Saturday, April 4, 2009

It's A Shame - Part 4

I know, I know ... we just DID a tribute to The Cryan' Shames ... but I can't let a subject line like "It's A Shame" go by and NOT feature something else by these guys!!! In fact, we'll make today's posting all about our Local Heroes!!! (Call it my OWN shameless promotion!!!)

This time around, we'll give you a GREAT album cut from their "A Scratch In The Sky" LP. It's called "Cobblestone Road" and it presents the band in a completely different light than we were accustomed to hearing ... in fact, it's got almost a bit of a folksy, country feel to it ... see what you think!

Next up, some more of your recent comments regarding some more local talent ...

I was laying down listening to the NCAA tourney on radio this afternoon and the commentators said something to the fact: "According to CBS Sports, we do know this. "Eye of the Tiger" has been played 138 times already during the tournament!" Hmm, I wonder if that means snippets have been heard on CBS 138 times and they are counting so they can pay royalties?? I have no idea. I searched their website to see if the info was on it. I did not find it, but found EOTT's lyrics on their website! Wonder if there are royalties being paid there??? The song has more than 9 lives -- 129 more and counting, it would seem!!! Sorry the Ides were not on Letterman on the Ides of March day. Maybe next year??? I passed this on to Jim Peterik. We'll see if he responds.
Hey, Jimmy ought to make money EVERY time that song is played ... for ANY reason!!! It's become a sports anthem AND a pop cultural anthem ... give the man his due!!! No matter WHO sings it ... The Ides ... Survivor ... Bo Bice ... or even Big Daddy!!! (kk)

>>>The last New Colony Six 45 titled, "I Don't Really Want To Go" is by far, my favorite later-day NC6 recording ... FANTASTIC "Power-Pop" tune that never had a chance on the charts in 1974. I think that it could have easily given a good run for their money on the charts if MCA would have given it the proper promotion. (Jerry Schollenberger)
>>>It's a VERY catchy track but I don't think I've EVER heard it played on the radio. Too bad because other MCA releases like "Long Time To Be Alone" and "Never Be Lonely" rank up amongst the very best tracks that the band ever recorded. It would appear that VERY little effort was ever put forth to promote their recent signing, however! Major label ... major blunder. (kk)
Actually, "I Don't Really Want to Go" was a Top 30 charter on WOKY Milwaukee when Art Roberts was on the air there! I have the chart. Both sides of the Sunlight single "Long Time to be Alone" and "Never Be Lonely" were A sides at different times as well. Too bad ... all deserved #1 IMO. (Of course, all 3 were #1 for 4 weeks on my personal charts when they were released!! I shoulda been a MD!)

