Posts Tagged ‘Ray Charles’

One Survey Dig: 12-7-67

Friday, December 7th, 2018

My plans for playing “What’s At No. 100?” fell through today, as both December 7 charts I looked at came from years that we’ve recently examined: 1968 (earlier this week) and 1974 (a week ago). So I regrouped and asked the search function at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive to give me surveys from December 7, 1967, from which I’d choose one to examine.

I got surveys from Los Angeles, Peterborough (Ontario), New York City, Boston, Orlando, Detroit/Dearborn, St. Louis, Chicago, and Phoenix. So . . . let’s see what shows up among the forty records in the Super Hits at WHOO in Orlando. The top five were:

“(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts” by the Bee Gees
“Hello, Goodbye” by the Beatles
“Daydream Believer” by the Monkees
“Snoopy’s Christmas” by the Royal Guardsmen
“Woman, Woman” by Union Gap feat. Gary Puckett

Not bad, except for the novelty of “Snoopy’s Christmas.” I enjoyed the earlier “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron,” and in fact had a copy of it that I got from Leo Rau, the jukebox jobber who lived across the alley (and the record itself might be in the various boxes where I keep about a hundred 45s). But on an artistic level, I always thought (even from the age of fourteen) that the Royal Guardsmen should have let the matter lie there. But the Royal Guardsmen, along with the writers – George David Weiss and Hugo & Luigi – and the producers at Gernhard Enterprises were, of course, thinking commercially. And they did well with the sequel, spending – if I’m reading the data in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles correctly – five weeks atop the Christmas singles chart.

(Yah Shure, if I’ve got that wrong, please enlighten me.)

Anyway, back to Orlando: The first thing of interest that I note is a record titled “Paper Man” by a group called Noah’s Ark. There’s no information about the group in the Whitburn book. The notes at YouTube tell us that Noah’s Ark hailed from Tampa, Florida, and had three singles released. At Discogs.com, we learn that the first two were on Decca and the final one was on Liberty. “Paper Man” isn’t bad, but its Beatlesque sound is something that thousands of other bands were doing at the time.

One notch down from “Paper Man” we find Wilson Pickett’s two-sided single, “Stag-O-Lee/I’m In Love.” The A-side rocks a little and the B-side sways on the dance floor, but they’re just okay. Unlike the Noah’s Ark single, Pickett’s B-side did make the Billboard charts: “Stag-O-Lee” went to No. 22 (and to No. 13 on the magazine’s R&B chart) and “I’m In Love” reached No. 45 (and No. 4 R&B).

Heading further down on the WHOO Super Hits, we find Ray Charles’ cover of the Beatles’ “Yesterday” at No. 21. It’s good (and I’m tempted to add “of course” to that assessment; I mean, we’re talking ’bout Ray Charles here). Charles’ cover went to No. 25 in the Hot 100 and to No. 9 on the R&B chart.

I’m not sure how often we’ve talked about Dean Martin during these eleven-plus years, but it’s not been often. But there, at No. 36 on the Super Hits survey is Deano with “In The Misty Moonlight.” It sways nicely and gently, rhyming “moonlight” with “firelight,” and Martin’s smooth tones make it work. I likely have heard “In The Misty Moonlight” before, because it went to No. 2 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart (No. 46 on the Hot 100), and easy listening sounds were what I gravitated to back in 1967.

One final thing I’ll note from the WHOO Super Hits from fifty-one years ago today: The Super Hit Album of the Week was listed at “Ravi Shankar at Monterey.” The album’s full title was actually Ravi Shankar At The Monterey International Pop Festival; it went to No. 43 on the Billboard 200. Here’s a clip showing some of Shankar’s performance at the festival, starting with a few scenes away from the stage. I do not know if this performance is on the album.

Saturday Single No. 486

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

So, what were they listening to around the English-speaking world fifty years ago today? Let’s find out a little bit, anyway, by taking a look at four surveys offered at the Airheads Survey Radio Archive. We’ll check out the No. 27 record (selected for today’s date), hoping to find something worthy for a listen on a Saturday morning, and along the way, as we generally do, we’ll check out the No. 1 records.

