Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hey Lawdy Mama ... And Another Forgotten Hits Exclusive!

Early hard-rockers Steppenwolf hit The National Top 40 nine times between 1968 and 1974. They seem to be represented daily on both oldies radio and the classic rock stations by their first two hits, "Born To Be Wild" (one of the most OVER-played songs on the radio today ... not to mention its complete saturation in movies and television ad campaigns) and "Magic Carpet Ride", both of which became #2 national hits in 1968. Most of their OTHER Top 40 Hits, however, have been ignored by radio for YEARS.

You'll hear "Rock Me" every great once in a while on the really good stations ... it became their third straight Top Ten Hit when it peaked at #8 in 1969. But other tunes like It's Never Too Late (#35, 1969); Move Over (#16, 1969); Monster (#23, 1970); Ride With Me (#31, 1971); Straight Shootin' Woman (#20 1974) and today's featured Forgotten Hit, Hey Lawdy Mama (#21, 1970) can't seem to find their way back to radio at all anymore. (Ironically, after "Sookie, Sookie" scored so well on our Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides Poll, we started to hear THAT one every once in a while again ... and that was a B-SIDE ... it seems that even an album track like "The Pusher" gets played more often today than some of these bonafide hit singles!)

Today, we're here to remind you of "Hey Lawdy Mama", a song that JUST missed The Top 20 back in 1970 ... certainly THIS one deserves a spin every now and then!!!

About a week or two ago, we featured the John Kay solo record "Easy Evil" in one of our Comments Pages.

Kay, of course, was the lead vocalist for Steppenwolf, who hit The National Pop Top 40 nine times between 1968 and 1974 ... and I used to LOVE hearing his "new" sound with the soulful groove of his latest solo record.

Incredibly, the song flopped, climbing only to #92 in Cash Box and failing to make Billboard's Top 100 at all. I've always felt that it certainly deserved a better fate than that!

During our recent feature of this tune, it came to our attention that "Easy Evil" was written by Forgotten Hits List Member Alan O'Day ... something I had never known before! I asked Alan if he would please share a few memories with our readers about this song, always one of my early '70's favorites. I couldn't help but wonder what the inspiration was for this one. And how did this song get into the hands of John Kay? (I mean, let's face it ... Alan O'Day music and Steppenwolf music aren't often mentioned in the same breath outside the pages of Forgotten Hits!!! lol) Was this one of his earliest breaks as a songwriter? And, was there, perhaps, an Alan O'Day version of this song that we could share with our readers? Quite honestly, ANY background information that Alan was willing to share would be appreciated. And he just came through in spades!!!

Not only do we have a brief history of the song to share with you today, but we have the EXTREMELY rare Alan O'Day DEMO of this song as originally recorded back in 1970! Here's the scoop ... in Alan's own words ...

I'm pleased about the interest in "Easy Evil", which garnered around 50 different releases, circa 1970-1973.

I wrote the song loosely based on a hot relationship I was having with a rather experienced & creative young lady, who pretty much played me like a violin!

I played & sang the demo in my apartment bedroom "studio" (Sony reel-to-reel 4 track, Wurlitzer Electric Piano, Rhythm Ace Drum Machine, Shure SM57(?) mic, etc.). I added "reverse reverb" to the drum machine by recording the pattern with my mic across the room, then turning the reel of tape over in the machine & playing it backwards while tracking the other instruments & vocals.

Among those recording the song were Dusty Springfield, Sarah Vaughn, Peggy Lee, Nancy Wilson, Captain & Tennile, Tony Orlando & Dawn, & yes, John Kay (of Steppenwolf). I was told that Elvis Presley had done a demo on the tune shortly before his demise, but I have no way of verifying that. (For the record, Artie Wayne, then a professional manager at Viva Music, was responsible for getting 6 or 7 of the covers on Easy Evil, including John Kay and Tony Orlando and Dawn.)

BTW, the song's success lasted longer than the relationship!

My best to all your readers.

EXCELLENT!!! Thanks SO much, Alan ... now sit back and enjoy this "evil" little tune!!!