Sunday, April 4, 2010

It's Our Annual Easter Edition of Forgotten Hits

Today is Easter Sunday ...

At this most solemn and religious time of year,

we ask everyone to take just a second

and take a good look around ...

and reflect on what is truly important to you ...

There just doesn't seem to be a moment lately

when our thoughts and lives

are not consumed with worry about something ...

It seems that everyday we are challenged

more and more to keep our spirits up ...

It can be almost anything ...

A struggling economy ...

The unsettling job market ...

All of the unrest in the world ...

Banking and financing issues ...

Tax time right around the corner ...

The plain and simple fact is

that life,

as we have always known it,

will never quite be the same ...

Please know that here at FORGOTTEN HITS,

our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Perhaps we can't offer answers ...

Perhaps we can't offer solace ...

Perhaps we can't offer hope ...

And we certainly can't make any promises ...

But THIS Easter,

you CAN count on us

to bring you

(It's ALL about the music, you know!!!)

The Jelly Beans were a quintet out of Jersey City consisting of four girls (Alma Brewer, Diane Taylor and sisters Elyse and Maxine Herbert) and a guy (Charlie Thomas) who were still in High School when they were discovered by Bill Downs,
their future manager, who brought them to the attention of Red Bird Records
back in 1964.

Red Bird was hot in 1964, offering up great hit-making girl groups like The Dixie Cups and The Shangri-Las ... and getting these kids a hit record became the task of producer Steve Venet, who recruited the ace songwriting team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, a couple of the hottest composers in America at the time, to write them a hit song. (Since this piece last ran, Barry and Greenwich were FINALLY recognized for their work by The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ... and, sadly, in typical Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame procrastinating tradition, Ellie Greenwich passed away before receiving this long overdue honor.)

What they came up with was "I Wanna Love Him So Bad" ... and that record shot straight into The Top Ten in the Summer of '64. It's one of those GREAT little girl-groups records that never seems to get played on the radio anymore.

The Jelly Beans had a minor follow-up hit ... Baby Be Mine, also written by Barry and Greenwich, missed The National Top 40, stopping at #49 in Cash Box, but was a #15 hit here in Chicago later in '64 ... and then it was all over.

The Jelly Beans were the second act signed to Red Bird Records, and their single "I Wanna Love Him So Bad" followed The Dixie Cups' hit "Chapel Of Love"
into The Pop Top Ten. In hindsight, the label managed quite an impressive achievement, placing 18 records on the chart during the height of Beatlemania.

The songwriting team of Barry and Greenwich had their hand in the lion's share of those hits, composing "Chapel Of Love", "People Say" and "You Should Have Seen The Way He Looked At Me" for The Dixie Cups, "I Wanna Love Him So Bad" and "Baby Be Mine" for The Jelly Beans and "Leader Of The Pack for The Shangri-Las.

DIDJAKNOW?: Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich were brought into Red Bird Records
by the famed songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and they wrote and produced 20 of the first 40 sides pressed by the label. In 1965, they approached Leiber and Stoller about bringing another singer / songwriter on board, a friend of theirs from the Brill Building days. Leiber and Stoller weren't interested ... so, Barry and Greenwich quit ... and brought their friend over to Bang Records instead ... where Neil Diamond went on to have a string of hits and became one of the most successful recording acts of all time. (Of course, HE'S not in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame either!!!)


Don't have a sweet tooth this Easter? Then maybe you'd like to open our Canned Ham!

Without question, Norman Greenbaum is BEST remembered for his #1 Pop / Rock Hit "Spirit In The Sky", which continues to play several times a day on both the Oldies and the Classic Rock stations. But, by true definition, Greenbaum is NOT just another One Hit Wonder ... "Canned Ham" followed "Spirit" into Cash Box's Top 40, peaking at #32 later in 1970.

By comparison, it's almost jug band music next to the fuzz guitar sound of "Spirit In the Sky" ... and, as such, it didn't fare as well on the charts. Then again, the jug band sound was nothing new to Norman Greenbaum ... back in 1966, he reached #52 with the novelty hit "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago", released by Greenbaum's band Dr. West's Medicine Show And Junk Band.

Other than "Spirit In The Sky", you really don't hear very much Norman Greenbaum music on the radio anymore ... so we're featuring him as part of our Easter Two-Fer today.


And THIS year, as an added bonus treat, we're topping the whole thing off with a "Bottle Of Wine"!!!

The Fireballs were one of those rare recording acts that seemed to have nine lives. They achieved their first chart success as an instrumental combo, placing hits like "Torquay" (#35, 1959), "Bulldog" (#23, 1960) and "Quite A Party" (#27, 1961) in The National Top 40.

Then, after hooking up with singer Jimmy Gilmer, they scored their biggest hit of all in 1963 when "Sugar Shack" went all the way to #1 (and stayed there for five straight weeks!) In fact, it was the biggest record of the year!

A couple of other hits followed: "Daisy Petal Pickin'" (#15, 1964) and "Ain't Gonna Tell Anybody" (#53, 1964) but then, at the height of The British Invasion, they disappeared from the charts completely.

They staged ANOTHER comeback, however, in 1968, with the feel-good rocker "Bottle Of Wine". (It went all the way to #9, becoming their second biggest hit of all-time!) Sounding NOTHING at all like their other records, it had, instead a Barry McGuire / New Christy Minstrels feel to it ... yet, despite its Top Ten Status and it's catchy sing-along chorus, you don't hear this one a whole lot anymore on the oldies stations.

So we'll feature it today as part of our Easter Offering.

Have a Very Nice Easter ... we'll be back with more Forgotten Hits Memories in the weeks to come.

In the long run, maybe we can't provide relief for any of today's problems ... but, hopefully, we CAN provide a few moments of escape each morning ... along with a memory or two of a happier time.

Happy Easter Everyone!