Across the pond and anchored in the North Sea, Radio London was in its last year of sending its Fab 40 – as it called its survey – to British pop fans. The so-called pirate station began broadcasting in December 1964 and shut down in August 1967, when its activities became illegal under British law. It was still going strong in February of 1966, though, and fifty years ago today, it released its Fab 40 for the week. Parked at No. 27 was “Hide & Seek” by the Sheep, a record I don’t ever recall hearing. Checking the U.S. charts, I learn why: The record got only as high as No. 58 on the Billboard Hot 100, and in those years before I was much of a pop listener, I wouldn’t have likely heard a record that didn’t make the Top Twenty.

The Sheep was actually the group the Strangeloves, who charted several times in 1965-66, most notably with “I Want Candy,” which went to No. 11 in the U.S. The joke, of course, is that the Strangeloves were marketed in the U.S. as wealthy Australian sheep farmers. As to “Hide & Seek,” a garage anthem heavy on the drums, bass and sax, the next week’s Radio London survey finds it moving up to No. 23. Sadly, the next two surveys are missing at ARSA, and by the time March 27 rolled around, “Hide & Seek” had dropped from the Fab 40.

The No. 1 record on Radio London fifty years ago today was “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion” by the Kinks.

Heading Down Under, we check the Top 40 at 4BC in Brisbane, Queensland, where the No. 27 record on February 27, 1966, was “Wind Me Up (Let Me Go)” by Cliff Richard. I’ve written before that I’ve never quite understood the attractions of Cliff Richard’s music (save, perhaps, for “Devil Woman”), and if I didn’t get it during the years I listened to Top 40, I certainly wouldn’t have known anything from before those years, and that’s certainly the case with the plaintive “Wind Me Up (Let Me Go).” The record was on its way back down 4BC’s survey, having peaked a few weeks earlier at No. 13. It did not make the Billboard charts in the U.S., falling in the nearly four year period from August 1964 to June of 1968 when Richard was absent from the Hot 100.

The No. 1 record on 4BC fifty years ago today was “My Generation” by the Who.

Stepping on American soil, we head to the shores of Lake Michigan and check out the Silver Dollar Music Survey at WRIT in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And perched at No. 27 we find the melancholy classic “Crying Time” by Ray Charles. The record peaked there a week later at No. 25. Nationally, the record went to No. 6 in the Billboard Hot 100, to No. 5 on the magazine’s R&B chart and was No. 1 for three weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart. Even the kid who listened to trumpet music and soundtracks at the time remembers hearing that one coming out of the speakers.

The No. 1 record at WRIT fifty years ago was Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.”

Our last stop this morning takes us northwest, across the Canadian border and up to Edmonton, Alberta, where CHED released its Hitline Top Thirty. Barely making the cut at No. 27 fifty years ago today was “Call Me” by Chris Montez. I know the song, and I suppose I’ve heard Montez’ version before; it went to No. 22 in the Hot 100 and to No. 2 on the AC chart. But Montez’ voice is not one I would associate with the song; in my head, I hear a female voice, but it’s not Petula Clark’s version, which evidently was the original. Montez’ version is not bad, but his voice is pretty thin (and I’ve always though the same about his performance on his better-known hit, “Let’s Dance,” which went to No. 4 in 1962). I do like the backing on “Call Me,” and I note that “Let’s Dance” was included on the massive 2013 box set The Wrecking Crew: We Got Good At It, so it’s quite likely, I would think, that it’s the Wrecking Crew backing Montez on “Call Me.”

The No. 1 record in the Hitline Top Thirty fifty years ago today was “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.”

So, we have four candidates. The Cliff Richard record drops out immediately, and the Sheep’s “Hide & Seek” – not awful but not what I needed this morning – goes next. “Call Me” is a great song, but Montez’ vocal just doesn’t do it for me. So we end up with Brother Ray, and that’s not a bad place to end up. Here’s “Crying Time,” today’s Saturday Single.

In The Cool Of The Night

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Sometime Sunday afternoon, the furnace here became uncooperative.

