Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Oldies - Air Travel by Ray And Bob

I may not be able to post anything for a week or so. I'll be attending the All Access Worldwide Radio Summit in Los Angeles this weekend, then flying to Singapore. Of course, I'll try to find some more records in both places!

While thinking about spending some time in the air, this great R&B song came to mind. This is the product of excellent studio musicians, Bobby Swayne and Raymond Appleberry, who met during a recording session in Los Angeles. They took the song to Fred Smith, who wrote and produced songs by The Olympics along with Cliff Goldsmith, and he helped them get it published on the local Ledo label. They made a television appearance in Boston where the song got a lot of airplay and climbed to #11 on WHIL-AM 1430's Record Survey in May 1962. This prompted airplay in nearby Hartford and Springfield. It also did pretty well in Birmingham, where it hit #15 on the WYDE-AM 850 Top 50 in July. It also got several spins in Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Seattle, where it was showcased as a Break Out record on KOL-AM 1300's Century 21 Survey of Hits. It really needed to be picked up by a major label for national distribution. If that had happened, it could have been a big hit. All the regional play helped it squeak into the Billboard Hot 100 at #99 on 23 June 1962.

Here's Air Travel by Ray And Bob on Ledo 1150/1151 from 1962:

I'll try to check in from Singapore, especially if I find some rare 1960's Chinese garage rock music to add to the International music mix on MusicMaster Oldies!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New Oldies - Dear Ricky by Vicki Tasso

It's always fun to find records that mention other songs or artists from the same era, like this Teener tribute to Ricky Nelson. I know almost nothing about Vicki Tasso. As far as I can tell she made only two records, this one on the Jeffrey label, and another on Colpix. She's almost certainly from the New York City area and I suspect her last name was really Tassone.

Here's Dear Ricky by Vicki Tasso on Jeffrey 401 from 1961:

The flip side is called My Boy (My Girl):

Vicki followed this one up with a song of her own that managed to squeak into the Billboard Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart at #118 in June 1962. The song did a bit better than that in certain regions of the country, such as Omaha, Nebraska, where it climbed to #36 on the Fabulous Fifty Hit Parade on KOIL-AM 1290.

Here's The Sound Of The Hammer by Vicki Tasso on Colpix 638 from 1962:

And on the flip side, here's Foolish Me:

Orchestra leader David Rhodes was involved in making both of Vicki's records as both arranger and co-composer. David had worked in the early 1950's with a group called The Mariners. David worked with Bob Saffer to write Dear Ricky and Foolish Me. Bob had worked on projects for Nat King Cole and Dean Martin. While these two guys were working on Vicki's last record on Colpix, they were also involved with the making of another cool Teener by a guy named Tommy Manno. This one was first issued on Flippin' 311, but was picked up for national distribution on Atlantic 2149. The song didn't chart nationally, but it did go to #26 in Chicago on the WLS-AM 890 Silver Dollar Survey.

Here's That's For Me To Know by Tommy Manno on Flippin' 311 from 1962:

And on the flip side, here's Too Good To Be True:

So, have you had your fill of Teeners today? Someone please stop me before I play Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini! There are literally tons of Teeners sprinkled in all over the place on MusicMaster Oldies. Odds are you only have to listen for fifteen minutes to hear one!

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Oldies - Leave Me Alone by The Canadian Squires

Today's New Oldie is another from the Future Superstars category. This is actually the first record that featured the complete lineup that would one day evolve into The Band. At the helm was Levon Helm, who passed away last week on 19 April 2012 at age 71. He was born Mark Lavon Helm in Elaine, Arkansas on 26 May 1940 and grew up in a nearby town called Turkey Scratch. But his career was cultivated in the fertile ground around Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His band mates found it easier to say LEE-von than LAH-von, and he allowed that name to stick. It's been said that two big fans of The Band, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, were thinking about Levon Helm when they wrote Levon, a song that's either about a drug dealer or an attempt to contrast Jesus with organized religion, or perhaps both. Here's a homework assignment: Listen to it again and see what you think.

