Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Forgotten Hits Musical History Lesson ... And Sharing Some New-Found Respect For Cher

Got an interesting letter from one of our readers the other day that REALLY provided some food for thought this past week ... along with a WHOLE new level of respect and appreciation for the phenomena known as Cher.

For the complete lowdown on today's Forgotten Hits Music History Lesson, read on!

Hey Kent,
I was wondering if Cher had ever done a Christmas album? I certainly remember her singing Christmas songs on the old TV shows (which Paul Schafer on Letterman enjoys mocking once a year) but I don't recall her doing a Christmas record, aside from being a background singer on the Fantastic - Phil Spector Christmas album, my personal all-time favorite Christmas album!!

By the way, speaking of Cher, if one of her songs on the new "Burlesque" soundtrack becomes a hit, will that set some sort of record for having a hit in so many consecutive decades!!?
Orange, CT

I don't know of a specific album that Cher (or Sonny and Cher for that matter) ever recorded for Christmas. As you mentioned, they certainly performed holiday songs on their old CBS television series ... but I'm not aware of any special release done specifically for Christmas Maybe some of our readers can correct us if this is not accurate information.

We saw "Burlesque" opening weekend ... pretty much everything I figured it'd be ... let's face it, you don't go to a movie like that expecting a great storyline ... the hope is that the song material will be strong enough to carry the film ... and I believe it was. There aren't many singers out there who can belt out the range of styles that Christina Aguilera can ... and she more than made up for her lack of acting skills with one great vocal performance after another.

Cher sang TWO songs in the movie ("Welcome To Burlesque" and the appropriately titled "You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me"). She sounded in fine voice ... but was painful to watch ... so much facial plastic surgery has made it nearly impossible for Cher to emit ANY sense of passion or emotion ... she can barely move her mouth (which now contains two JUMBO-sized lips that would make even Mick Jagger envious!) Honestly, it's almost freakish ... as unnatural looking as anything I've ever seen. (I cannot help but wonder if she honestly believes in her own heart that this is an improvement of some sort ... truthfully, she looks like one of her own worst drag queen impersonators!)

But the girl can sing ... always could ... and she sounds fine in this film as well. A hit from "Burlesque" would give her Top Ten Hits in the '60's ("Bang Bang" and "You Better Sit Down Kids" as a solo artist, plus four more as one half of Sonny and Cher), the '70's ("Gypsys, Tramps And Thieves", "The Way Of Love" personal favorite ... , "Half Breed", "Dark Lady" and "Take Me Home" ... plus two more with Sonny and Cher), the '80's ("I Found Someone", "After All" ... her duet with Peter Cetera of Chicago ... "If I Could Turn Back Time" and "Just Like Jesse James" and the '90's (the chart-topper "Believe".) Cher charted ONCE in the 2000's, reaching #85 with "Song For The Lonely" in 2002 ... so if you mean total chart hits (and Cher scored a hit in the 2010's) that would mean an incredible SIX DECADES of hit music.

Now that's a pretty remarkable and amazing feat for ANY artist ... and I will admit that when first posed with the question, Cher would NOT have been one of the first artists I would have associated with accomplishing such an honor ... proof again, I guess, that she's been with us SO long now, we tend to take her career for granted. All in all, that's a pretty remarkable accomplishment and I, for one, am VERY impressed.

However, you raise a VERY good point ... what OTHER artists have even come CLOSE to this sort of achievement?

Right off the top of my head, I know that Paul McCartney has ALSO placed a record on the charts in each of these decades ... (he, too, is waiting for his first 2010's chart hit) ... Elvis NEARLY did it with charted hits in the '50's, '60's, '70's and '80's ... and a couple of "comeback remixes" in the 2000's ... but he failed to make the pop singles chart during the 1990's so at best he would "tie" for the number of decades ... but he would have a longer "start to finish" reign. Frank Sinatra failed to chart in the '90's so he wouldn't qualify to beat Cher in a "Decades Match".

Anybody else got any thoughts on this one?

Normally I would consult Fred Bronson, who used to write the Chart Beat Column for Billboard Magazine, as he was really proficient at keeping tabs on these types of career records ... but I've lost contact with him over the past few years. (Fred was always REALLY good about getting back to us in Forgotten Hits and, over the years, I offered him a few artist tidbits that eventually found their way into one of his publications ... so it was a really nice working relationship. Fred, if you're out there and you happen to see this, please drop me a note!!!)

Speaking of which, I also dropped a note to Gary Trust who currently helms that Chart Beat post at Billboard, but as of press time, I hadn't heard anything back from him as of yet. (I figure either he doesn't know ... or he's looking it up ... or he's going to use this in his OWN column ... or he's just going to COMPLETELY blow me off!!! lol I mean, what else can it be?!?! That covers pretty much EVERY option!!!)

I also sent emails to Joel Whitburn, Gary Theroux and Randy Price, three of the most knowledgeable chart authorities I know ... I was anxious to see what THEY come back with!) kk

Hi Kent,
For a quick response, I can’t think of anyone else, other than those two that you mentioned. Eddy Arnold might qualify on the Country Singles charts with 7 decades if you count his 12/25/1999 hit with LeAnn Rimes (however it was on the Sales chart and not on the main Singles chart (see my “Top Country Songs 1944-2005” edition). He did chart on the main Country Songs chart on 5/31/2008.
If I come up with anyone else, I’ll let you know.
And then ...
Kent ...
I just thought of two more.
Check these out:
The Isley Brothers (50s - 60s - 70s - 80s - 90s - 00s)
and Michael Jackson (if you count his hits with the Jackson 5) (60s - 70s - 80s - 90s - 00s - 10s).

I think we HAVE to count Michael Jackson ... and he's likely to have a few more chart hits in the 2010's despite the fact that he's gone now ... several more new releases are already planned, drawing from his unreleased archives. (Although, quite honestly, The Jackson Five just BARELY made it ... "I Want You Back" debuted on the charts in mid-November of 1969 ... but that DOES place Michael on the charts in EVERY decade since!)

And a chart hit in the 2010's would leapfrog The Isley Brothers ahead of EVERYBODY ... and it's conceivable that they could do it, too ... especially now that Ron Isley is free to record again! (See the related story below!):
Ron Isley Is A Free Man Making Music Again « WCBS-FM 101.1
Kent ...
You might get away with murder ...
But they'll ALWAYS get you for tax evasion.
Frank B.

I wouldn't have thought of The Isley Brothers on my own ... so, doing a quick check of Joel's list of Top 500 Billboard Artists (as published in his latest "Top Pop Singles" Book), I started the process of elimination based on artists that I thought MIGHT qualify:

The Bee Gees? Neil Diamond? Elton John?
Nope - nope - nope
Chicago? Aretha Franklin? The Rolling Stones?

Amazingly, nope - nope - nope!
How about Bob Dylan? Paul Simon? Gladys Knight?

Sorry, NONE of them made it.
The Beach Boys? Eric Clapton? The Eagles?

None of the above.
Rod Stewart?

(Even cheating and counting his '60's harmonica playing on the Millie Small hit "My Boy Lollipop", Stewart failed to reach the pop singles chart in the 2000's, despite a few successful album releases.)
Frank Sinatra couldn't do it either (although Ol' Blue Eyes DID have chart hits in the '40's, the '50's, the '60's, the '70's and the '80's.)
Diana Ross? Dionne Warwick? Linda Ronstadt? Jefferson Airplane / Starship? Bob Seger? Despite STELLAR careers, NONE of these artists put together a six-decade string of hit records.

While I figured that only a handful of artists had lengthy enough successful careers to qualify, I still wasn't convinced that we had captured them all ...

No one has had more of a roller-coaster career than Cher, who has been up and down more times than the Empire State Building elevator. If the lady Sonny Bono shaped into a star does manage a hit after this year ends, doing so will only mark one more remarkable oddity in the long and ever evolving career of one of pop music's most indestructible icons.
Amazon, by the way, lists a Sonny & Cher Christmas DVD. And Cher recorded "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" with Rosie O'Donnell for Rosie's 1999 Yuletide CD.
So who else charted in multiple decades? Well, here's a few unforgettable folks, each of whom cut tons of hits:
Louis Armstrong played cornet as one of Fletcher Williams' Blue Five on Eva Taylor's "Everybody Loves My Baby," which charted April 4, 1925. His first hit vocal (with May Alix) was "Big Butter and Egg Man," which charted for Louis and his Hot Five on April 9, 1927. Mr. Armstrong thus had hits in the '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s and '60s. His death in 1971 contributed to his skipping the '70s, but there was ol' Satchmo again in 1988 with "What a Wonderful World" (which he'd actually cut in 1966). If Louis had been alive in 1988, he would have been 87 at the time.
Bing Crosby's first hit vocal arrived in June 1927: "Muddy Water," recorded with Paul Whiteman & his Orchestra. Bing therefore scored in the '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s and '60s. (His "Little Drummer Boy" / "Peace on Earth" duet with David Bowie, although recorded in 1977, did not chart.)
Although Frank Sinatra recorded a #1 hit -- "All or Nothing At All" -- with Harry James' orchestra on September 17, 1939, the single did not become a hit (and million-seller) until after it was reissued in 1943. Sinatra's earliest charting hit as a vocalist was in April 1940: "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," recorded with Tommy Dorsey's big band.
As for Perry Como, his hitmaking career also extended back to the '30s. Como recorded a #2 hit on October 5, 1939 -- "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now" with Ted Weems & his Orchestra -- but it did not chart until a movie came out by that title in 1947! Perry's earliest charting hit vocal was "Goody Goodbye," again with Weems' big band, which appeared on January 20, 1940. Como therefore had hits in the '40s, '50s, '60s and '70s.
Who had the longest gap between charted hits? Probably ol' Sugar Throat, George Burns -- who charted (along with his wife, Gracie Allen) with the talking record "Burns & Allen Dialog Parts 1 and 2" in 1933. 47 years later -- in 1980, George returned to both the pop and country charts with "I Wish I Was Eighteen Again." Don't we all.
Say goodnight, Gracie.
-- Gary Theroux
A few more "close but no cigar" candidates here ... but NOBODY that has (or has the potential) to hit a six-decade continuous sweep.