During the winter, we generally keep the indoor temperature at about 68, adjusting the thermostat to account for the slight warming and frequent cooling trends outdoors. But around mid-afternoon Sunday, we realized the indoor temperature was dropping, and nudging the thermostat upward wasn’t having any effect.

Finally, in the early evening, when we pushed the red bar on the thermostat up to where it was (theoretically) calling for 80 degrees, the furnace kicked in and things got warmer. When the temperature got to about 70, we pulled the red bar down to that level. And the temperature started to drop.

We didn’t want to bother our landlord on a Sunday, so at about nine o’clock, we pushed the red bar up high again, let the place warm up, and then pulled the bar down, hoping it wouldn’t get too cool overnight.

When I got up Monday morning, it was 59 degrees in the house. I tinkered a moment with the furnace and the thermostat and got nowhere. So I put our space heater in the bathroom so the Texas Gal could take care of her morning routine in relative comfort, and after I got back from taking her to work – I do so on sub-zero mornings – I called our landlord and waited for a call back. As I waited, I managed to get the furnace going, and I did the red bar dance the rest of the morning.

It turns out that our landlord is out of the country. His wife called back around noon and said she’d called their furnace guy, and he’d be by around five. I let the temperature do the roller coaster through the afternoon, until Andy the furnace guy showed up. Andy quickly determined that a fan in the furnace needed replacing. He didn’t have a spare immediately at hand, but he said he’d find one by morning. He showed me how to get the furnace running manually if it ever quit responding to the red bar.

That evening, we got the temperature on the main floor to about 72 and then let it go for the night, relying on the space heater to warm the bathroom and the loft where we sleep. When we got up Tuesday, it was 50 degrees in the house, or perhaps colder; the thermometer on the thermostat only goes down to 50. I started the furnace manually, and it was maybe 60 degrees by the time Andy got here.

I pulled the space heater into the study, and as Andy worked on the furnace – replacing a circuit board as well as a fan – I put on a third shirt and shivered as I sat at the computer, periodically moving the space heater from one side of me to the other. Andy finished his work about noon, and I set the red bar at 75 and started the slow process of bringing the temperature back up to 68.

By the time we retired, we were comfortable. And we remained so through the night and on into the morning.

And though the tune that I dug out of the stacks would be more appropriate during summer than it is now, it’s hard to resist Ray Charles. So here Brother Ray’s 1967 theme from the movie In The Heat Of The Night. It went to No. 33 in the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 21 on the R&B chart.

‘You Done Your Daddy Wrong . . .’

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Back when I was a little horn-playing sprout, listening to my Herb Alpert and Al Hirt records on our RCA stereo, I found myself wanting to dance every time the needle got to the last track on Hirt’s 1963 album, Honey In The Horn. With its rapid tempo, its lip-rippling horn riffs, and its background singers chants of “Go along, go along,” I loved Hirt’s cover of Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On.”

Of course, at the age of twelve or so, I had no idea it was a cover. I had no idea who Hank Snow was. And I had no idea that Snow’s 1950 original had topped the country chart for a record-tying twenty-one weeks, matching the performance of Eddy Arnold’s 1947 release, “I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms).” (In 1955, Webb Pierce tied Arnold and Snow when his “In The Jailhouse Now” was No. 1 for twenty-one weeks, and in 2013, notes Wikipedia, the three records were dropped from their record-holding positions when “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line spent twenty-four weeks at No. 1.*)

I’m not sure when I learned about Snow’s original – sometime between 1965 and 2000, I guess – but it’s without a doubt one of the classics of country music:

The record came to mind the other day when I heard a version of “I’m Movin’ On” by Johnny Cash with Waylon Jennings that was recently released on Out Among the Stars, a collection of recently discovered Cash recordings from 1981 and 1984. And I wondered what other covers might be out there, expecting the list to be lengthy.

