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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Me Likey the 70s! Part 2


Ask any boomer. The 60s wasn't all Vietnam, hippies and Woodstock. Likewise, there was a lot more to the 70s than disco. In Part 1, I brought you some of my favorite non-disco recordings of the 70s along with a rare dance track by Sister Sledge that was an example of early disco done right. Today in Part 2 I'm doing the same thing. This time its David Ruffin providing the lone disco style recording. Let's party!


Rare Earth the band and Rare Earth the record label: both were fresh and new at the start of 1970. In the late 60s, Motown Records was updating its image and sound to keep pace with the changing times. Motown signed an all white Detroit band called the Sunliners and changed its name to Rare Earth, the name company executives had chosen for the new pop/rock label subsidiary aimed primarily at white audiences. The band made an initial splash with "Get Ready," a psychedelicized cover of the 1966 Temptations hit. Rare Earth’s take on "Get Ready" stands out in my mind as the most memorable Dell song of 1970.

My featured Rare Earth recording is "Born to Wander," a track from the band's second album Ecology. "Born to Wander" was released as a single at the end of 1970, charted into the new year and made the top 20.

"Born to Wander" - Rare Earth 
(January 1971, highest chart position #17) 


Jon Mark and Johnny Almond are London session musicians who worked with John Mayall, the Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithful and Jimmy Page before forming their own band in 1970.

While other bands were busy mixing rock with the blues,
the Mark-Almond collaboration explored uncharted territory - a blend of jazz, prog rock, latin, pop, art-rock and folk that defied concrete categorization. One of Mark-Almond's best loved early works is the 11 and-a-half minute long opus entitled "The City: Grass And Concrete/Taxi To Brooklyn/ Speak Easy It’s A Whiskey Scene." At times mellow, at times heavy, this was the stuff of which late night/early morning FM radio broadcasts were made and frequently experienced while listeners were grazing in the grass. Click to enter this place. Surprises await you around every corner in "The City."

"The City: Grass And Concrete/ 
Taxi To Brooklyn/Speak Easy 
It’s A Whiskey Scene." - Mark-Almond 
(from 1971 album Mark-Almond


English glammer Gary Glitter was born Paul Gadd, took the stage name Paul Raven, then decided to change his name again. Experimenting with alliteration and working backward from the letter Z, Gadd eventually came up with the name Gary Glitter but only after toying with possibilities that included Terry Tinsel, Stanley Sparkle and Vicky Vomit!





Glitter's signature song was "Rock and Roll," a long jam edited for radio and divided into two parts on the A and B sides
of a single. The A side instrumental, "Rock and Roll (Part 1)," reached #1 in France. The B side, "Rock and Roll (Part 2)," featured the chanted word "hey" throughout and was the more popular side in other countries, hitting the top 10 in
the USA and #2 in the UK. Pro sports franchises adopted "The Hey Song," as it was nicknamed, and played it over stadium PA systems to whip up crowds during home games.

"Rock and Roll (Part Two)" - Gary Glitter 
(September 1972, highest chart position 
#7 Billboard, #4 Cash Box


Ike and Tina Turner have their own wing in the Shady's Law Hall of Fame (Shame). The volatile couple released more than their share of fine recordings that didn't perform very well on the Billboard chart. Case in point: "River Deep - Mountain High," a record produced by Phil Spector and regarded by the Wall of Sound maestro as his career best. The record went top 5 in Britain but only climbed to #88 stateside before tumbling back down the slippery slope. "Baby-Get It On," was another great Ike & Tina rock record that stopped at #88 on the pop chart. The 1975 single was the last one released by the turbulent team. Here they are along with their backing singers the Ikettes performing the song on Wolfman Jack's Midnight Special.

"Baby-Get It On" - Ike & Tina Turner 
(June 1975, highest chart position #88) 


After leaving the Motown super group, former Temptations lead singers David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks enjoyed moderately successful solo careers during the 70s. Eddie racked up two smashes with "Keep on Truckin'" and "Boogie Down" while David reaped hits with "My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)," "I've Got to Find Myself a Brand New Baby," and "I've Lost Everything I've Ever Loved." Like many other artists David Ruffin made a mid 70s transition to disco material, achieving hits with "Walk Away from Love" and "Heavy Love" both songs taken from his 1975 album
Who I Am. So if your Ruffin ready please listen to one of
David's best, the reflective, autobiographical title track.

