Archive for the ‘Saturday Single’ Category

Saturday Single No. 645

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

It’s time for Games With Numbers!

We’re going to take the numerals from today’s date – 6/15/19 – and add them together to get 40. Then we’re going to look at four Billboard Hot 100s from the mid-point of June and see what we find at No. 40. We’ll use the chart in each year closest to June 15, and along the way, we’ll note the No. 1 and No. 2 records of those weeks. I think we’ll start in 1966 and jump three years at a time, hitting 1969, 1972 and 1975 along the way.

And we start with a country crossover lament: “The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me” by Eddy Arnold. He was, of course, one of the giants of post-World War II country, putting 128 records into the Billboard country chart between 1945 and 1982, with twenty-eight of them reaching No. 1. He had twenty-nine records chart on the Hot 100; his highest ranking record there was 1965’s “Make The World Go Away,” which got to No. 6. As to “The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me,” it would go no higher than the No. 40 spot where we found it on the June 18, 1966, chart. On the country chart, it got to No. 2, and it went to No. 9 on the magazine’s easy listening chart. It’s a pretty record, but it doesn’t scratch any itches for me.

Parked at No. 1 during mid-June 1966 was “Paint It, Black” by the Rolling Stones, while the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind” was at No. 2.

Off we go to mid-June in 1969, and we find ourselves a chewy piece of bubblegum: The No. 40 record on June 14, 1969, was “Special Delivery” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company. The Fruitgum Company wasn’t really a band, of course; it was a revolving group of players brought together by producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz to back lead singer Joey Levine, who also sang lead on records for Ohio Express, Crazy Elephant and Reunion (and maybe more, I suppose). By the time June 1969 rolled around, the Fruitgum Company had put three singles into the Top Ten: “Simon Says,” “1, 2, 3, Red Light,” and “Indian Giver.” But the group’s brand of bubblegum had lost it flavor, it seems, as “Special Delivery” would stall at No. 38. The group had only two more singles reach the Hot 100, one reaching No. 57 and the other bubbling under at No. 118. “Special Delivery” is catchy, of course, but nothing much, except I do love the saxophone intros.

The No. 1 record as the middle of June 1969 approached was “Get Back” by the Beatles with Billy Preston; sitting at No. 2 was “Love Theme From ‘Romeo & Juliet’” by Henry Mancini and his orchestra.

Next up is 1972, and the record that sat at No. 40 in the Hot 100 released on June 17 was the mournful plaint (with a few power moments mixed in) of “All The King’s Horses” by Aretha Franklin. There’s no point in digging too deeply into the astounding numbers; it’s enough to say that “All The King’s Horses” was the fifty-fourth single Franklin had put in or near the Hot 100, with another thirty-four to come. The record was on its way to No. 26; it went to No. 7 (along with its B-side, “April Fools”) on the magazine’s R&B chart. I like it, but the shift from plaintive to powerful along the way disorients me; maybe it’s supposed to, but I find it distracting.

Sitting atop the Hot 100 at mid-June 1972 was “The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis, Jr., and “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers was at No. 2.

And as we reach our final stop of 1975, we find ourselves a sweet ballad, Melissa Manchester’s “Midnight Blue.” It was the first of an eventual eleven Hot 100 hits for Manchester, with two more bubbling under. It was on its way to No. 6, and it spent two weeks at the top of the magazine’s easy listening chart. And it’s a potent earworm: Just reading the title off the chart this morning, I hear in my head, “Whatever it is, it’ll keep ’til the morning . . .” And it brings back in full the summer of ’75, a great season in the middle of one of the most potent years of my life.

The No. 1 record in the Hot 100 released June 14, 1975, was America’s “Sister Golden Hair.” Parked at No. 2 was “Love Will Keep Us Together” by the Captain & Tenille.

So, as we look for a single for this mid-June Saturday, I have to admit I was a little disappointed in the first three candidates we found. I was on the verge of offering up “Special Delivery” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company simply because it was bubblegum, which doesn’t get a lot of play here. But the instant the first words of “Midnight Blue” sailed into my head, I was lost. And a quick check of the archives tells me that I’ve mentioned the record only twice in twelve-and-a-half years (has it truly been that long?) and have never posted it here.