Levon Helm At Home On The Throne

Levon's influences fell somewhere between the Country music of the Grand Ole Opry and the African rhythms of F S Walcott's Rabbit's Foot Minstrel shows. A six year old kid watching Bill Monroe And His Blue Grass Boys knew right then where his life would lead. He grabbed a guitar, beat some drums, and at the tender age of eight, decided to bring even more music into the world. It's a good bet that his turntable spun platters from Sonny Boy Williamson II, Robert "Junior" Lockwood, Conway Twitty, Bo Diddley, and Elvis Presley. Levon also admired another cat from Arkansas, Ronnie Hawkins, and the two would end up sharing the same dream for a while.

Before finishing High School, Levon was already playing the clubs and bars around Helena, Arkansas. Ronnie Hawkins was impressed and invited him to join his band, The Hawks. They drifted around the South filling clubs with rockabilly music, then headed north to Canada. It was 1959, and 24 year-old Ronnie and 19 year-old Levon had just stuck a chord with Roulette Records. That led to a contract, several records, and a couple of Canadian hits that crossed over the 49th parallel, landing smack in the middle of the Billboard Hot 100. A cover of Chuck Berry's Forty Days in May 1959, followed by a Ronnie Hawkins original, Mary Lou in August 1959, a song that's guaranteed to turn heads and rock the house even today.

Here's Mary Lou by Ronnie Hawkins And The Hawks on Roulette 4177 from 1959:

When Ronnie moved on in 1963, Ronnie And The Hawks turned into Levon And The Hawks, with a single on Atco Records, The Stones I Throw, that crept up to the #22 slot in Toronto on 1050 CHUM in November 1965. By this time, drummer Levon was the only non-Canadian in the group, which included Robbie Robertson on guitar, Rick Danko on bass, Richard Manuel on piano, and Garth Hudson on organ. The whole lot of them could sign well and fluently play just about any instrument.

Here's The Stones I Throw by Levon And The Hawks on Atco 6383 from 1965:

Flipping names once more, the guys released today's New Oldie in 1966 as The Canadian Squires. Robbie Robertson channels Bo Diddley to deliver a Garage Rock sound that showcases the range of the band's incredible talent pool.

Here's Leave Me Alone by The Canadian Squires on Ware 6002 from 1966:

Bob Dylan was going electric and invited them to tag along as his backing band. They followed him to Woodstock and helped him shake off the stereotype of spokesman for the elite beat generation. Breaking away, manager Albert Grossman helped shoot down Levon's suggestion to call themselves The Crackers, and the band became The Band. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Are you ready for an advanced degree in Musicology? Classes are being held daily at MusicMaster Oldies and you're all invited to attend.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Oldies - Do The Bop by The Juvenaires

Stay tuned for today's New Oldie after the news...

The world lost a radio legend last week. The world's oldest teenager, Dick Clark, was taken from us by a heart attack following a medical procedure at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California on 18 April 2012. He was 82.

Richard Wagstaff (Dick) Clark started out working in the mail room at WRUN-AM 1150 in Rome-Utica, New York, the city where his mother, Julia Fuller Barnard, was born on 13 January 1897. Julia's father, Charles Fuller Barnard, died on 28 October 1905 at the age of 45, leaving her 35 year old mother, Anna Mae, to raise eight year old Julia and her six brothers alone under difficult financial circumstances.

On 10 October 1924, Julia married Richard Augustus Clark while still living in Rome and the two moved to Mount Vernon, a northern suburb of New York City. In 1924, they gave birth to their first son, Brad, named after one of Julia's brothers. On 30 November 1929, a month after the stock market crash of 1929, Dick Clark was born.

Dick Clark's uncle Bradley was married to Margaret Kessinger, daughter of Albert Kessinger, owner and publisher of the Rome Sentinel newspaper. In 1941, following the death of her father, Margaret inherited the business and husband Bradley took over as publisher. Bradley, in partnership with one of his editors named Fritz Updike, started WRUN-AM (the initials of Rome-Utica News).

Dick's brother Brad became a fighter pilot during World War II. He was shot down and killed on 23 December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge in France, and is buried in Epinal, France.