"Who I Am" - David Ruffin (October 1975 
from album Who I Am


Australia's Little River Band capped off the me decade with the release of a double sided hit single, both songs culled from the 1979 album First Under the Wire. "Lonesome Loser" was the first side to get noticed stateside, breaking into the top 10 after Labor Day.

"Lonesome Loser" - Little River Band 
(September 1979, highest chart position #6) 

The killer bee side of the single, "Cool Change," began charting just before Halloween, was a fixture on the radio during the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year holiday period, and reached its zenith in the top 10 at the start of 1980. Written by lead singer Glenn Shorrock, "Cool Change" is one of the greenest pop songs of the 20th century and was included on the list of the Top 30 Australian Songs of all time. I can't listen to it without getting misty, can you?

"Cool Change" - Little River Band 
(December 1979, highest chart 
position #10) 

"Cool Change" is one of those transcendent songs that resonates with people of all ages and invites a broader interpretation of its lyrics. To me it's an admonition that is far more urgent today than it was in 1979, a rallying call to every generation to preserve our planet's natural resources and live in harmony with all creatures great and small.







Ready for a cool change? Lord knows I am.

Have a Shady day!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bubbling Under the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell, Volume 1

Some of the songs that earned a spot on my list of
The 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell 
were big 
national hits recorded by well known artists. 
Others generated only limited regional or local 
interest.  Several records that were virtually 
unknown outside of Central Pennsylvania 
became monster hits at the Dell! 

Those obscure, seldom heard recordings are the true Dell songs. They are linked in my memory to the Dell more so than to the outside world and are an inexorable part of my Shady Dell experience. The highest ranking songs on my list, therefore, are the hardcore Dell songs that epitomize the time, the place, the people, the mood, the attitude - everything that was the Shady Dell of the mid 60s. These special songs seem to have magic Dell dust sprinkled all over them and they trigger my most powerful Shady Dell memories.

As a practical matter, I had to eliminate from my survey some of the usual suspects - the more obvious national hits that were popular during the period. I needed to disqualify those widely known chart toppers in order to make room for the esoteric Dell songs. In the interest of full disclosure and fair and balanced reporting I will occasionally post a random sampling of the popular songs that kept Dell rats dancing but were not included in my survey. Here's the first batch!

Look...listen...and remember!


Frankie Valli's voice can be heard on some of the best commercial pop music of the 1960s. Seldom heard gems include "Bermuda"/"Spanish Lace," the Four Seasons' doublesider on the Gone label, and "Ain't That a Shame,"
a cover of the Fats Domino million seller. My favorite solo recording by Frankie Valli is "The Proud One," a sensational song that fizzled one third of the way up the Billboard chart. Valli hit paydirt with his next Philips release, "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." The song made it to #2 on Billboard and all the way to #1 on Cash Box two separate weeks in July of 1967, with "Windy" by The Association reclaiming the top
spot during the week in between. The popularity of Valli's solo smash rubbed off on the Dell crowd, earning it an
honorable mention on my bubbling under list.

"Can't Take My Eyes Off You" 
- Frankie Valli (July 1967, highest chart 
position #2) 


In the late summer
of 1967 "Reflections" brought a refreshing new sound to the Dell dance hall. Dellions could name that tune
in one second flat because of the wierd synth sounds at the beginning of the record, one of the earliest uses of an oscillator in a major recording. This single also marked the first time that the veteran Motown girl group was billed as Diana Ross and the Supremes. "Reflections" was released at a time when Motown was in transition, beginning to pull away away from its traditional sweet soul roots and starting to follow current trends, dabbling in psychedelia, social commentary and antiwar protests. "Reflections" shot up the chart on its way to number one but hit the glass ceiling at #2, held back from the top spot by crossover country singer Bobbie Gentry's evocative "Ode to Billie Joe."

