Friday, February 11, 2011

Helping Out Our Readers

Another batch of our very popular "Helping Out Our Readers" feature ...



There hasn't been a whole lot written about Aretha's health since she came home from the hospital just about a month ago. In an interview with Jet Magazine, she said she was fine and that her health issues had "been resolved." (In the same interview, she never admitted to having pancreatic cancer either ... and she's been pretty tight-lipped about it ever since.) You can read highlights from her Jet interview here:
Click here: Aretha Franklin: Health problem 'has been resolved' one month after surgery

Back in 1969 I took my girl friend to the Prom in Hobart, Indiana. The band that played that evening was PC Limited from a suburb of Chicago. Midway through the dance they played a beautiful love ballad called "Sunny Was A Fool". After the song, the group claimed this was their first record and they gave free copies to anyone that wanted one. I got a copy but it is in such poor condition now it is unplayable. I would be so grateful if you could run down this song and post it if possible. I think a lot of your listeners will be pleasantly surprised! It is a good song.
Maybe some members of the New Colony Six will remember this group and give some insight on them to you. This was right in the heyday of Chicago bands.
Thank you, Kent, for all your help and work so we can enjoy those memories all over again that you have given us.
Oh, I almost forgot ... the label the song was on was Fontana if that helps you.
Steve H
I wasn't familiar with this one at all ... in fact, I'd never heard of the group either ... so I checked with Clark Besch, who knows a thing or two about the local Chicago Music Scene, circa 1964 - 1979. Here's what he told me:
"Sunny Was A Fool" got airplay on WLS and WCFL in early 1969 and was released on Fontana 1643. This 45 is about as close to a Chicago version of the Vogues as one could get. Makes sense, as the Vogues were much bigger in Chicago usually than nationally. Previously, P.C. Ltd. had been known as "Purple Cucumber" thus the "P.C." They were "discovered" by Dick Biondi at gigs in the late 60's. They released a total of four singles as one or the other name in the 60's, also doing backing tracks for other locals like the Hudson Bay Company's cool "I See Her Face". They did most backing tracks for Carl Bonafede's 1969 find, Thee Prophets, Lp cuts. The B side of "Sunny ... " was "Here We Come", which was reworked into a jingle for the CTA locally.
In the 70's, they found more success as they changed names to Happy Day (named after the hit "Oh Happy Day"). After their Varpo local 45 made noise, UNI picked up the 45 (oddly, the Varpo is stereo and UNI is mono) and eventually released three singles by the group.
By then they had formed Happy Day Productions and were doing jingles for the Illinois Lottery, 7Up and Toyota.
Clark Besch
So there you have it! And, not only did Clark come up with the track ... but he ALSO found a neat piece of literature on the band! (kk)

One of my favorite songs to sing is Gene Pitney's hit, "It Hurts To Be In Love". I knew that Neil Sedaka wrote it, but didn't know that he recorded it before Gene did until I heard it at a friend's house recently. I thought that it would be so cool to be able to mix the two masters together, with both guys sharing the lead vocals and harmonies. When Neil sings the lead, Gene sings the harmony, and when Gene sings the lead, Neil sings the harmony. Mixing the harmony parts might be tricky, but with today's technology, I believe it could be done. Anyway, I tried to send this idea to Neil's fan website, but it kept bouncing back, as it is no longer a "valid" address. I was wondering if you could get this to him, and see what he says. I think the "new" version of the song would be great, and I know Gene would approve of it.
Thanks so much, and hope to hear from you!
- John LaPuzza,
Omaha, NE
First of all, Neil Sedaka didn't WRITE "It Hurts To Be In Love" ... but because his lyricist Howard Greenfield DID, he got first crack at recording it. (Why he didn't release it as a single is beyond me ... the two versions are virtually identical and I think Neil missed a GREAT opportunity to score another major hit!) Because they sound so much alike, I think your "custom mix" idea would be AWESOME ... but some obvious problems come into play. Neil Sedaka and Gene Pitney recorded for different record labels and unless all parties would agree to such a mix, it isn't likely to happen. (With Gene Pitney gone, I don't know who speaks for his estate.) Gene recorded SO many great songs that don't receive airplay anymore. How does radio continue to ignore standards like "Town Without Pity", "Only Love Can Break A Heart", "It Hurts To Be In Love" and "She's A Heartbreaker"? (Honestly, some of the other stuff was just a little too melodramatic for me ... but there are certainly MAJOR fans out there of tracks like "Backstage", "I'm Gonna Be Strong", "Just One Smile" and "Mecca", too.) Seriously, wouldn't something like "Love My Life Away" or "Looking Through The Eyes Of Love" sound GREAT coming out of your radio every once in a while. (There are a couple of "Wow Factor" song for you!!!)
Although we featured it a while back, we'll spotlight Neil's version of "It Hurts To Be In Love" today ... who knows, maybe some enterprising producer on the list will see your suggestion and take it to Neil! (A "duet mix" like this has GOT to be a MILLION times better than the new mega-mix version of Elvis' "Suspicious Minds" that Scott Shannon keeps playing!!!) kk

