Sunday, December 26, 2010

I Didn't Want To Go Home!

One of the best small hall concerts I've ever seen. If you watch very carefully, you can see me at around 0:55! Oh, I had a mustache back then, so that might help you find Waldo...

My Life's Soundtrack Part 68 - California Dreamin' by The Mamas And The Papas

Yeah, the opening lines pretty much sum up my entire life in the midwest. California was some always mythical paradise that existed only in surf music, and in songs like this. Like me, millions have now come here to experience it. But, as quantum theory describes, we'll never really know California. By flocking here to observe it, we've also changed it...

My Life's Soundtrack Part 67 - Respectable by The Outsiders

Ever wonder why the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is located in Cleveland? Here's one good reason! I grew up in Cleveland, and I can assure you that we LOVED our local garage rock bands. I remember playing this one over and over again on my illegal radio station.

Here's the original version of that Outsiders track. The great Ronald Isley, O'Kelly Isley, and Rudolph Isley, collectively known as The Isley Brothers, from 1959 on RCA 7657. I play several other covers of this song on my oldies stream by folks like The Chants, The Cheynes, and The Fourmost. Enjoy!

And here is the follow up single from The Choir issued in 1967 on Roulette 4760. The flip side of this one, Don't You Feel A Little Sorry For Me, is real cool too!

Oh heck, I can't resist posting the flip side of Roulette 4760...

My Life's Soundtrack Part 66 - It's Cold Outside by The Choir

I remember The Mods from Mentor, a suburb of Cleveland. They evolved into The Choir and cut this excellent garage rock record. This was a big local hit in Cleveland. Members of this group hooked up with Eric Carmen to become The Raspberries. I also like the intro from MusicMike2 on this clip...

This Australian promo release contains a longer version than the original release in the United States. The original pressings of this song on Canadian-American, and the first pressings on Roulette, were all faded out early at the end. Later Roulette pressings contained this longer, cold ending version.

The Biggest Hit You've Never Heard (Unless You're in Germany)

The biggest hit of the 1960's in Germany did NOT appear on the Billboard charts, or on any other charts around the world. This song debuted in January 1968. It was SO popular in Germany that it stayed on the charts there for a whopping 54 weeks! This kid is two years younger than me. What an awesome voice!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Life's Soundtrack Part 65 - San Francisco by Scott McKenzie

A few weeks ago, after getting my junk groped by a strange guy, I flew TransLove Airways up to my city by the bay. I wore flowers in my hair as I walked around Haight Ashbury. It was a real Love-In, man, sittin' on the dock of the bay, wastin' time...

Eric Burdon and the Animals fell in love with The City by the Bay after performing at the legendary Monterey music festival. One problem with this song, the street is called Haight (pronounced Hate), but Eric sings, "Cop's face, is filled with hate. Heaven's above, he's on a street called Love." I think the Doors sung about Love Street, but that was where he and his girlfriend lived in the Laurel Canyon area of metro Los Angeles. That's a long way away from San Francisco, man.

For the record (no pun intended), I didn't have a very good time in San Francisco. There are FAR too many dangerous looking homeless people lurking about. Apparently, the local government doesn't know how to keep their citizens safe and their streets clean. Whatever they're doing up there, it ain't working. They should try something else. I had an opportunity to watch Stevie Wonder live, but that never happened. After waiting in the front of a huge line for over an hour, I got right up near center stage, only to find that there were absolutely no chairs anywhere. I had a really sore foot that day, and I knew I couldn't stand on it another couple of hours or more. So, before the music started, I got out of there. I thought there was some kind of law that venues like this have to accommodate people who have special physical needs. I wonder why that doesn't apply to people like me!

You Would Cry Too If If Happened To You!

Here's one of the many songs I'd dance along with in the back of my Grandma Gould's diner. The teenage girls played this song so often, the jukebox guy had to replace it several times. Watching him work always fascinated me!

Here's the follow up to It's My Party by Lesley Gore. It didn't dawn on me right away that these two songs were connected! Once I figured it out, I wondered why more singers didn't do stuff like this. This is another song that the teenager wore out several times in my Grandma Gould's jukebox!

It's Like A Radio, Man.

I was always more like Maynard G Krebbs than Dobie Gillis. Which character did you identify with? Dobie? Maynard? Thalia Menninger (Tuesday Weld)? Milton Armitage (Warren Beatty)? Zelda Gilroy? Chatsworth Osborne Jr? Or how about Dobie's dad and mom, Herbert or Winnie? I found a bunch of these shows on DVD; they look like good quality bootlegs to me.

I started out like Maynard, but I've ended up a lot more like Herbert. I always did have a crush on Tuesday Weld, but Zelda was my secret love!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

No-No, No, No-No, No-No-No-No, No, No-No, No, No...

Here's Rod Argent and the Zombies with another great sixties classic. Here's an interesting question. How many times do they say the word "NO" in this? In the studio version the answer is 63.

But, here's something else to think about. Which song uses the word "no" more often, this song, or Nobody But Me by the Human Beinz?

Dick Belly, Ting Markulin, and Mel Pachuta of Youngstown, Ohio, sing the word "no" 60 times in this song. That's three less than Tell Her No. But, if you add in the 43 times they sing "NObody" you get a whopping 103 times, making this probably the most negative song of all time! What a great garage rock track, too. Dig the bass line and fuzz guitar break! But, this is NOT an original song! The original version of Nobody But Me came from the Isley Brothers in 1963. This single is hard to find, but not impossible. It peaked at only 106 on Billboard's "Bubbling Under" chart in January 1963. Look for it on Wand 131.

Hot sax, dancing, snotty lyrics, wow! What more could you ask for? I want so much to go to a club downtown, grab on to a friend, and dance to the Isley Brothers all night long!