"Reflections" - Diana Ross and the 
Supremes (September 1967, highest chart 
position #2) 


In recent years I have gained a whole new appreciation of this jazz influenced, Chicago based, folk rock/sunshine pop group. Although they never emerged from the shadow of the more successful Mamas and Papas, I like the music of Spanky & Our Gang just as much. I never tire of listening to tracks like "Making Every Minute Count," "Like to Get to Know You," "Lazy Day," "Sunday Mornin'," "And She's Mine," "Yesterday's Rain," "Without Rhyme or Reason," and "Give a Damn." The group's first release, "Sunday Will Never Be the Same," was also their biggest career hit, breaking into the top 10 during the Summer of Love and bringing Dell dancers to the floor in line dance formation.

"Sunday Will Never Be The Same" 
- Spanky & Our Gang (June 1967, highest 
chart position #9) 


Brenton Wood's "The Oogum Boogum Song" cracked the top 40 in 1967 and showed up 30 years later on the soundtrack of The Last Days of Disco, one of my favorite and most highly recommended movies. The film's principal characters danced to this oldie as it played on the jukebox at a bar. When it turned up in the Dell jukebox in the spring of 1967 "Oogum Boogum" gave Dell rats a preview of the smooth, slick, sophisticated soul sound that would sweep the nation in the 1970s.

"The Oogum Boogum Song" - Brenton Wood 
(May 1967, highest chart position #34) 


"Stop Stop Stop" by the Hollies is permalinked in my mind to "Lady Godiva," a similar themed song performed by another English act, Peter and Gordon. Both records landed on the chart in October of 1966, both made it into the top 10 in the U.S.A. and both remained popular through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season. Dell rats had radar for novelty numbers and they took this Hollies' vehicle for frequent spins.

"Stop Stop Stop" - Hollies 
(November 1966, highest chart position #7 ) 


The testosterone injected "Let's Spend the Night Together" stirred controversy and had censors on The Ed Sullivan Show clutching their hearts. Not easily offended, the Dell gentry turned the provocative Rolling Stones record into an instant hit. "Ruby Tuesday," the kinder, gentler, shuffle paced A side of the 45, got its fair share of plays as well. On the national chart "Ruby" became the Stones' 4th number one single.

"Ruby Tuesday" - Rolling Stones 
(April 1967, highest chart position #1) 


"Day Tripper" and "We Can Work it Out" are unique in that they were part of Capitol Records' historic double A-sided single release. Both songs were deemed so strong that they were both promoted as the A side. "We Can Work it Out" outperformed "Day Tripper," topping the domestic chart 4 weeks in a row at the start of January 1966. "Day Tripper" went top 5. Of the two songs "Tripper" was hipper and was played slightly more often by the Rodentia Intelligentsia.

"Day Tripper" - Beatles (January 1966, 
highest chart position #5) 

 Stay right there, 
 brother rat!  More 
 memory makers 
 from the Dell's 
 Bubbling Under list 
 are coming soon! 

Have a Shady day!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The D-Team: Episode 14

In 1972 a crack Dell Rat unit

 was sent to prison by the 

 Unific Court of Love for a 

 crime they didn't commit... 


 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... 


 I pity 

 the fool  







"Heavy, heavy stuff!" Those were the words uttered by top 40 radio legend Dr. Don Rose of Quixie in Dixie WQXI Atlanta in the 1967 volume of Cruisin'. Rose had just finished playing "Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking)" a recording that explored the painful consequences of a forbidden interracial romance between a white girl and a black boy. "Society's Child" was performed by precocious sixteen year old folk-
singer Janis Ian who had written the racially charged song
at the tender age of thirteen!

"Society's Child" was indeed heavy stuff for its time. Up until then, when teenage white girls made records, they sang sugar sweet, innocent pop songs like I wanna be "Bobby's Girl" (and it's a cinch they didn't mean Bobby Brown). Mid 60s America wasn't ready for "Society's Child." The record was considered taboo in some markets and yanked from radio play lists. Janis reportedly received hate mail and death threats. In spite of its polarizing impact, "Society's Child" held on and eventually made the long climb to the top of the charts in several major cities. However, when Billboard factored in the parts of the country where the record was banned, "Society's Child" finished at #14 on the Hot 100 survey.

Young Janis Ian turned in this memorable performance of her controversial song on The Smothers Brothers Show.

"Society's Child (Baby, I've Been Thinking)" - Janis Ian 
(July 1967, highest chart position #14) 

In 1975 Janis Ian gave America another reality check with the autobiographical "At Seventeen," a song that examined adolescent cruelty and the plight of those among us who are not perfect and popular. "At Seventeen" went top 5 on the pop singles chart, #1 Adult Contemporary, and won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance - Female.

