Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Saturday Surveys (August 9th)

Three charts from the '70's this week in our Saturday Surveys feature.

First up, this WRIT Fun 40 Chart from Milwaukee dated August 11th, 1971.

Topping the charts is The Raiders' comeback hit "Indian Reservation", already enjoying at least their second week on top of the chart.

Skip down to #14 and you'll find a recent FH discovery (sent in by WRCO Jock Phil Nee) ... it's The Messengers' and "That's The Way A Woman Is", catchy as all get-out yet barely making a dent on the national charts.

Big as he was, you don't hear John Denver at all anymore on oldies radio ... not much Olivia Newton-John either (unless it's a "Grease" soundtrack hit).  Other Forgotten Hits favorites (long absent from the airwaves but sounding just as good today as they did back in 1971) are "Rings" by Cymarron, "Mother Freedom" by Bread, "Mighty Clouds Of Joy" by B.J. Thomas, "I Ain't Got Time Anymore" by The Glass Bottle, "Go Down Gamblin'" by Blood, Sweat and Tears and "Resurrection Shuffle" by Ashton, Gardner and Dyke.  (Check out the hitbound selections and you'll find "Roll On" by The New Colony Six, too!)

I used to LOVE these WBBM-FM Charts from 1973 ... The Top 50 Singles AND The Top 50 Albums, every week.  (Unfortunately they didn't last long ... nor did this format on the station.)  Too bad as these lists often gave us some titles that simply weren't charting or receiving airplay anywhere else in town ... and in 1973 Chicago still had two AM Top 40 Giants on the dial.

Finally a Top 30 Chart ... but we can't even find the name of a radio station OR a city anywhere on this published chart!  It's from 1974 which, quite frankly, wasn't the greatest year in music ... but I still found a couple of long-forgotten gems to feature today.

Friday, August 8, 2014

50 Years Ago This Weekend (August 8/9/10)

A HARD DAY'S NIGHT hangs on for another week at #1 but WISHIN' AND HOPIN' by DUSTY SPRINGFIELD is the only other British Hit to hold on to its Top Ten berth on The Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart this week in 1964.

Brand new on the charts is HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN by THE ANIMALS, debuting at #60.  It would reach #1 a few weeks later.  BEATLES Producer GEORGE MARTIN makes the chart this week with his instrumental hit RINGO'S THEME (THIS BOY) from the A HARD DAY'S NIGHT American version of the soundtrack album.  (In fact, this single was released on the United Artists record label!)

Several of last week's hits are still represented here: NOBODY I KNOW by PETER AND GORDON is at #15, CAN'T YOU SEE THAT SHE'S MINE by THE DAVE CLARK FIVE at #16, HOW DO YOU DO IT by GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS leaps from #43 to #21, BECAUSE, another DAVE CLARK FIVE hit is up from #60 to #22, TELL ME by THE ROLLING STONES sits at #24, AIN'T SHE SWEET by THE BEATLES is right behind it at #25, as is YOU'RE MY WORLD by CILLA BLACK at #26.  Further down the countdown we find that I BELIEVE by THE BACHELORS is at #33, DON'T THROW YOUR LOVE AWAY by THE SEARCHERS is at #39, followed by a couple more BEATLES tunes ... AND I LOVE HER (#40) and I'LL CRY INSTEAD (#44).  Filling out the rest of The Hot 100 are DON'T LET THE SUN CATCH YOU CRYING by GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS at #45, I'LL KEEP YOU SATISFIED by BILLY J. KRAMER AND THE DAKOTAS (right behind it at #46), I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER by THE BEATLES at #59, IT'S ALL OVER NOW, new for THE ROLLING STONES at #68, another BEATLES track, IF I FELL, at #87, SHOUT by LULU AND THE LUVERS at #94 and YOU'RE NO GOOD by THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS at #97.

Also worth mentioning … The Boston Pops Orchestra are holding on at #55 with their "big band" version of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" … and the VERY British sounding "She's The One" by The Chartbusters (a group actually out of the Washington, D.C. area), reaching the #47 mark this week.

Here in Chicago on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey, A HARD DAY'S NIGHT / I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER holds on to the #1 Spot.  WISHIN' AND HOPIN' by DUSTY SPRINGFIELD also holds at #4 while PETER AND GORDON's latest, NOBODY I KNOW, falls to #8.  Other British Hits in The Top 20 include HOW DO YOU DO IT by GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS (#11), DON'T LET THE SUN CATCH YOU CRYING (also by GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS) at #13, I'LL KEEP YOU SATISFIED by BILLY J. KRAMER AND THE DAKOTAS (#16) and another two-sided BEATLES HIT, I'M HAPPY JUST TO DANCE WITH YOU / I'LL CRY INSTEAD, at #20.

BECAUSE premiers at #24 this week for THE DAVE CLARK FIVE and THE BEATLES are new at #29 with AND I LOVE HER.  Meanwhile, LULU AND THE LOVERS climb to #33 with SHOUT.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

More Micky

We've certainly devoted a fair number of pages to covering Micky Dolenz's live performances this year, both as a solo act and with The Monkees ... but fans are being consistently bowled over by his amazing vocal prowess at the ripe old age of 69!  Honestly, he's never sounded better ... which makes the fact that The Monkees were just supposed to be a flash-in-the-pan, made for TV group all that much more incredible!  

Shelley Sweet-Tufano files THIS report on a recent Dolenz show she saw at B.B. King's in New York City last week.  (Jeez, I thought I saw a lot of concerts!!! This is Shelley's THIRD report this week ... including a three city jaunt with Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits!!!  Scroll back in case you missed any of the others.)  Micky recently recorded his latest live album at B.B. King's ... and we were fortunate enough to be able to send a few Forgotten Hits Readers to one of his shows there last year, where he remains a performance favorite.  

In any event, check out this latest installment of Shelley's Road Show!  Sounds like Micky was in top form that night!!!

