Friday, March 8, 2013

It's No Fun Doing This Without At Least A LITTLE Bit Of Controversy!!!

There's been a little bit of fuss over this one ... so we figured we'd nip it in the bud.   

Last week we received these observations from FH Reader Chet Coppock ... and ran them on our site:  

>>>If an artist as lackluster as Tommy Roe had 23 singles that found their way to the Billboard Top 100, maybe the 60's weren't so great after all.
The greatest song Aretha Franklin ever knocked out was "I Never Loved a Man".
I have given up on Chicago grabbing a ticket to the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame. Its criminal. Blame Jann Wenner. Rolling Stone maqazine is about as engaging as watching dry wall.
If I hear Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle" one more time I may leap off the Hancock Building.
Do Fagen and Becker ever speak to each other?
"Scarecrow", bar none, is the best song ever recorded by John Mellencamp. Meanwhile, hearing "Jack and Diane" is like doing 30 days in Cook County Jail.
Hands down, "I Only Have Eyes for You" is the greatest doo-wop song ever recorded. Ethereal, brilliantly produced, with an unmatched lead vocal by Nate Clay.
Is is time to declare 3 Door Downs and oldies act?
Can we start a petition to have Journey banned from any and all classic rock radio stations?
If Don Henley's "Heart of the Matter" were released tomorrow, tell me the station that would play it?
Chet Coppock
Host: "Heritage Series", Chicago Blackhawks
'Host: Notre Damwe Football, WLS Radio 

Hey, everybody's entitled to their own opinion ... and a lot of what we share here in Forgotten Hits are your memories and your likes and dislikes. As Peter Noone once told me, that's why they have menus in restaurants ... because not everybody likes the same thing. 

That being said, while most of you agreed with Chet Coppock's take on the state of radio today ... in fact, it pretty much mirrors OUR take exactly ... a few of you took offense to his Tommy Roe comment ... and leaped to Tommy's defense. (We even heard from Tommy himself on this one!!!)   

I'm sure it was more Chet's sense of humor than any particular negative commentary on Tommy's music ... there is NO denying the sheer volume of hits this man had in the '60's ... and obviously a WHOLE lotta people liked 'em ... and bought 'em. In fact, we've been helping to promote Tommy's NEW music as well ... and I've got to tell you, the brand new CD he released last year, "Devil's Soul Pile" is one of the best CD's I've heard in recent years from some of our favorite oldies artists. But even if he DIDN'T like any of Tommy's '60's hits, that's certainly his choice and prerogative to feel that way (although based on sales and chart position, he was probably in the minority in this respect) ... so we certainly don't deny him ... or anyone ELSE on this list for that matter ... to express their feelings.  

In any event, here is our latest Forgotten Hits Point / Counterpoint Debate! (kk)  

Chet Coppock certainly knows sports -- and has, as everyone is entitled to, his own musical favorites.   
He thinks "the greatest song Aretha Franklin ever knocked out was 'I Never Loved A Man' -- which, in 1967, was the record which ignited her career as "The Queen of Soul." But was it her best? I don't know. Personally, I think she topped it with "Chain of Fools," "Respect" and some other stuff, but again, that's just my view.  
The Flamingos' "I Only Have Eyes For You" -- featuring a lead vocal by Nate Nelson, not Nate Clay -- IS a terrific doo-wop record and one of the best ever made by anyone.    
What got me, though, was the opening line in Chet's letter: "If an artist as lackluster as Tommy Roe had 23 singles that found their way to the Billboard Top 100, maybe the '60s weren't so great after all." Considering the breadth, depth and eclectic creativity in '60s music, I really can't think of a better decade of recorded sound -- but again, we all have our own opinions. As for Tommy Roe, "lackluster" is a word I would hardly apply to his '60s and '70s output. Attached are some some samples from just the early part of Tommy's career. 