"At Seventeen" - Janis Ian (September 1975, highest chart 
position #3 Hot 100, #1 Adult Contemporary, #1 Cash Box) 


In the late 1950s and early 60s Americans were crazy about Western movies, Western TV programs and Western themed pop recordings. Hit records like "Along Came Jones" by the Coasters (1959), "Running Bear' by Johnny Preston (1959/60) and "Mr. Custer" by Larry Verne (1960) are examples. In 1958 the Los Angeles doo-wop group called the Olympics launched its career with the novelty hit "Western Movies." The next single by the Olympics, "Dance With the Teacher," sold modestly, but the group had found a new niche. From then on the Olympics became known primarily for dance records which included "Hully Gully," "Shimmy Like Kate," "Dance by the Light of the Moon," "The Bounce," "Dancin' Holiday" and "Baby Do the Philly Dog." The Olympics also recorded the original "Good Lovin'" which was covered with enormous success by the Young Rascals. "I'll Do a Little Bit More" is
a great Olympics record, yet it remained uncharted. The following video includes the original recording along with a tribute to Mirwood Records, one of the great R&B labels
of the 60s. Mirwood was home to the Olympics along with Jackie Lee who had a hit with "The Duck" and Bob and Earl, best known for "Harlem Shuffle." (Jackie Lee, whose real name was Earl Lee Nelson, was "Earl" in Bob and Earl.) Please watch the clip and experience the pure excitement that was Mirwood Records!

"I'll Do a Little Bit More" - Olympics (February 1967, 


The HUB (Hetzel Union Building) was a student union headquarters on the campus of Penn State University.

In addition to a
movie theater and conference rooms, the HUB housed a canteen that was
a popular meeting spot for students, professors and visitors. It was a fun place to have lunch, chat with friends, study, or simply kill time between classes. The HUB was truly a hub of activity.

No substitute for my dear old alma mater the Shady Dell, the HUB nevertheless offered a similar environment. It was crowded, noisy, and had a jukebox. There are two songs in particular that I remember hearing quite often at the HUB during my freshman year: "How Can I Be Sure" by the Rascals and "Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)" by Manfred Mann. Those two songs remind me of my first few months of college, the excitement of living away from home for the first time, beginning a new chapter of my life as a student at a major university, exposed on a daily basis to a diversity of people, ideas and experiences. At Penn State I felt like I was part of something big and important. I felt alive and free, just as I had two years earlier the first time that I crossed the threshold of the Shady Dell.

With the success of "Mighty Quinn," a Bob Dylan composition, Manfred Mann established itself as a thinking man’s band rather than simply a Brit beat pop combo. It was somewhat ironic because the band had already been lacing its albums with intricate, complex, non-pop material for years.

"Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)" - Manfred Mann 
(May 1968, highest chart position #10) 

 Only two things you done 

 need to know, fool... 

Ain't Hannibal or nobody else 

 gonna get me up in no 

 AIR - O - PLANE!!! ..... 

 and the D-Team plays 

 the best music! 



It was a family affair with Memphis soul songbird Barbara Brown. Like many other black recording acts of the 1950s and early 60s, Barbara, her sisters and brother started out in gospel and made the easy transition to gospel-tinged secular soul. In 1966 the group recorded two of my favorite deep soul ballads. "I Don't Want to Have to Wait" was released as a single but failed to chart. As Shady's Law teaches us, chart performance has absolutely nothing to do with quality. This record sizzles!

"I Don't Want to Have to Wait" - Barbara and the Browns 
(1966, uncharted) 

The same recording session that produced "I Don't Want to Have to Wait" yielded another excellent track, "To Know I Can't Touch." This lost soul treasure by Barbara and her kin remained unissued for years until soul scholars in the UK pulled it from the vaults and added it to modern compilations of rare soul released on vinyl and compact disc. The urgency in Barbara's voice mixed with the sublime horn section gives me chills and fever!

"To Know I Can't Touch" - Barbara and the Browns 
(1966, unissued) 

Barbara Brown went on to produce more great soul sounds as a solo artist. Her body of work went almost unnoticed at the time but is highly regarded by music historians today. Barbara passed away last year.


