Though they had a bunch of hits across the 1960s, Jay & the Americans were a throwback to a previous era in their doo wop-influenced vocals, neatly groomed, short-haired appearance, and mix of pop/rock with operatic schmaltz. Built around the neck-bulging upper-register vocals of David Blatt aka Jay Black, their biggest hits -- "She Cried," "Cara Mia" (which you could, in the second half of the 1970s, just imagine Eddie Mekka's Carmine Ragusa, aka "The Big Ragu," singing on Laverne & Shirley), "Come a Little Bit Closer," and "Let's Lock the Door (And Throw Away the Key)" -- came off as sort of hit parade versions of West Side Story. The group also relied on outside songwriters for its material, drifting into MOR covers of oldies by the end of the '60s, and was generally a sort of textbook of unhipness during a time when self-contained rock bands were becoming the norm.
In a sense, Jay & the Americans were the original "oldies" act -- organized at the transition of the 1950s into the 1960s, the group sounded like a throwback to that earlier decade, at a time when harmony vocal groups -- at least those without some guitar wattage accompanying them -- were already becoming old hat. Yet, somehow, they competed with the likes of the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, and the Four Seasons, among homegrown rivals, and remained a major presence on radio even during the British Invasion, and lasted long enough to meet up -- like a glider catching a brisk, sustaining wind -- with the oldies boom at the tail end of the decade. They seemed out of place for most of the 1960s with their short hair, neat clothes, and dedication to schmaltzy pop, but by the end of the decade were perfectly positioned for the so-called rock & roll revival.
The group actually coalesced out of the Mystics, a Brooklyn-based harmony vocal group (best remembered for "Hushabye"), which had taken on John Traynor (aka Jay Traynor) as lead singer at the very end of the 1950s. Traynor chanced to cross paths with Sandy Yaguda (aka Sandy Deane) and Kenny Rosenberg (aka Kenny Vance), who were part of a vocal trio working behind a female singer on a Clay Cole-sponsored tour at the time. Traynor got together with Vance and another friend, Howie Kerschenbaum (aka Howie Kane), after leaving the Mystics in 1960, and they started singing together, with Sandy Deane joining to make it a quartet. It was on the strength of their demo of an old Five Keys number, "Wisdom of a Fool," that they were signed by producers/songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to a contract -- Leiber & Stoller gave the group a name, the Americans, and got them a recording contract with United Artists, the newest in a wave of record labels spawned by movie companies, and eager to grab a piece of the rock & roll action of the period.
A recording of the Bernstein-Sondheim song "Tonight" from West Side Story -- a United Artists film release, in which the parent company had an interest in the publishing as well as in publicizing the movie -- came out both better and different from the way it was expected, featuring Traynor out in front as lead singer rather than an ensemble vocal at its center. Leiber & Stoller decided that the group would be better off with a lead singer's name in front and, after some attempts to turn the name into a joke, settled on Traynor's lifelong nickname "Jay" as the front name -- hence, Jay & the Americans were born. Released in the summer of 1961, "Tonight" performed well in New York City -- where the group was based, in the borough of Queens (later made famous by Archie Bunker and Kevin James' sitcom The King of Queens) -- and a few other cities and regions, but never charted nationally. Its sales were limited to around 40,000 copies, and were overshadowed by those of a rival instrumental recording by the piano duo of Ferrante & Teicher (also on United Artists), who scored much bigger. It was once they broke away from tie-ins with current movies and chose some fresh, unique material that the group's fortunes took off, with their second release, "She Cried." Originally a B-side, this was the record that broke the group nationally -- six months after the single was released with "Dawning" as its A-side (and did absolutely nothing), a DJ in San Francisco flipped it over and began playing "She Cried," which started working its way east, hitting number one successively in a dozen major cities from the West Coast to the East Coast over the next few weeks and months, and number five nationally.
The group lost momentum after this unexpected break, however, when a trio of attempted follow-ups, including their version of a Ben E. King song, "Yes," spread between a pair of singles, failed to perform nearly as well. Their future hit a seeming crisis point, however, when Traynor angrily left the quartet after a fight with Sandy Deane. Suddenly, the group was without a lead singer -- while Traynor went off to a professional liaison with Phil Spector that didn't take, and a few solo sides that never sold, the Americans found a replacement in one David Blatt, who'd sang lead with a group called the Empires and, after some coaxing, came aboard as "Jay" Black. A "new" Jay & the Americans was spawned that year, expanded to a quintet with the addition of Blatt's longtime friend, guitarist Marty Kupersmith (aka Marty Sanders) -- with his addition, incidentally, the Americans, with whatever "Jay" was fronting them, were starting to look a lot like the Coasters and the Drifters, both vocal groups associated with Leiber & Stoller who kept their own respective guitar players on tap. The resemblance wouldn't end there, where the Drifters were concerned.
The new group's first two singles disappeared without a trace in early 1963, but in July of that year, they roared back up the charts with a single called "Only in America" -- Leiber & Stoller had intended it for the Drifters, but with the civil rights movement raising everyone's consciousness, and the streets of urban and southern America getting too hot to handle, it was impossible for a black vocal group to release so seemingly optimistic an ode to the U.S.A., even if it was laced with irony; the risk that the irony would be missed was too great. But in the hands of Jay & the Americans, who didn't seem topical or serious, it just worked, and got the group back onto the radio and to number 25 on the charts. Alas, their next record, "Come Dance With Me," didn't do nearly as well in the fall of 1963. But in the summer of 1964 -- right in the middle of the British Invasion, with American acts dropping from the charts like flies in the winter time -- they were back in the Top Ten with "Come a Little Bit Closer." The product of what seemed like an unfinished session, the Wes Farrell-authored record, produced by Artie Ripp, was released without Black's knowledge and roared to number three, their biggest hit since "She Cried." They followed it up with "Let's Lock the Door (And Throw Away the Key)," an adenoidal romantic anthem (also authored by Farrell) that peaked at number 11. They tried for a chart hat trick with Farrell's "Think of the Good Times," but it fell short.
