Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Double Dose Of Shelley

Frequent Forgotten Hits contributor Shelley Sweet-Tufano sent us TWO reviews recently.

We pretty much expected at least ONE of them to feature a Peter Noone / Herman's Hermits concert ...

But this time around, BOTH cover Noone ... as well as a show he did with The Beach Boys!

Read on ...

There were 54 kids on my cul-de-sac.  My best friend and I were toward the top of the food / age chain, and, well ... in control. (bossy?) 

So each of my three summers there were spent designing and directing musicals for our street.  Her sisters, and my brothers, plus EVERY child who could walk had a part to play.  One production included a musical interpretation of Ancient Egypt, featuring Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony. (This makes perfect sense when you are 12 and 13)  Three songs featured were 'I'm Into Something Good', 'Silhouettes' and 'Do Wah Diddy Diddy'.  When Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone do solo performances, 'Do Wah Diddy Diddy' is usually included as one of their 60's tributes.  

I manage composure during the first two mentioned songs, but 'Do Wah Diddy Diddy' invokes visions of me snapping my gum, dancing up to Mark Antony and popping bubbles on his nose.  The fact that I (as Cleo) am weighted down with all the gold jewelry of both our mothers' jewelry boxes, and still dancing gives praise to my dance instructors.  (How many others were told, "You do not stop dancing for ANYTHING!  If your costume falls off, you keep going.")  I am a giggly mess listening to this song and picturing this scene.  Tell me ... WHAT song brings fun or embarrassing memories into your frontal lobe?

I am in Cape May.  I am taking a week off from all work.  Writing is NOT work.  The East Coast is one big happy beach, but Cape May's Victorian houses painted in "three part harmony" are stunning.  The newly built Convention Hall is stunning.  Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone are stunning.  'I'm Into Something Good', 'Wonderful World', 'Love Potion #9' ... and then the crack about being told to sell 8-tracks here in Cape May.  My 8-track player works, my cassette player works, ALL my cd and dvd players work, and I have a new stereo vinyl record system that I am enjoying to the fullest.  So, I don't care what you sell ... I can play it!  I needed all this equipment to effectively teach my musical decades courses.  Now, I just need them because I want them. 

Stopping to ask directions at the local WaWa, "Where am I now?" ... "You're in WaWa, sir!" may get you nowhere, BUT listening to 'A Must to Avoid', 'Dandy', 'Leanin' on a Lamp Post', 'Do Wah Diddy Diddy', and 'Ferry 'Cross New Jersey' can get you in an excellent mood and put you in a time-warp place of mind.  Billy Sullivan twerks through 'I'm Telling You Now'.  Rich Spina wails the keyboards during 'Sea Cruise'.  Vance Brescia high kicks and still maintains guitar playing, which makes him 'Just a Little Bit Better', and Peter hits all the high notes in 'Listen People'.  Ace Drummer, Dave Ferrara, even gives him a thumbs up for THAT one.  We all agree, enthusiastically, that "This has been the best 50 years ever!"  On the other hand, I don't have another 50 years to compare to ... but I am sure there is no comparison as I look through history, and what is ahead of us will be based on these 50 wonderful years, so let's enjoy the NOW. 

I wrote down all the songs, but I will stop here so you can be surprised when you go to your own concert.  OK, I lied again.  I simply must mention 'Jezebel'.  Frankie Laine made it a #1 song the year I was born.  I disavow all similarity between Jezebel and myself, because ...  I want to.  The comparison between Peter Noone and the Hermits' version to Frankie Laine's is HHSPN just continues to improve with age, like fine wine.

Let me end by recapping Peter's explanation of Herman's Hermits history in the genre of rhythm and blues ...

"OK, that's over."

Shelley J Sweet-Tufano

I do not for a minute think that any of The Beach Boys read my review last year from the ball park in Pomona, NY.  But, for me, something wonderful happened at this year's Pomona concert.  During the last segment of their show, they again paid tribute to Carl Wilson with a video allowing him to sing lead on 'God Only Knows'. Last year I had stated that I thought a tribute to Dennis Wilson was also in order.  The third song after Carl's was 'Do You Wanna Dance', and Mike Love introduced it with "It took a lot of searching, but we found some vintage video of Dennis playing on 'Do You Wanna Dance?'  It was just as special as Carl's.  Yes, it was older, but there was Dennis drumming away, dressed in the signature short-sleeve striped shirts, hair flying around wildly.  Thank you.  It is fitting.

