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/

TOP 40 RADIO – Rich Paschall

Top 10, actually, by Rich Paschall

When we were in our later grade school years, owning a transistor radio was just about the coolest thing ever. You did not have to stay home and listen to a radio that was plugged into a wall, you could actually carry the radio around with you and listen to it just about anywhere.  Yes, the reception was not real good everywhere you went, but it was still better than having to stay in one spot.

Imagine, walking around with a cordless device and listening to your music!  This little device could fit into large pockets and was powered by a rectangular 9-volt battery.  Life was good.  The radios were so cheap you could save up for one, or annoy your parents until they got you one.

A good model came with an earphone. It was much like the earbuds they give you on plane rides, except it only had one for one ear.  Apparently, technology had not yet advanced to the two ear stage. It didn’t matter back then, as long as you had one.  If you got a model that would fit in your shirt pocket, and then you stuck one earbud in an ear, you might resemble someone with a “hearing aid.” No matter, you were still cool.

Your radio only received the AM band. You still had to sit at home to listen to FM radio. That was unimportant as there was nothing on the FM band for teenagers. There may have been some jazz stations, and a classical station or two, and a lot of stations you had trouble tuning in.  Who needed that when we had advanced to the age of the transistor?

The AM stations played the popular music of the day.  Two of them were very popular with teenagers and cool people all over our town.  One was WLS (World’s Largest Store, as in Sears) that had welcomed rock and pop and everything cool, man.  The other was WCFL (as in Chicago Federation of Labor).

Yeah, it started out to be something else.

These top 40 stations were groovy. They introduced us to the best acts: The Dixie Cups, The Serendipity Singers, The Shangri-Las and The Trashmen (seriously). Oh Yes, and we heard those other acts we still hear today: The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Four Seasons, Jay and the Americans and someone named Barbra Streisand.  It was the good old days. We just didn’t know it then.

At night when you were supposed to be in bed sleeping, you could put the radio under your pillow and listen to one of your stations through the pillow. This muffled the sound enough so nosey parents could not hear it. You could then stay up past 10 PM and hear the late night DJ.

Silver Dollar Survey

Top 40 radio was just an idea, a concept. It seemed like they did not actually have 40 songs.  You would hear the top songs many times throughout the day.  Approximately 10 songs were in heavy rotation.  If you loved one of the top songs, you did not have to worry about missing it.

WLS AM 890 did actually count down the top 40 every Friday afternoon.  In an era of 2 and a half-minute records, it was doable in the afternoon drive slot.  Many of us would rush to a nearby record store to get a printed copy of the “Silver Dollar Survey.” Then we would have the top 40 for the week, although we were unlikely to hear the ones at the bottom if we missed the countdown.

The survey was allegedly based on record sales.  Local acts seemed to do well. Perhaps they were not big outside the midwest.  We didn’t care. If a group we had heard of was playing at a high school “sock hop,” then that was the place to be. Radio gave us our music and our cultural interests. I guess it was not hard to sway a 14 or 15-year-old  toward certain records.  It is the same today

Now the top 40 stations are on the FM channels and streaming services.  Again, they are not really top 40, but a handful of songs in heavy rotation.  Turn them on now and listen to Post Malone, Cardi B, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Halsey, Panic! At the Disco, Drake, maybe even Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. You may ask, why do I know this handful of stars and their songs?

It seems that everyone 25 and under who rides in my car has also anointed himself the music director.  This may mean a change to B-96 or 93.5 Latino Mix! If there are too many commercials, we can also choose 103.5, I Heart Radio which contains a lot of commercials for themselves. In the afternoon, we can catch the ubiquitous Ryan Seacrest.

The format is the same.  Young people sing and/or dance along to a handful of songs.  Stations try to lead you to their favorite stars.  If people 15 to 25 buy singles, they are downloads, not 45s.  If they buy an album, that too is likely a download rather than an album on vinyl or a CD.  They may forego that to purchase a streaming service, although many are free.

The technology has changed, but the appeal of Top 40, which is really Top 10 or so, has remained.  With all of the music options, the release, and ranking of songs, whether if be on FM or online, seems to be important to the demographic that buys music in one form or another.

Top 40 is where we developed a love of music. It is those songs that harken us back to the “good old days” when we were able to carry our music around with us. Radio was then, and still is to many, our portal to the music that will stay with us.  The Beach Boys said in their 50th-anniversary album, “That’s Why God Made The Radio.” It’s a good song by a group that remembered why they made music 50 years earlier:

If you want to see the Beach Boys perform the song on the 50th-anniversary tour, click here.

Note: Today WLS is conservative talk radio, and WCFL is no more.  That frequency is WMVP, ESPN 1000.

