Baby Grand? ‘Lucy Cain’?

Looking for a radio survey from today’s date in 1972 – forty-five years ago – I came upon only two such surveys at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive: one from WMEX in Boston and another from WISM in Madison, Wisconsin. And the latter result amused me, as I’m pretty sure that one of WISM’s listeners in those days – at times, anyway – was my pal jb, who grew up on a farm not far away from Wisconsin’s capital and lives now in a small city adjacent to Madison.

So I took a look at the top ten records listed there:

“It Never Rains In Southern California” by Albert Hammond
“Something’s Wrong With Me” by Austin Roberts
“Papa Was A Rolling Stone” by the Temptations
“Clair” by Gilbert O’Sullivan
“I’m Stone In Love With You” by the Stylistics
“If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
“Summer Breeze” by Seals & Crofts
“Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul
“Ventura Highway” by America
“You Ought To Be With Me” by Al Green

The top five has a couple of misses, at least to my ears – the records by Roberts and O’Sullivan never hit my sweet spot – but the other eight would make for a very nice half-hour of listening. The one I know the least is the Al Green tune, but listening to it this morning I’d be willing to put it in second place among those ten. (It would take a hell of a record to push “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” from the top of this heap.)

Even though – as I’ve noted before – my listening at the time was becoming more album-oriented as time went on, I still heard enough Top 40 around me that almost all of the records in the lower spots on the WISM survey were familiar as well. To be precise, as I scan the titles and artists listed in the thirty spots on the survey and the three hit-bound entries, there’s only one pairing that’s a mystery to me: “Lucy Cain” by Baby Grand, sitting at No. 23, up three spots from the week before.

I would guess that “Lucy Cain” would be a mystery to many: Out of the thousands of radio surveys cataloged at ARSA, WISM’s Music Guide from December 7, 1972, is the only one that lists the record. And it seems to have not yet been shared by any of the millions of folks who put tunes up at YouTube. (Although there are evidently three women with YouTube accounts by the name of Lucy Cain.)

So I googled. A copy of the record, which came out on the Hemisphere label, is available at Ebay, and a website titled That 70s Wisconsin Beat informs me that Baby Grand – as I suspected – was a local act. And the next entry in the googled results takes me to the lengthy comment section on a piece about the Wisconsin band Clicker by my pal Jeff at his blog AM, Then FM. A few commenters mention Baby Grand and “Lucy Cain,” but unless I missed something in the more than fifty comments, there’s no real info there.

Perhaps jb or Jeff can clue us in, or maybe our pal Yah Shure. Or someone.

Regrouping, I dropped to the bottom of the WISM survey and picked out the third listed of the three hit-bound singles. I remember hearing and liking the Hollies’ “Long Dark Road,” but I haven’t heard it for years. It’s not on the digital shelves here now, and I doubt that it was there before the recent hard drive crash.

It wasn’t one of the Hollies’ biggest hits, reaching No. 26 in the Billboard Hot 100, but it’s worth a listen today:

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3 Responses to “Baby Grand? ‘Lucy Cain’?”

  1. Jeff Ash says:

    Baby Grand was the second incarnation of the band that became Clicker, which during the ’70s was one of the most popular show bands on the Midwest club/campus/roadhouse circuit. The band started out as the Bowery Boys in the late ’60s, with one single released on Hemisphere in 1969. “Lucy Cain” was the second of two singles released by Baby Grand on Hemisphere in 1972. (I have the first Baby Grand 45, which has a cover of Spirit’s “Nature’s Way” on the B side, but not the second.) By the next year, the band had become Clicker.

  2. Jeff Ash says:

    I should add that the Bowery Boys, Baby Grand and Clicker all were out of Madison, Wisconsin, so Baby Grand was getting hometown play on WISM. The Hemisphere label belonged to their managers, so a local label as well.

  3. Yah Shure says:

    jb might be able to comment on the Baby Grand-Jonathan Little-WISM connection, but I’d never heard of the record until your post. They did manage to get it pressed at the former Capitol Records plant in Scranton, which would have been owned by NAMI at the time. But no copies appear to have made it past Eau Claire.

    As for the Hollies’ “Long Dark Road”: the clip you linked to plays the 45 version of the song, which was also included on the shown ‘Hollies’ Greatest Hits’ album, even though that album’s label incorrectly listed the 4:19 album version length.

    One of the St. Cloud retailers I’d phone for weekly sales figures was Tom, who ran the record department at the Zayre store at 25th & Division. When it closed and became Byerly’s/Supervalu, Tom transferred to the manager position at Musicland’s store in the Eden Prairie Center. When I’d visit the Twin Cities, I’d occasionally drop by to say hi.

    Tom was kind enough to offer me a discount on any albums I might be interested in, and one of those was a belated purchase of the Hollies’ 1972 ‘Distant Light’ LP. It had been several years since I’d heard the full “Long Dark Road” album version, so a few nights later, I took it with me to play on WJON.

    I’d completely forgotten how much longer it took the group to get to the hook on the unedited track, but what really stood out upon hearing it again was how the ending of the song went on… and on… and on.

    Within the next hour, Rick, a Radio 12 Trivia regular, phoned in to reply to a contest question. In addition to providing the answer, Rick made a comment about the interminable ending to the Hollies song I’d played earlier. I still laugh about that.

    If you hear the song begin to play, here’s how to tell if it’s the 45 version: listen to the word “start” 24 seconds in. The vocals are very wet, and when the CBS/Epic engineers made the edit immediately after that word, the reverb trail on the vocal ends *very* abruptly. On the longer album version, the reverb decays naturally before the next, uncut verse unfolds.

    “Long Dark Road” might well be THE lost Hollies 45. It wasn’t even issued as a single in the U.K., where the group had just moved from Parlophone to Polydor (which was already working “Magic Woman Touch”.) Canada showed little interest, and in all likelihood, history will view the song’s U.S. top 30 success as the fumes left in its huge predecessor’s wake.

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