Posts Tagged ‘Tommy Roe’

Saturday Single No. 366

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

As certainly should have been expected, television and magazines (and to a lesser extent right now) newspapers are in historical mode this week, marking next week’s fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. By the end of next week, we’ll have been inundated with story after story about the events in Dallas that November day in 1963 and how they’ve reverberated through these last fifty years.

And we’ll go all anniversary again next February, when we mark fifty years since the Beatles first came to these shores and showed up in our living rooms via the Ed Sullivan show. That should be a bit more fun than this month’s reliving of the Kennedy assassination.

So we’re going to go back fifty years as well this morning, taking a look at four local radio surveys from fifty years ago today, a little less than a week before the world changed so abruptly and horribly. Given today’s date, we’ll see what records were at No. 11 and No. 16 on those local surveys and find our Saturday Single among them. We’ll also note, as we generally do, which records stood at No. 1 on that day at those stations.

We’ll start here in Minnesota, at the Twin Cities’ KDWB and its Fabulous Forty. Sitting at No. 11 is Tommy Roe’s “Everybody,” a record I’ve certainly heard but to which I’ve never paid any real attention. If, before this morning, someone had played it for me and asked me who I thought recorded it, I certainly would not have said Tommy Roe. I’m pleasantly surprised. Moving five spots down KDWB’s survey, we find Skeeter Davis with “I Can’t Stay Mad At You,” a shooby-dooby-laden record that I am certain I have never heard before. Parked at No. 1 in the KDWB survey, on the other hand, is a record that I’ve heard many times: “Deep Purple” by Nino Tempo and April Stevens.

From there, we’ll head to New England and Springfield, Massachusetts, where WHYN released its Radio 56 Survey. The No. 11 record there fifty years ago today was Joey Powers’ “Midnight Mary,” in which the singer asks his girl to meet him at midnight, just like always. That might have been slightly naughty fifty years ago, and I wonder how it came across to parents and other authority figures. (The kicker, of course, is that the couple is secretly married, which might have eased some moral concerns but also might have worried parents in another direction.) Sitting at No. 16 in Springfield was Barry & The Tamerlanes’ “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight,” an unimpressive record that’s entirely different from the similarly titled Boyce & Hart entry from 1967. (That latter record spelled its final word as “Tonite,” and I wonder as I write if that spelling was a purposeful deed intended to differentiate the two songs/records.) And finally for Springfield, we’ll note that the No. 1 record at WHYN fifty years ago today was the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.”

We’ll head west next, stopping at San Francisco’s KEWB, where the No. 11 record on the station’s Fabulous Forty was the Skeeter Davis record that was No. 16 in the Twin Cities. At No. 16, we find “Bossa Nova Baby” by Elvis Presley from the movie Fun in Acapulco. Some of Presley’s movie tunes were worthwhile, but this one doesn’t make that list, making our stop in San Francisco – the only west coast city with a station that released a survey that Saturday – a little disappointing. Sitting at No. 1 on KEWB was “Sugar Shack” by Jimmy Gilmer. (I should have been more precise and noted that the KBWE survey was the only West Coast one offered at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive; our pal Yah Shure checked out oldiesloon for us and reported below.)

Our final stop this morning is KBOX in Dallas. Perched at No. 11 is “Walking Proud” by Steve Lawrence, a record that sounds very much different than I expected. I anticipated sweet Fifties-style pop and got a record that sounds, actually, very rocking for 1963. Given the sound, it wouldn’t surprise me if the famed Wrecking Crew backed Lawrence on the Gerry Goffin/Carole King song. The No. 16 record at KBOX that week was Chubby Checker’s dance song “Loddy Lo,” which showed up over the years, perhaps on vinyl but often as a sing-along, at many, many parties. And the No. 1 record at KBOX in that week fifty years ago was Tommy Roe’s “Everybody.”