Before you can definitively answer a question like this, you have to define your terms. Do you include an artist (like Paul McCartney) whose hit streak included records as a solo act, as part of duets and as a member of different groups? Or do you limit your scope to those individuals, duos or groups whose hits all featured the same artist billing?

Also, what constitutes a "hit"? Anything that made the pop charts? Or do you include the R&B and Country charts? And: singles only, or singles and albums? Or do you restrict it to just Top 40 pop singles, or Top 10 pop singles?

To me, the greatest accomplishment along these lines is Cher's streak of four consecutive decades with at least one Top 5 pop single in each (the '60s through the '90s). This applies even if you count only her solo releases and don't include those as part of Sonny and Cher. No other act can claim a streak that long of even Top 10 singles, all with the same artist billing.

Even if you extend the chart peak criterion to the Top 40, Frank Sinatra's streak ended in 1969 with "My Way" (his only other Top 40 single was "Theme From New York, New York" in 1980).

If you include all groupings an artist was a part of, as well as his or her solo records, then Paul McCartney does indeed have an impressive streak of 5 consecutive decades with one or more Top 10 records in each (the last being The Beatles' "Free As A Bird" in early 1996).

If you're including all songs that made the Hot 100 at any position, then Stevie Wonder's 2005 appearance at #96 (with "So What The Fuss") gives him a fifth consecutive decade, joining Sinatra, Cher, McCartney and George Harrison ("My Sweet Lord" re-entered the Hot 100 for a week in 2002).

I am not aware of any Christmas albums by Cher alone, although there is a DVD called Sonny & Cher's Christmas Collection, and she has appeared on a few various artists Christmas albums (e.g., A Rosie Christmas and Greatest Christmas Collection on TRX from 2009).
– Randy Price

A few good points here regarding "criteria", always a stickler point here in Forgotten Hits. Cher is unique in that she has achieved HER status as a SOLO artist, releasing hits in every decade under her own "singular" name.
But we'll cut some slack to McCartney and the aforementioned Michael Jackson, too ... let's face it, their group efforts at times eclipsed their solo work. (Too bad "Yesterday" wasn't released as a Paul McCartney SOLO single instead of putting The Beatles' name on the label!)

Unfortunately the recent release of Beatles music to iTunes doesn't earn Macca any new chart cred ... Billboard only charts NEW releases on its Top 100 Singles Chart, so the fact that twenty Beatles reissues would have certainly made the list at any other time, NONE of these recent "hits" will be added to The Beatles' list of accomplishments. (Meanwhile, the Cast of "Glee" earning their 100th chart hit single seems perfectly OK with everybody!!! Easy to do, I guess, if you release six new songs EVERY SINGLE WEEK ... and they only have to chart once!)
But don't feel too bad for Sir Paul ... between the re-release of The Beatles' completely remastered catalog and the interactive "Rock Band" game last year ... the continued success of "Love" in Las Vegas ... the revamping of his solo catalog beginning with the recently released, new-and-improved "Band On The Run" book and CD set ... extended tours these past few years ... and the iTunes coup last month ... I think Mr. McCartney has probably already earned back every single penny ... and more ... that he had to fork over to Heather Mills a couple of years ago!!!

Sticking STRICTLY to Billboard's Top 100 Pop Singles Chart, I missed Stevie Wonder who has, in fact, charted in each decade (at least once) since the 1960's. He, too, would be a viable candidate to chart again in the 2010's.

A bit more research came up with two others that everybody else missed ... but we have to rule out one of these acts on a "technicality".

Fleetwood Mac charted in every decade between the 1960's and the 2000's ... but their only 1960's Pop Singles Chart Hit, "Albatross", "bubbled under" on Billboard's Singles Chart at #104. On January 31, 1970, their single "Oh Well" debuted on Billboard's Pop Singles Chart and eventually rose to #55, becoming their first official Top 100 Hit. Unfortunately, despite an INCREDIBLE career, we've got to rule them out as a six-decade candidate.

But I DID find another artist who can make that claim ...

Santana (first as the band that took his name and then as the solo artist who "sat in" with any variety of "guest" vocalists and musicians) first hit The Pop Singles Chart in 1969 with their instrumental "Jingo", a #56 Hit on The Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart.

The 1970's were VERY good to Santana ... they scored seven Top 40 Hits that decade including standards like "Evil Ways", "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va", a song we watched Laurel and Hardy dance to a couple weeks ago here in Forgotten Hits.

The hits kept right on coming in the 1980's ... "Winning" and "Hold On" both made Billboard's Top 20. Then, in 1999, Carlos Santana had the biggest hit of his career, some THIRTY YEARS after his chart debut, when he teamed up with Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty and topped the charts for TWELVE WEEKS with the rock anthem "Smooth".

The 2000's brought Top Ten Hits like "Maria Maria" (with The Product G&B), "The Game Of Love" (with Michelle Branch) and "Why Don't You And I" (with Alex Band or Chad Kroeger). And Carlos seems perfectly poised to keep the streak going in the 2010's with a virtually unlimited source of ready and willing collaborators to help keep the streak alive!

GREAT question, Eddie ... and you made us ALL work for it to get you an answer ... but hey, today is one of those days where we ALL learned something new in Forgotten Hits ... even our team of acknowledged experts!!!
Thanks, everybody!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Helping Out Our Readers

>>>As for album / single versions: A version of "Smile A Little Smile For Me" by the Flying Machine has, during the instrumental break near the end, the band sing "ba-ba'ba's" instead of the horn solo (or whatever the instrument is!) Would like to find that version. (Ed)
>>>"Smile A Little Smile For Me" is a GREAT example ... radio has been playing the wrong version of that song for YEARS!!! That's because all of the commercially available versions have the singing ending that you're referring to instead of the horns as released on the original single. (We've actually covered this recording once before in Forgotten Hits and, as such, HAVE the correct version to share with you today. Radio would be wise to replace their copies with THIS one ... and play the hit as it was originally intended to be heard!) kk

What you have posted isn't quite the right version either. The organ intro that is on your copy is NOT on the US single ... however, it is on the Canadian single (which, like the US 45, does have the horn towards the end). Supposedly the version with the organ intro and the ba-ba-ba's at the end, is the BRITISH single version (at least that's what I've always heard and had reported as such but no one has turned up the UK single yet for 100% confirmation for me yet) so technically it could be the right version to some people.
To my knowledge the CORRECT US 45 version of Smile A Little Smile For Me is NOT available on cd. The closest available versions either include the organ intro or are missing it but have severe speed issues. As such, I took a cd version that apparently took a vinyl dub of possibly the Canadian single (with the organ intro, and some speed issues) and cut the intro to match the US 45 as closely as possible and adjusted the speed to match the US 45 as closely as possible (though there are some differences still) and I present you the closest sounding recording you'll find to the US 45 without being an actual US 45 dub (though I also did a dub of my 45 and am sending it, too). On one message board, people suspect that the US 45 actually was a dub of another 45 which is why the intro may have been cut off and perhaps the ending faded slightly early, too (and I have replicated that from my mp3 as well). Enjoy.
Tom Diehl

Wow! Seems like an AWFUL lot of trouble to go through for a one-off, moderately successful single!!! Weird to see so many different versions or mixes released in so many different countries! We'll give this NEW (old???) version a spin today and see if anybody realizes the differences!
According to Pat Downey's Book "Top 40 Music On Compact Disc", the ONLY correct U.S. single version is the one that can be found on the CD "25 All-Time Greatest Bubblegum Hits", issued on Varese Sarabande and now long out of print I believe. I don't have that CD but it sounds like that may not really be the correct version either based on what you've just written. (I just checked ... Amazon still has new copies available so it must still be in print.) I have at least three or four other copies of this track on CD but ALL of them have the "ba-ba-ba" ending instead of the trumpets. (kk)
The Varese cd has the intro chopped off just a LITTLE too much and is also sped up wayyyyyyyyy too much to the point that it makes the song six seconds shorter than it should be, which is a lot for a 3 minute song. No cd has what I sent you which is the closest thing you'll find to the actual 45.
As soon as I read Sunday's Forgotten Hits, I checked and found that I had the wrong version of Smile A Little Smile as well. I'll be a while sorting this out.
I should also point out that I was not the Ed who posed the original question. While I always maintained that "Two Ed's are better than one" there are several Ed's corresponding with Forgotten Hits whom it is flattering for me to be confused with, but I wouldn't want to take credit for someone else's writing.
On the subject of dubbing, Tom, you may have opened the next frontier for Forgotten Oldies. If we can't find the version that we remember, we can create our own. For example, I made a dub of Apollo 100's Joy giving me the cold opening that I remember from the radio, rather than the fade-in. I also replaced the spoken intro to R. Kelly's Bump N' Grind, with the instrumental intro that I remember from the radio, by combining the vocal and instrumental versions of the song. Sometimes I cannot find the version I remember, so I try to piece it together.
The Other Ed
Hey, we might have TWENTY Ed's on the list at this point, who knows!!! (lol)
Interestingly, I ONLY remember the "fade in" opening of the Apollo 100 single. The mix I want to find is the one they used to play on WLS for "I Love You" by People ... a COMPLETELY different version than the A-Side of the single ... but according to some research sent into us a year or two ago by Clark Besch, apparently ONLY available on the Promo 45 released to radio stations with a long and short version. Turns out the short version is a completely different mix ... and the ONLY way I hear this song in my head. Clark sent us a "dirty" copy a while ago ... but I want to hear a crystal clear original! (kk)
As for Joy by Apollo 100, I don't think I've ever heard a version with a cold opening, I think my 45 faded in ... I believe most copies of the 45 are stereo but I once had one that had a mono mix on it, and if I'd known it was rarer I would've held onto it. I assume it was just a fold-down of the stereo mix but it still would've been cool to have either way ... whoever got it from me on ebay years ago probably doesn't know what a rare find they got from me. Oh well!
Tom Diehl