And then came "Cara Mia" -- if Roy Orbison hit a defining moment with "Only the Lonely," and Del Shannon had his with "Runaway," then Jay Black's was "Cara Mia." And he had to fight to get it released -- one of those odd pop/rock songs displaying an operatic intensity (like "Only the Lonely" or "Runaway"), it just wasn't what the group seemed to be about, completely different from their recent hits. It was finally released after a performance on The Tonight Show yielded thousands of cards and letters requesting it -- as a B-side, which was flipped over. The resulting number four hit in mid-1965 maintained the group's stubbornly high profile, amid the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, et al. The follow-up single, "Some Enchanted Evening," reached number 13 in the fall of 1965. The hits slackened off somewhat in 1966 and 1967, as "Sunday and Me," released late in 1965, peaked at number 18. They still had an audience, however, especially in New York City, where a lot of kids loved the fact that the girl who ran their national fan club had her mailing address -- her house in Whitestone, Queens, no less (those were such innocent times) -- listed on their albums, and that it was right there in the city.
They wouldn't chart another hit that high for three years -- their version of Roy Orbison's "Crying" reached number 25, but nothing else made the Top 50 -- but there was still plenty of work, doing commercials and touring. There were also some interesting LPs: Jay and the Americans (1965), Sunday and Me (1966), Livin' Above Your Head (1966), and Try Some of This (1967). The group's sound did somewhat cross over folk-rock and sunshine pop -- "(He's) Raining in My Sunshine" from Try Some of This even displayed some elements of psychedelia. "Livin' Above Your Head," authored by Sanders, Vance, and Black, was a much bigger European hit for the Walker Brothers, considerably better than the group's own single, which peaked at number 76. They also crossed paths with a pair of young musicians from the New York area, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, who became regular session players and increasingly prominent in the group's work. By that time, the quintet was also using more than one producer on many of their records, including Leiber & Stoller, Gerry Granahan, Jeff Barry, and Arnold Goland, and just as many arrangers -- needless to say, consistency wasn't a hallmark of their sound during this period, and their chart positions suffered for it, especially as they tried to sound up to date à la 1966-1967.
Jay & the Americans returned to the charts late in 1968 and the first half of 1969, when they adopted a new strategy. Instead of trying to assimilate psychedelia and other contemporary sounds, they turned back to the songs that they'd known in the 1950s and early 1960s. The resulting album, Sands of Time, was accompanied by "This Magic Moment," a number six hit (selling twice as many copies as the Drifters' original single). Two more singles, "Hushabye" (harking back to the Mystics, Jay Traynor's group) and "When You Dance," lit up the airwaves. By that time, American popular culture had splintered into competing and often seemingly opposing camps -- psychedelic music (especially in England) was generating offshoots like art rock and progressive rock, while artists associated with acid rock were delving more deeply into such forms as blues and jazz, and somewhere in the midst of all of it arena rock was starting to coalesce. Meanwhile, some listeners, either those in their thirties who'd never quite gotten used to musicians using (and endorsing) drugs, or the resulting music, or younger ones who just didn't know what to make of all the noise -- and the fighting in the streets, and the open political warfare on the airwaves -- were turning backward to a simpler time and its music.
Jay & the Americans found that audience, and never lost it. Sands of Time was a confirmed hit as an LP, and was followed up with Wax Museum, which wasn't as well executed but yielded a hit in the form of the Phil Spector co-authored "Walkin' in the Rain." The group was back on track, but for some reason, at this point, United Artists Records tightened up on their recording budgets and became careless with the group's recordings and the way they were treating the members. By the early '70s, the quintet had parted company with UA, after ten years of success. By then, each member had a good idea of what he wanted to do, and mostly it didn't involve Jay & the Americans as they'd been known.
In the split, Jay Black kept the group name -- which, after a court settlement with Jay Traynor carved out a way for each to make a living through their status as one of the group's "Jays," he still uses -- and kept recording into the 1970s and beyond. Marty Sanders began writing songs (and enjoyed a recent hit, in collaboration with Joan Jett, on "Bad Reputation" from the movie Shrek) in addition to playing and recording, and Sandy Deane became a producer, while Kenny Vance became a recording artist in his own right. In the 1980s, an archival live album of concert recordings from the tail end of their history, augmented with some Jay Black solo sides and outtakes of both lineups, delighted fans and won the group some new admirers. In 1990, Come a Little Bit Closer: The Best of Jay & the Americans from EMI (successor company to United Artists) solidified their chart legacy in a coherent fashion. And BGO's reissues of their LPs on CD in the 21st century have resulted in there being more Jay & the Americans material in print at once than at virtually any time in history.
01. Livin' Above Your Head (02:45)
02. The Grass Will Sing (For You) (03:22)
03. Two Many Times, Diana (From Howie To Diana) (02:47)
04. Over The Mountain (02:26)
05. I'll Remeber You (02:47)
06. The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore (02:55)
07. The Reason For Living (For You My Darling) (02:34)
08. Monday, Monday (03:10)
09. Baby Come Home (02:12)
10. Stop The Clock (02:48)
11. Look At Me, What Do You See (02:26)
This was a surprisingly ambitious album for Jay & the Americans, featuring three strong originals among its 11 numbers, which included covers of such contemporary pop hits as "Monday, Monday" (done with astonishing depth by Jay Black) and their version of "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore." This is very much a pop release more than a rock & roll album, with the orchestral arrangements dominating and a certain smoothness keeping the group from ever showing much of an edge. What they do display here is an urgency of expression and a perfection in the singing that make Livin' Above Your Head a delight to hear, even if it does seem like they are moving dangerously toward Lettermen/Sandpipers territory. Think of it as their Sgt. Pepper's and it works as a display of what Jay & the Americans could do removed from the need to perform what they were recording.