Hey, Kent!
Thanks for the mention of “I Don’t Really Want to Go” the other day. That song is the reason I joined the New Colony Six, and I think it’s terrific in so many ways. Skip Griparis had put me in the running during auditions to replace departing Billy Herman. I’d worked with Skip in Trilogy, and had played the band track for “Roll On”, which did very well nationally. Skip sent me a demo of “I Don’t Really Want To Go” and I loved it, and took him up on the offer of an audition. He really helped coach me on what The Colony needed to see, and I got the job and worked with them through 1973 and 1974 as a result. The session for “I Don’t Really” took place at Paragon, with Barry Mraz at the board (Styx, Ohio Players). I remember to this day the scene with keyboardist John Cammelott sitting on the control room floor with his Moog synthesizer — new at the time — adding on the one of the key lines — he looked like Schroeder in the Peanuts comics . Little known fact --- we had a female singer at the time named Yvonnee. But on “I Don’t Really”, the high harmonies are Skip — he’s singing over Yvonnee right throughout the song. Skip was blessed with a true 4 octave range and if you listen REALY HARD, you can hear his distinctive voice on top of the female voice. It’s Skip’s great voice on harmony on “Someone, Sometime”, too. What a great talent. Thanks for the mention. Hope to see you this summer season.
Rick Barr
The New Colony Six
Hi Rick! Good to hear from you!
I knew about the female vocalist there at the end before The NC6 called it quits ... had tried to get more info on that when I was doing my FH / NC6 Series a few years back but by this point both Ray and Ronnie were gone from the line-up and I didn't really have a source to discuss this period in the band's history. (I was told that Gerry Von Kollenburg would be the ONLY guy who could accurately discuss it and at that point he was flat-out refusing to talk to ANYBODY about the band ... maybe now that he has a better idea of who I am and what I do, he'd be more open to the idea ... who knows!!!) I had the chance to interview Skip Griparis but just never followed up on it ... by then the series had run its course and it all seemed too "after the fact." What would REALLY be cool would be to get in touch with ALL of the various members over the years and get more details on all these different phases, since it seems that ONLY Ray and Ronnie are ever interviewed ... and I sometimes wonder if they can't help but feel like they've both talked it to death at this point. It could be REALLY interesting to see things from some new perspectives ... and tell the DEFINITIVE story of the band!!! (Honestly, Jerry Schollenberger should write a book!!!)
Anyway, I'd LOVE to get more info ... is anyone still in contact with Yvonne? How long was she with the band? What was the overall sound you were going for at the time? (I've heard it was almost a "Rufus-thing"!!!) Was Pat McBride gone by then, too, or was he still around?
I was surprised to hear about "Roll On" ... didn't Billy Herman WRITE that song?!?! Was he NOT on the record??? (Ronnie told me the song was ORIGINALLY about marijuana but that it was all changed at the last minute in an effort to make it more commercial!!!)
Maybe when you've got some time, put some of your thoughts together on this era ... I think Bruce said that he sat in on some of the latter-day sessions, too, but was never credited. It might be interesting to do a follow-up piece ... something to kind of spotlight the "Post-Mercury" Days ... and feature some of the stuff that NOBODY ever hears. Those Sunlight tracks are amongst the best the band ever recorded ... yet they went virtually unnoticed.
Let me know your thoughts!
(How are bookings looking for this summer??? Be sure to let us know so that we can help to spread the word.) kk

Stay tuned for more on this story ... meanwhile, here's ANOTHER great over-looked New Colony Six song ... "Someone Sometime" "bubbled under" at #109 in Billboard in 1972 ... but went to #19 on the WCFL Chart that year.

