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, August 29, 2013

Got To Get You Onto My Turntable... Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers!

 They opened for the Beatles. 

 Their biggest hit was an exciting cover of 

 a Paul McCartney song from Revolver. 

 "Got to Get You Into My Life" 
 Ciff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers 
 (August 1966, highest chart position #6 UK) 

One of England's best kept secrets, Cliff Bennett
and the Rebel Rousers were a Brit Beat, R&B and
blue-eyed soul band that formed in the late 50s.
They took their name from the title of Duane Eddy's
1958 hit rockabilly instrumental "Rebel-'Rouser."

Like the Fab Four, the Rolling Stones, Animals,
Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin and others English acts,
Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers were influenced
by American Rock 'N' Roll, Blues, R&B and Soul
artists and covered many of their recordings.

On their first single in 1961, Cliff and his mates
emulated the rockabilly style of Jerry Lee Lewis
and his pumping piano.

 "You've Got What I Like" (July 1961, uncharted) 

Like our blue-eyes soul brothers, the Magnificent Men,
Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers paid tribute to
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

 "You Really Got a Hold On Me" 
 (November 1963, uncharted) 

Along with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames,
Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers were one
of the few British R&B bands to feature a
predominantly sax based sound. You will again
hear the throaty instrument on this next tune.

At the start of 1965, Cliff and the Rebs brushed
the UK top 40 with "I'll Take You Home," a song
from the Brill Building husband and wife song-
writing team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil
that was a minor hit for the Drifters in 1963.

 "I'll Take You Home" 
 (January 1965, highest chart position #42 UK) 

In 1965, nearly six years into their career,
Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers released
their first album. One of the standout songs
is the opening track, "I Can't Stand It," a cover
of an original by the R&B act The Soul Sisters.

 "I Can't Stand It" 
 (from 1965 album Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers

While many of Cliff Bennett's recordings are
high energy workouts, the intense slow blues
number "Steal Your Heart Away" is my
favorite song on that first album.

 "Steal Your Heart Away" 
 (from 1965 album Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers

On his 1968 album Cliff Bennett Branches Out
the blue-eyed soul meister serves a heapin' helpin'
of Sam and Dave. "I Take What I Want" is Cliff's
best performance covering the Dynamite Duo.

 "I Take What I Want" 
 (from 1968 album Cliff Bennett Branches Out

On that same album Cliff performs a wailin'
rendition of "Good Times," a song introduced
by Australian rock band the Easybeats and
later covered by another Aussie band, INXS
along with Jimmy Barnes as well as American
goth rocker Meat Loaf.

 "Good Times" 
 (from 1968 album Cliff Bennett Branches Out

Like many other artists I have featured. Cliff Bennett
and the Rebel Rousers were under appreciated.

Cliff had an amazing vocal range and the Rebel Rousers
were accomplished musicians. Together they performed
in a variety of styles and did so with enthusiasm and
authenticity. Perhaps the band's retro name held them
back by recalling the 50s at a time when the Beatles
and other British Invasion acts were perceived
as fresh and innovative.

Regardless, Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers
deserved much more success and recognition than
than they got at the time. History has been kind.
Today they are lauded as one of the greatest bands
of the British rhythm and blues movement.

Have a Shady day!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Version Sacrifice! Witch Will Win When Cool Covers Clash with Killer Klassics?

The moment I heard 

"My Sharona"

I knew disco was dead.

(Scene from 1994 movie Reality Bites)

When I got The Knack in the summer of 1979,
I reacted the same way Winona Ryder and
her friends did, with excitement and giddy
anticipation of the New Wave that was
coming in the next decade. The American
New Wave band Blondie had already signaled
the big change a few months earlier with their
album Parallel Lines and chart topping hit
"Heart of Glass," a reworked disco song
first recorded in 1975.

Iconic songs like "My Sharona" are typically
covered by other artists and today I'd like you
to pick the winners in a Battle of the Bands
competition. Help me decide which is the best
version of three different recorded songs.

Please, ladies and gentlemen... 



Let's begin with the full length, HQ sound version
of The Knack's monster hit, "My Sharona" which 
spent 6 weeks at #1 on the chart and was voted 
Billboard's Single of the Year for 1979.

"My Sharona" - The Knack 
(August 1979, highest chart position #1)


Weird Al Yankovich lunched launched his career
with a "My Sharona" parody called "My Bologna."