 Micky Dolenz, performing live at B.B. King's in New York City
Photo courtesy of Stuart Hersh

Ok, Kent, we must be traveling parallel paths right now.  Again, I come home from a Micky Dolenz concert in NYC and your Saturday surveys start out with a Monkee statement. So here you go!  

In between helping my parents move into a fantastic condo from our / their home of 49 years, I went north to see The Happy Together Tour and a few days later, south, to see Micky Dolenz.  (Memo to everyone:  You will re-inherit things you thought long gone.  Mine is every dance costume I ever wore.  Anyone need a tangerine lollipop outfit?)  Micky was appearing at BB King's in NYC, a venue I am familiar with, so the trip was a 'welcome home' visit.  BB's is a first-come, first-seat after the doors open at 6:00 PM.  UNLESS you have reserved a large party.  However, if you have a ticket, you get a seat.  And I am not sure there is a bad one.  The only question I have is the sound.  Most songs were just fine, but there were a few instances where Micky was difficult to hear.  I did see his sister, Coco, making signs to the sound crew about pushing something up when they started, and there was a sequence of Micky moving the mic stand back after taking off the hand mic and Coco moving the stand to the front, where Micky then moved it to the back without using it, then Coco returned it to the front again ... not quite sure what was going on there!  

I have not seen Micky as a solo since Davy died so I was very eager to view this concert and his band.  Wayne Avers is Micky's musical director and is an outstanding guitarist, holding up to Micky's comments of, "You've been practicing."  Micky was unable to play guitar this night as the most unfortunate thing had happened prior to the show.  Somali Pirates had stormed the restaurant where he was eating and, while fending them off with an olive pick from his martini, he was able to take down 18 of them!  Unfortunately ... the 19th one got his hand.  Everyone together now:  AWWWWWW!  POOR MICKY!  Hey, I like that story!!  Very creative!!  I give it an 'A'.  It sure beats cutting your hand while slicing a nectarine. (the truth)  

I wish I had brought a glowstick for 'Daydream Believer'.  Micky has not performed that one for awhile in tribute to Davy, but it is back in rotation and I was not prepared.  Used my cellphone, but Coco stole my glitz with a bright flashlight from stage.  Aviva Maloney, from Davy's band, is playing with Micky now, and it was she who first saw our group and the glowsticks at Mohegan Sun and pointed them out to Davy on stage.  That was about 7-8 years ago, and I have brought them ever since to see Davy or Micky.  I dropped the disco ball on this one. 

Micky's show is Monkee dominated as it would need to be.  Paul and Ringo cannot avoid Beatles' songs.  We would be livid.  Micky, Peter, and Mike should not avoid Monkee songs.  The Monkees brought them to our attention, no matter what they have done since.  So I enjoyed each and every one.  My picks?  'Sometime in the Morning' is just so poignant and beautiful ... SO glad it is in the set.  My other fave is Vance Brescia's song:  'That Was Then, This Is Now'.  Coco and Micky did a duet of 'Crying in the Rain', which was stunning!  Beautiful harmonies reminiscent of The Everly Brothers.  There are a few solo singers I would like to hear sing that one as well.  To be perfectly frank, Coco's voice on anything she did was dynamic.  Micky leaves the stage when she solos.  I'm not sure if that is to give her the full attention, to give him a break, or to keep him from playing with the drum set while she sings.  I know that if I turned over the mic to either of my brothers, I would leave the building.  It would just be safer.  Two other greats for me were 'DW Washburn' and 'Goin Down'.  

Dave Alexander on keys, Rich Dart on drums and John Billings (he's single ladies) on bass complete the band.  With Aviva able to play anything with a reed, flute, keyboards  ... Micky has a strong unit.  Go see them.  And watch out for those Samalis! 
-- Shelley J Sweet-Tufano   

Micky and CoCo do an OUTSTANDING version of The Everly's "Crying In The Rain" ... it comes from Micky's "King For A Day" album, a tribute to the songs of Carole King (who just happened to write a successful Monkees hit or two as well ... including one of YOUR favorites, "Sometime In The Morning" ... which just happens to be one of MY favorites, too!)  kk

 Me and Micky, backstage after The Monkees Reunion Show
At The Star Plaza Theater in Merrillville, Indiana, earlier this year.

And, in OTHER Dolenz-related news ... 

We're Having A Panic Attack (featuring Georgia Dolenz, daughter of Micky Dolenz) ... And Everything Will Be OK – Live In L. A. Thursday, 8/7  
(That's tonight, folks! - kk)    

"We're Having A Panic Attack" is a sketch comedy group created and survived by Georgia Dolenz (daughter of Monkee - Micky Dolenz), Sheila Carrasco, and Rebecca Warm 

The three met during their Groundlings Writer's Lab, and all passed through to the Advanced Lab Level in 2013. They quickly bonded over the fact that they had all experienced panic attacks as children. 

Perhaps dark, but also weirdly uplifting and hilarious, the three felt it only appropriate to call their new sketch group
"We're Having A Panic Attack".  

The group’s first sold out show in March ("We're Having A Panic Attack ... And You're Invited") was a great success. They were subsequently invited to perform in the 2014 LA Improv Comedy Festival, after which they began creating a brand new show.  

The new show, this Thursday (August 7th) is titled:  "We're Having A Panic Attack ... And Everything Will Be OK" and includes all new sketches and material.  

Says Dolenz, “Our show travels from the inappropriate to the absurd, past some wigs and dry wit, landing back onto a pile of classic comedy crash mats.”  

Directed by Annie McVey, and featuring Josh Stamell, Brandon Bales, and Burl Moseley. The show will be held at ACME ComedyTheater, 8pm @ 134 N. La Brea Ave on Thursday, August 7th.   
Tickets @

We've been in a bit of a concert lull of late ... but there are some GREAT shows coming up at The Arcada Theatre over the next few months ... and we're hoping to be there for most of them.      