Connie Francis is the prototype for the female pop singer of today. At the height of her chart popularity in the late '50s and early '60s, Francis was unique as a female recording artist, amassing record sales equal to or surpassing those of many of her male contemporaries. Ultimately, she branched into other styles of music -- big band, country, ethnic, and more. She still challenges Madonna as the biggest-selling female recording artist of all time. Like Madonna, Concetta Rosemarie Franconero came from an Italian-American background. Francis started her music career at three, playing an accordion bought for her by her contractor father, George. Her father's dream was not for his daughter to become a star, but for Francis to become independent of men as an adult with her own accordion school of music. At age ten, she was accepted on Startime, a New York City television show that featured talented child singers and performers. The show had no one else who played an accordion. Its host, legendary TV talent scout Arthur Godfrey, had difficulty pronouncing her name and suggested something "easy and Irish," which turned into Francis. After three weeks on Startime, the show's producer and Francis' would-be manager advised her to dump the accordion and concentrate on singing. Francis performed weekly on Startime for four years.
After being turned down by almost every record label she approached, 16-year-old Francis signed a record contract with MGM, only because one of the songs on her demo, "Freddy," also happened to be the name of the president's son. "Freddy" was released in June 1955 as the singer's first single. After a series of flop singles, on October 2, 1957 she undertook what was to be her last session for MGM. Francis had recently accepted a premed scholarship to New York University and was contemplating the end of her career as a singer. Having recorded two songs, she thanked the technicians and musicians, hoping not to have to record the third song her father had in mind, an old tune from 1923. After a false start, she sang it in one take. When Dick Clark played "Who's Sorry Now?" on American Bandstand, he told the show's eight million viewers that Connie Francis was "a new girl singer that is heading straight for the number one spot."
"Who's Sorry Now?" was the first of Francis' long string of worldwide hits. By 1967, she had sold 35 million worldwide, with 35 U.S. Top 40 hits and several number ones ("Everybody's Somebody's Fool," "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own," "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You," and "Stupid Cupid") to her credit. Released in 1963, "In the Summer of His Years," written as a tribute to the assassinated John F. Kennedy, remains one of the earliest known charity records, with proceeds donated to dependents of the policemen shot during the incident.
Francis had an affinity for languages and was one of the first pop singers to record her songs in other languages; 1961's title song from the movie Where the Boys Are was recorded in six languages. She starred in four (nondescript) films, sang voice-overs in movies for actresses who could not sing, and was a guest star on innumerable TV shows. Music critics who didn't take kindly to Francis' pop music years were eventually won over by her versatility. Her Italian and Jewish albums transformed Francis from a teenage idol to a mature performer at leading nightspots around the world. She has also had a long history being a composer's first choice to interpret songs that went on to become major hits for other artists, including "Somewhere My Love," "Strangers in the Night," "Angel in the Morning," and "When Will the Apples Fall."
While the recording of "Who's Sorry Now?" in 1957 was planned to be her final session for MGM, she actually ended that relationship in 1969, choosing not to renew her contract when MGM was taken over by Polydor. She opted instead for domestic life with her third husband. Francis didn't return to the recording studio until 1973 when the writers of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon," longtime friends, wrote "The Answer" especially for Francis. In 1974, her husband encouraged her to return to the stage, with disastrous consequences. After her third performance, she was raped at the hotel where she was staying. Ultimately, this incident contributed to the end of her marriage. During 1975, nasal surgery temporarily robbed her of her voice. She was on the comeback trail in 1981 when her brother, George, was brutally murdered. It took seven years to determine that through all of those events, she was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She finally made her return to the stage and recording in 1989, and Connie Francis has continued to sing to sold-out audiences into the new millennium. She has recorded more than 70 LPs.
Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero (Кончетта Роза Мария Франконеро). Родилаь в 1938, Ньюарк (Newark), штат Нью Джерси, США. В 4-летнем возрасте начала играть на аккордеоне и петь. И к 11 годам достигла в этом довольно таки профессионального уровня. Большое влияние на музыкальное развитие девочки оказал ее отец, который сам музицировал на старом итальянском концертино (привезенном его отцом из Италии еще в 1905 !) и приводил свою дочь на все доступные музыкальные прослушивания. А выступления на публике начались уже прямо с 4-х лет !
Будущая певица была замечена, когда стала призером шоу талантов, которое вел Артур Годфри (Arthur Godfrey Talent Show). Именно этот Годфри и предложил изменить имя. Так вот и появилась Конни Фрэнсис.
Чистый мелодичный голос Конни сразу же привлек внимание издателей граммзаписей. В 1955 Конни подписала контракт с фирмой MGM Records (записала песню Freddy) и в дальнейшем большинство ее записей выпускалось этой фирмой.
Поп-звездой No.1 Конни стала сразу после 1 января 1958, когда в музыкальном ТВ-шоу-варьете Дика Кларка (Dick Clark) "American Bandstand", где обычно представлялись молодые таланты, была исполнена песня "Who's Sorry Now?". Однако это пока что была еще категория молодых исполнителей. А полное признание уже во взрослой категории, Конни получила после участия в шоу певца Перри Комо (The Perry Como Show).
В 1960 Конни была признана самым записываемым женским вокалом в Англии, Германии, Италии, Австралии, Японии. По сути Конни интернационализировала американскую музыку.
Конни снялась в нескольких фильмах и записала ряд саундтреков. Ее дебют как киноактрисы состоялся в 1960 по предложению легендарного кино-продьюсера Джо Пастернака (Joe Pasternak), на "совести" которого "открытие" таких мастеров, как Дина Дурбин, Элизабет Tейлор. Фильм был для того времени рисковым и назывался "Where The Boys Are" (Там где есть мальчики), ведущая мелодия фильма исполнялась самой Конни.
На период 50-60-х приходится наибольшее число записей, и в это время певица была самой успешной среди себе подобных. В конце 60-х она много выступала в ночных клубах, исполняла песни для солдат во Вьетнаме, вела благотворительную деятельность (для UNICEF и др.). К этому моменту она расширила свой альбомный репертуар за счет исполнения песен на разных языках, включая французский, итальянский (эти альбомы мне особенно нравятся), испанский, немецкий, и даже японский. Она записывает альбом известных еврейских мелодий. В общей сложности в песенном активе у нее не менее 13 языков. В начале 70-х у нее появляется больше мелодий в стиле кантри, рока и блюза. Нетрудно сообразить, что все это для Конни - огромный труд.
