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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Breaking News: Grant Takes Richmond! (and every other city in America with her smashing Brit Beat recordings!)

Unfortunately, that headline is pure fiction because
Julie Grant (Vivien Foreman), a gifted English thrush
who released a plethora of fine recordings, never made
the U.S. chart. Not one her records even Bubbled Under.
It gets worse. Julie didn't become the star she deserved
to be in her own country because her record company
dropped the ball and failed to adequately promote her.
I'm here to correct that injustice by introducing
a few of Julie Grant's greatest grooves.

Julie Grant began her recording career in 1962
just prior to the start of the Brit beat explosion.
Two years earlier Julie had defeated another
singer, Helen Shapiro, in a talent contest,
a bitter irony because Helen went on to
become a major star in the UK while
Julie settled for only a few minor hits.

In the spring of 1963, amid newspaper headlines
of her friendship with the Beatles and a rumored
romance with George Harrison, Julie reached the
UK top 30 with the bouncy single "Count On Me."

"Count On Me" 
(March 1963, top 30 UK)

An exquisite piece titled "Then, Only Then"
went to waste on the B side of "Count On Me."

At the time Julie was robbed of another top 30 hit
but, over the years, this beautiful flip side
recording became a fan favorite.

"Then, Only Then"
(Mar. 1963, B side of "Count On Me")

A year later, backed by the UK's sensational
session singers, The Breakaways, Julie released
a brilliant cover of "Every Day I Have To Cry."

The song, written by American country soul man
Arthur Alexander, was a minor hit in the U.S. for
teen idol Steve Alaimo in 1963. Julie Grant's
"Every Day I Have To Cry" flopped in
England and in the U.S. but was a hit
in Israel. Shady says Julie's is
the definitive version!

"Every Day I Have To Cry"
(March 1964)

The flip side of "Every Day I Have To Cry"
is just as exciting if not more so.

It's a version of "Watch What You Do With My Baby,"
a song also recorded and released that year by
Brit popper Cliff Richard and the Shadows and
U.S. artists Cindy Malone and Peggy March.
This is one killer bee!

"Watch What You Do With My Baby" 
(March 1964)

Julie Grant returned to the UK chart
in the late summer and fall of 1964.

Julie brushed the top 30 with "Come To Me,"
a record she later named her personal favorite.

"Come To Me" (August 1964,
highest chart position #31 UK)

In the early weeks of 1965, Julie released
"Baby, Baby (I Still Love You)" a cover of
a recording originally released in the U.S.
by a girl group called the Cinderellas.

With backing once again provided by the Breakaways,
Julie recorded a smashing version of the song, one
that deserved to be a hit. By that time, however,
Pye Records was losing interest in Julie, didn't
promote the single and it failed to chart. A hit
waiting to happen is a terrible thing to waste!

"Baby, Baby (I Still Love You)" 
(January 1965)

In the spring of 1964 the dramatic ballad
"Giving Up" was a top 40 hit for the U.S.
R&B/soul group Gladys Knight & the Pips.

Image courtesy earlybird @

One year later Julie Grant waxed a cover that
some consider the better version of "Giving Up."
Once again Pye took its eyes off the prize and
allowed Julie's latest single to die on the vine
without sufficient promotion. Unfair!

"Giving Up" (March 1965)

Julie Grant's story reminds me of
the American artist Evie Sands.

Both women were soulful and loaded with talent.
Both made excellent recordings and should have
become major stars. Both fell victim to record
company politics and incompetence. Thank
goodness both of these wonderful ladies of
song are now getting the recognition they
so richly deserve.

Have a Shady day!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

History Lesson: What You Don't Know About Castro Might Surprise You!

 I'm Shady Del Knight 

 and I've got proof 

 that old school COOL! 


Bernadette Castro, former politician and one of
America's leading businesswomen, is CEO of
Castro Convertibles, the New York based
convertible furniture company founded
by her father in the 1930s.

As a little girl in the late 40s and 50s, Bernadette
earned the title of most televised child in America
starring in a long running series of live commercials
for Castro Convertibles. Watch little Bernadette
do her thing in the first 90 seconds this film.

I'll have more interesting facts about
Bernadette Castro at the end of the post.
You can bed on it.


Yvette Marie Stevens is a multiple Grammy Award
winning singer and songwriter whose career has
spanned more than four decades. You might know
her better as Chaka Khan.  Chaka was lead singer
of Rufus, the Chicago funk band that had a top 5
hit in 1974 with "Tell Me Something Good."

The act became known as Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan
and continued a string of hits into the 80s. In 1978,
Chaka Khan began releasing solo recordings while
continuing to front Rufus. In the spring of 1981
Chaka topped the Soul Singles chart with the
smooth urban club hit "What Cha' Gonna Do
For Me," title track of her latest album.

 "What Cha' Gonna Do For Me" - Chaka Khan 
 (May 1981, highest chart pos. #1 Hot Soul Singles 
 from April 1981 album What Cha' Gonna Do For Me


Rick Nelson's career took a pounding when the Beatles
and other British invaders clogged the U.S. chart with
 their records. Like many other American rock 'n' roll,
rockabilly and pop artists, Rick adjusted to the new
normal by making a transition into country music.
Rick became a pioneer of the evolving genre
of country-rock fusion.

In 1966, Rick released Bright Lights & Country Music,
a pure country album that consisting mainly of covers.
The album contained one original song written by
Rick, the autobiographical "You Just Can't Quit."
Released as a single the same month as the
album, "You Just Can't Quit" bubbled under
for five weeks before disappearing. Rick's
dry spell was a sign of the times but the
song's message is one of determination
and hope for better times ahead.

 "You Just Can't Quit" - Rick Nelson 
 (June 1966, highest chart position #108 
 from album Bright Lights & Country Music


In 1965 Guyana born Londoner Eddy Grant formed a funky
R&B rock group called the Equals. Eddy wrote, sang and
played lead guitar on their big hit "Baby, Come Back"
which topped the UK chart in the summer of 1968.
The beat/rock 'n' roll single also hit #1 in Belgium,
reached the top 10 in several other European
countries and cracked the top 40 stateside.

 "Baby, Come Back" - The Equals 
 (September 1968, highest chart position #32) 


As a solo artist in 1983, Eddy Grant had one of the
biggest hits of the year in America with the single
"Electric Avenue." The song's lyrics refer to the
Brixton Riot, a bloody two day clash between
police and members of the African-Caribbean
community in South London in April of 1981.
At the time I didn't give much thought to the
lyrics or their meaning. All that mattered to
me was the dance rhythm and the refreshingly
different, totally electrifying reggae rock sound.

 "Electric Avenue" - Eddy Grant 
 (June 1983, highest chart position 
 #2 Hot 100/#2 UK in 1982

Now let's learn more about Bernadette Castro,
CEO of Castro Convertibles.

As you might have guessed, Bernadette had a
singing career. In the mid 60s she made some
groovy girl group style records. One of her
singles, "His Lips Get In The Way," landed
on the Bubbling Under chart in the fall of
1964. Shady says this pleasing platter
deserved a top 40 finish!

 "His Lips Get in the Way" - Bernadette Castro 
 (Sept./Oct. 1964, highest chart position #123) 

A few months later, at the start of '65, Bernadette
gave us another genre classic, one with a highly
contagious melody that'll get stuck in your
noggin for eons, "A Girl in Love Forgives."

 "A Girl in Love Forgives" - Bernadette Castro 
 (January 1965, uncharted) 

 Join me next time 

 for more proof 

 that old school COOL! 

Have a Shady day!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Counting Down the 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell (#145 to #141)

 It's time once again to put your 

 musical knowledge to the test 

 as we continue our countdown of 

 The 200 Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell! 

 You know the drill. 

I'll give you a line or two of lyrics taken from five
of the most popular Dell songs of the mid 60s.
Your mission, Jim, if you decide to accept it, is to

 Name That Tune. 

Put on your thinking cap. Here are the lyric
samples for the next five Dell songs:

I have to turn my head
until my darkness goes

Without you I had no consolation
But with you I have appreciation.

Got spring and summer 
 runnin’ through me

I know what your thinking,
You're alone now, 
 no love of your own

Gonna live each minute
Fill the hours and days
Til I`ve had my fill


Okay, let's find out how well you did.
Here are the Dell songs in today's countdown:

145. "Paint It, Black" - The Rolling Stones 
(May '66)

144. "You Got Me Where You Want Me" 
The Emperors (March '67)

143. "98.6" - Keith (December '66)

142. "Reach Out I'll Be There" 
 The Four Tops (September '66)

141. "Hungry" - Paul Revere & The Raiders 
(June '66)

How many songs did you correctly guess from the lyric clues? Refer to the grading scale below to determine your musical I.Q.

 All 5 right – 

 Congratulations! You’ve been appointed 

 dean of the College of Musical Knowledge. 

 3 or 4 right – 

 Licensed lyric lover. 

 2 right - 

 Lyrically challenged. 

 1 right – 

 Sign up for remedial classes 

 at the School of Rock. 

 0 right – 

 You just dance and hum along! 

Have a Shady day!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Echoes of the Spectorian Era, Volume 6: Out of the Picture... but In Our Prayers

 Welcome to Part 6 of my 

 17-part series featuring 

 the best of Phil Spector 

 and cool soundalike 

 recordings produced 

 by those he influenced! 



