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Dudleys Disc Data Archive

Dudley’s Disc Data

October 2012


Adorable, Addictive Wanda Young


          Motown’s first “female Group”, the Marvelettes, was soon overwhelmed by the greater success of Martha and the Vandellas (magnificent) and the Supremes. But the Marvelettes still managed two dozen sizable hits from 1961-1968. Maybe called Motown’s mystery group because of membership turnover. Their pictures can range from three to five members – usually several tall, robust girls and always, a true little beauty – the diminutive, adorable, wicked Wanda Young.


          She sang lead on all the hits after 1965. The early three were sung by the raucous Gladys Horton, who recently died: “Please Mr. Postman”, “Playboy”, and of course, “Beechwood 4-5789” (you can call me back and have a date, any old time.) It seemed very much Gladys’ group.


          But Motown’s genius Smokey Robinson had other plans! He heard in Wanda’s laid-back voice a subtle “Sleeping Giant”. He decided to make her a star. He wrote a dozen irresistible songs for her including The Marvelettes’ last three big hits from 1966-67: “Don’t Mess with Bill”, “The Hunter gets Captured by the Game”, and “My Baby Must be a Magician”.


          And he wrote the six lesser gems. I want you to hear – these hits ranged from about #35 to #60 but they are all huge in my memory book !! Listen to: “I’ll keep holding on”, “You’re My Remedy”, “Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead”, “You’re the One”, “Here I am Baby” and “Destination Anywhere”.


          Now really – it’s so easy to love these songs and Wanda. That voice which Smokey and I loved, just rolls, purrs and slurs along. Wanda succumbed to drugs and alcohol, bring about the end of the group (She had married one of Smokey’s Miracle comrades), but let’s not dwell on that.


          You may think these songs sound alike – but really do you want them to even end? Don’t you want to hear them again tomorrow? Isn’t Wanda addictive? (Remedy – “Don’t call a doctor, a nurse is worse”!).


Dudley Brown (Class of ’58)



Dudley Brown doesn’t use a computer (etc.), can be reached at:


304 Columbia Street

Cumberland, MD 21502

(240) 727-0216


Thank you and thank you – Wanda Young and Smokey Robinson, who found her for us.


(Dudley’s Disc Data will become a monthly feature of the website). He would like to hear from his longtime friends.



Wanda Young by Fred Bay on Grooveshark




Article #3                             October 15, 2013



The Genius of George Goldner


          Sharp dressed man George Goldner loved to nurture young black artists and knew a hit when he heard one. A Jewish New Yorker who started recording Latin music for his Hispanic wife, he got sidetracked by all the teenage black singers who kept showing up. He started a half dozen labels, produced over 100 great singles and a dozen  national hits. But gambling addiction ruined his career and shortened his brilliant life. He lost all his labels and money to some very bad gang collectors. This is why he never became Berry Gordy. But here (playlist)  is some of the beautiful music by his best groups.


“The Masquerade is Over - 1957”, “Until the Real Thing Comes Along 1957”, “That’s My Desire - 1957”, “Stay As You Are - 1957” : The Harptones (Willie Winfield) and Channels (Earl Lewis) are probably New York’s two most loved groups that never had a national hit. Harptones were loved for their romantic smooth ballads and Channels for their complex, thrilling harmony. Their 1957 work with Goldner was brief, between their stays at other labels. As of 2000, at least, both groups still performed occasionally.


“Could be Magic - 1957”,  “Chapel of Dreams - 1958”: The Dubs beautiful “Could this be Magic” is the biggest hit on this list – a favorite slow dance in winter 1957. Oooh, that ending !! Lead Richard Blandon died at 52 in 1991.


Frankie Lymon (1942-1968) and the Teenagers had Golden’s second biggest hit, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”  #6. I prefer the three minor hits here, from Lymon’s only big year 1956. Enjoy he the sorry fun on “ABCs of Love”, and Lymon’s double denial on “I’m Not a Know It All” and “ I’m not a Juvenile Delinquent”.  ?? Oh yes you were, Dude and that’s why your career died young and so did you… Frankie had a younger brother, Lewis Lymon, who made a few good records, stayed out of trouble, became a New York disc jockey, and died in the summer of 2013.


“So Much - 1958”, Please Say You Want Me - 1961”, “My Empty Room - 1960”, “Where - 1959”: “Little” Anthony’s “Tears on My Pillow” was Goldner’s very biggest hit at #4. “Little” Anthony’s precise dictation could have provided him a second career as a speech therapist, but he didn’t need it, with a slew of later hits in the 1960s. How does Anthony get his girl back? “I said a prayer and played the jukebox”. If only it was that easy !!  Note that “My Empty Room” and “Where” (Platters) are the same Tchaikovsky symphony tune Both minor chart hits, Platters was bigger.


“He’s Gone - 1957”, “Goodbye to Love - 1958”, “If You Try  - 1958”, “I Love You So - 1958” – Really special !  The Chantels, Schoolgirls, were the first young female group to have more than one hit, especially their most famous, “Maybe”. Amazing sound, since Arlene Smith was only 15 and wrote most of her songs. What a voice !! She grew disillusioned with the music business and became a music teacher instead. Chantels had one more big gorgeous hit without her – “Look in My Eyes - 1961”.


“Besame Mucho – 1960”, “Maria Elena – 1960”, “Nobody Loves Me Like You – 1960”, “Your Other Love – 1960” – Goldner’s most elegant group (Flamingos) easily deserve their own collection. One of the few black Jewish groups, they had Goldner’s third biggest hit, “I Only Have Eyes For You”. They had a flair for Latin numbers and moved into the newest popular Drifters’ style for “Nobody Love Me Like You” and “Your Other Love”. “Maria Elena” was the #2 song the week of Fred Bay’s birth, in a very different original version by Jimmy Dorsey. It sure sounds good here.


In case you did not hear enough Flamingos material to fill out at least four albums (48 songs),  making this group his most productive venture. (The Flamingos had already released at least 24 singles on various labels from 1953-58before joining Goldner. The most famous of these early records was “I’ll be home”.


Their first hit for him was the super-romantic “Lovers Never Sat Goodbye” with a kiss in the middle. (This was a great favorite of my mother’s)


“Time Was”, “As Time Goes By”, “Yours” were all their versions of older tunes. “Yours” and “You Belong to My Heart” show the group’s skill with Latin-type beats.


All in all, they may have been the most all-around, musically versatile of all doo-wop groups.



Let me add that at the end of George Goldner’s life is tragic, but to me he’ still a musical hero for making possible all this wonderful music, and so much more.



Goldner by Fred Bay on Grooveshark




Article #2                             October 14, 2013



Eberle/Eberly Brothers


Before there were Don and Phil (Everly), there were brothers Ray Eberle and Bob Eberly. They ruled the charts in 1940-41 with music our parents loved. Ray with Glenn Miller and Bob with Jimmy Dorsey (and Helen O’Connell) recorded a fusillade of 68 total hits ! This is the music so many of us were born into.


          I picked, to represent Ray, three tunes which were revived much later; “My Prayer”, “Blueberry Hill”, and “At Last”. Did you know they originally sounded like this ?  Ray was a beloved romantic crooner but was unable to sustain any kind of solo career when Frank Sinatra (and Perry Como) achieved domination. Short but ever so sweet !


          A bit more upbeat and dashing, the Dorsey- Eberly – O’Connell tunes swept the charts throughout  1941. The bright smiley voice if Helen helped a lot. Note the tempo changes in most of these hit tunes. They have some tension.


          The big band era did not get any bigger than this. It’s probably  the music our parents danced to. If you like, you can close your eyes and picture them. This music can put them with you if you believe. Works for me.




If you would like to know more about (our) parents’ music, I have three more little “programs” planned for the future. If you have any requests or suggestions, let Fred or me know.


          Do you have an anniversary to observe? (or someone’s birthday?) – Do you know what songs were popular in that exact week? I’ve got the weekly lists from 1935 on.


          If you were married before 1935 and you are reading this, my profound congratulations.



Dudley Brown (MHS Class of ’58)



Eberle/Eberly Brothers by Fred Bay on Grooveshark






Dee Dee Sharp, The Orlons:  Philly Fun, 1962-63



          Why did Fred Bay have such a festive birthday in July 1962 ?? (ed. I finally passed my math at UC?)  I got it – because the Orlons (“Watusi”) and Dee Dee Sharp (“Gravy”) were both in the top 10! How fun can you get? I’m jealous – they weren’t around on my 21st (9/61), (Not that I’d had noticed or remembered.)


Absence makes the heart grow… well you know.  The Orlons and Sharp  disappeared from print for mysterious legal reasons and were unavailable for over 35 terrible years! (How did I survive life without Dee Dee?) Finally these pop dance classics reappeared around 2000. What a thrilling day in my house! I played them over and over and danced around to the bemusement of my cats. The world does not need to know). (ed. The world now does Dudley)


          The Orlons only managed these four hits, but what a dynamite quartet they were. Three women and one guy, Steve Caldwell, the “Frog” voice. “Don’t Hang Up” – Ooh no, says Steve. To “South Street” he punctuates with “Oh Baby”. South Street is celebrated as “Where all the hippies meet”, “The hippest street in town” (Oh Baby!)


          After the hits stopped, “Frog Voiced” Caldwell became a school bus driver. One of the girls was murdered in 1977, still unsolved. But they were back on PBS recently – I generally avoid those PBS “Reunion” group concerts, often depressing. I agree with Fred Bay, a lor of people should know when to quit…..but there were some Fine Lady Orlons, Shaking their Watusis, and the bus driver; with hits “Oh Mi” and “Oh Baby” still perfectly resounding. The audience was in rapture, and so was I.


          As for Ms. Sharp, she was never well liked by colleagues, a difficult person but bright enough to get a Ph D in something (Psychology ?). “Mashed Potato Time” sounded so much like “Please Mr. Postman” that writers had to be paid. She was still on the “Gravy” train (HA!) when Fred’s birthday rolled around.


          The last  2 songs “Ride” and “I Really Love You” were not big hits, but the singers personal favorites. You’ll like them fine. I waited a long time for this stuff to become available, and it adds happiness to my life. If you dance, let your cats watch.



Dudley Brown (MHS Class of ’58)




P.S. The #2 song on Mr. Bay’s 21st birthday was “The Stripper” appropriate for anyones 21st! The #1 song was “Roses are Red” by Bobby Vinton.




Dee Dee Sharp / Orlons by Fred Bay on Grooveshark





Jim Reeves  (1924-1964)



            If you were a kid who heard any country music at all in 1953-1959, you couldn’t miss Jim Reeves’ first two big hits, “Mexican Joe” and “Bimbo”, and we liked these childlike , playful tunes. Reeves would also record the delightful “kid” song “Roly Poly” – about a voracious child.  “Daddy’s Little Fatty”, who eats “bread and jelly 20 times a day.” This very cute song was a country hit in 1946 for Bob Wills and was beautifully sung by Merle Haggard in hit 1969 Wills tribute.


            Notice that in his early hits, Reeves sang in a higher , thinner voice. Then the low smooth ballad voice he soon developed. Before he died in a plane crash, one year after Patsy Cline’s, he was the first country star to become internationally loved, and he mush have been very busy, because “they” kept finding unreleased Reeves material, and he kept having hits for well over ten years after he died. This is a “picture” of his talent.


            “That’s My Desire”, originally a 1947 hit by Frankie Laine (and Sammy Kaye, a band to which my father once belonged), became a group classic by the Channels and Dion and the Belmonts, and his good versions by Ella Fitzgerald and Patsy Cline.


            Now in August 1950, when I was still 9 years old, the original “Mona Lisa” and “Goodnight Irene” were the songs that got me interested in the charts. I loved “Mona Lisa”, my mother favored “Irene”, and a neighbor told me about the “Hit Parade”, which rated them. I had a tantrum and threw something (safe bet a brick) across the room when “her” song beat mine, but my lifelong obsession with charts still continues after these 63 years, and Jim Reeves sings both the way my mother liked.


            She also liked “Four Walls”, a big “pop” hit which I included for her. “Dark Moon” was a pop hit in 1957 for TV’s Gale Storm (remember “My Little Margie”?) – There are also fine versions by the wonderful Teresa Brewer (1931-2007) and Patty Page (1927-2013).


Finally we have the three touching valedictory performances, from the huge storehouse of Posthumous Reeves releases. Very appropriate titles.


            Now as I write this, I’m afraid to turn on the TV, as all we are hearing is about government shutdowns and debt ceilings. I’d rather retreat into the soothing relaxing world of Jim Reeves. See you there.



Jim Reeves by Fred Russell on Grooveshark



December 2013


Volume 1, Article 6



Merry Christmas MHS !!!

(Part I)



Celebrate with 4 wonderful women. My absolute #1 favorite singer, Kathy Mattea, created a classic album in 1993, winning a Grammy, without using any “traditional” songs, here are three award-winning reasons. I saw her 6 times so far.


          My absolute second favorite singer, Lorrie Morgan, just “kills”/”slays” me with these awesome “traditional” performances. In my book, she was (1) the best torch singer of her generation, (2) the most under=rated, and (3) the most glamorous. I saw her 4 times.


          My absolute third favorite singer, Trisha Yearwood, has a couple of “original” items that were very popular. She is of course, Mrs. Garth Brooks and a TV cooking star and writer.


          My absolute fourth favorite, Martina, sang songs that actually were  older than these others with her 1998 album. To me songs “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (both from the mid-40s) always & forever go together.


Enjoy !!





Dudley Brown doesn’t use a computer (etc.), can be reached at:


304 Columbia Street

Cumberland, MD 21502

(240) 727-0216


Dudley would like to hear from his longtime friends and also if you like his columns, please take time to write him.



Christmas by Fred Russell on Grooveshark



If you click on a song by the artist that Dudley writes about you can listen to their music !


Merry Christmas MHS !!!


(Part II)


“Today and Yesterday”

December 2013

Volume 1 Article 7


          One of today’s pleasantest pop singer, Colbie Caillat, made my favorite 2012 Christmas album. What’s Christmas without “Santa Baby”? (My favorite2013 Christmas album is the new one by Kelly Clarkson, but I don’t have it yet.) {ed note: Dudley have you been a good boy this year, if so maybe}.


          Fifty years ago came the beloved Phil Spector album which has sold a million though it flopped at the time……. Usually called the best-ever pop – rock & roll Christmas album, no argument from me. All these young singers were about 21 or less. And most of them are still with us.