Cleveland Rocks! Well, in this case Drew Carey's favorite city power pops, thanks to lead singer Eric Carmen who, along with his band, are credited for pioneering the pop rock style of music. The guys were influenced by the Beatles and other British invaders and their look and sound reflected it. Carmen went on to a successful soft rock solo career but I liked him better when he was rocking a little harder with the Raspberries. The band's biggest hit was "Go All the Way," a single that cracked the top 5 on Billboard and Cash Box in the fall of 1972 and sold well over a million copies.

"Go All the Way" - Raspberries (September 1972, 
highest chart position #5 Billboard, #4 Cash Box

 Don't miss the next thrill-packed episode 
 of The D-Team, coming soon! 

 I love it 


 a plan 



Have a Shady day!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ron & Shady Present: Ebony and Ivory


 Dell Rat Ron Shearer's back 

 and he's haulin' sixteen tons 

 of soul cargo!  Meanwhile, 

 I'll be spinning some super 

 sounds by white artists. 

 Go Ron, GO!!! 


 Shady, I came 
 across a couple 
 of very soulful 
 songs by a young 
 lady from our teens. 
 Judging by some of 
 the songs you have 
 turned me onto, 
 I think you may 
 enjoy them. They 
 will definitely melt 
 the lady listeners, 
 as they did in their 
 original time.  
 May I present 
 Ms. Theola Kilgore 
 with her first hit and 
 then her follow-up.  

"The Love of My Man" - Theola Kilgore (June 1963, 
highest chart position #21) 

"This is My Prayer" - Theola Kilgore (September 1963, 
highest chart position #60) 


 This ballad was a consistently popular request on the 
 Rock 180 Club and the Dell Jukebox. This vocal group 
 was from Philadelphia. The Capris group that recorded 
 "There's A Moon Out Tonight" was from New York City. 
 Every girl that I knew melted over this song and it was 
 always a great reason to wrap your arms around the most 
 appealing young lady and slow dance to it with her.  It 
 brings tears to my eyes to hear such a well-loved song in 
 the earlier years of the Dell (for me) and my early teens. 

The Capris, "God Only Knows" (1954/55) 

 Ron, I got chills and 
 fever after hearing 
 those three!  

They are prime examples of the slow, sweet, unsophisticated, gospel-tinged doo-wop R&B songs that were cherished by the Dell rats of old.

 At this point let's dry our eyes and add 
 a refreshing dash of vanilla extract to 
 the mix. Please listen to a few of the 
 treats that I brought along for the ride. 


Memphis, Tennessee's Royden Dickey Lipscomb wisely chose the stage name Dickey Lee. Dickey is best known for his weepy teen tragedy hits "Patches" and "Laurie" but along with telling ghost tales he also knew how to lift our spirits. Case in point: "I Saw Linda Yesterday," a Dion DiMucci derivation ("Runaround Sue" meets "Lovers Who Wander") and one of the great feel good records of the early 60s.

"I Saw Linda Yesterday" - Dickey Lee (January 1963, 
highest chart position #14) 


Compared to British invaders who rocked hard, Herman’s Hermits were on the teen pop end of the spectrum. The group’s image was clean cut and wholesome. Lead singer Peter Noone was cute and cuddly and had a boyish voice. Little girls squealed and parents approved. In early 1967 Herman’s Hermits surprised me with "There’s a Kind of Hush," a mature, sophisticated piece of work featuring restrained Peter Noone vocals and lush orchestral backing.  It was a welcome departure from "I'm Henry VIII, I Am," a maddening nursery rhyme ditty, and similar adolescent material that the group released.  "Hush" performed well in the USA, cracking the top 5 on the U.S. pop chart.

"There's a Kind of Hush" - Herman's Hermits (April 1967, 
highest chart position #4) 

Fast forward to the early 1990s: Peter Noone dropped by the Tampa TV station where I worked as production manager. He was touring with an oldies revival show and visited our studio to tape a promotional interview. I can testify that Peter still looked much the same as he did in the following video which was recorded a quarter century earlier.  Here, rendered with the same laid back maturity, is the B side of the "Hush" single and a top 40 hit, "No Milk Today."

"No Milk Today" - Herman's Hermits (April 1967, 
highest chart position #35) 

 Ron, I see you cuing up 

 another favorite of mine. 

