FRANKIE AVALON – Frankie Avalon – (Chancellor) – 1958

Frankie Avalon - 1958

Of all the pure pop stars of the late 1950s and early 1960s Frankie Avalon is perhaps the most derided. Well, it’s either him or Fabian.

Like Fabian he was Italian-American.

Like Fabian he was a product of un-hip Philadelphia.

Like Fabian he quickly supplemented his music career with a film career.

Like Fabian his music doesn’t give rise to revisionism, retrospectives, or cult-dom.


like Fabian,

there is inherently pleasing pop in the best of his music.

Wikipedia:  Avalon was born in Philadelphia, the son of Mary and Nicholas Avallone … In December 1952, he made his American network television debut playing the trumpet in the Honeymooners "Christmas Party" sketch on The Jackie Gleason Show. Two singles showcasing Avalon's trumpet playing were issued on RCA Victor's "X" sublabel in 1954.[4] His trumpet playing was also featured on some of his LP songs as well. As a teenager he played with Bobby Rydell in Rocco and the Saints … In 1959, "Venus" (5 weeks #1) and "Why" went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. "Why" was the last #1 of the 1950s … Avalon had 31 charted U.S. Billboard singles from 1958 to late 1962, including "Just Ask Your Heart" (U.S. #7), "I'll Wait for You" (U.S. #15), "Bobby Sox to Stockings" (U.S. #8), and "A Boy Without a Girl" (U.S. #10). Most of his hits were written and/or produced by Bob Marcucci, head of Chancellor Records”

The great Cub Koda writing in Allmusic places Frankie in his musical context: “Discussing Frankie Avalon's career as a mover and shaker in 1950s rock & roll with anyone who takes their rock & roll even halfway seriously is to court derision. Avalon was the first of the manufactured teen idols, before Fabian and Bobby Rydell and the myriad of other pretenders to the throne who worked the turf with tight black pants and red, red sweaters to the fore while Elvis cooled his heels in Germany. In the late '50s and early '60s, post-Twist and pre-Beatles, these generally untalented pretty boys were the cardboard no-threat remnants of a post-Elvis age. But Avalon had a real musical background to go with the pretty boy looks, and was no drugstore teenager waiting to be discovered”.

“Generally untalented” is a bit rough (and just lazy stereotyping) especially when compared to what followed but Cub Koda is astute enough to point out Avalon’s usually unwritten difference, and that is, his musicality. Avalon was a child prodigy trumpet player, with a good ear for music.

And I suspect that gave him an edge.

He may not have extended himself but he knew what he was doing.

His active musical recording career was over by 1962 but he had proved himself a fair actor, and continued making films till the end of the decade. He still tours and has a popularity which is testament to just how popular he was in the early to mid-1960s …

I grew up watching the Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello beach movies on weekends which alternated with Martin & Lewis films, Abbott & Costello films, Francis films and, of course, Elvis films. Despite the fact that Frankie and Annette were too Italian, and too urban, it never struck me that they weren’t authentic sun, surf and sandy beach types.  But, then again, as an inner-Brisbane suburban (not a contradiction but a Brisbane thing) child, the son of southern European migrants to Australia, Avalon and Funicello certainly reminded me of people who would flock to Margate beach at nearby Redcliffe, on weekends, when I was a kid.

And in the days before digital entertainment, air conditioning and planned distractions the summer trips to Redcliffe, when we weren’t going fishing, were a must. All the uncles, aunts and cousins would congregate for a few hours of good quality extended family time.

And it wasn’t our family that invented this festivity.

The beach was not a surf beach and the sand, by Australian standards, was fairly narrow (even at low tide) between water’s edge and the concrete steps that dropped from the grass verge to the sand.

On summer weekends, the dirt road that ran along the grass verge was awash, on either side, with Italians, Croatians, Greeks, Hungarians and Poles all set up with their tents, tables, chairs, blankets and their version of barbecuing – which was much more elaborated than the Australian sausage and bun.

The smells of all the international cuisines, the multitude of languages and dialects made the place a "little Europe" amongst the gumtrees and lantana.

It certainly wasn't everyday Queensland.

It wasn't familiar Australia.

Well, it wasn’t Anglo Celtic Australia.

It certainly wasn’t an Australia that was or is portrayed in popular culture.

With upward mobility and the improvement of inter-town roads the (mainly southern) Europeans eventually gravitated away from weekends at Redcliffe to the infinitely sexier Gold Coast or the posh Sunshine Coast and Redcliffe beach has become home to newer waves of migrants.

At least that is the way I remember it.

It seems to me that the music of Frankie Avalon would fit in with that environment.

I can now hear Frankie Avalon’s music (or something like it) coming from any of those tents in the 1970s, some 15 years after he had recorded it.

This was as rock "n" roll as that specific cultural generation got, well this and Elvis of course, "who must have been a southern European with his dark complexion and hair".

And, there is nothing wrong with that.

It seems Frankie's music is perfect manufactured pop and faux beach music and … prefect for a migrant’s faux Australiana beach going.

The Italians especially knew he had done good … he was one of them, he was a singer, he was a movie star, he was clean cut and he hooked up with the perfect Italian girl next door, Annette Funicello, in every other film.

Where he fits into American culture I leave for the Americans to analyse.

To me he is pure pop of an era I have fond memories of, despite the fact the era was over before I was born.

Would I put him on the turntable above Dion, Bobby Darin, Bobby Vee?

No, but I sure enjoy his music and look forward to discovering his albums.

This album was probably rushed in 1958 to capitalise on his late 1957 hit “DeDe Dinah” (#7US).

Not surprisingly the album is made up of hits of the day with a few songs from Frankie's musical memory, the odd contemporary track that took his fancy and some old trad pop songs for the "grown ups".

Avalon was never a rock ‘n’ roller but in true pop fashion Frankie’s pop veers to cleaner versions of the rock ‘n’ roll that was still consuming the youth. The stereotype, and lazy history is, that this made him palatable with the adults. There is a truth in that but his chart success indicates the kids bought his music as well.

Pop, by its nature, is designed to reach as many people as possible and everyone dabbles in it. Elvis had as much pop as rock 'n' roll, even in the 50s and Beatles probably had more pop than outright rock.

Avalon, decided that is where his talents best lie and never deviated but, eventually, followed the Bobby Darin route from rock “n” pop to all around entertainer.

This album is arranged by and conducted by Italian-American guitarist Al Caiola (at least one his albums is in every op shop) and produced by fellow Philadelphian Peter DeAngelis.

Peter DeAngelis and Robert Marcucci founded Chancellor Records and became one of Philadelphia's most successful writing as well as manager/producer teams in the late fifties and early sixties.

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

  • Oooh! Look-A There, Ain't She Pretty? – (Todd, Lombardo) – an old tin pan alley standard done by everyone that dates back to Fats Waller in 1936. There is some magnificent guitar work (not quite rock 'n' roll but hyper) that I assume is supplied by Al Caiola. It is complimented by some wailing saxophone.
  • Short Fat Fannie – (Williams) – Larry Williams’ #5Pop, #1 R&B US from 1957. More hyper pop. Frankie is trying to pitch this in Bobby Darin rock 'n' roll territory. It is cute and it works.
  • Young Love – (Joyner, Cartey) – country singer Sonny James had a crossover hit with this in 1957 #2Pop, #1 Country but Tab Hunter did a version which was released in the same months (January) as James’ version. Hunter’s version went to #1 Pop US. I love this song. It's a great tune (especially in its two hit versions). Frankie's version works also and he sings it with the right amount of youthful emotion.
  • Young and Beautiful – (Schroeder, Silver) – first recorded by Elvis for his 1957 hit film “Jailhouse Rock” … this was an album track (or rather an EP track as the film did not have a soundtrack album just an EP) and had Avalon and his producers thinking beyond just recent chart hits for song selection which I applaud (though Elvis' EP went to #1 in the short lived EP charts). Frankie copies the Elvis arrangement (well, no arrangement) and sings in lonely and sparse and it sounds great.
  • Diana – (Anka) – Paul Anka’s N2Pop, #1 R&B US hit from 1957. Pure up-tempo pop that suits Frankie.
  • At The Hop – (Singer, Medora, White) – Danny & the Juniors #1Pop, #1R&B smash from 1957. Quite a good version but not distinctive.
  • Honey – (Simons, Gillespie, Whiting) – an old Tin Pan Alley dong dating back to 1929 and a hit for Rudy Valee. A definite throwback but not too bad.