Interesting piece about The Flying Machine. But it was one of those initial CD songs (for me), found on a budget CD, by Delta Music, and it sounded fantastic from what I recall it sounding!!! Sadly, for Delta, not a label you can always trust to provide original hits! :)

Well, this short clip you sent sounds pretty good to me ... but, unfortunately, it doesn't cover the areas of the song where the key differences appear to be! Why don't you send me an MP3 of the whole thing and let's check it out!!! (kk)

>>>Here's a real obscure song and band I'd love to know more about. I have a song called "Long Hair Soulful" by (forgive the misspelling) Bhadavad Gita, on the Phillips label. It's a nice slow song, and the flip side is the same backing track with trippy guitars and such. Anyway, one the songwriters was named C. Mangione. I've always been curious is that was Chuck Mangione (apologies for misspelling if it is mispelled) who did the Olympics theme from the 70's. I'm not sure how old the song is - there's no date on the label. (Ed Pond)
Since I sent in the original mp3 (and since you didn't include the link I sent in to you to where Ed could buy the album on cd), I can confirm that indeed Chuck Mangione was a part of the group prior to the hits he had in the 70's (which I could do without ever hearing again as long as I live).
Tom Diehl
Hadn't really thought about the link ... but here it is in case Ed ... or anybody else ... is interested in checking this out. (Neat, too, to see that Chuck Mangione, who was a pretty hot artist there for a while, was part of this earlier band!) kk
Okay, hmm ... apparently the song started out as by Bhagavad-gita backed with an instrumental version (which I couldn't find) and then was issued in an edited form (but in stereo) on an album as by The National Gallery. All of the versions can be found on this cd:
Whoever requested this must be from around Cleveland, where the band was from, because I doubt too many people outside of that area have heard of the record.
You are SO awesome! Tell Tom I'd love to know more about this group and this song.
The single I have is okay to play, but it does have a crack in it that makes a popping noise when I play it. Hope all is well - later!

You just told him yourself! Let's see if he comes back with any more info. (kk)

>>>My mom and dad has always talked about a song that Buddy Holly did called "The Mostest Girl" sometime in the late fifties or early sixties ... said they played it on the Mighty 690 radio station. Any info would be appreciated. They just celebrated their 50th anniversary and I thought this would be a wonderful gift. (Brenda Veal)

Could this be the song he is looking for? It sounds a little like Buddy Holly's style.
I never heard back from Brenda ... who, I imagine, would have to first play it for her parents ... but I think we've nailed it. Thanks! (kk)


The name Bobby Lee Trammell was mentioned today in your comments. Thought you might like to know that for the week of August 27, 1962, his recording of ARKANSAS TWIST on the Alley record label made it to number one in Tulsa on their weekly top 40 radio station. As far as I know and can remember, he had no records that made the weekly survey here in OKC.
P.S. YOU MOSTEST GIRL is one heck of a rocker.
While Bobby Lee Trammell never made the national charts, SOMEBODY must have been playing his music ... how else would you explain a track like "Arkansas Twist" going all the way to #1 in Oklahoma City ... or kids growing up remembering "You Mostest Girl"!!! (kk)

Hey, any idea what the status is of that book that was being written on the Buckinghams? Last you wrote, (I think), there was talk of it coming out late this year. Doesn’t look like that will happen.
Tony Waitekus
Actually, no, I haven't heard any updates on the status of this book ... so I asked Carl Giammarese and Dawn Lee Wakefield (who are writing the book together) for an update that we could share with our readers:
Hi Kent,
Thanks for asking about the book that Carl Giammarese and I are writing regarding his career and the music of The Buckinghams. Progress is great, and we hope to have it published (very) early next year. As you can imagine, some wonderful things have happened recently that have added a few chapters and lots more stories to the book. Many Forgotten Hits readers and contributors will find their names in the index; we’ll keep you posted and appreciate your continued interest in the book.
All the best,
Dawn Lee Wakefield
Please do ... this is one that many of us are looking forward to reading! Thanks, Dawn! (kk)

>>>I read about a song called "The Crazy Otto Rag / Out of the Bushes" by Ludwig Von Kaufman. This is on Fraternity / 1955 ... done by Murray the K before he was a dee jay.Tom Diehl suggested you might help us find it as he couldn't. Thanks in advance. (Stu Weiss)
Kent ...
The recent reference to "Crazy Otto" - could the attached song from the early 50's be the the hit they are looking for? Here's "The Crazy Otto (medley)" by Johnny Maddox on Dot.
John Rook

Believe it or not, I actually remember this one! When I first started seriously building my record collection, I was determined to find EVERY record to make The Top Ten from 1955 - 1980 ... and this one was a #2 Smash back in 1955 at the very dawn of the so-called Rock And Roll Era . (According to Joel Whitburn's "Top Pop Singles" book, it was first released the year before in Germany by Der Schrage Otto.)
And, speaking of Crazy Otto's ... and Joel Whitburn ... and Cleveland, too, for that matter! ... here's another "Helping Out Our Readers" query that we still haven't solved:
>>>This note goes out to all of your readers in CLEVELAND. I’ve always enjoyed collecting unusual novelty records, however, there is one that has eluded me for over 55 years. At the end of 1954 a record titled “Otto The Staggering Drunk” enjoyed a brief stay among the top selling records in Cleveland. I believe that the record was an import on the Polydor label and that the artist was “Crazy Otto”, “Happy Otto”, Der Schrage Otto” or simply “Otto”. I’m offering $150 to the first person that gets me this 45 rpm record. If anyone has a copy or may know of an old Top 40 station in the Cleveland area that may still have a copy, please send me a note at Thanks to any reader in Cleveland who will finally end my 55 year search! (Joel Whitburn)
>>>It appears to me that "Otto, The Staggering Drunk" is the artist credit, not the song, on the 45. I say this because he has had records issued as Crazy Otto, The Oblique Otto (Der schr├Ąge Otto), etc. ... and the song itself may just be called Otto. That said, I sadly don't own the 45 (it would be on Polydor, yes), nor do I know anyone who has even heard of it. Good luck finding it, Joel! (Tom Diehl)
We'll run it up the flagpole one more time and see what comes back ... we've compiled a near-perfect record finding this obscure stuff ... so I haven't thrown in the towel yet! Can anybody out there help Joel Whitburn end is 55+ year search??? (kk)

Dear Kent:
Today, I was doing some exercising and was playing this LP that is a collection of hits of the early 1970s, and there was this song on it called "The Americans: A Canadian's Opinion", and it is a narrative by a man named Gordon Sinclair and was out in 1974.
It was a hit back then and it talks about how America is always getting put down and barfed on by other countries, and despite that they have been super generous with helping other countries out in times of need.
I think that it is and would be relevant today, what with the troubles the country has been going through currently and to remind people about how, in the face of troubles, America still reaches out to help other countries in times of need, such as with Haiti and also spearheads the movements to help others.
It also tells how America is the first to come to the aid and rescue of those in need of help and this is still the truth. It also says that America has been through bad times before, but it manages to survive and will survive and overcome these setbacks.
I think that oldies stations should play the song, if they have it, and if they don't, then they should try and acquire it, as it is still relevant.
Also, my 7th-grade math teacher, Mr. Bodi, once said that his family hails from Finland and they are the only country in the world that has ever paid its war debt to the United States. This only further strengthens my point, and is why I feel that the aforementioned song should be played on the radio again, and to help uplift the American spirit once again and help us realize that we will and shall overcome and still are a good country.
Leonora Jordan
We've featured "Americans" a couple of times now in Forgotten Hits ... it was actually a hit TWICE in 1974 ... Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian, WROTE and recorded this piece and broadcast it on his Toronto radio program in June of 1973. Gordon's version went to #24 on the Billboard Chart in January of 1974.
Byron MacGregor, a news director out of Detroit, recorded HIS version of this piece (backed with an instrumental version of "America The Beautiful" playing softly in the background) and went all the way to #1 in Cash Box Magazine around the same time. (MacGregor's version stopped at #4 in Billboard but CLEARLY was the bigger hit version.)
This is one of those records you'll hear around The 4th of July or Veteran's Day ... and I know a few years ago we sent copies to both Scott Shannon at The True Oldies Channel and Jim Shea at Y103.9 here in Chicago and BOTH of them played it on the air. (I think Wild Bill Cody may have played it, too, around this time.)
It's one of those that we tend to forget about (despite its #1 status) ... yet certainly deserves a spin at least once or twice a year ... or when it can be tied into to newsworthy political event. We'll feature it here today. (kk)

... and, speaking of political tunes ...