THIS MAGIC MOMENT- Rich Paschall

The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50, 1969 by Rich Paschall

It’s the golden anniversary of some of the best rock and roll of all time and you are invited to join the party. We’ve got the turntable ready, the records are already stacked up, and we have set the machine to 45 revolutions per minute. If you have a “Way back” machine, you can join Sherman and Mr.Peabody at your school’s 1969 sock hop. If not, we will spin some hits for you. You have waited eagerly for my top 20 and I know you will enjoy them.

The top song of 1969 was the “bubblegum” hit, “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies. They did not come any sweeter. Also in the top 10 was “Dizzy” by Tommy Roe.  These songs were in heavy rotation on the pop music stations. In other words, they were playing all the time. People became dizzy from hearing “Sugar, Sugar” a dozen times a day.

The Beatles were nearing the end of their Long and Winding Road but they still were topping the charts: “Get Back,” “Something,” “Come Together.” The Rolling Stones, Elvis, Marvin Gaye, The Fifth Dimension, The Temptations, Sly and the Family Stone were all having Hot Fun in the Summertime.

Chicago the band released its first album, Chicago Transit Authority, a double album that went “platinum.” The group was nominated for a Grammy as best new artists.

Chicago in Chicago

It was a good year to cover songs from the musical, “Hair.” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “Hair,” “Easy to be Hard,” “Good Morning, Starshine,” all became hits for different bands.

If you are quite ready to Shimmy, Shake and Twist, we can put the needle down on my top twenty. You can add in the comments any of your favorites from 1969 that I missed.

20. Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In. The Fifth Dimension scored the number 2 hit of the year on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles of 1969.

19. I Heard It Through The Grapevine.  Forget those dancing raisins.  Enjoy the original from Marvin Gaye.

18. Easy To Be Hard. One of the many songs from the Broadway musical, Hair, to present a social message. This cover is by Three Dog Night.

17. Hurt So Bad. The Lettermen covered the 1965 hit by Little Anthony and the Imperials to great success of their own.

16. Traces. The Classics IV hit was released in January and reached number 2.  It could not knock “Dizzy” out of the top spot.

15. Hooked On A Feeling. The song was released in late 1968. The B.J. Thomas hit reached number 5 in early 1969.

14. Everybody’s Talkin‘.  The Harry Nilsson single was released in July 1968 to minor success. In 1969 it was used as the theme to Midnight Cowboy and re-released. It made our ’68 and ’69 lists.

13. This Magic Moment. Jay and the Americans had a hit with a cover of The Drifters’ song.

12. Touch Me.  The Doors’ hit was released in December 1968 and climbed the charts in early 1969.

11. Spinning Wheel. The era of rock with horns was underway and Blood, Sweat and Tears scored with this one.

10. Crimson and Clover. I never really knew what it meant, but then neither did Tommy James and the Shondells.  It was just something that sounded cool together to James.  The song was released late in 1968 and reached number 1 by February 1969. It represented a shift to a more psychedelic sound.

9. Build Me Up, Buttercup.  The British pop and soul band, The Foundations, had a big hit with this late 1968 release.  By early 1969 it had climbed the charts to number 3 in the US, 2 in the UK and number 1 in Australia. It was pop fluff, but I liked it.

8. What Does It Take (To Win You Love). Motown initially rejected this Junior Walker and the All-Stars song for single release. Its popularity on radio brought a 1969 release, and it became one of their most popular songs.

7. One.  This song was written and recorded by Harry Nilsson and released in 1968, but it was the 1969 recording by Three Dog Night that became a hit. It was their first gold record.

6. Hot Fun in the Summertime. This summertime favorite by Sly and the Family Stone made it to number two on the charts.  The Temptations “I Can’t Get Next To You” was holding down number 1.

5. Get Together. The Youngbloods recorded the song in 1966 and it was released in 1967 without much success. After use in a radio public service announcement, the song was re-released in June 1969 and became a hit.

4. Proud Mary. John Fogerty wrote the song for his band Creedence Clearwater Revival. It made it to number 2 in March of 1969.  Two years later Ike and Tina Turner had a huge hit with a different arrangement of the song.

3. Get Back. The Beatles song featured Billy Preston on piano. The single was released in stereo, unusual for a single then.  The song hit number 1 in many countries.  “Don’t Let Me Down” was on the B side.

2. Honky Tonk Women. Recorded by The Rolling Stones in June 1969 and released as a single the following month, this became one of the band’s biggest hits and a concert favorite. The song starts out with cowbell!

1. Crystal Blue Persuasion. While “Crimson and Clover” was a bigger hit for the group that same year, I like this one better. Tommy James stated in a 1985 interview, “it’s my favorite of all my songs.” At the time, many thought it was a song about drugs. Actually, James had brought together ideas he had read in several Bible verses, leading to the idea that some day (Book of Revelations) “They’ll be peace and good brotherhood.”