Chet's other points are quite valid -- as radio continues in its suicidal efforts to make itself as irrelevant in people's lives as possible. Playing the same handful of tracks to death evokes sheer boredom -- as does the minimalization of the human connection between the program hosts and their audiences. People turn on the radio for companionship with a good friend who'll entertain them with great songs and keep them company in the car, at the beach, in the office, in the kitchen or wherever. By minimizing a radio station's two greatest strengths -- its ability to customize its programming for maximum appeal to its target demo in its SPECIFIC coverage area AND its ability to CONNECT with listeners via engaging DJs in tune with their community who take requests -- radio transforms itself into an iPod with two annoying features one can avoid by simply listening to an iPod instead. One of those annoying features is the endless parade of quarter hours that sound exactly the same, 24/7. Every song sounds like the last one and the next one and the next one. No wonder people tune out after 20 minutes -- if in 15, you've heard all that station has to offer! The other annoyance is a blend of the commercials and the endless hype of the station itself (but not the music, which the hosts are often instructed to not even identify). When the only voices listeners hear only offer sales pitches, the audience is robbed of the chance to be entertained by the host -- who is no longer a companion to avidly share good times with but simply a reader of spots and station liners. Think about it. If the radio insists on being so emotionally distant from you that the programming sounds robotic, repetitious and no longer provides the kind of companionship a good host delivers, what would you do? Listen to a WIDE VARIETY of your favorites on your iPod -- or a short list of soundalike tracks surrounded by commercials and station hype on the radio? Audiences don't mind spots if a) there aren't too many of them and b) the programming that surrounds the commercials is fascinating, fun, upfront listening. In fact, when audiences find the rest of the programming engaging, THEY'RE AVIDLY LISTENING TO THE COMMERCIALS, TOO. However, if the music and what comes between the songs is far from as captivating as it should be, the audience considers what they're hearing disposable background noise and only half-listens. That not only dramatically reduces the effectiveness of the commercials, it makes listening to the station at all less than vital in people's lives. Remember riding in your car and listening intently to the radio because it not only pulsed with life but you never quite knew what would happen next? You'd finally pull your car into your driveway and shut off the ignition -- but then click THE RADIO back on. Why? Beause you were afraid that if you didn't, you'd MISS SOMETHING GREAT. When was the last time THAT happened to you? 
Gary Theroux
The less-talk / more music aspect of today's programming (or, as Gary calls it, iPod programming ... but as I call, it more of the SAME music and artists, playing relentlessly, non-stop throughout the day programming!) offers a clear alternative ... would you rather listen to those same 40 songs and artists, day in and day out as selected by the unimaginative programmers in charge of radio today ... or simply bring your OWN music without the endless repetition ... be it iPod or otherwise ... and program the music and variety you REALLY want to hear?!?!? Seems like a pretty easy choice to me!   

(People think I'm exaggerating when I complain about the relentless, irritating repetition ... but on Sunday afternoon I was out in the car for a two hour stretch ... and during that time ... in two CONSECUTIVE hours ... I turned off "Dream On" by Aerosmith three times, "Take The Money And Run" by Steve Miller twice and "Boys Of Summer" by Don Henley twice. "Dream On" USED to be my all-time favorite Aerosmith song ... but radio has ruined another one of my favorites by beating it to death for no apparent reason. (Aerosmith charted with twenty other Top 40 Hits in Billboard ... and, quite honestly, many of them still get regular airplay. But they have driven "Dream On" into the ground for me ... and it truly WAS my favorite!) On Saturday morning I had to run my car up to the shop for some repairs ... it was a ten minute drive, tops. Pushing the buttons on the way there I heard "Start Me Up", "It's Only Rock And Roll" and "Angie" playing on three different radio stations at exactly the same time. The exact same thing happened later that evening with Journey ... "Wheel In The Sky", "Lights" and the 24/7 stand-by "Don't Stop Believin'" ... your choice was either listen to Journey ... or turn your radio off ... period.

THAT'S what I mean about variety (or the lack there of) ... when you saturate the airwaves with EXACTLY the same artists no matter where you turn, you leave the listener no choice other than to turn it off. Nothing wrong with ANY of these songs or artists ... I love 'em all ... but this repeated, mindless saturation has driven most of us away.
(In fact, at a recent conference automobile manufacturers predict that in the not-so-distant future, cars will no longer have radios in them at all anymore ... or least not "conventional" radio as we know it with an AM/FM dial ... because nobody is listening to that anymore. Two of the used CD stores I used to frequent have now stopped buying and selling CD's ... because nobody buys them anymore. We have fully ... and truly ... arrived in the digital age.) 

As for commercials on the radio, Gary is absolutely right ... we've seen the proof here countless times in Forgotten Hits ... most of us listened so intently to the radio back then that we've had numerous readers write in asking to hear the "Sun In" radio commercial, or the "I can't seem to forget you" Windsong commercial or "She Lets Her Hair Down" or "Heaven Sent" ... or the Maxwell House percolator melody ... or any number of others ... these ads played as seamlessly as the music .. because we didn't dare tune out for fear of missing something new, interesting and exciting. Today, all these years later, we still embrace those advertising melodies right along with the music.  (kk)

As for "the great debate above", I guess I'll voice MY choices, too!

Point by point:  

I dug Tommy Roe then ... and I still dig him now. I bought a good number of his records when they first came out ... and I've got to tell you that his new album is GREAT! I wish somebody would bring this guy to Chicago because that's a show I'd like to see. (Try to sit still while listening to "Everybody"!!! It's impossible!)

Truth be told, Aretha Franklin didn't grab me until "Baby I Love You" ... radio has ruined "Respect" for me by playing it to death over the years ... but give me "Baby I Love You", "Since You've Been Gone" or "Think" and I'll crank it up every time! 

We gave up on The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame a LONG time ago. It's not even about the artists anymore ... now it just seems to be about the joy and shock value of nominating and electing more and more "also rans" and unknowns every year, rather than going back and righting some of the wrongs they've committed over the years. To deny that Chicago deserves a place there is proof enough that these guys haven't got a CLUE! 

Steve Miller, Journey and John Mellencamp are all artists that I used to LOVE ... you can add Bob Seger and Fleetwood Mac to this list, too. I have most of their music and have enjoyed it for YEARS ... but as noted so many times here now in this column, nothing will make me change the station faster than one of their songs coming on the radio now. GIVE IT A REST!!! Give us a chance to MISS this music so that one day we might appreciate it again ... because it really IS great music. But you've RUINED it for me ... and I HATE radio for that. 

"I Only Have Eyes For You" IS one of the greatest doo-wop songs of this era ... and I absolutely love it. But I'm going to wimp out on ALL of you right now (and most likely make more than a few of you gag!) when I say that I've never heard ANYBODY do this track better than Art Garfunkel ... one of those VERY rare instances where I prefer the remake to the original ... and I give the original a "ten"!!!  

Meanwhile, I'm not exactly sure how to interpret the "Heart Of The Matter" / Don Henley comment ... but will go on record as saying I think it's one of the FINEST things Don Henley has ever written or recorded. Would it fit on the radio today? Probably not ... you can't do a "Flash Mob" dance to it. (kk)  

I realize that with all that's going on in the real world, Chet Coppock's letter at the end of a really nice Sunday morning read is his opinion only and perhaps yours from your note and doesn't call for or deserve comment, but ...  
What's up with running down Tommy Roe? Sheila didn't keep the Buddy Holly vibe going on radio enough for you? Tommy Roe made some great records. Maybe all or none of them pleased Mr. Coppock ... but eh too Brute????  
Come on ... a little more consideration is deserved for an artist who still goes out and gives 100% after all these years. Or maybe I'm just Dizzy!!!  
Henry Gross 