В 1974 с Конни случилось очень скверное происшествие - изнасилование в ее комнате в мотеле на окраине Нью-Йорка. Насильника не нашли, но по суду Конни добилась от мотеля компенсации ущерба в 3 млн.долл (как утверждают). Однако в течении последующих лет певица публично не выступала и лечилась от психической травмы.
На сцену она вернулась в 1981 и была встречена с энтузиазмом. Однако в этом же году произошло жестокое убийство ее брата Джорджа, и по душевному состоянию ей опять стало не до публичных выступлений. И все же в 1989 Конни возобновляет выступления на сцене, как в США, так и за рубежом.
Но со здоровьем оказалось не все благополучно. Так, во время выступления в лондонском Паладиуме в 1989 ее речь стала несвязной - как у пьяной. В 1991 такая же проблема возникла на американском ТВ шоу. А годом позже на шоу в Нью Джерси она даже потеряла сознание. Был дан диагноз - комплексное заболевание и состояние интоксикации в течении 18 лет. Существенно сократив ежедневный прием препаратов, она подписала в 1993 контракт с Sony на запись, воспользовавшись тем, что в этот момент оказался на высоте внимания в Англии ее хит из 1959 - "Lipstick On Your Collar", который использовался в теледраме Дениса Поттера (Dennis Potter). (http://shanson-e.tk)
One of America's greatest, most influential, and legendary cult bands, Flamin' Groovies came out of the San Francisco area in 1965 playing greasy, bluesy, rock & roll dashed with a liberal sprinkling of British Invasion panache, in an era soon to be dominated by hippie culture and hyperextended raga-rock freakouts. Caught in a double bind of playing the wrong kind of music at the wrong time (as well as not looking the part), the Groovies were almost completely forgotten as the Fillmore/Avalon Ballroom scenes, dominated by the Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, et al., rendered them anachronistic. The plain truth, however, was that despite not being in tune with the zeitgeist, the Groovies made great music, and managed to sustain a career that lasted for over two decades.
What made the Groovies such a formidable band was the double dynamite supplied by guitarist Cyril Jordan and singer/wildman Roy A. Loney. Together they formed an uneasy partnership that guided the band through its most fertile period, from 1968-1971. In 1968, for next to nothing, the band recorded a seven-song EP entitled Sneakers. This little bit of DIY ingenuity resulted in a contract with Epic and the huge sum of 80,000 dollars (1968 dollars, mind you) to be spent on their debut recording, Supersnazz. It was a great album that didn't sell, but did get them dropped from Epic. Quickly signing with Kama Sutra, the Groovies closed the '60s and started the '70s with two terrific records (Flamingo and Teenage Head), but public apathy and the increasingly tempestuous relationship between Jordan and Loney led to the latter's departure for a solo career in 1971. Jordan, now free to run the band as a "benevolent" dictator and indulge his passion for a more folk-rock (read: Byrds) focus, hired guitarist/vocalist Chris Wilson, curiously added the apostrophe to their first name, and in 1972 moved the band to England.
Oddly enough, the Groovies had a larger, more enthusiastic following in Europe (especially in England and Germany) than they did in the States, and it seemed perfectly reasonable to assume that if great rewards were to be reaped, it would happen in Europe first. Hooking up with Dave Edmunds, who was keen to produce them, Jordan and company recorded a handful of songs as early as 1972. However, this seemingly natural collaboration yielded little until 1976, when the Groovies released their finest post-Loney effort, Shake Some Action. Loaded with ringing guitars, great covers, and Edmunds' spongy, bass-heavy production, Shake Some Action became a well-received album in punk-era Britain, as was the fine follow-up, Flamin' Groovies Now. This new notoriety brought renewed interest in the Groovies in America, but the string of good albums ended abruptly with the mostly covers and mostly forgettable Jumpin' in the Night, in 1979. Clearly, the band had run out of gas. That fact, however, did little to convince Cyril Jordan that Flamin' Groovies in any form were no longer viable.
So, after five or six years of no new music -- there were instead countless repackagings, anthologies, and lousy bootlegs -- the band ended up in Australia, now reduced to Jordan and a bunch of unknowns (with the exception of longtime bassist George Alexander), shamelessly covering '60s material and living off the band's legend. It should be noted that after his departure in 1971, Roy Loney, after a couple of music industry jobs, made some wonderful records with his band the Phantom Movers (with ex-Groovies drummer Danny Mihm). Loney occasionally worked behind the counter at Jack's Record Cellar in San Francisco, and recorded with the Young Fresh Fellows.
Miriam Linna once opined that the Roy Loney-era lineup of the Flamin' Groovies suggested what the Rolling Stones would have sounded like if they'd sworn their allegiance to the sound and style of Sun Records instead of Chess Records. If one wants to buy this theory (and it sounds reasonable to me), then Teenage Head was the Groovies' alternate-universe version of Sticky Fingers, an album that delivered their toughest rock & roll beside their most introspective blues workouts. (In his liner notes to Buddha's 1999 CD reissue of Teenage Head, Andy Kotowicz writes that Mick Jagger noticed the similarities between the two albums and thought the Groovies did the better job.) While the Flamin' Groovies didn't dip into the blues often, they always did right by 'em, and "City Lights" and "Yesterday's Numbers" find them embracing the mournful soul of the blues to superb effect, while their covers of "Doctor Boogie" and "32-20" honor the originals while adding a energy and attitude that was all their own. And the rockers are among the best stuff this band ever put to tape, especially "High Flying Baby," "Have You Seen My Baby?," and the brilliant title track. And unlike Flamingo, Teenage Head sounds just as good as it deserves to; Richard Robinson's production is clean, sharp, and gets the details onto tape with a clarity that never gets in the way of the band's sweaty raunch. While Flamingo rocks a bit harder, Teenage Head is ultimately the best album the Flamin' Groovies would ever make, and after Roy Loney left the band within a few months of its release, they'd never sound like this again. [Big Beat reissued the album in the United Kingdom in 1991, adding a couple bonus tracks in the process.
Very Rare album "Same" from the German Beat Group DIE MUSTANGS, edited in GERMANY by the label ARIOLA/No.72 251 IT -stereo- /in the "Liverpool Beat" Series...
