Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Reviews: Comments ... and New Titles

Still reading Forgotten Hits all the time 'cause it's the best. Also loved the book reviews. Have you thought of making that a regular feature, in all your free time that is? 

Actually, we had some pretty good response to last week's book reviews ... and I really enjoyed doing them.  (Hated having to write them in high school, of course ... but it's a little bit different today when I actually enjoy the subject matter! Plus, there were some pretty good titles in the bunch this time!)  

We'll share a few of the comments with you today (as well as tell you about a couple of other new books now on the market.) 

And then tomorrow, we'll take one last look at Sid Holmes' book "Rockabilly Heaven - West Texas in the 50's - The Untold Story of the Cavaliers, 1956 - 1964", which profiles J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers' timeless #1 Hit "Last Kiss". (After our series ran, Sid emailed me back ... and then even took time to answer a few questions from some of our readers ... so you won't want to miss this latest installment in our decade-long search for the truth!!!)

But first ... 

Here comes word about ANOTHER new book worth getting ...  

Right in the middle of our special week of book reviews, we got this blurb about a brand new book profiling broadcasting legend Hy Lit:

Purchase The Hy Lit Story Book on the HyLitRadio home page Click here

The Hy Lit Story
The Picture Book

On Sale Now!  
A Treasure Trove filled with rare and exclusive pictures  
from Hy's personal collection ... mostly never seen before 
... plus all the True Stories Behind the Story and Behind
the scenes
Fully illustrated with Hundreds of Stunning Photographs
Spanning the first two decades from the Dawn of Rock & 
Roll.      Limited Collectors' Edition.

The First 1500 copies are numbered and certified with a CD
of rare unreleased air checks. CD Includes the Hy Lit 
Beatles interview. 

Available only from HyLitRadio.com  
Go to the HyLitRadio Home Page and click the Amazon
Purchase Link to order your copy.
The Hy Lit Story Book on Sale Now from HyLitRadio.com

And Be Sure To Listen to Radio legend Charlie Tuna Weekday Morning's from 6 - 11 am on HyLitRadio  

I am currently reading the brand new Kenny Rogers autobiography, "Luck Or Something Like It".  I've always been a big Kenny Rogers fan ... and, back in 2008, we did a week-long tribute to Kenny's career (with special emphasis on his First Edition Days)
Incredibly, in all of the THOUSANDS of archives I received back from our readers after The Great Computer Crash of 2012, this was NOT one of them.  If anybody who might still have some of our stuff on their computers dating back that far can please check, this series would have run back in March / April of 2004 ... and then again in September / October of 2008. 
It was a week-long series that probably kicked off with a piece titled "Hoodat?" (as we ran a vintage Kenny Rogers recording from WAY back before he was a worldwide superstar.) 
If anybody out there has a copy of this complete series (for some crazy reason, we only have Chapter 4!!!!!), we would love to get a copy from you so we can resurrect it as a '60's Flashback and tie it into a book review on Kenny's new book.  (I'm just about 100 pages into it ... and absolutely LOVING it!!!)  Although it does tell the complete story, the way a biography should, you don't really feel like you're reading a biography ... that's because it is peppered throughout with amusing anecdotes that not only advance the story but also convey Kenny's gift for story-telling and southern charm.  Highly recommended (and available in bookstores everywhere now ... Frannie got me a copy for Christmas ... and I'm lovin' it!)  kk   

And this about some of our book reviews ... both from our readers ... and some of the authors themselves!!!

Hi kk,
A thousand thanks for your enthusiasm in helping get the word out on Ranking the '60s. The immediate response to your review is heartening to me not only on a personal level but in a communal sense as well. Thanks again for your support. 
Take care,
Within the first two hours of this review being posted, I had already heard from four FH Readers who had gone online to purchase a copy for their collection ... a pretty good response indeed.  I'm hoping that some of the jocks on the list might even incorporate your stats into some type of "countdown" programming ... so stay tuned for news on THAT front, too!  Congratulations, Dann!  (A welcome edition to ANY collection of chart history books.)  kk