Enjoy Tigers!!





Christmas II by Fred Russell on Grooveshark



Volume 2 Article 1

January 2014


Linda Ronstadt


Linda Ronstadt (1946-  ), almost certainly the most versatile singer of her generation, has announced that she has Parkinson’s Disease and cannot sing. Let’s enjoy a perfect little survey though her adventurous career and many changing moods.


I can’t think of anyone who has succeeded – gone platinum and won awards – at Rock, Country, Mexican/Hispanic, and traditional Jazz ballads – as well as Opera, not recorded. She appears to have had a restless, even impatient, temperament, or a short attention span. She got tired of one style quickly, only to come back to each one a few years later.


She started slowly, getting only two hits (“Different Drum” & “Long Long Time”) in three years. I often feel that “Long Long Time” is her most beautiful torch performance ever.


Or maybe her most beautiful one is her lead on, “Telling Me Lies” the country hit from the 1987 Parton – Harris – Ronstadt “Trio” album. Play these together and can you choose – Which ??


Then again, maybe “Try Me Again”, is the most beautiful of these three, as well as the least known. “Try Me Again” is one of the very few songs which Ronstadt wrote, and it make me wish she had written much more. (She also wrote “Lo Siento Mi Vida”.)


“Try Me Again” was later recorded by the great Trish Yearwood (included in play list), one of several country singers influenced by Linda. (Martina McBride is another.) Actually in many ways I think Trisha Yearwood is a better singer, while sticking to the narrow genre range; Many critics consider Linda Ronstadt to be vocally splendid but emotionally vacant, and they may have a point. Trisha calls up more intense emotion.


Linda also wrote the Mexican “Lo Siento Mt Vida”, and recorded traditional Mexican music “Hay Unos Osos”, a tune from the 1930’s. We end with three “old” (1930s) tune from her celebrated Jazz – ballad items in 1983-1984. Again many critics complained that these lush productions were emotionally shallow. I don’t think so ! Hear, decide, and be fascinated by everything she tried.






Linda Ronstadt by Fred Russell on Grooveshark




January 2014

Volume 2, Article 2



12 Great One-Shot Hits

(aka 1959 was a great year for one-shot hits)



“Little Bit of Soap” by the Jarmels (1961) opens the set with a snap ! One of the most fascinating tunes here, only reached #12 but everyone seems to remember it. And it charted (lower) by 4 more people in later years, last in 1979. “A Little Bit of Soap” did not wash this song away.


“Love You So”, more snaps ! And a primitive, simplistic, unforgettable production.


            “I’ve Had It” begins our 6 –tune run of 1959 hits. Better one-shot than none, right ?

Unless you’re in a bar – then I’d rather have No (zero) shots than only one. Don’t get me started- you can’t stop me…..Someone stopped this group from having another hit, but I still love this one.


            “All American Boy” a great joke, Bobby Bare was a one-hit pop wonder (as Bill Parsons) but got into the Country Hall of Fame this year.


            “Sea Cruise”  Ooo-Wee !  Frankie Ford was the token white kid in New Orleans’ music scene, and he made  some good records, such as the oldie “Time After Time”, but only this made it.


            “So Fine” & “You’re so Fine” are two similar soul titles that hit together.


            “The Big Hurt” & “Hurt”. It may be cheating to put these “hurt” titles together, since Timi Yuro had another hit in 1962 (you remember), but I couldn’t resist. The (Late) ladies both sound like they know their subject. “Hurt” charted several more times, by Little Anthony and even by Elvis, but “Big Hurt” never came back. “Now it begins – now that you’re gone – needles and pins, twilight till dawn.” “When will it end - ?” (It ended here.)

WHAT did you guys do in 1959 to make so many artists just disappear?


            “Let Me In” – Lively Yvonne Baker and her boys made several other worthy tries, but only one hit. I’d like to have heard more. I’d let her in. (Later sung by Bonnie Raitt)


            “Eddie My Love” – Also a hit by the more prolific (white) Fontane Sisters and Chordettes. These two sisters reportedly had a very rough, self-destructive time (“I’m sinking fast – the very next day might be my last”) – It was.


            “Over the Mountain, Across the Sea” – One of my very favorites, the haunting doo-wop duet. Great recitation ! I would have liked a lot more of this couple. (They made a failed comeback album in 1982). Johnnie Rocherson, the girl, was only 12! She became a “floating” member of several groups and died in 1988 (age 43).







One-Shot Hits by Fred Russell on Grooveshark

If you click on a song by the artist that Dudley writes about you can listen to their music !

(Dudley’s Disc Data is a monthly feature of this website).


January 2014

Volume 2 Article 3


Great Country Songs with a Message:

Thoughts for the New Year



 “The Song Remembers When” by Trishe Yearwood – One of the most beautiful songs and Performances really explains what music can do – This music, any music, think about the words and what this means to you. Intense!


“She is His Only Need” – by Wynonna Judd. Her first and best solo hit is a fascinating relationship study. How far should he go for her?/or you for anyone?) Lonely and thoughtful.


“How can I Help You Say Goodbye” – by Patty Loveless - Consolation? Another of the great 90’s voices.


“He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” – by Mary Chapin Carpenter - Maybe Country’s most famous, and catchiest, feminist anthem. All together now, what does she say when she meets him at the door? “I’m sorry but ……”


“Love’s the Only House” – by Martina McBride – Most of Martina’s songs have messages, many about abused women. This seems to be a “charity” song – give and help others – a special memory of a special person. (see “Standing Knee Deep – below”.)


“Anyway” – by Martina McBride -  A Go-for-it song.


Kathy Mattea’s Trilogy


“Standing Knee Deep in a River” – by Kathy Mattea – “Friends I can count on, I can count on one hand.” A powerful, intense vocal. I saw her sing this in 1997 in the front row with 3 friends, all gone. (one a heart attack, one cancer, one suicide). She shook our hands and spoke to us during this song- Classic.


“Asking Us to Dance” – by Kathy Mattea – Another “Go-for-it” song,  lovely and under rated.


“A Few Good Things Remain” – by Kathy Mattea – “While the world outside my window goes insane, you’re here to remind me….” That Voice!  That Voice!


Is it any coincidence that during these years, Garth Brooks and Kathy had the same producer/manager? I don’t think so: (Allen Reynolds)


Garth’s Trilogy – Together these are, to me, the deepest total statement that I have heard in 25 years. Profound !!


“If Tomorrow Never Comes” by Garth Brooks


“Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks – What we want isn’t always what we need. Remember that job you wanted so much and didn’t get? Later you get a better one! That was me in 1969-70.


“The Dance” – by Garth Brooks – “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance” Think about it – all of it!!





Great Country Songs with Message by Fred Russell on Grooveshark

If you click on a song by the artist that Dudley writes about you can listen to their music


Dudley’s Disc Data

Conversation Cuties


Article 11  (Vol. 2, Article 5)



For Valentine’s Day: Romantic Love Songs from 1959



 1959 had a lot of huge hits that don’t qualify as “Romantic” or “Love Songs”… “Mack the Knife”? Nope. “Battle of New Orleans”, don’t think so. “Stagger Lee” – a murder ballad? “The Three Bells”? Not quite. Elvis’ two biggest 1959 hits don’t qualify – “A Big Hunk of Love” or the beautiful; but negative “A Fool Such as I”.


But I did find these.


“Never Be Anyone Else But You” by Rick Nelson. I remember a Marietta couple loving that song together, and they are still married, but I don’t have permission to name them here. (Maybe it’s you??)


“Sea of Love” by Phil Phillips, was a hit again in 1985 for a star rock group, the Honeydrippers… Phillips was another one-hit artist.


“So Many Ways” by Brook Benton who had four big hits this year: “It’s Just a Matter of Time,”  “Endlessly,” “Thank You Pretty Baby”, and this one, “Lovey-Dovey”, Benton’s best year! (1931-1988).


“Dream Lover” by Bobby Darin is often called Bobby Darin’s most romantic record – he doesn’t have the girl yet, but you must know.


“Hushabye” by the Mystics had only one major hit, “Hushabye”, which sounded a lot like the Elegants’ only hit, “Little Star” in 1958. Yet the Mystics were able to sing for years, releasing an album as late as 1982.


“This I Swear” by Pittsburgh’s Skyliners were more famous for their other 1959 hit, “Since I Don’t Have You,” but “This I Swear” also has a following and is nearly as good.


“Devoted to You” by The Everly Brothers.  OK, this time I cheated. “Devoted to You” was a hit at the end of 1958, but it so belongs. It’s was the “Wedding Song” for my friends in 2004. So it’s here. (These friends weren’t born yet in 1958 !)


“Come Softly to Me” by the Fleetwoods. This song is one of the quietest, hits ever, and so is the group’s other 1959 #1 hit, the discouraged “Mr. Blue” (surprisingly revived by Garth Brooks in 1991).


“Misty” by Johnny Mathis remains one of Mathis’ most celebrated performances (and he has his own ”chapter” coming up here). Spectacular note run “on my own”.


“Dance With Me” by The Drifters. And I will admit this glorious, glamorous, opulent Drifters’ song is my very favorite here, a grand romancer that I have loved from the day it came out. Dreamy.



Happy Valentine’s Day,






Romantic Love Songs by Fred Russell on Grooveshark



February 2014

Article 10  (Vol. 2, Article 4)



Fun For All

 Party & Dance High Energy Songs



 “School is Out” & “Dear Lady Twist” by Gary “US” Bonds.  After “Quarter to Three”, Bonds parties on.  “School is out at last, and I’m so glad I passed.” “Doctors agree, so I’ve been told, do the twist and you’ll never grow old.” Hope they’re right. “Get up off your chair.


“Bristol Stomp” Dovel’s  (Len Barry) & “1,2,3” by Len Barry. Group or solo, Len Barry couldn’t reach #1. But “1,2,3” was #1 for me all that season – what a fun song. But, whoever said it was easy to take candy from a baby ? Come on Len! He became a bartender in Philadelphia. Earlier in high school, he helped his classmates the Orlons get started. And you know what I think of them.


“Tallahassee Lassie” & “Palisade Park” by Freddie “Boom-Boom” Cannon. He was called “Boom-Boom” because of his huge drum sound. And he had another hit in 1960 between these two – “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans”


“Hang On Sloopy” by the McCoys,  “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham,   “Lightning Strikes” by Lou Christie.  Three heavy hitters from the mid 60’s. These are Toga Party staples. (I was faculty chaperone at Frat parties these years. What a joke. So shallow (?) and so fun. Toga! Toga! “Animal House” movie was for real. I saw it.


“Seventh Son” & “Secret Agent Man” by Johnny Rivers. Johnny Rivers had a string of live-wire hits. I liked these two best.


“Red Rubber Ball” by Cyrcle. Unwind a bit with “Red Rubber Ball” by a group that didn’t go any further. The catchy song was an early Paul Simon composition.


“Come a Little Bit Closer” & “Cara Mia” by Jay & the Americans. Really strong singing. “Jose’s on his way – you’re in trouble plenty.” There is a record-setting long-held note near the end on “Cara Mia”, which had been a slow hit in 1954.


“Suzie Q” by Dale Hawkins. Went back in time for “Suzie Q”, the lowest charting item in this series, but we loved it then and still do……Creedence C.R. recorded this over a decade later, but not nearly as well, not even close.


Was this a cool party or what ?




Fun For All - Party & Dance High Energy Songs by Fred Russell on Grooveshark



Article 13  (Vol. 2, Article 7)

March 2014

George Strait Rules

My Favorite!!

(Contemporary Country)

George Strait on stage.jpg


            Mostly, 2013 has been one terrific year for George Strait – receiving all kind of awards and tributes as he goes on his last “Farewell” tour, at the age of 60, after an uninterrupted career of hits, more number ones than anyone in his field (50+), and more albums sold than any country male except Garth Brooks, who did his in one huge decade.


I said “mostly” because there is one dark spot in Strait’s triumph.  Radio has finally stopped playing him and his newest songs are not doing well, as radio once again phases out “older” artists. This is inevitable and happens to everyone (also Alan Jackson and Reba) but I always thought George Strait would be the exception.  As of now, NO. Shame on radio.


But as I listen through his career, I guess I like all 50 #1 hits, and 50 more that “just missed”, and another 100 or 50 album – only songs. I list here my favorites, the ones I play over and over. He always sounds spontaneous, like he’s thinking things out. He’s been just about incapable of making a bad record.


            So there are my choices. Yours would be equally valid. And I think these show a well-rounded picture of his talent and moods.


            Number one on my list – “Haven’t You Heard” – is a choice album-only number, a heartbreaker with a uniquely vivid story line.  A real treat if you haven’t heard it.


            “The Chair” strikes some as a cheesy pick-up line, but the tune has remained a romantic favorite. (And you might have heard the parody, about wigs: “Excuse me, but I think that’s my hair” – “It wasn’t my hair after all.”)


            “Baby’s Gotten Good at Goodbye” – has my favorite opening line: “What a rotten day this turned out to be.”


            “Famous Last Words” as a public service, so you can self-diagnose, here are the “F.L.W.” (Famous last words) – “I wouldn’t miss her” – “I couldn’t care less” – “Glad we were though” – “won’t break my heart” – “I didn’t love you.”  F.L.W.!!


            “I’ve Come to Expect It from You”, one of the catchiest of all the tunes. Great line: “I wouldn’t treat a dog the way you treated me.”


            “You Know Me Better Than That” – She thinks I love that cat, but you know me better than that.”


            “So Much Like My Dad” & “The Best Day” – two sentimental favorites.


            “She’ll Leave You with a Smile” – would be my favorite if I could only have one. But we can have as many as we want. I still like this best, maybe. I have probably played it most often.







George Strait by Fred Russell on Grooveshark



Article 12  (Vol. 2, Article 6)                        

February 2014


Merle Haggard – My Country Favorite!

traditional country

Merle Haggard in concert 2013.jpg

 George Jones and, recently, Ray Price died. For me, they were two of the three favorite “traditional” country singers (and no, I’m not a Willie fan). Jones was widely called the greatest singer, but I’ll always maintain my favorite, the youngest, Merle Haggard (1937-   ) is the greatest artist of all. There is a difference! I choose him for the range of moods, emotions and styles; for his sadness and his humor (but not his anger or his politics, to be ignored). Judging from the list of 14 favorite songs gathered here (only nine of them were actual hits), I gravitate toward the sad side of Merle……only “I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am” has any claim to be a “happy” song, but maybe I like it best of all.


