song that burst into the top 40 during the winter of 1969 and finished it's chart climb at #32.

Kris Erik Stevens, WLS, Chicago

"Drowning in the Sea of Love" - Joe Simon (January 1972)

Before you reach for Joel Whitburn's Record Research to prove me wrong I will inform you that this was another instance where the producers of the Cruisin' series, for whatever reason, inserted a song from a year in the future! In the spring of 1968 R&B/soul singer Joe Simon scored a
top 30 crossover hit with "(You Keep Me) Hangin' On," a song incorrectly assumed to be a version of the Supremes hit by those who never heard it.

Joe Simon's "Hangin' On" is a favorite of mine and so is "Drowning in the Sea of Love," a bluesy R&B hit that Joe recorded in conjunction with Gamble & Huff. "Drowning" climbed the charts at Christmas time 1971 and remained popular into 1972, barely missing the top 10 on Billboard's pop chart and finishing at #3 on the R&B Singles list.

"And the Grass Won't Pay No Mind" - Mark Lindsay
(October 1970)

Mark Lindsay made a successful transition from lead singer
of Paul Revere & the Raiders to solo artist. Beginning with "Arizona," which entered the pop chart in December 1969, Mark released a series of hit solo singles. My Pick to Click is the evocative Neil Diamond composition "And the Grass Won't Pay No Mind." Mark Lindsay's version of the song became popular during the fall of 1970 and fell just short of the Billboard top 40.

Close my eyes, hear the flowers growing
As you lay sleeping in my arms.

They just don't make love songs any better than that one!


By the late 60's, popular music had changed to such an extent that it rendered the traditional top 40 AM radio format obsolete. Wise cracking deejays ringing cow bells, honking horns, shaking rattles and introducing corny promotional jingles were a thing of the past. Pop singles, many of which fell into the bubble gum and nursery rhyme categories, were dismissed by discriminating listeners with a taste for more mature, intellectual and relevant material and harder and heavier forms of music.

The needs of that audience were met by FM broadcasts that offered a more pristine radio signal and long, commercial free blocks of album rock. Remember Bill Campbell on WSBA conducting his nocturnal Sound Experiment?

The simulated Top 40 radio broadcasts produced for the Cruisin' series are hopelessly old school by today's standards, but please remember that they were all considered cool back in the day. The radio personalities featured on those Cruisin' albums were legends in their own time. Hour by hour they played the songs that formed the soundtrack of our youth. They influenced our listening and buying habits. They were our friends and our heroes. Many are gone. All are missed!

And so ends our 16 year, 17 volume coast-to-coast Cruisin' nostalgia tour. Thanks so much for coming along for the ride!

Have a Shady day!


  1. A great time of listening, remembering, watching dancers, sights & sounds that pleased. Shady you did soooooooooo good and brought back so many great memories of times we loved and almost forgot. You are doing a good work my friend keeping our memories refreshed. Thanks.

  2. Glad you're enjoying what I have to offer, Odie! I really got into sunshine pop in recent years and the songs in this post are some of my favorites in that category. Have a super Carolina Sunday, my friend!

  3. Desmond Dekker - gosh, all your choices are certainly taking me back, Shady! My daughter's 19 year old stepson is called Hendrix, after Jimmy Hendrix. The 13 year old is called Otis after Otis Reading. My daughter's two year old is called Elijah Toots after Toots & The Maytals (must admit, I hadn't heard of them!!) and the youngest one was born on a Tuesday, and is called Ruby, after the Rolling Stones hit. As you can tell, her partner certainly likes his music!!

  4. could you believe i don't know none of the groups you listed?! what a shame !!

  5. Great picture from one of my favorite movies American Grafitti. Does anyone remember who he beat in the drag race? I believe there were a few Witnesses.

  6. Thisisme - I wonder how many Gagas will be entering kindergarten a few years from now? Thanks so much for your comment!

    Katia - I realize these songs were eons before your time but I hope you enjoyed them nevertheless. Sunshine pop is feel good music! Thanks for your comment and have a wonderful evening in Italy!

    Jerre - Good one! I hope Belle reads your comment because you're refering to her favorite actor! Thanks for your comment, Jerre! You're still number one in the Valley!

  7. It's amazing. Most of those songs I don't really know. Love the album covers. Priceless poses.

  8. That's right, Copyboy. The distinctive cartoon album art was just one more reason why I collected every volume of Cruisin' back in the day. It should be noted that the series was later issued on CD but they were edited and many of the original songs dropped due to contractual hassles. To get the authentic Cruisin' you must buy those original vinyl albums from Increase Records. Thanks for your comment, my friend!

  9. Yes, Shady, I read the comment about Harrison Ford. I remember him in American Grafitti.

    Well, I love the Sunshine Pop. I knew all the songs but the two sung by Mark Lindsey and Joe Simon. I loved Joe Simon's song, and Mark's was nice. I guess my favorite is "The Israelites". You are right, I can't figure out most of the words, but I love it just the same.

  10. Here are some words that you'll have no trouble figuring out, Belle:

    Bob Falfa: (to Laurie) You're gonna be hangin' on for mercy when I get this sucker rollin'!

    Thanks for your comment, Belle, and have a great night up in B.C!

  11. Cool site! Oh, for more of "A History of Rock & Roll Radio" (here comes the shameless plug!), check out my brother's Cruisin' site at You'll enjoy it.

  12. furrball - I have visited your brother's Cruisin' site many times in recent years. It's a wonderful reference source. Thanks for visiting and for your comment. Please come back soon!


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