Hi, Kent,
Thank you so much for your terrific review of "Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? -- Volume 2." We truly appreciate your enthusiasm, and your validation of what we do. You get it -- you understand that we are interested in the lives of the individual performers, and that we want to portray them as people rather than as simply performers or icons. We will link to your review from our book's Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/WHATPSG).  
Are you on Facebook or LinkedIn? If so, I'd be pleased to connect with you there.
On our Facebook page, we post daily tidbits on anniversary dates -- sometimes only one item, but often two or more. Today we have three postings. Here they are, to give you an idea of what we do daily.
---  "Little Things," singer Bobby Goldsboro's fifth chart single, made its debut on the Billboard Hot 100 on January 23, 1965. Goldsboro wrote the song, and Bill Justis arranged and conducted music for the session, which Jack Gold produced. The drumming and beat in "Little Things" were reminiscent of Roy Orbison’s 1964 hit "Pretty Woman." Goldsboro had been a member of Roy's touring band for two years beginning in 1961. Bobby originally had written a 2/4 drum beat for "Little Things," but when he heard Orbison’s "Pretty Woman" on the radio he asked him if he could use the 4/4 beat, and Orbison gave him thumbs up. "The timing has been so important in my life in everything I’ve done. Had Roy not come up with that record when he did, 'Little Things' may not have happened," Bobby told us for "Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? -- Volume 2." Released on the United Artists label, "Little Things" peaked at No. 13, and remained on the chart for 12 weeks.
--- The Kingston Trio recorded "The Reverend Mr. Black" on January 23, 1963. Country music singer-songwriter Billy Edd Wheeler and Jed Peters were credited on the release as the songwriters, but "Jed Peters" turned out to be a pseudonym for leading pop music songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (whose songwriting credits include "Hound Dog," "On Broadway" and "Stand By Me," and whose music formed the basis for the musical stage production "Smokey Joe's Cafe"). "The Reverend Mr. Black," the 15th chart record by the Kingston Trio, made its debut on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on April 6, 1963. The Capitol Records release peaked at No. 8 and remained on the chart for 11 weeks. You can read about the Trio in "Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? -- Volume 1." 
--- The week of January 23, 1963, a 20-year old Texas artist whose father was an engineer for an oil company and whose mother was a registrar for a business college reunited with a California friend, Chet Helms, whom she had met while both were students at the University of Texas in Austin. The artist had taken an interest in singing folk and blues; she and Helms hitchhiked together to San Francisco, where he was involved in the formative stages of several musical groups and was becoming increasingly instrumental in the evolution of the San Francisco music scene. His band management activities led to staging concerts under the name Family Dog Productions. Helms recruited the singer to join one of the bands that he managed and had named with Orwellian overtones: Big Brother and the Holding Company. The Texas artist-turned-singer was, of course, Janis Joplin, who died at age 27 in 1970. Helms died at age 62 in 2005 from complications following a stroke.
Best regards,

I don't do Facebook ... (I barely have the time to get Forgotten Hits out!!!) ... but I believe the majority of our readers do and, as such, would enjoy your daily postings ... so I'm happy to provide the link. As I've told you before, I really enjoy your books and the way you dig a little deeper to get more than just the conventional music story. The good review is well-deserved. (And, if you want to run some of your daily tidbits in FH from time to time, I'm all for that, too!) Thanks, Jeff. (kk)  

>>>Ray Stevens, one of pop music's premier funny men, decided to play it straight in 1970 ... and, in the process, scored his very first #1 Hit with "Everything Is Beautiful". (kk)  

Speaking of when Ray Stevens "played it straight," let's not forget his 1968 hits UNWIND and MR. BUSINESSMAN.
Tal Hartsfeld   

Two Forgotten Hits (and great tracks) to be sure ... but neither generated quite the overall national response that "Everything Is Beautiful" did. (I've always loved both of those tunes!) "Unwind" (which I became familiar with when I saw Ray perform it on his TV Show, a Summer Replacement Series for The Andy Williams Show, I believe) peaked at #44 in 1968. "Mr. Businessman", his follow-up single, fared a little better, going all the way to #15. (kk) 