Red Skelton's Pledge of Allegiance Put Christ Back Into Schools Causes
Kent ...
Best version of Pledge of Allegiance I've ever heard.
Frank B.
We've covered this one a couple of times now in Forgotten Hits, too ... (typically on The 4th of July) ... but you're right, it's STILL very moving, even after all these years! (I remember watching Red Skelton perform this LIVE on his television program the very first time it aired ... it was literally numbing ... for such a well-known comedian to insert this moment into his show, one of the most popular on television at the time, was truly remarkable. Listen to the audience early on ... they're expecting a punchline that never comes ... and then nothing but absolute silence as the audience ... and the whole world watching ... slowly takes it all in. A truly amazing piece of television by a remarkable comedian. (kk)

Hello KK!
Maybe your readers and DJs and artists might be able to solve a mystery for me ...
My sister has been trying to solve a musical mystery for the last twenty years.
She says that she remembers a song played on WROQ in Charlotte, NC, during the eighties where they predominately used the line "You're a bag of blivet!" She says the group was reminiscent of the sounds of Chelsea recording artists "Jigsaw" who did "Sky High" ... or EMI artists "Pilot" who did "Magic" ... that kinda sound.
So does anyone know what she's talking about? I sure don't! I did however find out what a bag of blivet is. I never get stumped but this has me admitting absolute total defeat.
I'm drawing a blank ... but I'll betcha SOMEBODY on the list knows what song this is. (And by the way, what exactly IS a "bag of blivet"?!?!?) lol (kk)
Howdy KK!
It's "Ten pounds of manure in a five pound bag"!
LOL ... and what employer hasn't asked each and every one of us to do THAT at some point in time?!?!? (lol) Thanks! (kk)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More Of Your Christmas Comments and Requests

More comments than you can shake a stick at ...
(But really ... WHY would you want to shake a stick at Christmas time?!?!?)

During the late fifties / early sixties here in OKC, our local top 40 radio station put out, in addition to their weekly top 40 radio songs, a survey which was composed of some 20 - 25 single Christmas songs with some 10 - 12 albums listed at the bottom. This survey was put out starting with the second week in December and, of course, ending some three to four weeks later.
I am listing some of the obscure or odd songs which made the survey during those years. The traditional songs as we know them today were also on the survey.
They are as follows:

1. Porky's Blue Christmas -- 1958
2. Christmas Dragnet -- Stan Freberg -- 1953
3. The Happy Reindeer -- Dancer, Prancer, and Nervous -- 1959
4. Santa and the Purple People Eater -- Sheb Wooley -- 1958
5. Hallelujah Chorus -- Mormon Tabernacle Choir -- 1959
6. They Shined Up Rudolph's Nose -- Johnny Horton -- 1959
7. This Is Christmas -- Ruby Wright -- 1959
8. Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy -- Buck Owens -- 1965
9. Christmas Carousel -- Peggy Lee -- 1960
10. Old Toy Trains -- Roger Miller -- 1967
11. Donde Esta Santa Claus? -- Augie Rios -- 1958
12. Little Sandy Sleighfoot -- Jimmy Dean -- 1957
13. White Christmas -- Statues -- 1960
14. Nuttin' For Christmas -- Kevin and Corky -- 1959
15. Christmas U.S.A. -- Jimmy Charles -- 1960
(Incidentally, the odds of the above record being remembered by your readers is probably a million to one.)
16. Nine Little Reindeer -- Gene Autry -- 1959

17. Child of God -- Bobby Darin -- 1960
18. Jingle Bells -- Blues Magoos -- 1967
19. The Twelve Gifts of Christmas -- Dorothy Collins -- 1955
20. Rusty Chevrolet -- Da Yoopers -- 1987
21. Santa Claus Junior -- Robert Q. Lewis -- 1958
22. Dear Santa Claus -- Buddy Hackett -- 1957
23. Christmas Tears -- Freddie King -- 1961
24. Shake Me I Rattle -- Marion Worth -- 1962
25. The Happiest Christmas Tree -- Nat King Cole -- 1959
26. Happy Birthday Jesus -- Little Cindy -- 1958
These are just a few some of your readers may or may not remember. My all time favorite is SLEIGH RIDE by the Ronettes (their version from 1963)
Well, I remember quite a few of these (but not all!) Wouldn't it be nice to hear them slip in a few of these every so often, if only to break the monotony of hearing the same old / same old all day long at Christmas time? (kk)

Great run of recent stuff, Kent, particularly the seasonable material!
Here are a few wide-ranging items for your perusal -- three Christmas-related:
#1 - A real day-brightener: You've probably already seen this popular flash-mob Handel's "Messiah" clip:
from what appears to be a shopping center in Welland, Ontario. It's amazing.
Actually, yes ... us and about ten million OTHER people!!! (lol) This one has REALLY caught on ... in fact, we got the link for this from at least a dozen other readers ... but we'll run it again anyway for the benefit of anyone out there who may not have seen it ... or wants to see it again! (kk)
#2 - Also, I was glad to see you feature Simon and Garfunkel's "Seven O'Clock News / Silent Night." Do you recall that the newscaster's voice is that of Charlie O'Donnell, Dick Clark's "Bandstand" sidekick (among his many accomplishments) who recently passed away? No, I was NOT aware of that ... but you'll find another "Silent Night" comment or two a little bit further on down the list! (kk)
#3 - Regarding "Overlooked Christmas Music", I did a list just about a year ago to the day on some of the "old" songs I wish got more airplay -- several with unusual "lineages," including one from a "whorehouse musical," one from a "Nazi plot" film and one by a reggae-influenced German group.
For what it's worth, here's a link to the column --
and an excerpt from it:
With two Twin Cities radio stations already playing Christmas music virtually 24 / 7, you already may be tiring of songs about
a red-nosed reindeer, a lively snowman and even the occasional housebound hippopotamus ...
My eclectic Christmas list includes, among others, a song with whorehouse roots, an upbeat hymn medley by — of all things — a German reggae-influenced group, and a soundtrack song from a 1970s film thriller about an underground neo-Nazi movement.
I’ve got other nominees, too, but here are five seasonal songs that deserve to be heard more in coming days:
5. A traditional holiday song given a nontraditional treatment by Ol’ Blue Eyes. Frank Sinatra jazzes up
“Jingle Bells” for a spell with the swingingest version I’ve ever heard.
4. One from the King. No, not his overplayed “Blue Christmas.” I was thinking of Elvis’ vintage rock ’n’ roll holiday song,
“Santa, Bring My Baby Back (To Me),” featured below with an unusual supporting cast.
3. Dolly Parton’s
“A Hard Candy Christmas” is a poignant “starting over” song that captures the season’s spirit of renewal and new beginnings. The song originally comes from the 1978 Broadway musical “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”
2. Boney M’s combo “Mary’s Boy Child” / ”Oh My Lord.” The international group, which found fame in Germany and much of Europe with its reggae-influenced sound, produced one of the most upbeat, joyful Christmas songs ever, below. It became the No. 1 Christmas song in the United Kingdom in 1978.
You've got a couple of EXCELLENT suggestions on your list ... Dolly Parton's "Hard Candy Christmas" has always been one of my personal favorites ... and the Boney M song kicks butt. (You might hear that one a couple of times during the holiday season ... and maybe even the Harry Belafonte 1956 version, which I also love!) kk
1. Perry Como’s “Christmas Dream.” To my knowledge, this is the only Christmas song in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s voluminous repertoire. The number — complete with a German boys choir — comes from the 1974 Jon Voight-Maximilian Schell film “The Odessa File.” The song’s calming lyrics make quite a contrast with the rest of the thriller film’s German conspiracy plot. A small sample:
Crazy things, said and done,
Every single day but one!
Every night should, I believe,
Be the same as Christmas Eve,
Nights should all be silent,
Days should all slow down,
An end to the hurry,
The noise and the worry!