It's Still Raining

I've been ordered by my neighbors to stop saying great things about the California climate. It seems they're concerned about population growth and overcrowding if you should all believe the vicious LIES I've been telling about exotic flowers, warm sunshine and secret surfing spots out here. Truth is, the weather is frightful here. Don't come. Don't even visit. Did I mention the earthquakes? Very scary stuff. I suggest you avoid California like the plague. There, I've made amends. Now, here's a tribute to SoCal from the MusicMaster Oldies archives. Albert Hammond from 1972 on the Mums label...

Some people might get the idea that, since I write so much about music from the 1950's and 60's, I stopped listening to new music in the early 1970's. Not true! In fact, most of the songs on my iPod were recorded in this century. The thing is, I like all music that is performed well, especially new music that pushes the envelope and gets away with it. This isn't a new song, but it's not a 60's oldie either. You won't hear it on MusicMaster Oldies. But, it just happens to be on my list of all-time favorite songs. And, it pretty much sums up what I'm seeing when I look out my window this morning here in San Diego...

If you had to sit through a commercial when you played that video, thank you. I have absolutely no problem with YouTube selling commercials. In exchange for a few moments of our time, they have the money to keep delivering great music to us without a cover charge! That's what I call a classic win-win!

Monday, December 20, 2010

R.I.P. Al Rucker (a.k.a. Clay Cole)

Albert Rucker Jr. was born on New Year's Day 1938 in Youngstown, Ohio. His work as a child actor on radio and stage earned him a job as host of a local television show when he was only 15 years old. His Saturday night show, Rucker's Rumpus Room, first aired on WKBN-TV in 1953, then moved to WFMJ-TV.  

In 1957, he went to New York City where he became a page for NBC television, and a production assistant on the infamous game show, Twenty-One, which was the subject of a 1994 movie directed by Robert Redford called Quiz Show. That show, created by Jack Barry and Dan Enright, and hosted by Jack Barry until Monty Hall took over in 1958, was the subject of a United States Senate investigation for being rigged by the producers -- which it was!

He still had Saturday night television in his blood, so he created another show called Al Rucker And The Seven Teens show which aired on WJAR-TV in Providence, Rhode Island in 1958. Then, in 1959, he was asked to come up with a new name. He became known as Clay Cole, which was the name of one of his distant cousins.  In 1960, he hosted a Christmas Show at the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn which ran for ten days and broke the box office record at that time.  He even appeared at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater, one of the few white people ever asked to perform there, headlining three week-long rock and roll revues with stars like Fats Domino, Chubby Checker, and Gladys Knight And The Pips. 

He broke into the movie business in 1961 playing himself in a movie called Twist Around The clock, which was a remake of the Sam Katzman and Robert E. Kent film, Rock Around the Clock. This is a cool 60's film that features performances by The Marcels, Dion DiMucci, Chubby Checker, Vicki Spencer, the Jay Birds, and...Clay Cole himself singing the title song! This movie was followed up by Don't Knock The Twist, and all three are fun to watch, if you can find them on DVD!

Later he became a very successful writer and producer for television with more than 3,500 TV shows to his credit. He won two Emmy Awards for television production in 1981 and 1982 for the Joel Siegel Academy Awards special. He produced The Discovery Of Marilyn Monroe, Play Bridge With Omar Sharif, and 365 different This Day In Hollywood segments. Along with David Susskind and Raysa Bonow, he created and produced the first primetime entertainment magazine, People, on CBS in 1979. 

In 1974, he was the star of the very first music special produced by HBO, the two-hour long Clay Cole's Twenty Years of Rock and Roll that was taped at Rockland Community College. He also became a co-host on AM New York, a weekday show that aired on WABC-TV. His career closed out with a final television special in 2002 called the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy, which featured Britney Spears, Destiny's Child, Alicia Keys, Shakira, and Kylie Minogue.

He wrote a book called Sh-Boom! The Explosion Of Rock N' Roll (1953-1968), published by Morgan James Books. He was also a member of the nominating committee of the Hit Parade Hall Of Fame.

Clay Cole passed away this past Saturday at the age of 72.

The handful of records he made in the early 1960's are prized by Teener collectors everywhere:

Here There Everywhere / Skip-Skip on Roulette 4280 (1960)
Happy Times / Queen Of The Movies on Imperial 5771 (1961)
Twist Around The Clock / Don't Twist (With Anyone Else But Me) on ABC-Paramount 5804 (1962)

You can hear and enjoy ALL of these songs on MusicMaster Oldies.  Thanks for the great music, Clay. Let's leave your fans with a little sample. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Life's Soundtrack Part 64 - 442 Glenwood Avenue by The Pixies Three

The Post Office tribute has to contain this, one of my favorite 'girl group' songs from the sixties. You may not remember this song, and you probably haven't heard it on your favorite oldies station. Bear in mind, these girls had to compete with Beatlemania! Cool story alert: these girls were playing a gig at a college in Ohio one day and were shocked when 50 guys stood up and began singing along with them! It turns out that these guys started singing along because 442 Glenwood Avenue just happened to be the exact address of their fraternity!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 63 - Take A Letter Maria by R B Greaves

Here's proof that not all letters bring happy news, at least for the recipient. Dig the classic reel-to-reel tape recorder in this "Post Office" video!

Yes, little Ronald Bertram Aloysius the third, aka Sonny Childe and the TNT's, aka R. B. Greaves, born in Guyana, was the nephew of the legendary Sam Cooke. Listen for the similarity to his famous uncle!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 62 - The Letter by The Box Tops

Somebody should write a book about all the strange TV hosts of the 60's. I grew up with Ghoulardi (Ernie Anderson) in Cleveland who ended up becoming a famous voice-over guy. His show featured Tim Conway, whose son Tim is now one of my favorite talk show hosts on KFI in Los Angeles. Someone who would need to be in the book for sure would be this guy, John Zacherley. Here's a sample of his show that fits into my little Post Office theme...