I just got this request from FH List Member Marlene O'Malley on behalf of author Dean Milano ... if anybody can help out by locating some of the photos he's looking for, please drop him a line before his latest book heads off to the publishers!!! Thanks, Gang! (kk)
Hello again folks -
Well, it's the traditional Last Call For Alcohol.
This may be the last email I send regarding the book I am writing for Arcadia Publishers on the Chicago Music Scene of the 1960s and ‘70s.
I’m now getting my materials ready to organize and submit to the editors. However, this will probably take a month or more, so any last minute photos that come in can probably be inserted into the layout. In other words, if you’ve been thinking of submitting a photo but have been putting it off, you still have some time. Not much, but some.
Again, this is a pictorial history covering musicians who were based in Chicago, so the only way an artist can be included in the book is if I have a photograph to use. And it needs to be a photo from the 1960s or ‘70s. This is also NOT an encyclopedic work, as that would be huge, including thousands of artists and would take many years to complete. I'm hoping someone eventually writes that book as I will be the first one to buy it. I'm hoping this work will allow it's readers a decent sampling of what those two decades were like.
I have more than enough material for the book, so I have stopped soliciting photos at this point. However there are still some key people that need to be included in the book and I have not been able to locate photos of some of them. Please check out the lists below and if you know or have contacts with any of these folks, please let them know about this project.
In some cases, I do have a photo, but it’s not of the quality I would like to use, so if you think you have a really great photo of someone, please let me know. I may substitute your photo for the one I already have.
I can get some pictures from the Internet, but it's very risky to simply take images off the Net without permission, so I need as many photos as I can get, sent directly from the artists. High Res photos can be sent to me through e-mail as long as they are scanned at least 300 dpi and 8 inches width.
I imagine many of you are probably becoming annoyed with these little "reminders", but when the book comes out, I'm hoping my perseverance will have paid off! Everyone will get credit in the book for any contributions they make.
Meanwhile, if you'd like to see the caption I've written for your photo, or if you'd like to read the opening paragraphs for any of the five chapters, send me an email and I'll send you the text. I'd love to hear your comments.
Thanks again for your support.
Dean Milano
Chicago Music Scene: 1960s – 1970s
This is the story of the Chicago music scene of two decades - the 1960s and 1970s, an incredibly vibrant period in urban and suburban music scenes across the country and throughout the world. And Chicago, thanks to an abundance of highly credible musicians and bands, was a major player throughout those decades. It was a time when Jazz, Rock & Roll, Country & Western, Folk, R & B, Blues, and just about every type of music imaginable flowed through the streets of Chicago and the surrounding area.
Much has been written about the national and international talent of that time, but not enough has been written regarding local music scenes.
This story will focus on the city of Chicago along with its suburban club scene and the homegrown performers who made it one of the most electrifying and memorable periods in music history. Some of them went all the way to “the big time”, while others made their mark and disappeared. But they all made a difference in their own way and for those who were there, it’s a time they will never forget.
(Be sure tocroll to the bottom of the page to see some of the sample pics. And remember, this is only a sampling of what will be in the final book.)
Photos I still need:
Blues: Chicago Slim; Jimmy Davis; Dells (R&B, soul); Hound Dog Taylor; Joe Kelly Blues Band;
Freddie King; Major Lance; J.B.lenoir; Magic Sam;
Simtec and Wylie; Tom Tom Washington
Folk: Jody Alis; Fleming Brown; Dennis Cahill; Fred Campeau; Sally Fingerett; Carolyn Ford; Peggy Ford; Kendall Kardt; Jimmy Keane; Dave Lazer; Megon McDonough; Kathy O’Hara; Bill Quateman; Tary Rebenar; Rosehip String Band; Peter Madcat Ruth; Dave Samuelson; Veluscha
Amy Wooley
Jazz: Jimmy Atlas; Bill Porter Big Band; Bob Stone Big Band; Anthony Braxton; Oscar Brown, Jr.;
Bobby Christian; Dave Major & the Minors ; Denise Osso Ensemble; Ears / Bobby Lewis; Ezra Quantine Ragtime Memorial Band; Guy Fricano; Von Freeman; John Gabor; Ghalib Ghallab; Eddie Higgins; Vicki Hubly; John Klemmer; Karen Mason; Buzz Moten; Larry Novak; Eddie Piccard; Roger Pemberton Big Band; Bobby Schiff; Ira Sullivan; Marshall Vente; Joe Vito
Rock: Aliotta, Haynes & Jeremiah; Aorta; Bangor Flying Circus; Chaka Khan; Friend and Lover; H.P. Lovecraft; Ides of March; The Knaves; Buddy Miles; The Mob; Off Broadway; Pez Band; Phil N the Blanks; Redwood Landing; Rotary Connection; Rufus (Ask Rufus); Spanky and Our Gang; Styx; Vanessa Davis Band; The Vectors / Joe Kelly; Virginia Klemmens Band
Country: Bitter Creek Newgrass Band; Red Blanchard; Baraboo; Jimmy Nichols & the Nashville Cats; JJ Dickens and His Black Cowboys; John Burns Band; Jump ‘n the Saddle; Northshore ; Bluegrass Revival; Phlagg Williams & the Road Rangers; Prairie Union Bluegrass Band; Ray Garrison & Windy City Country; Red Ratliff; Loyd Reinking; Stuart Rosenberg; Shari Lynn & Her Singing Chauffers; Cal Starr; Tom Thady; Hayden Thompson; Unity Bluegrass Band; Walter Williams Band
Sample Photos Below:

Friday, April 3, 2009

It's A Shame - Part 3

Since we seem to be stuck on a "shameful" topic this week (or would that be "shameless"???), I'm going to feature one of MY all-time favorite songs of the '60's today.

Once a COMPLETELY Forgotten Hit, this one's made a bit of a resurgence lately on the oldies stations ... and deservedly so.

Back in 1968, The Magic Lanterns took their biggest hit, "Shame, Shame" into The Cash Box Top 20. (Once again, this was an even bigger hit here in Chicago, where it peaked at #4 on the WCFL Chart.)

Catchy as hell, this one's SURE to stick in your head today ... and there's absolutely NOTHING to be aSHAMEd about there!!! Enjoy!