 Let's hear it! 


 For all the people who are tired of hearing "Do You Love 
 Me", a song I still love by the Contours, let me give you a 
 break with one of their many other good songs, this one 
 later covered by the J. Geils Band. 

"First I Look At The Purse" - Contours (September 1965, 
highest chart position #57) 

 Ron, you're the boss, hoss! 

 Let's wrap things up with 

 two more solid senders


My admiration for Lesley Gore continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Her many excellent Brill Building style recordings are durable evergreens that still sound fresh and still provide solace in a world replete with cynicism, chaos and violence.

I never get tired of listening to Lesley Gore's songs...even her best known million sellers. Slap one of her seldom heard killer bees on the turntable and I'm over the moon!

Here's one of my favorites. "Run Bobby, Run" is the flip side of "You Don't Own Me" a smash hit that rocketed to #2 at the height of Beatlemania.

"Run Bobby, Run" - Lesley Gore (February 1964, 
uncharted B side of "You Don't Own Me") 


 Let's slow it down and make it mellow 
 with a timely tune and a titillating TV 
 tie-in. (Say that 5 times fast!) 

Tonight NBC will roll the dice and premier the somewhat controversial new television series The Playboy Club hoping that viewers will multiply like bunnies. Let's turn back the clock to 1968 when the Nashville duo of Gene and Debbe (sic) gave us "Playboy," a top 20 hit that went on to sell a million copies. Gene and Debbe recorded country style pop and released records on TRX, a subsidiary of the Nashville based Hickory label. Debbe had a velvety, kittenish voice that reminded me of Hickory vocalist Sue Thompson only a little more seductive. Gene and Debbe were one-hit-wonders but their "Playboy" was like butta and I never get tired of it!

"Playboy" - Gene and Debbe (May 1968, 
highest chart position #17) 

 Ron, you have something to add? 

 Shady, reading your blog is 
 bringing so many songs back 
 to me and I hope you don't 
 mind me sharing them with 
 you. Feel free to pay them 
 forward, and I hope you don't 
 mind me turning you onto songs 
 you missed or reminding you of 
 songs you've forgotten. I'm just 
 doing for you what you're doing 
 for me. 

Not only don't I mind, Ron, I greatly appreciate your contributions! The way I see it we are all learning from
each other.

 Ron, thanks for comin' 

 'round here and bringing 

 us a musical mother lode! 

Have a Shady day!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Me Likey the 70s! Part 1



(& OLDER)...


Disco might have been the dominant musical trend of the 1970s but there was plenty
of great music produced in other categories during the so-called me decade. I'd like you to hear some of my favorites.


 Mountain men Felix Pappalardi and Leslie West  

The antithesis of disco, the Long Island hard rock band Mountain is credited as one of the forerunners of heavy metal. The band had its origins in the Vagrants, a blue eyed soul band inspired by the Rascals. My first exposure to the Vagrants was their 1967 East Coast hit "Respect," a killer cover of the Otis Redding/Aretha Franklin hit. I discovered the track decades ago on the epic garage rock compilation Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968.

"Respect" - Vagrants (June 1967, uncharted) 

Super sized singer/songwriter/guitarist Leslie West, nicknamed The Fattest Fingers in Rock N' Roll, left the Vagrants to form a new band called Mountain. Mountain included, on bass guitar, the late Felix Pappalardi, a classically trained musician who had produced for the Vagrants as well as for the British psych-blues rock band Cream. Rounding out the titanic trio was drummer N.D. Smart. Mountain scored their biggest hit in 1970 with the #21 charting rocker "Mississippi Queen." My favorite Mountain performance is "Never in My Life," another track from their Climbing album.

Mountain had stones. Boulders might be a better word.
With lyrics that included:

When I wake up in the morning
You make me feel so good
Bringing me the cider whiskey
Feel a bit lonely too... 

"Never in My Life" was a macho, two-fisted, no apologies, no holds barred, no prisoners sonic avalanche that, once and for all, put the heavy in hard rock!

"Never in My Life" - Mountain (March 1970, 
uncharted track from album Climbing!

Leslie West was a very large man back in the day. He looked like a double serving of Meat Loaf. Both West and goth rock legend Meat Loaf are diabetic. In June of 2011 Leslie West needed to have his swollen leg amputated to save his life. Rock on, Leslie!