My Life's Soundtrack Part 61 - Return To Sender by Elvis Presley

Even Elvis wants to play Post Office!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 60 - Please Mr Postman by The Marvelettes

With one road trip behind me and several more ahead, I have a few days at home to catch up on "normal" stuff. One of the things on my To Do List is check the snail mail. I'm sure the mailbox will be stuffed full of wasted paper. That has me thinking about the postal carriers of the world, so I thought I'd do a little tribute to them today...

My Life's Soundtrack Part 59 - Look Through Any Window by The Hollies

Here's another of the songs I vividly remember hearing on my little green transistor radio while delivering newspapers around the neighborhood in Cleveland.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 58 - Anyway Anyhow Anywhere by The Who

My all-time favorite rock drummer of the 60's, period...

My Life's Soundtrack Part 57 - A Well Respected Man by The Kinks

Here's another of those songs I'd listen to while delivering newspapers. My route included East 91st and 93rd, Harvard, Walker, Miles Park, and parts of Pratt and Gaylord Avenue on the east side of Cleveland. I learned a lot from that job; the value of money, the discipline of working, and the joy of meeting with and serving your customers.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 56 - Four In The Morning by Jesse Colin Young

‎"The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” ~ Mother Teresa

My Life's Soundtrack Part 55 - Come Back Baby by Dave Van Ronk

"“Woman was God's second mistake.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

My Life's Soundtrack Part 54 - He's A Rebel by The Crystals

This Crystals hit made it cool for women to brag about dating bad boys, which is ironic because the record was produced by real-life bad boy, Phil Spector. Phil wanted to rush this Gene Pitney composition into the market, but the real Crystals, 3000 miles away in New York City, couldn't get to L.A. quickly. So, he got his local girls, Darlene Love and The Blossoms, to cut the track, then released it credited to "The Crystals." Did he know that Vikki Carr was also recording the song at the time? The Shirelles were first offered the song, but they turned it down because they didn't like the theme. And now you know the "rest of the story!"

Is it my imagination, or do these girls look a bit uncomfortable here? Maybe that's what happens when you try to lip sync a song that's been recorded by someone else who was pretending to be you! This was one of those Grandma's Diner juke box favorites for me. I had no clue that so many records were studio fabrications back then. I didn't learn any of that until decades later. They're not still doing stuff like this today, are they? ;-)

My Life's Soundtrack Part 53 - Where The Boys Are by Connie Francis

What a wonderful 60's movie, full of music, beach parties and college kids! Connie Francis blew everyone away when she made her debut in this movie. I love Frank Gorshin's line, "You may rub rosin on my bow." Paula Prentiss brags, "That's my ambition, to be a walking, talking baby factory." I had such a crush on Yvette Mimieux! I must watch this again real soon!

They say a boy chases a girl, until she catches him. Think about it...

Connie Francis actually recorded songs in English, Italian (including Neopolitan), Spanish, French, German, Greek, Swedish, Dutch, Portuguese, Hebrew, Yiddish, Latin, Hawaiian and Japanese! You will hear several versions of this song on MusicMaster Oldies!

All I know is that boys love it when girls want to be where they are...

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Biggest 50's and 60's Hits on Planet Earth!

Finally finished entering all the 50's and 60's chart information for Australia into my oldies database. Here's a complete list of every song from that period that reached #1 on the charts in the USA (Billboard), England, Canada, Germany, and Australia.

Beatles - Hey Jude (1968)
Beatles - I Want To Hold Your Hand (1964)
Monkees - I'm A Believer (1966)
George Harrison - My Sweet Lord (1970)
Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made For Walkin' (1966)
Zager And Evans - In The Year 2525 (1969)
Beatles (With Billy Preston) - Get Back (1969)
Beatles - All You Need Is Love (1967)

How many oldies stations in the USA still play Zager And Evans? For that matter, what about Nancy Sinatra?

If I add songs that hit #1 OR #2 in all of these places, these songs go into the list:

Paul Anka - Diana (1957 - #2 in Germany)
Elvis Presley - It's Now Or Never (1960 - #2 in Germany)
Frank Sinatra - Strangers In The Night (1966 - #2 in Canada)
Mary Hopkin - Those Were The Days (1968 #2 in US and Australia)
Beatles - Let It Be (1970 - #2 in the UK!)
Beatles - Help! (1965 - #2 in Germany)
Beatles - A Hard Day's Night (1964 - #2 in Germany)
Beatles - We Can Work It Out (1965 - #2 in Germany)
Beatles - Hello Goodbye (1967 - #2 in Australia)
Rolling Stones - Paint It Black (1966 - #2 in Australia)
Beatles - Ticket To Ride (1965 - #2 in Germany)
Rolling Stones - 19th Nervous Breakdown (1966 - #1 only in Germany!)
Beatles - Penny Lane (1967 - #2 in the UK!)
Beatles - Yellow Submarine (1966 - #2 in the USA)

The Germans were a little tough on the British Invasion acts!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 52 - Chaos by Arbogast And Ross

I heard this on MusicMaster Oldies while waking up one morning to my Internet clock radio and just had to share it with my many radio friends. It's a great parody of late 50's radio, complete with jingles! "Oh, Emily, oh Emily...Oh." "Don't be nervous, don't be rocky, you're our teenage guest disc jockey now!"

