Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ding! Dong! (Looks Like We Rang A Few Bells With THIS One!!!)

Got a few emails after our piece on The Fifth Estate ran a week or two ago ... here are a few more goodies!

Hey Kent
I saw your recent piece on The Fifth Estate and really enjoyed it.
I saw The Fifth Estate on a Gene Pitney tour with The Buckinghams and The Easybeats ... Great show!
My friend in Portland Kevin owns the harpsichord that was used on "Ding Dong".
He bought it from one of the band members years ago. When Kevin got the Harpsichord he also got a cassette tape of some unreleased songs I made into a cd.

We covered The Buckinghams / Fifth Estate / Easybeats / Gene Pitney tour quite some time ago ... cool to have this vintage program from the show. Here's another picture sent into us way back when, showing most of the artists who participated! (kk)

A special shout-out to the 5th Estate whom I have always loved.
I have fairly decent vinyl copies of "Heigh Ho" (in which they use similar baroque-style classical flute for the instrumental part), "The Goofin' Song" and "Coney Island Sally" (which I discovered years after they recorded it). Now that I've told the late Alan Gordon what a delightful tune "Coney Island Sally" is IMO, I may as well tell the talented guys who took it upon themselves to record it!!! Should have been a big hit!!! BTW Alan had to strain his memory, but he actually e-mailed me Bonner's complete lyrics so I can sing along when I listen -- thanks so much guys
-- Bob Rashkow

That was fascinating stuff ... who would have thunk that parts of that tune came from 1612! That just blows me away. The only damn thing is now I have that flute part going thru my head non stop ... it won't go away!!!!!
Wild Bill
lol ... yep, that's our specialty ... EARWORMS that'll drive you crazy all day long!!! (lol) kk

Speaking of classical music sneaking into rock & roll, Eric Carmen incorporated Rachmaninov's piano concerto into "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again". Also classical made a cameo in "Joy" by Apollo 100, "All By Myself" again by Eric Carmen and Miguel Rios' "song of Joy" to list a few. Dube
And let's not forget "A Lover's Concerto" by The Toys! Yep, there've been quite a few of them ... in fact, we just recently featured the rare track "1969" by Ross Hannaman, whose melody revolved around Fur Elise!!! To quote long-time FH Reader, Mister Hil, "Gotta love the world of music!" (kk)

>>>Many, many years ago I saw a movie with my ex-wife ... I'm not 100% certain, but it may have been "The Big Chill" ... and in the movie, they played a song at somebody's funeral ... (which means that if it WAS "The Big Chill", the song would have been "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by The Rolling Stones) ... anyway, my ex-wife was SO moved by the scene that she asked me "When I die, what song are you going to play at MY funeral" ... to which I responded ... without one second's hesitation ... "I dunno ... "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead?!?!?!?" Absolutely a 100% true story!!! lol (kk)

Wow, Kent, that was The Big Chill, with the church organ lead that goes into the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Here's the link:
Every woman I know loved that movie. Just now, when I was locating the link for your readers, I teared up, again, at that scene's opening chords for the Stones' classic hit (and I haven't seen the movie since the '80's!)
Oh, and regarding "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead," an inordinate amount of guys loved to belt out that song when it was popular! What gives with that???

What a funny story about Ding Dong the Witch is Dead. And now she's your ex-wife ... shocking!
I am the second oldest of seven and when I would get into trouble with my Mom I would sing Ding Dong the Witch is Dead under my breath. One time she heard me and she said, "Oh no I'm not, Stacee, I'm very much alive and my hearing is too."

Regarding that clip I sent of "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" ... this is not an out-take; this is what was recorded as a Demo in a basement!!
Sounds like it was a bet at some party ... that you could turn any tune into a hit ... and that is what was accomplished! The hit, with some minor difference, is nearly identical to the basement recorded Demo. Impressive!!

Thanks, Kent!!

