Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Tuesday Short Stack

re:  David Bowie:  
Wow! I sure didn't see this one coming ...  
Glam-Rocker David Bowie passed away on Sunday, January 10th, after a battle of cancer.  Ironically, he had just celebrated his 69th birthday on Friday, the 8th (also Elvis' birthday) and, the day before had released a new video of his new song called "Lazarus" from his brand new album "Blackstar".  
Born David Jones on January 8, 1947, he ultimately had to change his name when his musical career began to take off in the mid-to-late '60's so as not to be confused with that OTHER guy named Davy Jones of The Monkees, who were topping the charts worldwide at the time.  
Along the way, Bowie became known as his counterpart, Ziggy Stardust, as he helped to lead the Glam Rock  revolution.  By the '80's, he was scoring more of his hits in the techno-dance vein.  He also did a bit of acting for which he was also highly acclaimed. 
Biggest hits include Space Oddity (#10, 1973); "Changes" (#28,1975); "Young Americans" (#20, 1975); "Fame", which featured John Lennon (as Dr. Winston O'Boogie") on guitar and backing vocals ... Lennon also helped write Bowie's #1 Hit (#1, 1975); "Golden Years (#10, 1976); "Under Pressure", his duet with Queen (#22,1982); "Let's Dance" (#1, 1983); "China Girl" (#9, 1983); "Modern Love" (#14, 1983); "Blue Jean" (#5, 1984); "This Is Not America" with The Pat Metheny Group (#24, 1985) and the remake of "Dancing In The Street" with Mick Jagger (#7, 1985). 
Jagger wrote The Rolling Stones' #1 Hit "Angie" about David Bowie's first wife ... and since 1992 he's been married to world famous model Iman.  Bowie also produced albums for artists like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and the Stooges and Mott The Hoople, for whom he wrote their biggest hit "All The Young Dudes". 
A sad loss of an extremely talented man, probably misunderstood by as many as he was loved.  We'll miss ya, David.  (kk)

Wow, didn't think I'd be writing about this for several years at least.  Grew up with Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and the Thin White Duke.  Am heartbroken, maybe more then Davy Jones (I know ... coming from me ... )  He was truly a brilliant, visionary being.  His life force and originality will be missed in this world of conformity and soul-numbing sameness.  He managed to say goodbye without all of us realizing it (I sort of did, though - lots of rumours about his health after "The Next Day").  Still doesn't make the pain go away.  Time to pull out some classic Bowie, on film and on vinyl and CD.  Major Tom is free from his body capsule, and is now floating in the ether.  Hope he knew what he meant to me, and to all his fans old and new.  He was the ultimate Space Commander, and I was (and always will be) an eager Cadet, ready to follow him into whatever sonic / visual space he wanted to go to.  Saw him with Nine Inch Nails at the newly completed Rose Garden in Portland, OR - the first concert there after being completed.  What a way to baptize a place!  Ziggy played ... guitarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  R.I.P.
Later -  
Ed Pond    

Truly blew me away today when I heard it on the news when I woke up.  I had never heard he was sick or anything!  I never cared much for his outfits and acting and bizarre lifestyle, but his music was for the most part, great! The 80's stuff was popular and OK, but it was "Space Oddity" that is my fave (long version).  Here in the US, the short edit 45 version came out in 69 and failed miserably, yet became huge in 73 and was one of my top 10 records for the year on my personal charts.  
Today, he is often relegated on US classic rock to sharing billing with Queen on "Under Pressure" and not even "Space Oddity" gets airplay.  If anything, "Suffragette City" gets any or all of his airplay here.  
Besides the hits "Fame" and "Oddity", the 45s that also sit in my fave 45s boxes are "Changes" and the 45 version of "Rebel Rebel" which is much punchier than the "Diamond Dogs" version, IMO. 
Sad to hear of his loss to the music world. 
Clark Besch  