“Sing a Sad Song” – though I didn’t hear it, or Merle, till years later he deserved to be a favorite from the get-go. His first charting single has a rare and touching use of falsetto.


“(My Friends are Going to Be) Strangers” His first top – 10hit, he recycled the same tune into an even bigger hit, “Lonesome Fugitive”, but I’ll stick with this version of it.


“You Don’t Have Very Far to Go” – One of his numerous appealing flip sides.


“I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am” – My brother and I like song lists. In 1989we compiled a list of our favorite country tunes. He chose to put this one at #1 and I never disagreed!


“Mama Tried” & “I Threw Away the Rage” – Two hits dwelling on disappointment (in self), I need to say that Lorrie Morgan has a version of “Threw Away” which is probably hard to get, on a tribute collection, which (as usual for her) is devastatingly, swooningly beautiful! (Also see “I’m Always On a Mountain When I Fall” below).


“Always Wanting You” – is one of his most moving tunes, about his helpless, hopeless love for his unavailable “friend” Dolly Parton. Yes, she knew about it.


“I’m Always On a Mountain When I Fall” – My other candidate for all-time favorite – just beautiful – but so is the admiringly, celestially lovely version by, yes, Lorrie Morgan. So beautiful it hurts. Makes me shiver, then faint, also there’s a parody: “I’m Always On a Fountain in the Mall”.


“What Have You Got Planned Tonight, Diana” a mysterious and haunting flop.


“You Take Me For Granted”, “I Made the Prison Band”, “Will You Visit Me on Sunday?”, “Green Green Grass of Home” – An apotheosis of sadness, three of these were from his many prison songs. “Prison Band” is the only ray of hope. “Green Green Grass” is the Porter Wagoner and Tom Jones hit – one of the saddest ever written! As for “Visit Me on Sunday” – she’ll be visiting his grave!!! That’s Merle for you!







Merle Haggard by Fred Russell on Grooveshark

Dudley’s Disc Data is a monthly feature of this website).


Everly Brothers

Everly Brothers - Cropped.jpg


Born Yesterday by Fred Russell on Grooveshark

It is rare that I come across an entire album and I like everything on it. This album "Born Yesterday" produced in the 1980s by the Everly Brothers is such an album. Most of you probably are aware that we lost Phil Everly recently and that once in a lifetime group is gone. They were so much a part of our life growing up in the late 50s/early 60s that it is special when you discover that they have music that is fresh and new. They should reissue this one. (It sells on Amazon for $110.00!) it is very hard to find. I call you attention to several of the songs. The first one "That Uncertain Feeling" is excellent. The second one "Abandoned Love" was written by Bob Dylan at a period in time when he was spliting from Sara (his wife) and it displays language in a manner only Dylan can produce. "Why Worry" is lyrical and special. Just listen to them all and find your favorite.


In a few days I will publish the master's article on the Everlys by (Dudley Brown) with their popular songs that we all loved and played.


I hope you enjoy these, they are special by a special group during our special time.




Article 15  (Vol. 2, Article 9)



My Favorite Everly Brothers Versions

Everly Brothers

Everly Brothers - Cropped.jpg


            When I studied the big-band singers, the “Eberly/Eberle Brothers” a few weeks back, quite naturally Phil and Don came to my mind. I have especially enjoyed the great variety of Everly versions, so I decided it would be fun to start with seven of the best – how versatile are these songs!  And I get to hear these as I write.


            From 1957 on, I bet I sold records to some of you. I especially liked studying the inventory to see what was really selling in Marietta. I can tell you that in 1957-58 there was only one artist that was selling almost as well as Elvis in Marietta. Yes, that was the Everly Brothers.


            Dave Edmunds’ Rockpile band was only able to stop fighting & stay together enough to make one album. You can hear how much they loved the Everly Brothers. The very young Carol King wrote “Crying in the Rain” but her version was not released until 2012.


            The always agreeable Anne Murray also favored the Everlys and I have at least five of their songs by her. The smooth - soul sound of Jerry Butler proved ideal for the duet of “Let It Be Me,” by far the biggest chart hit of these beautiful versions.


When the Beatles were auditioning drummers, they wanted one who could drum like on “Til I Kissed You”; So Ringo Starr got the fabulous job and became rich because he could drum like this!


The brothers had an onstage fight which caused their decade-long breakup during the early seventies. Fortunately they started speaking and worked again, but so many artists did not stop singing their songs, and we never stopped playing them. (Bill Baker ’58 and I saw them live in Columbus, January 1958).



Everly Brothers by Fred Russell on Grooveshark


Article 14  (Vol. 2, Article 8)



Clyde McPhatter (1932-1972)



                        Clyde’s productive career was only these ten years, but his enormous influence can be heard in Smokey Robinson, Eddie Kendricks (The Temptations), and my favorite singer, Marvin Gaye, as well as 2013’s top selling male artists, white guys Justin Timberlake (deserving) and Robin Thicke (Questionable). Clyde lives!


            He started out in a gospel group which included brother of the famous writer James Baldwin. He then spent a fairly short time in the group Billy Ward and the Dominos, followed by a short stint in the service. “The Bells”, his most remarkable performance with the Dominos, is such a bizarre item it almost defies description. Hear it for yourself.


            After the service, he made another short stay with the first version of the Drifters (these were all fired and replaced in 1959). The big r&b hits “Money Honey” and “Such a Night” were dynamically recorded by Elvis.


            Then came Clyde’s solo career and the classic “Without Love”. To hear him sing this one in the theater (Columbus, Ohio) was my single most exciting concert moment in the 1950s. Number 7 “I’m Not Worthy of You” on the list is another “worthy” performance, no matter what the title says.


            “A Lover’s Question” was Clyde’s absolute biggest chart hit, and “Lover Pledge” his such irresistible drive – the lyric says something about a “train running down the tracks”, and it gathers momentum.


            Now, we’ll have to leave Clyde here with a last hit moment, soon began his descent into the drinking that killed him. For some unknown reason, he went to live in England, where a “morals arrest” just about broke him (1970). He died two years later. But excuse me I just gotta hear “Lover Please” again. And again. Thrilling…








Clyde McPhatter by Fred Russell on Grooveshark


(Dudley’s Disc Data is a frequent feature of this website).

Article 17  (Vol. 2, Article 11)



Doo-Wop : 14 Favorites



            “Little Darling” by the Gladiolas. Though the Diamonds had the famous “Little Darling” hit, the Gladiolas’ original (More subtle?) is fondly remembered. In 1960, Maurice Williams  has an unforgettable #1 hit with “Stay” as The Zodiacs.


“Unchained Melody” by Vito & Salutations. Highly unusual version of the durable tune was a hit in its own right and shows how versatile one song can be!


“When You Dance” was a national hit with a Latin flavor and beat.


“Valerie” was one of several odd “crying” songs done by this melodramatic group and singer (Jackie Rue). It was meant seriously but strikes many as funny or just weird.


 “Blanche” is the only entry on this list by a white group. Another New York (only) hit – “I took a walk one day with Blanche……”


“Gloria” by the Cadillacs. Though it never made any chart, “Gloria” is one of the best loved Doo-Wop ballads with many and varied versions slow and occasionally fast, both before and after. And remember – “Gloria” is not Chereeee.”


“Guided Missiles” Obscure song and grove; little seems to be known them (Cuff Links), but this one record survives.


The last seven songs are some of my favorite ballads – one each from some fine groups. “Door is Still Open” by the Cardinals is a sixties hit for Dean Martin, and “I Almost Lost My Mind” was a 1956 hit for Pat Boone, previously a small hit for Nat King Cole.







Do-Wop Favorites by Fred Russell on Grooveshark


Article 16  (Vol. 2, Article 10)



Doo-Wop Doubles – These Pairs Go Together



            “Ling Ting Tong” – A novelty song and equally (moderately) successful for both groups (Five Keys & Charms).  Five Keys had the original. How different are they? Decide. {ed. note: the version by the Charms was not available for jukebox}


            “Hearts of Stone” & “Ivory Tower” – Otis Williams & the Charms specialized in “second” (cover) versions of songs. “Hearts of Stone” was first (obscurely) done by The Jewels and later by the Fontane Sisters (and John Fogerty, 1973). “They’ll say No, No, No, No….” you count those Nos…… “Ivory Tower” originated with a girl named Cathy Carr, and later by Gale Storm. The Charms sold very well with both of these.


            “Cool Shake” & “I’m Spinning” by Pittsburgh’s Del Vikings were one of the first integrated groups. After their big 1957 hit, “Come Go with Me,” they split into two groups using same name. One group had a hit with the goofy “Cool Shake.” The other group hit with “Whispering Bells” but then flopped with the very good “I’m Spinning.” No more hits for either group.


            “It’s too Soon to Know” from 1948, and the (Baltimore) Orioles are now accepted to be the beginning of Doo-Wop. Young Jewish songwriter/manager Deborah Chessler didn’t know she/they were “creating” a beloved style to last for decades. “Too Soon” was a 1958 hit for Pat Boone. “Chapel” was a country hit, a pop hit (June Valli), a Doo-Wop hit (here) and, in 1965, an Elvis hit.


            “Crazy for You” & “People are Talking” by the Heartbeats (lead singer, Bill Sheppard) had a big hit in 1956 with “Thousand Miles Away.” Here are two smaller but much-liked ballads from just before “Thousand.” Later, in 1961, Sheppard (as Shep) recorded almost the same tune as “Daddy’s Home,” a very big hit. He was found murdered in 1970 – still unsolved – a “hit” execution.


            “Castle in the Sky” & “When I Woke Up This Morning” by the lively teenagers the Bop Chords who only made three records, but those two were big selling hits in New York (only).


            “Long Lonely Nights” & “Teardrops” are my absolute favorites; here are these beautiful, classy ballad hits by Philadelphia’s Lee Andrews and the Hearts. They have a dozen other lesser known beauties.


            “C’est La Vie” is an exceptionally pretty song; “C’est La Vie” was a popular hit by Sarah Vaughan in 1955. These two Doo-Wop versions make it worth hearing twice. And so we end, where we began, with the Five Keys (who had a very large pop hit in 1956, “Out of Sight – Out of Mind.”)




Do-Wop Doubles by Fred Russell on Grooveshark


Article 19  (Vol. 2, Article 13)



20 More from ‘64



            Fifty years ago:


            1964 was such an innovative, busy, even explosive year for change, that no other single year since has come even close. Besides the Beatles, there were The Four Seasons (whose own chapter is already written and will be published shortly), The Beach Boys, and the triumph pf Motown, led by the underrated Supremes (underrated because they were so popular, therefore taken for granted).


            Then there were the best of the other trends, comings and goings, and a slew of new or revived artists. Here are 20 excellently varied hits from this crowded, eventful year. Only one of these tunes reached number 1. “A World Without Love


            In 1962-63, “girl singers” and “girl groups” were all over the charts. And in 1964 a few were still hanging around. In fact our first four tunes here take us from innocence “People Say” & “I Wanna Love Him So Bad” to worldliness and experience “Give Him a Great Big Kiss” & “Wild One”. The Shangri Las (of “Leader of the Pack” fame) are generally regarded as the wildest women (real-life) of their era, and their lead singer (Mary Weiss) is still singing. I am partial to “Give Him a Great Big Kiss” with its Marching Band  effects (“walk right up to him”) and cool recitatives (“He’s good-bad but he’s not evil”) – (“He dances close”).


            The Shangri-Las tune and the Motown-Martha tune “Wild One” portray the popular theme of the “underdog” guy alleged “bad boy”…..Martha had the huge 1964 hit “Dancing in the Street,” but the powerful “Wild One” was somewhat overlooked. People are sometimes surprised when I say that Martha Reeves is my favorite female of the sixties, but I am far from the only one who thinks so. And – I really love “Wild One”!


            More favorites follow – Ohio’s Nancy Wilson (1937- ), who already has her own chapter (To be published later this year), was a young album artist and 1964 was her peak year – ONLY Barbara Streisand, even younger, outsold her that year. {ed note – Nancy Wilson’s song “I want to be with You” is not available another may be substituted}. Another great voice, Dionne Warwick, had 5 major Burt Bacharach – Hal David hits in 1964. “Reach Out for Me”, with its huge, booming arrangement, may be the least remembered.


            Dionne Warwick also recorded Bacharach’s “Wishin and Hopin” but England’s Dusty Springfield’s (1939-1997) “stole” it from her. These words are politically impossible today, but who cares?? Conversely – Leslie Gore’s feministic “You Don’t Own Me” had a triumphant revival in the popular 90s movie, “The First Wives Club.”


            Which brings us to Gale Garnett, a one-hit wonder. Is this (“We’ll Sing in the Sunshine”) a pre-hippie tune? I’ll stay with you one year then I’m gone. No exceptions? Can’t change your mind? Cold hearted? I don’t get it – at all – so why do I love this song?? It’s repellent and sad! And fascinating.


            We had one Motown by Martha (above), and then arrive the Supremes. “Ask Any Girl” was such a pretty flipside – and the writers won a lawsuit over the (great) 1965 hit “1-2-3”, really the same tune. Can you hear it?


            The Four Tops took off in 1964, but they already have their own chapter written (will be published later this year). The Temptations took off too, with four hits and the super-catchy “Girl’s Alright” flipside. But the beautiful Brenda Holloway didn’t quite last or make it. Her “Every Bit” hit was later recorded by Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin and, ten years ago, by Alicia Keys.


            At 25 (and with just 20 years to live), Marvin Gaye was having a slew of hits, too. I did not yet suspect he would turn out to be my all-time favorite guy singer, but there wasn’t a record in 1964 more cool, sly, suave, or sophisticated than “Try It Baby.” And he’ll get his own chapter, for sure. A big one.


            We met Little Anthony before (in the George Golden chapter). In 1964 the Hall of Famer had his greatest hit. A classic song that was recorded many times, even once (not so well) by Frank Sinatra. (“Goin’ Out of My Head”)


            We met Johnny Rivers before also, and his first three hits came in 1964. “Mountain of Love” charted at least 5 times, including twice country (Charlie Pride), plus there’s a hilarious live Beach Boys version. The lyric lends itself to certain corruptions, which you may or may not have heard, or want to, and you aren’t getting them from me. (60s Frat party clowning).