Check the website for more details ...    

Some of the ones I'm most looking forward to are: 
KC and the Sunshine Band - August 29th
Johnny Rivers - August 30th
Lou Gramm of Foreigner - September 13th
Felix Cavaliere's Rascals (with special guests The Brooklyn Bridge) - September 20th
Ambrosia, Orleans and Firefall (September 27th)
Al Stewart  (October 5th)
Asia  (October 9th)
'80's Night (featuring The Romantics, The Smithereens, Marshall Crenshaw and Tommy Tutone) October 10th
Bill Medley (October 16th)
Tower Of Power  (October 17th)
Gary Wright  (October 22nd)
The Fifth Dimension  (October 24th)
Tommy James and the Shondells  (October 25th)
B.J. Thomas (with Exile) November 7th
Burton Cummings  (November 14th)
America  (November 15th) 
The Little River Band  (November 16th)
(Man, I'm gonna be tired THAT weekend!!!)
The Spinners  (November 22nd)
Ronnie Spector's Christmas  (December 7th)
Jim Peterik and The Ides Of March Rockin' Christmas  (December 13th)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

James Brown

I can't describe myself as ever really having been much of a James Brown fan ... but I sure was looking forward to the new bio-pic starring Chadwick Boseman, who was so impressive portraying Jackie Robinson in "42" a couple of years ago.  In that the people behind the new film had also produced the hit movie "The Help" (which I thoroughly enjoyed), I went in with very high expectations (especially after my overall disappointment with the "Jersey Boys" film.)  The previews were exciting and we promoted the film several times in Forgotten Hits.  

While I liked the obvious, major hits ("I Got You", "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag", "Cold Sweat", "There Was A Time" and my personal favorite, "It's A Man's Man's Man's World") James Brown wasn't a major presence on Chicago radio back in the '60's ... not on our two Top 40 giants anyway. (I can't speak for an all-Black station like WVON as I didn't listen to it back then ... but I'd venture to guess he had FAR more hits THERE than he did on either WLS or WCFL.)  

When one considers that Brown scored 94 Billboard Hot 100 Hits between 1958 and 1986 (second only to Elvis), it's a bit surprising to see that only sixteen of those made our local survey ... especially when you consider the incredible number of Blacks that make up our Chicago population.  And, even at that, only FOUR of those made The Top Ten.  Conversely, Brown had 16 #1 Singles on Billboard's R&B Singles Chart ... but only four Top Ten Pop Hits, the biggest being "I Got You (I Feel Good)" which peaked at #3 in 1965.  So a lot of product ... but not a lot of "hits" with the cross-over community.  (One might think this could potentially limit the audience appeal of such a film ... but top-notch acting and good word of mouth should trump that ... after all, look what the Jamie Foxx-led Ray Charles flick "Ray" did.)  One major objection I have with the portrayal of Brown, however, is the fact that a good percentage of his dialog is nearly unintelligible ... you simply can't understand a great deal of what he's saying!  While I had hoped that I would pick up on the bulk of his phrasing as the film progressed, thus making it easier to understand him as the film moved forward, this didn't prove to be the case.  There were entire pieces of dialog that went by me.)

Initial box office receipts indicated the film would do between $14 - $18 Million opening weekend ... hardly killer box office (but still better than "Jersey Boys" did its opening weekend) ... and, apparently, good enough for third place.  That being said, I don't think there were fifteen people in the theater when Frannie and I saw the film ... but it WAS kinda cool being one of the youngest spectators there!!!  (lol)  [For the record, final weekend numbers put the film at just over $14 Million ... third place ... and about $80 MILLION behind last week' #1 Hit "Guardians of the Galaxy"!  Reviews were mixed ... Cinescore interviews with fans leaving the theater gave the film a C+ while Rotten Tomatoes scored it a little better, with 77% positive reviews.  Local film critic Richard Roeper echoes my views, calling the film "somewhat sanitized" ... actually, I'd say HIGHLY sanitized ... but says it was redeemed by Boseman's electric performance.] 

I first came to know of James Brown through The Lloyd Thaxton Show, which I used to watch every weekday afternoon when I got home from school.  Brown seemed to have a regular presence on that program ... whether he was performing on it (via some well-choreographed lip-synching) or they were simply giving away copies of his latest album.  (I swear it seemed like he had a new LP out every three weeks or so!  And most of them were "live".)  Truth is, James hit Billboard's Album Chart TWELVE times between 1963 and 1966 ... and only TWO of those were live LP's ... but that was just my perception back then at the time.  (Another one was his Christmas album.)  A few years later, Brown would give whole new meaning to the word "popcorn" using it in five song titles in 1969 alone!!!  (Thankfully, NONE of these songs were featured in the new film's soundtrack!) 

In fact, the soundtrack, good as it is, is missing several James Brown classic hits ... most notably his big comeback hit "Living In America" from "Rocky IV", a Top Five smash in 1985.  (This may be because it wasn't released on King Records, from whom Executive Music Director Mick Jagger was able to license most of the music for use in the film.  Fact is, while Brown recorded most of his biggest hits for the King label, his music was released on MANY different record labels during the course of his career ... including King, Federal, Smash, Polydor and finally Scotti Brothers ... although none of this is depicted in the film.)  Another obvious omission would have to be "I Got Ants In My Pants And I Want To Dance" from 1973.  Instead of these much bigger hits, we're treated to "Caledonia" (a #95 hit from 1964 ... but an absolutely STUNNING performance on film) and "Please Please Please", released TWICE as a single but never climbing higher than #95.  (It is, however, one of James Brown's signature songs ... the performance of which blew the doors off at the T.A.M.I. Show in 1964.) 

