Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Helping Out Our Readers

Kent ...  
I never heard of this guy. I was wondering if you and your readers have ever heard of him.
Frank B.  
Nope ... but we've found traces of "rock and roll" dating back to the 1920's before ... so I'm not convinced that he "invented" the term. One of these days we're going to run a very special "History Of Rock And Roll" by our buddy Ed Parker, who has made this his lifetime study ... tracing back the origins of all the different rock and roll phrases and stylings we've all come to enjoy over the years. (kk) 


We've got a Hardrock Gunter disc. I'll have to check this out later in the week - thanks!
Ed Parker     

We recently ran a piece on Gary Lewis and the Playboys, which mentioned the Hit Records version of "I'm Sure Going To Miss Her" as released by The Chellows.
FH Reader Paul Urbahns was able to give us quite a bit of insight into this recording ... he even has a website dedicated to the Nashville label, specializing in sound-alike recordings, issued trying to cash in on the REAL hit records out at the time by the original artists. (Some might say "dupe and unsuspecting public" into buying what they THOUGHT was the hit record ... actually, I myself may have said that ... but this label made a living putting out exactly these types of records. In fact on Paul's site you'll find a complete discography of the label.) 
Now he's looking for help trying to nail down copies of some specific pressings. Anybody out there able to help?

The web page I mentioned is kinda inactive but most Hit Records fans, are on a yahoo group.

Keep my name handy for Hits (notice the capital H) I have most of them. Some are being reissued on various European labels but there is no interest in this country.

Paul Urbahns

Radcliff, Ky

This is my list of Top 10 Collectible Hits:

1- Hit 72 MEMPHIS by The Music City Five with special insert card highlighting the musical history of Memphis. This was only sold in the Memphis area. (I still have not found one of these cards ... would a Forgotten Hits reader have one?)

2- Hit 99 JOHN KENNEDY (SPECIAL RELEASE) Comment: issued NOV 63 A 7 inch, 45 rpm Memorial Album issued with special picture sleeve. The record contained the complete Inaugural Address and an excerpt from his final speech on November 22, 1963 at Fort Worth, Texas. Both sides run approximately 8 minutes each. Total Time approximately 16 minutes. Written By David Cobb and Bill Beasley, Narrated By David Cobb. These are actually excerpts from a Modern Sound album MS-519 titled John Fitzgerald Kennedy A Memorial Album.

3- Hit 15 SNAP YOUR FINGERS by Benny Lattimore Comment: First commercial recording by soul artist Lattimore

4- Hit 20 SPEEDY GONZALES by Tom Walls Comment: Features Mexican voice by Nashville funnyman Ray Stevens

5 - Hit 63 REV MR BLACK by Bobby Russell Comment: Rare Hit label credit for Nashville songwriter (1432 Franklin Pike Circle Hero) who performed lead vocal on the most Hit sound-a-likes.

6- Hit 76 WIPE OUT by Music City Five Comment: Highly acclaimed recording in various collectors magazines of the surf instrumental

7- Hit 125 NO PARTICULAR PLACE TO GO by Sammie Moore. Comment: Generally recognized as the first commercial recording by Sammie Moore who was Sam of "Sam And Dave" fame.

8- Hit 187 I'M SURE GOING TO MISS HER by The Chellows Comment: Not a sound-a-like. This is the original demo recording of the Gary Lewis and the Playboys hit, issued almost a year before the Gary Lewis version.

9- Hit 229 KEEP ON DANCIN' by The Gentrys Comment: Due to a mixup in the office staff, label miscredited to the original group, The Gentrys.

10- Hit 253 RHAPSODY IN THE RAIN by Fred York Comment: Used the original "banned" lyric. MGM withdrew the original Lou Christie version and removed the references to "making out", Hit continued to sell the original.  
We wrote about that Gentrys record some time ago in FH ... several people thought it was the original "local pressing" of their hit "Keep On Dancing" before they were picked up by a larger label ... obviously not the case at all ... but documented this way by several other sources. Ironically, the record DID first make an appearance on another label (Youngstown) prior to being picked up by MGM.

The fact that Bobby Russell (staff songwriter and studio singer for Hit Records) got to see one of his compositions become a hit for another artist ("Sure Gonna Miss Her") was a HUGE feather in his cap and advancement of his career. In hindsight, it's hysterical to think that after the Lewis record became a hit, Hit went back and re-recorded the song to sound like the Gary Lewis arrangement ... when originally Snuff Garrett (Gary's producer) copied the Bobby Russell arrangement before deciding to spice things up by adding horns and the flamenco guitar riff! (kk)

The rumor about "Keep On Dancin'" was fanned even more because Hits were issued on stereo singles and this track was in mono, though the record was clearly labeled Compatible (for stereo). The album issue of the Hit recording did not bear an artist credit but was true stereo which the original Gentrys single never was.