>>>John, you're truly cool for having dug that deep ... and our new Time Tunnel album is free to you. (Ken Furvus Evans)
>>>See, John, we don't just save the give-aways for our female readers!!! lol (John joked a while back that Stacee, who won the autographed Tygers CD and LP after her email ran on The Forgotten Hits Web Page, had perhaps received some preferential treatment ... but with Ken Evans giving John a free Fifth Estate CD due to his astute observations regarding their early demo recordings, I'd have to say we've evened the score!) kk
So very happy for you, John, but the score will never be even ... LOL

You're too much there, Kent man.
We don't know how you do it!?!?
And John, don't worry - you were getting one whether you wanted one or not!!!
(Kent sent me your email address so that I'll know it's really you ... AND it's a good thing he mentioned it because we got 10 requests this morning alone and two of them were from Jacks so I was wondering if any of these was the John in question?? I should go check that other site I have to see if there are more there tonight!)

You know Kent what is really cool about you doing this newsletter -
I mean besides that you're such a great guy and put such incredible effort into FH -
to me and the band it feels really really a lot like when we were playing in the Village and The Blues Project was in one club, the Velvet Underground was in another, The Byrds were in another, The Fugs were in another and we The 5E were in another.
There was a certain undergroundness yet within striking distance for any who cared of big time rock and roll there then.
THAT is how FH feels to us right now -
although of course instead of being in a club with a limited audience you are on the internet - with truly an unlimited worldwide audience.
I don't know what to make of that - except this all feels so much like 63/64 here again where a lot of the radio and TV DJs were just people like you and possibly us who just plain old liked a certain type of music - which early on at least seemed to have a certain positive effect on the public and they just liked it and did it - no matter what!!
Doesn't make sense?? But probably the less sense it all makes the more fun it is - don't you think?
AND the more the people really NEED it!
Can't thank you enough ...
So, thanks - more than tons -
I think what makes this all work is the fact that we ALL share a deep love for this music and this era ... and we've got no hidden agenda ... we REALLY enjoy sharing these stories with fans just like us ... 'cause first and foremost we will ALWAYS be fans first and foremost. (Talk about not making sense!!! lol) Anyway, I'm happy to do it and thank you for your participation ... that's what helps to make Forgotten Hits so unique. And hey, we ALL want the same result in the end ... just to preserve this music for future generations to come (and anybody else who might have missed some of it along the way!) kk

In our earlier piece, Furvus mentioned that The Fifth Estate had recorded "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" in several foreign languages, too! A bit unusual by this point as typically, by 1967, a worldwide hit was sung in its native language only ... or, at most, translated into ONE foreign language.

Ironically, Jersey John questioned the same thing when he came across an Italian snippet ... so we asked Fifth Estate Drummer Kenneth Michael Evans to enlighten us.

Here's what we got:

Maybe you can get that fine Fifth Estate drummer, Ken, to comment on this Italian Witch!!! Like, whose idea was it to sing an Italian version; any success in Italy?; was there someone to help with the translation?; was it sung in other languages?; are these Wayne's actual vocals, etc.?!! I altered the sound to make it more presentable.
Thank you, Mr. Kent!!!
Jersey John

Well, John, they didn't just record an Italian version ... The Fifth Estate recorded several
different foreign language versions of "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" ... so, taking your lead, we asked Furv:

FORGOTTEN HITS: How many languages did you do in all?
KEN "FURVUS" EVANS: We did it in Italian, German, French, English (of course), and the coolest of all - Japanese!! (People should all maybe hear that one at least once in a lifetime - I understand it's a life changing experience for some!!)

FH: Whose idea was it do to this? (Most artists by this time were just releasing their English versions in foreign countries!)
KE: We never took the easy - or most obvious - way out!! That just was never interesting enough to keep us pumped or alive during the early British invasion days.
So we knew the Beatles had released some of their tunes in German and we knew Brian Epstein had interest in signing us and we thought that language thing was really pretty cool. It was or at least seemed a sort of respect for the language of others to release songs in the other person's language. We though that was cool and we didn't miss the idea that maybe a few other listeners could get into what we did that way as well. So all in the band wanted to do this. Plus at that early stage we were always conscious of trying to keep up with what The Beatles were doing, as they were more than setting the pace at that point. So here we decided to two or three-up them and do FIVE languages. I am not really sure how many languages The Beatles recorded in ultimately, but at the point, where we were doing this in '67, we only knew of their German versions.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: For the record, The Beatles only recorded TWO of their songs in German ... "I Want To Hold Your Hand" became "Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand" and "She Loves You" became "Sie Liebt Dich" ... after their early days honing their craft in Hamburg, Germany, I guess they felt it was the least they could do! lol They didn't do ANY other foreign language recordings ... but this was inspiration enough for me ... well, that and the fact that I had a German Grandmother ... to take German as my second language in High School! --kk)