Side Two

  • I'm Walkin' – (Domino, Bartholomew) – Fats Domino’s #4Pop, #1R&B hit from 1957. A good version of the great tune.
  • Little Bitty Pretty One – (Byrd) – originally recorded by Bobby Day, and popularized by Thurston Harris in 1957 (#6 Pop, #2 R&B). Others have had subsequent hits with it : Frankie Lymon (#58 Pop US 1960), Clyde McPhatter (#25 1962), The Jacksons (#13 US 1972).
  • De De Dinah – (Marcucci, DeAngelis) – the hit written for Avalon by his management team. Quite catchy though quite ridiculous.
  • The Stroll – (Otis, Lee) – The Diamonds #4Pop, #5 R&B US hit from 1957. Filler here.
  • My Mom – (Donaldson) – The standard was written and composed by Walter Donaldson in 1932 and done by a few trad pop-sters (Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett) including Rudy Valee in 1932. Very safe and very traditional sounding.
  • You're My Girl – (Cahn, Styne) – Written for the Broadway musical, "High Button Shoes”. Its first performance was by Mark Dawson and Lois Lee (1947) though actor Jack Webb does a spoken word version (Jack “talks” the lyrics of the song over easy-listening background music) in 1958. Trad …

And …

Quite a good pop "n" roll album. It is trying to cover all generational bases but, when it moves, it is thoroughly enjoyable. I'd be happy to drink to this in the sunshine … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action



1957 DeDe Dinah #7 Pop

1957 DeDe Dinah #8 R&B





Oooh! Look-A There, Ain't She Pretty?

mp3 attached

Short Fat Fannie

Young Love

mp3 attached

Young and Beautiful


At The Hop


I'm Walkin'

Little Bitty Pretty One

De De Dinah


The Stroll

My Mom

You're My Girl


sometimes I agree with Patty Duke ..

The Alamo





  • Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobby Rydell still tour together as The “Golden Boys”.

Frankie Avalon - 1958 - back


RIP: Glen Campbell (1936-2017)

Posted in Pop Rock, Rockabilly and Rock n Roll | Tagged | Leave a comment

GENE PITNEY – I Must Be Seeing Things – (Musicor) – 1965

GENE PITNEY - I Must Be Seeing Things

Pitney’s career was still on the way up.

His career hadn’t been derailed by The Beatles or by changes in taste as had happened to so many other white male solo vocalists of the early 1960s.

Ultimately, it was the excessive noise and experimentation later in the decade as well as age that eventually ended his chart making status.

Pitney, though, was always more than the others of his ilk. He was the yard stick by which they all measured up to. He was never outright rock ‘n’ roll but there was a fair bit of rock attitude in his up-tempo pop but there was also soul, country, folk and trad pop balladry when he wanted it.

But, it is his ballads where the rock ‘n’ roll (attitude) is most noticeable.

The up-tempo pop rock song (as well as the rock ballad) is a style Elvis invented (whatever that word means). The arguments will always exist (especially amongst the slack jawed yokels) as to who (or what) invented rock ‘n’ roll when referring to the up-tempo rock we associate with the 50s, but, when it comes to the up-tempo pop rock song, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Bill Haley never even attempted the same. Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers and Charlie Rich did but they were a fraction later.

Pitney took those pop rock songs and added his musical personality to the mix just like Roy Orbison was doing in the (post-Sun records) MGM phase of his career.

Pitney was the natural successor to late 50s era Roy Orbison who was having concurrent hits but their personas were different. Orbison was thoughtful, mournful, and emotional but, perhaps, resigned to the difficulties that life throws up whereas Pitney was edgy, hyper emotional and not accepting.

Between them they created some of the best big ballads and pop of the 1960s.

Gene was no slouch when it came to writing songs but (much like Johnny Cash) he never felt compelled to write all his material and would always draw on other people’s songs if he saw something in the lyric. And, like Cash, or any great singer, he interprets the song and adapts it to his musical personality and world view.

Here, Gene writes a few tunes, records some songs by established songwriters like Bacharach-David, Udell-Geld, and Pomus-Shuman, and also records songs by new talents which would become influential in music like Al Kooper and Randy Newman. There are relatively fewer covers than you would expect for an album of this type.

The songs are linked thematically by love in all its phases: new love, lost love, love gone bad, bad love, lustful love, rejected love, re-found love but, then again, there are precious few Pitney song that aren’t about love.

The beauty is of course if doesn’t matter if Gene writes the song or someone else does because they all end up sounding like Gene Pitney songs.

I have never shied away from an album populated by covers (if it comes from the right era) but Gene’s choice of new material is what gives him the edge over other male vocalists. Of course the beauty is that with him being a hit maker meant he got, potentially, first choice on newly written songs.

Tracks (best in italics)

              Side One

  • I Must Be Seeing Things – (Bob Brass, Al Kooper, Irwin Levine) – first released by Gene. A magnificent ode to a potential broken love. Hyper emotional which captures the anguish of the narrator.
  • Marianne – (Gene Pitney) – could this possibly be a song for Marianne Faithfull, with whom Gene had a brief fling in the mid-'60s? The song both flatters the title character and is also quite realistic about the vicissitudes of life.
  • Save Your Love – (Pitney) – a plea to keep love pure till the narrator returns.
  • Down in the Subway – (Peter Udell, Gary Geld) – talented US composers Udell and Geld composed the immortal “Sealed with a Kiss”. I prefer being "Down in the Subway" than "Down in the Tubestation at Midnight"
  • If Mary's There – (Udell, Geld) – first recorded by Brian Hyland in 1963.
  • Don't Take Candy From A Stranger – (Bob Brass, Al Kooper, Irwin Levine) – it seems this was first released by Gene. Sage advice though there is more than on meaning here.

Side 2

  • One Day – (Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman) – it seems this was first released by Gene. A warning with certainty about what the girl will miss.
  • She's Still There – (Kooper, Levine) – Patient love. First released by Gene.
  • Just One Smile – (Randy Newman) – first done by The Tokens in 1965 then covered by Blood sweat & Tears in 1968. A hyper emotional mid-tempo ballad. The narrators position is immediately palatable. A great song.
  • There's No Livin's Without Your Lovin' – (Jerry Harris, Paul Kaufman) – first released by Gene. But covered by Manfred Mann later in 1965 and Peter & Gordon in 1966. (and then Mink DeVille in 1985). I can see why the British Beat groups took a shine to this.
  • I Lost Tomorrow (Yesterday) – (Jay Darrow) – it seems this was first released by Gene.
  • If I Never Get To Love You –  (Hal David, Burt Bacharach) –first recorded by Lou Johnson in 1962 but Marianne Faithful did a version in 1965 (just before Gene?). A beautiful song with tasteful strings.

And …

Wonderful … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action



1965 I Must Be Seeing Things #31 Pop

1967 Just One Smile #64 Pop


1965 #112



1966 Just One Smile #8


1965 #15 (as "Looking through the Eyes of Love" – see note at end)



1966 Just One Smile #55



I Must Be Seeing Things 



Save Your Love

Down In the Subway

If Mary's There

Don't Take Candy from a Stranger

One Day

She's Still There

Just One Smile 

mp3 attached

There's No Livin' Without Your Lovin'

I Lost Tomorrow (Yesterday)

If I Never Get To Love You






  • This album (in its American and Australian pressings) has the song "If I Never Get to Love You" whilst UK copies have "Looking Through the Eyes of Love". I believe it was normal for US and Australian copies, to have the former track. The UK release of the album featured "Looking through the Eyes of Love" which was a Top 10 hit in the US, UK as well as Canada. The album was released as "Looking through the Eyes of Love" on the Stateside label in the United Kingdom. The American album "Looking through the Eyes of Love" also released in 1965 had a totally different track listing apart from the title track.


RIP: Red West (1936-2017)

Posted in Pop Rock, Rock & Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment

HARPERS BIZARRE – Feelin’ Groovy – (Warner Brothers) – 1967

Harpers Bizarre - Feelin' Groovy

Harpers Bizarre (formed 1963, disbanded 1970) are another one of those specifically American bands  that hit it reasonably big there but never had a big overseas presence …think Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Happenings, Jay and the Americans etc etc.

They do crop up in op shops occasionally and usually, not surprisingly, it is their hit album.

And that, in this case, is this album.

Wikipedia: “Harpers Bizarre was formed out of the Tikis, a band from Santa Cruz, California, that had some local successes with Beatlesque songs in the mid 1960s. The Tikis had been signed to Tom Donahue's Autumn Records from 1965 to 1966 and had released two singles on that label. In 1967, record producer Lenny Waronker got hold of the Simon & Garfunkel song "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," determined to make it into a hit single. The Tikis recorded it using an arrangement created by Leon Russell, featuring extended harmonies reminiscent of the work of Brian Wilson or even the Swingle Singers. The song was released under a new band name, "Harpers Bizarre" (a play on the magazine Harper's Bizarre), so as not to alienate the Tikis' fanbase. The Harpers Bizarre version of the song reached No. 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1967,far exceeding any success that the Tikis thus far had. The track reached No. 34 in the UK Singles Chart … The success of the single prompted Harpers Bizarre to record their debut album … Most of Harpers Bizarre's recordings are cheerful and airy, both in subject matter and musical accompaniment, often with string and woodwind arrangements. Their music is most closely associated with the sunshine pop and baroque pop genres”.

The allmusic entry is perhaps more to the point, “One of the bands that came to Warner Bros. in their buyout of Autumn Records were the Tikis. They had only recorded a handful of singles, and in terms of musical direction and group identity, they definitely had potential. Enter producer Lenny Waronker and session musician/arranger/songwriter/general musical architect Van Dyke Parks. The two of them brought then-drummer Ted Templeman up to the front as co-lead vocalist, along with Dick Scoppettone, and created a soft-rock identity for the group, renaming them Harpers Bizarre”.

Perhaps, tellingly, they had most of their success in the Adult Contemporary (aka "Easy Listening") chart which gives an indication of their audience. They had five singles in the Top 40 of that chart including a #1 (“Chattanooga Choo Choo")

The band (or some of them) could write songs when pushed but they mainly relied on songs written by others:

  • recent songs released by others though, usually, album tracks they thought had potential. A wise move: get a catchy album track from an established act and release it as a single;
  • songs by upcoming songwriters (especially those with a hit making track record), or;
  • (familiar) songs from the tin pan alley / trad pop era contemporised to their musical world view.

And, this seems to be the case across all their albums.

The bottom line was sales but they did do this in accordance with their world view musical style.

They started off as AM Pop (much like The Association, The Sunshine Company, The Sandpipers) and then incorporated more eclectic sounds into the mix including baroque pop, sunshine pop and 1920s and 1930s era tin pan alley pop which enjoyed only a brief vogue, roughly from late 1966 to 1968, probably on the back of the mammoth success of the film “Bonnie & Clyde”(which in itself was a A-Grade culmination of a series of B-Grade gangster films of the proceeding ten years as well as the success of prohibition era TV shows like “The Untouchables”).

This album is a mix of AM pop and a vocal group playing jazzy pop music with dribs and drabs of the aforementioned sunshine pop and baroque pop.

Any album that lists amongst its writers Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, Paul Simon, Leon Russell, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Sergei Prokofiev an is played by Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine, Joe Osborn, Carol Kaye and Lyle Ritz, Mike Deasy, Al Casey, Leon Russell and Tommy Tedesco (ie: the Los Angeles Wrecking Crew) deserves a listening.

Harpers had a sound which experimented with heavy vocal layering, like an AM non-rock Beach Boys. But, what is most enjoyable is the committed world view. The recordings are light, cheerful and airy, in subject matter, arrangement and musical accompaniment, and this,  perhaps, cloying to some people, gay to others.

Perhaps it was perfect 1967 music as it captures some of the optimism of the time. There were dark clouds on the horizon but Harpers either studiously avoid them or don’t see them. Today, it is perfect sub-tropical coffee shop music and that is not pejorative as many acts aren’t even that.

Such single minded, well-crafted pop is to be admired.

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

  • Come to the Sunshine – (Van Dyke Parks) –  Light, so light it almost floats.
  • Happy Talk – (Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II) – from the Broadway musical and film “South Pacific”. This is often covered. So so.
  • Come Love – (Alan Bergman, Marilyn Keith, Larry Markes) –  perhaps recorded first by Harpers Bizarre though written by established husband and wife team Alan and Marilyn with assistance from Larry Markes
  • Raspberry Rug – (Leon Russell, Donna Washburn) – recorded (and released as a single) by Joey Cooper in 1967 I think Harpers did it first.
  • The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) –  (Paul Simon) –  Unlike the gentle beautiful folk pop of Simon and Garfunkel's original this features a harmonic choral a cappella section and a woodwind quartet with a flute, oboe, clarinet and a bassoon. The original song was on Simon and Garfunkel's “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” album (#4 US 1966) and the B-side to the hit single “At the Zoo" (#16 US 1967) but Harpers saw the siungle potential in it. And they were right. This reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Side Two

  • The Debutante's Ball – (Randy Newman) – first done by Harpers (Randy plays piano on it). A waltz pop song with some sharp lyrics (though you have to listen hard) …

            What a wonderful sight, it just seems to be right

            That there's something to do for the rich people too

            So light up the hall, there's dancing for all

            At the debutante's ball

  • Happy Land – (Randy Newman) –  first done by Harpers but covered by the Alan Price Set and Liza Minelli in 1968. It sounds like a throw back to Disney animated musicals which probably would have made Randy Newman happy.
  • Peter and the Wolf – (Ron Elliott, Sergei Prokofiev, Robert Durand) –  Russian composer Prokofiev re-written with lyrics added by Beau Brummels guitarist Ron Elliott with frequent collaborator Bob Durand. Like The Tikis (the pre Harpers Bizarre), The Beau Brummels came to Warner via the label’s acquisition of the San Francisco based Autumn Records, and Tikis member John Petersen was himself an ex-Brummel.
  • I Can Hear the Darkness – (Leon Russell, Donna Washburn) – first done by Harpers. Thematically quite "of its time" but very catchy.
  • Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear – (Randy Newman) – The song was popularized in the UK by the Alan Price Set under the title "Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear", where it reached #4 in 1967 but Harpers Bizarre did it earlier though not first. Tommy Boyce released it in 1966. The song has been often covered (most memorably by Harry nilsson on his 1969 album "Harry").

And …

Coffee shop music, as long as you are sitting on the sidewalk in the mid-morning sun. Not too bad … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action



1967 The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) #13 Pop

1967 The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) #4 AC (Adult Contemporary)

1967"Come To The Sunshine #37


The album doesnt seem to have charted which is a little odd given the success of the singles. 1967 was a competitive year for all generations of music lovers.



1967 The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) #34



Come to the Sunshine


Happy Talk

Come Love

Raspberry Rug

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)


mp3 attached

The Debutante's Ball

Happy Land

Peter and the Wolf

I Can Hear the Darkness

Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear






Posted in Sunshine Pop and Baroque | Tagged | Leave a comment

THE EVERLY BROTHERS – Two Yanks in England – (Warner Brothers) – 1966

Everly Brothers - Two Yanks in England

I love the Everly Brothers.

Many people do, though generally, they aren’t as revered as the hell raisers and out and out rock ‘n’ rollers from the 1950s.

Elvis will forever reign supreme as he straddled or created a number of styles of rock ‘n’ roll in those years 1954 -1958 where he reinvented himself regularly. But despite his rock ballads, country-ish rock, pop, faux jazzy rock, trad pop stylings, rhythm and blues, gospel, seasonal rock it is his out and out rockers he is lauded for.

People gravitate to that in rock music.

Buddy Holly aside, 50s enthusiasts generally like their rock and roll, loud, aggressive and with beat. And these are the songs we remember by Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, Billy Lee Riley, Link Wray et al.

Their twin harmonies of the Everly Brothers were just too pop despite the fact they could rock out and had the right pedigree for first generation white rockers: they were of Southern heritage and grew up listening to (a lot of) country, gospel and R&B

But it is these harmonies that took (along with Buddy Holly) US rock in a different direction and influenced the British Invasion bands as well as The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Gram Parsons, The Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel, and any other number of duos.

Their influence is obvious.

But by the mid-1960s, like many of their 50s peers, their career was on the wane.

Of the first generation only Elvis had a career, though he was in Hollywood making movies and not extending himself (yet).

Many of the first generation black guys had retreated into rehashing the same rock ‘n’ roll rhythms over and over again whilst many of the white guys had moved to country music.

All, though, had a career, playing live, in England.

Say what you will of the English public and music, and I have said a bit, they do love their dinosaurs.

And, I’m not using dinosaur here in a pejorative way (not this time), I just mean the English love to hang on to things. Perhaps it’s because, in this case, they missed out on much of this early on but I suspect it has more to do with the fact that their smaller population (and smaller market) means that new things aren’t being continually invented so there is room for “oldies” in the charts even a lot later on.

The Americans also love to hang on to things (if gigs are any indication of anything) but their musical dinosaurs rarely invade the charts after their initial burst of popularity is over.


  • if you have influenced English music;
  • you are popular over there;
  • and things aren’t going all that well in your home country,

it is a no brainer what you have to do …

And, that is, go to England and record an album of English tunes, with some English musicians.

This music kicks with rhythm and beat and the Everlys nail a number of the covers and perhaps do some even better than the originals. And … I’m happy to say, the music is eclectic, and even quirky as the Everlys play around with their familiar harmonies (which must have alienated their traditional fans looking for more of the same) whilst some of the songs are just weird, well weird by Top 40 standards.

The Hollies, apparently (and perhaps not surprisingly) played on most of the album as did James Burton, but it has also been rumoured that Jimmy Page contributed some guitar as a session musician and, John Paul Jones and Reggie Dwight (a.k.a. Elton John) also played on the album.

Clearly a no brainer album, though, doesn’t mean success with the music public.

What does that say about them?

This didn’t chart.

The Everly Brothers went the way of the other 1950s white rock ‘n’ rollers into safer country pop …. though there were many little masterpieces there also.

Check my other comments for biographical detail.

Note, the author “L. Ransford” (who wrote eight of the twelve songs on the album) is, actually, Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks & Graham Nash of The Hollies who were asked (wisely by someone) to supply songs for this album.

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

  • Somebody Help Me – (Jackie Edwards) – a UK #1 in early to mid-1966 for the Spencer Davis group. A good version of the song. It doesn't add anything to the original (even if I prefer it a little).
  • So Lonely – (L. Ransford) -Graham Nash) – originally done by The Hollies as a B-side in 1965 and, here, not dissimilar to Peter & Gordon. Excellent with the yearning the Everlys made famous in the late 50s.
  • Kiss Your Man Goodbye – (Don Everly, Phil Everly) – a great tune with some great guitar. The Everlys sound is contemporised to mid-60s London.
  • Signs That Will Never Change – (L. Ransford) – recorded by the Hollies though not released until 1967 as a B-side. A pretty song and very a wistful mid-60s mid-tempo ballad.
  • Like Every Time Before – (L. Ransford) – the Hollies released this as a B-side in 1968. A cross between the Beatles "And I Love Her" and Unit 4 Plus 2's 1966 hit "Concrete And Clay" all done to a Latin beat.
  • Pretty Flamingo – (Mark Barkan) – a UK #1 in early to mid-1966 for Manfred Mann. A magnificent song. Not as good as the original but the song is so good it doesn't matter too much.

Side Two

  • I've Been Wrong Before – (L. Ransford) – had been issued under the title “I've Been Wrong" in 1965 on the US ‘Hear! Here!” and the UK “Hollies” LPs. A good up-tempo number.
  • Have You Ever Loved Somebody? – (L. Ransford) – also recorded by the Hollies , released on their 1967 album “Evolution” though The Searchers had a minor hit with it in the UK in 1966 (#48Uk, #94 US). Another up-tempo number which is quite good.
  • The Collector – (Sonny Curtis, Don Everly, Phil Everly) – based on the 1963 British novel of the same name by John Fowles (which was made into a successful film by William Wyler in 1965). Apparently song authors Don Everly and Sonny Curtis (a former Cricket with Buddy Holly) had read the book though Curtis, has said that it really is Don Everly's song, despite what the songwriting credits say). Suitably tortured and quite beautiful.
  • Don't Run and Hide – (L. Ransford) – originally done by The Hollies as a B-side in 1966. Very Hollies (not surprisingly).
  • Fifi the Flea – (L. Ransford) – originally done by The Hollies on their US “Beat Group!” album and UK “Would You Believe” album (1966). Like a downbeat version of the Beatles' "Michelle" … a tale of a doomed love affair between circus performers … and one of the best songs in the "doomed love affair between circus performers" song genre.
  • Hard Hard Year – (L. Ransford) – originally done by The Hollies on their US “Beat Group!” album and UK “Would You Believe” album (1966). Some nice organ and a good vocal though a downbeat ending to a "swinging London" album.

And …

The Everlys are out of their comfort zone but not out of their depth. There are many treasures here. A underrated album … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere


Somebody Help Me

So Lonely

Kiss Your Man Goodbye

mp3 attached

Signs That Will Never Change

Like Every Time Before

Pretty Flamingo

mp3 attached

I've Been Wrong Before

Have You Ever Loved Somebody?

The Collector

Don't Run and Hide

Fifi the Flea

Hard Hard Year







The Everly Brothers with singer Kelley in Dublin, Ireland 1966. Kelley was in the Irish "Nevada Showband". Okay it's not England but the threads are influenced by English fashions (though, apparently, all bought in Dublin).


Everly Brothers with singer Kelley in Dublin 1966


Posted in Rock & Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment

WEREWOLVES – Werewolves – (RCA) – 1978

Werewolves - Werewolves

I had not heard of The Werewolves before but picked this up because there is a vaguely New Wave-ish power pop look to this band from 1978.

Something I'm not alone in as they do crop up on power pop and punk sites

Well, the lesson is, appearances are deceiving.

But, in this case, a pleasant one.

The label may have marketed their appearance on the then popular New Wave but the Werewolves are anything but.

The information on-line is sketchy.

Texas always was a fertile ground for dusty, swaggering, and often idiosyncratic rock 'n' roll and The Werewolves were a Dallas (from Oak Cliff), Texas bar band. And they were very popular, almost legendary, on the Dallas scene in the 1970s.

The band formed in 1974 and like many bands of the day, and in their locale, they were a working band.  They played covers and originals and played them tight.

But, their pedigree goes back a lot further.

Guitarist, Seab Meador, had been on lead guitar and vocals as a teenager in Dallas garage band "The Gentlemen" from about 1964 – 1968. He then joined The Bridge, before joining The Werewolves.

Seab Meador, also, did a short tour as a member (along with two future members of ZZ Top) in a fake version of the Zombies in the late-60s. The manager had the legal rights to form a band to tour off of the Zombies great hit songs, as the original band had broken up.

Singer Brian Papageorge had his roots in other Dallas bands also, and formed The Hurricanes in Houston with Seab and Ron Barnett, both later of The Werewolves (this band may have directly morphed into The Werewolves).

Like any other band of the early 1970s The Werewolves were loud and took on board the influences of Jeff Beck, The Animals, The Kinks, Bad Company and the rhythm and blues swagger of the Rolling Stones .  

"We're always being compared to them," says singer Brian Papageorge, whose spry frame makes him closer to Nuryev than Jagger. "It's understandable, and even quite a flattering comparison, but not really that true." "When the Stones first came along I was really influenced by them," says guitarist Meador. "But they influenced me to go back but they influenced me to go back and discover the roots of their music the old blues and r-and-b groups which are the roots of our music, too. That's really the way in which we're like the Stones." (

The Beatles were the English band most emulated in the 60s but the 70s belonged to the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin … well, up till late in the 70s.

This was (white) bluesy flavoured rock and roll similar to what the Flamin’ Groovies had been doing in California, The New York Dolls had done in NYC and (especially) what Grin had done in Washington DC. But like the Vaughan Brothers (other Oak Cliff boys), The Werewolves added some Texas country flavouring and desert grit to the sound.

This, despite the influence of English bands (doing American music), was distinctly Texan American roots music, blues, rock ‘n’ roll and soul.

(Belabouring the point) the band sounded like a Texan version of the Rolling Stones and Bad Company albeit with some glam trappings. Singer Brian Papageorge could wail and was often compared to Paul Rodgers or Mick Jagger though I think he sounds more like Nils Lofren if Lofren in a bluesy rock ‘n’ roll band  (or even a bit like Graeme "Shirley" Strachan from Skyhooks).

Apparently the Werewolves became very popular locally (and were known for their raucous live act).

With the resurgence of progressive country throughout Texas they donned Blue Brothers outfits (prior to the Blue Brothers) and played up-tempo blues as The Texas Kingsnakes (,1346566&hl=en)

But it was time to make a move.

In the mid to late 70s they moved to New York. They played the CBGBs with the punks of the day and were eventually heard by Rolling Stones manager and producer Andrew Loog Oldham.

Oldham, well known and Svengali-like, gave them exposure but it was, perhaps, a double edged sword. Oldham had a tremendous ego so any discussion of the band, inevitably, ended up being a discussion about alchemist Oldham.

He had them signed and produced this, their first album.

In their original unadorned incarnation their sound was ahead of its time and probably pre-empted The Black Crowes and the Georgia Satellites.

This album doesn’t capture that.

Oldham had been quiet in the 70s and the Stones had long since left him.

No doubt he hears some of the Stones in the Werewolves but the times were changing. The Stones rock swagger sound was on the way out and even they would try other things, hence the disco and hard (ish) rock dabblings in the late 70s.

Perhaps that’s why (market considerations) there is a vaguely New Wave-ish makeover for the Werewolves … short (er) hair, nice (albeit country) threads and a smoother sound etc.

But, a band is a creature of habit and the old stylings can still be heard. It has been toned down a little but there is still a lot of 70s rock swagger in the tunes. Even more impressive is their versatility (and quirkiness in a genre not really know for that). This is rock and roll but there are many shadings here that show that The Werewolves had put in a lot of time playing gigs and soaking up their musical ancestry.

The album failed. It was probably lost in the in the rush of “new bands” from the late 70s.

Likewise, their sound was a little too old, though in a few years it would be new again.

There is something here and they could have been great.

One more album followed, “Ship of Fools (Summer Weekends And No More Blues)”, on RCA in late 1978 and then they imploded.

Seab Meador died from brain cancer in 1980.

Tracks (best in italics)

Side On

  • The Flesh Express – (Papageorge-Meador-Ballard) – suitably rocking and themeatically, perhaps, an apt way to kick off the album. Perfectly 70s.
  • Hollywood Millionaire – (Papageorge-Meador-Ballard) – the up-tempo ballad with the "la di dah dah dah" hum a long bits.
  • Too Hard – (Papageorge-Meador) – The slow burn and not unlike some of Grin's ballads.
  • City by The Sea – (Ballard) – the country blues rock exercise and there seems to be some accordion in there.
  • Never Been To Hades – (Meador-Ballard) – a great tune which is rock with country asides and a touch of left of centre style.

Side Two

  • Lisa – (Papageorge-Ballard) – some pop influences (in a Flamin Groovies kind of way) and quite engaging.
  • The Two Fools – (Papageorge-Ballard-Meador) – a country rock ballad in the style of Doug Sahm.
  • Heaven Help Me – (Papageorge-Meador-Brewster) – a good song though the horns are misplaced.
  • Deux Voix – (Papageorge-Ballard) – a mid tempo rocker with some late 70s keyboards diffusing the excitement
  • One Night – (Bartholomew-Steiman-King) – Elvis Presley’s #4 smouldering sexual ballad from 1957. The band do it faithfully … even the echo and backing vocals are included.
  • Silence –  (Papageorge-Ballard) – another melodic up-tempo rocker.

And …

Occasionally derivative but ballsy and a lot of fun … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere


Full album

The Flesh Express

mp3 attached

Hollywood Millionaire

Never Been To Hades




A truckload of photos

A Dallas doco



  • Personnel: Seab Meador (gtr) / Bucky Ballard (bass)(gtr) / Bobby Baranowski (drms) / Kirk Brewster (gtr) / Brian Papageorge (vcls) / Ronnie Barnett (drms) / Keith Ferguson (bass)
Posted in Hard Rock, Rock & Pop, Southern and Boogie Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

PAUL PARRISH – Songs – (Warner Brothers) – 1971

Paul Parrish - Songs

How sensitive to I feel today?

I have fears that Paul Parrish is going to be a singer songwriter of the most maudlin kind. Usually,  the piano player ones, for whatever reason,  lean that way. That, combined with the song titles, anything with "poem" or "time" in the title.

Still, I don't mind maudlin.

It may be contrary to the punk I may listen to (though, admittedly, that is less frequent now) but I like either end of the noise spectrum. It's the squidgy, neither here nor there middle, that usually bores me.

If you are going to be punk, be 100% punk, if you are going to be pop be 100% pop.

And, it's not about the music exclusively it's about attitude.

Paul Parrish on fist listening is 100% singer songwriter and, to some, definitely, 100% maudlin.

But he does like most artists I have time for throw something else into the mix.

The entire allmusic entry on him is: "Paul Parrish is an American singer, songwriter and pianist. His songs have been recorded by Helen Reddy, Kenny Rogers, The Dillards, Robin Dransfield, and others. Jon Pruett of Allmusic called his first album, The Forest of My Mind, "a bright, excellently produced LP filled with remarkable sunshine-dipped folk-pop songs." … Parrish wrote the song A Poem I Wrote for Your Hair for the 1970 film "Fools" starring Jason Robards and Katharine Ross … With Lorenzo Toppano, Parrish was half of the duo Parrish & Toppano. They recorded two albums together".

All other google searches and searched through my paper library indicate very little on him:

  • He was friends with producer Dan Dalton and singer and songwriter John Beland (later of Swampwater and The Flying Burrito Brothers) who he seasoned for.
  • He sang the theme song to "The Brady Bunch" sitcom in 1969. Yes, you read right. You have to eat I suppose. Wikipedia: "The theme song, penned by Schwartz and Frank De Vol, and originally arranged, sung, and performed by Paul Parrish, Lois Fletcher, and John Beland under the name the Peppermint Trolley Company" though hey weren't in that band. The Peppermint Trolley Company is credited with arranging and singing the theme song for the show's pilot. After the band left their label, the vocals were re-recorded and sung by Paul Parish, John Beland and Lois Fletcher leaving the original music intact.
  • Beland says this "Ahhh the Brady Bunch. I was just a teenage new kid on the block when I sang it, along with Paul Parrish and Lois Dalton (Dan Dalton's wife). I was more impressed by the $350.00 check I received for doing it, than the actual show. LOL….."

Most praise heaped on him is in relation to that first album from 1968, "The Forrest of My Mind", which has a cult following and discovered an ever bigger (cult) following after its digital release.

It is, and I have listened to a few snatches on youtube, lush orchestrated pastoral folk pop-psych betraying a heavy influence of Donovan with sunshine pop and baroque pop asides.

And, there is nothing wrong with that.

This album came along in 1971 and on the Warner Brothers label (the first album was on the small though MGM backed label, Music Factory, label). I'm not sure how he got that deal but sensitive singer-songwriters were the flavour and all the majors were rushing out to sign them up, record them, and see what struck gold.

I have no idea how old Parrish is here  but I suspect he is in his mid-to late 20s. On the 1968 album he betrayed (on what I have heard) a wide eyed innocence and optimism that only works when you are young.

Here things are getting darker, though not gloomy.

Lyrically, the album can be (prima facie) a little precious much like Shawn Phillips (who I like) but without the accompanying musical virtuosity. The difference is that Parrish keeps it straightforward. Many of the songs deal "looking back" , "things past" and "passing time" (check out the song titles) but his knack is in keeping everything low key.

It is a very simple album, there is a band behind him but they don't intrude. The piano (played by Parrish) is dominant whilst the classical or "non-rock" instruments (melodica (played by Parrish also), clarinet, harp, cello) make appearances throughout adding to the mood.  What better instrument than the cello for "things past" and melancholy songs?

This album, then, is a nice mix of chamber pop and singer-songwriter though there are elements of soft rock also creeping into the sound (good to some but something I approach with a lot of trepidation).

The music would be a close to early Elton John if his music was more gentle or David Ackles, if Parrish's voice was deeper or gruffer, but it's not. His voice is high and sweet. Very high and sweet. It is akin to Art Garfunkel and perhaps even a little sweeter.

In fact, the album at times is quite Simon and Garfunkel (in their ballads) with Parrish playing both Simon the songwriter, and, Garfunkel the gentle singer.

There was a third album in 1977 (Song For A Young Girl) and then he formed half of Parrish & Toppano in the 1980s who played soft rock. They released two albums and from what I have heard it's not that good unless you like 80s soft rock … soft music against a lot of keyboards and a full orchestra. (It seems the band did well in Europe. "The Royal Falcon" from 1987 album went to #38 in Germany).

This album does have it's soft rock tendencies. It is a slippery slope, and not a good one.

But, for the moment, Parrish is at the top of the slope.

All songs written and arranged by Paul Parrish.

Tracks (best in italics)

            Side One

  • Many Years Ago –   A "Jesus" song and a good one. Parrish (though it should be "parish" here) has given the backing a contemporary medieval feel to fit the reverential though matter of fact lyric. Quite moving.
  • I Once Had A Dog –  is this dog a metaphor for something or is it just another rehash of "Old Shep"? There is a touch of Cat Stevens here.
  • Jaynie –   pretty and up-tempo by this albums standards.
  • Poem I Wrote For Your Hair – a sweeter David Ackles.  Quite melancholy and quite wonderful. The song was written for the film "Fools".
  • Time – another beautiful melancholy song.  

Side Two

  • Numbers –   a big ballad beat and not as effective
  • Cello – The song features, err a cello. Beautiful. Parrish later did this (and released it as a single) when he was in Parrish & Toppano. 
  • Pink Limousine – an interesting song and fun. Quite English. Poppy and a cross between David Ackles, The Monkees and Ray Davies.   
  • Nathan –  moving into bombastic Elton John territory but diverting.
  • When They Return – I'm not sure who the "they" is but the song is quite spiritual and hymn like. Quite good.

And …

Quite beautiful at times, more often than not. It gets under your skin … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere


Many Years Ago

Poem I Wrote For Your Hair

mp3 attached  

Pink Limousine






  • Personnel: Bass – Steve LaFever / Cello – Nathan Gershman / Clarinet – Bill Fritz, Jim Snodgrass / Drums – George Bell, Larry Brown / Guitar – Dick Rosminni, John Beland / Harmonica – Danny Cohen, Tom Morgan / Harp – Verlye Mills / Piano, Organ, Melodica – Paul Parrish / Producer – Dan Dalton
  • Apparently Parrish is a Michigan native (from Walled Lake)…unsubstantiated but the first album was recorded in Detroit.
Posted in Baroque Pop, Singer Songwriter | Tagged | Leave a comment

BADFINGER – Say No More – (Radio Records) – 1981


This is the last album from Badfinger.

Here they are trying to hook onto the resurgence of power pop and retro sounds through the New Wave.

It's not sad, as they had being doing it all along.

It is slick and well produced though, ultimately, the songs aren’t as good as their earlier material.

What they have added is a touch of old time rock ‘n’ roll.

Odd, given a lot of Beatle harmony bands were doing well in the power pop resurgence of skinny tie bands of the late 70s and early 80s

The rockin’ sound is like something the Travelling Wilburys would be doing (though ballsier) seven years before them.

Yet again, Badfinger were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It is not that different to what Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe were doing at time (though with a more 60s bent) or is it a case of like minds think alike and develop (musically or otherwise) alike?

The concessions to the new wave are understandable. Their hit-making days were gone and this may have been a grab for some of the airwaves but since their first album twelve years earlier they were remarkably consistent (the punchy pop and catchy melodies were never diluted) even though they had lost a main singer and vocalist in Pete Ham.

So they didn’t go out with a whimper or a bang but with an album with its fair share of joys.

Check out my other comments on this most underrated (by the mainstream) band.

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

Side Two

  • Passin' Time – (Molland) – more Travelling Wilburys
  • Three Time Loser – (Evans) – a magnificent mid tempo pop rocker and reminiscent of ELO without the over the top full sound.
  • Too Hung Up on You – (Evans) – a most melodious retro piece.
  • Crocadillo – (Evans/Roach) – a fairly generic rocker.
  • No More – (Molland) – trying to be a little New Wave (via the Beatles). But like a lot of old rockers they thought that meant squealy guitars

And …

Not perfect but still a cut above the average … I'm giving it to a mate though I swill search for it again.

Chart Action



1981 Hold On #56


1981 #155






Complete album

I Got You


Hold On


Because I Love You

mp3 attached

Passin' Time







Posted in Power Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment

CLAUDE KING – Meet Claude King – (Columbia) – 1962

Claude King - Meet Claude King

I know Claude from his 45, “The Comancheros” which I bought because of its John Wayne tie-in novelty value. I loved the film, which is one the earliest John Wayne films I recall seeing, and the song (released after the film) much like Gene Pitney’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, was released after the film was a hit.

Despite being ‘cash ins” after the films they both fit into the large group of dramatic opening credit songs which were popular, especially in westerns in the 1950 and 1960s.

The songs (especially those after the fact), really, just repeat the narrative of the film to music accentuating the emotional highlights or themes.

I digress, but it is relevant as Claude King was very much of the country storyteller ilk with a distinct Hollywood-ness to his music.

King was no different to many other country singers of his day:

"King (1923-2013) was born in Keithville in southern Caddo Parish south of Shreveport in northwestern Louisiana. At a young age, he was interested in music but also in athletics and the outdoors. He purchased a guitar at the age of twelve, and although he learned to play, most of his time was devoted to sports. He received a baseball scholarship to the University of Idaho at Moscow, Idaho

He said he grew up "…about as poor as you can be." His dad was a farmer and back then, it was using a plow and mule. But the farm land did not treat them well for it was red land dirt and did not seem to favor any type of good crop.

"From 1942 to 1945, he served in the United States Navy during World War II … King formed a band with his friends Buddy Attaway and Tillman Franks called the Rainbow Boys …”:

Also Buddy & Claude with The Kentuckians with who he commenced recording g in the late 1940s before releasing solo records from 1950 on

The trio played around Shreveport in their spare time while working an assortment of other jobs. He joined the Louisiana Hayride, a television and radio show produced at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium and broadcast throughout the United States and in the United Kingdom. King was frequently on the same programs with Elvis Presley, Tex Ritter, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Kitty Wells, Jimmie Davis, Slim Whitman, Faron Young, Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves, George Jones, Tommy Tomlinson, and Lefty Frizzell … King recorded a few songs for Gotham Records though none were successful. In 1961, he became more serious about a musical career and signed with the Nashville division of Columbia Records. He struck immediately, cutting "Big River, Big Man," both a country top 10 and a small pop crossover success. He soon followed with "The Comancheros" inspired by the John Wayne film of the same name It was a top 10 country hit in late 1961 and crossed over into the popular chart".

And then he had the mammoth hit was “Wolverton Mountain”.

An album to follow was a no-brainer.

Whack on his three hits, throw in some originals and fill it out with covers.

It got to #80 which is respectable given how much effort was put in.

The surprising thing is how this, and others like it, hand so well together.

King had his style down pat, and had been playing for enough years to know his way around a tune so, sound wise the album is always going to sound good.  What I like about his music around this time is its filmic qualities (you can see the narrative unfolding in your head as you listen to the tune) and its subtle crossover appeal.

The music is instantly familiar to a lot of early rockabilly and western rock n roll. The beat of his country led to rockabilly much like the other immortal storyteller Johnny Cash. In attitude and spirt, though, King wasn’t Cash. He was more like (the wonderful) Johnny Horton. King and Horton were contemporaries and (I gather) friends and King recorded an album of Horton songs in 1969 “I Remember Johnny Horton” (Horton was killed in car crash in 1960 at age 35).

Horton was at the time the king of the country storytellers. He had had four crossover hits in 1959-1960, “The Battle of New Orleans” (#1 pop and country), ‘Johnny Reb”, “Sink the Bismark”, “North to Alaska”.

King took over the space that was left open by his death though Johnny Cash starting off with his series of concept albums about America and his history would also occupy some of that space.

King never replicated that success in the charts of the early 60s though he did have a number of Top 10s, 20s and 40s in the country charts before they dried up altogether in the early 70s.

Country music is always a more complicated genre of music than it is given credit for and even when sung straight with crossover pop appeal there is always something in the lyric or the tune which makes it instantly identifiable.

King sings it straight (in his rich voice) and there is the Nashville slickness to the backing vocals and musical edges but I like that because I like the era. I also like the drama and the stories being told.

And, better still, you can sing along.

Tracks (best in italics)

           Side One

  • The Comancheros – (T. Franks) – magnificent. A sing a long narrative to the film.
  • You're Breaking My Heart – (H. H. Melka) – an Ernest Tubb song from 1957. The usual familiar country themes.
  • I'm Just Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail – (R. Carter) – originally by pseudo brother act Karl & Harty from 1934. The song has been covered by everyone in country music. A great tune that resembles a Johnny Cash tune though it predates him in its original form.
  • Give Me Your Love And I'll Give You Mine – (A. P. Carter) – A Carter Family song from the 1930s. Apparently in the 2000s when appearing live on one occasion King sang this song to his wife of over 50 years, Barbara Jean. A very romantic country song.
  • Big River, Big Man – (G. Watson, M. Phillips) –  a good song in the Johnny Horton style
  • Sweet Lovin' – (C. Baum, T. Franks) –subsequently covered by country singer David Houston in 1969.

    Side Two

  • Wolverton Mountain – (C. King, M. Kilgore) – The song is a rewrite of the original version by Merle Kilgore, which was based on a real character named Clifton Clowers who lived on Woolverton Mountain (the mountain's actual name) in Arkansas. It was actually about an uncle of Merle's that lived on the mountain. The song's storyline is about the narrator's desire for Clowers' daughter and his intention to climb the mountain and marry her. The song has been well covered: Jimmie Rodgers (1962), Roy Drusky (1962), Nat King Cole (1962),  Frank Ifield (1963), Hugo Montenegro (1963), The Brothers Four (1963), Connie Francis & Hank Williams Jr (1964), Pat Boone (1965), Jerry Lee Lewis (1965), Bing Crosby (1965), Wayne Newton (1968), Louis Armstrong (1970), Hank Williams, Jr. with The Mike Curb Congregation (1970), Sir Doug & The Texas Tornados (1976), Conway Twitty (1977), Bill Haley & His Comets, Southern Culture on the Skids (2007), Sleepy LaBeef and many others. A great song.
  • Would You Care? – (A. Cole, T. Franks) – The usual country themes.
  • Pistol Packin' Papa – (J. Rodgers, W. O'Neil) – The Jimmie Rodgers classic from 1930. Very Jimmie Rodgers, so very good!
  • Little Bitty Heart – (C. King) – typical of the Nashville of the time. Sweet lyrics with gril voice backup.
  • I Can't Get Over The Way You Got Over Me – (C. King) – a good country song of a broken relationship with a great title.
  • I Backed Out – (T. Glaser) – very Nashville but quite catchy. A real sing a long song.

And …

Modest but quite wonderful, and definitely enjoyable … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action



1961 Big River, Big Man  #7 Country, #82 Pop

1961 The Comancheros #7 Country, #71 Pop

1962 Wolverton Mountain #1 Country, #6 Pop 


1962 #80




Whole album

The Comancheros

mp3 attached

You're Breaking My Heart

I'm Just Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail

Give Me Your Love and I'll Give You Mine

live recently

Big River, Big Man

Sweet Lovin'

Wolverton Mountain

live recently

mp3 attached

Would You Care?

Pistol Packin' Papa

Little Bitty Heart

I Can't Get Over The Way You Got Over Me

I Backed Out






  • King was born February 5, 1923 in Keithville, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, USA. Died March 7, 2013 in Shreveport, Louisiana, USA.
  • Tillman Franks (1920-2006) wrote or co-wrote a number of songs and also did the same with Johnny Horton.
  • "Wolverton Mountain" spent nine weeks at the top of the country charts and peaked at number six on the pop charts.
  • King acted in a couple of films in the 70s, the backwoods melodrama, “Swamp Girl" (1971) and the non-gore Herschell Gordon Lewis political melodrama “The Year of the Yahoo!” (1972).
Posted in Country | Tagged | Leave a comment

BOBBY VEE – Live! On Tour – (Liberty) – 1965

Bobby Vee - Live On Tour

A live album.


This would have been the first live rock ‘n’ pop album ever … if it was live.

It wasn’t.

The audience noise is “canned”

"Canned” applause is pre-recorded applause which is usually added to the sound track of something recorded in a studio so that it sounds like it was recorded in front of a live audience (rather than in a studio). And, yes, it would be done in order to suggest that there was an enthusiastic audience listening.

"Canned laughter" is more common. This is the pre-recorded laughter that you often hear in television sit-coms.

As it turns out, the first rock ‘live’ album is generally regarded to be, 'Got Live if You Want It' (1966) by The Rolling Stones.

The Stones, however, have (apparently formally) disowned “Got Live If You Want It” as the band’s first live album because the amount of studio tracks and overdubs featured on the recording make the album barely “live”.

I’m not sure why Bill Haley’s “Twistin’ Knights at the Roundtable” (1962)( recorded at the "Bitter End" club in New York),  Trini Lopez "at PJ's" (1963), "More Trini Lopez at PJ's" (1963), or "Live at Basin St. East" (1964) and Johnny Rivers "at the Whisky à Go Go" (1964), "Here We à Go Go Again!" (1964), "Meanwhile Back at the Whisky à Go Go" (1965), "…And I Know You Wanna Dance" (1966), which are all recorded live, aren’t considered to be firsts.

Perhaps it’s because they were recorded in small venues rather than on tour … or perhaps it’s because they don’t fit in with rock music snobbery.

If Haley, Lopez and Rivers don’t get a mention then neither will Elvis for his “Elvis (NBC TV Special)” album, half of which was live, which was released in December 1968. Presley's informal live jamming in front of a small audience in the special is, however, regarded as a forerunner of the "unplugged" concept, later popularized by MTV.

Given the dismissal of Haley, Lopez and Rivers and the Stones dubs, perhaps, then, the first “true” live rock album was “Live at Kelvin Hall” (1967) by The Kinks or Cream’s “Wheels of Fire’ (1968).

And then there is Ritchie Valens “In Concert at Pacoima Jr. High” (1960) which is partially live and partially canned.

I digress.

There is nothing live on Bobby’s album.

If we didn’t know, the give away would be the fact that all but two songs (his hit, “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes” and the medley of two hits Take Good Care of My Baby / Run to Him) are songs that had never been released before on single or album.  Any big pop act with a lot of hits (like Vee) would not be trialling this much new material live. 

So, it is proper to treat this album as a studio album.

With that in mind I don’t know if his hits, mentioned above, are originals with audience applause attached on, or re-records. Likewise I don’t know if the medley is a splice or a re-record as a medley.

By 1965, Vee’s star had waned (though he would have a big bounce back in 1967 with his US #3 "Come Back When You Grow Up") as he hadn’t had a Top 20 since “Charms“(#13 US) in 1963.

His albums, like most rock ‘n’ pop albums of this era weren’t big on the charts but they did sell.

Also, as far as I know, no singles were released from this album (canned applause or otherwise).

With all that, I’m not sure where the logic for this album is, unless this is all earlier unreleased material.

They would have been better to release it as a studio album with advance singles.

If it is new, Vee digs back into his musical memory and does songs he liked (I assume) as a youth, as well as some recent hits.

Tracks (best in italics)

            Side One

  • Every Day I Have to Cry – (Arthur Alexander) – Steve Alaimo’s #45 US hit from 1962. The faux screams works on this as it is the type of song you would expect the teens to scream over.
  • Let the Four Winds Blow – (Dave Bartholomew / Fats Domino) – the first release was by Dave Bartholomew (1955) but it was a #15US hit for Fats Domino in 1961.
  • The Night Has a Thousand Eyes – (Marilyn Garrett / Dorothy Wayne / Ben Weisman) – Bobby's hit (#3US, #3UK) from 1962. A great song live or not.
  • Weekend – (Bill Post / Doree Post) – Eddie Cochran’s 1961 single which didn’t chart in the US but went to #15 in England. Very Eddie Cochran which Bobby pulls off well though Eddie's guitar is missed.
  • You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby – (Johnny Mercer / Harry Warren) –  Johnny Mercer’s song done by everyone which was a #5 for Bobby Darin in 1961.
  • Hey Little Girl – (Otis Blackwell / B.W. Stevenson) –  Dee Clark's #20 Pop, #2 R&B US hit from 1959. Vee is convincing again witha rock beat song ….

           Side Two

  • Sea Cruise – (Huey "Piano" Smith) – Frankie Ford's #14 hit US from 1959.
  • Things – (Bobby Darin) – Darin’s #3US and #2 UK hit from 1962. A great pop song.
  • Shop Around – (Berry Gordy, Jr. / Smokey Robinson) – The big hit from the Miracles in 1961 (#2 Pop, #1 R&B US). Very contemporary by Bobby standards and quite good.
  • It'll Be Me – (Jack Clement) – the first recording was by Jerry Lee Lewis (February 1957) as B-side to his hit single "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On" (#3Pop, #1R&B US). Brit Cliff Richard and the Shadows released their version as an A-side which went to #2 on the UK Singles Chart. Bobby Vee's version is halfway between Cliff and Jerry Lee …not a bad place to be. He can rock.
  • Medley – Take Good Care of My Baby – (Gerry Goffin / Carole King) / Run to Him – (Gerry Goffin / Jack Keller) –  Bobby's two hits from 1961, #13US, #3UK on the first part and #2US, #6UK on the second done as a medley. Great songs.

And …

Bobby tackles a number of styles convincingly in this good set … the faux screams are totally unnecessary …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere


Hey Little Girl


It'll Be Me

mp3 attached

Run to Him


Take Good Care of My Baby

The Night Has a Thousand Eyes






  • The Beach Boys “Party” released in November 1965 was, also, recorded in a music studio. It was presented as an impromptu live recording of a party with informal chatter by friends and family overdubbed later. Though not ‘rock” James Brown's "Showtime" (1964) was also “live” and canned (his James Brown and His Famous Flames Tour the U.S.A. (1962) was a studio album).
  • Folk, classical and, especially, jazz had released live albums prior to this.
Posted in Live, Pop Rock, Rock & Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment

TOMMY ROE – Phantasy – (ABC Records ) – 1967

Tommy Roe - Phantasy


The times were a changing … again.

Well, at least the musical times were.

Some people that music can change times but I believe that the times create the music.

That music may have a profound impact on you, the individual, but it doesn't necessarily change times … unless you are a Charles Manson type who listens to The Beatles (allegedly) and then goes out and does what he did.

And, even then, he was a product of his times, perhaps, and his own personality, probably, and the music was the straw that broke the camels back.

That's not to say that musicians can't create history, they have, but that is something different.

I'm straying off the point here and I'm talking about Tommy Roe not Bob Dylan.

No disrespect to Tommy Roe but it is not a discussion that is associated with him.

But, it applies to Dylan as equally as it does to Tommy Roe.

It's only music and it wasn't created in a vacuum.

Like many other pop (and rock) performers Tommy Roe reflected his times. His music is both a reflection of him and his times, as well as the representation of a popular or dominant sound which had, in market driven increments, evolved to that point

ie: subject matter and music both reflect the themes and sounds of the day.

What drives that is commercial considerations or, if you don't like equating modern music with money, then you can use "popularity".

And what is popular becomes the basis of "pop (ular)" music.

The music has to appeal to as many people as possible so changes in style and themes are incorporated into its frame work.

And, that is not a bad thing.

Pop music and the pop singer are often derided but in many ways they accurately reflect their times.

Tommy Roe was a pop singer, and a convincing one.

As the popularity of sunshine and psych pop increased Roe decided to move in that direction. It was a natural move anyway. His 60s pop had all the basics but needed the obscure or questioning lyrics as well as pop instrumentation and arrangements which were a little trippy to fit into 1967 comfortably.

Commercial considerations always dictate you follow the sun

And, here, Roe did follow the sun (shine pop)(sic) and psych sounds of the day.

It's a little jarring hearing Roe singing so gently and sweetly but he had already moved in that direction when he created the "It's Now Winter's Day" album (apparently) earlier in 1967 with vocal arrangements by (sunshine pop legend) Curt Boettcher.

That album got to #159 in the charts.

Not a success commercially.

But they tried again with a similar team team. Detail is thin on the ground but it seems this music may be from the same sessions. The producer, Steve Clark. Is the same, the tracks were recorded at the same place (Gray Paxton's Hollywood) and nearly all the musicians are the same.

Curt doesn't appear here (former band mate Jim Bell does) but future Millenium band member, Sandy Salisbury, provides two songs as well as vocals, as does Lee Mallory who also plays.

These guys are all intertwined and collaborated, performed or sessioned together like on this album which was recorded in Hollywood.

This is part of the "California Sound" and it's a sound I like. It's pleasing to the ears.

It's also era I like …. California in the 60s.

The optimism is palatable (even in criticism) as are the possibilities.

Is there any better place that California in the 60s before Altamont and Manson?

Despite following the in sound the album and the single releases didn't do well … to have a hit involves so much more (or perhaps so little less).

Tommy Roe writes most of the songs which is impressive. Not that writing your own songs is the be all and end all of musical expression (it's not) but I note this because pop singers like him (and Gene Pitney, Bobby Darin, Del Shannon etc) are rarely given credit when it comes to song writing.

I haven't heard the "It's Now Winter's Day" album released in earlier in 1967 )though I have it) but some of have said that album is stronger and it was asking, perhaps, too much for Roe to pump out another album or original material (though some of the material may have been older unrecorded stuff he had written dating back to 1964). If the former is correct, then that is reasonable. He was 24 years old and probably had other things to do.

But, as a capsule of the times the album is great listening.

And, Roe bounced back with the worldwide #1 cabaret psych pop hit, "Dizzy" in 1969.

All songs written by Tommy Roe, unless indicated

Tracks (best in italics)

           Side On

  • Paisley Dreams – a slow , moody song with very familiar themes.
  • Plastic World – as a pejorative comment on the (then) contemporary world, "plastic" was used as a short hand. Think "Plastic Man" (1969) by The Kinks, "Plastic People" (1968) by Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, "Plastic Jim" (1968) by Sly And The Family Stone. I quite like this.
  • Melancholy Mood – this is sugar but quite nice.
  • Visions – ripe psych lyrics.
  • Mystic Magic – this one has a foot in both camps… like a gentler version of something Paul Revere and the Raiders were doing.

    Side Two

  • Little Miss Sunshine – this is more like the old Roe. Pop. The psych vibes are in the background. This predates bubblegum by a couple of years.
  • These Are The Children – (S. Salisbury) – the obligatory song about kids … which is normal in sunshine pop. Kids are the future …
  • Goodbye Yesterday –  (S. Salisbury) – another (very) poppy one. All sugar but one you can tap your toe to.
  • The Executive – (T. Roe & B. Bowie) – another cynical one … on the lonely, shallow "executive". A good tune with good conga / bongo (?!) beat. Okay, this is dated but I like it. It reminds me a little of PF Sloan or Bob Lind.
  • The You I Need – a psych pop love song.
  • It's Gonna Hurt Me –  Quite a good song with all sorts of things going on, but what is missing is a killer hook.

And …

A successful (albeit minor) psych pop album. But, what is needed is more of Roe's trademark pop hooks, still … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action



1967 Little Miss Sunshine #91 Pop US





Paisley Dreams

Plastic World 

mp3 attached

Mystic Magic

Little Miss Sunshine

Goodbye Yesterday

It's Gonna Hurt Me







  • Future Elvis Presley regular, Jerry Scheff plays bass on this album.
  • On all things Elvis, the cover art looks, strangely, like the playground scene (where "Confidence" is sung) from Elvis' film "Clambake" (1967).



RIP David Axelrod (1931 – 2017)



Posted in Psychedelic, Rock & Pop, Sunshine Pop and Baroque | Tagged | Leave a comment