About three emails after yours, we received ANOTHER one expressing love and affection for Perry Como's "Christmas Dream" ... so we've just GOT to feature that one today!!! (You'll find it below if you scroll down!) kk
Then, in the spirit of ecumenism, I wanted to close with a Hanukkah song.
I was thinking of a lighthearted one from
master satirist Tom Lehrer, a good-natured but “equal-opportunity” offender with his wit. Over the years, he’s tweaked religious groups with such offerings as “National Brotherhood Week” and “The Vatican Rag,” so it was only a matter of time before it would be his fellow Jews’ turn.
Give a listen below as he outlines his holiday plans in the song
“(I’m Spending) Hanukkah in Santa Monica.”
-- Lastly, I'm already sick of winter, and it hasn't even officially "arrived" yet -- Minnesota wind chills of 10 below and more early snow than we need.
So, how about welcoming winter when it does arrive on Tuesday, December 21st, with an upbeat winter song? I was thinking of a real "forgotten 45" -- Connie Francis' "I'm Gonna Be Warm This Winter" -- a sentiment I hope to put into practice.
Here's a YouTube clip:
I'm sure there are others, too.
Ironically, this was just one of OUR recent oldies suggestions, too ... and why not ... a bona fide Top 20 Hit ... and 'tis the season! (Connie had ANOTHER Top 20 Winter Hit a few years later when "Blue Winter" went to #16 in Cash Box Magazine. I also suggested Tommy Roe's "It's Now Winters' Day", a song we've featured several times now in Forgotten Hits.)
Hope you and your family have happy holidays, Kent -- and thanks for all the musical treats and fascinating information you provide all year long.
Don Effenberger

Thanks, Don ... Merry Christmas to ALL our Forgotten Hits Readers out there ... friends and families ... and music-lovers worldwide. Have a GREAT holiday season! (Hopefully we've been able to bring a little joy of music to you with this very special Holiday Music Feature!) kk

Kent -
I must confess, I'm something of a Scrooge when it comes to holiday songs, especially when they start playing them before Thanksgiving.
That said -- here is a very short list (VERY short!!!) of my all-time favorites:
1) Snoopy's Christmas by The Royal Guardsmen
2) anything by Vince Guaraldi from the 1965 special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, which is, arguably, the best holiday TV special EVER. Nothing soothes my nerves like Guaraldi's jazz-pop.
3) Bob & Doug (already discussed on there)
4) There's another version of "12 Days of Christmas" - a much older parody I've heard Carol Burnett do on her show but I don't know if she originated it or not, it has lines like "there were six geese a-laying! All over my front porch!"
5) The Chipmunk Song by David Seville aka Ross Bagdasarian This is very dear to my heart. It's probably the best and most tastefully arranged of all the original Chipmunk recordings (not counting the stuff he did before he created "the group" such as The Witch Doctor and The Bird On My Head)
and 6) (Does anyone ever play this anymore??!!) I Still Believe in Santa Claus, by a very young Michael Jackson. Gorgeous tune.
Everyone enjoy your holidays and may 2011 bring you peace and happiness.
-- Bob Rashkow
In 52 years, I've never gotten tired of "The Chipmunk Song" ... but only hearing it for a few weeks out of the year probably has something to do with that! (lol) I've been hearing the Vince Guaraldi / Charlie Brown Christmas Music quite a bit this holiday season ... much, much more than in years past ... and we JUST featured The Royal Guardsmen's "Snoopy's Christmas" the other day ... both the ORIGINAL version from 1968 as well as their brand new remake. Another "Twelve Days Of Christmas" parody that did quite well was Allan Sherman's "The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas", featured here today ... 'cause you're probably NOT going to hear THIS one on the radio either! (kk)

Hi, Kent.
Regarding Simon & Garfunkel's "Seven O'Clock News / Silent Night," I have aired that as part of my Christmas programming for years -- but not quite the way the duo intended. As you know, the "Seven O'Clock News" part is now a highly dated spoken word performance laid over Paul & Art's very moving rendition of "Silent Night." However, the two recordings are actually wholly on separate stereo channels. What we've done is lifted only the "Silent Night" channel, duplicated it to fill both channels and then broadcast that. The result: timeless Simon & Garfunkel Yuletide magic.
Gary Theroux
Even though the newscast is dated, I've always enjoyed hearing it ... it's such a great reflection on the turbulent times that WAS the '60's. (Being from Chicago and greatly impacted by the whole Richard Speck / Student Nurses story, that little blurb really drove it home for me.) But I was quite intrigued by your suggestion, so I asked Forgotten Hits Mix-Master Guru Tom Diehl if he could make a recording of this for us to share. (He's got ALL the cool toys!!!) If you listen closely, you can still hear a little bit of "bleed through" from the newscast ... but overall, Gary's right ... this is one of the most beautiful vocal performances this legendary duo has ever done. Here you go! (kk)

Being a resident of Bloomington, IL, between 1966 and 1973, I, too, was affected by Richard Speck's murder of those nurses upstate and the other headlines mentioned in the track's fake newscast. However, an noted, those news stories are all ancient history now -- while "Silent Night" remains timeless.
The first time I ever broadcast Simon & Garfunkel's "Silent Night" without the newscast overlay was over the 1971 Christmas season on WGLT, the campus radio station at Illinois State University. That was a highly memorable time for me, highlighted by a couple of things. One was discovering about a dozen strolling student carolers outside Cook Hall, the building we were broadcasting from, one moonlit night as the soft, fluffy snowflakes cascaded from the heavens. As our studio was on the third floor, we hooked a bunch of cables together and lowered a microphone down to them so they could harmonize live on the air -- which they did -- for about 15 minutes. When was the last time you heard anything like THAT on the air? (I managed to capture it all on tape and, 20 years later, rebroadcast it on New York radio.) The other memorable event for me was discovering that after two months of dating, I was falling in love with my girlfriend, Gayle Cobb. Attached: she and I on our way to the 1971 ISU Christmas dance.

-- Gary Theroux
For me, the COOLEST thing about doing Forgotten Hits is hitting on that special nerve that triggers a memory you may not have thought about for years. Thank you for sharing yours with our readers. (kk)

Hi Kent
I really enjoyed your great Christmas addition of Sunday's Comments.

I would like to add my favorite Christmas song off all time.
My favorite Christmas song was featured in one of my all time favorite movies. "The Odessa File" . At the beginning of the movie the song" Christmas Dream" by Perry Como is playing on the radio as the movie's main character Peter Miller is driving though downtown Hamburg, West Germany. The Christmas music on the car radio is interrupted to report the death of American President John F. Kennedy. Great movie, great Frederick Forsyth novel and a fantastic overlooked Christmas song.
I must also comment on another great Christmas song, "We Need A Little Christmas".
In your newsletter, Gary Theroux lists this song on "The Greatest All Time Hits Of Christmas. This song is #11 on CD #1. The song is credited to the motion picture "Annie" but, in fact, is from the Jerry Herman Broadway musical "Mame", and was first performed by the great Angela Lansbury. This is an easy oversight, but being one of my favorite all time Christmas songs, I felt we should set the record straight.
May You and Yours have a Merry / Happy and safe Holiday Season.

With THIS much love for the Perry Como tune, we just HAD to feature it today.

We received a couple of comments about the origins of "We Need A Little Christmas" ... it is, indeed, from the Broadway Musical "Mame" and NOT "Annie" as previously reported ... so, on behalf of Gary Theroux, we stand corrected. (kk)

... and, speaking of movies ... and Christmas ...

I love your picks for Christmas movies. Danny Kaye was one of my most favorite actors. And yes you are correct about the tiny waist on Vera Allen. I saw Love Actually in the theater when it came out and fell in love with it as well. I own the movie and the soundtrack. Good picks and what a nice tradition for your family to have.


How about If I Get Home On Christmas Day by Elvis?
This is a nice Christmas song to remind us of our brave military who are serving worldwide. Too bad this was never a single.

Elvis cut some GREAT Christmas tunes over the years ... some of my favorites include "Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me" and "If Every Day Was Like Christmas", "Santa Claus Is Back In Town", "Merry Christmas Baby" and, of course, "Blue Christmas". Actually, I don't think he ever really cut a BAD Christmas song ... this music meant a lot to him. (kk)
Speaking of Elvis and his Christmas album, did you catch this exchange from a few weeks back between Forgotten Hits and Ron Smith of
??? Regarding the banning of Elvis Presley from the airwaves on Chicago's own WCFL, Ron said:

I always assumed that the station bosses told any music announcers working for them not to play Elvis. The edict would have kept the jocks from playing Elvis' newly-released Christmas album,which many stations found blasphemous (bandleader Sammy Kaye said that it, “borders on the sacrilegious. Presley has gone too far this time”). A DJ in Portland, Oregon was fired for playing three cuts -- "White Christmas," "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" and "Silent Night"! Dick Whittinghill in Los Angeles wouldn't play the album because he said, it would be "like having [stripper] Tempest Storm give Christmas gifts to my children."

Elvis had played the International Ampitheatre eight months earlier and it wouldn't surprise me if the Chicago Federal of Labor- Industrial Union Council -- owners of the station -- had decided to make hay by getting moralistic and banning the King altogether. Of course, if anyone had actually listened to the album they would have heard perfectly respectful versions of the gospel tunes "Peace In The Valley," "It Is No Secret What God Can Do" and "Take My Hand Precious Lord."

Of all the stations in town who could have banned Elvis, it's true that WCFL hurt him probably the least. I'm sure the Colonel laughed about it all the way to the bank. And when Elvis was drafted by the Army a few months later and served his country overseas, everything blew over.