And I was right: Second Hand Songs lists more than fifty covers of the Snow song, and there are others at Amazon (though many of those listings are the Rascal Flatts song with the same title). And Wikipedia references a few other covers. I don’t entirely trust that list, however, as it cites covers by Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin, and I can find no indication that either Dylan or Zep recorded the song. (Dylan’s official website does note that he performed the song in concert nineteen times between 1989 and 1993.)

Some of the covers have hit the various charts. On the country chart, Don Gibson took the song to No. 14 in 1960, and a live version by Emmylou Harris went to No. 5 in 1983. (The Harris version linked here is from an anthology, and I believe it’s the single version from the live Last Date album, though I imagine the single might have had the introduction trimmed. If it’s the wrong performance, I’d appreciate knowing about it.)

Three versions of the tune have also hit the pop chart: A jaunty cover by Ray Charles went to No. 40 (and to No. 11 on the R&B chart) in 1959, singer Matt Lucas took the song to No. 59 in 1963 in his only appearance on the chart, and John Kay saw his Steppenwolf-ish cover of the tune go to No. 52 in 1972.

And that’s enough for today. We’ll be back later this week with some more.

*Based on what I read at Wikipedia, I have some reservations about “Cruise” holding the record for most weeks at No. 1, as some of those twenty-four weeks belong to the original release and some of them belong to a remix by hip-hop artist Nelly. If there’s a remix, is it the same record?

Jerry’s Tiny Record Collection

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

I found him in my stocking on Christmas morning in 1961, if I recall correctly. He was one of those little plastic trolls that became a major fad a couple of times in the years since, those little Scandinavian trolls that are so ugly they’re cute. I actually think the troll I found at the bottom of my Christmas stocking was one of the first on the market because he was different from the ones that came later: Jerry – and I have no idea why I called him that; it was an eight-year-old’s decision – was made of smooth shiny plastic, not with the matte finish that I’ve seen on every plastic troll since, and his eyes were colored black on the plastic surface, not made from glass beads.

Jerry came from Denmark. He even came with a passport that said so. Jerry’s passport said he was manufactured by the company founded in northern Jutland by Thomas Dam and carried the legend “Another Dam thing from Denmark.” I giggled at the faux profanity.

I imagine that I had some idea of where Denmark was when I was eight. I’m sure I knew it was one of the Scandinavian countries, as my half-Swedish heritage and things Swedish were important in our home. I probably recognized the design of the cover of Jerry’s passport: a white cross on a red field, modeled after the Danish flag just as the Swedish flag is a yellow cross on a blue field.

Anyway, I had a Danish troll. During the early times, he was pulled into the games my sister and I played. He became the very much larger brother in our family of small dolls and figures, whose adventures occupied us for hundreds of rainy and chilly days. (One of that tiny family’s favorite pastimes, I recall, was watching the fictional show Sea Urchin on a television screen drawn crudely on a small piece of wood.) And the rest of the time, when he was not cavorting with Elfy, Billy and the rest of his plastic family, Jerry sat on my desk through my childhood, my adolescence and onward.

When I went to Denmark for my junior year of college, he went with me. How could he not? It was his homeland. Most of the time there, he sat on my desks at my Danish family’s house and in my room at the youth hostel. But when I traveled, he did too, nestled inside my shaving kit. (Though I didn’t shave for most of that time, that’s what I called the little case anyway.) And for at least a moment or two at every place I stopped or stayed, from London to Moscow, from Rome to Narvik, I pulled Jerry out of the kit and let him look around.

As I write, he’s standing on the turntable cover to my left, positioned between the earpieces of my headphones, with the same impish grin and huge ears he’s always had, spreading his plastic arms wide to embrace the world, as he’s always done. (I wish I had a picture to share, but the only slide I ever took of Jerry was plagued by an eight-year-old’s photographic inexperience, and the digital camera is not available as I write. Additionally, every on-line picture I find is of later trolls with matte skin and glass eyes; I think Jerry may be the last of his kind.)

So what makes Jerry matter in this venue? Beyond the fact that he’s been my tiny companion for nearly fifty years, there’s also the fact that in the 1960s, Jerry had one hell of a record collection. Soon after I got him, I made a small house for him out of a cardboard box and set about furnishing it. A small weaving I did in school became his carpet. I found boxes that could work as cabinets, and he kept his valuables in Dad’s discarded metal canisters that had held Kodak film. And I – excuse me – jerry-rigged other things to provide him a good home.