From Neil Sedaka to Neil Diamond ...
Just recently this top 40 chart from WCIN (not WKRP) in Cincinnati came into my possession. As you see, the chart is dated 8/19/63. One needs to look all the way down to the bottom where it says Columbia Records "Star Picks". The #2 song listed is At Night by Neil Diamond. It is the flip side of the very rare single Clown Town. It did not chart nationally. I tend to think it probably did not get airplay in that it would give the appearance of payola in that Columbia is paying to have that small segment printed. Yet some DJ might have been curious as to who Neil was and played it. Maybe someone knows something about this. Jack All I know is that Neil Diamond really doesn't like to talk about "Clown Town"!!! (lol) So who KNOWS what the flip side sounds like!!! (Well, Tom Diehl knows ... 'cause he sent us BOTH sides of this ultra rare single to share with you today!) No idea if this ever got airplay or not ... who knows ... maybe that was part of their contractual obligation with Columbia Records for "sponsoring" their survey ... or maybe that's just how they generated the cash to get these printed. (I always wondered about that ... in that these were typically free in-store give-aways ... who PAID for the printing of all these old radio station surveys?!?!? Great promotion for the station, to be sure ... but SOMEBODY had to be footing the bill!!!) Interesting. (kk)

Back in 1970 I was the lead singer for a band out of Gary, Indiana, called Rainbow Tree. Les Kummel, the bass player for the New Colony Six at that time, took us under his wing and was our manager. We got a recording session with Brian Christianson producing our song "Gypsy", a remake of the Moody Blues cut on their album. Les sat in on bass and Chuck Jobes, the Colony's organist, laid down a dynamite track. We did another song "Grab your Mind" and Les got a small label down South called Bullseye Records to offer us a contract. (Bullseye Records were noted for Brenton Wood and "The Oogum Boogum Song" and "Just give me some kinda sign." We would have signed if they would have reimbursed our studio fees. They didn't and we did not sign. We never got another offer! Such was and still is the record industry.
We released Gypsy locally in Northwest Indiana and it topped out at #13.

Les was a real nice person who would do anything for you but also had a drug problem. I will never forget going on their Greyhound bus like I was one of the guys. And the girls that visited that bus were so beautiful! Les was a great song writer who penned several of the Colony's best love ballads. I bet most of them were written to his girl friend Star, who he loved very very much. We still miss you, Les.
Kent, I was wondering if you have access to one of the New Colony Six forgotten hits, People and Me. It was a rare rock and roll song with great lyrics. Larry Lujack from WLS loved it and did his best to promote it by claiming it was a hit but it never made it. Probably because the Colony couldn't shake their love ballad label. If you could post this song I would appreciate it.
Steve H.
Les Kummel had his hand in writing both of The New Colony Six's biggest hits, "I Will Always Think About You" and "Things I'd Like To Say". Sadly, he died in a car crash in 1978. "People And Me" bubbled under on The Billboard Chart in 1970. It reached #32 on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey. When Bob Stroud featured this track on his "Rock And Roll Roots, Volume 8" CD, it was the most-requested track of the year! (kk)