            The Beatles wrote several hits for others, including “A World Without Love,” the only #1 here. The Zombies spooky “She’s Not There” was just used in a TV perfume commercial that played twice while I was writing; I preferred their “Time of the Season” in 1969.


            The two early Rolling Stones tunes, (“Tell Me” & “It’s All Over Now”) pre-stardom, sound rough and chaotic and also have lyrics which may be easily mistreated. I like these better than a lot of their more published (?), celebrated records, but most they did till about 1980 was of interest – nothing since. Their continuing tour success strikes me as morbidly inexplicable.


            It’s not quite “all over now,” though – because Chuck Berry , the Stones’ (and Beatles) influence, was out of jail and back on the charts in 1964; “You Never Can Tell” was his next to last hit, the last good one, and it was very nicely countrified by Emmylou Harris in 1977. (She’s due a chapter, too.)



In these “articles” and programs, I hope to stir your good memories (Let’s try to ignore any bad ones). I remember a lot of people I heard these songs with fifty years ago in 1964. What were you doing then?? How do these songs relate? I did not knowing 1964 that I would be writing about these 50 years later! But I was just figuring out how to teach, knowing that I loved it, getting some confidence. I would work at this for 48 more years, till 2012. (And I miss it!)


            But, I also knew by 1964 that I mostly hated graduate school and I was pretty sure I would not get a Ph.D.. This meant I’d be teaching at two-year school instead of universities – which was supposed to happen,  it turned out great for me, a good fit – so remember your 1964 and these tunes.








20 More From '64 by Fred Russell on Grooveshark



Article 20  (Vol. 2, Article 14)



Double Sinatra / Dorsey



 Part I.


            One of the pleasures of studying a long career is to hear how the voices and styles change even as singers sometimes revisit their own material. After getting his start with Tommy Dorsey (1905-1956), Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) revisited his roots in 1961 with the dynamite and nostalgic album “I Remember Tommy.” So here are some wonderful songs, ten wonderful versions, and you can hear how his range and approach developed. I had to throw in an early personal favorite, “Blue Skies”, a bit of perfection which he did not remake (here).


            “Polka Dot and Moonbeams”: “A country dance was being held in a garden…..I felt a bump and heard an ‘Oh, beg your pardon’.” SWOON! His very first (little) chart hit, several months before I was born.


            “East of the Sun” – This song is still being recorded. (Example, Diana Kroll). It’s a 1935 (Mother’s MHS graduation) hit for the big band of Tom Coakley (vocalist, Carl Ravazza), and – tragically – the only hit for its 21-year-old composer, one Brooks Bowman (Preppy name!) who died in a car accident that year. He had this one great romantic hit and it is still with us. “A dream house – near to the sun, the moon at night” –with fun interplay by the bands vocal chorus.


            (Notice how these Dorsey records, over 100 of them, followed a pattern, a lovely one, Dorsey’s trombone solo then Sinatra’s tenor – like vocal, a voice so much higher than later years. Were these the most romantic records anyone ever made?)


            (I am hearing these songs as I write. I usually don’t quite multi-task it this way so I am getting quite carried away.)


            “I’ll Be Seeing You” was the most popular and widely recorded of all these tunes. The contrast in the versions here is spectacular – discover it. The song was recorded by Linda Ronstadt and the great Nancy Wilson a few years ago at the very ends of their beautiful careers – “in all the old familiar places.”


            I can’t hear this song without remembering my mother, who often referred to the version by a litigious person: “I’ll be suing you in all the old …”


            Discover all the differences then enjoy the super-vivacious, lively, marching “Blue Skies.” And know there are 95+ more by the same folks! (Filling 5 stuffed CDs). To like one is to like them all.



Part II.                                     Crunching the Numbers (Counting the Seams?)


            Everyone who’s ever known me has been aware of my lifelong fascination with music charts and numbers, since the wonderful season I discovered them in 1950, going into fifth grade. Some people study sports statistics, the charts are my non-stop Super Bowl, World Series, and whatever they call basketball all rolled into one and preserved in a glorious series of reference books (Fortunately I did not have to score 3200 Billboard issues!) (I tried.) So here are some Sinatra numbers – we’re talking very big time, so be amazed:


            Between 1940 and 1980, Sinatra had 220 chart placements (43 with Dorsey). (His album placements never stopped -   he always, but always, has a couple of album entries specially Valentine’s, Mother’s and Father’s Days!


            220 is of course a phenomenal lot, but then, Bing Crosby had 350 chart placements – over half of them before Sinatra came along.


            Crosby’s famous comment on Sinatra (“rival”): “A voice like Sinatra’s only comes along once in a lifetime. Why did it have to come along in mine?”


            And now: Here goes “Blue Skies” again. March!


Cheers and chills.








Double Sinatra/Dorsey by Fred Russell on Grooveshark


Article 21  (Vol. 2, Article 15)



Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson 1 (Repetities 1968-03-06 Grand Gala du Disque Populaire).jpg


            Nancy Wilson (1937- ) was born in Chillicothe, Ohio and was singing on radio, TV and in clubs in Columbus by age 20. Two years later, in 1959, she began a series of albums which were so popular in the 1960s, she was second only to Barbara Streisand in sales, and she gave about as much pleasure. Nancy gave her “absolute last” concert close to home in Athens, Ohio, in 2012, fully retiring at age 75.


            She never stopped recording, but after about 1970 her records became less interesting and she was nearly forgotten until the 1990s when CDs brought all these 60s treasures back. By about 2000, past 60, she was reportedly making over a million a year from perhaps 20 select concerts – more money than she made in her 60s recording heyday.


            Not one to have hit radio singles, Nancy did the exquisite albums which provide the choices here. A glamorous, regal beauty, she sang unpredictably – she could be loud and soft, dramatic and whispery and subtle, often in the same song. I never tired of studying her phrasing – starting with:


            “Guess Who” – one of her first and most famous songs, and what start to a 22  year-old’s career. So mature – listen to the story if you haven’t heard it.


            “The Best is Yet” – was it ever! Song introduced by Tony Bennett, but forever Nancy’s.


            “You Don’t Know What Love Is”, “Little Girl Blue”, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, & “Miss Otis Regrets” (ed note: could not locate song by Nancy) – These four 1962 songs come from one incredibly beautiful album with string/classical arrangements by George Shearing, every detail shimmers. “Miss Otis “is one of Cole Porter’s most enigmatic songs, from about 1934, strange and mysterious, and this is the definitive version.


            “Blue Prelude” introduced by Bing Crosby in 1931, well recorded by Peggy Lee, Linda Ronstadt, and best of all – Nancy.


            “I Want to Be with You” – listen to how she caresses the word – “Honey”. Luscious.


            “You Don’t Know Me” – beloved country song.


            “I’ll Only Miss Him When I Think of Him” – dreamy, flowing…I’ll forget him completely – in about a hundred years.


            “You Can Have Him” – Sarcastic (usually) Irving Berlin song from 1947 is slowed down. As usual every word counts – If you can get him, you can have him. I just dare you.


            “When Did You Leave Heaven” – My favorite, a 1935 song – the year my mother graduated from MHS. She used to sing it to our heaven sent little dog (1956-1970). Listen to the interplay of voice, piano, band, just everything.







Nancy Wilson by Fred Russell on Grooveshark




Article 22  (Vol. 2, Article 16)



Four Tops

Grand Gala du Disque Populaire 1968 - The Four Tops 1.jpg


            The Temptations had more hits, were famously better dancers, more versatile, with three lead singers and we’ll get to them. But at times, it’s easy to love the Four Tops more…..Why?


            I saw both groups in 1966-67. The Temptations were perfect, maybe too perfect. There was no sense they were having fun. The Four Tops were sloppy, and exuberant – glad to be there. And there’s plenty of writing that suggests the Temptations were not very nice people, and the Four Tops were good guys……somehow this comes through in these songs. They stayed together 40 years or more, the same four guys (there have been over 20 Temptations). Three of these Tops are dead now, but there is a “fake” group of replacements out there performing – Who could even replace Levi Stubbs? Who would listen? Not me.


            Leaving out their 3 most famous songs (Quick, name those), here are the ones I love most….a survey of their often – radiant talent.


            “Ask the Lonely” – Their first real ballad hit, so yearning. Do they sound insincere? (No). Note that on many of these, they also used female backup choirs.


            “It’s the Same Old Song” – A top favorite, ironic title, the follow up to “Can’t Help Myself”, but really better!


            “Something About You” – Dynamic, “Dumpling”! That’s what he says; or “Dumplin’”


            “Shake Me, Wake Me” – Supercharged dynamic lyric. Later recorded by Barbara Streisand – not one of here better moments.


            “I Got A Feeling” – So ecstatic, it sounds near the end like the song and the group are about to burst.


            “Bernadette” – After “Reach Out” and “Shadows of Love”, the trilogy concludes with high drama and a hot false ending.


            “Walk Away” – First recorded by white guys, the Left Bank, but treasured and loved by the Tops.


            “It’s All in the Game” – The standard, a tune from 1912 and a 1958 hit, and a flowing, smooth revival.


Still Water” - Another smoothie from Smokey Robinson.


Ain’t No Woman”  & “ When She was My Girl” – Leaving Motown, the hits became much fewer, but these two stood out.


River Deep – Mountain High” – Recorded by so many, including the over rated Tina Turner, this was the biggest version of the song – Love it.









Four Tops by Fred Russell on Grooveshark



Article 23  (Vol. 2, Article 17)



Jersey Boys: Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons



          1964 was the year of the Beatles and the year of the Supremes. Another group had been ruling the charts for two years. And in 1964 there were people who found their unearthly, intractable sound more thrilling than the Beatles (but maybe not the Supremes!) – There are still people who feel this way. I know one.


          It started with three triumphal marches, “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and my first choice, “Walk Like a Man,” which I find just barely the most exciting. Soon enough came the complex, totally goofy “Candy Girl,” great fun.


          Then came the Beatles, and the Seasons’ biggest most dynamic sound yet: “Dawn,” which explored their 1964-65 theme of the “underdog.” (“Think what the future would be with a poor boy like me….Go away, I’m no good for you.” Now listen to the music drumming in the last 40 seconds – I’ve never heard anything like it. Turn it up loud!


          The number #1 hit “Rag Doll” continued the “underdog” theme and then one I liked even better, “Big Man in Town,” which under-charted.


          “Bye Bye Baby” was strong but then the powerful “Let’s Hang On” was one of their biggest, most dramatic, husky hits yet.


          For me they peaked with the next two number #9 hits, which both deserved to be #1. “Working My Way” was a bigger hit for the Spinners a dozen years later. I like both versions, but this one has the edge for me.


          Probably not everyone was pleased with Cole Porter’s 1936 “Under My Skin” (a Sinatra 1956 classic) but I found it layered and detailed, and another false ending to fool us……”Never win….Never win.”


          Hey, they always won!


          Of course, Valli managed a substantial solo career, with one undisputed classic, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” And a different version of the group came back in the 1970s with a couple of big hits, not nearly as exciting as these. Now the Broadway “Jersey” show perpetuates the legend. And these 8 songs, especially never fail to get under my skin.







Jersey Boys - Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons by Fred Russell on Grooveshark



Article 25  (Vol. 2, Article 19)



Antoine “Fats” Domino (1928- )

Fats Domino


          Possibly the most loved (and/or lovable) artist never to have a #1 (pop) hit, he made the (pop) charts 80 times from 1955-1968….but all the real hits were over after 1960. He is probably the most famous “survivor” of Hurricane Katrina, and for several days he was feared dead. He lost both his houses and was photographed, at 78, being rescued from the upstairs of one of them. That’s when “walking to New Orleans” became a survivors anthem.


          Even without a #1, most of his records were two sided hits, and he was the most played artist on my radio show along with Jackie Wilson. I usually dedicated a song to my brother, a Fats and flip-side fan, which is how songs “So Long,” “Don’t Blame It on Me,” & “Honey Chile” are on here; favorite flipsides in the Brown household. I guess we loved “So Long” best of all, and I still do, for sentimental reasons. Good radio show closer.


          “Blue Heaven” (from 1927) and “When My Dreamboat Comes Home” (from 1937) show his unique way with an “OLDIE,” and I like how these two gain momentum and seem to go just a little faster near the end.


          I especially enjoy his piano choruses, as shown in three songs, “When I see You”,” “Whole Lotta Lovin’,” “I’m Ready.” Some probably don’t like the answering women on “When I See You,” but I think she’s funny. “I’m Ready” has a favorite illiterate lyric – “Don’t send me no letter ‘cause I can’t read!”


          Best lyric of all is in “Sick and Tired”, which Nancy liked in Spring 1958. I remember.


          “I get up in the morning, for something to eat – Before I go to work I even brush your teeth. I come back in the evening, you’re still in bed – got a rag tied ‘round your head.’”


          More strings and a laid back feel came into his 1960s hits. Finally: you may have to listen twice, but the Beatles told him how “Lady Madonna” was a Fats tribute patterned after is “Blue Monday.” Check the piano, check the lyrics and know that Fats was aware of the connection and made “Lady Madonna” his own.





Fats Domino by Fred Russell on Grooveshark



Article 24  (Vol. 2, Article 18)



Jackie Wilson (1934-1984)


Jackie Wilson 1961.jpg


          In more than one way, Jackie Wilson’s is one of the saddest rock’n’roll stories, with one of the unhappiest endings. He had ten years of hits (1957-1967), and many know how he collapsed of a heart attack on stage (1975) and lingered, barely alive or conscious, for nine years.


          But this immense, charismatic talent never did get the breaks, or the recognition, or the riches. His first few hits were written by Berry Gordy just before he started Motown. But Wilson never got to follow Berry to Motown as his own “contract” was allegedly owned by “the mob” and there are terrible stories of how they “owned” and threatened him. Jackie had woman troubles, and money troubles, and bad thinking poor-choice troubles.


          Roughly throughout my college years, he was my number one favorite singer, and when I had my second radio show (1959-1962), I tried to feature him more than anyone, along with Fats Domino. He had four huge hits and dozens of smaller ones. I only included one of the “biggies” here. It is “Baby Workout.”


          Starting with “Reet Petite”, it was not a major national hit, but it appeared to reach #1 on Cleveland radio, which we heard in 1957. “Reet” became a number one hit in England – years later – twice. What an exuberant, show-off, stuttering vocal.


