Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What's New?

LOTS of cool stuff coming across our desk of late.
First off all, Joel Whitburn's brand new book saluting the Cash Box Pop Charts started shipping last week ... and it's an absolutely BEAUTIFUL edition (and welcome addition!) to The Record Research Library. 
I've mentioned before that I own earlier attempts to chronicle these charts ... but there truly is no comparison.  Joel knows how to do this right and with 40+ years behind him now there is no more authortative a source for this information.  (Joel confided in me that another Cash Box volume is in the works, chronically the magazine's equivalent of Billboard's "Bubbling Under" Chart.  Because the number of records varied from week to week as to how many "up-coming" tracks might be listed, Joel says this new volume (when released) will add over 4000 brand new titles to the history of the pop charts ... TONS of obscure, local hits and more.  (We can't wait!!!) 
And special props to our "Super Charts" buddy Randy Price ... Randy is the "Keeper of the Cash Box Charts" at this point, and was able to provide some missing information for Joel's new book.  (These two swapped copies for last year's "Hit Records" book, too, profiling the Music Vendor and Record World Charts of the rock era.) 
The Cash Box book is a MUST HAVE addition to ANY Record Research Library ... and you can order YOUR copy here:  Click here: Cash Box Pop Hits 1952-1996 | Joel Whitburn's Record Research 
(You'll also find Joel's other books here available for purchase, too ... browse around ... you'll be AMAZED by what you find!!!) 
One look into the new book shows in great detail what was wrong with the previously published editions.  While we've been aware of it for awhile, the mistakes start as early as Page 1!!!
Pat Downey's book (covering the Cash Box Pop Singles Charts from 1950 - 1993) shows ABBA's 1982 Hit "When All Is Said And Done" peaking at #1 on the Cash Box Chart ... which, of course, it didn't.  Joel's book shows its peak position correctly at #31.  Downey's book also stops at 1993, while the Whitburn edition compiles chart information through 1996.  (Later online-only Cash Box charts may some day also be incorporated into a future edition of this book as well.)   Frank Hoffman's book (published in 1983) covers the charts from 1950 - 1981 and presents each record's history in an interesting way ... it shows the weekly chart position for every song for every artist ... but we found glaring omissions.  (Try finding the Tom Jones hit "Green Green Grass Of Home" for example ... it's nowhere to be found in the body of the book ... and only appears in the index at the end.) 
Multiple mistakes abound in each edition.  (I've heard there are literally hundreds ... if not THOUSANDS ... between the two books.)  Joel and his staff have painstakingly researched every line of every chart ... and then cross-checked them against the actual records themselves, many of which Joel had to add to his private collection, just to make this book as accurate as possible.  
To paraphrase Carly Simon, NOBODY does it better.  You'll want to check this book out right away.  (kk)


Last week the U.S. Capitol Beatles albums also hit the street.  I picked up four of them ... the United Artists Soundtrack to "A Hard Day's Night" (never previously available on CD before), "Hey Jude" (a U.S. only compilation album released during the lull, waiting for "Abbey Road" to come out), and the U.S. pressings (featuring a different track line-up) of "Revolver" and "Yesterday And Today." 
"Yesterday And Today" is ESPECIALLY interesting because the new CD comes with the infamous Butcher Cover.  However, inside the packaging is a replacement label that you can paste over this cover (much as what was done at the time!) to cover the "offensive" photo with the far-more-common suitcase / trunk cover.  (I suppose if you do it just right, you'll even be able to see the butcher cover peeking through in the lighter, white areas!)  A VERY clever marketing idea!  (Unfortunately, this CD cover is considerably larger than all the others in this series, which now covers EVERY U.S. Beatles album release that had a different track listing than their British counterparts.)  Their first eight Capitol albums were previously released as two 4-pack CD boxes a few years back.  Sorry, but I simply REFUSE to buy these again ... especially since the track line-up is EXACTLY the same, with mono and stereo versions of each song pressed on to each disc.  The discs (13 in all) are also available as a box set ... and people are buying 'em!  The special box set premiered at #48 on this week's Billboard Album Chart!  Spots also went to "Hey Jude" (#72), "Yesterday And Today (#74), "A Hard Day's Night" (#102), "Revolver" (#143), "Rubber Soul" (#170) and "Meet The Beatles" (#171).  Part of this might be attributed to the fact that the previous releases of U.S. Albums were only offered as a box set rather than for individual purchase.  Still pretty cool to see that, as we approach the 50th Anniversary, folks are still out there buying these original U.S. albums ... even though the completely cleaned-up, remastered British versions just came out a couple of years ago ... supposedly as the "definitive" collection.  (kk)  
And finally, Al Kooper sent me a copy of his brand new Michael Bloomfield Box Set, a project he's been working on for a good chunk of the past two years  It, too, is beautifully packaged and features three CD's of material, as well as a bonus DVD disk.
I haven't had a chance to delve into this one yet ... but see it prominently advertised in all the trades that still sell CD's ... so I'm hoping to dig in soon.

