Saturday Single No. 747

So, No. 747, eh? Rather than muse about airplanes and my limited experience with them (and none since 1989), we’re going to pull some reference books from the shelves and look for the number 747.

First up, the book I likely use most often when I throw stuff at the wall here: Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles. At the top of Page 747, we find a listing for Patty Lace & The Petticoats, whose single entry, “Sneaky Sue,” bubbled under for one week in December 1963, hitting No. 104.

Whitburn tells us the record was a “Feldman-Goldstein-Gottehrer production,” meaning that the folks who made “Sneaky Sue” were also the folks that recorded as the Strangeloves (“I Want Candy,” No. 11 in 1965) and also produced, among many others, “My Boyfriend’s Back” by the Angels. One other name – found in a comment at Amazon, so who knows? – is that of the lead singer on “Sneaky Sue,” one Diane Christian.

I sense, without being able to precisely measure it, a sonic similarity between “Sneaky Sue” and “My Boyfriend’s Back.” And the antiphonal spoken words “Sneak, sneak” at the end of lines in “Sneaky Sue” remind me of something else, but I can’t find that record in my memory banks this morning. In any case, “Sneaky Sue” has a classic girl group sound.

We turn to The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, and on Page 747, we find the entry for the ’50s vocal group, the Penguins, a Los Angeles quartet that gave us the immortal “Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine),” which went to No. 8 in 1955 and then bubbled under at No. 101 after a rerelease in 1957.

Whitburn notes that the Penguins were the second doo-wop group to make the Top Ten on the pop charts, following the Chords, who got to No. 5 in 1954 with “Sh-Boom.”

On Page 747 of 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, we find an entry for Nirvana’s 1994 release MTV Unplugged In New York. I’ve passed on hearing the album for, well, twenty-seven years, and I suppose I should end my ignorance. But Nirvana and grunge have never been my thing. Reading the entry for the album in 1001 Albums makes me think, though, that I should seek the album out and give it a listen so at least I know what I’m talking about the next time the topic comes up. The library will hear from me.

Finally, we have the 2004 edition of The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. On Page 747, we find the entry for the Small Faces. If I read the history right, the band released two albums before personnel changes resulted in the band’s name being changed to Faces (Steve Marriott left for Humble Pie and Ron Wood and Rod Stewart joined up). The two albums are pretty well regarded by writers Paul Evans and Bud Scoppa: There Are But Four Small Faces from 1967 gets three-and-a-half stars, and 1968’s Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake gets four stars. The two writers also note that “Itchycoo Park,” the group’s No. 16 hit, “was a great flower-power single whose outsized influence reaches down to the Raspberries and Prince.”

Well, that’s four of the many reference books that clutter up my shelves, and I’m ready to hand down a decision. “Sneaky Sue” tempts me greatly, as I like the girl group sound of the early Sixties a great deal. (I must have heard a lot of it around me in those days when I wasn’t really listening.) From what I can tell, though, I’ve mentioned “Itchycoo Park” only once, and that was just in passing, but I recall hearing it many times, again in those days when I was not actively listening to pop music. And I liked it a lot, which makes is easy to say that the Small Faces’ “Itchycoo Park” is today’s Saturday Single.

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