‘Dreamin’ Those Dreams Again . . .’

One can tell, just by looking at the cloud of artists’ names here and at Echoes In The Wind Archives, that one of the main pillars on which this blog has rested is Johnny Rivers. There are a few artists whose names are larger in those two clouds, but not many.* I think I know his catalog pretty well, but I was reminded again this morning how vast that catalog is.

Poking through the Billboard Hot 100 from January 22, 1966 – forty-seven years ago today – I saw Rivers’ name listed at No. 35 with “Under Your Spell Again.” I didn’t recognize the title, and I wandered off to YouTube to dig.

I’d never heard Rivers’ version, but at that point, I recognized the song (though I do not know when or where I’ve ever heard it) and learned rapidly that Buck Owens wrote it and took it to No. 4 on the country chart in 1959.

Just to wrap things up before I go deal with the minor tasks of real life, Rivers’ version went no higher in 1966, peaking at No. 35. The website Second Hand Songs lists twenty-seven versions of the song (although there are likely more out there).  Lloyd Price’s version bubbled under at No. 123 in 1962, while on the country chart, Ray Price’s version went to No. 5 in 1959 and a duet by Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter went to No. 39 in 1971. Here’s that duet (which I like a lot):

And we’ll leave it there this morning (although I think I’d like to dig up the version of the tune that the band Southern Fried released in 1971). Unless the bottom drops out, I’ll be here tomorrow, most likely looking at versions of “Spanish Harlem.”

*After writing this post, I did a quick bit of research. Between this site and the earlier locations of Echoes In The Wind (with about nine months’ worth of posts yet to be revived at the archives site), Rivers’ music has been featured twenty-six times. Only three other artists and one group have been featured more. Here’s the top five:

Bob Dylan (57)
Bruce Springsteen (40)
Richie Havens (29)
The Band (28)
Johnny Rivers (26)

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6 Responses to “‘Dreamin’ Those Dreams Again . . .’”

  1. JohnnyC says:

    The question remains: why isn’t Johnny Rivers in the HOF? It’s criminal how underappreciated this man is, both as an artist and as a recording executive. A good deal of the ’60s American pop/rock sound bears his signature. From “Poor Side of Town” to the sweet sonic confections of the Fifth Dimension…it’s all there.

  2. Yah Shure says:

    “Under Your Spell Again” is probably number two (two! two!) on my list of Rivers faves, just behind “Where Have All The Flowers Gone.”

    I don’t recall where in the cutouts it turned up in ’78 – probably Zayre at 25th & Division – but Johnny’s new-to-me ’20 Greatest Hits’ album beckoned for a mere $3.49. I picked up a couple copies: one for my own collection and one to play on WJON.

    ’20 Greatest Hits’ dug deep enough into Johnny’s catalog to include low charters like “These Are Not My People,” “Fire And Rain” and the LP version of “Into The Mystic.” The “Flowers” were gone, but “Under Your Spell Again” was present and accounted for, making both its stereo debut and first-ever LP appearance.

    The album turned out to have been a 1976 Canadian TV offering from TeeVee Records International. Although the back cover bore the United Artists Records logo, the actual record sported Liberty’s mothballed Sunset budget label. Then there’s the unintentionally funny ad on the back cover for the 2-LP ‘Anka/Sedaka’ collection, juxtaposing a ridiculously-overtanned Mr. Anka with Mr. Pasty Face.

  3. Steve E. says:

    I especially love Rivers’ 1966-68 material, including his versions of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Do You Want to Dance” as well as “Going Back to Big Sur,” “Tunesmith” and “Do What You Gotta Do.” And above all, the majestic “Summer Rain,” one of my favorite records, period.

  4. porky says:

    “….Liberty’s mothballed Sunset budget label.” Ugh, those discs are akin to plastic plates used for picnics.

    In Dylan’s “Chronicles” he stated that Johnny’s version of “Positively Fourth Street” was his favorite cover. Of course Bob’s whole career has been putting people on…..

    Didn’t Johnny hold the publishing for Jimmy Webb? If so he probably doesn’t have to play too many casinos or state fairs….

  5. Yah Shure says:

    ” Ugh, those discs are akin to plastic plates used for picnics.” You could say that about all Liberty/Imperial LPs after they dropped RCA’s custom pressing services in 1967. At least the Rivers ’20 Greatest’ record was pressed by United Artists, Ltd. in Canada, on decent quality vinyl. And it had to be, with ten songs shoehorned onto each side.

    Heard an ad just yesterday on WCCO Radio for an April 20th Rivers show at Treasure Island Casino near Red Wing.

  6. [...] which way do we go this morning? Well, we’ve talked briefly about the Buck Owens record before, and the O’Dell, Smith and Sweat singles don’t really grab me (though I may give Lonnie Liston [...]

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