Thursday, July 7, 2016

Singles Going Steady 32-Madison Melodies

Heard that I was missed.  Basically I haven't gone away, I was updating some things in the archives and adding content to my music page The Townedgers.  Yes, I still have this urge to play in bar bands once again and I have on occasion sat in on a song or two or three. But I'm not going to sit by the phone and wait for that call to grab my drums and head on down to Rumors or Hot Shots to play Brown Eyed Girl.  I have been first and foremost a record collector that prides himself on looking for the hard to find music that nobody else cares about anymore.  I don't think nobody else on the internet has given any consideration to the talents of Cliff Steward and The San Francisco Boys lately.  The only band I really want to keep going have announced that their drummer will remain in the band and they continue to play around the area.  Which means I will finally get back to record collecting full time soon.  That is if there's any records out there that I haven't known about.

Last month was a triumphed return to Madison to see what the St. Vincent De Paul had for 45s and also taking a bike ride on the wild side.  Fighting muscle cramps, I still managed to add a few more choice quality 45's to which we spin the black circle.  Like BDW Records, there are cool stuff out there, problem is, a lot of it isn't exactly rock and roll but rather in the country and western field, or pop.  But if you have an open mind, a forgotten artist song can brighten up your day.  If not, you can always donate the record back to charity.  But even with an open mind, I do know what I'm looking for and that's something out not heard on the radio anymore and with Corporate radio sucking the life out of the overplayed, there is no shortage of unheard music.   I've given up trying to find a picture sleeve of Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix, unless I'm willing to put a second mortgage on the house and I'm not about to do that. I can only do so much nostalgia, and my wallet can only take so many hits.

Madison still has three record stores of worthiness, Mad City Music Exchange, Strictly Discs and Sugar Shack, the forth one B Sides on State Street I don't think has any 45s but then again I may not looked hard enough.  For cheap 45s, it is St. Vincent De Paul, the Goodwill and Salvation Army never seems to have any, and if there is any, the records are in poor shape.  Likewise Savers.  Of course there are record scavengers out there who find them and then bump the price up on EBAY, which sucks the life out of record collecting in this day and age.  The resources are drying up, unless somebody dies and their relatives end up donating them to the thrift stores.  Basically Mad City Music X and Sugar Shack's 45's are very hit and miss, scratched up and basically taking up space.  Nobody wants a Poor looking, cracked 45, unless they're doing some kind of art deco thingy.  Strictly Discs probably the more desirable ones, but I'm tired of those places naming their own price after looking up the value on the internet.  Let's face it, the golden era of 45s peaked about 40 years ago and those daya are not coming back.  The internet has given us wonderful things but they also have taken away the mom and pop bricks and mortar stores.   And there's nothing left to do but take chances at the local junk shop and come up with something.....

.....which I continue to have good luck finding things.  Which for the past five years I have been posting the findings here under the Singles Going Steady Banner.  And like the last few SGS pieces, a slant toward country and pop and once on occasion some rock and roll.  Used to be a time that I did something called Top Ten Of The Week and peppered some of the selections with 45s before I got bored with that.   But I never get bored in finding records and always enjoying to share them with you dear reader, although they're not a guaranteed ratings grabber.  At this point, blogs are nothing more than a time consuming celebration of finding something decent to play.   Even 60 year old 45s, when kept in good shape still play like new.  And those who used to have these, God bless you for taking good care of them.

1.   One Night-Elvis Presley (RCA Victor 47-7410)  #4  1958
       I Got Stung  #8

By this time, finding anything Elvis on Sun Records is out of the question but his RCA 45s are easier to find.  Thank you Betty Laugen for your copy of this Elvis classic.  I'm guessing the record is in VG shape, it plays well on One Night, a bit more rougher for I Got Stung, which I tend to like better.  Of course Smiley Lewis had a version of this song on Imperial, but Elvis sang it, although the lyrics got altered a bit.

2.  Big River-Chip Taylor (Warner Bros WBS 8128)  1975

Strange how all of the country band around town will cover Folsom Prison Blues but none of them will touch Big River.  The Shacklefords did it as a b side to their Mercury single (that vocalist none other than Lee Hazelwood) and Johnny Cash, who wrote it, took it to number 7 in 1958.  Chip Taylor is best known for penning Wild Thing but he did record a couple of  albums and singles on various labels, the best known were on Warners.  Although it's considered country, there's a bit of rockabilly on this live version from Taylor.  The single was taken from the album This Side Of The Big River, which is considered to be Taylor's best album.  Collector's Choice issued the album in 2006 (now out of print).  Another should have been hit single.

3.  Lucky Devil-Carl Dobkins Jr (Decca 9-31020)  #25  1959

A teen idol of sorts, Dobkins Jr is now basically forgotten, although if you're lucky enough My Heart Is An Open Book can be heard as a lost classic, never mind it made it to number 3 in March of 1959.  By December Dobkins, would take Lucky Devil up to number 25 although local markets had this song charted higher.   This record does have enough rock swing to it over the likes of Fabian or Bobby Rydell, but I do think Dobkins was more akin to Johnny Tillotson, although Johnny gets the nod with better song selection and name association.

4.  Please Come To Nashville-Ronnie Dove  (Melodyland ME 6004F)  1975

In 1975 thereabouts, Barry Gordy, owner of Motown decided that the time was right to start up a country and western label, originally called Melodyland but later changed to Hitsville and signed up some of the lesser known pop and rockabilly stars of yesterday, Dorsey Burnette and T.G. Shepherd who had the biggest hits for that label.  Strangely none of the Melodyland sides have shown up on CD format anywhere (in reality Shepherd's sides should have had a best of).  Ronnie Dove racked up a few big hits via Diamond Records in the 1960s but by 1975  he was regulated to the oldies circuit.  This uptempo gospel like country single didn't chart, but in some ways this reminds me of Billy Joe Royal's Atlantic years, where he went country.  One of the best songs Dove ever recorded despite the efforts of Mike Curb.

5.  Michelle-David And Jonathan (Capitol 5563)  #18 1966

File this under one hit wonders, but these guys are better known as Roger Cook and Roger Greenway, who wrote some big hits for the Fortunes (You Got Your Troubles) and The Hollies (Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress) and the White Plains stinker My Baby Loves Lovin. Under the David And Jonathan name they worked with George Martin on this Beatles cover. Their followup Lovers Of The World Unite, didn't make an impression in the US but in the UK it was their biggest hit at number 7. 

6.   Baby I Love You-Aretha Franklin (Atlantic 45-2427)  #4 1967

Soul music never was better than in the 1960s and you had a choice between Memphis soul via Stax, Chicago soul via Mercury/Brunswick, Philadelphia soul, and none finer than Atlantic soul.  However, the Queen of Soul toiled for five years at Columbia and had marginal success before signing with Atlantic and come firing away in 1967, with Respect hitting number 1, this was the followup and features the fine Fame/Muscle Shoals guys, David Hood and Roger Hawkins on drums.  And the hits would continue on for a few years.

7.   Country-Girl, City Man-Billy Vera and Judy Clay (Atlantic 45-2480)  #36  1968

Atlantic soul from the blue eyed soul of Billy Vera, teaming up with Judy as the first integrated singing duo, with two singles that Atlantic released.  Being 1968, this didn't set very well with America and whatever chance they had to promote the record was met with indifference and bigotry. Eventually there was a version done by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra (Storybook Children) that can be found a best of Nancy And Lee CD, if you can find it cheap.  Vera himself had meddling success with Atlantic in the late 60s but the number 36 placement of Country Girl would be his highest charting single for that label, before hitting number 1 with the 1986 remake of At This Moment, which Alfa issued as a single in 1981 and stalling out at number 79.  If nothing else Billy Vera has kept busy, writing liner notes to a few Rhythm and Blues albums on various labels in the 1990s.  Judy Clay recorded for Stax for a time but mostly sang backup to the stars before her passing in 2001.  To which Vera would write her obituary.  For his love of R and B, should be enough to get Vera into the rock and roll hall of fame. 
FYI-Chip Taylor co wrote and produced this song. 

8.  If I Can Get Just One More Hit-James O'Gwynn (Plantation PL-164)  1977

The Smiling Irishman Of Country Music,  James recorded for Mercury, United Artists and Hickory Records.  Perhaps his best known might be Losing Game, recorded for Starday/Mercury in 1956, but in all fairness he was a journeyman country artist.  After two failed singles for Pete Drake's Stop records, James would hang around Plantation Records from 1972 to 1977, to which If I Can Get Just One More Hit would be his final single.  It is a rare single, 45 Cat doesn't have it in their database.  Even for 1977 standards this does sound of desperation, the cliche lyrics didn't help much and it turned out to be wishful thinking for O'Gwynn.   James passed away in 2011.

9.  This Time-Waylon Jennings (RCA Victor APBO-0251)  #1 Country  1974

Numbero uno fan Diggy Kat always raves about the greatness of Ole Waylon, but I've known Waylon before he was outlaw cool.  Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line, Love Of The Common People, Singer Of Sad Songs (produced by Lee Hazelwood, he seems to pop up a few times it seems) I could go on and on but once Jennings got control of his music over the likes of Danny Davis, he rewrote the book on Country Music In Nashville!  But I also think at times, Waylon got too laid back for his own good but usually he made his point in two and half minutes such as this song.  I could have swore that our local rock station did play this song from time to time but Billboard claims it never charted.  At least on the pop side, country it made number 1.

10.   Queen Of The Rain-The Sons Of Champlin (Ariola America 7608)  1975

While Bill Champlin and the Sons Of Champlin were a hippie dippy band back in the late 60s for Capitol by 1975, they became more album rock, but with a eye on pop.  Of course Champlin would find that formula worked wonders when he joined up with Chicago and douchecanoe David Foster turning them into Keyboard Muzak.  Queen Of The Rain has enough rock in it to keep it from being muzak pop like Chicago became, but this song didn't strike a chord with listeners. They would have better luck with the #47 Hold On in 1976.  But by 1975, the hippie dream was over anyway and most of the hippie dippy bands eventually became corporate fodder (Case in point: Jefferson Starship) by the middle of the 1970s.  It' burned out and faded away.

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