Give your favorite oldies deejay a call today and ask him to play this song ... it's a GUARANTEED listener pleaser!!!

FOR THE RECORD: Despite NUMEROUS published reports, Ozzy Osbourne was NOT a member of The Magic Lanterns!!! Formed in Lancashire, England, in the early '60's as The Sabres. their early line-up consisted of Jimmy Bilsbury on vocals, Peter Shoesmith on guitar, Ian Moncur on bass and Allan Wilson on drums. By the late '60's, a number of line-up changes had already occurred. Although Ozzy Osbourne was NEVER a member, the duo of Godley and Creme, later of 10cc, WERE early members ... and, AFTER they hit the charts with "Shame, Shame", Albert Hammond (of "It Never Rains In Southern California" fame) also came onboard in an effort to keep things going. With Bilsbury as the main constant, a group consisting of Alistair (aka "Bev" and "Les") Beveridge, Peter Garner, Harry Paul Ward and Mike "Oz" Osborne ... (whose inclusion can most likely be blamed for fueling all those "Ozzy" rumors over the years) ... ultimately placed three singles on The Billboard Chart ... but only "Shame, Shame" made much of an impact. Incredibly, it did NOT chart back home in Jolly Ol' England.

DIDJAKNOW?-1: The Magic Lanterns' ONLY British Hit was a recording of the song "Excuse Me Baby", written by Forgotten Hits' very own Artie Wayne!!! Despite three separate chart entries, spread out over six weeks, it never cracked The British Top 40. They also recorded non-charting versions of "Knight In Rusty Armour", later a hit for Peter and Gordon and "Auntie Griselda", covered by The Monkees on their second album and featuring a VERY rare Peter Tork lead vocal.

DIDJAKNOW?-2: The horn arrangement on "Shame, Shame" was done by none other than John Paul Jones who, a year later would be climbing the charts himself as a member of the ultimate hard-rock band Led Zeppelin.

DIDJAKNOW?-3: Early on in their career ... after their name change to "The Magic Lanterns" ... the band actually used to incorporate a magic lantern light show into their stage act which went on in the background to their musical accompaniment. Despite their ultra-cool '60's-era name, this was evidently as "psychedelic" as they ever got ... despite their name and the late '60's era, these guys were pretty much pure power pop (with just a twinge of R & B) at their very best.

As of this week our website series, "Your Top 20 Favorite Psychedelic Songs", is now the most viewed feature on The Forgotten Hits Web Page!!! For the past year or so, segments spotlighting your "First 45's" and "The Top 200 All-Time Favorite, Forgotten B-Sides" have far and away received the most website hits ... but as of THIS week psychedelia rules ... for the very first time, "Your Top 20 Favorite Psychedelic Songs" has become our most popular web feature. Haven't read it yet??? Here's the link:
Click here: Forgotten Hits - Top 20 Favorite Psychedelic Songs

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's A Shame - Part 2

Taking our "It's A Shame" theme just another step further ... and sticking with The Motown Label for another day ... it became a natural step to next feature The Spinners' biggest hit for the label.

The Spinners formed back in 1961 and were first discovered by the legendary Harvey Fuqua of The Moonglows, who signed them to his Tri-Phi label. (In fact, Fuqua first dubbed them "The New Moonglows" before allowing them to pursue their own identity as The Spinners ... and then he sang the lead vocal on their first chart hit, "That's What Girls Are Made For", which rose to #27 in 1961.)

When Tri-Phi merged with Motown, (it was a "merger" in more ways than one ... Fuqua married Berry Gordy's sister), The Spinners enjoyed their second Top 40 Hit as "I'll Always Love You" rose to #35 in 1965. After that, the group went through a five year dry-spell. While none of their own records were charting, they were most often touring as the opening act for all the other big name acts on the Motown roster. For all intents and purposes, The Spinners were forgotten and ignored. (One source we found said that the group spent most of their time acting as road managers and chaperones for The Supremes, The Marvelettes and Martha and the Vandellas. They also drove The Temptations around Detroit and picked up The Jackson Five at the airport! They even helped out by taking inventory at the Motown shipping department! Sounds like they did just about EVERYTHING ... except record hit music!!!)