Along the way, I found a magazine ad for one of the record clubs. Older readers will remember the ads: They were on heavy paper and showed the front covers – in graphics that were about a half-inch square – of maybe two hundred LPs. Those covers were partially die-cut so they could be punched out and glued to one’s membership application to indicate which records you wanted as your first gleanings from the record club.

And when I found one of those ads during the time I was furnishing Jerry’s home, I punched out a bunch of those little album covers and placed them in Jerry’s shoebox. He had a record collection! So what did he listen to? I don’t recall all of it, but I know there were a couple of Frank Sinatra albums, one or two records by Stan Getz, a few soundtracks – the red cover to West Side Story sticks in my mind here – and probably some other light jazz and vocal pop. This would have been around 1962, remember, when Peter, Paul & Mary and Ray Charles’ country albums would have been the edgiest things to top the charts.

So, using for the most part the list of Top Five albums from October 20, 1962, here is a six-pack of records that Jerry might have listened to in his shoebox in the autumn of that year:

“500 Miles” by Peter, Paul & Mary. This was a track on the trio’s self-titled debut album, which was No. 1 in the October 20, 1962, chart and stayed there for seven weeks. The album provided the trio with two Top 40 singles: “Lemon Tree” went to No. 35 in early June of 1962, and “If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song)” went to No. 10 that autumn.

“Desafinado” by Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd from Jazz Samba. This album wasn’t in the Top Five as of October 20, 1962, but it could not have been far away. (With a little bit more digging and a little luck, I learned that the album was at No. 9 that week.) By the time the No. 1 album changed on December 1 (with Peter, Paul & Mary yielding to Allan Sherman and his My Son, The Folksinger), the Getz/Byrd album was No. 5. It spent forty-four weeks in the Top 40 and was No. 1 for one week in March of 1963. As for “Desafinado,” the single spent ten weeks in the Top 40, beginning at the end of October 1962, and peaked at No. 15.

“You Don’t Know Me” by Ray Charles. Pulled from Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, “You Don’t Know Me” was at No. 2 for one week in September 1962 and spent three weeks atop the Adult Contemporary chart. The Modern Sounds album – the first of two such albums Charles would record – was No. 1 for fourteen weeks during the summer and autumn of 1962 and was at No. 3 in the October 20, 1962, chart I’m using. It had been the source in the spring of 1962 for “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” which went to No. 1 in the Top 40 (five weeks), the R&B chart (ten weeks) and the Adult Contemporary chart (five weeks).

“Tonight” from the soundtrack to the film West Side Story. Probably the most famous song from the musical created by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, “Tonight” is most likely my favorite song from a Broadway musical or resulting film (and by extension, Jerry’s favorite as well). I don’t see any singles in the Top 40 from the film, but the soundtrack went to No. 1 in May of 1962 and was No. 1 for an incredible fifty-four non-consecutive weeks. On October 20, 1962, it was at No. 2.

“Ramblin’ Rose” by Nat King Cole. Taken from the album of the same name, “Ramblin’ Rose” spent thirteen weeks in the Top 40 and peaked at No. 2 in September of 1962. The album – at No. 5 on October 20, 1962 – spent fifty-three weeks in the Top 40 beginning in late September 1962 and peaked at No. 3.

“Ya Got Trouble” from the soundtrack to the film The Music Man. While “Ya Got Trouble” wasn’t a hit single – The Music Man threw off no Top 40 hits – it was nevertheless a brilliant performance, with Robert Preston’s savvy traveling con man creating a problem where none existed. And lots of folks heard it at home, as the soundtrack album was in the Top 40 for thirty-five weeks beginning in August 1962 and peaked at No. 2, staying there for six weeks. It was at No. 4 on the chart of October 20, 1962.

I made a reference to Klezmer music when I wrote about last week’s Saturday Single. I’ll be doing so again two days from now.