"My Bologna" - Weird Al Yankovic 
(single released Christmas 1979)


Now let's hear the version recorded in 2004 by
Pink Cream 69, the German hard rock/heavy metal
band I introduced earlier this year in my enormously
popular :) First Annual Shady Awards series.

"My Sharona" - Pink Cream 69 
(from 2004 album Thunderdome)


This super group started out as a band called
Chad Allan & the Expressions and blew me away
with "Shakin' All Over," a single that made my
list of The Most Exciting Records Ever Made!

The Canadian band achieved international success
as The Guess Who and in 1970 gave us the #1 smash
"American Woman." Here's the full length album version:

"American Woman" - The Guess Who 
(June 1970, highest chart position #1)


Now let's listen to the fine cover recorded in
the early 80s by Krokus, the Swiss hard rock and
heavy metal band that was also featured in my
wildly successful :) Shady Awards presentation.

"American Woman" - Krokus 
(from 1982 album One Vice at a Time)


Grammy award winning singer/songwriter Lenny Kravitz
covered The Guess Who's "American Woman" on the
soundtrack of Mike Myers' 1999 movie sequel
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

"American Woman" - Lenny Kravitz 
(June 1999, highest chart position #49, 
from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.)


I mentioned earlier that the fresh new sound of
Debbie Harry's band Blondie set the stage in 1979
for a pop music revolution in the New Wave 80s.

Blondie followed the breakthrough success of
"Heart of Glass" with another #1 hit, the theme
from the 1980 Richard Gere film American Giggolo.

"Call Me" - Blondie 
(Feb./Mar. 1980, highest chart position #1, 
from American Giggolo soundtrack)


I now present my Pick to Click for the entire post,
a band that I am totally sold on...
a band upon which I am totally sold...


The Los Angeles heavy metal band In This Moment,
featuring the naughty and nice Maria Brink on lead
vocals, is an act that clearly has a sense of humor.
You can tell they have fun making music and videos.

To borrow lyrics from a Rick James song, Maria is
the kind you don't take home to mother, and in
this sensational cover of "Call Me," blondie Maria
takes us to the Brink, positioning herself as the
Debbie Harry of the new metal millennium.
If I had it to do over I would name this
one the Video of the Year!

"Call Me" - In This Moment 
(June 2009, from The Dream 
- The Ultra Violet Edition)

Okay, cast your votes! 

 Which version of each of the three songs 
did you enjoy most? All of the above? 
None of the above? Did Weird Al meat 
your expectations with "My Bologna"?
Is "Bologna" the wiener or the wurst? 
 There's a lot at steak so don't be
chicken. Vote now.  If you don't
vote, you have no right to beef.

Have a Shady day!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sway All Day and Bop Till You Drop at Shady's Gym Dandy Doo-Wop Sock Hop!

 Presenting a super secret 

 surprise post: Volume 8 of 

 Dueling Doo-Wops! 

Dell Rat Ron had no clue I was putting this
post together. Neither did Dell Rat Jerre.
It's an extension of our series featuring
great but seldom heard doo-wop recordings
of the 50s and early 60s. This time I'm the
lone spinner and, as always, every platter's
a winner. Ready to explore the obscure? 
Scroll down, pick, click, play and drift away!


In the summer of 1961 a Bronx doo-wop group 
called the Halos cracked the top 30 on the 
Billboard Pop Singles chart with the up tempo 
novelty number (You're a) "Nag," a song with a
theme similar to "Get a Job" by the Silhouettes 
and "Mother-in-Law" by Ernie K-Doe. 

 "Nag" - The Halos 
 August 1961, highest chart position #25) 


As it turned out the Halos would become more
successful chart performers as backup vocalists
for other recording acts. The Halos can be heard
on "Let the Good Times Roll' by Shirley and Lee,
"Pretty Little Angel Eyes" by Curtis Lee, "Who Put
the Bomp" by Barry Mann and this great song
Gene Pitney recorded early in his career.