          “To Be Loved”, his first Gordy – written ballad hit is also full of vocal exercises and gymnastics. I don’t think music in 1959 got more euphoric and ecstatic than “That’s Why” and the strutting, “Talk That Talk” – “you ought to see my baby walking down the avenue, arm in arm with me….”


          “Doggin’ Around” and “Please Tell Me Why” are his most powerful blues performances. Some objected to the “White” – sounding choruses, but he prevails, as he does on “Alone At Last,” one of several hits based on classical themes. A lot of people also “hated” this sort of big-ballad, but I loved this one, from the Tchaikovsky piano concerto theme.


          “Baby Workout” is the one of his four biggest hits I included – the least one played of them, and I noticed it was a high-school dance favorite up this way around 1990, after Jackie died…..The kids didn’t know anything else about Jackie Wilson.


          The hits slowed down as Motown took off (without him) and “Whispers” was one of the last good ones. I guess I need to mention the feline version – “Whiskers.” Your cat still likes it.


          It looked like Jackie was about to have one last hit with “For Once in My Life,” but them Stevie Wonder stole that one from him. Here they are.


          And here, flashing back to 1954 are two of his dramatic performances with Billy Ward and the Dominoes. “Rags to Riches” was a hit version of the Tony Bennett tune, and “Little Things Mean a Lot” is usually sung by a woman (ed note: could not locate this song –sorry)….(Kitty Kallen, Joni James), an interesting curiosity. (Apparently the women who sign it had to have the same 1st and 2nd initials.)


          I hope this presents a good cross section of Jackie’s talent and what he could do.






Jackie Wilson by Fred Russell on Grooveshark



Article 26  (Vol. 2, Article 20)



Patsy Cline (1932-1963)



                    Ella Fitzgerald sang for over 50 years and left, 1117 songs (many recorded several times). We are told this was more titles than any singer. On the other hand, my beloved Doris Day sang for 27 years (till 1968) and left 25 precious CDs worth of material. (See note at end)


          Why am I talking about those ladies here? Because someone of perhaps equal talent and appeal, I mean Patsy Cline, left only 4 CD of new material; 104 songs, and only 7 major hits (which I didn’t include here) (There were also 3 live CDs.


          Many singers are influenced by Patsy, but no one, I think, sounds like her. I love the unpredictable subtleties of her inimitable phrasing! She so often sounds like she’s figuring out a situation as she goes along. (So does George Strait, to totally different effect.)


          So these are mostly my favorites by her. I never get tired of “studying” her ever changing moods. I mean, sadly….of these songs “You Belong to Me,” “Seven Lonely Days,” “Side by Side,” “That’s My Desire.” “The Wayward Wind,” “Love Letters in the Sand,” “I’ll Sail My Ship Alone” & “Always” were hits for other people, but when you hear Patsy, it’s hard to imagine anyone doing them better.


          “You Belong to Me,” “Seven Lonely Days” & “Side by Side” were hits in 1952-53 when I was in the sixth to seventh grade. “You Belong to Me” is a big, big standard. “Seven Lonely Days” (boo-hoo-hoo-hoo) was a hit for Georgia Gibbs, and “Side by Side” had a great arrangement by one of Patsy’s favorites, Kay Starr, who is still alive at 92.


          Skipping to “That’s My Desire,” we’ve encountered it before; it was a Doo-Wop favorite by several groups and Ella Fitzgerald did it in 1947 as well as Louis Armstrong. We all recall “The Wayward Wind,” so well done in 1956 by one Gogi Grant, who was unable to develop any staying power.


          “Love Letters in the Sand” was a 1931 hit by Ted Black (?) and, of course, Pat Boone’s biggest ever in 1957. Prom night! Moving right along, “I’ll Sail My Ship Alone,” was a laso country hit by Moon Mullican. My brother and I played that one on the jukebox all that fall when our parents took us to a Williamstown place for hamburgers and Nehi orange pop. And “Always” was the Irving Berlin 1926 hit by Vincent Lopez and George Olsen. Many have done it. This one’s my favorite version.


          The in between songs on my list “When I Get Through with You,” “When You Need a Laugh,” “Imagine That,” “Don’t Ever Leave Me Again,” “He Called Me Baby,” & “Strange” are all gorgeous and sultry (Hot) and I’d cheerfully listen to 50 more CDs just like this. Patsy had to leave us so soon, making what we have more precious, but remember: listen to how she is THINKING THESE THROUGH.




Note:  P.S. Back to Doris Day, in May 2014 she celebrated a 90th Birthday party by throwing a Celebrity Auction pet benefit at the hotel she owns. Her best friends from Clint Eastwood to Paul McCartney donated items. Go Doris!


          I think we will have to celebrate her birthday with an article. Sounds like a plan??






Article 27  (Vol. 2, Article 21)



Emmylou Harris (1947- )

35 Years of Favorites!!



                    From at least 1975 (her first solo/hit year) till 1980, she was known as “country for people who don’t like country” – which included me, as she was the only country artist I bought in those relatively unenlightened days. Now, it is hard to see why she got this reputation except that she recorded a lot of countrified versions of rock tunes. In “For No One,” Here, There  and Everywhere,” “You Never Can Tell,” “Pledging My Love,” & “Save the Last Dance for Me,” she does two Beatles tunes, Chuck Berry (“You Never Can Tell”), Rhythm & Blues Johnny Ace (“Pledging My Love”), the Drifters (“Save the Last Dance for Me”). She also did Simon & Garfunkel, Donna Summer, and eventually, at least 6 Bruce Springsteen songs. In the meantime, she became something of a worshipped “old-hippie” goddess. Her interviews and persona reflected this image.


          “Blue Kentucky Girl” is a great place to start, a hit for Loretta Lynn and then Emmylou (slightly bigger hit). It’s typical of her style, but her personality was quite a contrast to Loretta’s – or Tammy Wynette’s, say more in ways like her good friend, Linda Ronstadt, with whom she so  often sang (see: “Valerie,” “All I Left Behind,” “After the Gold Rush” below).


          The exquisite Beatles versions and the other “Rock” interpretations lead to the amazingly flexible Drifters “Last Dance” classic, which was a country hit 3 times – for Harris, Buck Owens, and them again for Dolly Parton. I’m impressed.


          She answered her critics with the extremely country bluegrass of tunes; “”I’ll Go Stepping too,” “”You’re Gonna Change, or I’m Gonna Leave,” {ed note: This song could not be located.  I have included “Michelangelo” a Leonard Cohen song.}, “You’re Learning.” (The first two are somewhat collectors’ items, having been issued years after she recorded them.)


         Til I Gain Control” was a Crystal Gayle hit, very nice by anyone. “Love Hurts” was recorded (first) by the Everly Brothers, then by Roy Orbison, also by Heart, Cher, etc, etc !....”Kern River” is a great Merle Haggard hit from the mid-80s. Then we get the Ronstadt songs….if you like these duets, I highly recommend their duet album, “Western Wall” (1999)- beautiful all the way.


          “After the Gold Rush” is one of Neil Young’s most dupable 70s tunes, and K.D. Lang did a very nice version also. This tune has a most mysterious line about which I’ve wondered and wondered. The cryptic line is, “I was thinking about what a friend had said, I was hoping it was a lie.”


          Now whatever did that friend say? I guess we’ll never know. (Good exercise for a creative writing class: have them build a story around what “a friend” said.) (Who needs such friends?)


          I close this selection with one of Emmylou’s most recent, simple tunes, “Big Black Dog.” The animal activist writes about the (old) dog she adopted BELLA,


          “When you throw a ball she’ll always go and fetch it…

I love to see the way she runs to me when I holler out her name….”


Sounds like a lucky dog which E. Harris loved very much. We’ll close here!







Emmylou Harris by Fred Russell on Grooveshark


Article 28  (Vol. 2, Article 22)




Alan Jackson and the Class of ‘89


                    Even as it was happening “we” knew in 1989 was an exceptional year for country music history. At least 7 promising “new” stars arrived with what looked like long term potential: Clint Black, Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Doug Stone, and two extraordinary women, Lorrie Morgan and Mary Chapin Carpenter, They came to be called the Class of ’89.


          With remarkable insight, I write a newspaper article predicting Doug Stone would be the biggest star. Shows what I know, He was the first to fade. (Sounds like a great song title)


          Clint Black, Travis Tritt and the two women all had a prosperous decade but left the charts and radio by about 2000, though all still “work.” Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson had the most; you might call it, super-success. Even in semi-retirement, my fave Garth had a #1 selling box set this past Christmas. Alan’s last big hit was in 2007; but in 2013 he released the “Bluegrass” album which sold 100,000 good for that genre, though far from the multi-platinum where he dwelt for 18 years…..


          “Real World” was not his first record, but this very traditional ballad was hit first hit, and one of his best. “Neon Rainbow” delivered the zest and energy which his fans liked, so with “Chasin’ that Rainbow,” “Mercury Blues,” “Summertime Blues,” “Who’s Cheatin Who,” “Gone Country,” & “Good Time” on my playlist we will stick with high-energy, good time Alan.


          “Mercury Blues,” “Summertime Blues,” and “Who’s Cheatin Who” were successful versions of previous hits. “Mercury Blues” was Steve Miller on the 70s; you may remember “Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran in 1958. (Eddie died in a car crash, age 21 in 1960). The so-catchy “Who’s Cheatin Who” was a 1980 hit by a delightful singer, the semi-forgotten Charly McClain. Just to make sure you remember, I included her here.


          “Gone Country” is one of the funniest songs of its era, and I got to see my brother doing it in karaoke in Athens, December 2012. Skipping ahead to “Good Time”, his last high energy hit. If you can find the most enjoyable video for “Good Time”, watch it!


          His most subdued album, a ballad exercise in: “country soul”, yielded “A Woman’s Love.” (Of course many of you will remember his 2001 song, 9/11, “Where Were You”, not included here)


          So I will give you two very nice cuts from his bluegrass album, and close appropriately with “Farewell Party”, a cheerful little item which had been a 1979 hit for Gene Watson.





Alan Jackson by Fred Russell on Grooveshark


("Remember When" was added to playlist for Nancy & Bob Burton who have done so much to help this website. enjoy good friends)


Article 29  (Vol. 2, Article 23)

Brenda Lee 1977.JPG

Connie Francis 1961.JPG

               Brenda or Connie? Connie or Brenda?



                    From 1959 – 1963 (right before the Beatles came in), Connie Francis and Brenda Lee ruled the charts almost equally.

No female singer could touch them. When their hits dried up, rather suddenly, it didn’t matter too much since both were international stars whose careers spanned generation gaps and languages.


          Which was better? We can love them both, and we should, but Brenda has gotten a bit more respect (and Hall of Fame inclusions) because she was more versatility convincing rocker.


          Still, Connie’s “Cupid” (written by Neil Sedaka) and “Lipstick” are fun songs. Her 3 ballads “Who’s Sorry Now,” “Among My Souvenirs” & “Together” were all revivals of 1920’s songs her father liked her to sing. “Sorry Now” was her first hit at age 20. “Second Hand Love” is of special interest as an early production of the legendary, incarcerated Phil Spector, It came at the end of her hit run.


          I just noticed that Connie had 3 #1 hits and Brenda had 2, and I included none of them here. For the record: Connie’s were “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool”, “My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own” (both 1960) and “Don’t Break the Heart that Loves You” (1962). Brenda’s were “I’m Sorry” (1960) and “I Want to be Wanted” (1960).


          I offer three samples of “Ballad Brenda” (“Emotions”, “Everybody Loves Me But You” {ed note: this song not available so Dudley authorized a substitute song – “Johnny One Time”} & “I Wonder”. “Emotions” is absolutely typical of her productions, in which the strings echo the words right after her. “Everybody Loves” is an especially plaintive lyric. “I Wonder” is a fascinating song, a 1945 hit for a young man named (private) Cecil Gant, who died of pneumonia at 37 (1951). It was well recorded by Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, and this Brenda hit. It sounded different every time. I like ‘em all.


          “Sweet Nothins” was Brenda’s very first big hit and I distinctly remember it as “floor moping” music. I worked out a particular mop rhythm to this song. Unnecessary information.


          Brenda’s life went smoothly – married young to a man she met at a Jackie Wilson concert, who became her manager; a successful country career through the seventies; happy family. Connie’s was filled with tragedy – foreshadowed by the cry in her voice? Her brother assassinated (gang connections), her violent 1974 rape, marital problems. She’s still here, though.






Connie or Brenda by Fred Russell on Grooveshark


Article 30  (Vol. 2, Article 24)





3 Hit 60s Grooves

Fifth Dimension, Mamas & Papas, Spanky and Our Gang




These three groups all peaked together in the sixties. They didn’t last too long, but the memories did, and the “moods.” I’ve always associated their light, airy sound with summer listening, though one of these groups was for me a year-round favorite (indoors) – This was Sparky and Our Gang. They did not have a number 1 hit and in fact only had a few, but the memories (social) remain extremely intense for me!



Fifth Dimension


The first two songs (“Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Wedding Bell Blues”) were written by Laura Nyro. Despite the title, “Picnic” does not sound like a “Drug” song. People used to use the word “stoned” very very loosely! (Example: The SupremesStoned Love”, (1970.) In “Wedding Bell Blues” a woman begs “Bill” to marry her. Laura Nyro based this song on real friends. And the singer, Marilyn McCoo, did indeed marry her fellow group singer; Billy Davis, Jr. Life follows art.


          These two are still together as of 2014-2015, they are appearing (performing) on a soul courtship” along with Gladys Knight and various other 70s artists (Spinners, Stylistics). (These last two are my next chapter.)


          “One Less Bell” is a Burt Bacharach song. “Last Night” was a radio favorite of my mother’s, that year. She only liked a few “new” songs per year, and I try to remember them all.


          “Worst That Could Happen,” an album cut, became popular by Johnny Maestro’s group, Brooklyn Bridge. He had been the lead singer of the “16 Candles” Crests.  I like both versions. I heard you’re getting married.



Mamas & Papas


          “I Saw Her Again” by the Mamas and the Papas was the groups third hit. Mama Cass (1941-1974) dominates the next two (“I Call Your Name” & “Words of Love”) dominate the next two, along with piano. John Lennon’s “I Call Your Name” was never a “single” but was many people’s favorite by this group, including mine. “12:30” is a bright, cheerful evocation of “Hippie” life – “Dedicated to the One I Love” is the old (1960s) Shirelles’ hit, 25 years later, acting “Mama” Michelle Phillips danced (in character) to “Dedicated” on my very favorite night-time show, “Knots Landing.” Life follows art again, an emotional in-joke.


