Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lou Christie ... And More "Risque'" Rock

Oldies fans really seemed to like our recent Lou Christie / "Rhapsody In The Rain" coverage ... we're STILL getting mail on this topic ... and even have ANOTHER "Risque' Rock" song to share with you today.

Another good article. I love controversy.

Excuse me for living, but for my money, the first verse of the uncensored version of Lou Christie's "Rhapsody in the Rain," given the teenage context and all, is the sexiest moment on record in the Sixties ... especially when the windshield wipers say "together, together ... " I still to this day don't understand how they thought they could get away with it, but I'm glad they did.
If I had to throw one pile away, my Four Seasons records or my Lou Christie records, I'd keep Lou ... some of the coolest sounds EVER.
BTW, has recently examined in detail the Whipped Cream Cover with Dolores Erickson, as well as the Beatles Butcher Cover ... other music stuff too.
Thanx --

My band, Bobby & the Galaxies, had the pleasure of backing up Lou Christie three times in the mid 60's, at a Southeastern New England amusement park, Lincoln Park. We worked the "Million Dollar Ballroom" every Saturday night to well over 1,000 kids. Each week there was a featured guest or group, that was popular on the charts, at that time. These included the likes of The 4 Seasons, Chubby Checker, Dion, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many more. Of all the acts we ever appeared with, Lou Christie, was the most popular with the crowd. Girls would literally pull him off the stage, during his performances. His good looks and great showmanship drove them wild. A few things Lou told me back then, have stayed in my memory. His real name is Luigi Saco and he comes from Pittsburgh. The back up singers on his records were his sisters. Lou's amazing falsetto was what brought him national attention. I believe his first major hit was "The Gypsy Cried" in 1962. The first time we worked with him was 1963. He had "Two Faces Have I". I was embarrassed to admit to him that I had never heard "The Gypsy Cried". We managed to learn it on the spot for the performance. The last time we worked with him was around 1965. At that time, I got the distinct impression that he came to have mixed feelings about his success being due, in large part, to his amazing falsetto, and felt frustration that his natural voice was not appreciated enough. He had a great voice, in any range. He was the best performer we ever worked with. The ultimate showman. I treasure those memories.
Bob Hughes
Ocean Pines, MD.

Here are two interesting facts related to Rhapsody In The Rain.

Apparently when MGM pulled the multi-tack master to re-edit the song and insert the re-sung G rated portion of the lyrics by Christie over the existing music track, they apparently did not re-file the multi where it should have been, because to this day the song was never remixed to stereo. All versions of the song known to exist are the two issued mono singles versions.

In the early days of WCBS-FM in New York playing oldies (late 60s and early 70s), New York area fans claim to have heard a stereo version of "Rhapsody" on the station. It is believed to have been provided by a NJ area collector and was supposedly from a stereo MGM sampler album. However this has not been confirmed, and no known old WCBS FM airchecks exist containing the song.

The second item concerns the Hit Records label of Nashville, Tennessee, which sold sound-a-likes of the current hits on singles out of their own rack for 39 cents. In order to have the latest hits in their rack, it was necessary for them to pick songs early in their chart life and create the sound-a-like so it could be in the racks while the song was at it's peak. So when Hit re-recorded the song with Nashville songwriter Bobby Russell (writer of Honey, Little Green Apples, etc) singing the Lou Christie lead, Russell sang the existing release which included the X rated lyric. So while the revised Lou Christie version was in record stores, SS Kresge, WT Grant, Ben Franklin, and assorted Drug Stores were selling the X rated version on a stereo 45 in the Hit Records rack for 39 cents.
I've attached the Hit sound-a-like so you can hear it.

Paul Urbahns
Radcliff, Ky

We've featured some of these "Hit Records" remakes in the past ... in fact, our radio buddy Mr. C. will sometimes play these on his Flip Sides Radio Show down in Tennessee. This guy's got a nice enough voice (the record label shows Fred York, though, not Bobby Russell) and, had Lou Christie's powerful and soaring falsetto not been such a prominent part of this record, who knows, this remake / cover just might have caught on! Cool to see how the game was played back in the '60's, trying to trick unsuspecting record buyers into saving 60-cents and buying your remake instead of the real hit ... especially on a label calling itself "Hit Records"!!! (kk)

And my own favorite - The Gypsy Cried, a classic 1962 falsetto-popper (eat your heart out, Frankie Valli!!!).
How did the censored version of Brown-Eyed Girl go? Was it "laughing and-a running (hey hey) skipping and a jumping
in the misty-morning fog behind the stadium, with you ..."
(substituted lyrics underlined)?
"The misty morning fog" comes much earlier in the song. The "clean edit" occurs in the third verse (after the brief instrumental break) ... where, instead of "makin' love in the green grass", the "clean" version had Van "laughin' and a-runnin'" behind the stadium.
Incredibly, even after all this time, it's the CLEAN version that appears on Van Morrison's official Greatest Hits CD! Much like the "clean version" of "Rhapsody In The Rain", it's virtually impossible to find on CD these days! (kk)
Too hot for radio back in 1967 ... here are both versions of Van Morrison's biggest hit, "Brown Eyed Girl", #8, 1967.

And, since we kicked this whole thing off talking about Lou Christie, here's "The Gypsy Cried", too!