So, where do we turn on this Saturday morning? I’m very tempted by “Walking Proud” simply because of the backing. But Lawrence’s voice doesn’t quite work with the backing; there’s a mismatch there. And then, there’s the Roe single. I’m not helped by the fact that, with rare exception, anything I know about Top 40 prior to the Beatles – including a lot of Roe’s records – has been learned long after the fact. Tommy Roe, to the listener portion of me (as opposed to the historian) is the guy who did “Sweet Pea” and “Hooray for Hazel,” both of which I dislike. (On “Dizzy,” I am neutral.)

But “Everybody” is so good that I have to set aside what I hear as his later missteps. Tommy Roe’s “Everybody,” which went to No. 3, is today’s Saturday Single.

Vic & Some More Tommy

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

I’ve mentioned before the idea of the sweet spot, my friend Schultz’s term for the cluster of years in which one finds one’s most pertinent music. And as I’ve also mentioned before, mine falls in the years when the 1960s were ending and the 1970s began. Here’s a look at how the total number of posts here and at Echoes In The Wind Archives fall for those years and the years on either side (keeping in mind that I still have about a year’s worth of posts to put onto the archives site):

As have similar accountings over the past six years, this one underlines the fact that my favorite year for music was 1970. And still, even after more than forty-two years of digging into the tunes of that year, I can find something I’d never heard before.

I was rummaging around this morning at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive and playing around with today’s date of 3/19. I found seven surveys from around March 19, 1970 (I had planned to do only six, but saw that a survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB was available from March 23 of that year), and was checking to see what records were No. 1, No. 3 and No. 19. The other six stations were in Fresno, California; Orlando, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Hartford, Connecticut; Birmingham, Alabama; and St. Thomas, Ontario.

The No. 1 records, though good, were unsurprising: The Beatles’ “Let It Be” three times, Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” twice, and single instances of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s double-sided “Who’ll Stop The Rain/Travelin’ Band” and John Ono Lennon’s “Instant Karma.”

The No. 3 songs, with one exception, were familiar as well: Two mentions of “The Rapper” by the Jaggerz and single listings of “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Grows)” by Edison Lighthouse, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by the Hollies, “House of the Rising Sun” by Frijid Pink, and – at WSGN in Birmingham – “Instant Karma,” credited to John & Ono Lennon.

The surveys got more varied but were still mostly familiar at No. 19: “Don’t Worry Baby” (a cover of the Beach Boys’ hit) by the Tokens, “All I Have To Do Is Dream” by Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell, “Temma Harbour” by Mary Hopkin, “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” by the Delfonics, “Hey There Lonely Girl” by Eddie Holman and “Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You Baby)” by Lulu. That last record – one of my favorites, as readers likely already know – was on the KDWB survey, where it peaked at No. 6 (as opposed to No. 22 in the Billboard Hot 100), which explains why the record is so firmly in my 1970 data banks.

Sharp-eyed readers will note that I skipped over one of the No. 3 records and one of the No. 19 records. They turned out to be tracks I’d never heard before: At No. 3 at CHLO in St. Thomas, Ontario, sat “If I Never Knew Your Name” by Vic Dana, and at No. 19 at Birmingham’s WSGN was “Stir It Up and Serve It” by Tommy Roe.

Those are names that haven’t come up often in this space: I’ve mentioned Vic Dana four times over the course of writing about 1,200 posts, and I’ve mentioned Roe maybe ten times until this past week. Roe did show up here last week when I offered the title track from his 1967 album It’s Now Winters Day. And here he is again.

“Stir It Up and Serve It” falls more in line with Roe’s “Dizzy” and “Jam Up Jelly Tight” (though not as silly as that last) than it does with the reflective “Winters Day.” As I noted above, I’d never heard the record before, which isn’t surprising, as it only got to No. 50 in the Billboard charts. (Surveys at ARSA show it charting in the Top Twenty at stations in St. Louis, Milwaukee and Columbus, Ohio, as well as in Birmingham.)

And then there’s the Vic Dana single. A Neil Diamond composition (it was on Diamond’s 1969 album Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show, which was later retitled Sweet Caroline), the song gets a touch of Phil Spector from producer Ted Glasser. It’s a decent record that peaked at No. 47 in the Billboard Hot 100 and went to No. 14 on the AC chart.