          As for “Safe in My Garden”, the group was breaking up already. This underappreciated song is a contemporary comment – “Police out with their microphones, telling people stay inside their homes – the worlds on fire” the group wants to stay out of it, safe in their garden. A gorgeously dreamy; haunting, wistful, complex way to end our visit with them.



Spanky and Our Gang


          Friendly; sunny summer – sound; this group was stalked by tragedy with the early deaths of two members. ‘Spanky’ (Elaine McFarland, 1942-  ) later took Mama Cass’s place in some Mama & Papas reunion tours.


          Now those memories: Every Saturday night of academic year 1968-69, I gave a party. It was my Gatsby year and I did this party to please certain people….We’d stay up all night, a group of maybe 6 or 8. And Sunday morning as the sun came up – I would make my famous “Spaghetti Breakfast”! And always, always, every time, we would play Spanky’s two “Sunday Songs.” (I wish we were still all doing this.) Thinking about this, last Sunday July 28, 2014, I did not stay up all night – but I still got up early and made my lone self a spaghetti breakfast ----in Spanky’s honor, and also for my fine young 1968 Sunday morning friends – wherever they are.




3 Hit 60s Grooves by Fred Russell on Grooveshark


Article 31  (Vol. 2, Article 25)





 Kathy Mattea


         Kathy Mattea Music




As I’ve mentioned before, Kathy (1959- ) from West Virginia, is my very favorite singer whom I’ve seen 6 times and met the last 3 of them. Hers is truly that cliché, the voice of an angel – positive, comforting, flexible….here are 10+ reasons why, from her “golden decade”.


Love at the Five and Dime” (1986) – Her 8th record was her first hit and enduring favorite. True Story: Kathy’s Mother did not sing because she thought she couldn’t.  Mrs. Mattea got Alzheimer’s, she “forgot she couldn’t sing” (said the nurse). Kathy and her Mother would sing this song together. And the next one too:


Walk the Way the Wind Blows” (1986) – In September 2012 concert, Kathy asked audience for requests. I yelled out this title, she heard me and sang it. I talked with her later, Chills, a lifetime memory.


Life As We Knew It” (1988) & “She Came from Fort Worth” (1989) – Two fine, vivid “story” songs.


Burning Old Memories” (1989) – Minimalist, sexy. {ed note: this song was not available).


Walking Away a Winner” (1994) – Sounds like guitar city. Guitars all over the place.


Maybe She’s Human” (1995) & “Love Travels” (1997) Underrated and maybe too subtle to be big hits. “Maybe” is a strong “feminist” statement and “Travels” is about the power of love – conquer distance. Over 400 years ago, around 1600, poet John Donne famously wrote that love survives separation and love cannot ever be truly apart. She says the same thing – “I can love you from here.”


Harley” (1990) – In honor of my beloved German Shepherd dog, Harley (1991-2001). I taught him to dance to this – the Harley dance. You should have seen him standing up (taller than me) dancing. I told her this story one of the times I met her. She may have thought it was one of the “odder” fan stories she heard……I miss Harley terribly…. (My dog was never in Marietta but I once had a beautiful dream of walking on Putnam Street.)


“455 Rocket” (1997) – A great concert number. Kathy rocks. Hot little recitation in middle.


She has recently released two acclaimed bluegrass albums, I could get to them at some future time – or you could just buy them.


Sounds like a plan.


(Dudley asked to add her two most famous and award winning songs, “18 Wheels and a Dozen Roses” & “Where’ve You Been”)






Kathy Mattea by Fred Russell on Grooveshark


Article 32  (Vol. 2, Article 26)



Listening to Lorrie (A love letter)



                    This will be the most personally emotional entry I’ll ever do. Seeing Lorrie 4 times from 1991-1995 forms my happiest memories ever, with a wonderful, long-gone group of friends. Listening to Lorrie is positively painful, as it brings back “Golden moments” that ended too soon.


          I’ve said it before and I say it again, Lorrie is three things (1) the best “torch singer” of the 90s, songs “Something in Red,” “I Guess You Has to Be There,” & “Good As I Was to You” prove this. (2) The most underrated singer.  (3) The most beautiful, glamorous woman in country. And she still is…..preparing for Christmas with her (5) grandchildren! Sigh!! Swoon.


          The public was distracted by her tabloid-y personal six marriages and various interesting liaisons: Football’s Troy Aikman, Senator/actor Fred Thompson, etc..


          She had three number ones, “Five Minutes,” “What Part of No,” & “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” which together present a certain positive persona, Number 4 “Out of your Shoes” is one of the most interesting story lines ever. In this dreamy, flowing number Lorrie lends her favorite dress to her best friend and the hit the clubs: “We’re looking good; we turned every head in the room.” (I’ll just bet). But girlfriend gets lucky, and Lorrie has voyeuristic fantasy: “I see favorite dress fall to the floor” HOT!!


          She had a nice way with others’ songs too; “Alright I’ll Sign the Papers” was a minor hit for several people including her late father, singer George Morgan (1924-1975). “Cry” is the massive 1952 hit by the notorious, disturbing Johnny Ray; also sung by Brenda Lee, Tammy Wynette and many others. “I’m Always on a Mountain When I Fall” was one of my all-time favorite Merle Haggard numbers (1978).


          The last three are the real classic stuff. You won’t find better “torch songs” by any other women, because there aren’t any. “Something in Red” is the most famous as it brilliantly traces a romance through colors, red (“something to own a man’s head”), green, blue (“The baby’s brand new”) – classic (there’s also a reggae version, “Something in Dread”) (Lorrie had a “thing” for turning men’s heads, see “Out of Your Shoes.”


          The last two are variations on the same drama. First “Something in Red”, Lorrie spots her cheating man in restaurant with another woman; waits to discuss it with him at home. In “Good as I Was to You” she actually goes into restaurant for a confrontation. Tells other woman: “Honey, you can have him – I don’t want him anymore!” Tells him: “Good as I was to you, is this the thanks I get?” You ought to see this video. Makes me faint.




P.S. I’ve been known to enter a bakery and ask for “Something in Bread.”


(Final trivia: She was born Loretta Lynn Morgan, a coincidence since a certain singer was not yet known.)


{ed note: four songs were not available on this jukebox, “Out of Your Shoes,” “Alright I’ll Sign the Papers,” “”Cry,” & “I’m Always on a Mountain When I Fall.” Sorry for them not being available, the album with three of them is over $50 a copy, if you can find one. I have added some bonus materials, Lorrie is so good I had to publish this article it is too good not to.}


Dudley loves Lorrie!!                






Lorrie Morgan by Fred Russell on Grooveshark

Article 33  (Vol. 2, Article 27)


"Teresa Brewer (1931-2007)"




          Several people have expressed interest in Teresa Brewer, which is fine with me, since she was my very first ”obsession”, and singer-crush, beginning in early 1953, with “Til I Waltz Again with You”. I was 12. She was 21 married with two daughters. Sigh.


          Until 1957 (year of her last hit) I loved everything she put out, hit and flops. She was only 26 when the hits dried up, by then she had 4 daughters: Kathleen, Megan, Susan, Maureen. They were with her when she died. I was surprised she received so little publicity when she died – but then neither did Jo Stafford, or even Patti Page (1/1/13).


          How quickly generations have forgotten so many favorites from the past! Well, Teresa was the tiny woman with a huge, unique voice (which got on some peoples nerves I’ve heard), but she also had a huge influence, on Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Bette Midler. Her fans also included Elvis, Buddy Holly, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald and Johnny Carson. And still and always – Me.


          Not noticing her earlier hits, I discovered her when “Til I Waltz Again with You” became her biggest career hit and quite swept 12-year-old me away. Loved it all – the tune, the arrangement, the vibrato, quiver and tear in her voice.


          That tear and quiver also shone in such less remembered ballad hits as “Baby, Baby, Baby” (also done by Johnny Mathis and Sam Cook).


          And “Dancing with Someone” (also done by Molly Bee). (Who?) Her version of the hit “Let Me Go Lover” ran second to Joan Weber (Who)? – A #1 hit wonder who spent most of her life in a mental hospital.


          A sullen minority thought such novelty hits as “Ricochet” and “Jilted” would send them to a mental asylum. Teresa (Tessie) could get quite …..squeaky. Love that “Ricochet” arrangement.


She liked doing old fashion tunes like “Banjo Back in Town” and “Silver Dollar”. I had those memorized – still do every nuance.


          “Sweet Old Fashion Girl” may be her most bizarre tune with its time – tempo changes but many thought it fit the lady. It’s used as the title of two different anthologies.


A Tear Fell,” “Bo Weevil,” and “Pledging My Love” are hit versions of tune originated by black performers – respectively, Ivory Joe Hunter, Fats Domino, Johnny Ace, and I.J. Hunter again. I thoroughly defend all these versions which have their own charm and validity. “Pledging My Love” has power the most enduring tune, with well received version by Emmylou Harris and a Marvin Gaye – Dianna Ross duet.


          “Gonna Get Along Without You Now” was a bigger hit twice, by the sister act Patience & Prudence and country’s Skeeter Davis. “Tessie” had it first and I’ll stick with her. “Gonna find me somebody twice as cute cause I don’t love you anyhow.


          Finally, an oddity. In 1950 a young Marietta College student, Sally, used to sing “Choo’n Gum” {ed note: Could not locate song} to 9-year-old me. Soon she became my aunt, “My mom gave me a nickel to buy a pickle – but I didn’t buy a pickle, I bought some choo’n gum” – based on a Gershwin tune, yet. Fun for kids 40 years later, in 1990, my friends Jeff and I taught his 7 year-old daughter Rebecca to sing this number. Rebecca is 30 now and will deny any knowledge of this……







Teresa Brewer by Fred Russell on Grooveshark


Article 34  (Vol. 2, Article 28)


               Gladys Knight (1944- )

Gladys Knight.jpg




          In a recent “article” I covered three fine musicians – Dinah Washington, Etta James, and Aretha Franklin – who were formidable, even threatening at times – seldom sweet and loveable – and millions of people have preferred them that way.       


          Sometimes I’d rather listen to another singer who was sweet, loveable, and often taken for granted: Gladys Knight – sincere and emotionally satisfying. I like her that way.


          She was a child performer and contest winner whose “Pips” group started with some sisters and later consisted of all – male cousins. Early on they became famous for their choreographed stage act. Their “moves” were copied by groups who had more big hit records, but you will hear that their vocals and harmonies were also choreographed.


          While Gladys was still a teenager, the group hit with two adult – sounding Doo-Wop style members, “Every Beat….” and “Letter Full….” But while they perfected their stage act, the hits stalled, until they went to Motown in 1967. “Take Me in Your Arms” a lovely yearning tune with semi-classical arrangement, was not a hit at home but became one in England. It’s one of my favorites.


          After their big version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (not included), the group had a run of stormy fast ones; “You Need Love Like I Do” is a fine typical example.


          But then we get to a masterpiece. I don’t use that term loosely, “If I Were Your Woman” is one of the all-time great soul ballads and vocals, and you can hear what I mean by choreographed group responses. “I Don’t Want to Go Wrong” is almost as good.  


          Next, the group hit its peak with three (originally country) songs by Jim Weatherly – “Neither One of Us” (their best ever, maybe), “Best Thing Ever Happened to Me” (their sweetest) and the most famous, “Midnight Train” (not here): Note especially the intricate conversational interchange and thought process “Neither One of Us.”


          “Imagination” was another insistent rhythm number while “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and “The Way We Were” were fine remakes of recent hit songs.


          Having left Motown in 1973, they found themselves on a struggling label with financial problems that undercut their own careers. The Pips “retired” about 1989 and Gladys has gone on as a solo, recording a number of “Gospel” albums and winning two “Grammy” awards for them. She has a new one in 2014.


          There was, however, one last fine moment for us to notice. In 1983 they helped introduce a new number, the called “Hero” It only went to #104 on the charts but Bette Midler took it to #1 as “The Wind Beneath My Wings” in 1989. I remain quite partial to Gladys’ version. (It was also a 1983 country hit for Gary Morris.) It typifies all that’s been sweet and sincere about Gladys Knight.


          (P.S. One of the writers of “Hero”/”Wind Beneath My Wings” was Larry Henley – previously a member off the Newbeats, 1964 hit, “Bread and Butter.”)









Gladys Knight by Fred Russell on Grooveshark



Article 35  (Vol. 2, Article 29)





“Instrumentals - Sweet Ones/Rocking Ones”


Part 1 - The Sweet Ones


          The 50s gave us so many lovely instrumentals I can’t list them all, so here are my favorites. Guess which ones I had to leave out? (“Autumn Leaves”, for one)


          IN 1959, Martin Denny’s “Exotica” music became an album sensation thanks to the unique “Quiet Village.” This music had a comeback in the late 90s, “Lounge” revival, and Denny (1910-2004) was still around to write liner notes to his reissues. I love his music!


          In 1959, how many of us glided through a summer somnambulistic slow dance to “Sleep Walk”? I know I did.


          “So Rare” may not be strictly instrumental (one vocal chorus), but it’s too beautiful.  Originally a 1937 hit, it became popular just a few weeks after J. Dorsey died.


          The 1956 trio, “Canadian Sunset,” “Lisbon Antiqua” and “Moonglow & Picnic”, are eternally and forever gorgeous. No one who saw “Picnic” (movie) will ever forget Kim Novak (herself a somnambulistic, sleepwalking personality) drifting into that “Moonglow” dance.


          Let’s close this out with Prez Prado’s smash cha-chas. “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” was the #1 seller of 1955.


Part 2 - The Rocking Ones


          These fun instrumentals need less comment than usual. “Rumble” brings back wonderful memories of my college radio show, “Rock & Rumble” (1959-62), a show which made me a lot of friends – it was my theme song.


          “Manhattan Spiritual” and “Midnight in Moscow” bring a bit of jazz sensibility while “Teen Beat” and “Topsy (Pt.2)” are drum crazed. Duane Eddy (“40 Miles of Bad Road” & Because They’re Young”) had more hits than any instrumentalist. But “Honky Tonk”, the complete “Honky Tonk” is still my favorite rock instrumental ever; and you have to hear it all. Some anthologies criminally present only one half.




Instrumentals Pt.1 & Pt.2 by Fred Russell on Grooveshark

Article 36  (Vol. 2, Article 30)


Johnny Mathis.JPG


Johnny Mathis


          This week in December 2013, Johnny Mathis (1935- ) has (another) new Christmas album in the charts. Numbers: I think it is his seventh Christmas album (first one, 1958, is still the best); his 62nd chart album overall, not counting “Greatest Hits” collections, of which there have been 11. (The first one, 1958, was the first “hits” super seller by anyone and spent almost 10 years on the charts.) He is statistically the #6 top album after Elvis, Sinatra, the Beetles, Streisand, and the Rolling Stones.


          Mathis, at 79 announced his retirement from recording eleven years ago, but keeps changing his mind.


          Funny thing: None of my selections are “first” songs. Mathis excelled at ballads, at romance, but I never heard a convincing fast performance, not ever; and he has tried. There were even a couple of whole misbegotten albums of all fast. Bad enough to be embarrassing! This may be why so many critics dismiss him.


          Anyway, as usual, I’ve bypassed his half dozen most famous songs, but here are a bunch of his best slow ones and “second-tier” hits – such as: “All the Time,” “Come to Me” (not available) & “Wild is the Wind.” Three picks from the 1958 “Hits” album. “Wild is the Wind” stuck around to be sung by Barbara Streisand and others; “All the Time” and “Come to Me” were never heard from again and are all his / or ours.


          “A Certain Smile” & “Small World” were a movie tune (“Smile”) and a Broadway tune (“Small World”, from “Gypsy”). “You are Beautiful” is a lesser-known Broadway tune, as beautiful as its title – from “Flower Drum Song”. Sweet.


          “You’ll Never Know” & “Please Be Kind” are from his most intimate album, “Open Fire, two Guitars.” (these songs were not available). “You’ll Never Know” had won the song Academy Award back in 1942.


          “Hello Young Lovers” & “Stranger in Paradise” were from his bestselling ballad album, “Heavenly”, two more Broadway hits - “Hello Young Lovers” from 1951, “The King and I”, “Stranger in Paradise” from 1953 “Kismet”. “Tonight” from Broadway and movie “West Side Story”, the super romantic ballad.


          “You Better Go Now” (not found) – another favorite album, “Faithfully”: tune associated with 1940s Billie Holiday.


          “Laura” & “Shangri-La” – These are harder to get but worth finding. Mathis briefly left the Columbia label and did not do so well for the next few years. These two are up to standard – the haunting, dream-like 1944 “Laura,” and the 1957 “Shangri-La,” a hit by a forgotten group, The Four Coins.


          “Moonlight Becomes You”/ “It Could Happen to You” / “But Beautiful (not found)”. For his last great album, but overlooked, Mathis recorded the “Hollywood Musicals” with Henry Mancini and closed with this sublime medley of three 1940s Bing Crosby movie hits, all written by the prolific team of Johnny Burke – James van Heusen, Crosby’s personnel songwriters for a decade. Those songs and Mathis may never have sounded better than here, swathed in Mancini’s lush arrangements, so we will leave Johnny here, OK?





Johnny Mathis by Fred Russell on Grooveshark



Article 37  (Vol. 3, Article 1)

               Note: Not all the songs on jukebox are by Ray Price several of them could not be located so they are by other popular artists,



Ray Price (1926-2013)



          Ray Price’s career falls into two parts, the pure –country “Honky Tonk”, till the mid 60’s, followed by the lush romantic “ballad” phase, which dismayed some of his earlier fans. Here are six songs from each era.


          One of his first hits was #1, “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes,” which was a country hit for 3 singers before Perry Como made the #1 pop version you may remember.


          “Crazy” & “Heartaches by the Numbers” established Ray Price’s signature “shuffle” sound which has influenced artists ever since and still shows up occasionally. “Heartaches” was also a #1 pop hit for Guy Mitchell.


          “Lonely Street” & “Am I that Easy to Forget” were both written and introduced in 1959by the forgotten Carl Belen (1931-1990). “Am I That Easy to Forget” was a hit for Jim Reeves in 1973, nine years after he died. “Lonely Street” was a hit for Andy Williams, also recorded by Patsy Cline, Emmylou Harris, Tammy Wynette, and George Jones (separately).


          “Funny (How Time Slips Away)” is one of Willie Nelson’s best and most durable compositions without being a major hit (#13 for Joe Hunter). Other favorite versions are by Al Green, Brenda Lee, Elvis, and “Little” Stevie Wonder just before his voice changed.


          Then came the onslaught of ballads and over a dozen major hits. “For the Good Times” (1970) was the big award –winner.) “Touch My Heart” was a particular favorite of my brother’s, and I bet it still is. I like it too. He found it first.


          “She Wears My Ring” was memorably introduced by Roy Orbison in 1962 and was yet another of Elvis’s late recordings in the 70s. We end with “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”, at the same time a huge hit for Gladys Knight. It was written by Jim Weatherly who provided Ray Price with several hits and Gladys with “Neither One of Us” and “Midnight Train to Georgia”.




Ray Price by Fred Russell on Grooveshark


Article 38  (Vol. 3, Article 2)





Three Women


Dinah Washington 1952.jpg

Dinah Washington (1924-1963)


Etta James.jpg

Etta James (1938-2012)


Aretha Franklin.png

Aretha Franklin (1942- )


          I have many kinds and styles of music, but I have come to realize that perhaps 80% (at least) of my listening time is devoted to women singers – alone or in groups. I find them soothing, comforting, and yet thrilling, all at the same time. I am especially fond of comparing their voices and styles.


          The three women here make a particularly fruitful comparison, Dinah Washington was a “mentor” to young Etta James, and was also Aretha’s Godmother. These were all rough, tough, often mean “ladies.” I wouldn’t want to cross any of them. Tenderness could be in their personal behavior, watch out: And watch out for more in the “Three Woman” series.


Dinah Washington


Dinah Washington by Fred Russell on Grooveshark

          Toughest woman star of her era. Married 7, 8, or 9 times – no one is sure, not even her. Died at 39 of diet pill / alcohol mix.


          “TV is the Thing This Year” was the most entertaining of her slightly risqué hits, of which there were many. “Teach Me Tonight” was a hit 3 times in 1954-55; by the four gotten DeCastro Sisters, by Dinah and by Jo Stafford. It was a provocative lyric for the time, and this ninth grader knew it was full of mystery. “Did you say I’ve got a lot to learn?” In the ninth grade for sure.


          “It’s Too Soon to Know” was the early doo-wop classic by the Orioles, also a hit by Dinah, and again by Etta. (Linda Ronstadt did a nice version in the 1900s.)


That’s All I Want from you” was also a 1954 hit, twice, by the (forgotten) Jaye P. Morgan and by Dinah. Aretha did a fine revival version. A little love, that slowly grows and grows……..


          Dinah had two big hits with Brook Benton duets, but they couldn’t stand each other. Note where she says (sings) “you’re in my spot honey” – She was actually very angry and expected that part to be cut. Further duets were cancelled.


          “This Bitter Earth” one of her last hits, seems an appropriate final statement.



Etta James


Etta James by Fred Russell on Grooveshark

          We begin with two Interrupted Wedding hit songs, and a third by Gladys Knight. Which is a particularly dramatic disruption, and it fits right in. I’ve always wanted to see these songs, especially “It Should Have Been Me,” acted out in a movie, or maybe in real life.


          Etta’s most famous record, the old Glenn Miller hit “At Last”, was not her biggest hit but at the time, but it was part of a string of orchestrated ballad oldies. “Trust in Me” and “Sunday Kind of Love” are also example, and let’s see if we can hear the original Jo Stafford “Sunday” (also a Doo-Wop standard and a hit for Reba.)


          One of Etta’s personal favorites was “I’d Rather Go Blind.” One of her most fun was her rowdy duet hit with a childhood friend, “In the Basement.” This last tune has just been recorded in a new but more subdued version by Martina McBride and Kelly Clarkson.



Aretha Franklin


Aretha Franklin by Fred Russell on Grooveshark

          I might find it difficult to establish that Aretha is exactly over-rated, but I don’t seem to love her as much as many do – perhaps because she is so aggressive, hard hitting and seldom comforting. Much of her music seems overstated, which doesn’t seem to bother a lot of people!


          I actually like her soft, understated jazzy stuff from 1963-67, but it was never too popular. “I Never Loved a Man”, her first big hit certainly sounded different from anything else out there. Then came “Respect” and my two favorite rhythm million sellers. “Chain of Fools” and “Since You’ve Been Gone”. Not exactly comfort stuff.


Ain’t No Way” gives us a chance to hear Whitney Houston’s mother in the prominent background. “Spanish Harlem”, a big hit, shows how she often twists and bends a tune out of shape – too much so, to my taste. Compare!


Oddly, both versions of “Don’t Play that Song” stopped at #11 on the charts. (King was the recently departed lead). How different are they?


          Her music was most usually soothing, but “Day Dreaming” was, and it’s a good place to close. Watch for further installments of “Three Women!”








Article 39  (Vol. 3, Article 3)





Nat “King” Cole (1919-1965)

Nat King Cole (Gottlieb 01511).jpg



          Cole had two careers, first in the forties as a singing piano player and jazz group leader, then from about 1948 as an orchestrated ballad singer, which many fans saw as a sellout. Indeed, with a growing family, he went where the money was. But we will concern ourselves with the second career – if you listened to the radio in the forties, you probably heard all of these. How many do you remember?


          Many felt (and I agree) that Cole was not especially effective on rhythm tunes / fast ones, but “Orange Colored Sky” (wham-bam-akakazam) is the fun exception, and a big hit/starting place.


          As I’ve mentioned before, “Mona Lisa” in 1950 began my lifelong love affair with the charts, and I remain grateful for it. (Later rocked up/countrified by Carl Mann and Conway, 1959)


          I was only in grade school when I observed teenage girls in Williamstown, W. Va. (where I lived) swooning to “Too  Young,” now it seems an odd lyric for the 32 year-old Cole, still controlled by parents?? But then 5 years later he returned to the same theme in the pretty but less famous “Too Young to Go Steady,” this time it’s the girl who resists. (Can’t she realize she drives me wild? She says we’ll have to wait.”)


          The ever more senior Perry Como recorded both these “Too Young” tunes together, at the age of 48.


          “Pretend you’re happy when you’re blue” “Smile though your heart is breaking” variations on a theme “Pretend” was the bigger hit – then – but “Smile” has had a more extended life constantly being recorded by the great Barbara Streisand, Tony Bennett, the mediocre bland Michael Buble, and so many others. (Peggy Lee, Judy Garland)


          “Answer Me My Love,” “Darling Je Vous Aime Beaucoup,” and “A Blossom Fell” represent his so-called “sellout” big lush ballad style at its most popular. “Stardust” was a 1957 radio favorite version of the often-recorded 1930 standard.


          Very soft rock, “Night Lights” and “That’s All There Is To That” represents his tentative move in the rock background style (also “Looking Back”). At this time, though, Cole recorded a comedy number called “Mr. Cole Won’t Rock and Roll.” – But did you ever watch the one you love, slowly drifting away from you??


          Unbeknownst to him, his life was running out. The cancer was kept a secret from the public, so his death came as quite a shock. In the early sixties he had success with sing-along and old fashion country (“Rambling Rose”, “Those Crazy-Lazy Days of Summer”) but his finest late recording was the true beauty his last living lovely statement, “That Sunday – That Summer,” go on and kiss her!!\








Nat King Cole by Fred Russell on Grooveshark

Note: Not all of Nat "King" Cole's songs were available, in those cases substitutions have been made (most by his daughter Natilie)



Article 41  (Vol. 3, Article 5)





Evolution of Martina McBride (1966- )


Martina McBride 2014.jpg


          As she sings in the first, probably hard-to-get song listed here, Martina was always “Little but Loud” – with the electric blue eyes. Her first album, in 1992, was inaccurately called “The Time has Come” – she didn’t start having hits yet, and five years later, her fourth album, “Evolution”, made her a full-fledged, chart topping, award-winning household name. “Evolution” gave her a very impressive six hits.



          There are people who can’t quite tell Martina McBride from Trisha Yearwood. Both are big voiced, in the Linda Ronstadt tradition, and both were helped at the start by Garth Brooks. Trisha later married him. Martina and her husband worked for him. I like Trisha somewhat better due to that vulnerable, emotional catch-in-the throat, which Martina lacks. But Martina has more staying power and became a very big star with a career full of twists and turns. Adventurous.


I’m Little but I’m Loud” (1973/1997) – As suggested may be hard to find, but a good little (short) introduction “I’m puny short and little, but I’m loud.” Recorded when she was seven years old, and opens the blockbuster “Evolution” disc.


Independence Day” – 1994  - Started to make her famous. An “issue” song, first of many (maybe too many) about abused women, (“Broken Why” was the other most famous). – A lot of radio stations would not play this, which only got it more attention. The video is very disturbing and unforgettable! Many people did not know the song and title were taken directly from a little seen 1982 movie, in which this happened.


Valentine” – 1997


Whatever You Say” – 1997


Wrong Again” – 1997 - Here are three of the six hits from “Evolution”. “Whatever” and “Wrong” are both “Power ballads” which build – and build. “Valentine,” with pianist Jim Brinkman, is a much quieter tune which understandably resurfaces every February.


I Love You” – According to the charts, this catchy tune was her biggest hit of all. It sounded very much like the hits Faith Hill was having at this same time (1999) – if only Faith Hill had ever been interesting!


          “Love’s the Only House” – 1999 – An “encore” selection from one of my 2013 articles. This is my very favorite Martina song ever, and it will always be for Becky (1947-2006).



When God-Fearin’ Women Get the Blues” – 2001 – different from anything she ever did, and so fun.


(I Never Promised) A Rose Garden” – 2005


You Ain’t Woman Enough” – 2005


Love’s Gonna Live Here” – 2005


          On these three, like many other singers, she now did an album of favorite oldies. – country ones. She captures the spirit of the originals and the album (“Timeless”) was a classic and a hit. She sounds a little like Buck Owens – so he wrote a note for the album. It’s all good.      