 "Every Breath I Take" - Gene Pitney 
 (September 1961, highest chart position #42) 


In the 50s and 60s there were several R&B groups called
the Larks. Personnel came and went and keeping track of
all those Larks is a ball of confusion. One thing's for certain.
The short lived group called Irma and the Larks gave us one
of the most exciting doo-wop ballads ever recorded. The lead
vocalist is Irma Jackson and the recording is "Don't Cry," a
song inspired by "I Only Have Eyes for You," the 1959 doo-
wop hit by the Flamingos.  Released as a single in 1963 on 
the Priority label and reissued on Fairmount Records, a 
subsidiary of Cameo-Parkway, this dreamy recording
went to waste and never made the chart.

 "Don't Cry" - Irma and the Larks 
 (1963, uncharted) 


The Charts started out in 1956 as the Thrilltones,
a group of Harlem teenagers led by Joe Grier. When 
they got themselves a manager he changed their name 
to the Charts. That manager was Les Cooper who, in 
1962, had a hit record of his own with "Wiggle Wobble,"  
an instrumental that featured the sax virtuosity of  
Charts leader Joe Grier. In 1957 the Charts blended  
their voices and made their first record, "Deserie." 

 "Deserie" - The Charts 
 (July 1957, highest chart position #88) 

Although a fine recording, "Deserie" became only a 
local hit, languishing for a month near the bottom of
the pop chart and, dig this, failing to register at all on
the black chart! Seriously? They were from Harlem, 
for cryin' out loud! I'm beginning to wonder what it
took for an act to make the R&B Singles chart. 


 White singer Peggy Lee made the black chart!

 White singer Frankie Avalon made the black chart 
 with no fewer than half a dozen of his records. 
 Frankie freakin' Avalon, peeps! 

 White singer Pat Boone made the black chart! 

 Oh really?

 White singer Dinah Shore made the black chart. 


 The list goes on and on. Need I say more?


Our next record is a fabulous teen sound doo-wop
45 by the Students. It was released twice on three
different labels. The record was originally released
in 1958 but went nowhere. When it was issued again
in the spring of 1961 it missed the pop chart but made
the top 30 on the R&B chart. Clearly under the influence
of Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, here are the
Students of Youngstown, Ohio, with "I'm So Young."

 "I'm So Young" - The Students 
 (June 1961, highest chart position #26 R&B) 


Early in 1956, Betty and Rosie Collins, black sisters
with the stage name the Teen Queens, released
a single called "Eddie My Love," one of the
greatest girl pop ballads of the decade.

The record by the siblings of color went to #14
on the pop chart. It might have gone all the way to
#1 had it not been for the inevitable competition
from copycat white acts. Less than one week after
the Teen Queens' record landed on the chart, cover
versions of "Eddie My Love" by the Fontane Sisters
and the Chordettes were rush released to provide
white middle class record buyers with their own
interpretation. The whitewashed versions of
"Eddie" rode high on the chart, diverting radio
play and record sales from the Teen Queens.

Here it is, the original version...
the real deal... the Teen Queens!

 "Eddie My Love" - The Teen Queens 
 (March 1956, highest chart position 
 #14 Hot 100/#2 R&B


Who says doo-wop has to be old? For more than
30 years a group of transplanted vocalists from
The Big Apple now living in South Florida has been
performing authentic New York style doo-wop and
delighting even the most discriminating fans of
the genre. Representing the five boroughs of
New York City, here are... (I forgot their name).
OH YEAH - The Five Boroughs!

 "Apart" - The Five Boroughs (1990) 

As you're listening to these three fine recordings by
The Five Boroughs, keep in mind that they were made
around 1990, not 1960 as the sound would lead you to
believe. These sumptuous recordings were produced by
Ken Held, host of Ken Held's Doo-Wop Shop, the long
running radio show devoted to vocal group harmony
of the 50s and early 60s.

 "Heaven and Cindy" - The Five Boroughs (1990) 

Now, here is Siobhan Daly, a classically trained
South Florida vocalist, fronting the Five Boroughs
with another dreamy modern/retro doo-wop ballad,
this one entitled "One Too Many Lies."

 "One Too Many Lies" - The Five Boroughs (1990) 

 To wrap up today's 

 doo-wop till you drop 

 record hop here's some 

 jumpin' jitterbug jive. 