As the '60's ended, Stevie Wonder was pushing to take more control of his own career. Stevie wanted to write and produce his own songs, as many of the other Motown artists were beginning to do. As more a means to pacify his evolving star, Motown Founder Berry Gordy told him to cut a "practice" track with The Spinners ... so Wonder went off and wrote "It's A Shame". In fact, he not only wrote and produced the track but also handled a good percentage of the instrumentation featured on the recording. Unfortunately, Gordy sat on the track for a while, feeling that he'd kept his end of the bargain by allowing Little Stevie the opportunity to gain some experience in and around the studio ... most likely also figuring in the factor that this was, after The Spinners ... and The Spinners just weren't having hit records for Motown. He really had no reason to believe that this record would perform any differently. (Keeping all things in perspective, at various times The Spinners were billed as "The Detroit Spinners" and "The Motown Spinners" just to better identify them and avoid confusion with a British act of the same name who WERE hitting the charts overseas.)

We talked recently about the times that Berry Gordy misjudged the potential of some of his releases, citing Berry's initial refusal to release Marvin Gaye's version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and Stevie Wonder's recording of "For Once In My Life" as prime examples of the few times that Berry flat out got it wrong. This would prove to be the case for The Spinners' hit "It's A Shame", too ... a song that eventually rose to #14 when it was finally released in 1970. A year later, The Spinners had already negotiated a new contract for themselves with rival Atlantic Records. After they made the move, they racked up fourteen Top 40 Pop Hits and were virtually never OFF the radio!

Pop / Soul classics like "I'll Be Around" (#1, 1972); "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love (#1, 1973); "Then Came You" (ALSO #1, 1974, recorded with Dionne Warwick[e] ... who added an "e" to her last name for her label switch); "Games People Play / They Just Can't Stop It" (#2, 1975); "The Rubberband Man" (#2, 1976) and remakes of classics like "Working My Way Back To You" (#2, 1980) and "Cupid" (#4, 1980), that were reworked into medleys with brand new pieces of music called "Forgive Me Girl" and "I've Loved You For A Long Time", followed ... and all of these remain soft rock and oldies radio staples today.

It's A Shame ... that nobody at Motown released that The Spinners were just one year away from hitting the big time!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's A Shame - Part 1

We've been focusing a lot lately on some of the original versions of songs that failed to make much of an impression the first time around yet went on to become HUGE hits years later when they were recorded by other artists.

Scott Shannon has built one of The True Oldies Channel's most popular features around what he calls "The Remakes Weekend" ... in fact, there's another one coming up shortly that will feature some of the examples recently covered in Forgotten Hits.

One of the REAL shames in all of this is that some EXCELLENT recordings went virtually unnoticed in the process. Back in 1964, Shorty Long recorded the original version of a song called "Devil With A Blue Dress On" that failed miserably on the pop and soul charts ... in fact, it never charted at all ... and that's today's real shame.

Every time we've ever featured this track before in Forgotten Hits we've heard from readers who never even knew that it existed ... and were blown away by just how good it really was.

Some have speculated that this one failed because it didn't really have "The Motown Sound" that the label had become so identified with. There was more of a "bluesy" feel to this one ... and one thing that Motown stayed away from was The Blues ... they were creating popular music for "Young America" ... and that meant music that could be enjoyed by blacks and whites together ... quite honestly, there may not have been another label around that accomplished this goal better than Motown did in the '60's.

(Listening back to it now, I get the feeling that had they simply upped the tempo ever-so-slightly, Long's version would have had more of a "How Sweet It Is" feel to it ... and it just might have caught on. That being said, I have to admit that I absolutely LOVE what he did with the song just the way it is ... and Shorty's arrangement is all part of its charm.)

However, "just the way it is" wasn't good enough ... and, as such, Shorty Long's version of "Devil With A Blue Dress On" was completely ignored ... and instead of being recognized as one of Motown's earliest innovators, Long's entire career was whittled down to the novelty track "Here Comes The Judge", a Top Ten Hit recorded a few years later, cashing in on a popular segment of the hit television series "Rowan And Martin's Laugh-In". When he drowned in 1969, it remained his ONLY Top 50 Pop Hit ... and that's a shame, too.