I'm happy to report that ALL of the musical performances captured in this film are top notch ... as is the acting throughout.  The film doesn't tell Brown's story in conventional biography form, from start to finish.  Instead, it jumps around to major events in James' life, giving viewers a glimpse of what was happening with his sound (and look) at various stages of his career.  (It actually starts off ... and ends ... in 1988, with one particular low-point ... when Brown, toting a rifle, shoots up one of his own buildings because a woman there for a seminar dared to use his bathroom!)  Perhaps the biggest misnomer of the film is the way it downplays Brown's violent, excessive and erratic behavior, kind of glossing over these facts in favor of showing the rough childhood that most likely contributed to some of these traits.  (Brown's mother left him at an early age to work as a prostitute ... and his father never wanted him at all, choosing to join the army instead, rather than raising a young boy at home!) 

There was a time (James Brown pun intended) when James was almost as well known for his run-ins with the police and his mug shots as he was for his music and his album covers.  He was violent and abusive to all of the women in his life (in the film it shows James as being married and faithful to one woman, who he DOES slap across the room at one point in the movie ... when, in fact, he was legally married three times ... a fourth marriage was ruled invalid because his new wife at the time was still legally married to someone else!)  Brown regularly made headlines for his violent and abusive nature toward the women in his life ... and was arrested numerous times for domestic violence charges. In addition, Brown had NINE children (not just the one shown in the film) as well as at least three acknowledged others out of wedlock.  Again, the film doesn't mention ANY of this.  He also served more jail time than the one sentence depicted in the film for stealing a suit ... and, while mentioned by one of his on-screen band members, Brown's legal issues for failing to pay income taxes were FAR more severe than simply not paying his back-up musicians.  After many years of a strict "no drugs" policy amongst his band ... and a strong anti-drug campaign that he was proud to launch publicly, Brown himself also had a drug problem in his later years which is completely ignored in the film. 

The film also captures some of Brown's creative and inventive ideas ... musically this is best illustrated in the rehearsals for his 1967 hit "Cold Sweat".  Brown became pretty wrapped up in his own mystique ... he was The Hardest Working Man In Show Business, Soul Brother #1, The Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite and The King Of Funk, all various incarnations during his evolving career.  He used his own money to finance his legendary "Live At The Apollo" album when the record label felt it was too big an investment to make.  He renegotiated his take with promoters by taking the bookings into his own hands and promoting them through the radio stations and disc jockeys who loved his music (and were already playing it anyway!)  He was also very involved in the Civil Rights Movement (barely touched upon in the film and even then, more as a reaction to the shooting of Dr. Martin Luther King and Brown's insistence that his concert go on as scheduled, despite protests from the promoters and venue.)  He DID insist on going to Viet Nam to entertain our troops (where his plane was nearly shot down!)  He promoted a whole "Don't Be A Drop-Out" campaign to keep young black children in school, pursuing their education ... and used the power of his celebrity on numerous occasions to draw attention to these issues.  Musically, he inspired countless other performers (including the film's Executive Music Director Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones, who were collectively blown away when they saw Brown perform at the T.A.M.I. concert ... after James' show-stopping performance, The Stones then had to follow him on stage to close the show ... not an easy task for even the most seasoned performer ... which The Stones were NOT at this point in their career!) as well as, most notably, a young Michael Jackson, who mimicked many of Brown's signature moves until he invented a few new ones of his own.  Brown's influence can still be seen today, some 50 years later, in contemporary artist / mega star Bruno Mars, who has mastered many of James' very best spins, slides, and drops and executes them with precision timing and perfection in each and every one of his shows night after night after night.  (This, too, wasn't even mentioned in the film.) 

Also short-changed ... Brown's whole infamous "cape routine" ... yet ANOTHER signature part of a James Brown performance.  If for no other reason than to educate the unindoctrinated new James Brown fan and viewer, this segment should have run its full course of five minutes in order for one to better appreciate all the effort, impact  and choreography that went into this dramatic sequence of events ... rather than just being brushed over with a 30-second nod to the somewhat obvious.  (Yes, we've ALL seen it before ... but we LOVE it ... and it was a KEY part of James' stage show.  Producers should have at least considered that this whole experience may not be QUITE so obvious when adding NEW fans to the fold ... and even at that, it's a tale WELL worth the retelling.) 

At nearly 2 1/2 hours in length (although it moved along pretty quickly for me), it probably would have been difficult to tell even more of the story ... but glossing over some key, very negative character traits does NOT present an accurate biography of the person being profiled ... and I have to deduct points for this.  Likewise, the bulk of the film is told from the recollections and perspective of Brown's long-time sideman (and probably best friend in life), Bobby Byrd and, as such, may be a bit "tainted" and prejudicial at times.  I also feel some attention should have been paid to James' comeback in the early '80's, after an extended period of time out of the spotlight ... as well as all of the hoopla surrounding his death in 2006 on Christmas Day.  (Incredibly, James even went through costume changes while his body was on display for viewing ... and there was talk for quite some time back then of taking that "preserved" body out on the road so that fans from all over the country could come pay homage to their fallen idol!  James Brown ... The FINAL World Tour ... Incredible!!!)  

For more on the REAL story of James Brown, you'll find an excellent, well-researched overview here:  Click here: James Brown - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  ... normally, this is NOT something we would typically recommend ... but in this instance, this one is VERY well done.     

As far as a final review of the film, I originally gave it a "4" on a 1-10 rating system ... but have since raised it to a "5" as I did spend a WHOLE lot of time during the 48 hours post-viewing period thinking about the whole presentation.  Musically, it's outstanding ... and the acting is superb ... top-notch ... and I really did like the way the story was presented in a non-conventional chronological, "story-telling" order.  My benchmark has always been that a film ranked at a "5" or better is a film I would watch again ... and I WILL watch this film again once it hits the cable circuit.  My gut-reaction is that I'll probably enjoy it more and more with each repeated viewing.  (This has been the case with SO many of these musical bio-pics in the past.  A movie like "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" depicting The Frankie Lymon Story was panned by critics ... but it has become an addictive "must watch" every time I happen across it while switching channels, as is The Temptations flick that seems to be on non-stop, 24/7 on SOME cable channel.  Most of the time now I avoid clicking on it all together because I know that once I do, my next four hours are committed to sitting there watching it yet again!  lol) 

FH Reader (and MAJOR Soul Fan) Chet Coppock had a much stronger reaction to the film ... he gives it "four stars and counting" in his review below.  What did YOU guys think?  Let us know and we'll run a follow up piece in the next week or so. 