Years before the rock 'n' roll revolution swept Western
civilization in the mid 1950s, R&B acts were already laying
the foundation, puttin' down a wailin' pound of sound with
up tempo dance records that targeted the teenage market.
In 1951 the Dominoes scored a big hit on the pop chart with
"Sixty Minute Man." King Records reacted by signing an act
called the Checkers which drew members from the Dominoes.
The first five singles released on King by the Checkers are
rare and command high prices among collectors. Here's their
fifth, a jumpin' little record I want my jockey to play.

 "You Never Had It So Good" - The Checkers 
 (November 1953) 

 The Rev-els Quartette 

 (The Rev-els aka The Revels) 

Finally, here's another rockin' rhythm record that sounds
a lot like the Dominoes of the early 50s. It's "Love My
Baby," an up tempo killer by a North Philadelphia
group called The Re-Vels Quartette. They're the
same guys who recorded "Dead Man's Stroll" aka 
"Midnight Stroll," one of the Deadly Ditties that  
Ron introduced a couple of years ago. This is one 
of their earliest recordings, made when they were 
billed as The Rev-els Quartette. Man, does this 
number rock!  Released in 1954 with the fine ballad 
"My Lost Love" on the B side, "Love My Baby" 
knocked me out the first time I heard it. Listen for 
the wailin' sax solo in the middle. This, my friends,
is early Philly doo-woppin' roll at it's best!

 "Love My Baby" - The Re-Vels Quartette 
 aka The Re-vels aka The Revels 
 (1954, uncharted) 

 And there you have it... 

 eight full volumes of 

 doo-wop gold... 

 more than 100 great 

 recordings in all! 

 I hope you enjoyed this 

 top secret bonus post. 

 Pssssst. I've got another secret! 

There's yet another bonus edition of Dueling Doo-Wops 
on the way! It's the grand finale of the series (for realsies
and I guarantee it'll be the biggest and best of all!

 Don't miss Volume 9 coming soon! 

Have a Shady day!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Seekers and Ye Shall Find Australia's First Lady of Song, Judith Durham!

 I'm Shady Del Knight 

 and I've got proof 

 that old school COOL! 


Awarded the OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia)
for her outstanding achievements, Judith Durham
was Australia's first international pop princess.

In 1962, Judith, along with Athol Guy, 
Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley 
formed the Seekers, a folk-influenced 
pop group that became the first 
Australian music act to achieve major 
success in the UK and America.

My favorite Seekers recording is their first UK
release, "I'll Never Find Another You," which
became the top selling UK single of 1965
and a top 5 hit stateside.

"I'll Never Find Another You" - The Seekers 
(May 1965, highest chart position #4)

The Seekers scored an even bigger U.S. hit the
following year with "Georgy Girl," the title song
from the British film starring Lynn Redgrave.

"Georgy Girl" - The Seekers 
(January 1967, highest chart position #2)

In 1967 the Seekers starred in their own TV special
The Seekers Down Under. Included in the program 
was a wonderful rendition of Bob Dylan's early 60s
anthem "The Times They Are a Changin'."

"The Times They Are a Changin'" - The Seekers 
(from 1967 TV special The Seekers Down Under)

As you watched the Seekers perform in those
three videos, listened to the purity of their
voices and felt the love and joy that radiated
from their hearts, perhaps you asked yourself
the same question I have been asking.

What happened to us? In the years since songs
like those were written and recorded how could
pop music and culture have strayed so far from
the innocence and decency they exemplified?
The times they have indeed changed.


"I'm not worthy," is Curtis Mayfield's lament in
"Minstrel and Queen," a tender early soul ballad
by the Impressions. The theme is a familiar one
in pop culture: lovers separated by the class
barrier. "Minstrel and Queen," known in some
circles as "Queen Majesty," was released as
a single in the fall of 1962, spent six weeks
stuck in the mud on the Bubbling Under chart
and never managed to escape to the Hot 100.

"Minstrel and Queen" - Impressions 
(October 1962, highest chart position #113) 

Like Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Temptations,
Edwin Starr, James Brown and other 60s soul acts,
the Impressions eventually shifted the focus of
their music away from traditional love songs,
choosing to address social issues encompassed
by the Civil Rights Movement. Mayfield and
company made fine recordings during that
phase of their career, yet it's the sweet
soul they recorded early on that remains
near and dear to every Dell rat's heart.
Here's another gentle love song waxed
in 1962, "Grow Closer Together."

