Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Few Beatles ... And Beatles-Related ... Comments

One of our most-read, most-quoted and best-loved early series, "Who Played The First Beatles Record In America", still has folks talking ten years later.
We've received a number of challenges to our findings during this time ... but no "concrete evidence" to disprove our theory that Dick Biondi (of Chicago's very own WLS) was the First Disc Jockey in America to play a Beatles record on the air.  (In fact, "Please Please Me" ... by the mis-spelled Beattles ... charted for a couple of weeks in early March of 1963, the earliest CHARTED Beatles U.S. appearance we've been able to find.)
But we just came across a new finding that has gotten our attention ... read on ...  


FH Reader Randy Price sent me this note that he saw posted on Mike Callahan's "Both Sides Now" website, regarding an early playing of "Please Please Me" in the Philadelphia area ...

In Philadelphia, "She Loves You" made WIBG's Top 99 list for September 23, 1963.  It spent one week at position #81 (or perhaps two weeks; WIBG compiled its lists weekly at the time, but published them biweekly).  The station also played "Please Please Me" sometime in mid-February 1963, though it didn't chart;  I wrote the title down on the back of the 2/11/63 list. WIBG's lists included lots of records that didn't chart nationally.
Alex McNeil
We've had a couple of other folks tell us that they remember hearing "Please Please Me" in Philadelphia, too, as (in their words) MOST new records were first broken there.  (I still tend to believe the story that Vee Jay Records, literally right down the street from WLS 890 AM, probably WALKED the record over, hot off the presses, prior to mailing it out to anybody else ... but we could be wrong!)  The fact that Alex wrote it on the back of the 2/11 survey is the intriguing part ... that would be about two weeks before Dick Biondi played it on his WLS radio program ... and recently discovered paperwork indicates that Vee Jay Records OFFICIALLY released this single on February 7th ... and NOT the 20th as has been so often reported.  If WIBG jumped on this literally the day it came it, it is entirely possible that they were the first ... now we need some back-up.  (Sam Lit has been stating this for years but we've never received any documentation.  Surely SOMEBODY must have something in the archives that can back this up???)  Alex's survey notation is impressive, however ... so I'm prepared to pursue this even further if ANYBODY out there can get me some concrete evidence or documentation!  (kk)
And another Beatles milestone, too!  The Cavern celebrates its 55th birthday!!!
Kent ...

How many times did the Beatles appear at The Cavern Club?  Click this link to find out.
Frank B.