Two of them looked like the accountants who would be handling the finances of any British band of the period and the other two looked like the dorkier members of Herman's Hermits or any number of other bands. But based on the recorded evidence, Die Mustangs were cool. A German beat band from the early to mid-'60s, their lineup consisted of Gerd Geerkin (guitar), Nico Kuhlkamp (guitar), Horst Heineberg (bass), and Jorn Schroder (drums) (later succeeded by Udo Lindenberg). The band initially emulated the sounds of the Shadows and the Ventures, but with the advent of the 1960s British beat boom (which arguably "previewed" on the road, as it were, in Germany), they added Beatles/Roulettes-style vocals to their sound. Their music was actually an engaging hybrid of early to mid-'60s British sounds: On the one hand, they could do a free-wheeling, hard-rocking cover of Ian Samwell's "Dynamite" (a late-'50s rock & roll hit for Cliff Richard & the Shadows) in that style, and then turn around and do a solid early Beatles or Searchers-style rendition of Carl Perkins' "Matchbox." In the instrumental department, Die Mustangs could hold their own -- their played Fender equipment at a time when that was relatively hard to come by in Germany -- and harmonized beautifully on originals like "Why Should I Cry." With a few breaks, these boys might've been Germany's answer to Gerry & the Pacemakers or the Roulettes. They broke up after 1966, leaving behind an amazingly enjoyable body of singles and a complete LP, cut for Germany's Ariola label.
Die erste Band in der Udo getrommelt hat waren die Mustangs aus Mьnster (ca.1965/66) u.a. mit dem Sperrmьll-Gitarristen Helmut Krieg. Auf 4 Vinyls (3 Singles, 1 Album) prдsentierten die Mustangs u.a. den Herman`s Hermits Hit Mrs. Brown You`ve Got A Lovely Daughter auf Deutsch. Kurios: Das Drumming von Udo war dem Produzenten zu wild und er wurde kurzerhand gegen einen Studiodrummer ausgetauscht.
Der Zeitungsartikel stammt aus der letzten Phase der Mustangs, als die Band mit Udo Lindenberg (drums) und Helmut Krieg (git.,spдter Sperrmьll) spielten. Helmut war bei den Plattenproduktionen der Mustangs noch nicht dabei. Allerdings gibt es wiederum eine 45er mit Helmut Krieg und Terry Schauer & the Batmen aus Aachen aus dem Jahre 1964, die auch von Krieg komponiert wurde.
The Mustangs spielten anfangs in der Besetzung Joern Schroeder (dr.), Nico Kuhlkamp (g.), Gerd Geerken (g.) und Horst Heineberg (bg). Ab 1965 wurde Udo Lindenberg als neuer Drummer engagiert. Bei der 45er Mrs. Brown hat einen Blumenladen, eine deutsch-gesungene Version des Herman`s Hermits Hits Mrs. Brown You`ve Got A Lovely Daughter wurde Udo auf Grund seines zu jazzigem Drumspiel durch einen Studiodrummer ersetzt. Auf der Rьckseite Das Glьck und die Liebe hat er dann aber gespielt. Ab 1966 war auch Helmut Krieg (spдter Sperrmьll) als Gitarrist Mitglied der Mustangs.
Die Mustangs - Same (1966) plus
Catalogue Nr.:S 72 251 IT
1966** / Germany
from the Ariola 'Liverpool Beat'-Series
Despite the fact that it's utterly unknown outside of Germany, this is one of the better British beat-style albums of its period, a faithful, fervent attempt to adapt the sounds of the British Invasion. The group could play and sing well and absorbed the details and nuances of the sound that they loved, and this is one of best records to be derived from the British Invasion sound to come out of Europe. ~ by Bruce Eder
"...There was a time (early to mid 60's) and a place (Frankfurt) where Fats and His Cats created themselves and we thought they were just groovy and far out. No matter if you spoke German or English because his tunes were a bit of both..."
Fats & His Cats
Otto Ortwein 'Fats' (Gitarre, Klavier, Sax) †
Herbert Zimmer (Sax)
Arthur Frohwein (Sax)
Arno Neumann (Schlagzeug)
Ferry Radics (Gitarre)
Horst Müller (Sax)
Fats and his Cats from Frankfurt were a very active live band, in fact they were one of the groups that played at the Star Club the most. By the mid-60´s all of the “Cats” were in their 30´s. Initially they had started as a conventional dance band but then they caught the rock´n´roll-bug in the late 50´s and began to play the G.I.-clubs around the south of Germany. They first recorded for the small Carina and Linda Labels and until they were picked up by CBS.
Fats and his Cats stayed together long enough to catch the second wave of the rock´n´roll revival in the 80´s. Their band leader Otto “Fats” Ortwein died in 1990. Bear Family records has re-issued the complete 60´s output of Fats and his Cats.
As opposed to most of the cover versions they played live “Hello” is a Fats and his Cats original. Like Fats says in the intro: ” Now Fans, we made a number… our own… and we like to play it today, first time… especially for you … and we call it: Hello.”
Fats got his nickname for his great impersonations of Fats Domino (it´s all over their second single on Linda “Mr. Domino”/”Tick Tack”). Here is Fats doing another impersonation of one of his favourites: Louis Prima.
b. 1944, Thurnscoe, Yorkshire, England. The daughter of a singing miner, the clean-cut pop singer moved to London at the age of 16, and, after appearing on the Joan Regan television show in 1961, was snapped up by HMV. Deene had four UK Top 50 entries in a 12-month period, all with cover versions, but none made the Top 20. The songs were ‘Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)’ and the irritating ‘Norman’ (which were both John D. Loudermilk songs that had been US hits for Sue Thompson), ‘Johnny Get Angry’ (a US hit for Joanie Sommers) and ‘Some People’, which was originally performed by UK act Valerie Mountain And The Eagles in the film of the same name. In 1962 she had her own series as a disc jockey on Radio Luxembourg and was seen in the Acker Bilk film Band Of Thieves. She later had unsuccessful releases on Columbia Records in 1966, CBS Records in 1968, Conquest in 1969, Pye Records in 1970; and reappeared in the late 70s on the Koala and Rim labels.
