Tag Archives: The Marvelettes

Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (6-9-20)

Inspired by Black Music Month, LGBTQ Pride Month, the passing of Bonnie Pointer, and the June 9 birthdays of Jackie Wilson, The Chemical Brothers’ Ed Simons, Muse’s Matt Bellamy, Les Paul, Johnny Ace and composer Cole Porter.

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (5-30-20)

Inspired by the May 30 birthdays of The Clash‘s Topper Headon, The Marvelettes’ Gladys Horton, Cee Lo Green, Stephen Malkmus, Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave’s Tom Morello, the Charlatans’ Tim Burgess, of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes, Devendra Banhart, Donna A., Benny Goodman and Remy Ma.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/66SpAAlgabDI4i7VQwwuaN

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (5-13-20)

Inspired by the May 13 birthdays of Stevie Wonder, Alison Goldfrapp, Mary Wells, Ritchie Valens and Bea Arthur.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0H7OM76oeLbENs2YEdlI8L

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Your (Almost) Daily Playlist (4-24-20)

Inspired by the April 24 birthdays of Barbra Streisand, Kelly Clarkson, Kehlani, Robert Knight, Freddie Scott, The Fortunes’ Glen Dale, and Oak Ridge Boys’ Richard Sterban; and the April 23 birthdays of Roy Orbison, The Wedding Present’s David Gedge, Jónsi, Ray Peterson, and John Miles.

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Girl Power! Forty Of The Best Girl Group Songs

The girl group sound was a genre of pop music that flourished on the charts between 1958 and 1966. Most records that fall into this category were made by all-female trios or quartets. However, some girl group hits were performed by solo women, and some by groups that featured a cisgender male. Per girl-groups.com, more than 750 girl groups cracked the US or UK charts between 1960 and 1966.

Tunes du Jour commemorates International Women’s Day with a playlist of forty of the best examples of the girl group sound.


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Throwback Thursday – 1963

The girl group sound was hugely popular on the US pop charts in the early 1960s. The Shirelles, The Crystals, The Chiffons, The Angels, Martha and the Vandellas, The Marvelettes, The Exciters, The Orlons, The Cookies, The Murmaids, The Dixie Cups, The Supremes, The Toys, The Shangri-Las, The Jaynetts and others filled the radio with tales of teenage romance, heartbreak and occasionally social commentary. Solo acts such as Lesley Gore and Darlene Love also exemplified the girl group sound.

Described in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry as “the quintessence of the ‘girl group’ aesthetic of the early 1960s,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” reached #2 in 1963. The record was produced by Phil Spector, who produced at least 15 top forty girl group songs between 1962 and 1964.

Lead vocals on “Be My Baby” were performed by Ronnie Spector. In fact, the other Ronettes aren’t even on the record. Backup singers included the girlfriend of Phil Spector’s promotion man. That man was Sonny Bono; his girlfriend was Cher. Sonny & Cher would have their first hit as a duo two years later.

This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights the hits of 1963. Here are twenty of that year’s best, kicking off with the record New Music Express named the second best song of the 1960s (their #1 was The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life”), the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.”


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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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Throwback Thursday – 1961

From 1958 to 1960, Ben E. King was the lead singer of The Drifters, scoring hits with “There Goes My Baby,” “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “This Magic Moment” and “I Count the Tears.” He suggested to the group’s manager, George Treadwell, that they record the spiritual tune “Stand by Me Father,” but Treadwell turned him down. King also asked Treadwell for a greater share of the group’s royalties. Again, Treadwell turned him down. King said goodbye.

King left the group after recording just thirteen songs with them. He soon made the top ten as a solo act with 1961’s “Spanish Harlem.”

Around that time, King was working on a song based on “Stand by Me Father.” He had some lyrics and a melody. He finished the lyrics with his producer, Jerry Leiber. Leiber’s songwriting/production partner, Mike Stoller, added some chords behind the melody, as well as a bass line.

Per Leiber, it’s that last addition that makes Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” a classic. “The lyrics are good, King’s vocal is great. But Mike’s bass line pushed the song into the land of immortality. Believe me – it’s the bass line.”

“Stand By Me” kicks off this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, spotlighting hits from 1961.


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My First 45 By The Carpenters

When I was young I’d listen to the radio waitin’ for my favorite songs
When they played, I’d sing along; it made me smile

One of my favorite songs when I was young(er) was “Please Mr. Postman,” to which I was introduced via the version performed by The Carpenters, as the original hit version by The Marvelettes pre-dated my existence.

The Carpenters’ single entered the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974, the year my Grandpa Abe gave me a radio, entering me on a path of music fandom from which I have yet to stray. It ultimately went to #1, the same position at which The Marvelettes’ version peaked fourteen years earlier (and in doing so, became Motown Records first #1 pop hit). Incidentally, The Carpenters final Hot 100 entry was also a cover of a Marvelettes hit, “Beechwood 4-5789.” It peaked at #82, sixty-five notches below the peak position of the original.

I bought the Carpenters 45, which came with a picture sleeve cleverly replicating an envelope.

Carpenters002Zip codes? We don’t need no stinkin’ zip codes!

I wrote to the address on the sleeve. A few weeks later I received this in the mail:

Carpenters001
By the way, the lyrics that open this blog post are taken from “Yesterday Once More,” a #2 hit for The Carpenters. The song was written by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis.

Karen Carpenter, the sibling duo’s singer and drummer, was born on March 2, 1950. She died in 1983 at age 32 from “emetine cardiotoxicity due to or as a consequence of anorexia nervosa.”

Between 1970 and 1981 The Carpenters scored twenty top 40 hits on the Hot 100. Here they are:


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My Birthday Advice: Don’t!

doggies + Elvis
Today is my birthday. Over my 25+ years on earth, I’ve learned many life lessons. Most of them came from songs. My birthday gift to you is a playlist of 100 songs offering advice as to what not to do.


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