One More:
For months now we've been talking about the new documentary "20 Feet From Stardom".  Reviews from our readers have been great ... yet we STILL haven't seen this film.
Well, now we're out of excuses ... it was just released on DVD ... and is even playing "On Demand" on our cable network ... so hopefully THIS weekend will be THE weekend to see it.  (It's also been nominated for an Academy Award as Best Documentary!)

Meanwhile, we got this note from FH Reader Bob Rush (Dr. Robert of "The Beat" over in the U.K.) and thought that it made for a timely tie-in ... 
Hi Kent,
My wife and I watched "20 Feet From Stardom" last night.  We found it to be an incredible documentary, but I've been troubled by the fact that it completely overlooked singer La La Brooks.  I know there is a controversy in that La La sang "Da Doo Ron Ron" and Darlene Love (who was prominently featured) has evidently taken credit for it.  So, do you or any of your readers know if La La's exclusion was political
or otherwise?  Goes to show that even the most apparently well-intentioned information movie has to be taken somewhat with a grain of salt.  Still a do-not-miss movie for the music fan.
Happy Super Bowl.
(Dr. Robert, "The U.S. Beat")
I still haven't seen this movie.  The night we were supposed to go it got down to something like 18-degrees-below-zero (REAL temp ... wind chill about 35 below!) so we skipped it (and it was a one-night-only showing.)  Still hoping to catch it soon. (It just came out on DVD and has also been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.)
As far as I know, La La Brooks was always the acknowledged lead singer on "Da Doo Ron Ron", a #3 Hit for The Crystals in 1963.  Darlene Love was the uncredited lead singer on their previous #1 Hit "He's A Rebel" ... which is probably why SHE'S featured in the film and La La Brooks isn't.

I wanted to make sure I was stating my facts correctly ... so I went to Steve Knuettel, the guy who wrote that EXCELLENT Phil Spector Series for Forgotten Hits several years ago.  He fills in the blanks this way:
Hey Kent, 
Good to hear from you. Things are going well here in Dallas, but we are also having a much colder than usual winter here - can't wait for spring!  
Regarding La La Brooks and Darlene Love and "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Twenty Feet From Stardom" ...
I did see the movie several months ago. It is definitely worth seeing. I don't remember the part about Darlene taking credit for the lead vocal on "Da Doo Ron Ron", although that is something I would normally have noticed and remembered. I have no idea why La La Brooks was excluded or if there was anything political about it. The movie was about background singers, and Darlene Love was one of the best and one of the most prolific - La La was not. The truth of the matter of who sang lead on "Da Doo Ron Ron" is a little interesting.
Darlene had sung lead on "He's A Rebel" and "He's Sure The Boy I Love", and she received no credit. She was furious with Phil Spector for crediting those records to the Crystals instead of her. Phil promised her it would not happen again and that she would get credit on the next one.
From Darlene's book My Name Is Love - The Darlene Love Story (pages 70 - 71), Darlene wrote ...
"And the next one was going to be "Da Doo Ron Ron".  The only thing that kept me from taking his head off was the quality of that song, in all its nonsensical glory. But guess what? I didn't get that one, either. Phil and I had butted heads during the recording session for "Da Doo Ron Ron" and not just because he was dragging his feet over the contract. ..... he stripped my voice off "Da Doo Ron Ron" at the eleventh hour, and had La La Brooks, the new lead singer of the Crystals, sing over the finished track. ......I can swear though, that I still hear my voice on that lead vocal. I don't think Phil erased all of it, but kept just enough to give La La an idea of what he wanted, and then bolstered her voice in the final mix."
And from  Mark Ribowsky's book He's A Rebel - The Truth About Phil Spector - Rock And Roll's Legendary Madman  (pages 147 - 148) ...
"Though Darlene Wright - so cemented in her Darlene Love persona that she now adopted the name as her own - did a lead vocal on "Da Doo Ron Ron," Phil turned away from her loud, studied impeccability. He had heard La La Brooks sing in New York and thought he was blessed. Still only fifteen, Brooks spoke in a whisper, like a breathy sparrow, but when she sang she could knock down a building. She had a Brooklyn accent and a slight vibrato that rippled like a sneering lip through a song. Phil flew her to Gold Star, tried her on "Da Doo Ron Ron" and axed Darlene's lead. La La made the simple love cupidity of the song a visceral thump of a young girl's heart. Darlene had no idea the lead wasn't hers until the record came out, and Fanita James, recalling Darlene's studio take, which she thought was brilliant, assumed two decades later that it was Darlene on the record."
Hmmmmmm - hope that helps. 
All my best,
Ah, The History Of Rock And Roll ... ya gotta love it!  Thanks, Steve!  (kk)