I just caught Chadwick Boseman's riveting, yet vulnerable cinematic portrait of James Brown in "Get On Up."  This is the film I believe Clint Eastwood would have liked to have made with Jersey Boys.  

Boseman shows the audience the hyper-energy of Mr. Dynamite along with his obsession with "being in control."

I am hardly an expert on James but two things come to mind ...  

I first saw Soul Brother No.1 at the old Regal Theater at 47th and South Parkway (Dr. Martin Luther King Drive) in 1967. Two, Brown was the most dynamic and influential musical force of the 20th century ... greater than Sinatra, John and Paul, Mick and Keith or, yes, Elvis Presley.

**** Four Stars and counting ... not to be missed. Will be interested to see what other FH team members have to say about a superb film about a flawed, but remarkably brilliant man.

"Stay on the scene like a sex machine"

Yo, my new read ... "Chet Coppock: Laying It On The Line" will be out August 14.

Chet Coppock
Host: Chicago Blackhawks Heritage Series
Host: Notre Dame Football, WLS Radio

Here's a blurb about James Brown's REAL manager from back in the day (portrayed in the film by Dan Aykroyd), sent in to us by FH Reader Tom Cuddy ...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

More Concert Reviews

A couple more concert reviews today, sent in by our Forgotten Hits Readers.  ('Tis the season!)  Summertime brings out the very best to the outdoor venues ... so today we cover another recent Happy Together Concert as well as an East Coast Peter Noone road-trip.   

First up, our WRCO Disc Jockey Buddy Phil Nee ... who was a little bit disappointed when he discovered that there would be a line-up change to the Happy Together Show we've been plugging of late when the tour hit The Wisconsin State Fair Sunday Night.  

Phil emailed me before he took off for the concert:  

We are headed to see the Happy Together Tour in Milwaukee Sunday night.  The State Fair website says that Gary U.S. Bonds is in the lineup.  No mention of Mark Farner.  Have you heard anything about that?   

No, I hadn't ... but I told Phil his timing couldn't be any better since we were running a Happy Together Review on the website on Monday.  I asked him to please rush me out a review that we could run as a follow-up.  

Then, after he got home from the show, he sent me this ...

We were a bit disappointed by Mark Farner not being there ... and just before show time they announced that Gary Lewis was sick and couldn't play.  I thought each act might play longer as a result but the show was done in 1 hour and 25 minutes.  I've got to tell you that Gary U.S. Bonds kicked all of their asses!  I will have my assignment done later this morning. 
- Phil   

So now, please enjoy his full report: 

The Happy Together Tour limped into Milwaukee on Sunday night, August 3rd.  We learned on Saturday through the Wisconsin State Fair website that Mark Farner was not going to be there.  There was no explanation why, however, I presume they have known about the change for a while 
since they had a taped intro and American Bandstand video clips for his replacement, Gary U.S. Bonds.   

It has been 29 years since I last saw the Happy Together show and 30 years since my girlfriend (now my wife) June and our friends Gary and Mary saw the show in Dubuque,  Iowa.  The four of us reunited and during the ride Gary told me that he was disappointed that Mark Farner was not going to be there. He felt Gary U.S. Bonds' music was even older and did not fit with the rest of the artists.   I informed him that Mr. Bonds had the most recent hit with 1981's 'This Little Girl'.   Just before show time, the host radio station announced that Gary Lewis was sick and would not be performing.  This was a big downer to start the show.   

The concert began with Mitch Ryder.  I have interviewed Mitch twice before and had not watched him perform in nearly twenty years.  He does not move around the stage as in the past, however, his voice was strong and he seemed like he was having a good time.  He did a good job of chatting with the crowd between songs.    

Gary U.S. Bonds was next.  I have never had the chance to interview him or see his show, though I have always loved his music.  He was the best of the night.  He sounded great and played the audience well. He brought his own sax player, Joey Stann, who used to play with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.  Have you ever seen someone play a tenor and a baritone saxophone at the same time?  He played harmony and lead out of both sides of his mouth on the sax fills! He got a standing ovation mid-song.  Gary told the story about the kid from New Jersey that helped him a bit and then the opening notes to 'This Little Girl' rang out.  This may have been the best played song of the night by any artist!   

Chuck Negron's voice did not seem to be as strong as I had hoped.  I wondered if Gary Lewis had been spreading his sickness around back stage.  I have talked with Chuck before and have always enjoyed his energy.  He did not seem to show much of it Sunday night. He showed a touch of class by mentioning the names of the original band members and thanked them for all of the hits.  The Happy Together band did a good job of backing him.  Joy To The World really got the crowd going and it was his best song of his set.   

The Turtles hit the stage with their comedy and music.  I have interviewed Mark a few times and have always enjoyed he and Howard's shows.  They are still very good.  Their songs are timeless and they opened with She'd Rather Be With Me.   They then played It Aint Me Babe,  Elenore, and Happy Together.  I could not believe that they were already playing the showstopper!  The entire show was over in less than 90 minutes.  

I realize that Gary Lewis being sick was not planned for.  I presume that the band had only rehearsed the numbers  that were played. When we heard that there was going to be one less artist, I presumed that Chuck Negron and the Turtles would play longer sets.  There were plenty of songs that they could have played.  The Turtles did not do You Showed Me, You Baby and You Know What I Mean.  