And, just to show you how far we've come -- London's Daily Mail newspaper will include a free CD of 15 of Elvis' Christmas tunes in next Sunday's paper:

-- Ron Smith

>>>I hadn't heard "Driving Home For Christmas" until this past week ... but it's already received over three million YouTube views so I guess I'm pretty late to the party! Great track, though ... listening to it again as I'm typing this! (In fact, they just played it AGAIN on the Comcast Holiday Music Channel, too! Yep, I like this one!) kk
Comcast (cable TV subscriber) offers a variety of music channels. The lowest decade of music offered is the '70's. Everything else is classified as "Oldies" on one channel, little '50's it seems. This is what Music Choice, via Comcast, offers. Even Music choice mentions what CD the song is from. But it's difficult for me to believe any (commercial) radio station can survive playing pre '70's music exclusively without heavy financial support. I'd be shocked to find one as HD Radio. The demand isn't there; I've watched too many fail. Most of what I hear on (NJ and surrounding) radio is 2-3 hour specialty shows, nothing continuous for pre '70's music. And most of what I can make of it is songs I don't even recognize, and I thought I had a good handle on Top 40. Maybe one too many internet radio shows caused '50's - '60's music a premature death. Personally, I enjoy a variety of music, but one too many obscure songs bores me.
P.S. Your blog states the '60's; you ever going to change that?

I don't think Internet Radio killed the '50's and '60's ... in many cases, it's the best (and sometimes ONLY) place to hear it! I truly believe there's room out there for ALL of this music ... we just can't seem to find anybody willing to give it an honest shot.
As for the website(s), they probably both need some updating ... but I barely have the time to post NEW stuff, let alone fix OLD stuff. For the first eight or nine years, the Forgotten Hits Newsletter went out via my screen name The60sShop. I finally "retired" that name a few years ago because some on the list found it "confusing" ... wanting to know why "Forgotten Hits" wasn't simply coming out as "Forgotten Hits" ... so we started the websites under the Forgotten Hits name and it's been that way ever since.
As you can see, we cover the full gamut here ... '50's, '60's, '70's, '80's ... and now even BRAND NEW Christmas Music, in some cases even before RADIO plays it!!! (See John, we've become a force to be reckoned with!!! lol) kk

Hi to all my friends in the Oldies community ...
My "Santa's Stuck Up In The Chimney" You Tube video has now crossed the 200,000 views mark. This season it's been getting over 2,000 hits a day.
The popularity of the video keeps me believing in the magic of the season.
Hey - you never know!
Paul Evans
PS Dee Jays ... Need an air-worthy Mp3 of the track? Just ask!
Great news, Paul! Seems like radio should have picked up on this one by now ... although I know a few of the jocks on the list have been playing it! (kk)

Scott Shannon played it today.
Atlanta recently dropped The True Oldies Channel and opted for yet another 'classic rock' station. Like we don't already have a gracious plenty and not one is worth listening to. The fans of the TOC and Scott Shannon are completely undone. I pray that Scott finds a way to get back on the air in Atlanta. We're all so miserable without our daily TOC / Michael Scott Shannon fix.
I have listened at work this week although we are not supposed to. I fiercely miss listening in my car, too. The only other options for listening are way beyond anything I can afford so if I get busted for listening at work - I'll go through withdrawals AGAIN and it is not a pretty sight!
I do enjoy your website and Scott Shannon mentions you frequently. I'm sure I subscribed to your page because I heard it on the TOC.
Take good care and Merry Christmas.
Nancy in Atlanta

We've heard from a number of jocks who've been playing selections from our Christmas List on the air since we kicked off The Forgotten Hits Twelve Days Of Christmas (wrapping up next week). But getting Scott Shannon to play a few is a MAJOR feather in our caps as he beams out to nearly 100 radio stations all over the country. GREAT to see some of this brand new music getting a chance to be heard. Thanks again to all of the artists who have made Forgotten Hits THE place to launch their brand new holiday offerings ... WE LOVE IT!!! (kk)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Some Of Your Recent Christmas Comments, Questions And Suggestions

The Christmas Mail has been pouring in ... and we'll get to as much of it as we can before our Twelve Days Of Christmas expires here in Forgotten Hits.

Here are just some of the goodies that we've received in the past few days:

Hi Kent,

Wow! I was surprised by all the humbuggers out there. I'm a Christmas fanatic. I watch all the sappy Hallmark movies and even buy a few of them. I love the music. I own gigs of it and buy new stuff each year. I do find that though new stuff gets recorded each year, most of it is not great. Some is OK, but I haven't heard a new classic this year yet. Favorite Christmas albums in the not so recent past are the James Taylor Christmas disc, and the Chuck Negron album. As far as the top 20 list goes, I drag them out and play them but not as much as others. Radio can even ruin a great Christmas tune.
Yes, it can ... which is why we keep suggesting mixing it up a bit ... sure, there are certain favorites we want and expect to hear each holiday season, but you don't have to beat it into our brains the way you do.
(By the way, I heard Burl Ives' "Holly Jolly Christmas" two more times today ... and I was only in the car for 45 minutes this time! Great tune ... but why not play the brand new America version one of those times ... they're a PROVEN oldies artist that still fits your format ... and helps to mix things up a little bit!)
Truth is, there are PLENTY of great new tracks that deserve a shot.

(Here's an idea ... if you're an oldies station, how about doing a twin spin here and there ... what a GREAT excuse to feature something you might not otherwise feature! Spin "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" by Brenda Lee and then follow it up with "Break It To Me Gently" ... play "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" by Andy Williams and then come back with "The Hawaiian Wedding Song" ... run ANY one of the Johnny Mathis Christmas songs you're going to play anyway, but THIS time play it back to back with one of Johnny's Top Ten Hits like "It's Not For Me To Say" or "Wonderful! Wonderful!" ... or even "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late", a #1 Smash Duet he cut with Deniece Williams in 1978 ... when's the last time you heard THAT song on the radio??? And it was a #1 Hit!!!) This holiday season provides you with SO many GREAT opportunities to feature a surprise here and there and actually mean " ... where you never know what you're going to hear next" for a change!!! Wouldn't "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" sound great running right into "Imagine"? "Feliz Navidad" into "Light My Fire"? Or how about ... (insert your OWN favorite here!) Give it a shot ... you just might be surprised by the results! (Creative Programming 101) kk

Great stuff so far! I love it!

Personally, I don't mind all the Xmas music that gets played. I enjoy it, even when it's played to overkill. "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" still makes me smile. "Last Christmas" by WHAM! is also a favorite of mine. "Step Into Christmas" by Elton John, also - very Phil Spector-ish production. What do you think ol' Phil will be doing in prison for the Hollyday Season? Maybe teasing up his hair again so the other inmates can hang ornaments on him?
Happee Ho-Ho-Ho! Later.
Ed Pond

Hi Kent,
This is a Detroit favorite and don't know if you have heard it in Chicago or other states. It's a real toe tapper and gets me in the Christmas spirit every year. Karen Newman is a local but she can really sing. She's done numerous commercials and she is best known for being "the voice" of the
National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings, regularly performing the national anthem before the team's home games at Joe Louis Arena.
"Christmas Eve on Woodward Avenue"

Hi Kent -
Some other good Christmas Tunes:
Phil Spector Christmas Album circa 1963 (All good songs)
Run Run Rudolph (Original by Chuck Berry, but I think there's a better version by Dave Edmunds)

Yep, the Phil Spector Christmas Album is CLEARLY a list favorite ... it's come up SEVERAL times already.

I find it interesting how many people prefer the cover versions of Chuck Berry's songs to the originals ... I've heard the same thing about Buddy Holly's tunes ... which I just KNOW is going to get me ALL kinds of hate mail again this week! (lol) kk

Kent -
Thanks for the heads-up on Santa's Bag. I've heard it before but had not been able to find it.
Best place to get it is on the "It's About Christmas Volume II" CD we told you about the other day ... you'll find all the ordering information you need right here: It's a great track ... and it's also my brand new favorite so far for this year! (kk)

Wow, I really like "Santa's Bag" ... and you're right, it definitely has a Beach Boys feel to it. I think this could be the next big Christmas hit ... if radio will only give it a shot.

lol ... I had a good laugh seeing my xmas radio comments on forgotten hits ...the guy that wrote that has 'problems' ... it doesn't look as crazy on RIP Renfield ... by the way, I did find a solution to radio choices ... I put 40 or 50 xmas songs of MY choosing on my mp3 player, eliminating the over-played and multiple versions of the same song ... about the wildest I get is George Strait singing Frosty, the Snowman. So far, so good ... (and I can always skip one when I've had enough).