As I was scrolling down and reading your comments for today, before I played it, I noticed the song ZIP CODE was some 3:18 in length. I said,"Wait a minute!" I didn't really remember it being that long. I went and checked and the single version is 2:23 in length. It looked and sounded like the center portion of the song was different. Learn something new every day.
Also in today's comments, when I saw the book title ROCKABILLY HEAVEN, I thought immediately of the term Hillbilly Heaven and other Heaven songs. I don't know if it made your charts in your area back in 1961, but Tex Ritter's recording of I DREAMED I WAS IN HILLBILLY HEAVEN made it into our top 10 locally here in OKC.
Making a list of songs that are somewhat "Heaven" orientated as far as rock and roll music is concerned, how many of them are there? There was a TEENAGE HEAVEN by Johnny Cymbal and Eddie Cochran, Righteous Brothers had ROCK AND ROLL HEAVEN, probably a few others but maybe not many.
Incidentally, Tex Ritter remade his HILLBILLY HEAVEN when he was in OKC but used the names of local DJ's who were working here in the city instead of the western actors and singers that were in the original. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of that record. Don't really know how many copies were pressed.
Keep up the good work.
I seem to remember Tex recording "customized" versions of "Hillbilly Heaven" for a number of different radio stations at the time ... a long, lost art in record promotion.  (In fact, I'm know there's a Chicago version floating around out there somewhere, too ... we featured it ages ago in Forgotten Hits.)  Ritter's Top 5 Country Hit peaked at #20 on Billboard's Pop Chart in 1961 ... and went all the way to #7 here in Chi-Town. (kk)  

Hi Kent; 
Thanks for the memory jolt. At the time that was a brilliant move on the part of Capitol records. While it was a huge hit on the country charts, there was just no way we would have played on the song on 'LS. However by adding our names to the lyric we did just exactly that! Now Gene Taylor, Art Roberts, Sam Holman and Mort Crowley are indeed gone. Sorta spooky!  
Clark Weber
Yep, a brilliant marketing move ... and WLS played it all the way to #7!!!  Who would have guessed!  (kk)

Hi Kent,
Regarding the Lettermen: I note your disappointment at how short Jim Pike’s book “My Letterman Years ... The Journey To Hell And Back!" is.
Unfortunately, it seems to be in keeping with their level of CD reissues. The best was issued by EMI as part of their Capitol Collector series in 1992. Significantly, the accompanying booklet did not feature any career perspective. There were neither bio details nor any mention of the group’s history. (However at $10, it’s still a great buy!).
Since then, there have been budget issues and some compilations emanating from the Philippines, where I believe that the group has the type of popularity experienced by the Ventures in Japan. Collectors Choice began reissuing the Lettermen’s LPs as 2-fers but that project ended after the first two albums appeared on CD. Strange when, as you mention, the group put 33 albums on the Billboard chart!
On the bio side, I cannot recall any collector magazine featuring a career overview together with a discography.
I’m not sure what but “there is something going on here”. Given their output and their successes in the 60s, the Lettermen are one of the most underrepresented artists in terms of CD reissues. We need a double CD of their hits and best LP cuts (and there were many) with great packaging. In addition, the 2-fer project needs to continue, so that all their albums are available again.
As for the Lettermen’s recordings, a few questions come to mind. Why did they not record any Beach Boys’ songs, particularly when they shared the same label, Capitol? Same goes for the 4 Seasons (except for “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”), Jay & The Americans etc. Maybe they did not want to risk losing their identity. However they did record some Beatles and British Invasions songs. Their versions of Gerry’s “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” and Herman’s “Listen People” are amazing.
Mike Edwards
I sent a copy of your email to Gary Pike to see if perhaps he knew about any future reissue plans through Capitol ... or maybe some foreign releases that better capture the complete Lettermen catalog.  I'll be sure to let you know as soon as I hear something back.  (Now I want to hear their versions of "Listen People" and "Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying"!!!)  kk

Back when I first asked you if I should ask if Gary Pike would be interested in becoming an FH contributor, it was with the idea that in the midst of psychedelia, garage bands an the emergence of bands writing their own music in the late 60s, that the Lettermen had that huge comeback, when at first glance one would think that their sound was more suited for the years preceding Beatlemania. I'm glad that it has worked out well.
Gary's contributions and insight have been a GREAT addition to Forgotten Hits ... so thanks again for making that connection. And Gary, thanks for all your support over the years, too! (kk)

Sid Holmes talks to Forgotten Hits Readers ...