Saturday Single No. 435

February 28th, 2015

There’s one memorable February 28 in my life, one that stands out above the sixty-two others. And that’s counting today, which I suppose I should not do; it’s early, and things may well happen that make today memorable.

Anyway, the one memorable February 28 so far was in 1976, when I walked across a stage at St. Cloud State and got my diploma for my bachelor’s degree. That didn’t end my college days; I hung around for another year and some months, adding some post-grad stuff and another undergraduate minor. But it was a milestone, and we took pictures and went out for lunch and all that.

And I got records as gifts.

A couple days before graduation, a casual friend had delivered to me a copy of Art Garfunkel’s Breakaway. I was startled. We’d had some intense conversations not quite a year earlier but had not seen each other since then. And I guess those conversations carried more weight for her than they had for me. I remember being puzzled as I watched her drive away. But the record was decent.

And at lunch on graduation day, my girlfriend’s mother – who for a while would be my mother-in-law – passed to me a card that contained some cash. So a couple days after the festivities, I headed over to Musicland in the mall on the west end of town and picked up two double albums: Beginnings by the Allman Brothers Band (a repackaging of the band’s first two albums stuck together) and Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde.

Both of my shopping selections had – as has so much else in my life – their roots in my time in Fredericia, Denmark, a couple of years earlier. The lounge at the youth hostel where I lived for a few months was filled most evenings with the sounds of the Allman Brothers’ later albums, and I wanted to know the earlier stuff.

And when I borrowed from the Fredericia library the cassette of Dylan’s first greatest hits album sometime during the autumn of 1973, I was startled to find “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)” as one of the offered hits. The track was not on the U.S. version of the album I’d heard several times (and would eventually buy for myself).

But I loved the track, with its harmonica introduction, its rolling piano throughout, its cryptic (and sometimes biting) lyrics, and most of all, the rising building up to the chorus and the descending bass once we get there. So when I had some money to spend, I decided that wanted a copy of the track in my collection, and if the rest of Blonde On Blonde came along, so much the better.

All of that works well this morning, as I’ve mentioned “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)” only three times before in the eight years I’ve been writing about music, and I offered it just once, back in 2008. So here, from 1966, is a track that I consider one of Dylan’s masterpieces, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

What’s At No. 27?

February 27th, 2015

So, with today being February 27 and Odd, Pop and I being short of ideas this morning, we’re going to look at a few Billboard charts released on this date over the years and check out what’s hiding at No. 27. Along the way, we’ll check out the No. 1 records of the times, too. There are four such charts during the span of years that tends to interest us here. We’ll start in 1957.

One of the odd things about the earlier charts in the files I have is that records are often tied for a spot. In the Top 100 for February 27, 1957, two records are tied at No. 26, which means there really was no record at No. 27. So we’ll look at both records at No. 26. The first listed is “Lucky Lips” by Ruth Brown. The record, which went no further on the Top 100 but went to No. 25 on two of the other main charts Billboard issued at the time, is the first listed under Brown’s name in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, where the listings start in 1955. Brown was a force long before that, of course; her listings on the magazine’s R&B chart start in 1949. “Lucky Lips” went to No. 6 on that chart.

The other record at No. 26 on this date in 1957 was a pairing of artist and song that seems incongruous from a distance of nearly sixty years: “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody” by Jerry Lewis, whose image in my mind starts at goofy comedian and ends at smarmy telethon host and doesn’t come close to hit singer at all. (The combination evidently seemed so bizarre to the anonymous person who transcribed my collection of Billboard charts that he or she credited the record to Jerry Lee Lewis, which caused me a bit of confusion.) Lewis offers the song over a Vegas-style big band arrangement that serves it well although the whole thing sounds odd to me. Listeners liked it, though; the record peaked at No. 10 on the store sales list. Lewis had one other hit: “It All Depends On You” went to No. 68 on the Top 100 later in 1957.