I first heard this record when I was six years old. I'm sure it was a turning point in my life. After hearing this, using my dad's tape recorder, I started trying to imitate a disc jockey. I even remember making a studio and fake turntables out of cardboard boxes! Back then, the dee jays were more than just voices on the radio. They were a big part of the entertainment package.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 51 - Little Girl by The Syndicate Of Sound

You know what's unique about this song, which is one of my all-time favorite garage rock classics? It's the only song I know that has a TRIPLE negative in the lyrics! " don't have to hide nothin' no more." Hey, why don't rock bands wear suits and ties anymore? I think it's a cool look!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 50 - Flowers On The Wall by The Statler Brothers

This song spoke directly to me! When it was popular, I remember hearing it on my radio while hauling newspapers around the neighborhood at five in the morning. I loved to stay up late, and sometimes would just wait up all night until it was time to deliver the papers. I'd pass the time counting flowers on the wall and playing solitare 'till dawn. And, yeah, I watched Captain Kangaroo, too!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 49 - Be My Baby by The Ronettes

Phil Spector's ex-wife. Did you know that girls in the audience also screamed at girl groups? Yeah, I know! Right? Ok, maybe you knew that. But, did you know that CHER was a backing singer on this record? Keep watching for the surprise second song in this set. Ronnie gets all over the stage and the dancing girls in the background get crazy while the audience screams louder than the music!

Cher was not a part of the group. She contributed backing vocals in the studio when they were recording the hit single. This was in August 1963, several months before Cher cut her first record, Dream Baby, credited to Cherilyn and produced by her boyfriend, Sonny Bono. Cher's SECOND record was produced by Phil Spector. Do you know what it was? It's called Ringo I Love You, a Beatles novelty tune from 1964, and on that single she calls herself Bonnie Jo Mason. Mint copies of that record on The Annette label are worth about $750 today!

FYI: I just happen to have a few copies of that Annette single by Cher, if anyone's interested... ;-)

My Life's Soundtrack Part 48 - California Sun by The Rivieras

The main thing I like about California . . . The SUN! OK, there are other things to like here!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 47 - I'm Free by The Who

If you pay for a song today, you're a sucker. Why buy music when you can listen to any song you want, any time you want, absolutely free? You can record the song while you listen and put a copy on your iPod. I guess we're getting back to the "good old days" when the musicians played for fun, and not for money. The record companies might as well bolt the doors and start selling off the furniture...

My Life's Soundtrack Part 46 - Let's Twist Again by Chubby Checker

How did I get to be so twisted? Maybe it started with records like this. I remember dancing The Twist in my Grandma Gould's diner back in 1962. The teenage girls who hung out there after school were all happy to teach little 9-year old Joey all the moves!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 45 - Store Bought Store Thought by The Flock

 I just discovered that the first "progressive rock" station I ever heard was actually WXEN, later WZAK, in Cleveland in 1967. I have vivid memories of lying in bed all night long listening to this station. Doc Nemo was one of the jocks, and this was the opening song for his show! If anyone knows anything more about this station, I'd love to hear about it! I'm especially interested in the music they played. I remember hearing some really eclectic stuff, like Suzanne by Leonard Cohen, and Pleasures Of The Harbor by Phil Ochs. What other songs did this station play??? I must know more...

This also reminds me of the time I went to see Jimi Hendrix in Cleveland and had to leave the place because the music was so loud it hurt my ears. Can you believe I did something that stupid? I was probably around 15 at the time. I remember hearing that Jimi Hendrix was hanging out with the jocks at WXEN, and that he even bought a Corvette at a Cleveland dealership, paying for it in cash.

I wonder whatever happened to Doc Nemo, aka Steve Nemeth, and also his co-host, Barry Weingart?  In the book Radio Daze by Mike Olszewski, the opening chapter talks about WXEN and Doc Nemo. I found my copy this morning and it actually has a photo of Doc Nemo! Apparently he was a drummer for The Rivingtons and an avid biker. I have another book about Cleveland radio called Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories by Carlo Wolff. That book credits the roots of Progressive Rock in Cleveland to Martin Perlich and his Perlich Project, which I think was actually on the Classical station, WCLV. I remember that show, too. But for me it was Doc Nemo who really turned the genre into a radio format in Cleveland.

Here's a short aircheck of Doc Nemo's show in Cleveland.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 44 - This Diamond Ring by Gary Lewis And The Playboys

The cat sitting at the drums and singing the lead is Gary Lewis, son of the legendary comedian Jerry Lewis. But his famous dad didn't help launch his career. His band, known originally as Gary And The Playboys, got their first big break by winning an audition to do gigs at Disneyland -- without them knowing anything about his family. Producer Snuff Garrett learned about this from Les Brown. Financed by his mom, Patti Lewis, the group got into the studio to make this record. But Snuff wanted a hit, so he didn't let the guys play their own instruments. The actual musicians on this record read like a Who's Who of studio legends at the time. Tommy Allsup, Leon Russell, Joe Osborn, and Hal Blaine. Ron Hicklin laid down the vocals, with overdubs by Gary. And that, as they say, is the REST of the story...

Jerry Lewis is 86 now and living in Las Vegas. He's struggled with cancer, diabetes, and addiction to pain meds for back pain. But, he's a fighter and a survivor. Despite having raised well over $1.5 BILLION dollars for MD research, his dedication to the annual telethons has actually been criticized by activist groups who argue about who should get the money. Hard to believe...

Walking Through The Acoustic Black Forest

A really cool acoustic guitar version of the first record I ever bought! If I could play guitar really well, I'd learn how to play this song on it...

