Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29, 1968

February 29, 1968:

10. Everything That Touches You - The Association
The Association scored their last Top Ten Hit with this forgotten gem from 1968. It capped a pretty good run ... "Cherish", "Windy" and "Never My Love" had all topped the national singles charts ... and their debut single, "Along Comes Mary", posted a very respectable #7 showing in 1966.  The band is still performing today (with a few original members) ... we caught them last year as part of The Happy Together Again Tour!

9. Baby, Now That I've Found You - The Foundations: 
The British-based band The Foundations (who also had members as widely dispersed as Trinidad and The West Indies) are one of those rare bands that had TWO huge Top Ten Singles in the '60's and then faded away into obscurity ... yet you continue to hear BOTH of their hit records on pretty much a daily basis. "Baby, Now That I've Found You" was their first U.S. Chart Hit and it ultimately peaked at #8 on the Cash Box Chart. Their monster follow-up, "Build Me Up, Buttercup" topped the Cash Box Chart in early 1969 (and has now been forever immortalized in the closing credits of the film "There's Something About Mary".)

8. Bottle Of Wine - The Fireballs: 
The Fireballs went through several musical cycles during their long chart career. When they first hit the charts (way back in 1959), it was with the instrumental hit "Torquay", which went to #35 in Cash Box Magazine. Three more instrumental hits followed: "Bulldog" (#23, 1960), "Vaquero" (#99, 1960 ... hey, I didn't say they were BIG hits, LOL) and "Quite A Party" (#27, 1961.) In 1960, Buddy's buddy, Norman Petty (the man who had helped to guide Buddy Holly's career), introduced a young singer by the name of Jimmy Gilmer to the band. They hit it off and, three years later, had the biggest selling single of 1963 when "Sugar Shack" went all the way to #1. The similar-sounding "Daisy Petal Pickin'" went to #15 the following year and then things were pretty quiet for the group again. (Ironically, their 1966 single "What I Am" stiffed on the charts ... but was turned into a Top 20 Hit when Tommy James and the Shondells cut it as "Say I Am", and released it as the follow-up to their #1 smash "Hanky Panky".)
In 1967, they happened to come across a fun, sing-along tune called "Bottle Of Wine", a song that folk singer Tom Paxton had been playing around with for a few years. The Fireballs "rocked" it up a little bit and soon had their last Top Ten Record with "Bottle Of Wine".

7. I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight - 
Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart: 
It was the mention of THIS song in our original Leap Year Series than ran back in 2004 that prompted us to do our "The Music of Tommy Boyce And Bobby Hart" Series a few years ago.  That series proved to be SO popular that it's now been permanently posted on our other Forgotten Hits Website ... ... in fact, Bobby Hart enjoyed the series so much, he offered brand new commentary and even agreed to a rare interview!)
Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart had been hitting the pop charts for the past couple of years by supplying hit music to The Monkees.  (In fact, Boyce and Hart had originally auditioned to be the musical act on the show but were designated as the show's "musical producers" instead.) In addition to "The Monkees Theme", they provided the group with their first #1 Hit "Last Train To Clarksville", the smash B-Side "Steppin' Stone" (first done ... without any success ... by Paul Revere and the Raiders), "Words" and "Valleri" (a song recorded in 1967 but not released until later in '68, where it ALSO topped the pop charts.) They also were responsible for some great LP tunes like "I Wanna Be Free", "Gonna Buy Me A Dog" and "She", amongst others, many of which became embedded in our consciousness by repeated plays on their weekly TV series. In 1968, Boyce and Hart finally tried to make their OWN mark in the music biz as recording artists ... and this one was a biggie! "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight" (not the same song as the Barry and the Tamerlanes hit, but most likely inspired by its title) hit #7 in Cash Box (and was a #2 smash here in Chicago.) 
In the mid-'70's, Boyce and Hart teamed with Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones of The Monkees and toured as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce And Hart:  The Songs of The Monkees (by the Guys Who Sang 'Em and the Guys Who Wrote 'Em.) I just happened to be at Six Flags in St. Louis the night they broke the all-time attendance record back in 1976 ... and their only studio LP is REALLY pretty good stuff!!! (I also remember hearing them in the studio on Roy Leonard's WGN radio program at the time, discussing how they now wanted to be taken more seriously as artists by appealing to an older audience ... I couldn't help but think that perhaps the FIRST, most logical step in that direction toward CHANGING this perception MIGHT be to stop billing yourselves as MicKY, and DaVY and TomMY and BobBY! LOL)

6. Spooky - The Classics IV: 
The Classics IV had one of the smoothest sounds on record back in the late '60's. Their hits "Spooky", "Storym", "Traces" and our recently featured Forgotten Hit "Every Day With You Girl" were all National Top 20 Hits. (In fact, "Spooky", "Stormy" and "Traces" all peaked at #2 on at least one of the National Charts!) Lead vocalist Dennis Yost deservedly gets a lot of the credit for the for the band's success ... but when guitarist J.R. Cobb and bassist / keyboardist Dean Daughtry teamed with Classics IV producer Buddy Buie in the mid-'70's to form The Atlanta Rhythm Section, the hits just kept on coming ... including an ARS remake of "Spooky" that went all the way to #15!!!

5. Simon Says - The 1910 Fruitgum Company
Bubblegum Music was at its ultimate peak in 1968 ... and leading the pack was THIS group from New Jersey.  While many of these groups were simply studio creations (featuring the lead vocals of Joey Levine), taken under the wings of producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, The 1910 Fruitgum Company were a self-contained unit that still performs today.  After "Simon Says" peaked at #2, they followed it up with two more Top Five Hits, "1,2,3 Red Light" (#3, 1968) and "Indian Giver" (#4, 1969)  

4. Dock Of The Bay - Otis Redding:
Sadly, Soul Singer / Songwriter Otis Redding didn't live long enough to see his biggest hit record make the charts ... he died in a plane crash in December of 1967, three months BEFORE "Dock Of The Bay" hit #1. Redding has inspired SO many other singers over the years ... but this one remains his signature tune.

3. I Wish It Would Rain - The Temptations: 
The Temptations experimented with a wide variety of styles in the '60's ... and all of them seemed to work. Whether recording the traditional Motown Sound on early hits like "The Way You Do The Things You Do", "My Girl" and "Get Ready" ... or pushing the musical envelope with more elaborate tracks like "I Wish It Would Rain", "Cloud Nine" and "I Can't Get Next To You" ... or literally re-inventing themselves with over-the-top songs like "Psychedelic Shack", "Ball Of Confusion" and "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone", virtually EVERYTHING they touched turned to gold. "I Wish It Would Rain" peaked at the #2 position early in 1968 ... and is yet another Temptations classic.

2. Theme from Valley Of The Dolls - Dionne Warwick: 
Dionne's love theme from the popular (if somewhat campy) movie "Valley of the Dolls" (based on the long-time mega-best selling book) was an unexpected surprise on the pop charts.  First of all, it wasn't written by her usual team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David ... and, in many cities, it was designated as the B-Side.  That's because the OTHER side of this single was "I Say A Little Prayer", long considered a David and Bacharach classic.  (It also became a Top Ten Hit for Dionne Warwick, going all the way to #4 three months earlier!)

***1***  Love Is Blue - Paul Mauriat: 
Man, this one was ALL over the radio back in 1968 ... 
it didn't seem to matter WHAT station you listened to ... 
Paul Mauriat took the French song "L'Amour Est Bleu" and made it an American favorite ... it topped the charts for SEVEN incredible weeks in February and March. The song was first performed by Vicki Leandros as Luxembourg's entry into the Annual Eurovision Song Contest in 1967, where it finished in fourth place! Despite the fact that she later recorded the song with lyrics that same year in 19 different languages, it sold moderately at best. All the more surprising then that, in a year where American Music took a turn toward harder, heavier, more sophisticated rock, this one captured our hearts by storm ... and as an INSTRUMENTAL, no less!   (Wow ... that makes TWO HUGE INSTRUMENTAL HITS holding down the #1 Spot in our Leap Year Countdown thus far!)
DIDJAKNOW?: In 1971, Paul Mauriat admitted for the first time that, under the pseudonym Del Roman, he wrote an instrumental called "Chariot" back in 1962 that became a #1 Record throughout Europe for Petula Clark when she recorded it with newly written French lyrics. A year later, when English lyrics were written, it went to #1 here in the States, too.  Don't recognize the title?  That's probably because you know it better as "I Will Follow Him" by Little Peggy March!