The first time I heard the New Colony Six perform People and Me live was at Champaign, Illinois. Guess who was the undercard? REO Speedwagon! They had not made it big yet but they did a great performance of Sympathy for the Devil! I always felt the arranger on the Colony's songs was not very good. Even though their harmonies were spot on, the background vocals were not dynamic enough. It sounded like they were in a deep hallway. It could have been better.
Steve H.
Some of the import CD's released over the past couple of years seem to have more of that "buried" / muddy mix to them. I keep hoping that NC6 Historian Jerry Schollenberger will eventually persuade Mercury Records to put together the ULTIMATE compilation collection from all of the master tapes. (Sadly, it's their Mercury material that seems to suffer the most on these reissues ... their earlier Centaur / Sentar material sounds pretty clean on the CD's I've heard.) A lot of this stuff was recorded at The Chess Studios downtown so the sound should have been captured cleanly. Maybe Jerry will tell us who we can write to in an effort to petition a COMPLETE Mercury release ... if enough fans write in and demand it, they just might turn over the reigns to him to put this whole thing together. As devoted and dedicated a fan as he is, I just know he'll make sure it comes out right. (kk)

I just read Scott Shannon's bio on Wikipedia. It says he teamed with another guy to form "Wildfire" and made an album in 1977 which included a "moderately successful" remake of Jerry Keller's 1959 hit "Here Comes Summer". The song had already dated itself in 1959 but to record it in 1977? Anyway, is there any chance you can post Shannon's version on your site? I suspect Scott will never forgive you for doing it but ...?
Steve Davidson
LOL ... actually we HAVE featured this track before ... in fact, I think after we did, Scott even played it on his program ... and he may have played it again last June when he counted down The Top 20 Summer Favorites as voted on by our Forgotten Hits Readers and The True Oldies Nation. The Wildfire version of "Here Comes Summer" made it to #43 in Cash Box Magazine in 1977. If I remember correctly, Shannon had some ties to Casablanca Records, who released the single. He was most likely on the air down in Nashville at the time, too, as he spent some GREAT years there at WMAK. The lead vocal was handled by Jack "Stack-A-Track" Grochmal, a noted session singer ... and I think Scott would be the first to admit that the record really wasn't very good ... and it has NOT aged well!!! (lol) But sure, we can feature it again!

I wrote to Scott Shannon recently to tell him that its so nice to hear more forgotten oldies on the station. (I typicall listen to WLS-FM, 94.7 in Chicago, and in the space of 15 minutes I heard three songs I would say are rarely played: Undun, Beautiful Sunday and Rod Stewart's "The Motown Song". I hope they keep this up. Frankly speaking, I have found myself turning on 94.7 first but then switching over to other stations because I was tired of hearing the same songs. A year ago, Scott told me that unfortunately the audience only wants to hear the well-remembered popular songs while I had advocated you needed more of the "Wow I haven't heard that song in 40 years" factor. I'm sure that you and all of your Forgotten Hits readers have helped to influence the playing of more forgotten oldies ... and I'd even like to hear some that I've never heard before (local or regional hits like those by The Cryan Shames or The Mauds that for some reason never made it nationally.) There are so many artists who had 10, 20 or more charted hits yet it seems you only hear a few of them. Hopefully what I just heard over that 15 minute period this morning is a sign of more to come.
Keep pluggin' away, Kent!
Steve Davidson
I truly believe Scott would LOVE to play more of these obscure hits than he does ... but let's face it, everybody has to answer to somebody ... and if you've listened to 94.7 much lately, you've also heard more and more '80's ... and even '90's music on the station. (The running joke here lately is "Have you listened to Scott Shannon's True Eighties Channel lately???")
Sadly, I believe that in the process, they're starting to lose their "True Oldies" identity (particularly on the WLS side) and that's a shame ... as far as I'm concerned, Scott Shannon SAVED the oldies here in Chicago ... but, as I mentioned the other day, it's getting tougher and tougher to distinguish 94.7 / WLS-FM from half a dozen OTHER stations in town these days, as they all seem to be playing the exact same music. Where's the choice in THAT?!?!?
Meanwhile, you'll hear Scott jump off the play list whenever he can ... little features like "The Cheezy Easy Listening Song Of The Day" ... and TONS of requests for more of the '50's and early '60's tunes ... allow him to do so ... (despite having to answer to the so-called "Oldies Police" who monitor these things) ... so to balance things out, he's also had to play more and more of what THEY think folks want to hear. (Trust me ... the folks who tune into oldies radio do NOT want to hear '80's and '90's songs ... or Natalie Cole singing "Unforgettable" with her father!!! That's just NOT what oldies radio is supposed to be all about.)
Thankfully, our new "Today's Forgotten Hit" feature has gone over VERY well with the REAL oldies fans out there ... and I wish Scott would begin to incorporate this feature into his daily play log. Once or twice a day (on his 24 / 7 Internet Show), he could feature "Today's Forgotten Hit" and help build a whole new audience who are into this sort of thing ... and believe me, there are TONS of us out there!!! Same thing with a daily dose of Gary Theroux's "History Of Rock And Roll" feature ... not at all unlike his "Rock And Roll Time Machine Top Five" and "Rock And Roll Calendar" that he does a few times each day. Couple this with "The Cheezy Easy" song ... and maybe an hourly "Vintage Vinyl" track that takes you back to the late '50's and early '60's ... and pretty soon you've got something worth tuning into. Let the listeners know that they're going to hear something special every hour and you'll find them sticking around a whole lot longer ... and doggone it, THAT'S called "Appointment Radio". (kk)

