The Dovells, The Megatons & Buster Brown

As I was digging around last week in the Billboard charts for February 1962, I found a few things that should get your head bobbing today.

Sitting at No. 74 fifty years ago this week was “(Do The New) Continental” by the Dovells. The Philadelphia group – which included future solo star Len Barry (“1-2-3,” 1965) – had reached No. 2 in late 1961 with “Bristol Stomp” and would reach No. 3 in the spring of 1963 with “You Can’t Sit Down.” (“Bristol Stomp” went to No. 7 on the R&B chart, and “You Can’t Sit Down’ went to No. 10.) “Continental” didn’t do nearly that well, peaking at No. 37, but to my ears it’s a better record than either of the Dovells’ bigger hits:

The Megatons were a rock and roll quintet from Memphis that featured Billy Lee Riley (“Flying Saucers Rock ’N’ Roll,” 1957) on guitar and harmonica. The group’s only charting hit was “Shimmy, Shimmy Walk, Part 1,” which was sitting at No. 95 this week in 1962. The record would peak at No. 88.

I’d certainly heard Buster Brown before; the R&B singer and harmonica player’s “Fannie Mae”: had gone to No. 38 on the pop chart and to No. 1 on the R&B chart in 1960. But the relatively gentle sway of “Fannie Mae” hadn’t prepared me for Brown’s “Sugar Babe.” The tumbling, rumbling single was at its peak position of No. 99 fifty years ago this week. It went to No. 19 on the R&B chart.

Tomorrow, I hope to take a look at a few covers of Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.”

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