Actress Marcia Strassman played Julie Kotter
on the TV sitcom Welcome Back Kotter,
Later, she was Diane Szalinski, wife of
nutty inventor Wayne Szalinski in the
movie Honey I Shrunk the Kids
and its sequels.

As a singer in the 60s Marcia made the girl group
style recording "Out of the Picture" produced by
Jerry Goldstein, one third of New York-based
FGG Productions, the guys who recorded as
the Strangeloves. "Out of the Picture" begins
with the distinctive beat and  Spectorian
sound of  "Be My Baby" and "The Dum
Dum Ditty." Released in the spring of '67,
 "Out of the Picture" went to waste on
 the B side of "The Flower Children,"
a single that clearly pandered to the
burgeoning West Coast hippie scene
but sold poorly, Bubbling Under
at #105. This fab flip, a much
more enjoyable recording,
remained out of the picture.

 "Out of the Picture" 
 Marcia Strassman 
 (April 1967, B side of 
 "The Flower Children") 

Ironically, the draft of this post was finished
nearly a year ago and scheduled to be
published at this time.

Last week I was shocked and saddened when
news broke that Marcia Strassman had died.

Marcia passed away on October 25 after a
long battle with breast cancer. She was 66.
May she rest in peace.



At the end of 1963, the Chiffons scored a
top 40 hit single with "I Have a Boyfriend."

In 1965 a fine cover was included on the album
Whenever a Teenager Cries released by Catholic
school girl Mary "Reparata" Aiese and her group
The Delrons. Reparata and the Delrons were one
of the best girl groups of the 1960s. They were
invited to tour with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars
road show, yet they never achieved a top 40 hit.
You'll be scratching your head and wondering
how that's possible when you hear them sing.

 "I Have a Boyfriend" 
 Reparata and the Delrons 
 (from the 1965 album 
 Whenever a Teenager Cries



 Is it live or is it Memorex? 

 Is it the Ronettes or is it 

 Lorraine and the Delights? 

 Is it a Northern Soul record 

 or a girl group record? 

I can answer the last two questions. The A side
of the following single is the Northern Soul favorite
"Baby I Need You." The killer bee, resurrected on
the Wall of Soundalikes CD Phil's Spectre, Vol.1,
is the obscure girl group nugget "I Just Couldn't
Say," a recording that sounds very much like the
Ronettes. This schizophrenic single was waxed
in 1965 and released early in 1966 by no hit
wonders Lorraine and the Delights. I ask that
you listen to the record 30 seconds or more
(or begin listening at the 30 second mark)
to give the melody a chance to kick in.
You'll swear it's Ronnie Spector!

 "I Just Couldn't Say" 
 Lorraine and the Delights 
 (January 1966, uncharted) 


The name of the act offers a strong hint about what's
in the grooves of this long lost 1963 girl group single.
"I Love Him" by the Castanets (lead singer unknown)
is another opus that goes beyond paying homage
to Spector. It comes very close to matching the
 melody and production style of the Crystals'
"Then He Kissed Me." Uncharted nationally,
"I Love Him" went top 40 on stations in
Springfield, Massachusetts and Miami
and reached #60 on AM radio in
New Haven, Connecticut.

 "I Love Him" - The Castanets 
 (Dec. 1963/Jan. 1964, uncharted) 


One of my earliest childhood memories was sitting
on the floor of my basement with my tiny tinny
record player spinning my big brother's copy
of "Teen Age Prayer" by Gloria Mann.
Gloria's dreamy ballad began its chart
ascent a few days after I turned 6
and brushed the top 20 early in
1956. A rendition by singing
actress Gale Storm
made the top 10.

In 1964, a country pop version of "A Teen Age Prayer"
was released by Linda Brannon but did not chart.
That same year, "Dimension doll" Caroline Day
waxed Spectorian and gave us this castanet
clacking interpretation of the song.

 "Teenage Prayer" - Caroline Day 
 (March 1964, uncharted) 


"He Really Loves Me" was recorded in New York and
released in January 1964 at the height of Spectormania.
Unfortunately it was also the height of Beatlemania
which might explain why this great record failed to
chart. Lead vocalist Debbie Rollins is backed by
veteran session singers Dee Dee Warwick and
Sweet Inspirations members Cissy Houston
(Dee Dee's mother) and Sylvia Shemwell.
Listen now to this fine example of the
East Coast Wall-of-Sound!

 "He Really Loves Me" - Debbie Rollins 
 (January 1964, uncharted) 

 I hope you got your kicks 

 with Echoes Volume 6. 

 Stick around for more 

 Spectoresque goodness 

 coming your way soon 

 in Echoes Volume 7! 

Have a Shady day!