WBKC 1560 Chardon, Ohio

This is probably going to be the oldest aircheck of mine that I'll ever find. This is from 1976, the year America turned 200. I was doing afternoon drive at WBKC in Chardon, Ohio. I loved that station, and I had plans to come back to Ohio one day, buy it, and run it after I retired. It's gone now, and there's no chance of turning it back on again. This is long (40 minutes or so) and it has all the music. It's like going back in time and tuning in the station on your radio...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Zip 106

After getting fired from 93QFM, I spent a year out of work. Totally broke, I took a job as Chief Engineer at WZZP 106 FM in Cleveland, a Booth Broadcasting station. They let me do some overnight and fill-in work on the air, along with other fun stuff. Here's a quick aircheck!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 43 - Talking Old Soldiers by Elton John

There goes old mad Joe again! I'd like to thank all of the brave soldiers who gave up their lives so we could enjoy ours; and to share with you yet another song to play at my funeral.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 42 - I Wanna Be Free by The Monkees

Here's another song you can play at my funeral. This was my favorite Monkee song, my favorite Boyce & Hart song, and a personal theme song. To this day, when this song comes on the radio, I have to stop whatever I'm doing and listen all the way through. It's like I'm in a trance. I guess it just touches some relaxation place in my brain that shoots out those "happy" chemicals...

If you loved The Monkees and this song, here's something cool...

One thing I must say about The Monkees: they certainly put every scrap of studio and concert recording they could possibly find onto CD's. You can hear damn nearly every fart and belch they ever did into a microphone if you buy all the box sets and reissue discs. What a fun band!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 41 - Rhapsody In The Rain by Lou Christie

Lou had to record alternate lyrics to this song because radio stations refused to play the original version! This was an awesome "hook up" song from 1966. They changed a couple of lines at the beginning. "We were makin' love in the rain" became, "We fell in love in the rain." The next line changed from "And in this car, our love went much too far" to, "And in this car, love came like a falling star!" A bit later they changed "we were makin' love" to, "ooh makin' love in the rain." Lame!

Here's the CENSORED version of Rhapsody In The Rain. If you see this 45 at a record shop or yard sale, the only difference between the original and the censored version is a little (2) next to the number, MGM 13473. Neither one is worth much, really, but I'd say the original version is worth more, if it's a first pressing and in great condition. Those are the Angels (My Boyfriend's Back) singing the backing vocals!

The "falling star" line is pretty lame, and it sounds like he had a little trouble getting it to fit the melody. At least they managed to work the word "came" into that line! You know you're "doin' it" right when that special moment happens for both of you at the same time, and lightning bolts shoot out of the sky! Lugee Alfredo Giovanni Sacco was born in 1943 and raised in the Pittsburgh area. The haunting melody for this song was inspired by Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet." If you want to hear that Classical piece, use this link:

Listen for the borrowed melody starting at about 8:24 into this 18 minute overture. When you hear it, you'll probably think, "Oh yeah, I've heard this before!"

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Life's Soundtrack Part 40 - How Can I Keep From Singing by Enya

After all the music I've ever heard, and all the vinyl I've ever owned, if you were to ask me what's my favorite song of all, this is the one I would choose. Eithne Patricia Ní Bhraonáin was born in Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland, on 17 May 1961. I love every sound she's ever recorded, but I love this one most of all...

My Life's Soundtrack Part 39 - Cocaine by Dave Van Ronk

Here's a song that opened my mind and expanded my universe of music. I first heard this song while visiting my friend Mike's house as a teenager. His mother was listening to a college radio station, playing a Dave Van Ronk concert. I heard Bed Bug Blues first, and I was blown away by it. Then I heard other great songs, like Georgie And The IRT, and then this one came on...

My Life's Soundtrack Part 38 - Sugar Sugar by The Archies

I knew the 1970's would usher in a different pop sound when I heard this song. Produced by hit-maker Don Kirshner (who wrote it for the Monkees - who rejected it), with lead vocals by Ron Dante, probably backed by Brill Building wife-husband songwriting monsters, Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry. Are you sitting down? This was #1 Billboard Pop, #1 in England, #1 on Cashbox, #1 in Germany, #1 on WLS in Chicago, and #6 in Australia! I guess Don figured that a cartoon version of The Monkees would work, and give him a lot less grief. Hey, I used to read Archie comics too Don, but seriously...?

My Life's Soundtrack Part 37 - Ten Commandments Of Love by James MacArthur

After his recent death, the new Hawaii Five-O put up a slide in memory of James MacArthur, who played Danno on the original series. He wasn't a singer, but he did have one chart hit back in June 1963. It only hit #94 on Billboard, but went all the way up to #18 on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey in Chicago! He was working on many TV shows at the time, including Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. Here's James MacArthur doing The Ten Commandments of Love.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 36 - Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be) by Doris Day

Here's one of my mother's favorite songs. I remember hearing this on the radio at the age of three! She's put a little transistor radio in my bed when I had trouble sleeping. To this day, I let music lull me to sleep at night.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 35 - Changes by David Bowie

This was also the song that I played to open my very first radio show on a legitimate radio station -- The Joey James show fired up at 6:00pm, the sign-off shift for WSUM 1000 AM in Parma, Ohio. The talented folks who opened for me that day included Jim Doney's in the morning, Ted Alexander, and Ronnie Barrett. I also produced a weekly special feature hosted by Linn Sheldon. Those were the days, my friend. I thought they'd never end.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 34 - Downtown by Petula Clark

Don't sit home alone tonight, let me take you downtown! Everything's waiting for us! I used to ride the #14 Broadway bus into downtown Cleveland from my home near Harvard & Broadway. The same bus took me to South High School, but most of the time I'd walk there -- along the railroad tracks. I'd walk down Walker Avenue, across Broadway and the tracks, to the hidden waterfall -- and the place where you could walk in and explore the sewer system. How did I ever survive being a kid?