Another great Christmas edition, Kent!
Chris Rea ... wow! Talk about Forgotten Hits!
Not just Driving Home For Christmas, but other songs of his not in the over played Top 200! He's always been on MY playlist.
Love Fool (If You Think It's Over), then there was On the Beach and If You Were Me with Elton John ... so many great songs from yet another talented artist often passed over by traditional radio. My favorite track, probably heard rarely, if ever, on the air is Julia. Have to turn the volume way up and grab either drumsticks or a dance partner when I hear this one!
I'm listening to Chris Rea right now and forgot to mention the killer bonus track "Three Little Green Candles" on the "Best of Chris Rea" album ... amazing guitar instrumental! You never hear this on the radio either! BTW it's not even listed on the outside package. If you haven't read the liner notes where it was added at the last minute, you're completely surprised as you think you've heard the last track, then suddenly there's MORE!
One of the things I love about Forgotten Hits is that every once in a while we hit on a topic or an artist that makes you guys dig out an old CD, album or 45 and listen to it again, inspired simply by something that we've covered. That's the power of music!
I hadn't heard "Driving Home For Christmas" until this past week ... but it's already received over three million YouTube views so I guess I'm pretty late to the party! Great track, though ... listening to it again as I'm typing this! (In fact, they just played it AGAIN on the Comcast Holiday Music Channel, too! Yep, I like this one!) kk

YouTube - BOBBY DARIN ~ Christmas Auld Lang Syne ~.wmv
Kent ...
This is my favorite Christmas Song. What's Yours ?
This is not a reminder to re-run your Bobby Darin Special. I know you're too busy with Christmas. But I'm warning you it might show up as one of your New Year's Resolutions.
Frank B.
Bobby's 1960 Christmas single got enough airplay to chart BOTH sides ... "Christmas Auld Lang Syne" went to #50 and "Child Of God" reached #95. There's another great holiday twin spin for you ... if not both sides of the record, then how about "Christmas Auld Lang Syne" going right into "Mack The Knife"? Those two would sound GREAT together and show a much deeper profile of the artist than is typically acknowledged on the radio today. Or, how about a twin spin featuring one of the great loves of Bobby's life ... Connie Francis' hit "Baby's First Christmas" (a #26 pop hit in 1961) spun right into the A-Side of that record "When The Boy In Your Arms (Is The Boy In Your Heart)", a #8 smash that probably hasn't been played on the radio in 40 years!!! (Connie also scored a 1964 hit with "Blue Winter", a #16 Hit ... it doesn't HAVE to be a Christmas song to qualify ... wouldn't Connie's "Blue Winter" sound great running into Tommy Roe's big hit "It's Now Winters Day"???) Be creative! Give it some thought and I'll bet you can come up with a dozen more that not only push the envelope a little bit but also fall into the whole "Songs of the Season" profile. (kk)

This is a great Christmas song for Paul Anka fans ... "It's Christmas Everywhere"

Now THERE's an oldie but moldy for you! The title track from Anka's 1960 Christmas album ... yet it charted as the B-Side to his version of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer", which "bubbled under" in Billboard but went all the way to #54 in Cash Box Magazine that year! (kk)

I will admit to being old-fashioned and I will admit to having a love of Doo-Wop, but for the life of me I cannot understand how or why the Drifters' classic version of White Christmas does not seem to appear on your lists. That a Nat King Cole's Christmas Song may be two of the greatest Christmas songs ever. I appreciate the fact that political correctness has not penetrated Forgotten Hits because the Holiday is Christmas and all religions can celebrate it with us if they so desire. SO Merry Christmas everyone!

PS Send In The Calvary (off Dr Demento's Holidays In Demetia Christmas Album) is also a favorite of mine.

Have a prosperous New Year

Sweet Dreams

Charlie Fraser

What you're referring to as "our lists" aren't really OUR lists ... that list is an actual tally based on radio airplay over the past nine years. Truthfully, I, too, was appalled that The Drifters' version of "White Christmas" didn't make either list ... which is why I featured it on the website via the video link ... a great version and a very novel (noel?) way to present it. (kk)

Click here: YouTube - White Christmas


Thanks for the post and review of my Christmas album.

Merry This and Happy That to you!

Davie Allan

Dear FH -
When I think about Christmas Turkeys, “Christmas Time Is Here Again” by the Beatles comes to mind. When you hear the first verse, it is kind of cute. By the time you get to the 50th verse (“same as the first”) you start fantasizing about shooting reindeer. Well at least I do.
Happy Festivus.
Dave Frey
The Villages, FL
The "music only" mix that came out in conjunction with The Beatles' Anthology CD's is, indeed, quite redundant. But as originally issued (as part of their 1969 Fan Club Only Christmas Record), it made for a pretty catchy interlude to all the other goofiness that was going on. Because I'd been familiar with it for so many years, I guess I was just used to it by the time the Anthology CD Single came out ... but I, too, thought it was just a TAD monotonous!!! (No question that McCartney can ALWAYS come up with a "stick-in-your-head 'til it drives you insane" melody 'tho!!!) kk

Hey Kent,

Long time no communicate, but I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you that I'm lovin' the "Christmas Turkeys"!
Alan O'Day

Kent ,
The menopause song you posted is not the one I was talking about. Your pick was pretty awful. Mine pick is kind of cute. Once again it is by Cahal Dunne. He's Irish and it is a parody of Here comes Santa Claus.
Anybody out there got access to a copy of this one? We've been looking and asking around ... and actually found it listed for sale on ... but if somebody has a copy in their private collection, we'd sure love to hear it! (I even hit up Dr. Demento again, thinking that HE might have a copy to share with us!)
Thanks! (kk)

Well, at least SOMEBODY liked the one we posted!

Hey Kent,

I got a good laugh from that Menopause Christmas song you sent out.

I had forgotten about the guy that did that song. John Valby aka Dr. Dirt, used to play the clubs around CT. 3-4 times a year throughout the 70's. A friend of mine was a club DJ back then so we saw him many times and I can tell you that he would pack every club he played and the crowd, especially the ladies would absolutely roar with laughter. The cruder and more x-rated he got, the more the crowd loved it. By the way, the guy was a pretty darn good piano player also, lots of fun FOR ADULTS ONLY, LOL!!!



Orange, CT

Loving the Christmas countdown!
David Lewis

>>>A song that I have played every Xmas for the last 25 years on the air is a song called "I Found The Brains of Santa Claus", I'm not sure who did it. I have it on a DAT Tape only, but over the years, I think I've had more requests for that one song than any other. ("Wild" Bill Cody)

>>>Well, I've never heard it before ... but we can generally find JUST about anything ... and Tom Diehl came up with this tune as recorded by Jason and the Strap-Tones. Not sure if this is the one you aired on your program ... but I've gotta believe it captures the mood and spirit of the song ... in a "Now that's sick and depressing" sort of way! (lol) Here you go! (kk)
You found it!
Isn't that a killer tune? I swear, if you listen to it about 3 or 4 times you won't be able to get it out of your head, you'll be humming it all day.
A favor please ... could you possibly send me an mp3 of this?
Thank you so much KK and Happy Holidays.
Hey gang:
Forgotten Hits is a great Oldies newsletter and blog and I recently wrote in about my all time favorite Xmas Song ... it's by Jason and the Strap-Tones, a little ditty called "I Found The Brains of Santa Claus". I've played this on B96 Chicago, WYGY Cincinnati, KFRC SFran, KRXY (Y108) Denver, KWNZ Reno and the list goes on.
Anyway, put away Bing Crosby's "White Xmas" and all your other yuletide favorites ... I guarantee, if you listen to this tune 3 or 4 times it will run through your head for days!
Enjoy and Happy Holidays,
"Wild" Bill Cody
The MP3 is on its way ... not sure how many other folks out there will call this one their "all time favorite Christmas song" ... but hey, different strokes for different folks. (Who said that anyway?!?!? Sly and the Family Stone ... or Gary Coleman?!?!?) Enjoy! (kk)

Hey Kent,
Thanks for the nice plug you gave Santa's Comin' Here! As a result of your positive comments we received a number of new hits on the YouTube site. I really appreciate your support of not just the oldies, but new music as well!
Thanks again and have a great weekend!
Dick Eastman
Glad to do it. It's a GREAT song that deserves to be heard. The GOOD news is that some of the jocks on the list have been featuring our Christmas "specials" during the course of this series ... so somebody WILL play this on the radio and folks will get the chance to hear it! (kk)

Well Kent, for the record: I played the Youngsters' "Xmas in Jail" every year since forever, plus cowboy Xmas songs, "Uncle Johnny's Glass Eye" by Dr. Elmo, plenty of Dean Martin, Rosemary Clooney, Gayla Peevey, B-sides to famous 45s on the theory that kids who bought them listened to BOTH sides, all those great "Santa in Outer Space" tunes from the late 50s, "Hang up your Stocking" by the Chipmunks, Andrews Sisters up the Yuletide Ying Yang, and on and on ... those days are over, but what the hey? Oh yeah, lots of Louis Armstrong too ... and Louis Prima while I'm thinking of it ... and "Father Xmas" by the Kinks.

BTW, one thing I learned in 36 years of radio is that even the most common songs to "us" can be long-forgotten by listeners, and when helping them remember, I never let on I was amazed they'd forgotten ... and every once in a while I discovered something I should have known about for 40 years, but it somehow escaped my attention ... there's just so much, everybody can't have heard it all!

-- stolf

Exactly! Which is why slipping in a "brand new surprise" or two a few times each holiday season is such a great idea ... NOBODY can keep up with it all ... but it provides an opportunity for EVERYBODY to discover something fresh and new. (Just thought of another recent "modern day classic" ... radio jumped on The Barenaked Ladies' version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" a few years back and it's now become the "accepted" version of this tune ... which is pretty surprising considering that radio ignored the largest portion of their "regular" output! Great version 'tho ... and I'll admit to it being MY favorite version, too! (kk)

Thank you, I appreciate the promo, it certainly helps. You have a great site ... very informative ... and everyone I talk to loves it.
The Buckinghams appeared at the Potowatomi Casino December 9th, 10th and 11th and will be appearing at the Beverly Arts Center for a Christmas show on the 18th. And yes, I am happy to say there will be a 2011 Happy Together Tour!
I just want to say thank you again to Forgotten Hits. We appreciate all the mentions and write ups you gave the tour throughout this past summer. I know our fans visit your site regularly and enjoy how informative and accurate it is.
We definitely had a winning combination of talented artists on the bill and The Buckinghams were proud to be a part of it. It all made for a great summer, and there are so many cities we didn't have a chance to perform in ... so we are really looking forward to doing it again in 2011!
Have a wonderful Christmas!
Carl Giammarese

Happy Christmas to you and yours ... and to ALL The Buckinghams extended friends, fans and family ... may 2011 be an ever better year for all parties concerned! (kk)

Here are two great Christmas songs on a CD called Ultimate Christmas by Collectables:

Oh Holy Night by Lou Christie ... Lou just nails this song ... it's hard to believe this is sung by the same guy that sang Ligtning Strikes and Rhapsody in the Rain and All I want for Christmas is you by the All Star Group of Johnny Maestro, Larry Chance, Bobby Jay and Joel Katz ... great song, great performance by the guys Mike De Martino / Lovejoy Music Club

"Oh Holy Night" has grown on me year after year to the point that it's now one of my holiday favorites ... so I'm happy to spin Lou Christie's version today.