They brought back all of the artists at the end to sing a piece of their biggest hits and it was over.  Overall it was a good show to see again after all of these years.  I just wish that it had been a little longer.  Our radio station hosted a festival for 20 years. This happened a few times, when a scheduled artist was unable to perform.  One time another artist could not get a plane out of a foggy airport.  The promoter went to Charlie Daniels and asked if he would play longer.  He went on and played another hour.  I realize that he had his own band though.  
-- Phil Nee / WRCO   

Wow!  Well, I hope that the whole band is here later this month when they bring the Happy Together Show to The Paramount Theatre in Aurora, IL!  (Then again I've got to admit that now I'm DYING to see Gary "U.S." Bonds ... and I'm not even all that big a fan ... I just want to see his sax man do his thing!!!  lol) 

Next ... Shelley Sweet-Tufano's three day / three concert / three state Peter Noone road-trip.  (Shelley's review of The Happy Together Show in Massachusetts ran yesterday on the FH Website ... scroll back if you missed it!  She had the benefit of the full, announced line-up for her show!)   

The opportunity popped up this summer to attend three concerts in three days in three states by the same artists.  It seemed ridiculous, stressful, and near impossible.  So, of course I planned it, grabbed a couple friends, and we began.   

We decided to travel at night after each concert to minimize our travel time ... and to see what it is like to be a band on the road.  For me, this would bring great stories to the classroom about the 'glamour' end of the music business.  First let me introduce the band:  Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone.  Next, let me tell you they gave each concert their flair as though it were the only concert they were playing that month or year.  What changed the concert experience were the venue types and the audience.  So, I was also seeing how these variables can affect music and its players.  

Our first stop is in Long Island at an outdoor park venue.  Traffic was moving well that day until we hit the Long Island Parking Lot, also known as any road on the Island during the day, but we winked at each other knowing we'd miss it leaving at night.  We bought picnic food at a local store, set up our chairs, met up with other friends attending, and relaxed in a beautiful day before the concert.  Looking around, others were also arriving early (good sign).  Many wearing HHSPN t-shirts, purchased and home-made.  Another good sign.  The last good sign:  Families!  Not just drinkers looking for a night out ... or so I thought.  

When the concert started there was 'A Kind of Hush' allll ovvvvver the crowd!  Huh??  These people turned to stone and salt and acted as if they had never intended to be attending a concert.  This is the only place I have been where the silence was louder than the crickets.  What was wrong?  I looked around.  They were eating, drinking (there it is) and staring into space like they were watching TV or a video game.  A zombie audience indeed.  The breaking point became 'Sea Cruise'.  They could NOT stay still any longer as Rich Spina banged the keyboards, Peter Noone wailed out the words, and my friends and I started 'surf dancing' in our seats.  FINALLY an awakening.  From here we had dancing in the aisles, audience participation and people having FUN.  A talk with the commissioner of parks after the show gave me an insight that THIS is the norm.  "It is a free night for them.  They tell us they want to see this band and that band.  Then they show up and just sit and talk to each other."  Based on that info, Peter, Vance, Rich, Billy and Dave,; you get the prize for audience growth and achievement.  There was another massive autograph line as we departed to be 'On The Road Again' to our next state. 

Back to Connecticut, from whence we came!  A quick two hour ride up to Mohegan Sun turned into 3 1/2 hours of night construction!  Oh how could I forget that in Connecticut, the shortest route between two points is under construction!  I'm printing up T-shirts with that slogan and making a ton of money selling them on the said highways.   

I think standing in line for a seat makes a difference in audience attitude.  When / if you get in, you are grateful and make for an appreciative crowd.  Plus Mohegan Sun is home turf for HHSPN.  Although they appear there once-a-year now, formerly they came in as many as three times a year, and for a couple days of two concerts a day.  Everyone is relaxed and ready to pop-rock.  We get to hear 'Jezebel', which is so dynamic in live concert and three verses of 'Can't You Hear My Heartbeat' where 'Wedding Bells Are Gonna Ring'.  I agree that the song should not end because then we have 'Mrs. Brown', 'Henry' and 'A Kind of Hush' and ... it's over.  There was one loud drinker in the Den that night but, in keeping with "ignorance is bliss", he was given his moment in time and then ignored.  I think his friends gagged him.  Back in the cars (two cars containing five people going to all three concerts)  and I assure the "Banned" that it is clear passage out of Connecticut.  I have already checked the night construction schedule and there is nothing going south.  WHEEEE!!! 

And then just another 'Oh Crap' moment!  Lest we think that The George Washington Bridge can be easy to travel at night, they CLOSE LANES ON THE UPPER TRUCK LEVEL.  There is more traffic going over to New Jersey this night than I have seen during some days.  My comment:  "Why the heck do ALL these people need to get into New Jersey tonight?"  My driving friend replies, "Maybe they are all going to Atlantic City?  We are."  I sneer as I say, "That doesn't even make sense" prompts a "Hey, I'm tired!  I just want to get to the hotel!"  We were not making the Atlantic City run in one sweep, but stopping midway to sleep and finish in the morning.  Even so, we pull into the beach motel at 3:30 AM, overtired, ridiculously giddy and unbelieving that this area still has high people traffic at this hour.  Noticed:  beach life in the summer is 24/7.  Apparently if you are a man and I show up at your doorstep at 3:30 AM, wake you up, apologize over and over for being so late, and bite my lip (unconscious, but I was told I did); you will want to fix the situation and hand me a key, telling me to forget the paperwork and money and go get some sleep.  I think I was heard to say, "Let's get in the room before he changes his mind."  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!    

On to Atlantic City!!  We eat breakfast leisurely on the way and slide into AC before check-in, leave our bags, and hit The Boardwalk!  Next, concert time at the casino across the street after enjoying dinner in 'Paradise' at Margaritaville.   

Wow!  Here is the venue with the spectacular!  Spectacular lighting, spectacular staging, audience who paid for tickets ... does it make a difference?  NOT in the performance at all.  In the audience ... maybe so.  I cannot guarantee that paying for a ticket nor acquiring a seat standing for hours in line makes for a good audience, but the people who are here want to be here.  They have taken time from vacations, gambling, and other night-life to come.  The disco ball twirling on stage is ... at first silly.  BUT I see how they deflect lights off of it to create a 'star' atmosphere.  That is both an outer-space feel and a superstar feel.  As Peter sings 'End of the World', he is standing right in front of me (I have direct sight although I am on the second level) with a spot illumination. The rest of the stage is dimmed.  He does not move.  It is mesmerizing.    

So, our three day, three state, three concert road trip ends.  Was I tired?  Oh yeah!  Did I have fun?  Oh YEAH!  Lastly, would I do it again?  OH YEAH!  I guess I would!  Thank you to my Connecticut friend, my Massachusetts friend, and my two Virginia friends who shared in my folly.  Also to those friends who showed up at Long Island, Mohegan, or Atlantic City; it was good to see you all.  (Footnote:  there were people who showed up from Florida right up the coast line to RI and MA)  I have some good new teaching material.    
-- Shelley J Sweet-Tufano

Monday, August 4, 2014

Happy Together

Here's a Happy Together Tour Concert Review courtesy of Forgotten His Reader Shelley Sweet-Tufano from a show she saw last week in Webster, MA. (The Happy Together Gang hits the Chicagoland area on August 22nd for a show at The Paramount Theatre in Aurora, IL ... and we can't wait to see it!)  

More info here:

Sounds like a great show ... and Shelley sent along some great pictures as well ... so enjoy (as we live vicariously through her concert experience until we get to see the real thing in a couple of weeks!)  KK   

What's better than sitting under an umbrella in the pouring rain waiting for an outdoor concert to start??  Actually many many things ... I made a mental list while I was waiting.  

BUT because God loves music, me, and the musicians I love, the rain stopped, the clouds parted and 20 minutes before concert time, the sun came out.    

Back in time to July 12th in Atlantic City.  This is a conversation I had with a friend when I was questioned about past and future concerts I had seen / would be seeing.   

ME:  I will be going to Webster, MA, to see The Happy Together Tour.  I'm surprised to be hearing all the rave reviews on Mitch Ryder and Mark Farner.    

HE:  WHY DOES THAT SURPRISE YOU?  (Now comes a stream of their virtues and what songs I would be hearing)   

ME:  I guess because I have never seen them live, I don't know what to expect; whereas I know Gary, Chuck, and The Turtles will be great.   

He has already received an email from me proclaiming him correct.     

Back to yesterday:  July 27th.  I have always loved the beginning of this concert with the countdown.  People slowly filing in or now leaving to get food (you didn't know you were hungry or needed that alcoholic beverage until you sat down?)  Or nodding "yeah, yeah, sure.  Five minutes ..."  NO!  I MEAN IT!  IT WILL START IN FIVE MINUTES!  HONEST!  Then I can laugh when they come running back sloshing beer, etc. all over their hands and arms.   

First up is Gary Lewis!  As he always says:  "Ah, Memories."  Ones we never get tired of.  It is so much fun hearing the stories, singing along, swinging my feet.  Oh yeah ... swinging my feet.  My chair is a great seat.  No one in front of me, but raised up off the ground so I look like a five year old.  My feet just won't touch the ground.  This actually came in handy during the rain as a waterfall flowed down the steps of the stadium seating and I was the only one with dry feet because the water ran under them hanging in midair.  It really DID turn back time for me, and gave my friends fits of giggles.  Each performing set ran about 20 minutes and seemed to be jammed into 'quick-mode'.  I believe Mitch Ryder referred to this as due to the possibility of rain returning.  Hey, Turtles and Three Dogs can swim!  Not great for a Railroad though, whether it's in or out of a Grand Funk.  Thank you Gary, for your enthusiasm, willingness to be first in line, and details of the origins of your songs.  I DID miss 'Sealed With a Kiss' though ... really did, Sir.  

Mitch Ryder!  The connection between Rock and Motown!  As mentioned, I have never before seen him in performance and ... HOT DANG!  The entire audience should have worn blue dresses for this segment.  Actually, a few wore blue tops and implied they were devilish.  Always thinking that I am part of the generation that tested the rules and tried to open new doors, it does not surprise me that 'Sock It To Me' was banned on the radio for having 'dirty lyrics'.  But when Mitch sings the original lyrics, I say, "Really? Really?  THAT was banned?"  I think the same thing listening to 'Rhapsody in the Rain'.  Surprisingly, these are some of the songs I turn my students onto to get them away from the rap lyrics they are prone to listen to.  Maybe because they can be symbolic and have more than just sexual tones.  I wanted to get up and dance during this segment, but I am polite AND remember ... my feet don't touch the ground.   

Mark Farner is older than me.  This came as a shock since the man covered more space on the stage dance-hopping with a guitar than TV commercials on 'seniors' would imply is possible.  Yes, exceptions to every rule.  My Great-Grandfather did hand stands in his 70's because his grandsons were doing them wrong and he felt he needed to show them correctly.   Mark Lindsay says, "Rock and Roll Keeps You Young".  I'm sure that helps.  It does with me.  Working with kids also helps.  I think performing helps.  I muse here about this because HE WAS SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL. Locomotion or just in motion, he is wild.  Mark, I stand again in ovation ... you can sing and move!  (This is why I mentioned the Atlantic City conversation before ... my friend was right.)  

After the duel surprise thrill of Mitch and Mark, I was ready for Chuck Negron, knowing the capacity of his voice in performance.  As I said, the sets seemed to run a little too quickly for me.  I would have enjoyed more verbal time with each performer.  Chuck, I don't know how you did it, but you put on a little speed while appearing totally calm and laid-back.  Chuck Negron gives you the appearance he will be there all night, just hanging and singing.  And suddenly he is gone and you say, "I didn't see that coming."  He ends as calmly as he begins, and you have heard about how awful Eli is, how lonely One is, and all about a bullfrog named Jeremiah.  Time flies when you're having fun is an understatement.  Chuck, your voice was so strong and powerful.  It packed a punch while you stood there calmly delivering the message.  Whew!  