Sitting at No. 1 on this date in 1957 was “Young Love” by Tab Hunter, by far the most successful single the actor ever had to his credit. (I recall Hunter’s smiling visage on the front of a comic book that told the tale of one of Hunter’s movies. I forget which movie, and a look at Hunter’s credits this morning doesn’t help.)

The next time Billboard released a pop chart on February 27, it was 1961, and the chart was called – as it would be past the turn of the century – the Hot 100. Parked at No. 27 was “What A Price” by Fats Domino. The slow, sad record, which was the forty-fourth of an eventual seventy-seven Domino placed in or near the Hot 100, was on its way down the chart after peaking at No. 22 (No. 7, R&B). Should it have done better? Well, yes, because Fats Domino should always be in the Top Ten.

The No. 1 record as February approached its end in 1961 was Chubby Checker’s “Pony Time.”

It took only another four years before a Billboard Hot 100 touched down on a February 27, and the No. 27 record on this date in 1965 was the first track on one of the first pop LPs I ever owned. My sister gave me Herman’s Hermits On Tour (which was made up of studio recordings, not the live recordings that the album’s title might have implied), and “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” led off the album. As a single, “Heartbeat” went to No. 2, the first of nine straight Top Ten hits for Peter Noone and his group. (The Billboard Book of No. 2 Singles tells me that the Hermits’ single was blocked from the top spot by the Supremes’ “Stop! In The Name Of Love.”)

The No. 1 record fifty years ago today was “This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys.

And the last of the February 27 Billboard charts that we’re concerned with today came out in 1971. (There were charts on February 27 in 1982, 1988 and beyond, but that gets us into years we are not all that enthusiastic about.) The No. 27 record at the end of the last February of my high school days was “Help Me Make It Through The Night” by Sammi Smith, written by Kris Kristofferson. Smith’s plaintive performance was on its way to No. 8; it would go to No. 1 on the country chart and to No. 3 on the easy listening chart. I’m not sure I had much regard for “Help Me Make It Through The Night” when I was a high school senior, but now I think it’s pretty great stuff.

And to finish this off, the No. 1 single during on this date in 1971 was the Osmonds’ “One Bad Apple.”

Here’s Smith’s single:

Like Nancy & Lee On Acid?

February 24th, 2015

Once again, things that I might have known, things that I maybe should have known, and things that I wish I had known coalesce, just because I looked at the entries in the lower levels of a Billboard chart.

The chart in question was from February 24, 1968, forty-seven years ago today, when I was fourteen and liked hearing the No. 1 record of the day, the sublime “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat. I also liked the No. 10 record, the Lettermen’s medley, Medley: “Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” The rest of the Top Ten – the Classics Four, the Temptations, Otis Redding, the Lemon Pipers and the rest – were of little interest to me.

I was still very much an Easy Listening kid (or, in today’s parlance, an Adult Contemporary kid, a label I probably would have liked very much).

So even though I knew most of the stuff on the top of the chart – and learned to like a lot of it in the years to come – there are, as always, records on the bottom of the chart that I never heard back then (and that I generally never hear until I do one of these posts). Today, in that chart from 1968, it’s “Dr. Jon (The Medicine Man)” by Jon and Robin & The In Crowd, which was bubbling under at No. 125.

The title intrigued me, so I found a video of the record at YouTube, clicked the play button and found great weirdness:

While I listened, hearing a vague echo of something else, I glanced through the comments, and I saw that a visitor calling himself StudioZ7 had noted: “Sounds like Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood on acid.” And I nodded, because that pretty much nailed it. And there’s a similar sort of weirdness, this time with a garage rock foundation, in “Love Me Baby” on the B-side.

The record went to No. 87, a far cry from the first release from Jon & Robin & The In Crowd: “Do It Again A Little Bit Slower” went to No. 18 in June 1967. As familiar as “Do It Again” is, I must have heard it sometime, and it was likely the Jon & Robin version; a quick search for covers in the U.S. comes up blank (though I do find references to covers in Denmark and France without much effort). But I’d certainly forgotten about the record until this week.