Click on any song title for the music video, or listen to the entire playlist by clicking here.

Many of the informational tidbits came from Wikipedia or from interviews with the artist as shown on You Tube.

See also: “Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1969,” From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

CHICAGO “NOW”

In April of this year fans of Chicago the band got to see what they had been waiting for.  Some thought the honor was deserved years ago, even decades.  Now the classic rock and roll band has entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Along with a notable string of hits, the band has garnered a loyal following based on their annual tours.  If you live in Chicago, you get the chance to see your favorites every year.
Of course the band has changed since its
Beginnings.  Terry Kath is gone.  Peter Cetera left for a solo career.  Danny Seraphine was asked to leave.  Original woodwind player Walt Parazaider, the oldest of the group, does not appear regularly.  In May longtime member and the replacement to Cetera, Jason Scheff, took a leave of absence for family health reasons.  Scheff insisted he was not leaving the band.  Last month, Chicago announced that Jeff Coffey, who had been filling in for Scheff, had officially joined the band. Characteristically, the band has little else to say on the topic.  Next year will mark their 50th anniversary.

Chicago XXXVI, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


In 2014 Chicago, the band, did something most older bands are reluctant to do.  They put out a new studio album of original music entitled “Chicago NOW.” Legendary bands with staying power such as Chicago make their living off their faithful fans at live performances and sales of older albums.  They know that only a select handful of older bands can actually sell new singles and albums.  The buying public for new music is mainly in the 13 to 34 age bracket and many of them tend to stream music rather than actually buy it.  The main buyers of CDs are in the 45 and over crowd but they are buying “catalog” music, or that is to say, classics from their favorite artists of the past.

Studio time can be expensive, both in terms of the studio cost and the lost concert performance time.  A touring band like Chicago, who spends most of the year on the road, does not like the idea of stopping for an extended length of time.  But Chicago is not ready to stop composing and recording, so how do they tour and record?  The answer came with a new recording system they call “The Rig.”  They have pushed the technology forward with a portable system so good, they record as they travel.  Much of Chicago NOW was done in hotel rooms across the country and around the world.

Founding member and trumpet player, Lee Loughnane, took charge of the project to put out a new album without stopping the show, so to speak.  Each composer of a song got to act as producer for his entry to the album and various band members helped with arrangements as well as select musicians from outside the group.  The group not only recorded on the move, they did not all have to be there at once.  Members would record their parts at different times.  Hank Linderman, a long time studio engineer, was the coordinating producer.  A “collaboration portal” was set up and tracks were sent at all times from Chicago and contributing musicians.  The result is a stunning contribution to the Chicago catalog and worthy of their best early efforts.



The title track, released as a download prior to the album début, has now worked its way into the current tour performances.  Written by Greg Barnhill and Chicago band member Jason Scheff, the number was produced and arranged by Scheff.  It is an energetic start to the album.  Scheff also contributed “Love Lives On” and is co-composer to founding member Robert Lamm’s  song, “Crazy Happy.”



While the horns section technically remains in tact with founding members Lee Loughnane on trumpet and James Pankow on trombone, founding member and woodwind player Walt Parazaider appears in the videos but in fact only played on three of the recordings.  Now at age 71, a variety of health issues in recent years has limited Parazaider’s time on the road.  Long time fill-in Ray Herrmann is also credited on three of the songs, though he is not listed as a band member.  While Herrmannn is now a frequent performer, the audience does not always realize it.  From a distance he somewhat resembles Walt.  Other sax players contributed to the album as well.

Guitar player Keith Howland sings the song he composed with Scheff and drummer Tris Imboden, “Nice Girl.”  He also contributes, along with Imboden to Lamm’s “Free at Last.”  As expected, Lamm leads the way on this album, being credited with lead vocals on six of the songs and background vocals on others.

Previously, I wrote about “America” released the autumn before Chicago 36. It appears on the album as well.  Lou Pardini drives home the song and the social commentary on lead vocal and keyboards.  Also on percussion for the band is Walfredo Reyes, Jr., a more recent addition to the Chicago lineup, a talented nine guys.

Chicago

Chicago in Chicago, August 2014

HURT SO BAD

This year Linda Ronstadt turned 70 years of age.  She last sang lead vocals on A La Orilla de un Palmar in 2010 on The Chieftans album.  It is a traditional Mexican song.  In 2011 her autobiography, Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir, was published.  Two years later is came out in Spanish.  She also was given the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 .  It was the same year she announced her retirement in an interview with an Arizona newspaper.  Another two years would go by before we would understand why she walked away from a highly successful music career.

The silencing of Linda Ronstadt, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

All through the 1970’s, you could not leave your transistor radio on for long without hearing the distinctive voice of Linda Ronstadt.  She emerged from her early time with The Stone Poneys in the mid 60’s as broke from paying for much of their third and final album. But from that album, a solo career began to emerge .  Her cover of Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum” became a hit and she was on her way.

After assembling a strong group of musicians and friends, she went ahead with both covers of songs from the 50’s and 60’s as well as some new songs.  The combination brought her hit after hit and made her one of the best-selling female artists of all time.  She posted many 10 top ten songs and one of her hottest was a cover of the Little Anthony and the Imperials song, Hurt So Bad,” which peaked in 1980.

In a career that lasted until 2011, Ronstadt sold over 100 million records and her voice can be heard on an astounding 120 albums.  She has an impressive collection of awards, including 11 Grammys.  She remained popular until her retirement when she declared herself “100 per cent retired.”  While some walk away from their careers as they get older, it is always somewhat of a surprise when a famous person retires.  You really expect them to come back at some point.  That was never going to happen for Ronstadt.

She could no longer sing.  She was physically unable.  In 2012 she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and in August 2013 the news was stated publicly.  Her induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came too late in her career.  In April 2014, the disease progressed to the point where she could not perform at her induction, or even attend.  Her friends took her place on stage, singing out her biggest hits in tribute.

In July of 2014, President Obama handed out twelve 2013 National Medals of Arts and Humanities, including one for Linda Ronstadt.  This honor was not to be denied to her.  She was brought to Washington and wheeled into the East Room by a military aide, but she stood and walked up to the President of the United States to receive her award “for her one-of-a-kind voice and her decades of remarkable music.”  After the ceremony President Obama admitted to the crowd,  “I told Linda Ronstadt I had a crush on her back in the day.”  It’s OK to admit that.  Millions of others boys did too.

This year the Grammy’s gave a Lifetime Achievement award to  Linda Ronstadt.  A musical salute to this year’s Grammy’s Special Merit award winners will be shown on Great Performances on PBS Friday, October 14th in most television markets.  Lila Downs, Martina McBride and J.D. Souther will cover some Ronstadt hits.

HURT SO BAD

The silencing of Linda Ronstadt, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

All through the 1970’s, you could not leave your transistor radio on for long without hearing the distinctive voice of Linda Ronstadt.  She emerged from her early time with The Stone Poneys from the mid 60’s as broke, from paying for much of their third and final album, but with a solo career emerging.  Her cover of Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum” became a hit and she was on her way.

After assembling a strong group of musicians and friends, she went ahead with both covers of songs from the 50’s and 60’s as well as some new songs.  The combination brought her hit after hit and made her one of the best-selling female artists of all time.  She posted 10 top ten songs and one of her hottest was a cover of the Little Anthony and the Imperials song, Hurt So Bad,” which peaked in 1980.

In a career that lasted until 2011, Ronstadt sold over 100 million records and her voice can be heard on an astounding 120 albums.  She has an impressive collection of awards, including 11 Grammys.  She remained popular until her retirement in 2011 when she declared herself “100 per cent retired.”  While some walk away from their careers as they get older, it is always somewhat of a surprise when a famous person retires.  You really expect them to come back at some point.  That was never going to happen for Ronstadt.

She could no longer sing.  She was physically unable.  In 2012 she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and in August 2013 the news was stated publically.  Her induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came too late in her career.  In April 2014, the disease progressed to the point where she could not perform at her induction, or even attend.  Her friends took her place on stage, singing out her biggest hits in tribute.

In July, President Obama handed out twelve 2013 National Medals of Arts and Humanities, including one for Linda Ronstadt.  This honor was not to be denied to her.  She was brought to Washington and wheeled into the East Room by a military aide, but she stood and walked up to the President of the United States to receive her award “for her one-of-a-kind voice and her decades of remarkable music.”  After the ceremony President Obama admitted to the crowd,  “I told Linda Ronstadt I had a crush on her back in the day.”  It’s OK to admit that.  Millions of others boys did too.

 

TGIF

Oh yeah!

catnipoflife

Echoes from the Past. . .

Remember When

Rock ‘n’ Roll, American Bandstand, the Beetles—
Teenage idols, legends in their own time
Sound and vibrations shook the world
Music made both young and old unwind

James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, J.F.K.—
Icons that ultimately shaped a nation
Lives ended in tragedy
Memories live on in admiration

Jonathan Winters, Bob Hope, Red Skelton—
Stand up comedy in side-splitting form
I Love Lucy resonated clowning around
Hearts remained rosy and warm

Life seemed so much simpler then
Bop Shu Bop Shu Bop, newly waxed gym floors, sock hops
Change was left in your pocket
Enough for drive-in movies, popcorn and soda pops

Remember when life was uncomplicated
Friends hung around to help with life’s collisions
The price of gasoline was under a dollar
Mom and Pop made all the decisions

 

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