As for "All I Want For Christmas" by Santa's Doo-Wop All-Stars, look no further than the email below for the full scoop on this one. Thanks, Mike! (kk)

>>>All I Want For Christmas (Is You) (1993) Vince Vance & the Valiants; Lisa Layne, vocal -- Vince Vance & the Valiants initially gained fame in 1980 with their "Barbara Ann" parody entitled "Bomb Iran." Best known as a comical, highly theatrical goodtime live band, in 1993 Vince helped write "All I Want For Christmas (Is You)," the perfectly straight pop / country love cry of a lonely lady at Yuletide. Although never released on a major label, this track has become the most requested Christmas song at country radio stations for years now. Find out why. (Gary Theroux)
For what it's worth, Vince Vance and the Valiants weren't the original singers or writers of All I Want For Christmas Is You. Larry Chance, Johnny Maestro and Bobby Jay sang this doo wop Christmas song.
And then, just a few minutes later ...
YouTube - All I Want For Christmas Is You - Johnny Maestro
Kent ...
Add this to your Christmas File.
YouTube - Heaven - Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge
Johnny got his wish.
Frank B.
OK, folks, here's the scoop ... it looks like Vince Vance and the Valiants first recorded this song back in 1988 or 1989 ... the songwriting credit that I found lists Troy Powers and Andy Stone as the composers. According to Wikipedia, it is the most-played Christmas Song EVER on Country Radio.

(It's also a GREAT Christmas video):
Click here: YouTube - Vince Vance & the Valiants - All I Want For Christmas Is You [HQ]
While Johnny Maestro (and several others) have SINCE recorded the song, it was Vince Vance and the Valiants (with Lisa Layne on AMAZING lead vocals) who recorded it FIRST and brought it to the public's attention.
Although they first recorded it back in 1989, it didn't catch on with a radio audience until Christmas of 1993 ... but has charted nearly every year since, ultimately crossing over to the Pop Christmas Charts, too.

(Hmm ... this sounds like one of those "Lonely Christmas" stories!!! lol)
Maestro's version first appeared on the "Ultimate Christmas Volume 3" CD in 1996 ... many years AFTER Vance's recording first hit the airwaves. Billed as "Santa's Doo-Wop Helpers", the song featured Joel Katz, Johnny Maestro, Larry Chance and Bobby Jay on vocals ... and it's actually Joel Katz who's handling the LEAD vocal on this track and NOT Johnny Maestro as is so often eroneously reported (and assumed).
While it SOUNDS like a much older song (the melody feels somewhat familiar ... "You Belong To Me" by The Duprees and "My Heart Belongs To Only You" by Bobby Vinton immediately come to mind!), it is, in reality, a modern-day classic ... which is why we lumped this one with the identically titled Mariah Carey tune the other day.
I forwarded your email to Gary Theroux, who wrote the liner notes to the brand new "The All-Time Greatest Hits Of Christmas" CD and put together this great compilation. (It was Gary who wrote the bit about Vince Vance co-writing "All I Want For Christmas Is You"). I wanted to get HIS take on this ... but most of his information reiterates what I've written above.
Over the years, there have been multiple songs entitled "All I Want For Christmas Is You" -- the two most prominent being one written in part and sung by Mariah Carey and the other -- composed by Troy Powers and Andy Stone --made famous by Lisa Layne as lead singer of Vince Vance & the Valiants. The latter recording was made in 1988. The following year the same song was recorded by Santa's Doo Wop Helpers, who were Joel Katz (singing lead), Johnny Maestro, Larry Chance and Bobby Jay. Although Vince Vance is not officially listed as one of the song's writers, he is often credited as contributing to the song. As for Mr. Maestro, whom I was lucky enough to both interview and introduce on stage several times, Johnny also cut "All I Want For Christmas Is You" on his own (presumably later) and his version can be found on YouTube.
-- Gary Theroux
So there you have it ... even though it SOUNDS like a Christmas song from the '50's, it is, in fact, from the 1980's ... and was done FIRST by Vince Vance and the Valiants, featuring Lisa Layne on lead vocals. (kk)

Time for just a couple more!!!

YouTube - Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus - Must See!
Kent ...
Don't know about you - but when I'm having lunch at the mall, I always feel like bursting into song.
Frank B.
We're seeing more and more of these "musical outbursts" ... and they're always fun to watch the reaction of the unsuspecting audience / crowd around them. Thanks, Frank! (kk)

Numerous mentions of Andy in today's FH, Kent. Coincidental, since today (December 3rd) is Andy's 83rd birthday.

Here's Andy and Claudine's Christmas video:
Do you remember how Andy and Claudine met one another?
David Lewis
I just LOVE these "happy coincidences"!!! Like yesterday, we sent out the brand new song Karel King song "Come Home For Christmas", and the opening line says "It was the 14th of December ... " ... which it actually WAS yesterday when we first posted the tune!!! Couldn't have planned it any better!!! (NOT!)

I don't know that I ever really knew how Andy and Claudine first met each other ... but since I did just recently read his biography (a GREAT book, by the way, if you're an Andy Williams fan ... and who didn't grow up loving this guy!!!), I can tell you that they met when Andy pulled over to offer her roadside assistance when she was experiencing car trouble in Las Vegas. She was 18 and he was 32 ... but they fell in love immediately and married a year later. One of those "cute meets" that you see in the movies all the time ... except THIS one really happened! (kk)

And, speaking of Andy Williams, here's the latest from the "house band" that performs regularly at Andy's "Moon River Theatre" down in Branson, Missour!


Hey Kent,
Thanks for the nice plug for our Christmas show, you're a great guy.
We just wrapped up the show for the year last weekend in Branson but we're going to be playing it extensively on the road next year. We already have the show booked in Chicago at the Rosemont Theatre on December 17th, 2011 with Gary Puckett opening.
I'd love to hear Gary do a couple of big Christmas ballads with that great voice, not sure what he has planned. We'll see him this January on the Caribbean Oldies Cruise we're doing with him and Chuck Negron, I'll ask him what he'll be doing.
Just a side note - we took Thanksgiving week off from Andy William's Theatre in Branson and played the "Rockin' Christmas" show throughout Canada and 2 shows in Iowa. Talk about the Great White North, snow everywhere and one day it got down to -27F in Calgary. The tour bus froze so badly at one point that we bounced our way for about 300 miles with no shocks. One of the biggest laughs I've had in years was waking up to see Paul trying to get back into his middle berth at 3 am. He kept getting tossed back out, hitting his head, feet lifted off the ground, swearing. He's such a naturally funny guy to begin with, I laughed so hard I was crying and couldn't stop. I love a good laughing jag, best moment of the tour for me. We had a blast playing the show to audiences outside of Branson and the response was just great. Hey, no hosers.

Merry Christmas and Rockin' Holidays to you and your readers from Paul Revere and The Raiders!! (Pumpkin Twinkies on us)
Paul Revere, Darren Dowler, Ron Foos,
Tommy Scheckel, Danny Krause and Doug Heath
Wow! Next year's Christmas Show already booked a year in advance at The Rosemont Theater!!! How great is that?!?!? (And what a great spot for you guys to do a concert ... BEAUTIFUL place with excellent sound!) Be sure to put us on the Guest List for THAT one!!! (lol)
Happy Holidays to ALL of The Raiders ... make 2011 a GREAT year! (kk)

And one more New Release:



That Philly Sound is proud to announce that our newest CD, WAYNE NEWTON -- CHRISTMAS IN LAS VEGAS has just been released and is available for the first time on CD to purchase through CD Baby.
WAYNE NEWTON -- CHRISTMAS IN LAS VEGAS features 8 beloved Christmas songs and 4 new Christmas songs sung by Las Vegas entertainer and superstar, Wayne Newton.
Just in time for Christmas, this CD will make a wonderful gift for your family and friends. Or buy one just for yourself. This is a CD that will be treasured for years! Order now!

Click here to preview and purchase this CD and individual songs
Please go to THAT PHILLY SOULD to purchase other rare CDs, and learn more about the artists and people behind the Philadelphia music scene.
Click here to go to THAT PHILLY SOUND.
THAT PHILLY SOUND is presented by songwriter / record producer, John Madara, who co-wrote and co- produced with partner, Dave White, such timeless classics as AT THE HOP (Danny and The Juniors), ROCK AND ROLL IS HERE TO STAY -- Producer (Danny and The Juniors), THE FLY (Chubby Checker), 1-2-3 (Len Barry, who also co- wrote the song with Madara & White) and YOU DON'T OWN ME (Leslie Gore). These and countless other hits helped to make up "The Sound Of Philadelphia."
Thanks for your support!