It turns out that the duo’s Jon was John Abnor, Jr., and the Abnak label on which the duo recorded was owned by his father, John Abnor, Sr. The label was started, says Wikipedia, mainly as an outlet for the music of young Jon and his partner, Javonne “Robin” Braga. I wonder if that was truly the case, though, as the label’s largest success came from the Five Americans, whose “Western Union” went to No. 5 in April 1967, before Jon & Robin & The In Crowd had seen “Do It Again” enter the chart.

(In Top Pop Singles, Joel Whitburn notes that in 1970, Javonne Braga – “Robin” – married James Wright of the Five Americans. Maybe it was no big deal, but I can’t help wondering if Wright stole that girl away.)

“Do It Again . . .” and “Dr. Jon” were the only records that Jon & Robin – with or without the In Crowd – got into the Hot 100; three other singles, two credited just to Jon & Robin, bubbled under. All five singles are available at YouTube at the #JonAndRobin channel, and all five of them are on the 2006 CD Do it Again: The Best of Jon & Robin. (A sixth single, “Hangin’ From Your Lovin’ Tree,” is listed in Top Pop Singles but is credited to simply the In Crowd, and it’s not on the CD.)

Saturday Single No. 434

February 21st, 2015

Having been roused early by at least one cat looking for either attention or food, I got up just after six this morning. After brewing a pot of coffee and scarfing down my customary breakfast of a peanut butter and apple butter sandwich, I looked around the kitchen, plugged my iPod buds into my ears and got the dishes out of the way.

While I cleaned, the iPod offered me six tunes from which we can select today’s feature. So let’s be off!

First up are Gladys Knight & The Pips with their second Top Twenty single, “Letter Full Of Tears,” written by the recently departed Don Covay. The single went to No. 19 in the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 3 on the R&B chart in early 1962. (“Every Beat Of My Heart,” credited to simply the Pips, had gone to No. 6 in the Hot 100 and to No. 1 on the R&B chart in 1961.) It would be more than five years before Knight and the Pips got that high in the charts again, with “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” going to No. 2 (No. 1, R&B) in late 1967.

I’ve told the tale before: Rummaging in a record shop in the Minneapolis suburb of Richfield during the summer of 1989, I came across an arresting album cover. The album was Avalon by Roxy Music. Not knowing much about the group except the names of Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno (who by that time had long since left the group) but intrigued by the cover, I grabbed the album for something like three bucks, blundering my way into a decent album with two great tracks. This morning, it’s “Avalon” that makes its warm and inviting way into my ears.

Much of the music of the 1980s sounds a lot better now than it did when I heard it coming out of my radio speakers thirty years ago. Is that a product of my having wider musical horizons than I had back then? Or is it simply the result of radio familiarity, with the hits of the 1980s now being packaged for niche radio along with the remnants of the 1970s and 1960s? I’m not sure, but I do know that I’ve almost always been behind the musical curve. Anyway, Pat Benatar’s “We Belong,” which went to No. 5 in early 1985, sounds a lot better to me this morning than it did when I was finishing up my grad school stay in Columbia, Missouri.

Speaking of being behind the curve, it took me many years to dip into the catalog of Led Zeppelin, puzzled as I was in the early 1970s by the few Zep tracks I did hear. “Whole Lotta Love,” “Stairway To Heaven” and “Immigrant Song” seemed, well, excessive to me. So it took years before I heard and appreciated “The Battle Of Evermore” from the band’s untitled fourth album, with its mandolins and its haunting vocal help from Sandy Denny. But however I got there, the song brings a nod and a smile this morning as I rinse the silverware.