In 1947, Dick Clark's Uncle Bradley and Aunt Margaret invited his father Richard, who had fallen on hard times due to the depression, to return to the Rome-Utica area to sell advertising on their radio station. Richard quickly rose to the position of General Manager.

In the summer of 1949, while young Dick Clark was attending Syracuse University, his father hired him to do odd jobs around the radio station, including filling in for the announcers on the air. In 1951, after graduating with a degree in advertising with a minor in radio broadcasting, Dick Clark took a job reading the nightly news at WKTV-TV Channel 2 in Utica, replacing Robert Earle who became host of a TV game show called the GE College Bowl. It was at this station where Dick Clark hosted his first television music show, Cactus Dick and the Santa Fe Riders. Just a year later, Dick Clark would be in Philadelphia working as a disc jockey at WFIL-AM 560. There was a music program on WFIL-TV at the time called Bob Horn's Bandstand and Dick Clark was asked to start a similar show on radio, and would also stand in occasionally for Bob Horn on his television show. On 9 July 1956, after Bob Horn was arrested and jailed for drunk driving, Dick Clark took over as permanent host of Bandstand.

On 5 August 1957, the ABC network picked up Bandstand for national distribution and it became known as American Bandstand. Dick Clark's first national show featured an interview with Elvis Presley. The show eventually moved to Los Angeles in 1964.

In 1957, Arthur 'Artie' Singer asked a well-known talent agent named Nat Segall for some help with a song that he'd co-written with Johnny Madara and Dave White for Danny And The Juniors called Do The Bop. The song was interesting because it married the twelve-bar blues chord progression of early rock and roll with the 50s chord progression from Country music. Artie was working as vocal coach for the harmony quartet at the time. The group started in 1955 as the Juvenaires from John Bartram High School in Philadelphia and featured lead singer Danny Rapp, with first tenor Dave White, second tenor Frank Maffei, and baritone Joey 'Terry' Terranova. Just before they recorded Do The Bop, they'd changed their name to Danny And The Juniors.

Artie Singer and local disc jockey Larry Brown got a meeting with Dick Clark, who had now become extremely influential in the music business, and played a demo of the song for him. Dick sat still while he listened and when it finished he said, "I like it, but it's the wrong title." Artie was willing to do anything to turn his song into a hit record, so he asked Dick Clark what he thought they should call it. After thinking it over for a few seconds, Dick came up with a new title, At The Hop. Tony Mammarella, who had been sitting in on the meeting, liked the idea. The Bop was a passing dance craze at the time, but kids across the country were dancing at record hops every night. Artie agreed to change the lyrics, and Tony suggested that they let Dick Clark's company publish the song. Artie agreed, not even knowing that Tony had a stake in the publishing company. Nat agreed to manage the group and asked Jerry Blavet to go on the road with them.

At The Hop, which was first published on the Singular label, moved to ABC Records for national distribution. However, a small run of the original demo recording, which pre-dated the ABC contract, was published on the Singular label after the song became a big hit. There aren't many of these around, but they still turn up at record shows and online auction sites. It's become a collector's item worth hundreds of dollars, but most collectors still believe they are all bootleg pressings -- which is NOT the case!

Here's Do The Bop by Danny And The Juniors on Singular 711 (same as At The Hop) from 1957:

And here's the flip side, another demo recording of Sometimes (When I'm All Alone):

Rock and roll is here to stay, and today you'll find it's alive and well on MusicMaster Oldies!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Oldies - The All Night Record Man (Stay Up 'Stan') by Charlie Barnet And His Orchestra

Stan Shaw

Stay up Stan was a real disc jockey named Stan Shaw, host of a show on WNEW-AM 1130 in New York City during the wee hours of the morning (2-7 AM) that he called The Milkman's Matinee. The show made its debut on 6 August 1935 and continued until Art Ford took over the time slot in 1942. Disc jockeys spinning records was a really new concept in 1935. In fact, some say the very first one was Martin Block whose Make Believe Ballroom show started on WNEW-AM in February 1935.

Charlie Barnet And His Orchestra

So here's one last tune for my friends in the radio business. It was great seeing many of you in Las Vegas last week. Keep those platters spinning everyone!

