Friday, December 23, 2011

On The Twelfth Day of Christmas ...

Look for Darlene Love to make her annual Christmas appearance on The David Letterman Show tonight.  (It really has become QUITE the tradition!!!)  Meanwhile, check out Tom Cuddy's review of her recent show in New York!  (kk)

Darlene Love has been putting rock and roll into Christmas since 1963, when she was a featured vocalist (although not always credited) on Phil Spector’s legendary Christmas album.  

When I was invited to Darlene’s annual New York holiday concert earlier this month, I jumped at the invitation. She headlined two sold-out nights at BB King’s in Times Square and she was simply amazing.  At 73 years young, her voice still possesses the power, quality, and excitement it has demonstrated for 50 years in show business.  

Backed by a super tight and impressive 7 piece band and 3 background vocalists, Darlene ignited the 90 minute performance with her first number “Joy to the World.”  

You didn’t have to wait to have her finish too many songs before it was evident why she was inducted in the R&R Hall of Fame in 2010.  

Throughout the night she gave her fans a great balance of Christmas favorites (“White Christmas,” “Christmas Song, (Chestnuts Roasting)”, songs she recorded for Phil Spector (“The Boy I’m Going to Marry,” “Wait Till My Bobby Comes Home,” and tunes she wished she had recorded:  

-- Don’t Make Me Over

-- You’re All I Need To Get By

-- What’s Going On

-- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough 

Halfway through her set she gave the audience a surprise and introduced her sister, Edna Wright, who was the original lead singer of the 70s R&B group the Honey Cone.  Darlene changed her last name at the request of Phil Spector.  Darlene left the stage and Edna belted out two of her hits:  

-- Want Ads (#1 Billboard smash in 1971)

-- One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show (#15 in 1971)  

As she shined through arrangements of tunes she did for Spector (Da Do Ron Ron, He’s a Rebel, River Deep, Mountain High), she talked about how troubling it was to record songs for Phil Spector and be promised that she would credited as the vocalist on the record, only to find out that Phil had misled her.  “But keep in mind, look who’s standing on this stage tonight, while he’s sitting in some lonely jail cell for the rest of his life!”  

She shared with the crowd how excited she was to continue her tradition this year with David Letterman. 

On Dec. 23rd she was scheduled to perform Letterman’s favorite holiday song for the 25th year on his show: the Jeff Barry / Ellie Greenwich written “Baby Please Come Home,” another gem from the Spector Christmas album.  

The last time she had a chance to sing with Bruce Springsteen (at the R&R Hall of Fame) she knew for a couple of months in advance, but didn’t know what he wanted to sing.  And because she wanted to be prepared and not let anyone down, she called Bruce’s management a few weeks in advance to find out.  She was told Bruce hadn’t decided and probably wouldn’t make a decision until a few days before the event.  Well, it turned out the song he picked was “A Fine, Fine Boy”.  So from that point on, every show when she sings it she dedicates it to Springsteen.  

A great piece of trivia: Darlene played Danny Glover’s wife in all four of Mel Gibson’s “Lethal Weapon” movies.  

- Tom Cuddy 

New York, NY
Kent ...
I know that you like to find out about the story behind the Hits.
Find out how "Let It Snow" got from Vaughn Monroe to "Glee" (12/13/11) B.
We featured the Vaughn Monroe version the other day (one of Frannie's favorites, by the way!) ... and (coincidentally) we watched the two Glee Holiday Episodes back-to-back the other night, too!  (Boy, what's happened to that show?!?!?  This season is SO disappointing!!!)  kk

Not FH oriented. Just very well done.
Written and sung by a high-school classmate from 40 years ago.
David Lewis