Taj Mahal has showed up regularly in this space over the years, a tacit acknowledgment of how much I enjoy the man’s wide-ranging music and perhaps of how much that music had influenced my listening, especially with his explorations of vintage blues. This morning, I get the song “You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Bond,” which, with a slightly differing title, was either a traditional gospel song or was written by Texas musician Blind Willie Johnson. Wikipedia notes that Johnson recorded the song first in 1930 but that in 1929, Delta musician Charley Patton had recorded a similar tune titled “You’re Gonna Need Somebody When You Die.” In any case, Taj Mahal covered the Johnson tune on his 1969 album Giant Step, and that’s the version that the iPod gives me this morning.

Mary Fahl’s voice on her solo work is exquisite and haunting, just as it was when she was the lead singer for October Project, one of my favorite groups from the 1990s and beyond. When her music pops up at random, whether it’s from the 2,000 or so tunes on the iPod or the more than 80,000 on the computer, I almost always stop what I’m doing for at least a moment to marvel at the richness of her voice. That was the case again this morning, when the iPod gave me “Going Home” from Fahl’s 2003 album The Other Side Of Time. The stunning track was also used that same year in the soundtrack to the film Gods and Generals. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Going Down The Stoney End . . .’

February 20th, 2015

The Texas Gal and I were killing time between television shows the other night. She played a game on her laptop while I read a copy of Rolling Stone as the Seventies channel on the TV provided the soundtrack. There was a flourish of drums followed by a ringing piano introduction, and Barbra Streisand sang:

I was born from love and my poor mother worked the mines
I was raised on the good book Jesus
Till I read between the lines
Now I don’t believe I wanna see the morning

And as I listened to Streisand deliver “Stoney End,” one of Laura Nyro’s (perhaps) less cryptic songs, I wondered who played piano on the track, as the piano intro and the later piano fills are two of the things that make me like the record more than I like a lot of Streisand’s work. So when the song ended, I went to the stacks to check out the Stoney End album jacket, but it turns out I don’t have the vinyl of the 1971 album. All I have is a digital copy scavenged from somewhere, and the album credits I find online list several keyboard players, so I don’t know who to thank for that chiming intro on “Stoney End.”

At that point, this post could have gone several different ways. I could assess Streisand’s work in detail, but I gave a brief assessment of my reaction to her work in a 2010 post about a drive-in movie date gone wrong, and nothing has changed my view that Streisand’s career went off the rails – artistically, at least – in 1977 with the ego-trip film A Star Is Born. (The Texas Gal dates the artistic derailment a bit later, with the 1983 release of Yentl. We both agree that early in her career – the 1960s – Streisand was a great interpreter of songs from Broadway and the Great American Songbook.)

And I didn’t really want to turn my interest in Streisand’s “Stoney End” into a post on the late Laura Nyro’s music. You’ve heard folks say about Bob Dylan, “A great songwriter, but man, I cannot stand to listen to him sing,” right? I feel a little bit like that about Laura Nyro: I love her songs, as inscrutable as they may sometimes be, but on too many of her recordings, she sounds shrill to me, so even though I have a little of her work around, I rarely listen to it. Happily enough for today’s exercise, Nyro’s take on “Stoney End” – found on the 1967 album More Than A New Discovery – is one of her better performances, and I quite like it.

So, with both of those versions of “Stoney End” echoing in my ears, I wondered about other versions of the song. And in the past few days, I’ve found nine other covers of the Nyro song, almost all of them jammed between the years 1967 – when Nyro released her version – and 1972, when Bert Kaempfert released, on his album 6 Plus 6, the only easy listening version of the tune I’ve found. (Maynard Ferguson also released an instrumental version of the tune, his coming on his self-titled 1971 album, but being a typically bold and brassy Maynard Ferguson track, one can’t classify it as easy listening.)