Fortunately, a wild, young future rocker by the name of Mitch Ryder heard the song while growing up in Detroit, probably one of the few cities in America that actually played the tune on the radio, and, even then, most likely out of loyalty to their local record label. In 1967, Ryder coupled the song with the Little Richard classic "Good Golly Miss Molly" and put together a rockin' medley that soared all the way to #4 on The Billboard Chart. It became his biggest hit ... and his signature tune ... and it's pretty much the ONLY way the rest of the world ever thought "Devil With A Blue Dress On" was SUPPOSED to sound. (Ironically, Ryder's follow-up hit, "Sock It To Me, Baby" was ALSO based on a popular "Laugh-In" skit!!!)

Today we feature the Shorty Long original ... let us know what you think ... and be sure to listen for this one to crop up on the next "Remakes Weekend" on The True Oldies Channel.

This just in from Scott Shannon:

Now how cool is THAT?!?!? We'll keep you posted!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Remembering Jan Berry

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of the passing of Jan Berry, a sad time for ALL of us who grew up loving the music of Jan And Dean.

One can always wonder "What Might Have Been" ... Berry was considered by anyone who ever crossed his path in the '60's to be a Musical Genius in the recording studio ... but all of that promise ended on April 12, 1966 when he was critically injured in a car accident not far from the spot known as "Dead Man's Curve", immortalized forever by the legendary duo in their 1964 Top Ten Hit.

While last month we speculated about the untimely death of Buddy Holly, reflecting how he was taken from us all too soon, never realizing the potential of where his career may have taken, I cannot help but wonder which is the greater tragedy ... losing Buddy Holly at the peak of his career without ever knowing what might have been ... or living through losing that career and then carrying on the memory of what you USED to be able to do for the next four decades, knowing full well that you'd never reach those heights again.

Jan Berry literally had to learn how to walk and talk again ... how to sing his own songs ... songs that he had written and produced back when Jan and Dean were one of the hottest recording acts on the planet. (Bob Greene paints a VERY sad picture in his excellent book "When We Get To Surf City" ... which is being re-released in paperback form this May ... of a very frustrated yet ultra-willing-to-please Jan Berry literally having to relearn the words to his own songs EVERY SINGLE NIGHT ... even though he had just sung them the night before ... because he couldn't retain the memory of the very songs he helped to create. It's MUST READING for ANY fan of this era ... and this very brave dynamic duo, who gave us SO much musical pleasure over the years.)

Jan's tragic accident was also immortalized in the film "Dead Man's Curve" ... and his courageous return to the performance stage is truly a fairy tale ending to this sad story. The fans loved this music SO much that they accepted him back without reservation, a true testiment to the power of his gift.

Of course here in Forgotten Hits we regularly remember the music of artists like Jan and Dean, The Beach Boys, The Rip Chords and many of the other surf / rock artists of the day ... and today is no different.

We've got letters from Fred Vail, who at one time MANAGED The Beach Boys (and wrote a very loving tribute to Jan Berry which can now be found on The Official Jan And Dean Website) and Mitch Schecter, guitarist for The Rip Chords, about his buddy Al Jardine (who apparently snubbed Forgotten Hits Reader Dwight Rounds in an airport a few weeks back!!!) Then we've got short tributes courtesy of David Beard, Editor and Publisher of "Endless Summer Quarterly", that GREAT Beach Boys fanzine that pays tribute to this music that we love as well has featured columnist Phil Miglioratti.

And, to top things off, we've also got one of MY favorite Jan And Dean songs to share with you today ... "I Found A Girl" from 1965 ... a #30 Billboard Hit (that went all the way to #9 here in Chi-Town, where the nearest ocean is at least a couple thousand miles away!!!) Talk about your Forgotten Hits ... when is the last time you heard THIS one on the radio???

Enjoy ... and remember ... the music of Jan And Dean.

