Posts Tagged ‘Brenda Lee’

Saturday Single No. 514

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

The top ten records in the Billboard Hot 100 that was released fifty years ago today – October 22, 1966 – make, with one exception, a great stretch of listening:

“Reach Out I’ll Be There” by the Four Tops
“96 Tears” by ? & The Mysterians
“Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees
“Cherish” by the Association
“Psychotic Reaction” by Count Five
“Walk Away Renee” by the Left Banke
“Poor Side of Town” by Johnny Rivers
“What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” by Jimmy Ruffin
“Dandy” by Herman’s Hermits
“See See Rider” by Eric Burdon & The Animals

Even though I was about three years away from rescuing my grandpa’s old RCA radio from the basement and listening to Top 40 every night, I knew most of those during my second month of eighth grade. I probably would not have recognized the Count Five record nor perhaps “See See Rider,” but I heard the others all around me and liked most of them although even then I thought that “Dandy” was pretty slight.

But as I often do when looking at a long-ago Hot 100, I’m going to head toward the bottom of the chart in search of something new or different (or at least forgotten). Way down at the bottom, bubbling under at No. 135, is “Clock” by Eddie Rambeau. When I saw that it was produced by Bob Crewe, I had hopes for it, but it’s pretty bland. It turns out that “Clock” was the last of five records that Rambeau got into or near the Hot 100; four of them did no more than bubble under, but his cover of “Concrete and Clay” went to No. 35 in the spring of 1965. (The original, by Unit Four plus Two, went to No. 28 the same week.)

Still in the Bubbling Under section, I see records by Don Covay, the Baja Marimba Band, Laura Nyro, Del Shannon, Bert Kaempfert, the Shirelles and the Chiffons. And I see two versions of “Dommage, Dommage (Too Bad, Too Bad),” one by Jerry Vale, whose name I recognize, and one by Paul Vance, whose name is new to me, as is the tune. As I expected, it’s a slow sad ballad; I might have found it moving when I was thirteen (and vainly besotted with a sweet blonde who sat near me in science class), but it’s not what I’m looking for today. Vale’s version peaked at No. 93 and Vance’s at No. 97; Vale’s version went to No. 5 on the chart that is now called Adult Contemporary.

In the records ranked from No. 80 to No. 99, I see a lot of familiar names – B.B. King, Brian Hyland, Lee Dorsey, Percy Sledge, the Standells, Bobby Bland, the O’Jays, James Carr and more – but not a lot of familiar records. Still, nothing much catches my attention, so we climb upward.

At No. 77, we find one of two versions in this chart of “The Wheel of Hurt,” this one by Al Martino, a regular in the charts from 1959 to 1977. I remember him best for his 1967 record “Mary in the Morning.” The other version of “The Wheel of Hurt” in the Hot 100 fifty years ago today was Margaret Whiting’s version at No. 68. I know Margaret Whiting’s name as one of the most successful female vocalists of the 1940s. “The Wheel of Hurt” was her most successful offering of ten charting or near-charting records in the Hot 100 era, going to No. 26 in the Hot 100 and to No. 4 on the AC chart. Martino’s version got to only No. 59 in the Hot 100 and went to No. 12 on the AC chart. Still I’m not pulled in, and we go up to the records ranking from Nos. 50 to 59.

Back in the Bubbling Under section, we passed Patti Page’s cover of “Almost Persuaded” sitting at No. 113. It would go no higher, but it’s worth noting because David Houston’s original version of the song was still in the Hot 100, sitting at No. 43 after peaking at No. 24. (Thinking about Houston’s record always reminds me of Leo Rau, the record and candy jobber who lived across the alley; in one of the boxes of records he passed on to me in the mid-1960s were several sleeves for the Houston single although I’m not sure I ever got a copy of the record.)

Also in the Hot 100 fifty years ago today was “Almost Persuaded No. 2,” a drunken-sounding satire of Houston’s record recorded by Sheb Wooley of “Purple People Eater” fame and released under the name of Ben Colder. It was one of five novelty sequels to popular country tunes credited to Colder; none did very well, with “Almost Persuaded No. 2” doing the best by reaching No. 58.