From what I find online, the first to cover “Stoney End” were the Blossoms, an R&B backing group with a massive list of credits but perhaps best known for having Darlene Love as one of its members and for being the actual performers on a couple of Phil Spector productions that were credited to the Crystals. The Blossoms recorded “Stoney End” in 1967 for the Ode label. Sharp-eared listeners will note that Love did not take the lead vocal; one of the comments at YouTube notes that in her autobiography (My Name Is Love), Love wrote, “Some of the chorus parts were too high for me, so Jean [Thomas] took the lead.”

Actress and singer Peggy Lipton – whose musical career I examined in a post last summer – recorded the tune in 1968, also for the Ode label, and one doesn’t need to have very sharp ears at all to realize that producer Lou Adler laid Lipton’s vocals over pretty much the same backing track as he’d put together for the Blossoms a year earlier. Lipton’s single release of “Stoney End” was the first one to tickle the Billboard charts, bubbling under the Hot 100 at No. 121. (Streisand’s 1970 single release is the only other version of the song to chart; it went to No. 6 on the Hot 100 and to No. 2 on what was then called the Easy Listening chart.)

A few more covers came along as the 1960s waned and the 1970s dawned: Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys recorded the song for their 1968 album Linda Ronstadt, The Stone Poneys & Friends, Vol. III, Diana Ross recorded the song during the sessions for her self-titled 1970 album, but the track didn’t see the light until 2002, when it showed up as a bonus track, and jazz singer Selena Jones laid down her take on the tune on her 1971 album, Platinum.

And a couple of singers in recent years have recorded the song for tribute albums: Beth Nielsen Chapman added her idiosyncratic take on “Stoney End” to the multi-artist album Time And Love – The Music Of Laura Nyro in 1997, and Broadway singer Judy Kuhn included “Stoney End” on her own tribute album, Serious Playground – The Songs of Laura Nyro, released in 2007.

Of the covers noted in those last two paragraphs, only one stands out to me: The 1968 version by Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys. (And many thanks to reader and pal Yah Shure for providing the mp3 to make the video below.)

A Good Month

February 17th, 2015

I noticed, just by digging into the files I have of the Billboard Hot 100, that February 17, 1979 – thirty-six years ago today – was a Saturday. And I noticed as well that I would not have been horribly impressed with what I might have been hearing on the radio as the Other Half and I ran errands around Monticello and/or sat reading that evening with the radio keeping us company.

The radio station would likely have been the same in both the car and the living room: KS95 from the Twin Cities. And given KS95’s format – almost but not quite Top 40 (and I’m sure the format has a formal name, but I don’t know it offhand) – we would likely have heard most of the current Top Ten sometime during our errands or our quiet evening:

“Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” by Rod Stewart
“Y.M.C.A.” by the Village People
“A Little More Love” by Olivia Newton John
“Fire” by the Pointer Sisters
“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
“Every 1’s A Winner” by Hot Chocolate
“Le Freak” by Chic
“Lotta Love” by Nicolette Larson
“Somewhere In The Night” by Barry Manilow
“I Was Made For Dancin’” by Leif Garrett

Actually, I’m not certain all of those would have gotten airplay on KS95, but if they did, at least five of them would likely have made the two of us either groan or roll our eyes: The top two for sure would have elicited that response, and the records by Hot Chocolate, Chic and Garrett were unlikely to please us, either. The others, from what I recall, were okay, but only two of them – “Fire” and “Lotta Love” – get passing grades from me all these years later.

With hit radio providing fifty percent satisfaction at best in that long-ago Top Ten, I wondered what would have been on my turntable those days. I wasn’t buying a lot of vinyl at the time for a couple of reasons: Budget was one; we were trying to be prudent with our money, and we were still slowly filling the needs of a new household. Availability was another; the only place that sold records in Monticello had a scatter-shot inventory. So, splurging a bit, I joined a record club, and the first three albums from the club arrived in February 1979. Add in one trip to a mall in the Twin Cities, one to St. Cloud, and one lucky find in a store in Monticello, and the album haul for the month of February 1979, which accounted for almost all of my acquisitions for the entire year, was pretty good:

Time Passages by Al Stewart [1978], February 3
Barry Manilow Live [1977], February 10
Night Moves by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band [1976], February 10
Octave by the Moody Blues [1978], February 10
Sing It Again, Rod by Rod Stewart [1973], February 10
Comes A Time by Neil Young [1978], February 15

I was catching up on relatively recent stuff, except for the Rod Stewart collection, and two of those albums – Time Passages and Comes A Time – would likely end up on a list of my thirty essential albums. I’d buy five of them again, skipping only the Manilow, which I think I got just for his “Very Strange Medley” of jingles from his advertising days. As 1979 went on and we pinched pennies, I wound up buying just one more album all year, a used copy of Elton John’s 1970 self-titled release, probably at the local flea market in October.

And to mark what was a very good February, here’s a track that, as far as I can tell, I’ve never featured here: “Comes A Time,” the title track to that 1978 Neil Young album (with the aforementioned Nicolette Larson on background vocals):

Saturday Single No. 433

February 14th, 2015

It’s Valentine’s Day, and I thought about repeating in this space the Valentine’s Day post I first wrote in 2009 and reposted here last year. As it happens, during our church’s annual Valentine’s Day concert last Sunday, I read a slightly edited version of that post and was heartened by the response from the other members of our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. I’m not sure I can do any better in digging into the meaning of the day than I did with that post.

At the same time, I’m also very aware that, either tomorrow or Monday, it will be fifteen years since I wandered into a chat room for social issues and met the Texas Gal. So it’s only right that I should choose as a Saturday Single this morning a track that’s symbolized for us, right from the first few weeks, this joyous, nurturing and loving journey on which we’ve found ourselves.

That’s why Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic” – from his 1970 album Moondance – is today’s Saturday Single. But before we listen, I do have one thing I’d like to repeat from that Valentine’s Day post I shared here twice before and that I shared with my fellowship friends last Sunday: “Embrace love, wherever you find it.”

‘But It’s All Right Now . . .’

February 12th, 2015

As I noted in Tuesday’s post about Jake Holmes’ song “So Close,” one of the covers of the song listed at Second Hand Songs is Mary Travers’ version, which she released on her 1974 album, Circles. I did a bit of looking for it, but neither Amazon nor iTunes had it in their inventories, which was not surprising, and I found no trace of the tune elsewhere. And as I wondered who among my readers and friends might have that relatively obscure recording in their collections, I thought about David Lenander.

David is, of course, a long-time reader and regular commenter here at EITW, and he’s provided guidance (and some tunes) along the way, especially when it comes to the group and solo recordings of Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers. And sure enough, yesterday’s email brought a missive from David. He detailed his methods of converting the music on LPs to digital files and asked for some advice, and he attached a couple of tunes.

One of those, as I anticipated when I opened his email, was Travers’ version of “So Close.” So with my thanks to David, here’s Mary Travers’ 1974 version of “So Close,” a version that I like a great deal. Is it that long-ago cover that hovers at the edge of my memory? I don’t know, but it’s certainly possible that I heard the album – and the song – at someone’s home during my late college years. It’s the kind of thing that a lot of my friends would have listened to at the time.

I’ll likely be back tomorrow, maybe following some links at YouTube and seeing where we end up.

‘We Almost Didn’t Make It . . .’

February 10th, 2015

An email came in yesterday that piqued my interest and reminded me of a post from more than four years ago. A reader taking the name “mm” asked if I’d ever figured out who covered Jake Holmes’ song “So Close,” adding, “It’s been driving me crazy.”

The question was a follow-up to a chart-digging post that ran here in October 2010, looking back at a Billboard Hot 100 from October 1970. Among the records I noted in that chart was Holmes’ “So Close,” which was sitting at No. 70 on its way to No. 49. I wrote:

“Since I found the record at YouTube a couple of weeks ago, I’ve listened to it several times, and although I recall Holmes’ version, I swear I remember another performer singing it . . . . Is anyone out there aware of who might have covered Jake Holmes’ ‘So Close’?”

And I don’t think I ever heard from anybody about it until yesterday, when mm reminded me of Holmes’ record and my vague memories of a cover version. So I turned to one of my favorite toys, one that I did not know about (if it was in existence) during the autumn of 2010: the website Second Hand Songs, which – as I’ve noted here before – might not have full listings of all cover versions but at least provides a place to start.

First, though, here’s Holmes’ version of the song, which was pulled from his 1970 album So Close, So Very Far To Go. (As is the case with many albums from the early 1970s, I recall seeing and ignoring many copies of So Close, So Very Far To Go in the cutout bins at St. Cloud’s Woolworth’s and Musicland stores. And I have long wished I’d bought the album.)

I still like Holmes’ performance, but I think the backing gets a little busy (and Holmes’ voice gets a little thin as he goes into the higher notes on the chorus.) But even as I listened yesterday for the first time in a while, I was still hearing echoes of a cover version.

So who might have done that cover version? Well, Second Hand Songs has three covers listed, one of which I’ve managed to find. That version is by Harry Belafonte, with some help from Eloise Laws, on his 1973 album, Play Me. It’s a little bland, but it’s not awful. It is not, however, the version that sits on the edge of my memory.

Two other versions of “So Close” are mentioned at SHS: Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary recorded the song for her 1974 album, Circles, and Aruban-born soul singer Julio Bernardo Euson – who recorded as Euson and whose career was centered mostly in the Netherlands – included the song on his 1975 album Sweet Surrender. If I’ve ever heard either of the two, I think it’s more likely that I heard Travers’ version, but I don’t know.

Still wondering, I waded through pages of links last evening, looking for other versions of the tune. There were quite a few other songs with the same title and lots of dead links. But after a bit, there was a reference to one Helen Schneider, a Brooklyn-born singer and actress whose career has been mostly based in Germany. Her one major U.S.-based acting credit, it seems, was playing Joann Carlino, Eddie Wilson’s girlfriend in the 1983 film Eddie and the Cruisers.

But it’s her music career that interested me. She’s had only a few albums released in the U.S., but one of them was her 1977 debut, which was titled So Close. The title song was, in fact, the Jake Holmes tune:

Is it the cover that I remember? It could be, although I can’t figure out how I ever would have heard it. But I do like it, and I would have liked it if I had heard it in 1977.

Saturday Single No. 432

February 7th, 2015

Sometimes the decision is a snap.

Odd, Pop and I were going to take our time this morning finding a Saturday Single, turning today’s date, February 7, into 27 and then check which records were at No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100s that were actually released on February 7. As things went, we would have had four charts to choose from, released in 1970, 1976, 1981 and 1987 (with that last year stretching the era in which we like to sit). We’d have ignored charts in our collection from 1998 and 2004 because, with rare exceptions, we don’t care about those years.

Plans, of course, are frequently discarded because they don’t work so well. That happens regularly in the Echoes In The Wind studios, but we don’t often talk about it when it does. (That is, Pop and I don’t; Odd sometimes has a big mouth when he’s out with his friends, who are themselves, of course, odd.) When plans don’t work, we generally just make a new one and keep hanging tales and tunes on our little space in the Interwebs.

Sometimes, though, plans work gloriously. And when we checked the Hot 100 from February 7, 1970, there, sitting at No. 27, was “The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King. The record was moving up the chart to an eventual peak at No. 15 (No. 3 on the R&B chart), and from what I can tell, we’ve only posted the track here once, and that was as kind of an afterthought eight years ago during the first months of this blog’s existence.

All of that made it easy to stop right there in 1970 and to make B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone” today’s Saturday Single.