Tommy James & the Shondells -- the very mention of their name, even to someone who doesn't really know their music, evokes images of dances and the kind of fun that rock & roll represented before it redefined itself on more serious terms. And between 1966 and 1969, the group enjoyed 14 Top 40 hits, most of which remain among the most eminently listenable (if not always respected) examples of pop/rock. The group was almost as much of a Top 40 radio institution of the time as Creedence Clearwater Revival, but because they weren't completely self-contained (they wrote some, but not all, or their own hits) and were more rooted in pop/rock than basic rock & roll, it took decades for writers and pop historians to look with favor on Tommy James & the Shondells.
Tommy James was born Thomas Jackson on April 20, 1947, in Dayton, OH. He was introduced to music at age three, when he was given a ukulele by his grandfather. He was an attractive child and was working as a model at age four, which gave him something of a taste for performing. By age nine he'd moved to the next step in music, taking up the guitar, and by 1958, when he was 11, James began playing the electric guitar. In 1960, with his family now living in Niles, MI, 13-year-old James and a group of four friends from junior high school -- Larry Coverdale on guitar, Larry Wright on bass, Craig Villeneuve on piano, and Jim Payne on drums -- got together to play dances and parties. This was the original lineup of the Shondells, and they became good enough to earn decent money locally, and even got noticed by an outfit called Northway Sound Records, who recorded the quintet in a Tommy James original entitled "Judy" in 1962. That single didn't make much noise beyond their immediate locale, but in late 1963, the group came to the notice of a local disc jockey starting up a new label called Snap Records. They cut four sides, two of which were issued and disappeared without a trace on their first Snap single.
The second Snap label release, "Hanky Panky," was golden, at least in the area around Niles. A Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich song that the couple had already recorded under their nom de plume, the Raindrops, as a B-side that James and company had heard done by a rival band, "Hanky Panky," had become part of James' group's stage act. It was enormously popular on-stage, and the Snap single took off locally in Niles and the surrounding area, but it never got heard any further away. James and company picked up their marbles and went home, abandoning aspirations for a recording career in favor of pursuing music part time -- the singer/guitarist took a day job at a record store and confined his music efforts to the nighttime hours. The two years that ensued, from early 1964 until 1966, saw the original Shondells break up, as members left music or were drafted. This didn't seem to make much difference until a day came when James got an urgent request from a promoter to do a concert in Pittsburgh, PA.
Considering that the group had never even played there, he was puzzled. He soon found that the Snap Records single "Hanky Panky," recorded back in 1963 and overlooked in Chicago and Detroit at the time, had suddenly broken out in Pittsburgh. A promoter, having found a copy of the Snap single in a used-record bin, had liked what he heard and gotten the record played locally at dances. In one of those fluky instances that made the record business in those days a complete marvel, people suddenly started requesting "Hanky Panky," and in response to the demand, bootleggers began producing it, attributed to various labels -- some sources estimate that as many as 80,000 copies were sold in Pittsburgh before the smoke cleared.
James saw what he had to do, but he no longer had a band and was forced to recruit a new group of Shondells. The lucky winners were the Raconteurs, a local Pittsburgh quintet. They became the Shondells, with Joe Kessler on guitar, Ron Rosman on keyboards, George Magura on sax, Mike Vale on bass, and Vinnie Pietropaoli on drums; Peter Lucia and Eddie Gray, respectively, replaced Pietropaoli and Kessler, and Magura and his saxophone didn't last long in the lineup.
From near-total obscurity, this version of Tommy James & the Shondells went to playing to audiences numbering in the thousands, and were being courted by Columbia Records and RCA-Victor. It was Morris Levy and Roulette Records, however, who outbid everybody and won the group's contract, and got a number one national hit with "Hanky Panky," in the version cut by the original group nearly three years earlier.
Tommy James & the Shondells, revamped, revised, and reactivated, spent the next three and a half years trying to keep up with their own success. "Say Am I," their second Roulette single and the first by the extant group, only got to number 21, but it was accompanied by a pretty fair Hanky Panky LP, showing off the group's prowess at covering current soul hits by the likes of the Impressions, James Brown, and Junior Walker & the All-Stars. A third single, "It's Only Love," reached number 31, but the fourth, "I Think We're Alone Now," issued in early 1967, got to number four, and the fifth, "Mirage," was another Top Ten release. The latter record was truly a spin-off of the previous hit in the most bizarre way -- according to James, "Mirage" was initially devised by playing the master of "I Think We're Alone Now" backwards. Those recordings were the work of songwriter and producer Ritchie Cordell, who became a rich source of material for the group for the remainder of their history.
Tommy James & the Shondells were lucky enough to be making pop-oriented rock & roll in an era when most of the rest of the rock music world was trying to make more serious records and even create art (often even when the act in question had no capacity for that kind of activity). They were at a label who recognized the need to spend money in order to make money, and didn't mind the expense of issuing a new LP with each major single, despite the fact that Roulette was mostly a singles label where everything but jazz was concerned. The group members themselves were having the time of their lives playing concerts, making personal appearances, and experimenting with advancing their sound in the studio. Audiences loved their work and their records, and it only seemed to get better.
Their songs ran almost counter to the trend among serious rock artists. "Mony Mony," a number three hit coming out in the midst of Vietnam, the psychedelic boom, and just as rock music was supposed to be turning toward higher, more serious forms, was a result of the group looking for a perfect party record and dance tune; even the name was sheer, dumb luck, a result of James spotting the Mutual of New York (MONY) illuminated sign atop their building in mid-town Manhattan at a key moment in the creative process. The group did grab a piece of the prevailing style in late 1968 with "Crimson and Clover," an original by James and drummer Peter Lucia that utilized some creative sound distortion techniques. A number one hit that sold five million copies, it was the biggest single of the group's history and yielded a highly successful follow-up LP as well -- ironically, the latter album included liner notes by Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who had gotten to know the band in the course of their performing at some of his campaign events during his 1968 run for the presidency.