Kent ...
Here's a Free Christmas Song download from The Belmonts.
Frank B.
Enjoy this MP3 from
"The Bell That Couldn't Jingle" By The Belmonts
To download, please go to:
Have a happy holiday and don't forget to tune in to The Don K. Reed Christmas Show on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!!!
And here's a free Belmonts song for our Jewish friends.
Enjoy this MP3 from
"The Eight Days Of Hannukkah"
To download, please go to:
Have a wonderful holiday!
The Belmonts
And, speaking of The Belmonts, Frank also tells us about a brand new radio program featuring The Belmonts:
ACAPPELLA FRIDAY NIGHTS with JOHNNY Z premiers Friday Night, December 16th at 7 pm est. Great groups, great a cappella!!! Join us at www.thebelmonts.netThe Belmonts Internet Radio "oldies 24/7
Happy Holiday!!!!
The Belmonts
Hi Kent,
I just got done reading forgotten hits and see that someone mentioned "It's Christmas Once Again" by Frankie Lymon. This has always been one of my favorites and thought I would send it to you for your readers. Merry Christmas to you and yours and to all in Forgotten Hits Land. : )

Hey Kent,
I've got yet another forgotten Christmas song that never gets played anymore ...
What about "Must Be Santa" by Lorne Greene?
I've had a copy of this wonderful bouncy Christmas 45 on the RCA label ever since I was about 6 or 7 years old (I'm 55 now), and I still pull this one out of my collection every Christmas and play it.  The only other way that I can hear "Must Be Santa" by Lorne Greene is by pulling it up on YouTube ... Great Christmas tune!!
Jerry Schollenberger 
Not familiar with this one ... and I'm a BIG "Bonanza" fan!  Here's the YouTube link that Jerry is talking about:     
Click here: Must be Santa by Lorne Greene - YouTube
Hard to believe that Bob Dylan is covering Lorne Greene!!!  (lol)  kk

And congratulations to Paul Evans, who's enjoying a VERY Happy Holiday Season ... his animated video for "Santa's Stuck Up In The Chimney" just passed 600,000 views!!! 

(Meanwhile, "Lonely Christmas" has yet to break 100!!!  lol  
Bah Humbug!!!)  kk

Here are a couple of "Almost Christmas" songs suggested by our readers that didn't quite make the cut this year ... 

Hi Kent, 
One winter time song that you never hear is Carol for Lorelei by the Cryan Shames off the Scratch in the Sky album.  While not necessarily a Christmas song it has a great Midwest winter feel to it.  Keep up the great work! 

I know you've featured this one before as one of your Forgotten Hits, but I've always associated Tommy Roe's "It's Now Winter's Day" with Christmas and the holiday season, too.
One of my favorites by Tommy, too.  No, not really a Christmas tune ... but definitely "of the season".  (kk)

I have three songs in mind which would also make for good "Christmas fare":
SONG OF JOY by Miguel Rios
JOY by Apollo 100
NUTROCKER by B. Bumble & The Stingers or Emerson Lake & Palmer
Tal Hartsfeld

... and one that did ... 

Hey Kent,  
I heard a song the other day that I had never heard before and I liked it immediately. The song was “This Could Be The Night” by The Modern Folk Quartet and it sounds like a mixture of Beach Boys and Christmas music! Are you familiar with this song? What do you think? It struck me as “almost” a Christmas song and I bought it from ITunes!  
Merry Christmas!
Eddie Burke,
Orange, CT
No, I have NOT heard this song before ... but I really like it!  No question about it ... it definitely has that Beach Boys feel to it.  I sent a copy to David Beard of "Endless Summer Quarterly" to get his reaction.  (kk)
This is a nice cover of Harry Nilsson's song, which Brian recorded in 1995.
Not really a Christmas song ... so consider this one a "break in the action" ... 'cause it's still a song worth hearing and knowing about.  (kk)

Hey Kent!
Just watched your video of Mariah singing "All I Want For Christmas" four times!  Always one of my favorites.
Wanted to send you two tunes in keeping with "the spirits" of the season you may enjoy.
"What a Christmas" and, for something unusual, a New Years song from my May 2011 CD "Right as Rain", "Happy New Year" (To Almost Everyone).
Rock on!
Here's to a great holiday season. Let the champagne flow and here's to a healthy and happy 2012 to you And all your readers.
Henry Gross
Thanks, Henry ... Happy Holidays to you and yours, too!
We'll feature your Christmas tune today ... and your New Year's tune on New Year's Weekend ... along with the NEXT one shown below!  (kk)