In the 1970s Ann Peebles was the reigning queen of R&B/soul at Hi Records and Al Green was king. Infidelity was a common theme in Ann's recording catalog. "Breaking Up Somebody's Home," the third biggest hit of her career, is my Pick to Click for this gifted thrush. The buttery smooth Hi horn section alone is worth the price of admission. Add Ann's sultry voice to the mix and you've got a southern soul sizzler!

"Breaking Up Somebody's Home" 
- Ann Peebles (March 1972, highest chart 
position #83 Hot 100, #13 R&B) 


"Hocus Pocus" cast its magic spell on me the very first time I heard it. The recording is a wacky, hallucinatory instrumental jam performed by Focus, a Dutch prog-rock/art-rock band from Amsterdam. The inventive recording has something for everybody: heavy guitar riffs, neo-classical organ, demented alpine yodeling, rapid-fire muppet gibberish uttered over a polka beat, an angelic falsetto, a manic flute solo in an echo chamber, an accordion solo, dubbed-in stadium applause, even whistling! On the full length album track the mayhem lasts nearly seven minutes! "Hocus Pocus" is infectious insanity, a studio masterpiece. The All Music Guide describes it as “the most inspired bit of looniness to come out of the prog rock era.” Originally released in 1971 on the Focus album Moving Waves, "Hocus Pocus" became a surprise top 10 hit on the American chart in the spring of 1973 - quite an unusual feat for a Dutch recording act. Best of all, "Hocus Pocus" still sounds fresh to me today. (Gee, I never thought I could love a record with yodeling on it!)

"Hocus Pocus" - Focus (March 1973, highest 
chart position #9 


In September of 1979 I went to see Sister Sledge on the Grandstand at the York Fair in a show that included the latest incarnation of Peaches and Herb. As expected the North Philly sister act performed "We Are Family," a disco song that had topped the charts a couple months earlier.
As I recall the girls also sang "He's the Greatest Dancer"
a top 10 hit from the spring of that year along with their
new release "Lost in Music."

I don't remember them singing "Mama Never Told Me," an obscure killer bee recorded in 1973 and originally released
on a 45 with "The Weatherman." Neither side of the single charted but "Mama Never Told Me" became an underground club hit and two years later reached the top 20 on the UK Singles chart. The extended mix of "Mama Never Told Me" was one of the tracks on my favorite dance music album
of the 70s, the heavily Phillyfied Disco-Trek.

"Mama Never Told Me" - Sister Sledge 
(1973, uncharted) 


I was already hooked on the sound of California's Doobie Brothers band from their early 70s hits "Listen to the Music," "Jesus is Just Alright," "Long Train Runnin'," "China Grove" and "Black Water." In 1975 Doobies co-founder Tom Johnston persuaded the band to record a cover of "Take Me in Your Arms," a 60s Motown hit written by Holland-Dozier-Holland, originally sung by Kim Weston and also covered by the Isley Brothers. Johnston was raised on soul music and that made him Dell rat material.  He won me over big time with his impassioned vocal rendition of the Motor City classic.

"Take Me in Your Arms" - Doobie Brothers 
 (June 1975, highest chart position #11) 


Shipped platinum, the record industry's barometer of massive sales success, aptly describes the fortunes of arena rock super group Foreigner. Their first four albums sold like hot cakes and were chock full of commercially appealing, radio friendly rock hits. The band, consisting of three British and three American members was one of the most successful acts of the 1970s and remained popular in the 80s despite changes in personnel and musical style. Foreigner was and still is led by English rock journeyman Mick Jones on guitar and vocals. Jones had been with Spooky Tooth and the Leslie West band after Mountain crumbled. During Foreigner's early hit-making years Jones' American counterpart was lead vocalist Lou Gramm. I have more Foreigner favorites than I can even count including their ballads, but it's their rock anthems that float my boat. Here's Foreigner at their gritty, low-down hard rockin' best: a high charting single extracted from their third album Head Games, "Dirty White Boy."

"Dirty White Boy" - Foreigner
(October 1979, 
highest chart position #12) 

Stay tuned. There's a Part 2 to Me Likey the 70s and it's coming your way soon!

Have a Shady day!