James and company were among the top pop/rock performers in the world during 1969, with two more major hits, "Sweet Cherry Wine" and "Crystal Blue Persuasion," to their credit. Indeed, their presence on the Crimson and Clover album, in addition to the title cut, helped loft that record to a 35-week run on the charts, an extraordinary achievement not only in the history of the band but also -- for a non-greatest hits album -- for Roulette Records, who weren't known as a strong album label. They also began experimenting more with new sounds during this period, most notably on their next album, Cellophane Symphony. The latter record, whose release was delayed for four months because of the extraordinary sales of Crimson and Clover, had its share of basic rock & roll sounds but also plunged into progressive/psychedelic music with a vengeance, most notably on "Cellophane Symphony," a Moog-dominated track that sounds closer to Pink Floyd than anyone ever imagined possible. Cellophane Symphony sold well without breaking any records by its predecessor, and proved in the process that Tommy James & the Shondells could compete in virtually any rock genre. The only miscalculation made by the band was their declining an invitation to perform at Woodstock; the mere credit, coupled with perhaps an appearance in the movie or on the album, might have enhanced their credibility with the counterculture audience.
The end of the Shondells' history came not from any real decision, but simply their desire to take a break in 1970, after four years of hard work and a lot of great times. The moment also seemed right -- James was getting involved in other projects and moving in other directions, including writing and producing records for acts like the Brooklyn-based band Alive and Kicking, whose "Tighter and Tighter" got to number seven, and his own solo recordings. the Shondells continued working together for a time as well, under the name Hog Heaven, cutting one album for Roulette before withdrawing back to the Pittsburgh area where they'd started.
James went through a lot of different sounds on his own records, including country (My Head, My Bed, & My Red Guitar) and Christian music (Christian of the World), and charted in the Top Ten one last time in 1971 with "Draggin' the Line," although he also saw more limited success for another two years with records such as "I'm Comin' Home" and "Celebration."
In the mid-'70s, he made a jump from Roulette Records, where he'd based his career for nearly a decade, to Fantasy Records, and he later recorded for Millennium Records. Following his 1980 Top 20 hit, "Three Times in Love," he resurfaced as a concert artist playing his old hits as well as new songs, although some of these shows were marred by reports of late arrivals and less-than-ideal performances; he has since reestablished a record as a serious crowd-pleasing act, cutting records anew with Cordell and even releasing a live hits collection in 1998.
Tommy James & the Shondells have even achieved something that they saw relatively little of in their own time -- respect. In the years 1966-1970, they were regarded as a bubblegum act and part of the scenery by the few discerning critical voices around, but in the '80s, their music revealed its staying power in fresh recordings (and hits) by Joan Jett, Billy Idol, and Tiffany, with "Crimson and Clover," "Mony Mony," and "I Think We're Alone Now," respectively; indeed, in one of those odd chart events that would have seemed more likely in the '60s, in 1987, Tiffany's version of "I Think We're Alone Now" was replaced at the number one spot after two weeks by Billy Idol's rendition of "Mony Mony." Rhino Records' reissue of the Crimson and Clover and Cellophane Symphony albums, in addition to greatest hits collections and a survey of James' solo recordings from the decade 1970-1980, also seemed to speak for the group's credibility, and a 1997 Westside Records double CD, It's a New Vibration, offering unreleased songs from the '60s as well as all of the key single tracks, confirmed the level of seriousness with which the group was perceived.
Tommy James was no Mick Jagger or Jim Morrison, to be sure, and his songwriting -- which was usually not solo, in any case -- lacked the downbeat, serious tone or the little mystical touches of John Fogerty. He's usually put more comfortably in the company of such figures as Paul Revere & the Raiders' Mark Lindsay, or with Johnny Rivers or Tommy Roe, in the middle or early part of the '60s. But from 1968 through 1970, when artists like Jagger, Fogerty, and Morrison were in their heyday, Tommy James & the Shondells sold more singles than any other pop act in the world, many of them written, co-written, or at least chosen by James. The mere fact that he released a concert DVD in the fall of 2000 is loud testament to the power and impact of his work four decades into his career.
Not the first but definitely the most popular rock instrumental combo, the Ventures scored several hit singles during the 1960s -- most notably "Walk-Don't Run" and "Hawaii Five-O" -- but made their name in the growing album market, covering hits of the day and organizing thematically linked LPs. Almost 40 Ventures' albums charted, and 17 hit the Top 40. And though the group's popularity in America virtually disappeared by the 1970s, their enormous contribution to pop culture was far from over; the Ventures soon became one of the most popular world-wide groups, with dozens of albums recorded especially for the Japanese and European markets. They toured continually throughout the 1970s and '80s -- influencing Japanese pop music of the time more than they had American music during the '60s.
the Ventures' origins lie in a Tacoma, Washington group called the Impacts. Around 1959, construction workers and hobby guitarists Bob Bogle and Don Wilson formed the group, gigging around Washington state and Idaho with various rhythm sections as backup. They recorded a demo tape, but after it was rejected by the Liberty Records subsidiary Dolton, the duo founded their own label, Blue Horizon. They released one vocal single ("Cookies and Coke"), then recruited bassist Nokie Edwards and drummer Skip Moore and decided to instead become an instrumental group.
the Ventures went into the studio in 1959 with an idea for a new single they had first heard on Chet Atkins' Hi Fi in Focus LP. Released on Blue Horizon in 1960, the single "Walk-Don't Run" became a big local hit after being aired as a news lead-in on a Seattle radio station (thanks to a friend with connections). In an ironic twist, Dolton Records came calling and licensed the single for national distribution; by summer 1960, it had risen to number two in the charts, behind only "It's Now or Never" by Elvis Presley. After Howie Johnson replaced Moore on drums, the Ventures began recording their debut album, unsurprisingly titled after their hit single.
Two singles, "Perfidia" and "Ram-Bunk-Shush," hit the Top 40 during 1960-61, but the Ventures soon began capitalizing on what became a trademark: releasing LPs which featured songs very loosely arranged around a theme implied in the title. The group's fourth LP, The Colorful Ventures, included "Yellow Jacket," "Red Top," "Orange Fire" and no less than three tracks featuring the word "blue" in the title. the Ventures put their indelible stamp on each style of '60s music they covered, and they covered many -- twist, country, pop, spy music, psychedelic, swamp, garage, TV themes. (In the '70s, the band moved on to funk, disco, reggae, soft rock and Latin music.) the Ventures' lineup changed slightly during 1962. Howie Johnson left the band, to be replaced by session man Mel Taylor; also, Nokie Edwards took over lead guitar with Bob Bogle switching to bass.