>>>WHO was it did: "Moonshine Tenneessee wine, runnin' round my head ... friend of mine ..."? (Robert Black, Willowdale Ont)
Robert Black posted a query about lyrics that go "moonshine, --- wine ... etc."
This is just grasping at straws, but it sounds like Randy Newman's "Old Kentucky Home", also recorded by the Beau Brummels and who knows who else. I think the first verse is something like "Moonshine, dandelion wine / Sittin' with friends in the evening time" or similar to what Robert from Ontario heard. I don't think the Beau Brummels released it as a single from their Triangle LP but maybe (in Canada) they were giving Newman's record some airplay!
Bob Rashkow
I don't see anything about this in my ever-reliable CHUM Chart Book ... anybody else have any idea what this might be? (kk)

Here's a Lost Forgotten Hit - Robert Gordon - Someday, Someway - 1981Can't understand why this didn't chart better, though not a complete failure at #76. Good tune! While Robert never made US Top 40 ever, he (at least at one time) was mentioned in Joel Whitburn's Top 40 Hits book (can you guess why?)! This may have gotten a little airplay. Now, you DJs who read Forgotten Hits, lock yourself in the studio and play Robert's song over and over, until it charts again!! Thanks! :)
Jersey John
Always loved this song ... and it fared a little bit better for its composer, Marshall Crenshaw, who reached #31 in Cash Box with it in 1982. Crenshaw never got the chart credibility he deserved ... and has long been a favorite of mine. I was fortunate enough to be at his first ever CD launch party back in 1982 ... and have seen him in concert a couple of times. Since you featured a snippet of the Robert Gordon version, I'll run the whole Crenshaw hit ... very similar (and we always seem to prefer the one we heard first!) Bette Midler had a minor hit with her Crenshaw cover of "My Favorite Waste Of Time", another "cult classic" that reached #78 in 1983. (kk)

Recently there was a posting about the Brook Benton song "Boll Weevil". I remember my brother had a "78" of a song called "Boll Weevil" by Fats Domino. This was a completely different song backed with "Don't Blame It On Me". I remember I played the shit out of that song. I found it on youtube (Thank God for Youtube) and here's the link:
Listening to "Don't Blame It On Me", it's got the basic rhythm of "Ain't That a Shame" ... but both songs still have the energy and sound fine today!!!!

Yep ... Fats Domino scored a two-sided hit with this one ... in a rather unusual fashion. "Bo Weevil" made the Pop Chart, peaking at #35 ... and the flipside, "Don't Blame It On Me" went to #9 on Billboard's R&B Chart. This all happened way back in 1956 (when you probably weren't even born yet!!! lol)

Can you help Bill? I'm BAD with lyrics!
I certainly do like what you do with the music. My ears are not as good as they once were but I still enjoy good music.
I wonder if you could help me out. I have been searching for a song that I remember hearing around the end of the 60's, I think, maybe the first of the 70's. I don't know who sang the tune or the name of it. I do remember some of the lyrics though.

As follows:
He used to be a very peaceful man, 'till a band of strangers burned his home and took his land. You put bad in a good man and trouble you got some, like a gunfighter, a gunfighter.
I know this is asking a lot but I thought I'd at least ask. Thanks for anything you can offer.

LOL ... I think Bill's been looking for this one for a LONG time!!! (lol) I, too, suck at lyrics ... but Frannie's pretty good at it ... so I ran these by her and still came up empty. Then my daughter said, "Just 'Google Search' them" ... so I did ... and the VERY first thing that popped up was Forgotten Hits, dated
10-18-09, where we ran this very same inquiry for Bill!
It's one of those VERY rare ones where we never found an answer ... so I'm happy to run it again and see if anybody can help us out. Thanks, guys! (kk)