My Life's Soundtrack Part 33 - Let's Spend The Night Together by The Rolling Stones

When this song first came out our Top 40 station, some genius at WIXY 1260 in Cleveland, edited the chorus to say, "Let's spend the to-night-gether." I had never heard of a song getting "cleaned up" for radio airplay before! I think I liked it even more because "grown-ups" thought it was too dirty. Back in the Beatles vs Rolling Stones days, I remember guys actually taking sides. You were either a Beatle (conformist) or a Rolling Stone (rebel). I chose to be a Rolling Stone! Most of the garage rock bands of the 1960's were heavily influenced by these guys, too.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 32 - Along Comes Mary by The Association

Most kids start out digging mainly the beat, melody, and rhythm of pop music. Later on, many of them start to appreciate the lyrics. I got into lyrics right from the beginning. I've become a human Karaoke machine and probably know at least the opening line of 10,000 songs by heart. I've always been fascinated by the pop songs that have lyrics that are nearly impossible to understand. Some because the singer slurs them, like Louie Louie by the Kingsmen. Others, because the words just don't seem to make sense. Here's a great example of a song I'm sure you've heard 1000 times. See if you can make out the lyrics!

Some people think this song is about Marijuana, or Mary Jane. Here's what they're actually singing. What do YOU think it's about?

Every time I think that I'm the only one who's lonely
Someone calls on me
And every now and then I spend my time in rhyme and verse
And curse those faults in me

And then along comes Mary
And does she want to give me kicks , and be my steady chick
And give me pick of memories
Or maybe rather gather tales of all the fails and tribulations
No one ever sees

When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch

When vague desire is the fire in the eyes of chicks
Whose sickness is the games they play
And when the masquerade is played and neighbor folks make jokes
As who is most to blame today

And then along comes Mary
And does she want to set them free, and let them see reality
From where she got her name
And will they struggle much when told that such a tender touch as hers
Will make them not the same

When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch

And when the morning of the warning's passed, the gassed
And flaccid kids are flung across the stars
The psychodramas and the traumas gone
The songs are left unsung and hung upon the scars

And then along comes Mary
And does she want to see the stains, the dead remains of all the pains
She left the night before
Or will their waking eyes reflect the lies, and make them
Realize their urgent cry for sight no more

When we met I was sure out to lunch
Now my empty cup tastes as sweet as the punch

Some people have also speculated that the song was a reference to Mother Mary and religion. However, in the 1980's, the guy who wrote this song, Tandyn Almer, said in an interview that he sat on the sidewalk on Sunset Strip in Hollywood, stoned, and wrote 419 verses to this song. It had nothing to do with religion but was solely about the perspective that marijuana gave him about the people who passed by and the events taking place at the time.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 31 - Roll Over Beethoven by Chuck Berry

Just had a GREAT aerobic workout! What really pushed me over the edge was THIS track. Wow. 54 years later, this song still makes you want to jump up and dance all over a stage!

My first memory of this song is hearing it on the radio while my young aunt, Donna Robertson, was baby-sitting me! I must have been something like 3-5 years old at the time. I also remember Carol Robertson playing it in the room she and her boyfriend-husband Dick rented in our house. That was the same room at the top of the stairs that I eventually got, painted black, covered the windows with tin foil, and ran my illegal radio station from. I also remember hearing this while my mom and dad played Canasta with another couple. I remember she had this really cool radio that had a rounded cover over the entire tuning dial. You would flip that up to turn it on. I think it was made by RCA. It was a "portable" radio, but it ran on tubes. The battery inside must have been huge.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 30 - Hawaii by The Beach Boys

So I'm entering Australian chart data (Sydney) into my oldies database and I come across this entry. Hawaii by The Beach Boys was a #2 hit Down Under, and it didn't even chart here! This is an awesome live performance clip, too. Check out Mike Love doing the Moon Walk long before Michael Jackson!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 29 - Come Softly To Me by The Fleetwoods

These kids just could not make a bad record. I love every song I've ever heard them sing. Find a Fleetwoods greatest hits CD and check this out for yourself. Much better yet, find any of their original vinyl albums and listen to every track on both sides. You'll see what I mean...

My Life's Soundtrack Part 28 - Elected by Alice Cooper

I've decided to for office. Send me cash now and I'll use taxpayer money to pay you back with 10,000% interest once I'm elected. This is how our system seems to work these days. Alice Cooper figured it out back in 1972. How come this problem keeps getting worse? Are we electing the wrong people? Maybe we should have given Alice a shot. At least he knew how to make a buck...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

German Oldies

Finished manually entering all German chart data from 1955 to 1974 into my oldies database. The biggest cross-Atlantic hits?

These all hit #1 on BOTH sides of the pond, sorted by weeks on the charts on Billboard (USA):

Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White by Perez Prado (1955)
Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley & The Comets (1955)
Sugar Sugar by The Archies (1969)
Tom Dooley by The Kingston Trio (1958)
Patricia by Perez Prado (1958)
Hey Jude by The Beatles (1968)
Come Together by The Beatles (1969)
Judy in Disguise - John Fred (1968)

Crimson & Clover - Tommy James (1969)
Downtown (Cherio) - Pet Clark (1965)
I Want To Hold Your Hand - Beatles (1964)
Strangers In The Night - Frank Sinatra (1966)
I'm A Believer - Monkees (1967)
Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison (1964)
My Sweet Lord - George Harrison (1971)
These Boots Are Made For Walkin' - Nancy Sinatra (1966)
Satisfaction - Rolling Stones (1965)
Let It Be - Beatles (1970)
In The Year 2525 - Zager & Evans (1969)
Get Off Of My Cloud - Rolling Stones (1965)
Get Back - Beatles (1969)
All You Need Is Love - Beatles (1967)
Hello Goodbye - Beatles (1967)
Penny Lane - Beatles (1967)
Paperback Writer - Beatles (1966)

You will soon be hearing a lot more cool German schlager (hits) on MusicMaster Oldies!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 27 - Monster Mash by Bobby 'Boris' Pickett

Treat or Trick? I'm going to enjoy some old horror movies this Halloween weekend while I contemplate an odd tradition. Innocent little kids will come to my door dressed as strange creatures (like Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen) and I'll reward them with an overdose of sugar, sure to cause them to develop diabetes later in life. Are we scared yet? Happy Samhain everybody (Google it). Hope we all live to see All Hallows Day!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 26 - Your Song by Elton John

Reginald Kenneth Dwight was the first major artist I came to love before the rest of the world discovered his talent. His Empty Sky album is still my favorite and I will never get tired of hearing Skyline Pigeon. This song played a significant role in my life. It was quite literally "our" song and, since I'm still crazy after all these years, hearing it today makes me cry a little inside and think about things that might have been...