One of the few LPs not arranged around a theme became their best-selling; 1963's The Ventures Play Telstar, The Lonely Bull featured a cover of the number one instrumental hit by the British studio band the Tornadoes and produced by Joe Meek. Though their cover of "Telstar" didn't even chart, the album hit the Top Ten and became the group's first of three gold records. A re-write of their signature song -- entitled "Walk-Don't Run '64" -- reached number eight that year. By the mid-'60s however, the Ventures appeared to be losing their touch. Considering the volatility of popular music during the time, it was quite forgivable that the group would lose their heads-up knowledge of current trends in the music industry to forecast which songs should be covered. The television theme "Hawaii Five-O" hit number four in 1969, but the Ventures slipped off the American charts for good in 1972. Instead, the band began looking abroad for attention and -- in Japan especially -- they found it with gusto. After leaving Dolton/Liberty and founding their own Tridex Records label, the Ventures began recording albums specifically for the Japanese market. The group eventually sold over 40 million records in that country alone, becoming one of the biggest American influences on Japanese pop music ever.
Nokie Edwards left the Ventures in 1968 to pursue his interest in horse racing for a time, and was replaced by Gerry McGee; though he returned by 1972, Mel Taylor left the group that year for a solo career, to be replaced by Joe Barile. (Taylor returned also, in 1979.) By the early '80s, the Ventures' core quartet of Wilson, Bogle, Edwards and Taylor could boast of playing together for over 20 years. Though Edwards left the band for good in 1984 (replaced again by Gerry McGee) and Mel Taylor died mid-way through a Japanese tour in 1996 (replaced by his son Leon), the Ventures continued to pack venues around the world.
"...You'll either need to cry off for a few hours, or go on an extended road trip to listen to this compilation because I warn you, once you hit 'Play', you won't be stopping any time soon! I've got a full day tomorrow just plugging in and listening to this gorgeous collection of songs. I wonder if the professional compilers feel like we did when we used to make up our own mix tapes? Somehow, they have to convince us that these are 'the ones' that ought to be included. Well, nobody made any mistakes!
The compiled songs make 25 hits per CD from looking through what's offered and how the albums are made up. It's convenient to offer the downloads and for us to back them up on our own discs! Great idea. With the likes of Paul Jones; Edwin Hawkins Singers; Johnny Nash; Love Affair and Ken Dodd...
Hang on, did I just say...er, yup! He's there too. And, guess who else? Yes, Des O'Connor. I loved his singing when I was a kid and that hasn't changed.
I've only given you six names out of seventy-five. I'll leave it to you to look through the rest for yourselves. As a radio jock, I highly recommend this triple album. It'll have you singing all the way through...." ~radiojock
01. The House Of The Ising Sun - The Animals
02. I'm Into Something Good - Herman's Hermits
03. Daydream - The Lovin' Spoonful
04. I Like It - Gerry & The Pacemakers
05. Walkin' Back To Happiness - Helen Shapiro
06. Dance To The Music - Sly & The Family Stone
07. 5-4-3-2-1 - Manfred Mann
08. California Girls - The Beach Boys
09. Do You Want To Know A Secret - Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas
10. I'm Alive - The Hollies
11. Poison Ivy - The Paramounts
12. Black Magic Woman - Fleetwood Mac
13. Tobacco Road - The Nashville Teens
14. The Frightened City - The Shadows
15. The Weight - The Band
16. Got To Get You Into My Life - Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers
17. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da - Bedrocks
18. Seven Drunken Nights - The Dubliners
19. Hi Ho Silver Lining - Jeff Beck
20. The Cruel Sea - The Dakotas
21. I'm Telling You Now - Freddie & The Dreamers
22. Alfie - Cilla Black
23. Eorgy Girl - The Seekers
24. Hold Me - P. J. Proby
25. True Love Ways - Peter And Gordon
01. Return To Sender - Elvis Presley
02. She She Little Sheila - Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps
03. Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen - Neil Sedaka
04. Walking To New Orleans - Fats Domino
05. Hang On Sloopy - The McCoys
06. Dance With The Guitar Man - Duane Eddy
07. Perfidia - The Ventures
08. The Lion Sleeps Tonight - The Tokens
09. Barbara Ann - The Beach Boys
10. You're No Good - The Swinging Blue Jeans
11. The Night Has A Thousand Eyes - Bobby Vee
12. Someone Else's Baby - Adam Faith
13. Hit And Miss - John Barry Seven Plus Four
14. I'm A Tiger - Lulu
15. Here I Go Again - The Hollies
16. Do Wah Diddy Diddy - Manfred Mann
17. Google Eye - The Nashville Teens
18. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) - Cher
19. Aquarius - Paul Jones
20. Up Up And Away - The Johnny Mann Singers
21. Apache - The Shadows
22. Spooky - The Classics IV
23. Kites - Simon Dupree & The Big Sound
24. Green Tambourine - The Lemon Pipers
25. I'm The Urban Spaceman - Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
01. Oh Happy Day - Edwin Hawkins Singers
02. You Got Soul - Johnny Nash
03. Bringing On Back The Good Times - Love Affair
04. I'll Take You Home - Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers
05. Promises - Ken Dodd
06. Boom Bang A Bang - Lulu
07. A Must to Avoid - Herman's Hermits
08. Hello Little Girl - Fourmost
09. With a Little Help from My Friends - The Young Idea
10. Bad To Me - Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas
11. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - The Animals
12. All I Really Want To Do - Cher
13. I've Been A Bad Bad Boy - Paul Jones
14. Anyone Who Had A Heart - Cilla Black
15. A World Without Love - Peter And Gordon
16. Morningtown Ride - The Seekers
17. I Understand - Freddie & The Dreamers
18. You'll Never Walk Alone - Gerry & The Pacemakers
19. Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) - Peter Sarstedt