Friday, August 12, 2011

Lovin' This Music

OK, who does THIS sound like???

I discovered the Four Seasons on the jukebox at the Nutmeg Bowl. After a few strings and polishing my ball, I ordered krinkly-kut french fries and poured my remaining dimes into a machine that held very few records, the best of which were played incessantly and are as memorable to me today as they were back then. There was "Dawn (Go Away)" and eventually "Rag Doll". And I can still hear the intro to "I Get Around", which the jukebox, unlike radio, never cut off.

Although my transistor radio was first used to listen to the Yankees, when the Beatles exploded it became my trusted companion ... it lay aside my blotter while I was doing my homework ... I placed it under my pillow when I went to bed. I needed to hear these hits, as a member of a club, pursuing excellence, bowing at the feet of players who made us sing and swoon, who positively thrilled us.

But those days are gone. The jukebox is rare and radio is inauthentic and no one believes those artists can play live. That's one thing we assumed back then, that the people making those records could sing and play. And yes, the Wrecking Crew might have provided the background, but they didn't go on the road, every band could play enough to convince us. And although we were horrified the Monkees didn't play their own instruments, it turned out the band felt the same way, and learned how to play.

Could have been written by me ... or Bob Greene ... or Bob Stroud ... or Scott Shannon ... or Clark Besch ... or any one of our thousands of Forgotten Hits readers, who all share this exact same memory ... but this entry comes from Bob Lefsetz, whose industry-insider newsletter is read by THOUSANDS of music business movers and shakers every single day.  (You'll find the rest of the article here:  Click here: Lefsetz Letter ... under a heading called "Festivals".)

Fact is, the love of this music is the universal bond that binds ALL of us together here in Forgotten Hits.  We all LIVED this existence ... the music really WAS that important.  Week after week, we receive testimonials that bear this out ... memories that you all share with us that spark many more of our own.  We LIVED it ... we really DO remember ... it really DID have that great of an impact.  We celebrate the music of our lives each and every day.  Thank you all SO much for sharing it with us.  (kk)

And here's a nice clip from "Times Square Gossip" (who just happens to give another nod to our efforts here in Forgotten Hits!)

WHAT IS AN OLDIE? --- I spent the weekend with a bunch of old friends … mostly of the musical variety:  The Kinks, Tommy James and the Shondells, Jackie Wilson, Glen Campbell, Herman's Hermits, Stevie Wonder; The Supremes; Paul Revere and the Raiders, Neil Diamond, The Ventures, Sly & The Family Stone, Seekers, Monkees, and Three Dg Night. Yes, it's true I only heard them on the radio, but my memories of hearing them for the first time shot back to me like a series of electric shocks. I was listening to Kool 101 via New London, Connecticut, and, to tell you the truth … I loved it. Funny thing about oldies stations … they grow on you - ha ha! Everything on the station you've heard before, so the so-called familiarity factor is right up there. In fact, not only did I love hearing them again, but it appears that the more prominent ones also came with their one homegrown memories; my first summer away from home or those first few precious days in college. I tell you, I heard a ton of Supreme's records (especially their last official record as a group "Someday We'll Be Together") ; I immediately liked them when I first hear them years ago, but they've seem to have held up quite well. Also, The Kinks sounded particularly good, as did those early Neil Diamond songs. My friend Kent Kotal who conceived and operates the site Forgotten Hits has turned me onto the whole oldies-wave movement in a way I never got into it before. Its a tremendous site: Kent's knowledge is extraordinary and he continually poses some really thoughtful questions and observations. His most recent posting about 'How many original members of a group do there have to be to consider it a full reunion?' had me thinking for days. Also, a re occurring question is: 'What constitutes an oldie?' I've pondered this question a lot and the answers are varied: from the group not being around any longer; to the group not touring any longer, or ... what? I'd be curious to hear some more answers. Many of these so-called legacy groups don't record any longer and basically generate money only by touring ... and thus, performing their hits. I remember several years back when the group Vanilla Fudge wanted to record some new songs ... but, no one was interested. They only wanted them to record their hits ... again! Let's face it, the audiences who go to see them live, are going to hear the hits only; a new track would only confuse them. It's funny, I used to unceremoniously disown oldies station ever before I heard them; I guess since I'm now an oldie myself ... they're OK? It was a great weekend.  
You can read the whole thing here:

Dear Kent,
Please pass the following information on to your multitude of readers.
I am delighted about my new affiliation with Internet station Oldies Your Way , which began with my debut show last week. The address of their Home Page is . Clicking on any of the links within this message will take you to their Home Page, where you can instantaneously with simple mouse-clicks listen to the station and / or visit their chat room which is open during all of their broadcasts. 
"Ronnie Remembers" is on every Friday evening from 6 to 7 PM Eastern Time, immediately preceding Stu Weiss's world-famous "Pop Shoppe" show which is heard from 7 PM till 3:01 AM Saturday morning.
Each week I present one or two interviews. They may be older ones that are also available on my Radio Page or they may be ones that are not available publicly anywhere. I may eventually do world-premieres of interviews that will subsequently be posted on my Radio Page and I may also do live interviews.
This Friday evening -- August 12 -- I will be presenting a one hour interview that I did late in 2007 with Bobby Vee, who is known for so many wonderful hits and who still performs today.
During the airing of the show I will be in the chat room. It is very easy to enter. So while my interviews are playing, you can enter chat and make comments about Bobby or ask me questions or simply converse with other listeners. It's "Oldies Your Way" and also "Chat Your Way"!
Ronnie Allen

And, speaking of DJ Stu Weiss ...
Have you heard my new show yet?
Sunday nights from 11 PM till 1:00 AM
Stu's Sunday Night Doo Wop Party!!!!!
This is besides my regular program on Friday nights - The Pop Shoppe from 7 PM till 3:01 
All times are eastern.
On the new Internet station

Greetings from England!
I just wanted to drop you an email to say how much I appreciate the Forgotten Hits site.
Since discovering it around six months or so ago, I’ve become totally hooked! I make a visit nearly every day. It is a great source of knowledge. I used to think I knew a lot about 60’s & 70’s music, but now I realise that there is still so much to learn.
After a spell in “pro-radio” 20 years back, I do radio just for fun these days. I present a weekly show called “Stafford’s World” that originated on the legendary Radio Caroline nearly 15 years ago. Now, it still goes out every Sunday night on Caroline along with a bunch of other stations as a syndicated show.
Can I plug a series of upcoming shows on my own “Oldies Paradise” internet oldies station? We’re running a three-part series called “The Summer Of Love Re-visited” throughout August. It’s a look back to the music and the events of the Summer Of 1967.  It’ll be on at 3 pm UK,
4 pm CET & 10 AM New York time starting on Sunday, 7th August.  With repeats on Wednesdays at 8 pm UK, 9 pm CET & 3 pm New York time from the 10th August.
You can find more details at: ... or at my website.
I'm also a big believer in the need to preserve those "Forgotten Hits". Modern radio, on both sides of the Atlantic, has "buried" so many great songs and virtually removed them from history. Many Top 40 hits just don't exist any more.  "Oldies Paradise" is all about remedying that. Our music library has just about every UK & US Top 40 hit in it from the early '60s through to the end of the '70s. Okay, we don't play them all every day, but we do play a very large amount of them.
We are with you in the fight to preserve those "Forgotten Hits"!
Keep up the excellent work.

Hello Kent,
I am sure you remember this tune from Jim Stafford called Spiders and Snakes.  I'm pretty sure it charted well back in the day around 1970-71 I think. It was a hit from the start on am radio. I do not remember the b-side though. It was a very catchy tune.  I'm not sure how many other hits Mr. Stafford had, but this one was really a smash.
How did this tune chart? Please let us know.  I think it qualifies as a Forgotten Hit.
Hi Kenny!  You're talking to a big Jim Stafford fan here!  (I've actually tried to get Jim to participate with Forgotten Hits a couple of times now ... not only to discuss his own hits but also because he was at one time married to Bobbie Gentry ... and I thought perhaps he'd be willing to share some insight during one of our "Third Of June" / "Ode To Billie Joe" celebrations.)
I don't really consider "Spiders And Snakes" a "Forgotten Hit" per se ... because everybody remembers it!  You're right ... it was a VERY popular tune, going all the way to #3 back in 1974 (a little later than you recall.)  The flipside (just for the record) was a song called "Undecided".  Although "Spiders And Snakes" doesn't get played a lot, I do still hear it from time to time ... and it STILL brings a smile to my face nearly every time.  It just doesn't have that "Wow Factor" that we talk about ... because it's still too fresh in our memories. 
Perhaps more fitting of Forgotten Hits status would be some of his follow-up hits:  "Wildwood Weed" (#5, 1974); "Your Bulldog Drinks Champagne (#24, 1975); "I Got Stoned And I Missed It (#37, 1975) or one of my personal favorites, "My Girl Bill" (#10, 1974).  (I always liked "Swamp Witch", too ... a #31 hit that preceded "Spiders And Snakes" by about six months.  That's a song that would STILL sound great on the radio, even if they only played it at Halloween!  Think we'll feature that one today and see how many of you remember it!)