My Life's Soundtrack Part 25 - Red Rubber Ball by The Cyrcle

Here's a song that never failed to make me feel better. These clean-cut kids from Easton, Pennsylvania, got their name from John Lennon, were discovered by Brian Epstein, opened 14 times for The Beatles, played at Dodger Stadium, and wrote the Alka-Seltzer "plop-plop, fizz-fizz" jingle. Tom Dawes and Don Dannemann were the lead singers, and Don went on to produce Foghat. Did you know all this about this cute little song?

My Life's Soundtrack Part 24 - I Can't Help Myself by The Four Tops

After selling her diner, my Grandmother worked at Zayres department store. I'd stay over at her house on Friday nights, and ride to work with her in her 1959 Chevy. We'd stop for Kenny King's chicken on the way home to watch Ghoulardi. I remember loving this song on her car radio at the time...

My Life's Soundtrack Part 23 - Catch The Wind by Donovan

Probably my second favorite song of the 1960's. Donovan was the Bob Dylan of the U.K.. I'd mention his induction into the R&R Hall of Fame, but I'm not happy with that place at the moment. This is a beautiful tune.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Life's Soundtrack Part 22 - I Should Have Known Better by The Beatles

When the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan's show in February 1964, I was glued to the TV set. I never missed the Ed Sullivan show! I remember thinking that these guys were pretty good. But I wasn't fully impressed with them until August 1964 when I first heard THIS song. To this day, I cannot shut this song off in the middle! Amazingly, it only peaked at 53 on the Billboard charts. It made it to #1 on 1050 CHUM in Toronto, and #6 in Germany, where it didn't even hit the charts until October.

One of my friends raised a great question about this video. Did they use timecode back in '63-64? Another friend wondered why John is seen standing in the middle of the group. Usually, he was always seen on the right. My guess is that the BITC was added when this film was transferred to video tape. I don't think SMPTE or Viz-Code came along until the late 1960's. Still it's a mystery!

It's true that George was usually seen on the left when the Beatles performed live, with John standing on the right. This BBC video is a bit strange. The audio was probably dubbed in later, since I doubt a hand-held film camera could have captured studio-quality stereo audio. Maybe they were arranged in a different way because this really wasn't a live public performance, but a recording session for a radio broadcast.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 21 - Dominique by The Singing Nun (Soeur Sourire)

Pop music in the 1960's was FAR more diverse than it is today. Here's proof. In the same year the Beatles performed on Ed Sullivan's show, so did Soeur Sourire (Sister Smile). Known in America as the Singing Nun, Jeanine Deckers lived a very strange life. Philips Records took advantage of her. She opened a school for autistic kids, but was forced into poverty by the Belgian government over back taxes. She, along with her 10-year companion, Anna Pécher, overdosed on barbiturates and alcohol in an apparent suicide pact in March 1985. She was only 51.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 20 - Catch Us If You Can by The Dave Clark Five

AFTER getting caught by the FCC, I continued running bootleg radio stations well into the late 1970's. The first one I did after getting caught was a mobile station running out of the trunk of my friend's car! I played this song over and over on that station, dedicating it to Engineer Stuecker of the FCC -- the same guy who shut me down on Dec 6, 1969.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 19 - I'll Never Find Another You by The Seekers

I had a really deep love of this song. From the first moment I heard it, back in 1965, something changed inside me. It opened up a whole new world of music for me. It's probably one of the reasons I like so many different types of music today. Sonny James also did a nice version of this song in 1967.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 18 - I Am A Rock by Simon & Garfunkel

This song has always been kind of a personal anthem for me. It's nice to watch a very young Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel perform it live. Paul Simon is a very gifted musician. The stories about his early years at the Brill Building in New York are very interesting. You can read about them in a great book called Always Magic In The Air.

Both of these guys were singing this from the heart. They were misfits in their own neighborhood and school. Despite their youth, they OWN this song.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Life's Soundtrack Part 17 - A Song Of Joy by Miguel Rios

A 1970 song you might not remember. This peaked at #14 on Billboard, #9 on Cashbox, and #16 in the U.K.. But, it went to #1 in Germany, staying on the charts for 39 weeks! It was also #1 on the Billboard AC chart. The alternate title is Himno A La Alegria. Miguel was born in Granada, Spain in 1944. The melody, of course, is based on Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" is the final complete symphony created by Ludwig van Beethoven. He completed it in 1824 -- when he was completely DEAF! It was adapted as the European Anthem and is considered by critics to be one of Beethoven's finest masterpieces, and one of the greatest musical compositions ever written. It was also the first time a major composer used human voices in a symphony. In the classical presentation, the lyrics are sung during the final movement by four soloists and a chorus. They were taken from Ode To Joy, a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and revised in 1803, with additions made by Beethoven. Whenever I get depressed about something, I think about Beethoven losing his hearing then pressing on to create this beautiful music and suddenly my life doesn't seem so bad...