Enjoyed the news as always. Did I ever send you my Jan & Dean story -- I wrote it the day I learned of Jan's passing and I wrote it more as a 'tribute' piece to Jan. It's on one of the 'official' J & D sites. Let me know if you have it and, if not, I'll send you a link. I've re-read it several times in recent months and it's still emotional for me -- and I was there:)
I have read somewhere that Dean, Alan Jardine and Dave Marks are appearing in North Myrtle Beach in either May or June. I believe it's a 'free' concert-- probably sponsored by a local merchant's association or Chamber of Commerce. Should be a great show. I believe they combine their bands -- who are ALL super dedicated musicians. Matt Jardine, Alan's oldest son, is a super singer in his own right and toured with the Beach Boys in the late 80's, 90's. He would often sing lead on some of the songs. Nice guy, as is his brother, Adam. Both toured briefly with Alan's "Family and Friends" group, which included Carni and Wendy Wilson, Owen Elliot, Cass' daughter, and my dear friend, Billy Hinche, of "Dino, Desi and Billy' fame. Talk about vocals! There were often seven singers on a number.
At one time they were doing "Add Some Music To Your Day," which Brian now includes in his opening set. A great 'forgotten hit' from 1970. "Sunflower," from which the single was taken, remains one of my all-time BB classic albums. It would have made a fitting follow-up to "Pet Sounds" but coming nearly four years later -- and since the BB's were pretty 'cold' at the time -- and under a new distribution deal with Mo Ostin and Warner-Reprise Records -- radio just never gave the album or single the exposure they deserved.
Among the album's tracks were two of Dennis Wilson's best songs, "Slip On Through" (which kicked off the album) and "Forever," which I believe to be the greatest epitaph to my dear friend and 'brother-in-spirit.' Ironically, this past weekend (early Saturday at 1:30 AM CDT) Turner Classic Movies broadcast "Two Lane Blacktop," which starred James Taylor, Dennis and Warren Oaks. It's become a 'cult' classic over the years.
Have a great week!
Fred Vail
Franklin, TN

Hi Fred!
We ran a link for your VERY moving Jan Berry tribute before but I'm happy to run it again for the benefit of any of our readers who may have missed it the last time around. I had heard that Dean Torrence, Al Jardine and David Marks were doing some shows together last year ... I would LOVE to see all these guys up on one stage. (Even cooler if Wendy and Carnie were participating!!!) But these shows NEVER seem to make it to Chicago for some reason. As you know, "Sunflower" is MY all-time favorite Beach Boys album ... even surpassing "Pet Sounds" in my book. It's too bad "The Boys" had fallen out of favor with both the critics and the fans at this point ... it remains an under-appreciated masterpiece. As for "Two Lane Blacktop", I honestly don't know if I could sit through it again. I remember going to see it when it first came out in theaters and it being just an AWFUL movie experience. I doubt that it's aged any better!!! But since it is making the rounds on the cable channels again, I may have to give it another shot, even if it's just for nostalgia's sake!!! (kk)
Click here: Jan & Dean: Jan Berry Official Website

Kent ...
I have to agree with my friend Fred Vail in respect to Al Jardine.
We played some shows with him and his "All Star Band", and Al was possibly one of the greatest guys I have ever met ... I also saw Al sign over 100 autographs between and after the shows, and I know he loves the fans. Then ... when I recorded his song "Lookin' At Tomorrow" for a Beach Boys tribute CD put out by Endless Summer Quarterly (and eventually our CD, "NOW!"), Al called me at home to tell me how much he liked it. Unfortunately, I wasn't home when he called, but fortunately, my answering machine recorded his message to me ... and I still have that message,transferred from tape to disc.
The Rip Chords Live On Stage (with special guest star Al Jardine) Syracuse, New York
And I must say, Fred Vail is a great guy too!
Here's a photo of Fred and I backstage in Austin Texas ... and us onstage with Al in Syracuse NY. That's Dr. Bob on the left holding a Danelectro Guitar, Richie next to Al, and me playing a Strat (eventually autographed by Al, and now my most prized possession) next to Richie. Also on the stage that day were Matt Jardine, Billy Hinsche, Ed Carter, Bobby Figeroua, Tom Jacob and Richie Canata ... all former Beach Boys touring band members, as well as Jim Fuller and the late Jim Pash of "The Surfaris".
Mitch Schecter / The Rip Chords