And then ... mayhem enters in the form of The Turtles.  Mark dances their opening number which has now become 'Gumbo Style'.  Words escape me (in a good way guys).  It is hard to believe that I saw them before the concert and they blended into the crowd, appearing totally sane.  On stage, they are certifiably insane, wild, comical, musical, drumstick wielding, tambourine tossing, entertaining monarchs of the 60's (and I don't mean the 'butterfly' Mark)!  Howard encourages snapshots as "you just never know when one of us will keel over.  We're OLD!"  Funny!  I hate it!  I hate the thought of any ending ... today, tomorrow, or ever.  They are the brains that puts this show together and the reason it has grown in such popularity.  

And now for the genius behind the scenes and the glue that holds this together.  Who really has the most fun and the longest exposure during the show?  THE MUSICIANS IN THE BAND.  Godfrey Townsend has again assembled a group that travels with and accompanies every performer.  Manny Focarazzo on keyboards, John Montagna on guitar, and Steve Murphy on drums (who also is killer soloist with Mark Farner and Chuck Negron when needed), do NOT leave the stage except for intermission, and when they need to get out of Mark Volman's way.  (Go see!)  Applause, gentlemen!  Your job is the best, and maybe worst, rolled into one.   

It is a HOT show!  Go see it! 
Shelley J Sweet-Tufano  

On first glance, Mark Farner and Mitch Ryder may seem like unlikely choices for this year's Happy Together line-up.  (Farner might fit in better with "Hippiefest", another Flo and Eddie / Turtles mainstay ... although it's REALLY hard to classify the music of Grand Funk Railroad these days.)  Typically, the Happy Together Tour has always taken on more of a "feel good" / "pop" motiff, so they've definitely "rocked things up" a bit this year by adding Farner and Ryder to the equation. 

Grand Funk Railroad were one of the original hard rock bands, selling ZILLIONS of albums back in the late '60's and early '70's (at one point, right up there ... and surpassing ... The Beatles for Capitol Records.)  Their first eleven albums went gold and platinum several times over.  (There was a time when you never heard Grand Funk Railroad and Black Sabbath mentioned without one another ... and then Led Zeppelin came along and all of a sudden the whole world was rockin' a little harder!)    

But the BIG hits didn't come until they went "pop" with "We're An American Band", a #1 Single in 1973.  Their cover of "The Loco-Motion" (alo a #1 Single) came from as far out of left field as a band could stray ... and today about the only things you still hear by these guys are those two #1 Hits and "Some Kind Of Wonderful" ... but they also recorded a whole bunch of OTHER great music that deserves a spin now and then.  (I love their version of "Feelin' All-Right" for example ... and "Closer To Home" is a Classic Rock Classic.)  Other early album rock tracks like "Heartbreaker" and "Mean Mistreater" ... soulful takes like "Footstompin' Music" and "Rock And Roll Soul" ... legitimate hits like "Walk Like A Man" and "Shinin' On" and "Bad Time" and credible covers like "Gimme Shelter", "Parnoid", "Inside Looking Out" and the aforementioned "Feelin' All Right" are all undeservedly ignored by classic rock aradio today ... these guys were HUGE!!! ... and breaking their entire career down to a couple of pop hits like "We're An American Band" and "The Loco-Motion" doesn't do them justice.  (I'm hoping Farner will play at least a few other favorites in his brief set list when we get to see them later this month.)  

Mitch Ryder's been back on the oldies circuit for a few years now, doing a number of shows (most notably along with Paul Revere and the Raiders and their "Where The Action Is" series).  Mitch had a real knack for working out some interesting medleys back in the day ... yet here again his career seems have been narrowed down to the occasional playing of "Devil With A Blue Dress On" by ignorant radio programmers across the country.  (For a closer look at just how big these artists really were, scroll back to our posting from last Tuesday, July 29th, where we recapped the Composite Top 40 Hits of all five head-liners ... an impressive list to say the least.   

As for Gary Lewis, you're not likely to hear him singing "Sealed With A Kiss" anytime soon ... it's his LEAST favorite record that he ever made.  (We probably have a better chance of convincing Howard Kaylan to give "You Know What I Mean" one more spin than we do of getting Gary to resurrect this one!)  Listening to it now is pretty painful ... I'm still surprised they let that one go, as foff-key as it is.  But no worries ... he's got plenty of OTHER Top 40 Hits to draw from ... including "This Diamond Ring", "Count Me", "Save Your Heart For Me", "Everybody Loves A Clown", "She's Just My Style", "Sure Gonna Miss Her" and "Green Grass", seven straight Top Ten Hits released between January of 1965 and May of 1966.  Famous dad or not, these are all GREAT hit records!    

I know what you mean about these short sets ... and I swear it feels like they've grown even shorter these past few years during The Happy Together Shows.  Even The Turtles themselves come and go so quickly.  (Perhaps it's that old adage "Leave 'em wanting more" ... and let's face it, you can always go check out The Turtles and/or Chuck Negron in solo shows and get more bang for your buck ... although a $59 ticket to see five superstars like this in one show is really pretty remarkable!)   

I would love to hear Chuck Negron do a full-blown set of Three Dog Night hits ... maybe even some of the over-looked album tracks that he's become so well know for.  After seeing the Cory and Danny show a few times now these past couple of years, I'm ready for a full-on Chuck Negron version of the Three Dog Night catalog.   

And The Turtles are always fun, no matter how many times you've seen them.  These guys just have a good time up there ... and take the audience along for a ride.  Even after 45 years of hit-making schtick, it still never gets old.  HIGHLY recommended! 

Thank you, Shelley ... you have REALLY whet my appetite to see this show!  (kk)