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Life's Soundtrack Part 16 - Mr Tambourine Man by The Byrds

When this song was topping the charts, a 5-year old girl rode her tricycle across Harvard Avenue, right in the path of a city bus. She was killed instantly, while I watched from my bedroom window. The song haunted me for years. It seemed that every time I heard it all the way through, something terrible would happen. Weird, eh?

My Life's Soundtrack Part 15 - Fun Fun Fun by The Beach Boys

Hey, let's park our surfboards and head down the beach. There's a bunch of beach boys standing on top of their Woodie wagon playing some rock and roll music. It's gonna be a great party!

Now let's hear what they sound like outside the studio. Added bonus, we get to see one of my all-time favorite comedians and TV personalities, Steve Allen.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 14 - O Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison

This isn't just one of my all-time favorites. Back when I was heavily involved in music research, this song consistently scored very high. In one large auditorium test, it actually had a perfect score. Everyone knew it. Everyone loved it. Nobody disliked it. Nobody was tired of it. THAT is a timeless oldie!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 13 - Travelin' Man by Ricky Nelson

Little did I know, back in 1961 when I was only eight years old, that fifty years later I would actually be a "travelin' man" who had already made stops in the places he mentions. I just wish I had a girl in every port, like I'm SURE Ricky did. ;-)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Audition Tape from 1977

Here's a very unusual audition tape I made back in 1977. I made this while I was working as the Chief Engineer for WZUU-FM/AM in Milwaukee. I didn't really have my heart in that job. For one thing, I really missed working at my previous job, the legendary Buzzard, WMMS in Cleveland. I had been the assistant engineer there, working for a guy named Jim Somich, also known as The Pooh, and his boss, Tom Bracanovich.  I was also unhappy to be in a strange new city. But most of all, I had this burning desire to get back on the air somewhere and try to work my way up to Program Director of a real radio station.  

Unlike most radio audition tapes, this one contains a lot of music.  That's why it runs 21 minutes long!  But the concept worked.  I managed to get a job with this at the album rock station in town, 93QFM.  

Unfortunately, the job only lasted six months. I ended up out of work, and out of money. I moved back to Cleveland, cleaned up my act, and went back to radio engineering. I took the job as Chief Engineer at WZZP-FM and made up my mind to be one of the best radio engineers on the planet.  

After that, I went to M-105 in Cleveland for a while, then took a job back at WZUU in Milwaukee, working again for Malrite Broadcasting. This time, I rebuilt the FM studios and helped build an AM tower system and studios for 13Z, their oldies AM station. 

Later, Malrite sent me to New York City where I ended up in charge of the project to build Z-100.  

It's funny how you can take even the worst things life throws at you, learn from them, and go on to much better things.

If you take the time to listen to this, pay attention to the segues between songs.  I picked most of these up from a couple of my friends at WZUU, Jeff Peterson and Charlie McCarthy.  A lot of professional radio programmers will tell you that playing songs just because one sounds good blending into the next one is a really bad idea.  But I'm not so sure about that.  As long as the songs involved fit the format and help create a good overall mix, blend, and flow, I think it can help hold an audience longer.  Besides, it's really creative and a lot of fun!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Life's Soundtrack Part 12 - Mashed Potato Time by Dee Dee Sharp

What do you mean you don't know how to do the Mashed Potato? Just pay attention to the dancing girls and you can get with all the latest dance steps!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 11 - Da Doo Ron Ron by The Crystals

This was THE sound back in 1963, just before the Beatles blew everybody out of the box for a while. Another of Phil Spector's famous Wall of Sound productions. I hear David Mamet is making a movie about Phil Spector that will star Al Pacino. Could be a good choice. Phil will spend the next 20 years of his life in "rehab" at Corcoran State Prison. He'll be 88 before he's eligible for parole!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 10 - Hawaii 5-O (Originally by The Ventures)

If you're going to remake something, make sure you make it better. But, be true to the original in the places that really matter. I wish they would have made Steve McGarrett's dad the actual character that Jack Lord played in the show. That would have made him Steve McGarrett Jr., I guess. Instead, they gave his dad the name John, nicknamed Jack, in honor of Jack Lord. But, as I recall, the original Steve McGarrett didn't have a family.

My Life's Soundtrack Part 9 - Ue O Mui Te Aruko (Sukiyaki) by Kyu Sakamoto

This is another of my all-time favorite oldies. Ue O Mui Te Aruko... I look up while I walk so my tears won't fall... (Stupidly renamed Sukiyaki for release in the USA.) This is an absolutely beautiful and timeless song.

Kyu's life story is very interesting. He died in a commercial airplane crash. If you read the wikipedia article, be sure to drill down and read about that crash. The story is fascinating.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Life's Soundtrack Part 8 - I Will Follow Him (Japanese) by Little Peggy March

Here's a twist on a song you've probably heard a million times, but probably not like this! Little Peggy March actually spoke fluent German and moved to Germany after this hit where she made several records in German. But that's not the only language she knew how to speak! Some 60's songs are SO good, you even enjoy them when you can't understand the lyrics!

My Life's Soundtrack Part 7 - A Walk In The Black Forest by Horst Jankowski

This was the very first piece of vinyl I ever purchased. I had stolen quite a few records by then, and my Uncle George gave me a whole bunch of rock and roll 45's for free. But, I liked this melody so much, I actually plunked down 49 cents for it. I still love it to this day...

My Life's Soundtrack Part 6 - Bus Stop by The Hollies

I remember hearing this on my little green GE transistor radio at five in the morning while hauling my wagon around the neighborhood delivering newspapers. I was 13. Watch lead vocalist Allan Clarke's dance moves! Graham Nash plays some cool guitar licks and contributes some pre-CSNY harmonies! But the sleeper of this act was drummer Bobby Elliott. That guy is a machine! I think that's Bernie Calvert on bass. He and Bobby had been members of The Dolphins before joining the Hollies.