The No. 3 ranking it got at CHLO is the highest in any of the surveys compiled at ARSA, but it also reached the Top Twenty at stations in Chicago, Columbus and Birmingham as well as in Waupun, Wisconsin; Provo, Utah; Springfield, Massachusetts; Hamilton, Ontario; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and New Haven, Connecticut. From what I can tell – combing through surveys at ARSA and Oldiesloon – “If I Never Knew Your Name” never showed up on KDWB’s survey.

‘Winter’s (Still) Here’

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

We had a nine-inch snowfall a couple of weeks ago. Last weekend, we had a couple of days of snow and freezing rain that turned the front sidewalk into an icy canal and the driveway into a bobsled run. We were hoping we might be done with snow and ice.

But it’s March in Minnesota, so we should have known better. The forecast for the next few days calls for more sleet and snow, so I’ll be shoveling some more, no doubt, as well as casting salt upon the glacier that’s forming along the east side of the driveway. And as the sleet rattles off the windows over the weekend, we’ll be cozy inside, with the Texas Gal no doubt thinking about planting, watering and harvesting from her garden next summer, and me likely looking forward to an summertime evening or two in a lawn chair, with the Texas Gal and a cold beer to keep me company.

In the meantime, here are a few tunes about the season that’s still hanging around.

Pianist Bill Pursell only got two records into the Billboard pop charts, so I didn’t recognize his name when I came across it this morning. But it took only about two bars of his “Our Winter Love” to recognize the record. I no doubt heard it on Minneapolis’ WCCO during February and March in 1963, when it went to No. 9 on the pop chart, No. 4 on the AC chart and No. 20 on the R&B chart. (Purcell’s album Our Winter Love went to No. 28 on the strength of the title tune.) I have idea how long it’s been since I heard the record, but as it played this morning, I knew it very well. But then, it’s the kind of thing the nine-year-old whiteray would have liked very much.

Tommy Roe’s name brings to my mind a number of silly hits including “Dizzy” and “Jam Up Jelly Tight.” That’s why I was a little startled a few years ago when I came across Roe’s 1967 album It’s Now Winters Day, a piece of work that I enjoyed very much. Released in late 1966 after the success of the slight Top Ten singles “Sweet Pea” and “Hooray For Hazel,” the reflective ballad “It’s Now Winters Day” went only to No. 23. Being a ballad guy (in at least one of my guises), I’d have preferred things to be the other way around. But that’s just me.

During the summer of 1963, Robin Ward’s girlish single “Wonderful Summer” went to No. 14 (No. 23 R&B). Early in 1964, Dot released her follow-up, “Winter’s Here.” Nicely done though it was, the single didn’t catch on and peaked at only No. 123. It was Ward’s last appearance on the charts, and it remains a sweet record.

Album and song title corrected since first posting.

A Stage Waiting For Actors

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

With the holiday weekend over, we’re on the cusp of summer. Here at the top of the driveway on the East Side, we look forward to green shoots and then blossoms in the gardens, late afternoons in the lawn chairs shaded by the oaks, curling smoke rising from the grill along with the aroma of sizzling burgers and steaks, and so much more. For the most part, we know what to expect.

That wasn’t the case with the summers of my youth, or so it always seemed as they began. The rift in time at ending of the school year and the beginning of vacation carried the promise of  . . . well, of something I’m not sure I can define. It always seemed as if each new summer was going to be full of adventure, crammed with things my friends and I had never before done and sights we’d never before seen (as well as with things we’d done before and would do again).

There were some things we knew we would do, of course, and those changed over the years. Early on, we looked forward to the city’s recreation programs for kids based at Lincoln School, the annual visit of the Shrine Circus and learning to ride a two-wheel bicycle. In later years, we’d plan on riding the city bus system to the new Crossroads mall on the distant west end of town, working at the trap shoot for twelve bucks a day and learning to drive. Beyond those things, all of them things we could predict, we hoped for something more, though what that was we could not say (and I still cannot say today). Sometimes, come the end of August, we felt let down by how the season had spooled out, realizing only in later years how much we’d grown during each of those summers.