Mitch Schecter and Fred Vail, Austin, TX

A few more comments from our readers:

When a music legend leaves us we often find ourselves mourning because of a connection we made with them somewhere along the way. Such was the case for me with Jan Berry of Jan & Dean. I was born in 1965, but there was something so unique and powerful in Jan & Dean music that it captured my attention in the late 1970s when I was watching the made for TV movie, "Deadman's Curve." Within a few weeks time I found myself in record store and picked-up the two-LP Anthology album. This album was more than "a greatest hits package"; it had everything … Sides 1, 2 and 3 were some of Jan & Dean's foot-tapping best. Side 4 was an abridged version of (still) unreleased 'Filet of Soul' album. Jan & Dean had recorded two shows at the Hullabaloo Niteclub, they edited together to be a comedy show with music (not the other way around). So if you own the released 'Filet of Soul' album, guess what? That's not the original LP as envisioned by Jan & Dean; it's Liberty Record's release of material recorded from 'Command Performance' and the music parts from Hullabaloo. Dean Torrence has the masters with all the comedy.
Whether it was the humor, doo-wop, folk, extra-syrupy ballads, surfing music, skateboards … It didn't matter, it was all great. March 26 marked the fifth year since Jan's passing, and 2009 is the 50th year anniversary of Jan & Dean. There are those who say that Jan & Dean are vastly overlooked, I say there are crazy. There isn't a moment in my life that I don't think about Jan Berry and his unmistakable studio presence, and I simply don't buy into the "overlooked legacy" stuff. If you're a Jan & Dean fan you know what they mean to you. If you're not, then cruise on over to:, page down. There's a great DVD I put together with Dean at his house. Watch the promo trailers (there's two). It's an incredibly insightful interview. In the meantime, put on Jan Berry's pet project, 'Pop Symphony,' then play the singles collection from Collector's Choice, then listen to the team's best LP, 'Drag City.'
In Music-
David M Beard / Endless Summer Quarterly

To the casual fan, Jan Berry rode Brian Wilson's and the Beach Boys' coattails. To the average fan, Jan & Dean's (Jan Berry and Dean Torrence) career began with Surf City; a gift from Brian, at that. To the typical oldies listener, Jan co-wrote a few surf and street songs that became hits only because they pounced on the wave created by the Beach Boys. If that was the extent of Jan's accomplishments, even then, Jan Berry has a special place in the history of 60's rock and roll. But the legacy of Jan Berry is so much more:
He rode the top 40 charts while pursuing a medical degree; he was one intelligent (and probably workaholic) guy
Jan & Dean's pre-Surf City hits were as lasting as just about any of that era (Heart and Soul, Linda, Jennie Lee)
Brian Wilson has credited Jan's studio production style as having a strong influence on him
Jan (and Dean, as well) recognized the power of humor in music; their Batman album should be considered a classic! Their rejected Filet of Sole would have set the standard for rock music-pop humor.
Though he was a dictator in the studio, Jan successfully teamed with some of the best West Coast writers and studio musicians and vocalists of that day (Brian Wilson, P.F. Sloan, Roger Christian, Hal Blaine)
Jan could see around corners; as surf music waned, he produced new songs with a folk feel (Folk City album), a serious romantic tone (You Really Know How to Hurt a Guy), a pop symphony version of their hits, and a live concert performance No wonder Jan & Dean were chosen to sing the teenage anthem, hailing the arrival of rock and roll into the mainstream of American culture. Forty five years later, it still rings loud and clear: Here they come from all over the world ... You better go spread the word!

Phil Miglioratti /

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Floating ... And Bloating ... Through The Weekend

OK, we CAN'T talk about The Floaters' smash hit "Float On" ... and the Cheech And Chong parody "Bloat On" ... and then NOT feature these tunes!!!

Today we give you a taste of where soul music was at, circa 1977. (Actually, this was kind of an "old school" sound for this era, which was now heavily entrenched in disco!!!)

Virgo ... and my name is KK. Take my hand ... and come with me down Forgotten Hits Memory Lane.

(What's your sign, baby?!?!?)

OK, OK ... I get it!!!