So now, to tackle the question of why the weather has been stormy two years running ... I say it is to demonstrate reverse superlatives.  Last year the weather was 'worst'.  This year it was 'worse'.  Next year it will only be 'bad'.  HOWEVER, both years the rains stopped in time to hold the concerts.  Some delay, yes, but concerts were enjoyed.  Both years rainbows appeared just as I was entering the gates. Serendipity in action.  They have put chairs on the field this year and instead of paying for SRO, you buy a seat ticket.  Good improvement Provident Bank Park!  The base lines are sticky gooey mud, and my seat is in the third row on the first base line.  My shoes are soon "One With the Earth".  Security comes around with their new welcome speech:  DON'T MOVE YOUR CHAIR!  DON'T GET OUT OF YOUR SEATS!  DON'T STAND UP!"  I will not even try to pass GO.  It's for sure, no one will give me $200.00.  Of course ... standing begins early, with "out of your seats" following soon after.  By 7:10 pm the sound check is still going on, the squeegee is still being used to push water off the stage, and Peter Noone has been sighted standing next to the stage.  The row in front of me starts!  "HELLO PETER! HI PETER!  IT'S PETER NOONE"  Time to wave and go hide again.  On stage Vance Brescia is leading sound check to its fruition.  "From the back he looks like Howard Stern." says the woman behind me.  Hmm, never thought of that.  And then, in what seems like less than a minute, all musicians leave the stage, reappear in suits, are introduced, and 'Vindaloo' begins.  Whew!!!  The lighting is still not ready.  It is all over the place.  Everywhere but on Peter and the Banned.  OK, even though it is still light out, we notice. Eventually, it is all worked out.

The pairing of Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone and The Beach Boys is both brilliant and strange.  British Invasion and Surf music!  Diverse and yet both exemplifying the '60's.  A dichotomy that IS the 60's.  We were open to listening to all genres and accepted a song on its merit alone.  Yes, this also allowed for one-hit wonders, as well as a myriad of fan clubs for groups who continued to capture our affections.  I love the fact that HHSPN opens with 'Vindaloo', a reminder of English sports enthusiasm.  The Beach Boys open with the radio playing Dion's 'Runaround Sue'.  A reminder of the 50's influence for BOTH groups, "The Day the Music Died", and the realization that, thankfully, the music did NOT die. We sing along.  We remember.  We introduce it to our children.

As The Beach Boys begin, I am thinking of my friends' comment that they perform pre-recorded and are not live.  If this is so here, they take more time than needed to set up instruments.  I can assure everyone that THIS performance was NOT pre-recorded, but live!  I heard the clinkers, I felt the heartbreak of the guitar that quit halfway through, the removing of the black shield over the speakers to drain the rain and remedy the guitar issue, (MY side of the audience instantly felt a jolt in sound intensity) and was close enough to see the mouths matching the sound, and changing lyrics a couple of times.  John Cowsill starts out with his hair in a neat ponytail at the nape of his neck.  By the fourth song, his hair is flying!!  It's ok, folks.  No scrunchies were harmed in this stunt.  Mike Love and Bruce Johnston still have a vocal range that amazes.  Mike still flirts with the front row of girls, which is not only fun for him and the girls, but allows the band to find "dancers" for the 'Barbara Ann' sequence.  I wrote down the names of 55 songs from this entire show!  I missed a few.  I leave on such a high note (love these idioms) that removing my muddy shoes and dancing across the stone pavement into the hotel doesn't hurt ... much. 

Fans yelling out requests to HHSPN!  A man "surfing" on the chairs in front of me!  From 'I'm Into Something Good' right up to 'Fun, Fun, Fun' I was experiencing joy, freedom and love through music ... while stuck in the mud.  Not nearly as bad as Woodstock, I warrant.  These two bands travel separately, meet up for one concert and then go on their merry ways again.  Brilliant!

Shelley J Sweet-Tufano