Monday, November 12, 2012

More Great Forgotten Hits

Got this from FH Reader Tom Cuddy:  

R&B Singer Major Harris Dead at 65
Helped make the 'Philadelphia sound' as solo artist and member of the Delfonics
Major Harris, an R&B singer who helped develop the silky, funk-inflected "Philadelphia sound" as a member of the Delfonics and in his solo career, died on Friday at the age of 65, the Associated Press reports. According to his sister, Catherine Thomas, he died of congestive heart and lung failure in Richmond, Virginia.
Harris was born in Richmond on February 9th, 1947, the son of a guitarist and a church choir leader. During the 1960s, he lent his voice to various doo-wop and R&B groups including Charmers, the Teenagers (of Frankie Lymon fame), the Jarmels and Nat Turner's Rebellion. He joined the Delfonics after founding member Randy Cain left the group in 1971, and sang on their albums Tell Me This is a Dream and Alive and Kicking. In 1974, Harris also left the Delfonics to strike out on his own as a solo singer.
Harris' solo hits include "Love Won't Let Me Wait," which went to Number Five on Billboard's Hot 100, and "I Got Over Love." He later joined the Delfonics again as they regrouped for new projects beginning in the 1980s, including providing the backing vocals for Ghostface Killah's 1996 track "After the Smoke is Clear." In 2008, Harris contributed his vocals to Best of the Delphonics. His final performance was at a Delfonics reunion show in 2011.
"Love Won't Let Me Wait" is one of my favorite Soulful '70's songs ... always loved it ... and we had the pleasure of seeing Major Harris perform this song live in concert at a Soul Spectacular Concert about ten years ago. (At this point, he was back performing with The Delfonics again.) It also makes for the PERFECT "Today's Forgotten Hit" tune. As stated, a #5 Pop Hit in Billboard (it reached #3 on both the Cash Box and Record World charts), it also topped Billboard's R&B Singles Chart for a week. (kk)

Major Harris, one-time member of the Delfonics who achieved solo success afterwards, died of congestive heart and lung failure at a hospital in his home town of Richmond, Virginia, Friday (November 9). He was 65. While still a teenager, he began singing in such groups as Frankie Lymon's Teenagers and the Jarmels. His big break came in 1971, though, when he replaced Randy Cain in Philadelphia's Delfonics. Like the other groups, the Delfonics were past their prime at this point ("Tell Me This Is A Dream" was his biggest hit with them, reaching #86) but served as a showcase for Major's vocal skills, enabling him to land a contract with Atlantic Records in 1974. "Love Won't Let Me Wait" the following year peaked at #5, spending 18 weeks on Billboard's Hot 100. He followed it up with "Jealousy (#73 - 1976) and "Laid Back Love" (#91 - 1976), then disappeared again from the charts. However, that hit kept him working onstage until last year, both as a solo artist and with the Delfonics.
-- Ron Smith  

And one more from Ron ...   

Cleveland "Cleve" Duncan, lead singer of the Penguins, died early Wednesday (November 7) in Los Angeles at the age of 77. Cleve started the group in Los Angeles with tenor Dexter Tisby, bass Curtis Williams and baritone Bruce Tate in 1954. They named themselves after the Kool cigarettes cartoon penguin, Willie. Signing with Dootone Records the following year, the made their mark with their first release, the legendary "Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)" (#8 pop, #1 R&B), becoming only the second doo wop group (after the Chords) to make the pop top ten. The song was intended to be the B-side of the release, but DJs flipped the recording of "Hey Senorita" over. The Penguins signed with manager Buck Ram, who convinced Mercury Records to pick up the group's contract (after insisting they also sign another of his groups -- the Platters). Ironically, other than a re-issue of "Earth Angel" that "bubbled under" the charts at #101 in 1960, the Penguins never had another hit, while the Platters charted 45 times. Though they broke up in 1962, Cleve -- who owned the name -- re-formed the group for performances on the oldies circuit. They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004.
-- Ron Smith

Kent ...
One more music story from Bob Greene's book "Chevrolet Summers, Dairy Queen Nights."
Chapter # 99 finds Bob Greene walking through a public building on a recent trip.
He's listening to Muzak ... lushly orchestrated string arrangements of classic American tunes.
Take a song like "The Sound Of Music," have a tepid and bland orchestra do a quiet version of it, and you have Muzak. The song I was hearing was, indeed, soft and lush and filled with string arrangements. And I was almost sure what the song was:
"Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)."
You have to understand --- "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love), "briefly popular in the summer of 1966, was a raucous, prototypical bar song recorded by a raucous, prototypical garage band known as the
Swingin' Medallions. Their only hit and with good reason.
"There were only two things you could do while listening to "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)":
drink beer and throw up.
That's what the song was made for. And here it was on Muzak.
Bob called Muzak headquarters in Seattle. How could "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)" have gone from being a drink and vomit song to something that was carefully logged in the Muzak master computer ?
Mr. Funkhouser told Bob "that in recent years we have expanded our repertoire."
Bob was still upset.
Frank B.
Another great "Today's Forgotten Hit" suggestion ... man there are SO many of these great songs out there that radio never plays anymore! "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)" was a #13 (RW) Hit in 1966 ... and is pretty much considered to be a party anthem. I would LOVE to hear the Muzak version of this one! (lol) You really gotta wonder what the heck they were thinking! (Makes me want to read Bob's book again!) kk

Oldies radio rarely plays "Sugar On Sunday" by The Clique ... and certainly never plays "I'll Hold Out My Hand", this band's other outing. Has this wonderful track been discussed on FH?
David Lewis
One of Frannie's all-time favorite songs, I've featured "Sugar On Sunday" a few times before in FH ... both the hit single version by The Clique and the Tommy James original. GREAT track ... GREAT suggestion. (You'll hear Scott Shannon dig this one out once in a while ... it's truly a "fan favorite" ... much like "Yellow River" by Christie, another tune that ALWAYS gets a great response when we feature it in Forgotten Hits. Seems to be these ought to be featured a little more often on the radio, too ... if only to break up the monotony of the same old / same old, day in and day out!) kk

Great Stuff!
It was great to hear Bill Deal & the Rondells, greatly underappreciated, underplayed and underrated. The song by Skeeter Davis, "The End of the World", has been one of my favorites ever since I remember my Mom playig her L.P.s when I was a child. It takes on a new poignancy when I remember that it was written by Sylvia Dee shortly after her father died and that event was a big influence and inspiration for the song.
Your forgotten oldies has caused me to remember a great song that I haven't heard since it was popular for a short time after it was released. It was "Goodbye" by Mary Hopkin. If you could find that for your readers, I guarantee an "Oh Yeah" moment.
Honestly, it isn't all that often that you hear Mary's chart-topping hit "Those Were The Days" on the radio anymore ... so her #18 follow-up "Goodbye" (written and produced by Paul McCartney) has fallen off the radar completely! Happy to oblige ... I always liked this one, too! (A pretty simple song really ... but Macca could always craft a stick-in-your-head melody!) kk

I enjoyed hearing Mercy again as a FH and also the FH by Nancy Wilson.
And oh yes, I remember CALIFORNIA GIRL by Tompall and the Glaser Brothers.  Written by Jack Clement with a flip of ALL THAT KEEPS YA GOIN', it made our local top 40 radio station's weekly survey in April of 1969 and was on the
survey for a few weeks.  

This may have been more of a Southern States sort of thing (although Phil Nee wrote in from Wisconsin where, I imagine, "Put Another Log On The Fire" probably also got some airplay, as it did here in Chicago.  "California Girl" peaked at #92 in Billboard (and it took four weeks to climb that high!  lol) so a new one on me (and a pretty obscure hit.)  Honestly, there are enough Top 20 Hits to go around to keep this thing going for months without ever having to dip that low on the charts to come up with a Forgotten Hit.  Radio has scaled down their playlist so far that nearly ANYTHING we offer will come as a welcome surprise!  (kk)

How about a few Top 10 WLS Chart Hit forgotten hits!!
Rev-Up - Manuel & Renegades
Don’t You Know - Keith Everett
Midnight Hour - (Milwaukee’s) Messengers
All good suggestions ... but we can't even get radio to play the National Top 20 Hits ... so we're NEVER gonna get them to play these local favorites. (However one of our LOCAL station, if only as a means to tie themselves to the rich radio history of this great city, certainly could play one of these once in a while.) My vote would go to Michael and the Messengers' version of "In The Midnight Hour" because it's the best known of the batch ... although personally I much prefer the Keith Everett gem "Don't You Know". (Baby steps, Ken ... at least we're getting some good reaction ... and some great suggestions ... to our recently resurrected feature!) kk

WDRV-FM does some of us a great service with "The Drive A-Z." I mean, where else do I get to hear Space Cowboy by Steve Miller, Space Oddity by Bowie and Space Truckin' by Deep Purple all in a row??!! That's euphoria.
Thank you, Clark Besch, one of our online treasure troves of sixties pop knowledge, for that mimeograph WORD survey - what a "capsule countdown" that would have been!
Clark - the entire "God Bless Tiny Tim" LP is fantastic. I think Khoury pandered to the adult crowd at least as smoothly as he did to the kids. Check out Gordon Alexander's wonderful "Strawberry Tea". That gorgeous tune led me to "Record City" where, lo and behold, I found Alexander's long obscure singer-songwriter LP on Columbia circa 1969. Groovy penner.
Heard the Stones' latest "Doom & Gloom" courtesy of WXRT yesterday -- nice!! Reminds me most of their Exile on Main St / Goat's Head Soup recordings.
Finally -- does anybody know who did the original "I've Been Hurt"? I have the 1967 45 by the Sensational Epics from when they were signed by Cameo. It's about as interesting, if not more so, as Bill Deal's version.
Happy Holidays to all of you!

Take this to the bank. Several doo wop legends have told me this. I love Gary U.S. Bonds. In fact he guested on my mid 90's new york TV sports talk show several times.
Gary's rough-street-tough-garage band sound is absolutely unmistakable.
But, think about this ... how often do you hear Gary reference "Daddy G', a mean horn player whose influence on Gary can never be overlooked. "Uh, Go Go Daddy!"
The book I get is that Daddy G motivated Gary, provided him with career direction, and championed his sound. Daddy G should never be overlooked. The cat can play ... I mean flat out play.
Chet Coppock
Notre Dame football-WLS
Video contributor: Chicago Blackhawks
While he seems to have been overlooked on the national scene, Daddy G charted big here in Chicago with the hit "A Night With Daddy G", recorded by The Church Street Five ... which was simply the instrumental backing track to Gary "U.S." Bonds' #1 Hit "Quarter To Three". (You'll find both artists mentioned in the song lyrics!) The Church Street Five single reached #7 here in Chicago and was released as Legrand 1004 ... Bonds' hit "Quarter To Three" was released as Legrand 1008 ... and they're essentially the exact same song, simply with ... and without ... lyrics! (kk)