Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wonderful World, Beautiful People

Before he became a reggae legend, Jimmy Cliff hit the Pop Charts with Wonderful World, Beautiful People, a #18 hit in early 1970.

An international, worldwide star, Cliff probably had his LEAST amount of success here in the United States, where his only other Top 40 Chart Hit was a remake of the Johnny Nash song, I Can See Clearly Now, released 24 years later. (It ALSO peaked at #18.)

Born in Jamaica in 1948 (his real name is James Chambers), Cliff had his first #1 Jamaican Hit in 1962 at the age of 14, when Hurricane Hattie (a song about the recent Caribbean storm) topped the charts. He later dropped out of college to pursue a music career and, in 1965, moved to Britain. Three years later, Cliff represented Jamaica in the International Song Festival held in Brazil, and won an award for his composition Waterfall. By now, reggae music was becoming the latest rage in England ... I remember John Lennon stating in a teen magazine interview back in 1966 that he thought reggae would be the next big thing ... and today's featured Forgotten Hit, Wonderful World, Beautiful People hit #6 in Britain.

Other reggae acts started to hit the charts as well, including the previously mentioned Johnny Nash (who moved to Jamaica in the late '60's) and Desmond Dekker and the Aces, who scored a big U.S. hit with Israelites (another former Forgotten Hit.)

In 1972, Cliff starred in the semi-autobiographical film The Harder They Come,
winning critical acclaim (and introducing reggae music and the music of Bob Marley to the rest of the world at large when it was FINALLY released here in the States in 1975!)

Cliff continues to record and tour all over the world (and also appears in films from time to time as well.)

Meanwhile, this is a song that deserves a spot back in oldies rotation ... give it a listen and see if you don't agree ... a nice, uplifting song ... catchy ... easy to sing along with ... and promotes a positive message ... let's get this one back on the air!!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sutherland Brothers And Quiver

The band with the unusual name GOT that name when two totally separate bands merged in the early '70's.

Real-life brothers Iain and Gavin Sutherland had some minor British chart success recording as a band called "A New Generation" in 1968 with a song called "Smokie Blues Away", which reached #38 on The U.K. Chart. In late 1970, after submitting a demo to former Traffic bassist Muff Winwood, they earned a new recording contract with Island Records as The Sutherland Brothers Band, a folk / rock (but mostly folk) duo and released a couple of albums and singles for the label that really didn't make much of an impact on the British charts.

Looking to diversify their sound (they were for all intents and purposes performing folk duets and were never happy with their sound doing live performances), The Sutherland Brothers joined forces with Quiver, a local rock band consisting of guitarist Tim Renwick, bassist Bruce Thomas, drummer John "Willie" Wilson and keyboardist Peter Wood. (The fact that Quiver lead vocalist Cal Batchelor had just left the band certainly helped to cement this merger!!!)

Billing themselves as Sutherland Brothers And Quiver (and probably having one HECK of a time finding marquees large enough to accommodate this new name ... jeez, it was probably just as difficult to fit it all on the record label!!!) the newly formed sextet had their GREATEST chart success in 1973 with their Top 40 U.S. Hit "You Got Me Anyway", which hit #20 on The Cash Box Chart, made the Chicagoland Top Ten and JUST MISSED The Billboard Top 40, where it peaked at #48.

They wouldn't hit the U.S. charts again until 1976 when "Arms Of Mary", a Top Five British Hit, made the lower region of the Cash Box and Billboard charts, peaking at #71 and #81 respectively. A year later, they had already disbanded.

The Sutherland Brothers released a couple more singles as a duo (and even attempted solo careers in the early '80's) before hanging it up for good ... but the guys from Quiver continued their musical dream a little bit longer, albeit NOT together as a group ... instead, each found success on their own. Tim Resnick went on to play guitar for Al Stewart and a latter-day incarnation of Pink Floyd. Drummer Willie Wilson (who had also hit the charts as part of the band Cochise, another group we featured a while back in Forgotten Hits when we spotlighted their reworking of the Buddy Holly tune "Love's Made A Fool Of You", a Top Ten Chicagoland hit in 1971) worked with Pink Floyd for a while, too, during the period when the band was touring to promote "The Wall". Peter Wood (as Peter Woods) went on to work with Cyndi Lauper ... sadly, he died in 1994. And bassist Bruce Thomas went on to join Elvis Costello and the Attractions.

