Throwback Thursday: 1962

A popular misconception that I sometimes fall into is that the years after The Day The Music Died (early 1959) and before The Beatles hit in America (early 1964) the pop chart was pretty dull. Sure, there was a lot of schmaltz on the Hot 100 – there always is – but there was a lot of exciting stuff, too, as today’s Throwback Thursday playlist will attest. Girl groups, Motown, Ray Charles, James Brown, Frankie Valli, Sam Cooke, The Beach Boys and lots of other good stuff made the top 40. Have a listen to thirty of 1962’s best.

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Throwback Thursday: 1975

Today’s Throwback Thursday playlist revisits the music of 1975. Each of the 30 songs below made the pop top 40. I miss the days before radio became so segmented and one could hear Eagles rubbing up against Minnie Riperton next to Bob Dylan followed by Labelle with Bruce Springsteen’s first hit playing with The Captain & Tennille’s first hit on deck. It satisfies the musical omnivore that I am.

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (5-26-20)

Inspired by the May 26 birthdays of Stevie Nicks, Ms. Lauryn Hill, The Band’s Levon Helm, Peggy Lee, Lenny Kravitz, Swinging Blue Jeans’ Ray Ennis, Alphaville’s Marian Gold, Nashville Teens’ Art Sharp and Black; and the May 25 birthdays of The Jam’s Paul Weller, Disclosure’s Guy Lawrence, Tom T. Hall, The Tokens’ Mitch Margo, and Jessi Colter.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4C0pvzTH8O6tp7PrQrEM9z

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (2-9-20)

Today is the birthday of Carole King, one of the greatest songwriters of the pop era. Chances are you know songs she had a hand in writing: “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “So Far Away,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “One Fine Day,” “The Loco-motion,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “I Feel the Earth Move,” “Up on the Roof,” “It’s Too Late,” and “I’m Into Something Good” among them.

King isn’t the only rock era songwriter celebrating a birthday today. It is also the birthday of her contemporary Barry Mann, who is not the same person as Barry Manilow. As a performer, Mann had one hit – 1961’s “Who Put the Bomp (In the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp).” As a writer, he’s charted nearly 100 times in the US. His credits include “Here You Come Again,” “Bristol Stomp,” “Only in America,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “Make Your Own Kind of Music,” “On Broadway,” and “Sometimes When We Touch,” many written with his wife, Cynthia Weil.

King and Mann feature in today’s playlist, as do others who share their birthday: The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt, Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Holly Johnson, Barbara Lewis, and Major Harris. I also threw in some folks who had birthdays yesterday: Daft Punk’s Guy Manuel, England Dan, and James Dean.

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Throwback Thursday – 1962

Some time in my teen years I feel in love with the girl group sound. My favorite was The Crystals’ “He’s a Rebel.” The music and the vocals hooked me. The singer tells of how others don’t approve of the boy she loves as he’s a non-conformist, but he treats her well and that’s all that matters.

The story behind the record is as interesting as the record itself. The song was written by Gene Pitney, who had several hits of his own, including “Town Without Pity” and “(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valence.” “He’s a Rebel” was slated to be the debut single for Vikki Carr, but when Spector heard Pitney’s demo he knew he wanted it for one of his acts, The Crystals.

He needed to record it quickly in order to challenge Carr’s version at the stores. The Crystals, however, were on the road in New York and unable to make the recording sessions in Los Angeles. No problem. Spector hired a local group called The Blossoms, led by Darlene Wright, to record the song. Wright was paid $3000 for the session. Spector released the record under the name The Crystals, as his label owned the name. The actual Crystals first learned of their new hit song when they heard it on the radio. It became their first #1 single, meaning The Crystals had to learn this song so they could perform it at their shows. The group’s lead singer, Barbara Alston, could not match Wright’s vocal performance, so fellow Crystal LaLa Brooks moved into the lead vocalist slot. Coincidentally, the week The Crystals’ “He’s a Rebel” was #1, Gene Pitney was #2 as a singer with “Only Love Can Break a Heart,” a song he didn’t write.

As “He’s a Rebel” was so successful, Spector needed to get a follow-up single out quickly. Again, he turned to The Blossoms to record “He’s Sure the Boy I Love.” Wright, however, was angry that her name was not on “He’s a Rebel” and told Spector she would only do this song if she were singed to a recording agreement and was properly credited for her vocals on the track. Spector agreed, changing her name in the agreement to Darlene Love. He released “He’s Sure the Boy I Love.” It was credited to The Crystals.

Spector used the money he made from “He’s a Rebel” to buy out his business partners in the Philles Records label. In addition to the financial settlement, Spector had to give his two ex-partners a share of the royalties of the next Philles single release, so Spector got the real Crystals into the studio and recorded “(Let’s Dance) The Screw,” a silly number clearly not intended to be a hit. A copy was sent to one of the ex-partners. No royalties were generated.

Tunes du Jour celebrates Throwback Thursday with twenty great hits from 1962, kicking off with “He’s a Rebel” by “The Crystals.”


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Winston + Bobby Brown

The Song Retains The Name

Winston + Bobby Brown
Today is Bobby Brown’s 46th birthday. A former member of New Edition, Brown had his first solo hit in 1988 with “Don’t Be Cruel,” which reached #8 on the Hot 100. Though it shares its title with an Elvis Presley #1 hit from 1956, Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” is not a remake.

That brings us to today’s playlist, which I call The Song Retains the Name. It consists of different songs with the same title. I initially planned to include twenty such songs, but more kept springing to mind. Before I knew it, I passed 100 entries. There are plenty more, so I decided to open this up to my reader(s). If you have songs that share titles you’d like to add, feel free to do so.

(NOTES: I included The Jacksons’ “This Place Hotel” because when it was released in 1980 its title was “Heartbreak Hotel.” Thought he didn’t have to, Michael Jackson, the song’s writer, later changed its name to “This Place Hotel” to avoid confusion with the Elvis Presley song “Heartbreak Hotel.” Whitney Houston didn’t feel the need to make the same Hotel accommodation.

Also, though it is listed on Spotify as “The Best of My Love,” the Eagles track does not have a “The” on the 45 or the band’s On the Border album.)

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