So here, from the summer of 1975, is Melissa Manchester’s “Midnight Blue,” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 644

Saturday, June 8th, 2019

I’m only briefly here today, as we’re taking a short excursion. We’re heading to a nearby casino to take in a show by Rob Thomas, who records on his own and as the lead singer of Matchbox Twenty (although as the band has not released a new album since 2012, I’m not certain if it’s still a going concern).

Anyway, we’re heading out to play.

Here’s the track that introduced me to Matchbox Twenty back in 2000, when the Texas Gal was still in Texas, I was still in south Minneapolis, and we were beginning to put together what has turned into the essential pairing of my lifetime. Here’s “If You’re Gone.” It’s on the group’s album Mad Season, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 643

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

I mentioned KDWB’s survey from June 2, 1969, in yesterday’s post, noting that it did not fit my needs for a May 31 survey. For today, it does just fine. Here, according to the Heavy Hit List, is what was popular at the beginning of the summer of ’69 on the Twin Cities station that provided the soundtrack for pretty much every kid I knew.

(As I’ve noted before, I was not yet a committed listener, but I nevertheless heard KDWB pretty much everywhere I went in those days, except for the rec room in our basement.)

Here’s the top ten from that Heavy Hit List:

“Get Back” by the Beatles
“Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy
“Grazing In The Grass” by Friends Of Distinction
“These Eyes” by the Guess Who
“Happy Heart” by Andy Williams
“More Today Than Yesterday” by the Spiral Starecase
“Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers
“Let Me” by Paul Revere & The Raiders
“The River Is Wide” by the Grass Roots
“Lodi/Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Let Me” was marked as new to the survey, and it’s a record I do not remember by title. The same is true of the Andy Williams record. The other nine records are very familiar and very much liked.

Of course, ten seconds into listening to both “Let Me” and “Happy Heart,” I know the records. I am, however, ambivalent about both of them. If I were to rank the eleven records above, they’d come in at the bottom of the pack. And their popularity on KDWB exceeded by a fair amount their success nationwide: “Let Me” peaked at No. 20 in the Billboard Hot 100, and “Happy Heart” went to No. 22.

So how would I rank the other nine? Well, I’m not going to sort through all of them, but I think the top three would be the records by the Friends Of Distinction, the Grass Roots and the Edwin Hawkins Singers, with “Get Back” sitting in fourth place.

And I clearly remember listening intently to “Grazing In The Grass” with Rick, with both of us working hard (and failing) to replicate the chatterbox vocals on the break:

I can dig it, he can dig it, she can dig it,
We can dig it, they can dig it, you can dig it
Oh, let’s dig it. Can you dig it, baby?

So for that reason – and for the fact that it’s a great record that went to No. 3 on the Hot 100 and to No. 5 on the Billboard R&B chart – “Grazing In The Grass” by the Friends Of Distinction is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 641

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

I used to collect letter openers. Not in any organized sense, like collecting promotional letter openers or state souvenir letter openers. I just bought or accepted letter openers wherever they caught my eye.

I had a couple nice ones. One was made from some kind of stone and came, I think, from Mexico. I don’t remember where I got it. I only know that I dropped it and it broke. Or maybe it broke the day I moved from Monticello to St. Cloud for the summer of 1987. Some college kids were helping with the move, and one of them made his stack one box too tall.

The box on top was the one with the letter openers, and that might have been when the stone one broke. I know it was when another one broke. That was the letter opener I’d bought for my grandfather in Barcelona in 1974. I got it back after he died in 1981, and on a June day in 1987, it got dropped and broke into three pieces.

I imagine the box with letter openers is in another box somewhere in the garage or maybe somewhere among the clutter on my side of the family room. And I don’t really collect letter openers any more, but I do have five of them in the brass jar on the table less than a foot from me as I write:

One of them celebrates the University of Virginia; I got it from the Other Half in 1987 when she returned from an archeological dig at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Another celebrates Boston; I think that came from my parents in 1999 after they toured New England. A third is hand-made, a green and white plastic artifact crafted in seventh-grade shop class at South Junior High and given to my grandfather for Christmas 1965. Another is made of iron; it’s an eight-inch replica of a Civil War musket that I got at Gettysburg during a 1968 vacation.

opener

The fifth is more ornate: It’s essentially an eleven-inch dagger with a scabbard that my sister bought for me in Barcelona during the summer of 1968. It’s what prompted me to buy a letter opener there for my grandfather six years later (though the one I bought for him was smaller and less ornate).