You Got Me Anyway is
catchy as hell ... and you probably haven't heard it in AGES!!! Maybe we can get a few of the jocks on the list to give this one a spin today!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Natural High

Since we're in a soulful mood, here's another one of my favorites that CERTAINLY deserves a spin every now and then.
Bloodstone, a five-man soul group out of Kansas City, Missouri, hit The Top 40 on The Pop Charts three times in 1973 - 1974. Their biggest pop hit was Natural High, which hit #10 on The Billboard Chart and went all the way to #5 on The Cash Box Chart. (Other Top 40 Singles included Never Let You Go, #35, 1973, and Outside Woman, #31, 1974.)
The group first formed as The Sinceres, an a cappla vocal quintet, back in 1962. Ultimately, they all learned to play instruments and became a full-fledged band, playing the club scene in Los Angeles and the casino lounges in Las Vegas. Founding members included Charles McCormick (who sang, played bass and wrote Natural High), Willis Draffen and Charles Love (both on vocals and guitar), Harry Williams (drums) and Roger Durham (keyboards). When Durham died in 1973, the group carried on as a quartet.
In 1975 the group financed and starred in a film musical called "Train Ride To Hollywood". In the film, they performed a number of older tunes, including their versions of As Time Goes By, Toot Toot Tootsie, Yakety Yak and Sh-Boom. According to the liner notes to Rhino's "Didn't It Blow Your Mind" CD Series, the best track was the title cut, Train Ride, "an exuberant celebration of railroading".
While the film bombed at the box office, noted music critic Dave Marsh called it "witty" and "underrated" ... "arguably the funniest picture of the whole '70s blaxploitation film boom." Between the slapstick and the reefer jokes, "Bloodstone wedges in a fairly complete history of black vocal harmony music from the Mills Brothers to the Coasters to their own bad selves. They do it even better on the soundtrack album." (Hmmm ... we'll have to watch for THIS one!!! We seem to catch the unintentionally (yet HILARIOUSLY!) funny "Can't Stop The Music" every time it's on lately ... and ALWAYS at the "Y.M.C.A." segment!!! OMG ... and you think Bruce Jenner is funny on The Kardashians?!?!?!!!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'm Doin' Fine Now

While going through the archives the other day, I came across a couple of Frannie's old "Forgotten Soul Hits" from many moons ago. (Some of you "old-timers" on the list might remember that we'd run this series a couple of times a year or so and give Frannie a chance to spotlight some of HER favorite soul hits from the early '70's.)

I'm going to resurrect a few of these from time to time (including this one) today. I've updated some of the information when possible ... and I think some of the jocks on the list might like to feature a few of these on their "Forgotten 45's" segments.

First up today ... a band called New York City. (Hey, why not?!?!? A group calling themselves "Chicago" did pretty good for THIS fine city!!! And, speaking of "fine", that's what today's hit is all about!)


R & B quartet New York City was composed of 4 high school buddies: Tim McQueen, John Brown, Edward Schell, and Claude Johnson. They sang for their church and Brown gained professional experience singing with The Cadillacs and The Five Satins.
In 1973, New York City went to work with producer Thom Bell and the result of that union was "I'm Doin' Fine Now," which reached # 17, and was sold to Wes Farrell's Chelsea label. Two additional releases in the following months barely cracked the Top 100. By the mid-seventies, New York City had disappeared from the charts. (Frannie)

I'm Doin' Fine Now performed a little better on the Cash Box Chart where it peaked at #12. (Now how is THIS song missing from the oldies airplay lists?!?!?) kk

DIDJAKNOW?: Prior to recording their biggest hit, studio whiz-kid Thom Bell recorded a number of instrumental backing tracks for the guys to overdub their vocals on. This process made getting their records made in a hurry a whole lot easier ... McQueen, Brown, Schell and Johnson simply came in and added their voices to these pre-recorded tracks, including I'm Doin' Fine Now. When the record became a hit, a back-up band was quickly assembled so that they could take their act out on the road. That back-up band was called "The Big Apple Band" ... and two of its members were Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards ... future founding members of Chic, who helped to define their OWN soulful sound just a few years later!!! (kk)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Speak To The Sky

Last week we promised to feature Rick Springfield's debut American Hit "Speak To The Sky" ... but we got side-tracked along the way, doing a couple of other features ... so we had to push ol' Rick back a week.