There's quite a bit of Bowie still being played here in Chicago ... "Under Pressure", yes ... "Space Oddity" not so much ... but his '80's hits like "Let's Dance", "Modern Love", "Golden Years", "Fame", "Changes" (which I heard nine times today alone after news his passing hit the airwaves), "Young Americans" and some "Rebel Rebel" and "Suffragette City" now and then.  One of my all-time favorites was actually released by The Pat Metheny Group, featuring David Bowie on lead vocals.  It was used as the theme song from the Sean Penn / Timothy Hutton film "The Falcon And The Snowman" and was called "This Is Not America".  Not a very big hit (#32 in Billboard in 1985) there was something haunting about it (and I never even saw the movie!)  Bob Stroud even featured him on One 45 at 1:45 on Friday for his birthday.  (How cool to share a birthday with Elvis!)  And, of course, every year at Christmas you'd always hear the duet Bowie cut Der Bingle ... "Peace On Earth / Little Drummer Boy" ... now whoever came up with THAT pairing?!?!  And yet it worked!  While primarily considered an album artist, Bowie still managed to crack The National Top 40 over a dozen times ... wtg, David!  (kk)

Hi Kent --
Sad death of David Bowie reminded me of his arrest here in Rochester, NY, in March of 1976 for possession (1/2 pound of grass). He had performed here earlier in the evening. Among the other three arrested in Bowie's suite at the Americana hotel was Iggy Pop (as James Osterberg). Bowie was booked under his actual name of David Jones.
After appearances in other cities over the next four days Bowie returned for his arraignment and said that the Rochester Police were very courteous and gentle and were just super.  Ironically, the Rochester lawyer who represented Bowie later went to prison for racketeering.
Danny Guilfoyle
PS - Might be the best mug shot ever!

More Passings:
Hello Kent - 
Might be a little bit late with this bit of information but haven’t seen it posted on your site when I sent to you.  Did you know you that Troy Shondell passed away the other day?
Geoff Lambert 
No I had not heard this ...  
"This Time" was a #1 Hit here in Chicago.  
Story goes that budding musicians Jim Peterik and Tommy James each like Shondell's name so much they named their bands after them.  Chicago's Shondells became The Ides Of March after Michigan's Tommy James and the Shondells rose to national fame with their #1 Record "Hanky Panky".
We've featured "This Time" several times before in Forgotten Hits ... it seems to be a "fan favorite" ... especially amongst the locals.  Thanks, Geoff.  (kk)

The listing Geoff sent came from Ron Smith's OldiesMusic.com website ...

Troy Shondell (born Gary Wayne Schelton) died Thursday (January 7) in a nursing home in Picayune, Mississippi. He was 76. The cause of death was complications of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases. Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he attended Valparaiso University in Valaparaiso, Indiana, and was signed to Mercury / Smash Records in nearby Chicago. Recording as "Gary Shelton," he had a regional hit with "Kissin' At The Drive In" in 1958. Another Chicago hit that year was "The Trance" on the Regis label. His father's death in 1960 forced him to put his music career on hold temporarily, but the following year he changed his name to Troy Shondell and recorded "This Time" (written by Waylon Jennings and Chips Moman), which got to #6 nationally and sold a reported three million copies. Recorded during an April 1st snowstorm in Batavia, Illinois, it was initially released on tiny Goldcrest Records, before moving over to Liberty Records. Unfortunately, it was Troy's only top 75 record. Relocating to Nashville, he continued to work as a writer, producer and publishing agent. 
-- Ron Smith    

Ron is also reporting on the passing of Kitty Kallen, a very popular early '50's songstress who's a member of The Hit Parade Hall Of Fame ...

Kitty Kallen, best known for her 1954 hit, "Little Things Mean A Lot" (#1 for 9 weeks), died Thursday (January 7) at her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico. The Philadelphia native was 94. Born Katie Kallen in 1921, she started singing on the "Horn & Hardart's Children's Hour" on Philadelphia radio. That led to her own show and, by the time she was 15, a spot singing with Jan Savitt's big band. She later sang with Artie Shaw, Jack Teagarden, Harry James and Jimmy Dorsey before striking out on her own. From 1955 to 1959, Kitty lost her voice -- though only onstage and was confined to just recording. She charted 14 times solo between 1949 and 1963, including "The Chapel In The Moonlight" (#4 - 1954), "Aba Daba Honeymoon" with Richard Hayes (#9 - 1951) and "My Coloring Book" (#18 - 1963) before retiring in the mid-'60s. Kitty received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 and was selected for the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009. She appeared on Broadway in the original production of "Finian's Rainbow" in 1947.   
-- Ron Smith