Hi Kent,
I've been enjoying my daily Forgotten Hits.  I wonder if you are aware of Bob's Christmas song, "A New Year's Carol?"  I'm attaching it just in case you haven't heard it.  It's a song everyone should hear this time of year.
Happy Holidays,
Actually, we've featured Bob's "New Year's Carol" for the past two or three years now ... and it's always played to a great response from our readers.
I think THIS year we'll save it for New Year's Weekend ... give you guys something to look forward to!!!
Thanks again for sending ... and have a very happy holiday season!  (kk)

>>>How about "The Second Miracle" ... am I the only one who remembers this Christmas song from Christmas, 1962, by Ral Donner on Reprise?  It did get enough airplay on WLS for me to run out and buy the 45 at Polk Brothers!  Great song that I have never heard mention of or heard on the radio since!  (Allan0318)

>>>I'm wondering if Ral Donner released a two-sided Christmas hit (or rather "non-hit" in this case, since neither of these tracks ever charted) ... because Ron Smith also had a Ral Donner track on HIS list this year.  ("Christmas Day")  Thanks to FH Reader Tom Diehl, we've got BOTH of these tracks available to share today ... from Ral's Reprise period.  (kk)
The Ral Donner sides are off my Starfire reissue 45 from the 70's, but as far as I know they are the exact same recordings as issued on Reprise in the 60's (especially since his other Starfire 45 that I own sounds nothing like this Ral does, and was definitely done in the 70s)
Honestly, I wasn't very impressed with EITHER of these tracks ... Ral's certainly released better ... but hey, it's Christmas Time ... and you guys wanted to hear 'em!!! (kk)
Yep, Ral Donner's "Christmas Day" and "Second Miracle" are two sides of the same record.
-- Ron Smith
FYI, Christmas Day is the B side of Second Miracle.  WLS picked the Second Miracle side, since I never heard Christmas Day on the radio and heard Second Miracle quite often.  Christmas Day was the rocker and Second Miracle the ballad.  At this point, Ral sounded more like Elvis than Elvis.

Speaking of Ron Smith, he tells us that Chicago's very own Survivor has reunited with their former lead singer ... and released a new Christmas single to boot!
In Ron's own words,
It's no Eye of the Reindeer ... but it IS at #6!
-- Ron Smith
I think the guys are sounding GREAT on this record.  (Can we still say "record"?!?!?)  Nothing mentioned about Jim Peterik being involved with the reunion but I'm encouraged by what I'm hearing right here!  (kk)

One more favorite (or two or three!!!)
Every year for the past three or four years I've featured Ron Dante's version of "Angels Among Us" ... this has grown to be not only one of my favorite songs to listen to at Christmas time ... but one of my all-time favorite recordings, too!  I love the way he does this ... so we're sharing it again.

Another oldie that didn't make the cut this year ... but definitely deserves some holiday airplay ... is Buck Owens' 1965 Hit "Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy".  (Boy, if Robin Robinson got in trouble here in Chicago for dispelling the Santa Myth on the nightly news a couple of weeks ago, I can't even imagine what they'd do to ol' Buck if he released this record today!!!  lol)

As we wind down this year's edition of The Twelve Days of Christmas, I've got to say MY most-heard Christmas song this past season has absolutely been "Last Christmas" by Wham.  And, in a real twist of fate, I'll betcha I heard the Sarah McLachlan version of "Happy Xmas" more times than I heard the John and Yoko original.  

But I haven't heard ANYBODY play "Stewball" by Peter, Paul and Mary.  WHAT?!?!? 
No, that's not a Christmas song ... but if you've never heard it before, give it a listen ... they recorded this in 1963 but the song dates back considerably further than that ... perhaps as far back as the 17 or 1800's!!!)
And, after you listen ... can somebody PLEASE explain to me how George Harrison got sued for copping the music for "My Sweet Lord" from "He's So Fine" ... but John Lennon ... long recognized as one of the greatest songwriters in pop music history ... got away with putting his own name on THIS one?!?!?  (kk)

And this one made my day yesterday!!!  Too Funny!!!
It's a brand new JibJab video of our old 1980's group Blind Spot, put together by our lead guitarist, Mike Mertes.  
The thing that cracked me up the most is that he had each of us playing our actual instruments in the video!  (Damn, we were pretty good!!!)
Thanks, Mike!  (kk)
(Of course, if you're going to watch THAT, then you might as well listen to some of our OTHER greatest hits, too!!!)  kk