Springfield's name first came up during our Bruce Springsteen Tribute a couple of weeks back. (Believe it or not, we're STILL getting emails about Springsteen's performance at this year's Super Bowl!)

We featured the Rick Springfield song "Bruce", recorded back in 1978 when Rick's
career was in limbo but released in 1984 when Bruce Springsteen's career was going through the roof.

It didn't have much of an impact, peaking at #26 on The Cash Box Chart. (Mercury, Rick's old record label, was trying to take advantage of both The Boss' rise in popularity as well as Rick's OWN string of early '80's hits.)

But before ALL of this '80's success ... in fact, even before Rick signed on as a regular (and teen heart-throb on "General Hospital") Springfield hit The American Charts with his Top 20 Hit "Speak To The Sky".

Coming off of a bit of success "down under" in his native Australia via the pop band Zoot, Springfield attempted a solo career here in The States and released "Speak To The Sky" on the Capitol label back in 1972.

It peaked at #14 on The Billboard Chart ... but after that, Rick couldn't buy a hit. Instead, he perfected his acting chops and landed the role of Dr. Noah Drake and the popular soap opera, "General Hospital."

Springfield stuck with the show from 1981 to 1984 but he never gave up his dream to be a singer. (Some say he only took the acting gig in the first place because he had no reason to believe his latest album, "Working Class Dog", would be a hit either!) But in 1981, his record "Jessie's Girl" (from the "Working Class Dog" LP) exploded on the charts, rising all the way to the #1 Spot. Top 40 follow-up hits included I've Done Everything For You (#8, 1981); Love Is Alright Tonight (#20, 1982); Don't Talk To Strangers (#2, 1982); What Kind Of Fool Am I (#19, 1982); I Get Excited (#32, 1982); Affair Of The Heart (#9, 1983); Human Touch (#18, 1983); Souls (#23, 1983); Love Somebody (#3, 1984); Don't Walk Away (#26, 1984); Bop 'Til You Drop (#20, 1984); Bruce (#26, 1985); Celebrate Youth (#26, 1985); State Of The Heart (#22, 1985) and Rock Of Life (#22, 1988). Springfield returned to television (and to General Hospital) in 2005 but still makes concert appearances all over the world. (Frannie and I saw him in Las Vegas a few years back when he was starring in FX, a role originated by fellow teen idol David Cassidy!)

Whereas most of his '80's hits have more of a "power rock / power ballad" feel to them, Speak To The Sky almost sounds like a "folk song" ... with a bit of a Dixieland piano and horn arrangement thrown in for good measure. Springfield wrote all of his own hits (except I've Done Everything For You, which was penned by former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar). He also starred in the 1984 film "Hard To Hold", which included ALL of his 1984 pop hits.

Click here: rick

Monday, February 23, 2009

Nostalgic Nausea

Yep, we're REALLY gonna do it!!!

With YOUR help, we're going to put together a list of

"The Top 20 Guaranteed Gaggers Of All-Time"!!!

Normally, we run polls like "The Most Over-Played Oldies" on the Radio ... aka "Your Quickest Button-Pushers" ...

But this time around, I'm not talking about songs you're tired of hearing ...

No ...

THIS time we want you to send us YOUR list of songs you don't EVER need to hear again in this lifetime!!!

Songs that NEVER should have been the king-sized hits they became in the first place!!!

Songs like "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone ...

which INCREDIBLY topped the charts for TEN WEEKS back in 1977 when it was first released ...

or "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro ... a FIVE WEEK #1 chart-topper!

How about "Run Joey Run" by David Geddes ...

or the cringe-inducing "The Candy Man" by Sammy Davis, Jr. ...

or the God-awful "Playground In My Mind" by Clint Holmes ...

In order words, songs you JUST CAN'T STAND!!!

Guaranteed Gaggers!!!

We're trying to get at least one of the disc jockeys on the list to partner with us as we put together a special countdown ...

And create the ultimate "Nostalgic Nausea" Hour if you will!

(Now all we need is someone to help us count 'em down on the air!!!)

We've got you off to a good start here with five songs SURE to make the list.

Now we need you to send us YOUR nominees ...

Just send an email to ...

And keep watching these pages for updates on the countdown.