I rarely use any of them for opening mail. We generally do that upstairs, and there’s a utilitarian silver opener in the coffee mug on the kitchen cart.

I have no tracks on the digital shelves about letter openers, but there are plenty about letters. Here’s one from 1967 I found in the massive Lost Jukebox collection, “Today (I Got A Letter)” by the Fifth Order, a garage rock band that hailed from Columbus, Ohio. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 640

Saturday, May 11th, 2019

Here are the top ten albums in the Billboard 200 released fifty years ago yesterday, May 10, 1969:

Hair by the original cast
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Galveston by Glenn Campbell
Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan
Donovan’s Greatest Hits
Cloud Nine by the Temptations
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly
Bayou Country by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Help Yourself by Tom Jones
Led Zeppelin

Four of those ten, the LP database tells me, never showed up in the vinyl stacks: the records by the Temptations, Iron Butterfly, Tom Jones and Led Zeppelin. I had some other Zep and a Temptations anthology, and I once made the misguided decision to buy Iron Butterfly’s live album. (The live version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” was even more aimless than was the studio version.) No albums by Tom Jones ever showed up in the vinyl stacks.

A few of those – the BST, the Campbell, the CCR – are great albums. Nashville Skyline is enjoyable, but somehow seems slight; if we’re listening to Dylan from 1970, I prefer New Morning. And the Donovan album is pleasant, but my judgment on his work has been the same since it first came out of the radio speakers in the mid- to late 1960s: It’s for the most part a series of trifles with little substance.

The most interesting of those ten might be Hair. I think the cast album was more a marker of a social moment than a record one listened to (unless one had seen the musical, I suppose), but what I noticed about the music was the number of cover hits it inspired: “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” went to No. 1 for the 5th Dimension, “Hair” went to No. 2 for the Cowsills, “Good Morning Starshine” went to No. 3 for Oliver, and “Easy To Be Hard” went to No. 4 for Three Dog Night. The Happenings tried to get in on the trend, too, but their medley of “Where Do I Go/Be-In/Hare Krishna” stalled at No. 69. And there may be other covers I’m not aware of.

As to current listening, a fair number of tracks from those albums are among the 3,900-plus tracks on the iPod: a couple from Nashville Skyline, a couple from Galveston, and seven each from Blood, Sweat & Tears and Donovan’s Greatest Hits. (Yes, I said Donovan’s works are basically trifles; that doesn’t mean they’re not fun to listen to.)

As it happens, I drove to the train station in Big Lake the other day to head to a Twins game with Rob, and I let the Blood, Sweat & Tears album keep me company. Even with David Clayton-Thomas’ tendency to over-sing, the album is pretty high on my list. (How high? In my top fifty, maybe.) I had kind of forgotten how jazzy things get during the instrumental breaks.

And I was also reminded as I listened that Blood, Sweat & Tears was the first album I got after I got my tape player during the summer of 1969. I’ve long since added it on vinyl and CD, which puts it pretty close to the front of the line in terms of music I’ve listened to the longest.

So here’s “Smiling Phases” from Blood, Sweat & Tears’ 1969 self-titled album. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 639

Saturday, April 27th, 2019

As a follow-up to Tuesday’s post, which dug into the “Now 30” survey put out by WHBQ in Memphis fifty years ago – in April 1969 – I thought I’d sort the 77,000-some tracks in the RealPlayer and see how many tracks from that year reside on our digital shelves here.

It turns out to be around 3,800. (It’s hard to get an accurate count because many of the tracks on the shelves are tagged with two dates, a recording date and a release date, which confuses things. So I estimate.) Those 3,800-some range alphabetically by artist from a single – “Catwoman/Life & Death In G. & A.” – by a group called Abaco to the self-titled album by the group Zephyr.

By title, the tracks go from “(Come On Little Child) Talk To Me” – parentheses always show up first – by a group called 49th Parallel to “Zig Zag Man” by the group Dangerfield. If we ignore parentheses and numerals, the track topping the stack is “Abalony” by the group Love. (In my stacks, the words “A” and “The” at the beginning of a title are appended to the end of the title, just like in the library.)

Running time? The briefest, at nine seconds, is Mississippi Fred McDowell’s statement “My name is Fred McDowell. They call me Mississippi Fred McDowell . . . And I do not play no rock ’n’ roll, y’all. I just play the straight, natch’l blues . . .” The briefest musical entry is “Willie’s Concern,” found on the collection of Robert Cobert’s soundtrack work for the late-1960s soap opera Dark Shadows. The longest is “Bitches Brew,” the twenty-seven minute piece that was the title track to Miles Davis’ acclaimed album.

And to find a tune for Saturday morning, I’m going to put the cursor in about the middle of the stack, among the tracks that run 3:09, and click five times. And barring complications (being overly familiar is considered one of those, as is not finding the tune at YouTube), our fifth click will give us a tune.

And that’s how “Polar Bear Rug” by Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Ravan – from the album Construction #1 – came to be today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 638

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

As I’ve mentioned before, my sister and I have many boxes of stuff taken from the house at Kilian Boulevard to sort through. Most of those are at my sister’s home: In the months after Dad died and before she moved out to a patio home in Waite Park, Mom would send box after box with my sister to the Twin Cities’ suburb of Maple Grove to sort through someday.

Once the Texas Gal and I were living in the house on the East Side and Mom was in assisted living, she and I would go out to her storage units and she’d send boxes with me. By the time Mom was gone there was a pile of about fifteen boxes – mostly full of photos and genealogical materials – in my storage spaces, as well.

For numerous reasons, my sister and I hadn’t done much sorting over the winter. But the other day, she came up from Maple Grove, and we went through a couple of boxes. We found lots of photos, some shot by my dad, and others mailed over the years to Mom and Dad. We kept those of people we know, and I’m scanning them, with plans to make CD’s for our cousins.

We found some interesting things that might matter to the right audience. For instance, we found a high school annual-sized book detailing the history of the small town of Lamberton, Minnesota, where my grandparents lived – first on a farm and then in town – for forty years. I made a call this week to the Redwood County Historical Society, and the fellow I talked to said he knows about the book, but the only copy the group has is kind of beaten up. I told him I had a near-mint copy for him. He said that when I send it, I should include a page or two detailing my connection to the book and to Lamberton and include as detailed a list of ancestors as I can.

And then there was Dad’s stuff related to his college career, both as a student and a faculty member: his diplomas for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, several of his annual contracts, magazines with pieces he’d written about audio-visual education. I took it over to St. Cloud State’s archivist and spent most of an hour going through it. A lot of it will go into the file they keep there for Dad; some of it will go elsewhere in the archives as appropriate, and some, he said, they might not need.

And come Monday, after a week that didn’t quite go as expected. I’ll get back to sorting and scanning photos and then tying those photos to the appropriate pages at Ancestry.com as I dig further and further into my history (and that of the Texas Gal, too).

So I’ve been dealing – and will continue to do to box-by-box for some time – with history. That’s one of musician Al Stewart’s favorite topics, too, and he approaches it in a different way in his song “Tasting History.” It’s from his 2000 album Down In The Cellar, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 637

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Last evening we attended a local production of Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the first production written years ago by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It was lively, fun, well-done, and a good time. And it got us home relatively early as these things go, about 10. That gave us time enough to stay up late.

So after settling in, we watched a couple episodes of Season Six of Game of Thrones in advance of the premiere of Season Eight tomorrow evening. We watched a couple more this morning before beginning our Saturday chores. We might finish Season Six before tomorrow evening, but we won’t have time for Season Seven. That’s okay, as it’s still relatively fresh in our memories, I think.

Anyway, along with frittering away our time on fantasy, we’ve been keeping the household running. I’m doing more these days than I have since early January, although there are some tasks I cannot yet resume. I keep trying to remind myself as I sit at the computer or sit on the couch that healing of any kind – physical or emotional – takes time. I’d kind of forgotten that.

So, three paragraphs, all mentioning time. That’s a cue. The RealPlayer has more than 2,800-tracks that come up in a search for “time.” As usual, some go by the wayside, like all of Ronnie Aldrich’s All-Time Piano Hits and Big Maybelle’s Saga of the Good Life & Hard Times as well as everything but the title track from Anne Briggs’ The Time Has Come and many more.

Still, as one might expect, there’s a lot to work with. And I run across an easy listening version of “It’s Going To Take Some Time” by the Button-Down Brass (featuring the “funky trumpet” of Ray Davies). The song, written by Carole King and Toni Stern and first released in 1971 on King’s album Music, showed up here eight years ago when I waded through King’s work in the wake of my Ultimate Jukebox. Other than that, it’s been ignored.

Along with those two versions, the RealPlayer also offers the Carpenters’ cover of the tune, which went to No. 12 in 1972, the only version of the song ever to reach the Billboard Hot 100. (The Carpenters’ record also went to No. 2 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart.)

Now, I once referred to the Carpenters as sitting on the softest end of the pop-rock couch or something similar, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like their work, or at least some of it. And Karen Carpenter’s voice was a thing of beauty. So for all of the above reasons, here’s “It’s Going To Take Some Time,” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 636

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

So I wandered around the digital shelves this morning as I waited for my over-the-counter meds to kick in, and I idly searched the 77,000 tracks in the RealPlayer for the word “ache.” (Yeah, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.) And I got back 230-some results.

As usual with those searches, a lot of stuff had to be trimmed out, including a 1966 album titled I Can’t Grow Peaches On A Cherry Tree by someone called Just Us. Based on the notes attached to the mps3, I scavenged it from a blog called raremp3 about the time I started blogging and never paid much attention to it.

So as I listened to the tune “Listen To The Drummer,” I began to dig. It turns out that Just Us was a duo made up of studio musician Al Gorgoni and Chip Taylor, who is perhaps best known as the writer of “Wild Thing” and “Angel Of The Morning.” (He’s also known, less interestingly to me, for being the brother of actor John Voight and thus the uncle of Angelina Jolie.)

The album’s an assortment of mid-1960s close-harmony folk with a few familiar covers (and generally spare instrumentation). It’s a little bit bland at times but decent. It threw off one minor hit on the Colpix label, as the title track went to No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 3 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart in the spring of 1966. Discogs tells me that Kapp Records, which released the album, sent out three more singles in the next year or so, two of them pulled from the Cherry Tree album and another with A and B sides pulled from a 1967 EP titled What Are We Gonna Do. None charted.

Just Us was the second group to record “I Can’t Grow Peaches on a Cherry Tree,” which was written by Camille Monte and Estelle Levitt. Second Hand Songs says that The Browns (with the addendum, “Featuring Jim Edward Brown”) were the first in June 1965. Their version bubbled under at No. 120. Just Us recorded the tune in December of 1965, followed by Nancy Sinatra in August 1966, a group called the Defenders in December 1966, and Teddy Bear & The Playboys sometime in 1967. Second Hand Songs also lists one instrumental version by Art Blakey in September 1966 and a version in Portuguese by Jerry Adriani in October 1965.

And that’s likely more than we need to know about “I Can’t Grow Peaches on a Cherry Tree.” I’ll likely check out Nancy Sinatra’s version, but probably not any of the others. For today, we’ll go with the hit. So here’s “I Can’t Grow Peaches on a Cherry Tree” by Just Us, today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 635

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

I didn’t sleep well, unaided by cats who demanded breakfast at 7 a.m., and my back hurts this morning, more than it has for some time.

I’m in a cranky mood. None of the 77,000-some tracks in the RealPlayer have the word “cranky” either in their titles, their album titles or their notes. This increases the cranky quotient.

The word “back,” however, brings up more than 1,400 results. Some of them – as is usual with a RealPlayer search – must be discarded, as they contain the word “backing” in their listing or they link to an album, like the Bible’s Walking The Ghost Back Home (1986). Stuff like that.

In addition, many of the titles in the search results refer to “go back” or “come back” or similar usages, not to “back” as a body part. But there are a few tracks I can pull to offer something back-related to listen to this morning.

And we find a track from an album I discovered in 1998, during my last year on Pleasant Avenue in South Minneapolis. “Get Off My Back” is on the self-titled 1975 album by a group called High Cotton. The information at discogs.com categorizes the band as Southern Rock and seems to indicate that the band never released another album. (A single, “Going Up To Get Down,” was pulled from the album; it was the group’s only released single.)

I recall having high hopes for the album and being vaguely disappointed with it, but twenty-plus years later, “Get Off My Back” sounds pretty good. Not world-beating, but good enough for a Saturday morning.

That’s why “Get Off My Back” from High Cotton’s 1975 self-titled album is today’s Saturday Single.