>>>Ironically, the record DID first make an appearance on another label (Youngstown) prior to being picked up by MGM. (kk)
Yes and I had to track down an original pressing of the Youngstown to make sure they had not reissued the MGM version for the local market. Bill Beasley of Hit had worked around Memphis and still had connections there so if there was an early version, he had the pull and he could have gotten it ... like some labels issued Tommy Roe's early version of Shelia. Not sure who the lead vocal is on the Hit (notice the capital H) version but its a damn good record and recorded in about 45 minutes! It's attached if you have not heard it.
Yes, we featured it awhile back ... but I have no problem featuring it again. Clearly not The Gentrys ... but in retrospect, I'm kinda surprised that MGM Records didn't go after Hit for printing The Gentrys' name on their label. I would have figured that cause for a lawsuit for sure! (kk)

Lots of memories from HIT! records for me. I play them on my radio show on a regular basis. My favorite is probably "Ride" by Peggy Gains.
A quick story for me, which backs up everything you, David and Paul have been saying:
My sister had a boyfriend named Bobby back then, and she bought the HIT version of "Bobby's Girl," by Connie Landers. I had never even heard the "official" version on the radio, so as far as I was concerned, the HIT record was the official version. So when I hear the Marcie Blane or Lesley Gore versions on the radio, they never sound quite right. Anyway she played it a million times on our old record player, and I still have that exact record today. It has her name written on a piece of white medical tape on the label, since the labels were black.
Mr. C
Mr. C plays BOTH sides of the record on his weekly radio program "The Flip Side" ... and often features some of these rare Hit Records versions as well. You can listen live on Tuesday Nights here:
Maybe your readers can at least confirm I actually saw this and am not hallucinating.
It was RANDY TRAVIS in a duet video with ROY ROGERS (modern day) singing HERE'S HOPIN' (I have the cd). I've looked on occasion for many years (and I know how to search) without success.
The video had them side by side on horseback ... and at the end ... they get off the 'horses' and have a word and a laugh.
The horses are actually just the body with saddle, rocking as if real, not movie cut-outs ... you don't realize it (confirm it) till the end ...
I'm sure I saw it on tv back in the day ... not a show ... a video ...
I should have asked Roy the time I called him in his office back in the 80's when the museum was in Victorville, Ca. (BIG FAN ... it was a thrill)

Now it's in Branson.
Thanks for any help.
(gary) RENFIELD ...
It's funny but as I read your email I started to remember seeing this, too. I was a bit of a Randy Travis fan at one point ... nothing major, mind you, but I followed along with the crowd. It seems like this ought to exist somewhere ... in fact, I thought at one time I may have even owned a VHS of Randy Travis Music Videos but I can't find it now.
I wrote to Randy Travis via his website but never received a reply of any kind. Let's see if anybody out there comes back with anything on this one. Thanks, Gary! (kk)  

I love what you guys are doing with this project, and need your help.
I'm looking for a B side from the mid to late 70s.
The title was "Love Is All Around" but it is not the Troggs or Wet Wet Wet version ... this was a comedic song. I don't know the artists name but may have been the B side to "The Streak"?
Any help appreciated.
According to Joel Whitburn's "Top Pop Singles" book, the flipside of "The Streak" (the #1 Hit by Ray Stevens) was a song called "You've Got The Music Inside" ... so that isn't it. Anybody else out there got any ideas? (kk)  

I have some memories of an interesting story regarding Chicago's "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is". I was just in the 8th grade at the time but I recall there was a local New Haven, CT.-based group called Tension and they released their arrangement of the song in late 1969 - early 1970 on Poison Ring Records (PR713) and it became a local hit on WAVZ 1300. A local DJ, Ed Flynn, was somehow connected with the promotion of the group. The song went to #1 on WAVZ, though interestingly was NEVER played on their competitor WHNC 1340 - New Haven. Tension had another local hit "Life Is A Beautiful Thing", -PR715 (still have my copy of it - actually thought it was a better song!). Tension was supposed to have signed with Roulette records after their two local hits but I never heard from them after that! I wonder if maybe the FH fans might be able to fill-in some more details of the story? I always wondered if Chicago released "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is" as a single because of Tension's earlier local hit of it?
Well I certainly wasn't aware of this earlier version ... obviously Tension had to become aware of the song from Chicago's first Columbia album (released as Chicago Transit Authority.) A couple of single releases from that LP failed to do much on the charts. Then in the Spring of 1970, Chicago released their second album and Columbia released "Make Me Smile" as a single, which quickly went into The Top Ten. Quickly several of their older tracks were released as singles, trying to cash in on this newfound success ... so cuts like "Questions 67 and 68", "Beginnings" and "I'm A Man" continued to hit the charts along with new material from both Chicago's second and third albums! Let's see if anybody comes back with any more info on this Tension track. (kk)
Actually, John came up with more info ... including a sound clip on YouTube (and a few of the comments posted there!) We found this one listed in the "Fuzz, Acid And Flowers" book ... but again very few details were available.