FH: Who translated these for you? And did you just perform these phonetically? What kind of coaching was involved? How long did it take to re-do the hit so many different ways?
And was that actually Wayne singing on all these versions?
KE: We all knew smatterings of these languages, except Japanese, either from grandparents or school. But - when we started, it wasn't so easy as we thought, and some of our apparently rather "loose" translations from the very little we knew turned out to be hilariously incorrect when we finally brought in a couple of translators and coaches from the Berlitz School of Languages in NYC who actually knew what the heck they were doing.
We were a little hesitant to ask such a place to do such a thing, because if you think about it even a little bit, it was just such a totally bizarre thing to do! BUT - We liked that!
It was a good thing we brought them in because some of our translations and pronunciations were so incorrect that we probably would have offended about half the people in the world if it had gone down that way.
This, in fact, was one of the more difficult things we ever attempted, or maybe any rock and roll band ever attempted?? Fortunately though, with Wayne being the lead singer on that one, most of this fell on him.
The Berlitz folks just fell in love with Wayne's personality, immense sense of humor and huge talent and abilities and, as usual, he handled what really wasn't easy just fine AND all while the clock was ticking and the time running up in the studio. As usual the whole thing turned into what else? - that's right - A PARTY!
The Berlitz folks found it a complete gas to be included on something like this and they did a great job on the translations and for the most part they phonetically coached Wayne right in the studio. He would just keep doing takes until they said he had nailed it. Not really easy to do while the rest of us were running around there partying and laughing at all his mistakes. Although he was really surprisingly quick anyway for such a thing, about two full nights of studio time, but he had studied the translations at home first. Wayne did know a lot of Italian as his mom was, but on the others he had no clue originally. AND although Ricky and I knew some French from school and Bill Shute's parents were French Canadian, and Doug (Duke as we called him) had some German in his background, our input was really useless. Sitting there laughing our heads off at Wayne's mistakes turned out to be our primary input. So that was AND IS Wayne singing on all those versions.
One other sort of interesting thing on all this is that the background Ooh La La La's, which were sung by Doug and Ricky on the original, were all left the same on these EXCEPT!!?? on the Japanese version, as I recall!!?? At least the story in the band has it so, as we have never heard it since it was recorded. Apparently, on the Japanese version (and I hope this doesn't offend anyone today - it was really only intended to be humorous at the time), instead of those Ooh La La La's, Doug and Ricky sang Ooh Ra Ra Ra's. Oh my? I don't know whether to blame that on them or the Berlitz translators. I think I'll blame it on those crazy Berlitz folks - yeah. They kind of got into that crazy party mooood as things went on there. But it went over in Japan apparently.

FH: Finally, did any of these foreign versions become big hits?
KE: As I said it didn't seem to offend those in Japan at the time. They rather liked it, as I believe this was the only other country where the foreign language version charted.
The English version charted in many countries and was out on EMI and Parlophone in England and Europe, although only on a large independent Jubilee here in America.
I love the Japanese culture and how much they loved and STILL love rock and roll, much more than most other countries including America, especially including America at the moment.

Although we are about to test that out shortly with our new non-nostalgic, latest and greatest 60s rock and roll album ever recorded, at least Shel Talmy who made The Kinks, The Who and David Bowie famous already thinks so. Well it will at least be the latest - that's for sure.
To us, the worst thing about any of these releases is that we the band don't even have copies of any of these, except the Italian version which one of the Forgotten Hits readers was kind enough to send us a couple of years ago. A number of the collectors who read FH have been helpful in any number of ways to us and we do really appreciate that more than I can say right here. The unfortunate state of affairs with many of the American record companies we worked with at the time have kept a lot of these releases from getting more current re-releases. Wouldn't it just be great if some of these just cooperated and made things available again!!?? Well I must be crazy to even think such a thing, this is "the Music Biz" after all, much of which I love obviously, but not this part. I must be looking for a PERFECT WORLD or something, and the only one like that we are ever going to find will be on our new TIME TUNNEL album. So for now and for me anyway our new album is as close as we are going to get to all that I guess.
More info and many tunes available at:
(site still under construction and in a state of perpetual change)
Thanks, Kent, for such a cool idea!
Kent Man - you're such a groove!