But as May turned to June, all of that growth was still ahead of us and those reflections on summers gone still lay years in the future. The stage of summer was in front of us, and all it needed was actors ready to learn their parts. What music would play as we entered? Well, it’s May 29th, so here’s a look at some of the records that were at No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 as summer called us on stage.

As the end of May came by during 1960, the Four Preps held down No. 29 with their bouncy “Got A Girl” telling the tale of a guy whose girl has other guys on her mind:

There was Fabian, Avalon, Ricky Nelson too,
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,
Bobby Rydell and I know darned well
Presley’s in there too.

The record had peaked a week earlier at No. 24, the tenth of an eventual fifteen records the Preps would place in or near the Hot 100 from 1956 to 1964. (Their final hit, which went to No. 85, came in early 1964 with “A Letter To The Beatles,” which, paralleling “Got A Girl,” disses the Fab Four because one of the Preps’ girlfriends had succumbed to Beatlemania.)

Three years later, summer vacation began with an underrated record from Dion occupying spot No. 29 on the chart. “This Little Girl” features a swinging lead vocal – with some cool (for the time) “Sha-da-da” background vocals – as Dion tells us his plans for his girl:

Oh, this little girl tries to make every guy her slave, oh yeah,
But this little man is gonna take her by the hand,
And I’m gonna show her the way to behave.

The record had spent two weeks at No. 21 and was on its way back down the chart, just one of thirty-nine records Dion had in or near the chart between 1958 and 1989.

Unsurprisingly, I don’t recall either of those two tunes. But once we get to 1966, we enter familiar territory: During the last days of May in that year, the No. 29 spot in the Hot 100 belonged to Sam & Dave, as “Hold On! I’m A Comin’” was on its way to No. 2. The record was the first Top 40 hit for Sam & Dave. (Earlier in the year, the duo’s first chart hit, “You Don’t Know Like I Know” had stalled at No. 90.) They would end up with sixteen records in or near the Hot 100 between 1966 and 1971.

And as we look at No. 29 in the last week of May 1969, we go into the unknown again, as I come across a record I’m not sure I’ve ever heard before: “Heather Honey” by Tommy Roe. I do recall thinking about that time on the basis of “Dizzy,” “Hooray for Hazel” and “Sweet Pea” – all Top Ten hits, with “Dizzy” spending four weeks at No. 1 – that Roe was kind of a lightweight. (One of my first critical judgments in rock and pop, I’d imagine, and one that remains in place.) Lightweight or not – and I should probably put an exception on Roe’s first hit, “Sheila,” which is a pretty good record in the vein of Buddy Holly – Roe put twenty-seven records onto the chart between 1962 and 1973. “Heather Honey,” a decent enough single if still a little bit feathery, would go no higher.

Millie Jackson might be best known for what All-Music Guide calls her “trademark rap style of racy, raunchy language” that arose in the mid-1970s. I admit I’ve shied away from her music over the years because of that reputation (though I’ve likely heard worse elsewhere). So the only thing I know about “Ask Me What You Want” is that it was sitting at No. 29 as May 1972 came to a close. Turns out that it’s a decent slice of early Seventies R&B. And that tells me that I should probably set aside my reservations and give a listen to at least some of Jackson’s catalog. “Ask Me What You Want” peaked at No. 27, the second of eleven records Jackson would put in or near the Hot 100 between 1971 and 1978.

Three years later, the No. 29 record as May came to a close was a funky piece of brilliance from the Temptations, as “Shakey Ground” was on its way to No. 26. (The link is to a video with what I believe is the album track rather than the single.) Featuring lead guitar by Funkadelic’s Eddie Hazel – one of the song’s co-writers – “Shakey Ground” was also a No. 1 hit on the R&B chart, and it was one of an amazing sixty records the Temptations placed in or near the Hot 100 from 1962 to 1998. (Covers of “Shakey Ground” abound, of course, including Phoebe Snow’s No. 70 cover from 1977 and my favorite – spelled “Shaky Ground” – from Delbert McClinton on his 1980 album, The Jealous Kind.)