Then we reach No. 42, and we find a record that’s new to me and that I’m a little reluctant to write about. That’s not because it’s not a good one, but because seeing it in the chart makes me feel a little stupid. It’s a record I should have known about a long time ago, and my only defense is that I was thirteen when it was in the charts. Anyway, from what I see at oldiesloon, Brenda Lee’s “Coming On Strong” did not make the survey at the Twin Cities’ KDWB, which was the main St. Cloud source of Top 40 tunes in 1966, so I’m not sure where I could have heard it.

Lee’s record was heading up to No. 11, and, as I said, I should have known about it a long time ago, and not just because it’s a good record. I should have known about it because I should have tried to figure out years ago exactly what Golden Earring meant with the line “Brenda Lee is comin’ on strong” in the 1974 hit “Radar Love.” Well, confession is supposed to be good for the soul, and I’ll confess here that sometimes I’m an idiot.

And with that, here’s Brenda Lee’s “Coming On Strong,” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 313

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

So, it’s October 27, and we need a single. Well, let’s look at a few October 27 radio station surveys from some years gone by, using Nos. 10 and 27 as guideposts. We’ll check the No. 1 singles along the way, but only for context.

Back in 1958, New York City’s WMGM shows “Topsy II” by Cozy Cole in the top spot of its survey. Sitting at No. 10 was “Susie Darlin’” by Robert Luke, and “Near You” by Roger Williams held down spot No. 27.

Three years later at Los Angeles’ KRLA, Dion’s “Runaround Sue” was atop the chart, while Gene Thomas’ “Sometime” was at No. 10 and Jimmy Elledge’s version of Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away” sat at No. 27.

Another three years brings us to 1964, and on October 27 of that year, Pittsburgh’s KQW had the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack” atop its survey. The No. 10 record was Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy Diddy,” and sitting at No. 27 was “Is It True” by Brenda Lee.

On October 27, 1967, the No. 1 record at the great WLS of Chicago was “The Letter” by the Box Tops.” Sitting at No. 10 was Billie Joe Royal’s “Hush,” while Robert Knight’s “Everlasting Love” held down spot No. 27.

There are no October 27, 1970, charts in the Airheads Radio Survey Archive, so we’ll drop back a year and see what the last week of October looked like in 1969 at WPOP in Hartford, Connecticut. The No. 1 record at WPOP that week was “Smile A Little Smile For Me” by the Flying Machine, while the No. 10 spot on the station’s survey was “Take A Letter Maria” by R. B. Greaves. Sitting at No. 27 was the Grass Roots’ “Heaven Knows.”

And we’ll stick with our original plan and close this exercise in 1973. On October 27 of that year, New Orleans’ WTIX had Gladys Knight & The Pips’ “Midnight Train to Georgia” atop its survey. The No. 10 record was Paul Simon’s “Loves Me Like A Rock,” while the No. 27 spot in the survey was occupied by Ringo Starr’s “Photograph.”

The No. 10 and No. 27 slots have brought us some very familiar stuff and some rather obscure stuff this morning. The records from the 1973 and 1969 charts are almost over-familiar, so we’ll pass them by. Of the four records from 1958 and 1961, I’m most tempted by Elledge’s take on “Funny How Time Slips Away,” but I think I might find a spot for that in a piece down the road.

So, as we seek one record for this Saturday, we’re down to four: Two from 1964 and two from 1967. I can find another slot for the very good Robert Knight record in the next few weeks, and I’m sorely tempted by both Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” and Billy Jo Royal’s “Hush.”

But I learned this morning from several YouTube posts two things that my readers might already have recalled: The Brenda Lee single – which went to No. 17 in the Billboard Hot 100 – was recorded in London and has Jimmy Page on guitar. That pedigree, along with a strong performance from Lee herself, makes “Is It True” today’s Saturday Single.

(Did the original record include the count-in? It seems unlikely, but I don’t know.)