Here's The All Night Record Man (Stay Up 'Stan') by Charlie Barnet (vocals by Charlie Barnet and Judy Ellington) on RCA Victor's Bluebird 10373 from 1939:

Well kids, the old clock on the wall is telling us it's time to close out the program. But stay tuned, there's more music on the way to get you through your busy day! Don't forget, when you need your music fix in the middle of the night, MusicMaster Oldies is always on the air!

Friday, April 13, 2012

New Oldies - Cool Disc Jockey by Boyd Bennett And His Rockets

Kenny Cobb - Bobby Jones - Big Moe - Boyd Bennett - Roy Ayres - Mickey Allen

This one's going out to all the cool disc jockeys out there in radio land. It's another radio song from a radio guy, Boyd Bennett, who worked in radio and television in Louisville. The best source I've found to read his life story is the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

Here's Cool Disc Jockey by Boyd Bennett And His Rockets on King 5282, recorded in 1955 but released in 1959:

In 1955, the Rockets were led by Boyd Bennett on vocals and drums, with Big Moe on vocals, Roy Ayres on guitar, Mickey Allen on rhythm guitar, Bobby Jones on sax. and Kenny Cobb on bass.

This is a test. For the next several days, the host of this blog will be attending a radio convention. Had this been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed to stay tuned to MusicMaster Oldies for news and official information. This is only a test (to see if I can continue posting between working an partying in Las Vegas.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Oldies - The Disc-Jockey's Theme Song by Steve Allen

When he made this record late in 1957, Steve Allen was still doing the Tonight Show on NBC-TV three nights a week, alternating with Ernie Kovacs, but he was primarily focused on his Sunday night variety show on NBC-TV. Based on a short review of this record in Billboard Magazine when it was first released, the voice of the musician on this record is actually record producer Bob Thiele who was running Coral Records for parent Decca at the time.

Here's The Disc-Jockey's Theme Song by Steve Allen on Coral 61877 from 1957:

This is another installment in the Radio Guys series I hope to continue into next week while attending the NAB Convention in Las Vegas. Let's see how many more gems like this I can find, assuming I find the time to post them. Thankfully, the problems with the online storage service seem to be resolved today and the player is working again. Hopefully, it will keep working. MusicMaster Oldies is sounding really good lately, if I do say so myself. Have you checked it out lately?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Oldies - The Girl I Love by The Beatles

How in the world did this record manage to avoid a lawsuit from the real Beatles when it was released in 1965? This is NOT a rare Beatles record. It's actually a pretty good group harmony record that was made in Philadelphia by a disc jockey and television host who called himself The Geator with The Heator and The Boss With The Hot Sauce.

His real name is Jerry Blavat, born 3 July 1940 in South Philly to an Jewish dad and Italian mom. His popular radio show was syndicated in Camden, Atlantic City, Trenton, Pottstown, Wilmington, and Allentown. Click here to read more about his incredible life. You can also buy his autobiography, You Only Rock Once, on

Here's The Girl I Love by The Beatles on Quest 101 from 1965:

The singers are not credited, but we now know who they were. They called themselves the Lytations, a mixture of guys from the Ly-Dells and Quotations. They also recorded a fake version of the incredibly rare Stormy Weather by The Five Sharps (which I featured here on 26 September 2009), calling themselves The Five Shits. But take a closer look at the label again. One of the composers was "J. Lemmon," which is clearly a spoof on John Lennon. It's "A Miracle Production (If It Sells...It's A Miracle!) The other composer, J. Strong, was actually Jack Strong, lead singer in the group. The other guys in the group were baritone Kenny Harper, first tenor Frank Torpey, second tenor Bob Bintliff, and bass Billy Giangilio.

The flip side is something completely different, and actually very cool. Here's For Yon Tunas Only by Jerry Blabber (a parody of Jerry Blavat):

Some sources say this record is only worth ten bucks. Others say it's worth a thousand bucks. Who knows? All I know is I have a few copies of it in my record vault. I'm getting ready to sell all my records on eBay soon and I'm sure I'll start the bidding on this one at ten dollars and see what happens.

I'll be at a huge broadcast convention all next week in Las Vegas, so I might have trouble posting updates here. It's the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention and it's really massive, bringing people together from the film industry, television and radio stations all over the world. If you'll be attending that show, please stop by at the MusicMaster booth and say hello. I'll be in booth C1131 showing off MusicMaster. To honor the occasion, I've decided to feature some records made by radio guys, starting with this one.

Whenever I'm in Las Vegas, I like to stop in and see my friend Rich Rosen at his incredible record shop, Wax Trax at 2909 South Decatur. If you run into me there we can dive through the record racks together!

Don't touch that dial. Keep it locked on MusicMaster Oldies, where you'll hear the greatest hits of all time, and the greatest stiffs of all time too!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Oldies - Fire by Swing West

We have to swing east to find Swing West, the rock group from Japan who made this great cover of the 1968 ground-breaking hit by The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown.

Here's Fire by Swing West on Union 5205 from 1969:

These guys started out doing rockabilly using a name that translates to Wagon Wheel. They electrified the guitars in 1964 and started making records in Japan. They disbanded in 1970 after failing to make any big hits. The band was led by Keiichi Teramoto Hori Takeo on vocals, and included Notarou Sakawa, Mori Hiroshi, Yubara Masayuki, Showa Ueda, Kyoshi Nisiguti Hiro, Takashi Ida, Hiroshi Yokoyama, and Takashi Sakamoto.

If you can read Japanese (which I cannot), you can learn more about them by clicking here.

Fire was the only song by The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown to make it into Billboard's Hot 100. It was a #2 hit nationally and in Canada, but made it to #1 in England and on many local American radio station playlists. It peaked at #3 in Germany, #8 in Ireland, and #28 in Australia. Despite the success of this ground-breaking record, the group failed to produce another hit record. They made two more appearances in Billboard's Bubbling Under The Hot 100 charts with a cover of the Screaming Jay Hawkins tune, I Put A Spell On You, and once more with a song called Nightmare. Pete Townshend of The Who had a hand in producing this English group. The drummer was Carl Palmer, who later became part of the supergroup that sounds more like a law firm, Emerson Lake And Palmer. Arthur Brown was born Arthur Wilton in Whitby on 24 June 1944. In 1992 he started a music therapy practice recognizing that music can contribute to the healing process. The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, with their almost Satanic sound and theatrical stage presence, inspired many new acts, virtually paving the way for the Glam Rock scene.

Radio stations didn't play the complete version of Fire back in 1968. Would you like to hear it now? I thought so! From their self-titled album, issued on Atlantic in America, here's the complete version of Fire by The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown:

There are about 300 Japanese rock and pop songs from the 1950's and 1960's on MusicMaster Oldies, with more being added all the time. They're hard to find in America, but worth the effort.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

The first recording of Easter Parade, written by Irving Berlin in 1933, came from the Broadway Revue, As Thousands Cheer, with Clifton Webb and Marilyn Miller. This version went to #5 in the record sales charts:

It was done again by Bing Crosby in the movie Holiday Inn from 1942. Due to copyright restrictions, I cannot embed this video in this post. But it's worth the effort to view it here:

Guy Lombardo and his orchestra did a nice big band version of the song in 1947:

Fred Astaire and Judy Garland sang the song together in 1948 in the movie called Easter Parade:

The melody for the song was first written by Irving Berlin in 1917 in a song called Smile And Show Your Dimple. Here's a really cool video that lets you hear the song on a player piano:

This Easter novelty uses It Must Have Been The Easter Bunny by Little Cindy on Columbia 41346 from 1959:

Happy Easter everyone!

Just as Easter isn't just about bunnies and chocolate and eggs, MusicMaster Oldies isn't just about the music of the 1950's and 1960's. You'll hear classic songs going all the way back to the late 1800's! Are you ready to rent a classic movie now? I hope so!

Friday, April 6, 2012

New Oldies - Spoonful by The Allman Joys

Imagine it's 1966 and you go out one evening to take a walk down your block in Daytona Beach, Florida. As you pass a garage you hear a rock band inside practicing some cover songs. You stop for a minute and listen and you're blown away by what you hear. You're absolutely sure those guys are headed for stardom. You decide to stop in to say hello. Two brothers introduce themselves, Duane and Gregg Allman. Over there is Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks, and Jai Johanny Johanson. They've been playing together since 1963 and used to call themselves The Escorts. Last year they changed it to the Allman Joys, because they're as sweet as an Almond Joy candy bar. Yeah, these guys have the X-Factor all right.

Here's Spoonful by The Allman Joys on Dial 4046 from 1966:

After this they moved to Los Angeles and formed a group called Hour Glass. They put out two albums on Liberty Records in 1967 and 1968, but nobody bought them. The story continues here.

It's one of the nearly 1000 Future Superstars you'll hear on MusicMaster Oldies, along with some great music from folks who never managed to hang on to the brass ring.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Oldies - (Gary Please Don't Sell) My Diamond Ring by Wendy Hill

Today we explore another Original Version of a hit record that also spawned an Answer Song.

This Diamond Ring was written by Al Kooper with a soul arrangement in mind. The song was offered to the Drifters, but they turned it down. Producer George Butcher had a singer and limbo dancer from Miami named Sammy Ambrose record the song first.

Here's This Diamond Ring by Sammy Ambrose on Musicor 1061 from December 1964:

Sammy Ambrose

Sammy Ambrose went on the road with a band called The Afro-Beats. Success eluded him and he ended up back in Miami Beach dancing the limbo at a burlesque joint called Place Pigalle. Unfortunately, Sammy Abrose was overcome by drug addiction. As that destroyed his career, he took to selling heroin on the street. One of his customers was a 28 year old Vietnam veteran who bought dope from him on 12 October 1976 and died of an overdose shortly afterward. Sammy was charged with first degree murder and sent to prison. He died in Dade County Florida at the age of 47 on 26 February 1988.

Producer Snuff Garrett must have heard hit potential in the song because he immediately got the Wrecking Crew behind Gary Lewis to record and release what would become the million-selling version. The two different versions were released so close together that both of them were reviewed in the same issue of Billboard Magazine. Despite Al Kooper's soulful vision for the song, it was This Diamond Ring by Gary Lewis And The Playboys that won the day. The song went to #1 on Billboard and Cashbox, and was #1 in Canada as well. It went to #8 in Australia, but strangely did not chart at all in Germany or England. It was the only #1 hit for Gary Lewis.

Sammy's version didn't do very well, peaking at only #117 on the Bubbling Under chart, but it became a classic at the Northern Soul clubs in England. Both songs are very well done, but Gary Lewis had the advantage of appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show to promote his version.

The fact that the Gary Lewis version was so strong no doubt helped propel today's New Oldie to #134 on the Bubbling Under chart. This Answer Song was issued just a few months after Gary Lewis topped the charts with This Diamond Ring, and it has a lot in common with the Gary Lewis hit. Both records were on the Liberty label, produced by Snuff Garrett, and arranged by Leon Russell. It would appear that the Answer Record was made in a deliberate attempt to capitalize on the success of This Diamond Ring, and it almost succeeded.

Here's (Gary Please Don't Sell) My Diamond Ring by Wendy Hill on Liberty 55771 from 1965:

Gary Lewis - Wendy Hill - Snuff Garrett

Nobody seems to know what happened to Wendy Hill, and we only know a little about her background. She made three teener records on the Era label in 1961 and 1962, one of which, Without Your Love, made it to #111 on the Bubbling Under chart, but did much better in Phoenix and San Diego (Top 10) and Los Angeles, where it shows up at #24 on the KRLA-AM 1110 Tunedex Record Survey on 22 September 1961. Some think she had previously done childrens records for Peter Pan Records as Wendy Williams in the mid-1950s, but that's almost certainly incorrect as she would have been way too young at the time. I'm still tracking down leads.

Here's Without Your Love by Wendy Hill on Era 3055 from 1961:

I just can't end this without exposing you to a very interesting cover version of the song, also sung by a female vocalist, but NOT with different lyrics. This one comes from Nancy Sit from Hong Kong who covered a whole bunch of American and British hits for the Chinese market back in the 1960s. She did a lot of the songs in Chinese, but she tried to tackle this one in English. But I'm not sure she actually understood the words as she sang the song!

Here's This Diamond Ring by Nancy Sit With The Blue Lake Combo on Po-Lo 3053 from 1966:

Nancy Sit Ka Yin

Nancy Sit Ka Yin became an actress on the TVB Network. She mentored Anita Mui, who became one of the biggest superstars in Hong Kong history. She left the music business to raise her three children, Justina, Jackson, and Jamie. When her husband left her in the early 1990s, she was so devastated that she contemplated suicide. But she fought back for the sake of her children. She decided to make a comeback in show business. She'd be 62 now, and is reportedly recovering from a serious illness and surgery, still living in Hong Kong with her daughter.

I'll spend some more time digging out dusty discs this weekend. Maybe I can find more gems to add to the MusicMaster Oldies collection!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New Oldies - Get Out Of My Eye by The Soul Vendors

Some of the records I've talked about here are very difficult to obtain. This one, however, is more likely to be impossible to obtain. I don't know much about this group, but I'll tell you what I do know, and also offer a bit of speculation. If anyone who reads this knows anyone involved in the making of this record, every little bit of detail would help piece the puzzle together. For starters, a scan of the label of this obscure record is practically the Holy Grail among garage rock lovers (like myself).

This some comes from an acetate recording that was made at the Nashville West Recording Studio on Melrose in Los Angeles, probably around early 1966. That studio was run by a record promoter named Charlie Underwood. Earlier, it had been the old Decca studio that Frank Sinatra used.

The studio musicians who worked there included Charles Wright and James Carmichael, who formed the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band in 1967. Before that, Charles Wright was making records as The Soul Runners, including one called Grits 'N Corn Bread that reached #33 on Billboard's R&B charts and briefly threatened to cross over to the Billboard Hot 100. It made it only to #103 on the Bubbling Under chart. It was a funky soul instrumental. Think about the similarity of the names, Soul Runners vs Soul Vendors.

Another group was also working hard in that same recording studio around that time, and you've probably heard of them. They did a little song called Psychotic Reaction and called themselves The Count Five. That band was formed in 1964 in San Jose, California by John "Mouse" Michalski, a 16 year old lead guitar player from Cleveland, Ohio. His partner was Roy Chaney who played bass, also 16 years old, from Indianapolis, Indiana. The originally called their group The Squires. After several personnel changes, they became The Count Five, featuring John "Sean" Byrne from Dublin, Ireland on rhythm guitar and lead vocals and Craig "Butch" Anderson from San Jose on the drums.

All we know about the Soul Vendors, or think we know, is that they came from Hayward, California, just across the bay from San Francisco. They were either formerly known as The Apollo's, or acquired members of that band. These two groups evolved into a soul group known as Crusader Rabbit.

Now the speculation part. Listen to Get Out Of My Eye and compare the vocals and style to most of the Count Five's releases. The similarity is fairly obvious, at least to me. I'm not saying there's any connection because I just don't know. But, it does appear that the guys who made today's New Oldie at least recorded in the same place where The Count Five worked out Psychotic Reaction, and around the exact same time. Sadly, we can't ask Sean about it because he passed away on 15 December 2008. But maybe some of the surviving members know something about the Soul Vendors.

I'm guessing this song was inspired a bit by Get Off My Cloud by the Rolling Stones. "Get Out Of My Eye!" is a cool phrase that I don't think I've ever heard anyone else use. Have you?

The song is available to buy on a compilation CD called You Got Yours, East Bay Garage 1965 to 1967 on Big Beat. It's available at and you can read more about it by clicking here.

Here's Get Out Of My Eye by The Soul Vendors from an acetate recording circa 1966:

Here's the flip side of that acetate, a cover of Shake A Tail Feather:

For comparison purposes, here's Psychotic Reaction by The Count Five on Double Shot 104 from 1966:

Do you know anything about these guys? If you lived around Oakland back in the 1960's you might have heard them playing a a local club, like maybe the Penthouse Club in Hayward, or maybe at the dances at the Rollarena in San Leandro. Share what you know!

There are several dozen more acetate recordings played regularly on MusicMaster Oldies. A lot of them are just as obscure as this one.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Oldies - Danny's Song by Gator Creek

Here's another Original Version of a hit record, and yet another case where Wikipedia gets it wrong, and, because they get it wrong, thousands of other blogs and bio websites also get it wrong, sometimes even copying the Wikipedia statements word for word. Of course, my sources could be wrong instead -- but I doubt that.

What Wikipedia says is what most people believe, that Danny's Song was written by Kenny Loggins as a gift for his brother Danny following the birth of Danny's son, Colin. Actually, Kenny wrote the song as a wedding gift for Danny and his wife. Danny's son Colin was already three years old at the time. The wedding invitations read, "Colin Loggins is pleased to announce the marriage of his Mom and Dad." Kenny claimed that was the only gift he could afford to give at the time!

Wikipedia also says that the song first appeared on the November 1971 debut album for Loggins And Messina called Sittin' In. While a version of the song did appear on that album, it was the second time Kenny Loggins sang it on a record. Today's New Oldie was the original version, sung by Kenny while he was with an earlier group called Gator Creek. It was on their first and only album from 1970.

Here's Danny's Song by Gator Creek on Mercury LP 61311 from 1970:

Gator Creek was an incredible lineup of Los Angeles studio musicians. It featured Kenny Loggins on vocals and guitar, Allen Beutler on sax, Dee Barton and Mike O'Martin on keyboards, Mike Deasy on guitar, Mike's wife Kathy Deasy on vocals and percussion, Ray Neapolitan on bass, and Nick Ceroli and Gene Pello on drums. Most of these folks had already played on hundreds of sessions by the time they made this album. The exceptions were Kenny Loggins and Mike O'Martin, later known as Mike Omartian, producer of Christopher Cross, Michael Bolton, Whitney Houston, Rod Stewart, and Donna Summer, among many others. Those two gentlemen were fairly new to the music business at the time. Most of the songs on the album were written by Dee Barton, but not Danny's Song. That one belongs to Kenny Loggins.

Here's the Loggins And Messina version from the Capitol LP, Sittin' In, from 1971:

When the song became a huge hit for Anne Murray in 1973, she included only a couple of the verses. After that, Kenny would usually sing just those two verses as well when he included the song in concerts. Kenny's later version with Jim Messina inserts a second verse, which is the one that causes the most debate among Kenny Loggins fans.

Seems as though, a month ago, I was Beta-Chi,
Never got high.
Oh I was a sorry guy.
And now, I smile and face the girl that shares my name.
Now I'm through with the game.
This boy will never be the same.

Kenny's brother Danny attended Cal State University but nobody can figure out which fraternity he belonged to, if any. There didn't appear to be a Beta-Chi fraternity in the late 1960's or early 1970's. It could be abbreviated. If anyone knows the truth about this, please let us know.

Anne Murray's hit version appeared on her Talk Of The Town album and released as a single on Capitol 3481 from 1973. This video is from around the time she first released the song and, if you listen to her story, it seems she has the story a bit wrong as well. OK. Maybe my information is wrong and everyone else is correct. But I still trust my sources on this one.

It's time to rediscover the wonderful music of Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina, not to mention Anne Murray. If you don't own these albums, I suggest you go immediately to the iTunes music store and buy them. At least preview them! This music is timeless and beautiful.

You can hear all the early work from these guys on MusicMaster Oldies. For Kenny Loggins, this includes his early work with the band called Second Helping, through Gator Creek, to Loggins And Messina. For Jim Messina, there's his early band called The Jesters, to Buffalo Springfield, where he played bass starting in 1968, to Poco, then Loggins And Messina. I would include Kenny's cousin, Dave Loggins, and his hit, Please Come To Boston, but it's a bit too new. It's from 1974 and MusicMaster Oldies stops at 1973. Of course, with a bit of persuasion from the audience, I could add another year's worth of great music!