Actually a single before Chicago put it out as a single!!
Loading iconThey were from the New Haven area, got airplay on WNHC and WAVZ as well as DRC and POP in the Hartford area. Was on the local charts around March 1970. We were so very lucky to be in a hotbed of talent in the New Haven area, I loved it so much I became a lounge musician, visiting Connecticut again in my travels! 
I was a big Chicago fan back in the early 1970's and I never knew this. It makes sense considering Chicago's single of this song from their first album wasn't released until after the second album (and two of its singles) were already released. Tension's version is interesting and kind of nice, with a late 1960's "bubble gum" pop feeling to it. I wonder if Robert Lamm liked this version, even though he obviously didn't make much money in royalties from it.
Tension played our CYO HS dances - Johnny Paris was the lead singer ... around 1971 -72 ... they were really good ... R.I.P. JOHNNY ... I will never forget you.
From the youtube replies, it's clear now that Tension WAS a Johnny Paris group that did perform in the Hartford - New Haven area from 1970 - 1972 and Johnny was the lead singer! This will be an interesting story for sure as more facts start to come out. Ed Flynn was a WAVZ DJ at the time and from what I've read, he was sort a some kind of booker / manager for the group. Seems like his Bio has some missing facts, which hopefully FH will be able to fill-in!
Here is some more info on Tension! Johnny Paris (Johnny & The Hurricanes) was the group leader and there is also a youtube of their second hit ("Life Is A Beautiful Thing") with two PR photos. It is listed as Tention. That helps fill-in a bit more info!
Meanwhile, here are scans of the labels for the two Tension songs. I'm starting to wonder if when Johnny Paris folded his own Atilla Records in 1970, that somehow unreleased material was put out in the two Poison Ring 45's (PR713 & PR715). There is NO mention of Tension in the CT Music Blogs (there IS a lot of mention PULSE, a Poison Ring recording group) and in his Bio's, there is no mention of Johnny Paris living in CT. In a 1974 interview, Johnny Paris said that he was hoping the Hurricanes could get a record deal and that they had been together since the 1950's, so maybe Tension WAS a re-named Johnny & The Hurricanes? This is getting interesting!

>>>Just curious when or why the Sullivan show started allowing pre recorded tracks to be used? I don't remember you talking about that in your articles that you did on the show. Some are annoyingly obvious like the Steppenwolf Born to Be Wild clip. John Kay is singing along to his own vocal track. One would have thought, they would have at least got a mix without the vocal so he could just sing.  (Bill)
>>>To the best of my recollection, the acts typically appeared "live", performing to a backing track previously recorded ... that meant for live vocals and sometimes different arrangements of their songs. (The Rolling Stones singing "Let's Spend Some Time Together" immediately comes to mind.) Some bands seemed to have played TOTALLY live as even the backing tracks were different than their recorded hits. However, we did witness some lip-synching as well.

I forwarded your inquiry to Andrew Solt, keeper of the castle when it comes the Ed Sullivan catalog. Hopefully we'll hear something back soon that can provide us with a few more details. (kk)  
And we did! Here is Andrew's take on this ...

Kent -
Thanks so much for continuing to support the Sullivan Show. It is the daddy of all great variety shows and the birthplace for so many unforgettable rock 'n roll performances so we very much appreciate your continued support of the archive.
Here's my answer to the question you sent me from Bill.
As the top musicians of the late 60's were increasingly powerful and in demand, they could get their way. Some of them decided that the TV shooting -- audio and video -- were hardly up to studio standards, they might be better off making it look like they were performing live while they actually were lip-synching. The Sullivan production team fought this in most cases, but in some they decided they would defer to the talent in order to get them to appear. In most cases, they had the artists show up with their background tracks and perform the vocals live. In a few cases, they allowed them to lip-synch. This was due in large part to the fact that the sound created in their recording studios could not easily be duplicated live on stage.

I hope this responds to the question. I was too young to produce the Ed Sullivan Show way back when, but this is my undersanding.

Hope this finds you in good spirits. Stay well!
Andrew & Josh