MGM pulled four Top 40 singles off of Jim Stafford's first LP (called simply "Jim Stafford") ... and it's a GREAT album.  Jim's unique take on "Mr. Bojangles" still chokes me up.
And the "hit list" doesn't stop there ... let's not forget his classic novelty tune "Cow Patti" either!!!  Or how about "Little Bits And Pieces", for which former Monkee Michael Nesmith produced his video?!?!? 
And "That's What Little Kids Do", another clever favorite.  (Toldja I was a fan!!!)
Stafford was a staff comedy writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour back in the late '60's ... and then did his own stint on TV as one of the co-hosts of "Those Amazing Animals", where he worked with Elvis' ex and The Penguin!  (Priscilla Presley and Burgess Meredith)
Today Stafford owns and operates a very successful theater down in Branson, Missouri ... you can check out ALL the details on his cool (and very funny) website:

Keep up the great work ... always entertaining and informative. 
I assume you’ve heard that Don Barrett is shutting down his 15 year old site in September.
Thanks, Tom.  Hadn't heard that about Don Barrett's site ... hopefully folks on the list will visit the site before it's too late!  (kk)

As if you didn't have enough to do, how about trying to raise some interest in cover versions of pop and rock hits?
I don't necessarily mean original versions (Glen Campbell's "Turn Around, Look at Me," for instance, or Earl-Jean's "I'm Into Somethin' Good") -- but  simply other versions of well-known pop / rock material that also made the charts but are never played.
For instance, we all know Johnny Preston's "Running Bear."  But how often do you hear Sonny James' somewhat more rocking version?   Or his excellent cover of Roy Orbison's "Only the Lonely"?  Radio stations might play the Hollywood Argyles' "Alley-Oop," but how about the  Dyna-Sores' version, which puts a nice R&B edge on the song?
Some cover versions are simply mediocre wannabes, of course.  But many have a charm of their own: The Sandpipers' "Louie Louie;" Johnny Rivers' "Cupid;" The Strawberry Alarm Clock's "Good Morning Starshine." None of these is going to eclipse the original -- but aren't they worth hearing once in a while?  Ditto with Ray Charles' or Aretha Franklin's versions of "Eleanor Rigby" or Wilson Pickett's "Hey Jude." Something like ten versions of "Unchained  Melody" made the Billboard Hot 100, so why do we hear just one or two of them?
I know, I know --- it's hard enough to raise some interest in  genuine hits that have been forgotten, let alone forgotten covers.   But hey, I figure -- if Forgotten Hits can't do it, no one can.
Henry McNulty
Old Saybrook, Connecticut

Unfortunately, we're having a hard enough time just getting radio to recognize some of the legitimate Top 20 Hits from the past 40-50 years ... no way they're gonna go for this idea!!!  (Sorry ... sad but true.)  Scott Shannon's been pretty good about playing various versions of a tune during his True Oldies Channel Remakes Weekends ... and Internet Radio might be interested in featuring some of these obscurities as a novel way to present a twin spin ... but by and large the reigns are SO tight on these play lists that there's no room to maneuver anything that hasn't made it past their "testing audience" ... which is why we keep hearing the same old / same old again and again and again.  Neat idea, 'tho ... maybe SOMEBODY on the list will give this some thought, drop us a line and let us know where and when to tune in and listen!  Thanks, Henry!  (kk)