This And That:   
Hey Kent, 
It's been very interesting reading about the Chicago - Peter Cetera Hall of Fame news. Besides Peter, I really hope Danny Seraphine gets to drum behind the guys again. Just based on everything I've read about his exit, I believe he was railroaded out of the band. It seems communication was the main culprit. Anyway, Ron Onesti wrote a nice piece about becoming a fan of Chicago and Robert Lamm. I remember the first time I heard "Saturday in the Park". I liked the song so much that I had to buy the "Chicago V" album. The Italian "mystery line" was clear to me right away. On the liner notes, the transcriber didn't know what Lamm was singing, so a "?" was printed in place of the lyric line. Robert told Ron that it was "Italian Gibberish", but I knew it was in reference to the first line of Julius LaRosa's hit, "Eh Cumpari". We had the 45 around the house for years. I played that one part of "Saturday in the Park" to my dad, but I think it moved along too fast for him, so he couldn't figure it out. The lyric basically translates (in Southern dialect), "Hey friend(s), I will play (or perform) for you." Lamm's line is a bit incomplete, but most of it's there. 
I first heard bassist / tenor vocalist, John Cowan, when he was with the Newgrass Revival. Sometime listen to his vocals on "Callin Baton Rouge" (not the later Garth Brooks recording). He was just featured on a PBS music program, the other night. What a set of pipes he possesses! He has one of those rare voices that automatically turns heads in a room. Since his days with "Newgrass", he's had his own band and been a touring member of The Doobie Brothers. With all respect to Jason Scheff, I always wondered what Cowan could have done as a member of Chicago, if he was at all interested. 
- John LaPuzza 

Hi Kent,  
Thanks for your enthusiasm and support with the Rock and Roll HOF nomination and induction.  
All the best,  
Lee Loughnane / Chicago   

Just wanted to share a quick video gem of Tom Petty and Prince playing "While My Guitar ... ". 
I was blown away by Prince, basically speechless! I knew he was a great musician but any doubt would be put to rest based on this on. The best cover I've ever heard.  Enjoy!
Dan M.
Yep, I've seen this before ... pretty frickin' amazing to say the least!  Check it out ... you'll watch it again and again.  (What a line-up!!!)  kk  

For Christmas FH Reader Scott Paton sent me a compilation disc of alternate versions of well-known hits performed by the artists who helped to make them famous.
As is usually the case with these types of releases, what stayed in the can did so for a good reason ... it just didn't measure up to anything close to that artist's best performance of this material.
One exception on this disc, however, belongs to one of my least-favorite songs ... which is why hearing it in such an early, stripped-down version made it so appealing.
Give a listen as Otis Redding does an early run-through of his biggest hit "Dock Of The Baby".  Forget the loud, corny seagulls tacked on to the beginning ... and realize that the guy at the end really needs to wet his whistle before doing another take ... and what you get in between is a very relaxed, comfortable feeling take on what's gone on to become a '60's classic.  Otis is in fine voice and the whole groove of this record helps to drive it home.

