Month: October 2018

Run Run Run – The Third Rail



This studio produced bubblegum song was a very minor hit in 1967 spending 9 weeks in the Top 100 and peaking at 53. For me it was a much bigger hit, and I’m sure this 45 sounds a lot better than my copy does now ;-). The lead singer is Joey Levine, probably the most successful lead singer you never heard of – well, maybe that honor should go to Tony Burrows or Ron Dante but that’s a story for another day -Levine sang lead for “Yummy, Yummy” (Ohio Express), “Quick Joey Small” (Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus) and “Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)” by Reunion.
He also rivaled Barry Manilow and Randy Newman as a commercial jingle writer – “Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut” (Almond Joy) “Just For the Taste of It (Diet Pepsi), “The Softer Side of Sears”, “You Asked For It, You Got It” (Toyota) and “This Bud’s For You”

The song was written by Joey and his writing partner Art Resnick. Together they wrote a ton of bubblegum and psychedelic songs you have heard. “Run Run Run” was one of their earliest charting singles. The Third Rail was Joey, Art and his wife,Kris. Art Resnick had a pedigree as a writer prior to this – he wrote “Under The Boardwalk” for the Drifters and “Good Lovin'” for the Young Rascals

The lyrics, especially the stock market piece, is outdated but I still enjoy listening.


Summer Sun – Jamestown Massacre



 

Although this song was never a big hit nationally, it enjoyed success in the Chicago area (the band was from Illinois) and Hawaii, my exposure to it probably came from WFIL in Chicago, one of those stations I loved to reel in at night from Yarmouth, Maine. The website Jamestown Massacre History had this to say about the band’s start:


“Glenn Messmer (drums), Mark Zapel (bass) and John Gilleran (guitar & vocals) founded The Jamestown Massacre in 1967. Hailing from Downers Grove, IL, they agreed to play at Downers Grove Youth Center monthly in exchange for rehearsal space. In 1968, V.J Comforte (lead vocals) and Dennis Carlson (lead guitar and vocals) joined the band, along with Naperville resident Dave Bickler (lead vocals, flute, harmonica & trumpet). In early 1969, Jeff Quinn (organ, trumpet & vocals) from Glen Ellyn was recruited to round out the lineup.


From 1968 to 1974, Jamestown Massacre played at nearly every teen club, youth center, high school and college in and around Chicago. The band featured excellent vocal harmonies and prided itself on the ability to play a wide variety of styles of music, copying original artists very closely. Through challenging songs made popular by Three Dog Night, Chicago, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Deep Purple, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles, “The Massacre” generated a loyal following while honing their musical skills.


During this period, Jamestown Massacre was also developing its own material and unique sound. In their first recording session at Chicago’s Paragon Studios in August 1970, they recorded two original songs. Concurrently, they then began work with a local advertising jingle producer on commercials for Schlitz Malt Liquor and Nestlé’s Crunch. From late 1970 to 1971, the Band did numerous recording sessions at Chicago’s famous Chess Studios, and in the summer of 1971, released its first single on the Destination label called “Comin’ Home to You.”


In the spring of 1972, the group traveled to Detroit and recorded six tunes, one of which was “Summer Sun.” The song was quickly released locally on the LUV label and was soon after picked up by Warner Brothers records and sold around the world. “Summer Sun” was a major hit not only in Chicago, but also in other markets across the United States including Hawaii, where it held a number one chart position for six weeks. In as far away as Japan, “Summer Sun” reached #18 on the major Tokyo radio play list.”


If the name Dave Bickler doesn’t ring a bell, you would also hear his voice on several Survivor songs, including their biggest hit “Eye Of The Tiger”. After singing with Jamestown Massacre, Dave would join forces with Jim Peterik (Ides of March) to form Survivor.


One of the best examples of sunshine pop music that I can think of, still love to play it!


Face In The Crowd/Reminiscing – Little River Band



Australia’s Little River Band produced some great music over it’s run – Cool Change, Reminiscing, Lonesome Loser, Night Owl, just to name a few. This song was originally on their “No Reins” LP in 1986 and it’s always been my favorite LRB song. The angst and wistfulness of the lyrics and the changes in tempo make this a great song. Released as a single in the States in July of 1986 but never charted. Written by original band member Graeham Goble, who also wrote the band’s best known hit “Reminiscing”, one of the 58 songs he wrote that have gotten airplay in the States. Here’s what Goble had to say about writing “Reminiscing”:


 “I loved watching old black and white movies, and I always also loved the music of Glenn Miller and Cole Porter, that whole era of writing, and it was my attempt to write a song to depict the romantic era. It came out very quickly, I wrote it in about half an hour. Even though a lot of people think it sounds complicated, on the guitar it’s very simple to play. It nearly never got recorded – when the time came to record it, the keyboard player I wanted to use, Peter Jones, was out of town, so we cut the band track with a different keyboard player. It didn’t work. A few days later when we tried it again with a different keyboard player, again it didn’t work, and the band was losing interest in the song. Just before the album was finished, Peter Jones came back into town, the band and I had an argument because I wanted to give Reminiscing a third chance. Peter played on it, we cut it, and finished it, and sent the album to Capitol. Capitol said that they couldn’t hear any singles on the album, and didn’t know what to release. Five weeks later, someone at Capitol’s New York office said ‘You’re all crazy, Reminiscing is a smash.’ Capitol put it out, and it just immediately caught on fire, and became our highest chart hit.”