Hi Henry! Long time, no talk!  
You'll find my comments regarding HIS comments above. I, too, proudly defend Tommy's music ... and, if you haven't heard any of it recently, he's STILL making great music today. I've been trying to get one of the local promoters in town to bring him here to Chicago ... the snag is Tommy will only do a solo show, meaning not in tandem with any other artist ... it's either "An Evening With Tommy Roe" or nothing at all ... and the feeling here is that he doesn't have enough drawing power after all these years to sell out a theater. Too bad because I would LOVE to see him! (Man, imagine a Tommy Roe / Henry Gross double-bill!!! In fact ANY double bill or a bill with multiple '60's artists onboard would draw a GREAT audience response in my opinion ... but Tommy apparently isn't interested in any of those options.)  
His latest release is definitely worth a listen ... and it's done very well on the independent charts. In fact, we have plugged Tommy's stuff at least two dozen times over the past couple of years since he decided to take his act back out on the road again. (Tommy stopped performing for close to 20 years ... but now he's back out there and having more fun than ever.) I've always been a fan. But to each his own. Is Tommy Roe Aretha Franklin? Nope ... nor did he try to be ... but BOTH filled a musical void in the '60's. (I'm not even sure it's a fair comparison.) And guess what ... Aretha hit the #1 spot exactly ONCE during that decade (with "Respect") ... Tommy topped the charts TWICE (with both "Sheila" and "Dizzy") ... so obviously his music appealed to SOMEBODY! (kk)    

As you know, I try my best not to mouth off every minute in a public forum but I'm a big Tommy Roe fan and I'm really tired of armchair quarterbacks running down guys who've given their all and played the game beautifully for a lifetime. Tommy had twenty three top 100 records because his music made people happy!!!! That's the goal, or so I think. Let's try to encourage guys like Tommy to keep on rockin' till "the end of the line". Let's not give ink to bashers of talents like his. It makes me just want to pack it in. People need to focus on the good. When there are so many Wall Street thieves, politicos and Music business gatekeepers worthy of contempt out there, why run down an artist whose career has spanned decades? Why not do a blog where people say nice things only - especially on Sundays!  
Forgotten Hits is always a pleasure to read. I was sad to begin with after reading about the Great Dan Toler's passing ... after reading about Dan, the cruel and unfair attack on Tommy was exactly what I didn't need. Let's stay on the high road!  
As the clock winds down for all of our generation, who've lived to create and enjoy such inspiring music, let's all try to respect and encourage each others art and souls! I bought two Tommy Roe greatest hits records this past year. The first one was so much fun to listen to I bought a second one - a sealed copy - just in case the first one got scratched. Tell Mr. Coppock, who's probably a nice guy, to listen again to Tommy Roe. I believe he'll be more than pleasantly surprised by what he hears.  
Love & health to you & all your readers,  
I will admit that I did hesitate for a moment before publishing Chet's comments ... primarily because I know that Tommy Roe and his manager Rick Levy both read Forgotten Hits ... in fact, you'll find emails from BOTH of them below. But the rest of his comments were SO spot on I decided to let them go "as is", figuring that those who knew him would recognize this as Chet's sense of humor, which he often uses to make his point, and simply enjoy the piece for what it is. Comparing Tommy's music to that of Aretha Franklin isn't really fair ... but part of what made the '60's the most exciting decade of music EVER in music history is the fact that ALL of this great music existed side by side ... and we listened to and enjoyed ALL of it without any form of segregation or prejudice ... and that very fact alone is the whole basis for what we do here in Forgotten Hits. 
In all fairness, after so many years in the business, I'd think the artists would have a little bit thicker skin ... but I'll be the first to admit that NOBODY likes to read a negative review. Coppock, on the other hand, prides himself on having been voted the "most loved" AND the "most hated" Chicago sportscaster THE SAME YEAR!!! (lol) His whole schtick is being loud and outspoken and creating a little controversy (or, at the very least, food for fodder) along the way. Whether he intended to or not, he's apparently done so again. But, as moderator of Forgotten Hits, I have to respect his right to say it.  
His piece was entertaining ... it cracked me up ... not because of any one particular comment but because overall he spewed out his feelings ... and, in my opinion, was on a roll. (Actually one comment DID put me over the top ... enough so that I shared it privately with dozens of others ... I LOVED how Chet described listening to "Jack And Diane" as being akin to spending thirty days in Cook County Jail. That's EXACTLY how it feels when this Mellencamp classic comes on the radio for the 15th time each day. No slam to Mellencamp ... he wrote a great song that touched a couple of generations ... the slam is to radio for RUINING it for us, a point made time and time again in Forgotten Hits over the years.  
So no personal slight to Tommy (whose letter follows yours) ... but I have to say again, to each his own. Nobody here has ever tried to change somebody's opinion ... that's not the point ... we just respect your right to voice it ... and provide the forum to do so. Along the way we invite you to listen to some music you may have missed or ignored the first time around ... because tastes change ... and who knows ... you just may find something out there today that you wrote off without a second thought the first time around ... but now can fully appreciate today because along the way you've expanded your musical horizons. (kk)     

Hey Kent ... 
Who is Chet Coppock?
Your bud,
Tommy Roe 
A very well-known sportscaster here in Chicago ... and a HUGE music fan. (And I mean that sincerely ... this guy LOVES and appreciates music ... his passion ranks right up there with the best of us!) 
Hey, everybody's entitled to their own opinions and so many of his other points were valid I let the whole thing run as is. I'll tell you what ... bring your show to Chicago and I'll make it a point to bring Chet out to see that show ... and my guess is he'll walk away a fan. (kk) 

Kent ...  
As manager and bandleader for TOMMY ROE all I can say is that he is the classiest, nicest guy in the biz to work with ... and I have worked with dozens.
Not only that ... yes, he is the king of bubblegum ... but people forget about gems like IT'S NOW WINTER'S DAY, WORKING CLASS HERO, EVERYBODY, and DIZZY, possibly the most perfect pop gem ever written.
And his new album, DEVIL'S SOUL PILE, has gained not one, but TWO music awards this year ... Breakthrough Top 40 Artist from NEW MUSIC WEEKLY and Favorite Mainstream Single from INDEPENDENT MUSIC NETWORK ... that says volumes ... that 50 years later TOMMY ROE is still CREATING AND WRITING HITS, not just singing someone else's music. Of course, the absurd Rock n Roll Hall of Fame will surely not recognize him ... because he hasn't lived a life of drugs and debauchery ... he only WROTE AND RECORDED more TOP 10s during the 60s than ANY OTHER AMERICAN solo artist.
If you like TOMMY ROE, go to facebook and like the OFFICIAL TOMMY ROE FAN PAGE.
Manager, Bandleader  
BTW ... TOMMY will play tandem show in the right situation ... just to clarify.  

If you haven't already taken in Tommy's latest release, give a listen to "Devil's Soul Pile", the title track from his brand new CD ... it's a winner!


Meanwhile, before this "Point / Counterpoint" piece could even go out, we heard from Chet again ... with more of his "jaded views of the world of music" comments.

So I'm faced with a tough call now ... do I run them ... and risk alienating other FH favorite artists like The Turtles and Paul Revere and the Raiders, both of whom are victims of pot shots this week? A rock and roll institution like Chuck Berry? Is it really worth the risk?

Or, now that I've defended him and his right to express his opinion, do I simply leave well enough alone? Walk away without another word spoken ... or provide Chet with a forum for a weekly rant. (Hey, these seem to hit a nerve ... if nothing else, this tactic just might help to generate some email from some of our OTHER readers, too! lol)

However, in doing so, I'm also exposing myself to the age-old philosophy of "If you don't like what you're seeing, don't read it" ... unfortunately, that jeopardizes MY column and my readership at the expense of presenting opinions that aren't even MINE! Do I really want to relinquish that control?