Hi Kent,
Great blog "Sunday Comments" ... so much good stuff.  
I especially enjoyed the 'Seenager" paragraph that refutes the profane belief by many that the deliberate measured comments of 'seniors' is evidence that they / we are in decline. How nice to see a reasoned well researched rebuttal on our behalf in your marvelous Forgotten Hits Blog.   (Alex Valdez for President!) 
I disagree on the comments about Bobby Darin's participation in the PBS special on folk music He appeared very uncomfortable as he sang an out of character, for his persona, song and very faintly displayed the Peace Symbol at the end ... you could tell he was uncomfortable yet committed to expanding his 'song book' and growing his fan base.
Great link to the Don McLean article, too.
We Oldies aficionados are very proud of ability to recall all the great songs of our youth, some of the negative aspects of growing older like poor memory, repeating ourselves and going off track are mostly comments made by lesser people who are jealous of our standing in the community.
Great Blog today, good stuff.  I liked the Darin comments as well as the American Pie comments. We often get criticized for going off point but we 'older people' are sharp as ever.
Happy Birthday, Elvis, belatedly.
Loved the Bobby Darin discussion ... good that Chicago is finally getting recognized ... look, a bunny!!!
Sharp as a tack, Merry New Year, and have a great week.
Thanks Mrc Cuddy. Be back soon.
Keep up the ????? work !
Peace over and out,
The really scary part is that MOST of our readers will be able to follow every word of that!!!  (kk)

Dion DiMucci - New York Is My Home:
I've been listening to Dion's latest album, "New York Is My Home" ... and really enjoying what I'm hearing.
Dion's last few releases have planted him squarely in the blues groove and his whole style and demeanor make this a perfect fit.  Dion is in fine voice throughout this new release as he runs through ten great tracks, eight of which he cowrote himself. 
The entire album feels all at once comfortable and familiar as Dion truly seems to be in his element, recording in this style.  (Who knew one could do SO much with so few chords!  And believe me, that's a COMPLIMENT and not a diss.)
DiMucci has a way of taking the most obvious blues chord patterns, throwing in an occasional Chuck Berry-type lick and weaving them into something fresh and new sounding ... while still retaining the very essence of the genre.  And the musicianship throughout fills just the right number of voids without ever going over the top ... again, a simple case of laying down ... and sticking with ... the overall groove.  It is very clear that Dion knows that sometimes less is more ... and it works to his full advantage on this new LP.
I can only imagine what a Dion concert sounds like today.  I've got to believe that he is most comfortable playing his most recent material, as it suits him to a "t" ... but the fans are still going to want to hear the hits like "The Wanderer", "Runaround Sue", "Teenager In Love", etc.  It must be a bit of a fine line trying to give them both at this stage of the game.  (Fans often forget that artists have to compromise from time to time, too!)
The song garnering the most attention from the new CD has got to be Dion's duet with Paul Simon on the title track, "New York Is My Home" ... this seems to be the one that everybody's talking about ... and it's a nice track and a real delight to see these two veteran artists pool their talents to create a track like this ... but to my ears ... and thanks to some other incredibly solid material ... it just may be the weakest track on the album.  Sure, it's great to hear these two '60's icons paired up, talking about the city that they love ... but it just doesn't seem to "fit" within the context of the rest of the  LP.  In fact, it almost hits you like a speed bump because everywhere else you're just cruising along, totally stuck in the vibe.  While under any other circumstances their collaboration would be considered to be a stand-out, worthy of special attention and promotion, in this instance it seems to "get in the way" of the rest of Dion's message.  Perhaps a stand-alone "companion single" released in conjunction with the new LP would have been a better way to go, rather than break up the momentum found everywhere else on the album.
If the title track doesn't especially work for me, I've already got several other favorites on the album ... "The Apollo King", "I'm All Rocked Up", "Can't Go Back To Memphis", "I'm Your Gangster Of Love" and "I Ain't For It" all struck an immediate nerve ... but the truth is, you'll want to listen to most of these tracks multiple times in order to really take them in.  There is some fine vocalizing and musicianship on display throughout this new CD.  (Makes you wonder what a Bruce Springsteen-produced Dion LP would sound like!)
That being said, I want to leave you with my personal favorite.  It's the lead-off track, "Aces Up Your Sleeve" which, for me, sets the tone of the whole LP.

Dion's got his groove down ... and I'd love to see him perform live in a setting like House of Blues or B.B. King's performing these tracks because I believe the audience will eat 'em up.  (Bring some CD's with you, Dion ... 'cause the fans will want to buy 'em on their way out the door!)  Yeah, we'll still want to hear some of the hits ... but the spot you're in right now suits you well ... so enjoy it ... and let the public hear these songs. 
Kent Kotal
Forgotten Hits
Order your copy here: