GOOD OLD ROCK ‘N ROLL – Rich Paschall

One Hit Wonders of 1969, by Rich Paschall

While some songs often come Home To You and say I Wanna Be Your Dog, the artists behind them may have faded into Echo Park.  That’s why we are going to have a Birthday party and welcome them back for Apricot Brandy and Bubble Gum Music.

record player

Lift-off of the Saturn V rocket, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr.

Now if Cinnamon will just let us in, we are ready to blast off into the past. We will bring along Bella Linda, Big Bruce and the California Girl.  What is The Worst That Could Happen? I suppose there will be the Games People Play, but we will Kick Out The Jams.  Pay no attention to that Hot Smoke and Sasafrass, it just means the party is starting to heat up and There’s Something In The Air.

Don’t worry, I Gotta Line On You, babe, and see that you are ready to Get Together.  We will play More Today Than Yesterday because Tracy, when I’m with you, we have all the 45’s we need. Everyone will join in for our Simple Song of Freedom, as well as my top ten one hit wonders of a most memorable year. I see you have waited patiently for some Good Old Rock ‘N Roll, and we will Get It From The Bottom:

10. In The Year 2525, Zagar and Evans. I really liked this song in ’69 and bought the 45. Now I find it a bit obnoxious and repetitious.

9. Take A Letter Maria, R.B. Greaves. This was recorded in August, released in September and sold a million copies by November.

8. Sugar on Sunday, Clique. The song is a cover of an earlier Tommy James and the Shondells’ song.

7. Poke Salad Annie, Tony Joe White. The artist wrote and performed the hit. He found little success recording, but wrote other hits including “Rainy Night in Georgia.”

6. Baby It’s You, Smith. No, it’s not The Smiths. That  was a later group.  This short lived band is fronted by Gayle McCormick.

5. Love (Can Make You Happy), Mercy. The song was recorded at Sundi and released, and later recorded again at Warner Brothers where the band actually signed. Sundi was sued and their album was no longer allowed distribution.  Which version do you hear? You have to check the label, they sound alike.

4. More Today Than Yesterday, Spiral Staircase. The hit was written by lead singer Pat Upton. The group did not last much longer after this million seller.

3. Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye, Steam. We may not have known the song or the fictitious band in ’69, but everyone in Chicago came to know it in 1977 and following years. The White Sox started using the tune to play off opposing pitchers who were being replaced. That was a hit. The group on the album cover and in the old video is a road group that had nothing to do with the recording and is, in fact, lip syncing.

2. Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’, Crazy Elephant. This was another short-lived band that was mainly a studio creation. The song failed to chart when first released, but was re-released a couple of months later and climbed the charts to number 12 in the US.

1. Morning Girl, The Neon Philharmonic. This group was around a few years, then sold off the name. It achieved the big sound by using members of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. There are bigger hits on this list, as this one only climbed to number 17, but it is one of the ones I remember best.

The lack of good performance videos is due to the fact that many of these groups were not around for very long. Click on any song title to go to a video. Click here for the entire playlist of one hit wonders.

See also, THIS MAGIC MOMENT, The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50, 1969, Serendipity.

Sources include: 1969 One Hit Wonders & Artists Known For One Song, https://hotpopsongs.com/

MORNING GIRL

Who Sang It Better? by Rich Paschall

Mornin’ girl, how’d ya sleep last night?
You’re sev’ral ages older now

Oh, no, things are different now than they were before
You know love is more than kisses

The Neon Philharmonic – 1969

The Lettermen – 1971

Morning girl, where you been so long?
Your lips have got some color now
A little too much color now
Your clothes have gone from nylon to lace, somehow

Shaun Cassidy – 1976

It was a one hit wonder for The Neon Philharmonic in 1969.  They achieved the big sound by using musicians from the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.  The lead singer was Don Gant. It only made number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.  It did somewhat better in Canada.

Although credited to the Lettermen, you are only hearing one of their singers in the 1971 cover. Jim Pike sang with the group from 1959 to 1974 and does the honors here. The Lettermen were quite successful covering the songs of others.

The Shaun Cassidy cover is his first single. It may seem strange that the teen heart-throb of the 70’s is singing different lyrics than the others. That is because he is actually singing a follow-up song from The Neon Philharmonic entitled “Morning Girl, Later.” It had the exact same melody and was meant to take the story, if you could even say there was one, a little further along.  Perhaps it was felt the lyrics were a little better for the young Cassidy than the other one. He was still in high school.

ONE WONDERFUL MOMENT

1968 Edition, by Rich Paschall

Many musicians toil away at their craft hoping to break through the mass of musical acts and reach success with a hit recording.  Following endless rehearsals and low paying jobs, some of the best, or most interesting, will land recording contracts.  These artists wait eagerly for the day when one of their songs will be heard on the radio and climb the pop charts.  In 1968 there was no shortage of new acts to reach the Top 100.

Success may mean interviews and television appearances.  In an era with many television variety shows and, of course, American Bandstand, a chance to show off in front of millions could be at hand.  After finally having made it, performers looked for the next hit.  For many it would not be.  They would go down in music history as “one hit wonders.”

Just one hit song

Some golden songs will be 50 this year but will anyone come to the party?  As a one time triumph, the tunes may have faded from memory.  Some of you may still have the vinyl recordings on hand and listen to these songs with great fondness, despite the pop and hiss on your old record player (Millennials should go look up “record player” before reading on).  Others of you may have forgotten these completely.

In order to bring back some memories, I will give you my top 10 “one hit wonders” of 1968.  I promise you all of these really did hit high on the pop music charts and they are songs I still like.

Some of these songs sing out “Give Me One More Chance,” so come over because it “Ain’t Nothin’ But A House Party.”   You will find us “At The Top Of The Stairs” where “Sally Had A Party” with the “San Francisco Girls. ”  You might discover the “Smell of Incense” at our “Soul Meeting,” “Thank U Very Much.”  Don’t worry, “I Got A Sure Thing.”

10. Fire, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.  This song charted in many countries and sold over a million copies.  If you see the video, you will think Arthur is indeed in a Crazy World.

9.  In A Gadda Da Vida, Iron Butterfly.  The album version of this psychedelic hit played over 17 minutes.   The song was edited down to 2:53 for the single.  By the way, the song was supposed to be “In The Garden Of Eden,” but the drummer could not understand it when the singer first played it for him (he was drunk, apparently), wrote down the wrong thing and the title stuck.  It’s just another strange rock legend.

8.  Green Tambourine, The Lemon Pipers.  The song was released in late 1967 and hit number 1 by February 1968.  Status Quo, also on this list, covered the song on their 1968 album. It was not their one hit wonder.

7.  MacArthur Park, Richard Harris. The Irish actor and singer had his one big hit with this Jimmy Webb song.  The tune was written with the group The Association in mind.  They did not do it, but there were many covers, including a disco hit by Donna Summer.

6.  Nobody But Me, The Human Beinz. This was a cover of the 1963 Isley Brothers tune which failed to hit the charts.  Released late in 1967, the song made number 8 for The Human Beinz in 1968.

5.  Pictures of Matchstick Men, Status Quo.  This psychedelic rock tune was the only song by the group to chart in the US.  The group did have some later success in the UK.

4.  Classical Gas, Mason Williams.  The instrumental piece was composed and performed by Williams.  Fun Fact: Williams was the head writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and premiered the piece on their program.

3.  Angel of the Morning, Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts.   A number of artists found success with this composition.  Rush received a Grammy nomination.

2.  Soulful Strut, Young-Holt Unlimited.  It’s another instrumental piece for our list.  The jazz musicians Isaac Holt and Eldee Young from Chicago had no further success with their trio and gave up by 1974, although they still played around town.

1.  Grazing in the Grass, Hugh Masekela.  It is another jazz instrumental. This time South African trumpeter Masekela takes the lead.  The Friends of Distinction would add words and have a hit with the song the following year.

Click on the title of any song to go to the video, or hit up the entire playlist here.

Are we missing any goods ones?  Check Billboard or wikipedia for one hit wonders of 1968.
Sources include: 1968 One Hit Wonders & Artists Known For One Song, hotpopsongs.com

See also: “Those Were The Days, My Friend,” The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50.