Ah, what to do, what to do.    

Taken purely as a point of humor, these words of wisdom provide a nice diversion from the day to day real world ... but I happen to LOVE The Turtles and Paul Revere and the Raiders ... and certainly don't want to risk pissing them off (or their legions of fans who regularly read Forgotten Hits for updates on these artists.)

And let's face it ... I've worked VERY hard these past 13 years to get these artists to participate with Forgotten Hits and share their memories with our readers ... do I really want to take a chance that some of these guys may not want to have anything to do with us anymore because we've opened up the floodgates to abuse and ridicule (no matter how good-natured it may have been intended)? I mean these weren't malicious comments ... Chet was just having fun! 
On the other hand, if those of you reading this simply have FUN with it, too, you just may find that a few of these observations might actually make you smile. (As I said above, if after 40-50 years in the business an artist's skin isn't tough enough to take a little ribbing, they probably haven't had much fun doing this.) 
So, after much thought and contemplation, we're going to run one more edition ... and then let YOU guys decide.

Let us know what you think ... love 'em or hate 'em? We'll follow your lead.  

If you'd like to see Chet's comments continue to run periodically in FH, let us know.   

If you don't ever want to see another one, let us know that, too!  

Meanwhile, I will fulfill my obligation as host and monitor to reiterate again that these opinions are NOT MINE and are only served up as a humorous diversion (or would that be perversion???) 
For the record, I love Chuck Berry, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Turtles, The Vogues and The New Colony Six. I hear "Twilight Zone" by Golden Earring all the time ... on at least three stations here in town ... probably as often as five or six times a week. "My True Story" does nothing for me and I'm one of the select few out there that think Otis Redding's contribution to music is vastly over-rated. As for the over-played music by John Mellencamp, Journey and Steve Miller, you already KNOW my feelings on this topic ... there's simply no escape.  

So read at your own risk ... or not ... but be prepared to cast your vote ... as we present another round of Chetisms  (kk):

Kent ...
Just sayin' ... just suggestin' ... 
Eugene Pitt and the Jive Five's "My True Story" is the most underrated song in music history. 
The number one r-and-b song of all time - bar none - is Otis Redding's phenomenal "I've Been Lovin' You Too Long."
Listen to the Vogues'"Magic Town" and tell me this haunting mix of harmony and orche
stral backing doesn't drip with soul.
If you haven't heard "Ice Man" Jerry Butler belt out "Make It Easy On Yourself", you really haven'
t lived.
My day got off to a lousy start. I heard Mellencamp's "Small Town" followed by some rot from Ste
ve Miller and Journey.
Why is it the "new(?)" Paul Revere and the Raiders look like they should all be playing in an over-60 s
oft ball league or maybe playing shuffleboard? Ceramics class?
I still get goose bumps - major league goose bumps - when I recall being with Ray, Ronnie and the New Colony Six in the Chess Recording Studio - 2120 - when they turned out "Things I'd Like To
Say" on the same day the Impressions, led by the indomitable Curtis Mayfield, were in the building.Honestly, does Chuck Berry need the scratch?
I once
met "The Turtles" backstage at the Civic Opera House with my pal Alan Weintraub. I can honestly say they were full blown jerks.
Anybody who likes "Flo and Eddie' probably loves just how crooked
the Aldermen are who feed off our city.
Give me the station, any station today that plays Golden Earrings' "Twiligh
t Zone?"Chet Coppock
Emcee and video contributor - Chicago Black
hawksHost: Notre Dame football - WLS

And this from Chet Coppock, right after I told him what I was doing:
kk ... 
The last thing I ever want to do is hurt you ... feel free to edit my comments as you feel. 
I have too much respect for what you do to ever cause you any hassles. 
Funny thing is, I like Tommy Roe ... it was really meant to be tongue in cheek ...    
I would never want to do anything to make you lose one of your contacts.