Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Oldies - Every Road (I Walk Along) by Anastasia

I keep this record in a locked metal box filled with 45's that are all worth over a thousand dollars each. This one is worth at least twice that much. I still can't believe I own a copy of this platter in mint condition!

Anastasia is actually Phil Anastasi, a Spanish-Italian kid who grew up in the Little Italy section of Brooklyn. He developed his skills as a tenor singing doo-wop on the same street corners with harmony groups like The Admirations, The Chimes, The Classics, Jay And The Americans, Vito And The Salutations, The Mystics, The Quotations, The Tokens, and many more. Within a couple of miles of his house lived Carole King to the east, and Neil Sedaka to the south. The year was 1960, Phil was graduating from high school and sitting right in the middle of an incredible pool of musical talent. He cut his first record on the Laurie label using the name Anastasia. He made a couple more records under that name on the Staci label. He made another on 20th Fox using the name Phil Stacey.

After high school, Phil attended the School of Industrial Arts in Manhattan, where he and some of his black friends would get together to sing harmony together in the men's room where the natural echo was just right. At night he'd frequent the Peppermint Lounge at 128 West 45th Street in midtown, the epicenter of entertainment at the time. Everybody was dancing The Twist with Chubby Checker or the Peppermint Twist with Joey Dee And The Starliters, with The Ronettes singing backup. Phil landed a gig there as well and started hanging out with the biggest names in the New York music scene. Ronnie Spector convinced him to change his name to Dean Parrish in 1964 when he started cutting more records on Warner, Musicor (as Dean Parish), Boom, and Laurie. His specialty was soul sounding records that were perfectly suited for dancing.

This song is dripping with sweet street corner harmony, but it's also a Teener in my mind. The Nocturnes Orchestra is backing it up.

Here's Every Road (I Walk Along) by Anastasia on Stasi 1002 from 1962:

The song was first recorded a year earlier by Dennis And The Explorers who sang it in a very different way. Here's Every Road (I Walk Along) by Dennis And The Explorers on Coral 62295 from 1961:

Phil Anastasi didn't know this for a very long time, but his later recordings became huge crowd-pleasers in the Northern Soul clubs in England, which meant they were snapped up in huge quantities by club owners and collectors over there. For that reason, they're pretty scarce around here now. Once Phil learned of the popularity of his songs some thirty years later, he made a trip to England and did one of his most popular dance tracks, I'm On My Way, in a live performance that brought down the house. He was astonished to find that the audience could sing along with every note! That song, as it turns out, was the last record played every night at the famous Wigan Casino in Wigan, Lancashire, England. It was a tradition to end every All-Nighter with the same three-song set which consisted of Time Will Pass You By by Tobi Legend, Long After Tonight Is All Over by Jimmy Radcliffe, and I'm On My Way by Dean Parrish. This sequence of records became known as the 3 Before 8, and they were played as usual to end the night when that club closed for good on 6 December 1981.

Let's hear all three of those Northern Soul classics right now! It's the end of a long night of dancing and spinning, and your feet are tired. Get up on that floor because we're not done yet!

Here's Time Will Pass You By by Tobi Legend on Mala 591 from 1968:

Here's Long After Tonight Is All Over by Jimmy Radcliffe on Musicor 1042 from 1964:

Here's I'm On My Way by Dean Parrish on Laurie 3418 from 1967:

But enough about Phil Anastasi, Phil Stacey, Anastasia, Dean Parrish, or whatever you'd like to call him. On the ride home from the club, let's talk about a different kind of legend in the music industry. Every Road (I Walk Along) was co-written by an 18-year old kid who was also born in Brooklyn, but grew up in Queens. Al Kooper was a musical prodigy who became a professional guitarist at a very early age. While fooling around at the end of a recording session, he came up with a twelve-bar blues riff for Short Shorts, a #3 hit for the Royal Teens. He was 14 years old at the time!

Here's a nice video of Short Shorts being performed by The Royal Teens:

Al Kooper moved to Greenwich Village when he was 21 and started hanging out with Bob Dylan. He played Hammond organ for Bob at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. You can hear Al's Hammond organ opening Bob Dylan's hit, Like A Rolling Stone, despite the fact that he wasn't very experienced with the organ at that time. When Paul Griffin moved from the organ to the piano, Al told producer Tom Wilson that he had a great idea for an organ part for the song. It was just a ruse to get a chance to play in the session, but it worked. He played an eighth-note behind the other musicians so he could follow the chords. When Bob Dylan heard the playback of the track he reportedly said, "Turn the organ up!" During Al's sessions with Bob Dylan he met Mike Bloomfield. He played keyboards for The Blues Project, then formed Blood Sweat And Tears in 1967. After cutting just one album, Child Is Father To The Man, the band wanted to go in one direction and Al wanted to go in another. Al's playing can be heard on literally hundreds of songs by folks like BB King, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Alice Cooper, and The Rolling Stones. In 1972 he discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd. Not only did he produce their first few albums, he sat in with them on their studio sessions. You can hear him playing on the single versions of Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird.

Here's one of my favorite early Blood Sweat And Tears tunes featuring Al Kooper. This is I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know from their first album on Columbia:

I'll be back with another dose of Northern Soul soon. In the meantime, you can get your fix on MusicMaster Oldies. We rock the house with thousands of rare R&B tracks that got them out of their seats at the clubs. But now it's closing time. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here!

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