“It’s quite staggering; you don’t realize you’ve written something like that until it happens, until it’s history.”




Here’s To You – Hamilton Camp



“Here’s To You” was released in May of 1968 and spent 5 weeks on the charts only rising to #76. I have always loved this song. The man who wrote and sang it has been a face most of you over the age of 15 have seen on TV, the first time I saw him, he was blown to bits on a Rat Patrol episode, Trekkie’s know him as “Leck”, Lois & Clark fans know him as H.G. Wells. A List of his TV appearances can be found at Hamilton Camp.com

Camp started his entertainment career as a folk singer with Bob Gibson (no, not the great St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher). His songwriting credits include “Pride of Man”best known by Quicksilver Messenger Service,





and

“You Can Tell The World”, sung by Simon and Garfunkel on their first album “Wednesday Morning- 3 A.M.” This gospel song I have known since I was very young but didn’t know it was a Camp and Gibson composition.



Beside’s his live acting career, he was the voice of many animated characters including Gizmo Duck on Duck Tales and Greedy and Harmony Smurf on The Smurfs and Count Dracula in Scoby Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf”

Hamilton passed away in 2005 at age 70.


I’d Love To Change The World – Ten Years After



Ten Years After was from Nottingham, England, and I can’t help but thinking, according to lore, they weren’t the first Nottingham resident with designs on changing the world ;-). This was the most commercially successful song they released, only getting as high as #40, but it is one of those songs that has increased in popularity as time goes on. “Tax the rich, feed the poor” ;-). Led by guitarist Alvin Lee, the group scored 8 Top 40 albums on the UK charts. I loved this song from the first time I heard it and still do almost 50 years later.


Cherchez La Femme – Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band



From Wikipedia: “Cherchez La Femme” (French for Seek the woman) is a song that was written and performed by Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band with lead vocals by Cory Daye in 1976. The music was written by band-leader and pianist Stony Browder Jr. and John Schonberger, Richard Coburn (né Frank Reginald DeLong; 1886–1952), and Vincent Rose; with lyrics by Browder Jr.’s brother and bassist August Darnell. The song’s full title is “Whispering”/”Cherchez La Femme”/”Se Si Bon” [sic]. Cherchez La Femme became the group’s biggest hit.”

If you asked me what my favorite song was from the disco era, this would easily be the choice. I just can’t sit still when this song comes on. The three song medley includes “Whispering”, a 1920 #1 song by Paul Whiteman and Se Si Bon” was a #8 hit for Eartha Kitt in 1953 as “C’est Is Bon”




Sausalito – Al Martino

 

“Sausalito” was written by Terry Cashman and Tommy West, if you don’t recognize those two names, I’m sorry, they, along with Gene Pistilli, wrote some of the most beautiful songs of the late 60s and early 70’s as well as “discovering” and producing all of Jim Croce’s music. More on them another time. The singer here is Al Martino, one of the crooners of the 50’s and 60’s. Born Jasper Cini in Philadelphia, he placed 1st in Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts TV show in 1952. His first single was “Here In My Heart”, it would top the charts for 3 weeks in June of 1952. Al’s career would span 26 years on the charts and produce 26 Adult Contemporary (Easy Listening) Top 10 singles, including 4 #1s, plus the aforementioned #1 on the Hot 100. “Sausilito” spent 3 weeks on the Hot 100 at #99 and reached #13 on the Adult Contemporary charts. Looking at the radio stations that played the song, they are mostly concentrated in the northeast. I heard it on Portland, Maine’s WLOB and Boston’s WRKO and loved it, later I discovered the authors and their version, which also was released in 1969 but failed to chart. As much as I loved Al’s version, I would have to choose Cashman & West’s original version:




The Legend Of Xanadu – Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich

 

 

Time to crack the whip this morning! “The Legend Of Xanadu” from Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich is one of those songs that we here in the States never appreciated but the UK surely did. The group’s biggest hit, it reached #1 in the UK. I’m not sure how I found this music or when, because it doesn’t show up on any of my personal lists for 1968 but it was released here in the States in March of that year. I have become a huge DDDBM&T fan over the years and this is my favorite of the bunch.

 

For more on this group, check out my podcast here:DDDBM&T


A Girl Like You – The Young Rascals

 

I am unabashedly a (Young) Rascals fan and this song is one of the major reasons why. I have often said that Felix, Eddie, Dino and Gene should roll off the tongue just like John, Paul, George and Ringo.

The Young Rascals had their most recognized hit in the Spring of 1967 in “Groovin'”, their follow-up single still remains my favorite song of the rock era. The intro still gets to me and the lyrics were a 14 year old romantic’s dream. Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati co-wrote this masterpiece. The song “only” reached #10 and spent the middle two weeks of August 1967 there. “A Girl Like You” came along at the right time for me and it will always have a special place in my musical journey.