We ran the complete track listing for Paul McCartney's upcoming CD of (mostly) standards the other day.  Macca has been wanting to do an album like this for over twenty years ... and has pushed it back several times. (Probably each time Rod Stewart ... or Barry Manilow ... or any one of countless others ... released THEIR tribute to the "greats"!!!)
Ironically in the same issue that we told you about the songs that'll be featured on Paul McCartney's new release, we ALSO told you about a Mel Carter CD of similar content and inspiration.  (But, in Paul's defense, he has also stated on the record while promoting this new release that THESE are the songs that greatly influenced the early writing styles of Lennon and McCartney ... kinda surprising in that The Beatles were formed at the birth of Elvis, Buddy Holly and Rock And Roll!) 
But, without question, McCartney has embraced ALL kinds of different musical genres over the many years of his career ... so this one still bears listening.  (And he's written a couple of new tunes that "fit the mood" as well ... and resurrected one of MY favorites, "My Baby's Request" from the Wings / "Back To The Egg" album from the late '70's.)
Frequent Forgotten Hits contributor Gary Theroux offers an in-depth look at the history of some of the tracks that McCartney has chosen to honor on this new release.  Here's a fascinating look back at the history of some of these tunes:
Regarding the new Paul McCartney CD, I am sure that for a lot of people, the CD's title -- "Kisses On The Bottom" -- will make them think ol' Paul is referring to one way of earning the favor of your employer.  
It's actually a lyric line from "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter," which was a hit 55 years ago (in 1957) for Billy Williams: "I'm gonna sit right down and write myself a letter / And make believe it came from you / I'm gonna write words oh so sweet / They're gonna knock me off my feet / A lotta kisses on the bottom / I'll be glad I got 'em ..."
Like most of the other tunes on that CD, "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down ..." is actually a composition of far deeper vintage.  The song was originally a 1935 hit for Fats Waller and then a 1936 hit for The Boswell Sisters.  Five years before the Billy Williams version, one of those sisters -- Connee -- recut the song and scored with it as a solo single.
As this is an album made up of (mostly) classic tunes Paul has long admired, here's a bit of background on the other selections:
“Home (When Shadows Fall)” as written in 1931 by Peter Van Steeden, Jeff Clarkson and Harry Clarkson and became a hit for bandleader Van Steeden (with a vocal by Dick Robertson) in 1932.  Louis Armstrong scored with a cover version that year, Nat "King" Cole did the same in 1950 and Sam Cooke included his version of the song on his 1964 "Ain't That Good News" LP. 
“It’s Only A Paper Moon” was originally introduced on Broadway in the play "The Great Magoo" under the title "If You Believe in Me."  The first hit versions were in 1933 for Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra (vocal by Bob Lawrence) and Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards.  Benny Goodman and Ella Fitzgerald each had hits with the song in 1945.  
“More I Cannot Wish You” is a Frank Loesser composition from the 1950 Broadway musical "Guys and Dolls." 
“The Glory Of Love” was originally a 1936 #1 hit for Benny Goodman & his Orchestra with vocalist Helen Ward.  
“We Three (My Echo, My Shadow and Me)” was a 1940 hit for Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra with vocalist Frank Sinatra.  The next year the song hit #1 for The Ink Spots, the group later emulated by The Platters.
“Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive” (a tune from the film "The Harvey Girls") was written by and a #1 hit for Johnny Mercer in 1945.  Three cover versions -- one each by Kay Kyser, Artie Shaw and Bing Crosby with The Andrews Sisters -- also scored that year.   
“My Valentine” is a new McCartney composition.
“Always” was written in 1925 by Irving Berlin as a wedding gift for his wife Ellin, to whom he assigned all royalties.   It had been intended for inclusion in the Marx Brothers' Broadway show "The Coconuts" but was pulled from the score by Berlin during the out-of-town tryouts.  Regardless, five hit versions charted in 1926, the biggest being chart-toppers by bandleaders George Olsen and Vincent Lopez.   
“My Very Good Friend The Milkman” was written in 1934 by Johnny Burke and Harold Spina, who also composed the Fats Waller classic "You're Not The Only Oyster in The Stew."  While never a chart hit, "My Very Good Friend ..." was recorded by Waller as well as -- Eric Clapton!  Now THOSE two would make for an interesting musical mash-up!  
“Bye Bye Blackbird” was one of the 1920s' most iconic tunes -- and certainly a sensation in 1926.  There were four hit versions that year, the biggest being a #1 recording by "The Voice of the Southland," Gene Austin.
“Get Yourself Another Fool” was written by Frank Heywood and Monroe Tucker and was originally a 1949 R&B hit for Charles Brown. 
“The Inch Worm” was another Frank Loesser composition.  Danny Kaye made it famous by singing it in the 1952 film "Hans Christian Anderson."  Seventeen years later, under Paul McCartney's direction, Mary Hopkin cut a memorable version for her 1969 "Postcard" LP.  
“Only Our Hearts” is the other new McCartney composition on the CD.  
Bonus Tracks:
“Baby’s Request” is a McCartney song he first recorded for his 1979 "Back To The Egg" Wings LP.
“My One and Only Love” was written in 1952 by Bob Mellin and Guy Wood.  It became a minor hit for Frank Sinatra in 1953.  Five years later WGN DJ Franklyn MacCormack included a moving spoken word version on his Liberty LP "The Torch is Still Burning." 
Gary Theroux    
Interestingly enough, we featured Billy Williams' hit "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter" several weeks ago as "Today's Forgotten Hit" ... I've always loved that one (and think it would STILL sound great coming out of your radio quite unexpectedly once in a while.)  The aforementioned Barry Manilow also cut a pretty good rendition of this one.  Cool that McCartney thought enough of "The Inch Worm" to produce a version on Mary Hopkins' first Apple album way back when ... and then cut his own version all these years later

Honestly, I'm not sure how well this new release will go over ... it may be something more for the "die hard" fans than the general public.  We got THIS email from FH Reader Clark Besch the other day, too ... safe to say he's probably not going to buy it!!! (kk)
Can 2012 start any worse?  Paul McCartney becomes the new Rod Stewart?  A CD of "STANDARDS"???  Didn't Ringo try this 40 years ago with "Beaucoups of Blues"?  I guess Ringo was WAY ahead of his time!  I am going back to my Yellow Sub and STAY THERE!  1966, here I come! 
Clark Besch
Actually, it was "Sentimental Journey" ... and I think that some of those tracks worked pretty well.  McCartney produced "Stardust" for Ringo's first solo LP ... and the title track ... (a personal favorite ... I especially like how Ringo pronounces "Sent - ee - mental"!!! lol) ... was produced by Richard Perry ... and Ringo enjoyed working with him so much, he brought him onboard to produce his first REAL rock and roll solo album ... "Ringo" ... in 1973 ... and the LP went all the way to #1!!!
McCartney recorded a duet with Tony Bennett a few years back ... and really it is the kind of "parlour music" you know he listened to with his old man growing up in Liverpool.  (Hey, it helped inspire things like "When I'm Sixty Four", "Your Mother Should Know" and "Honey Pie", too!  So this REALLY isn't anything new!)
My personal feeling is that McCartney hasn't released anything "memorable" since "Flowers In The Dirt" ... and that was a long, long time ago.  (By memorable I mean songs that stick in your head and can be recalled at a moment's notice.  Yes, there have been highlights here and there since then ... but NOTHING of "commercial value" like we're used to hearing from this guy!)  Still, I'm curious to hear it ... and (as a die-hard McCartney fan) will most likely buy this one just like I have all of the others!  (kk)
Kent ...
Instead of slowing down and heading toward retirement, Paul McCartney seems to working harder now than when he was a Beatle.
Now comes word of a possible Olympics Concert, according to MSN.
Several months ago we reported that Paul (AND RINGO!) were in negotiations to appear TOGETHER at the 2012 Olympics in London (and were working out all of the details and logistics in order to do so.)
So now Forgotten Hits is scooping MSN!!! (How cool is THAT?!?!?)  kk