"Grow Closer Together" - Impressions 
(February 1962, highest chart position #99) 


The song you are about to hear is NOT the
theme from the Rock Hudson - Doris Day
movie comedy. It's a steamy sizzler from
sultry somnambulist soul sista Sylvia.

(Say THAT five times fast!)

At the beginning of 1957, Sylvia Robinson 
and guitarist Mickey Baker, recording as 
the duo Mickey & Sylvia, had a crossover 
hit with their R&B duet "Love is Strange." 
Sylvia went on to become a producer and 
record company executive, founder of the 
soul label All Platinum Records. In 1973
Sylvia recorded and released a single of
her own, a prototypical early disco number  
called "Pillow Talk" which became a major  
hit and garnered the diva an invite from  
Don Cornelius to perform on Soul Train.

 "Pillow Talk" - Sylvia 
 (June 1973, highest chart position #3 Hot 100
 #2 Cash Box, #1 R&B Singles 

I'm sad to report that Sylvia Robinson
passed away in the fall of 2011.



Ranked #45 on Rolling Stone's list of
The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,
Link Wray produced the type of bold, macho
music you'd hear during a night of drinking,
dancing and debauchery at One Eyed Jacks,
the fictional brothel and casino in Twin Peaks.

An innovator, Link Wray introduced the
power chord which became a hard rock
staple. He did so in 1958 with "Rumble,"
an instrumental single which also used
the relatively unexplored techniques
of distortion and feedback. Link's tune
became a sizable hit even though it was
banned by some radio stations because
"rumble" was a slang word for gang fight.
(BTW, who killed Laura Palmer?)

"Rumble" - Link Wray & His Ray Men 
(May 1958, highest chart position 
#16 Hot 100, #11 R&B Singles)

 Join me next time 

 for more proof 

 that old school COOL! 

Have a Shady day!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Toto (1999-2013)

Dear friends, I am very sad to report that
my dog Toto has died at the age of 14.

Thursday, Toto suffered a heart attack.
Her lungs filled with fluid making it hard
for her to breathe. She couldn't walk.
She couldn't even stand. Early Friday
morning, Mrs. Shady and I made the
agonizing decision every pet owner
dreads. We loaded Toto into the car,
drove her to a veterinary clinic and
had her humanely put to sleep.

Toto had been a loyal friend and companion
since August 1999 when she joined our family
as a tiny puppy. Her first official act as our
new pet was to pee on the rug. There
would be many more piddle puddles to
deal with in the years that followed.

Early on, we tried to train Toto to stay off the
furniture. She refused to obey. Eventually she
staked her claim to a rocker recliner and raised
a fuss if anyone else dared to occupy it.

We enrolled Toto in dog training school but
but she turned out to be the class clown.
She made a nuisance of herself, depriving
all the other dogs of the opportunity
to get an education.

Along with her stubborn resistance to training,
Toto enjoyed playing mean girl, growling and
barking at me like a junkyard dog confronting
a trespasser. To sum it up, Toto wasn't perfect
but she was perfect for me and I wouldn't have
traded her for any other pooch on the planet.
I have never known a dog with as much
spirit, spunk and personality.

Through the years Toto brought immeasurable
happiness and laughter into our lives. Always
the center of attention at family gatherings,
Toto knew she was special. She thrived on
affection. If she had her way, I would have
petted and scratched her every minute of
every day the entire 14 years.

In later life, Toto slowed down, developed arthritis
and a heart condition. She also started to go blind.
Last fall she was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor
on her paw and underwent risky surgery to have it
removed. Toto recovered and went on to enjoy a
few good months during which she recaptured the
energy and enthusiasm of a puppy.

In March, Toto suffered a seizure and nearly died.
She bounced back one more time and had a good
spring, but in recent weeks her health steadily
declined, forcing us to face the inevitable.

It was surreal and very painful to watch Toto
slip away as the doctor administered the
injection that stopped her heart.
We take comfort in knowing her
suffering has come to an end.

There is no greater joy than that which
comes from giving pure, unconditional love
to an innocent, appreciative animal.

Toto, my grouchy, grumpy girl...
my good girl, my great girl...
I will miss you.

I will fondly remember our happy years
together and I will forever love you.

Nighty-night, dear Toto. Rest in peace.

Dear friends, I need to take a week away from
blogging to collect myself and process this loss.
Please understand if I do not visit your blogs
during that time. Thank you very much.