What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” – 2014


Suspicious Minds” – 2014


Wild Night” – 2014


So, she did another album of pop/soul oldies! Lovely. I used “Broken Hearted” in another article, also, of my all-time favorite Motown ballads. And yes, women can sing Elvis, and very well too. Finally, “Wild Night” is a wonderful tune that was a hit three times: by author Van Morrison (1971), by John Mellencamp with Michelle (1994), and also by my beloved Martha Reeves – a minor hit in 1974, triumphantly revived in “Thelma and Louise,” 1991.


So, since I love Martha Reeves so much, and I love this song so much, let’s hope we can find it to conclude this “episode.” But I fear it may be elusive……(Try sound track?)


Wild Night” – Martha Reeves – (1974/1997)








Article 40  (Vol. 3, Article 4)




Patty Loveless (1957 - ) Trisha Yearwood (1964 - )

Two Kinds of Sincere



Patty Loveless


Trisha Yearwood


                    I associate both these lovely ladies with utter sincerity their singing – and probably in their living, since they’re reputed to be two of the sweetest, nicest country ladies. It occurs to me that I so often use the word “sincere” to describe the singing of various female women – Carole King (upcoming article), the glorious Martha Reeves, Gladys Knight, so many more; yet I seldom apply that adjective to male singers. Why? Do I consistently think of women singers as more sincere than the men? Maybe so.


                   Yet does this mean, reader, that in life women are also more sincere than men? Hell, no, I guess I could hardly claim that, yet they sure sing like it!


                   Patty Loveless and Trisha Yearwood certainly present two totally different kinds of sincerity in their work. And I have it all and I love it all. I would call Patty Loveless “blatant”; her emotions are forward, right out there. The feeling of Trish Yearwood seems subtle and much harder to define. Both ladies mean a great deal to me.




Patty Loveless


                   I also usually detect sincerity in ballads and slow songs, more than fast or high energy ones. And it is in her ballads (“Can’t Stop Myself from Loving You,” “”You Don’t Even Know Who I Am,” “On Your Way Home”) that Patty Loveless (great name!) wears her “heart on her sleeve”. (She was born Patty Ramey, by the way; a coal miner’s daughter and cousin to Loretta Lynn. After marrying and divorcing a man named Lovelace, she altered the name, and kept it.)


                   For a brief time, in the early 90s, a type of radio station serving up, especially more south, called “Trucker Country.” Instead of catering to women at home, like so much country radio, it aimed to reach truck-driver types by focusing on fast high energy songs, and not ballads. Patty Loveless was “Queen” of this short-lived format, and 6 hit songs (“Timber I’m Falling in Love,” “Chains,” “The Night’s Too Long,” “I’m That Kind of Girl !,” “I Try to Think About Elvis,” “You Can Feel Bad”) show why. Together the still give quite a rush, and they have a lot of soul.



          It is unfortunate that her last Top 10 hit was in 1997; last chart hit in 2003; last album release, a bluegrass entry (her third) in 2009. As a presence, she is missed. Like Kathy Mattea, Lorrie Morgan, Trisha Yearwood and others, she gave character to 1990s country that it misses today. Our loss.



Trisha Yearwood


                   Mrs. Garth Brooks enjoyed her last major hit in 2001; last complete album in 2007. As many know, she has become a full-fledged cookbook author and cable TV star. All performances here are fresh and full of memories…..but what’s the sincerity? To me – it is a little unexpected catch in the throat that keeps occurring – as subtle and simple as that – gets me every time !!




She’s in Love with the Boy” – First hit (1991) and still her most popular.



Walkaway Joe” – 1992 –

These two story songs show different side of Mother’s advice: Listen –in “she’s in love”. Mom supports it fully but in “walk away” she has a bad feeling about it. (Don Henley sings on that one.)


“Wrong Side of Memphis” – (1992) – (more funky , bluesy)


Down on My Knees” – (1993) One of her best “power ballads”


The Song remembers When” – (1993) – Another ballad, and my very favorite Yearwood tune – used in a previous article – I love the way this evokes the experience of music so true; for example, next:


There Goes My Baby” – (1998) – yes, the song remembers when, in August 1998 I attended the 40th class reunion in Marietta. I had a wonderful time staying at my Aunt Maxine’s, and on Saturday I tool a “walking tour” to visit the 5 houses I’d lived in (only two of the 5 were still standing; and today, only one). Anyway I was listening to the radio on my “Walkman.”, (remember there,) and it played the lovely, flowing new hit by Trisha Yearwood – “There Goes My Baby”. Now when I hear it, it still puts me in Marietta, August 1998, because the song really does remember when, and I am there.


Believe Me Baby (I lied) – (1996) – And sometimes, it only takes a second, a syllable, to give me chills. Such as the electric little moment here when she calls out “Hey!” during the break! I wait for it. What would the song be without it? Don’t miss it. Song is full of those little “catches” in the voice! See: sincere even when she “lied”! I believe her, baby…..


I’ll Still Love You More” – (1991)


I Would Have Loved You Anyway” – (2001)


This Is Me You’re Talking To” – (2007)


So we close with three more “sincere” ballads: her last two top-ten and her very last chart entry. Once again, the hits should have never stopped: a couple of new tunes in 2015 were ignored. Back to the kitchen, I guess! Sweet Trisha, lucky Garth.








Article 42  (Vol. 3, Article 6)


Patti Page.JPG


Remembering Patti Page (1927-2013)



                        When Patti Page died in January 2013, I was disappointed how little publicity she got (same with Jo Stafford in 2008.) Patti Page succeeded as the country’s top female singer and remained so through1957, succeeded by Connie Francis, even Billboard, which used to publish in-depth obituaries of singers, could no longer be bothered to notice. Yet some 22 –year old rapper or a young hard rock band member dies, they’re written up. “Billboard” has lost its sense of history. So, if (say) Miley Cyrus dies in 55 years, will she be remembered? Is she as talented as Patti Page? – Hardly.


            She first got noticed for the then – new gimmick of overdubbing her voice several times – which Les Paul with Mary Ford was also doing. “Confess” and “With My Eyes Wide Open” established her. The lilting, quivering “All My Love” was her first hit, and my first favorite, followed by “Tennessee Waltz” (not included here), the biggest record by a woman up till that time….we’ll also pass over “Doggie in the Window,” which does not help her reputation. And today’s audiences would find “Mockingbird Hill” (also a Les Paul hit) and “I Went to Your Wedding” impossibly sappy….and they are, but we liked them as kids……


            Jo Stafford had the bigger hit with “You Belong to Me” but I prefer the Page arrangement. “Changing Partners” did not sweep the world like “Tennessee Waltz”, which is why it’s more fun to hear now.


            After “Cross over the Bridge” she did well with “Let Me Go Lover,” though Teresa Brewer and one-hit Joan Weber did better. (Weber is reported to have died in a mental hospital at 43.)  I could not resist including “Mama from the Train” which instantly became a national joke – and comedy movie title 30 years later. It was meant to be a serious dialect tear jerker. One I did leave out, but worthy looking up is the 1955 hit “Go on with the Wedding” (I stood there torn between two loves – my Fred and my Jim”)


            We will leave her with her last two great hits, “Allegheny Moon” and “Old Cape Cod” (most pretty). There were two more big hits but less good…..She won a Grammy for a live concert recording in 1997.






Article 43  (Vol. 3, Article 7)



Perry Como (1912 – 2000)



                        Perry Como had 153 chart hits from 1943 – 1974; (50) top tens; (14) number ones – a very impressive record, one of the top 5 or so male singers. Now, we’ve gotten my chart /numbers obsession out of the way. Como had one of the most beautiful voices of all, but he was often taken for granted or under – appreciated, partly because so many of his hits were novelties, funny little tunes which often sounded like “children’s” music. And he hated most of those tunes!! He did not want to record them, but he did, and they were big hits.


            Compare Tony Bennett, who refused to record songs he didn’t like. His record company “Fired”/ dropped him, sending him into deep depression, and his career into limbo for 15 years. Of course, they took him back and he’s still there.


            My confessions: I like Perry better, kid’s songs and all, so let’s be kids again. Here are 14 of his hits from the 50s, including 9 number ones. He hated at least half of these! I liked them all; you probably did too. I bet you haven’t heard these all together in a very long time. Some of them will run in your head for days.


You’re welcome.




  1. Hoop-Dee-Doo , 1950. “I hear a polka and my troubles are though.” I was in the fourth grade when I first became aware of Perry Como. This is the first and possibly only Polka included in our music! Journey! Watch out for the fiddle-in-the-middle. Tune was a #1 hit, also a hit for Kay Starr and Doris Day. Maybe, if you are nice and it can be found, Fred will put up the K. Starr or Day version for you to hear. (Will do Dudley – Fred). Perry hated it – but me, I’m a Hoop-Dee-Doo kind of guy. Aren’t we all? And do I love that lyric? (It’s his 61st hit)
  2. You’re Just in Love (1950)
  3. Bushel and a Peck (1950), with Betty Hutton.

Two big hits from Broadway. Irving Berlin’s charming, romantic “Just in Love” is my favorite of all the Como tunes here! “Bushel” was the big hit form the musical “Guys and Dolls”, mysteriously dropped from the movie.

  1. If – 1951
  2. Wanted – 1954 these ballads were the type of music Perry wanted to do – not the novelties. “If”, originally written in 1934, was so big that 8 different versions were popular, notably by Jo Stafford and Dean Martin. But Como had “Wanted” all to himself. The chart statistics show us that these were his two biggest hits of the 50s; eight weeks each at #1.
  3. Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes – 1953 – Another #1 hit he did not want to do. It was a big country hit first.
  4. No other Love – 1953
  5. All at Once You Love Her – 1956 two more Broadway ballads, which Como favored. “No Other Love” was another #1 hit. “All at Once” may be harder to find, the only one here that missed the top 10; it did stop at #11, a runner-up position which singers and song writers hated. Both these tunes were written by Rodgers and Hammerstein.
  6. You Alone (Solo Tu) -1953 Piermo’s only Italian hit of the period many of you wish he’d done more.
  7. Papa Loves Mambo – 1954 such an entertaining novelty, even Perry must have liked it! But we are told he disliked all four of our remaining hits here. Just because he didn’t like them. That doesn’t mean we don’t!
  8. Ko Ko Mo (I love you so) – 1955
  9. Juke Box Baby – 1956  Perry rocks!! Well, it wasn’t exactly Elvis, but these synthetic rockers are still great fun. “Ko Ko Mo” actually had some chart action in six different versions. Busy arrangement and an over-energetic chorus which seems to be hyper-ventilating. Amusing.  Treasure hunt – In “Juke Box Baby”, how many “current” songs does Como quote? Which two of his own hits are referenced? Listen closely, now.
  10. Round and Round – 1957
  11. Catch a Falling Star – 1958 His last  two numbers, though hits continued into the seventies. Again, he thought both were beneath him! The choral harmonies are good sing-alongs. Mrs. Brown loved these, so they were main stays in our house, and are precious memories. Falling Star; his 126th hit, was well timed. It won a Grammy the first year these awards were given. And it received the very first certified “Gold Record” when these started to be officially recognized.


Many played all these just before I wrote this, and also played the Starr and Day versions of “Hoop-Dee-Doo” I’m feeling very attached to the PAST! OK and I do not prefer the ballads!!


PS: And did you know Perry Como’s brother Al Como ran a barbershop in Williamstown during the 50s.








Article 44  (Vol. 4, Article 1)



SADE (1959- ) / Anita Baker (1958- )


                        In the mid-80s, a new form of rhythm & Blues/Soul radio developed, and is still going strong. It was then called “Quiet Storm” (named after a Smoky Robinson song) and today, Billboard calls it”Adult R&B”. You might also consider it the Anti-Rap. Then and still, it consists of ballads or smooth music, and in 1985-86, the main influences were two women, SADE and Anita Baker. A lot of the same people liked them both, and the ladies were aware that their careers and styles had a lot in common.


            SADE (born Helen Folosadeadu in Nigeria, raised in England) and Ohio’s Anita Baker (Toledo!) – wrote and sang rather lush, romantic ballads – Baker called hers “Fireside Love Songs” – with more than a little jazz phrasing and feeling. Their styles were consistent and seemingly unchanging………which is why both women made the intelligent choice to not release too many albums. In fact since 1983-85, both SADE and Baker have released only six albums each, not counting “Best Of” or “Live” ones. That way, their fans do not get tired of them, are hungry for each new release, and neither one has ever had to suffer a flop.


            SADE has kept together a band of several men who apparently rest comfortably between releases. Baker has had some emotional and personal problems which have impeded her career in recent years – a “new” album promised for fall 2012 never appeared, and she hasn’t been heard from. But young singers are still naming her 80s – 90s material as a favorite influence.


            To show how shrewdly (or stingily) they have managed their schedules, here are the years of their releases.


SADE – 6 albums 1985, 86, 88, 92, 2002, 2010 (American sales, 24 million) (4 Grammy Awards)


Baker – 6 albums – 1983, 86, 89, 90, 94, 2004 and now a mystery (what happened to missing 2012 release?) (Sales 14 million) (7 Grammy Awards)


            Having said all this, I do not feel the usual comment is necessary for the individual songs. These are appropriately their “Greatest Hits”, and “Quiet Storm”/”Adult Rib” at its best (consistency as a virtue).



            1 – Smooth Operators – 1984

            2 – Sweetest Taboo – 1985

            3 – Paradise – 1988

            4 – No Ordinary Love – 1992

            5 – By Your Side – 2000

            6 – Moon and the Sky – 2010

            Possible substitutes: Is It a Crime, Your Love is King, Love is Stronger than Pride, Cherish the Day, The Sweetest Gift


Anita Baker


            7 – Sweet Love -1986

            8 – Caught Up in the Rapture – ‘86

            9 – Giving You the Best I Got – 1988

            10- Just Because – 1988

            11 – I apologize – 1994

            12 – Lately – 2012 (Her Last)

Possible substitutes (You’re) My Everything -2004, How Does It Feel? – 2004, Body and Soul – 1994, No One in the World – 1986, Talk to Me - 1988      







Article 49  (Vol. 4, Article 6)



Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)

(Part I of II)



      Planning a segment on Ella Fitzgerald has been the most difficult of any so far, due to the length and depth of her active career. She worked consistently, recording from 1935-1989, and giving concerts (often from a wheelchair) till 1992. She’s been called the “Queen of the CD”; and the most recorded voice ever. (Her only competition may be Sinatra or Crosby). There are around 200/250 CDs; I have about 50 of those.


      Let’s see. Research shows, Ella recorded over 100 songs at least once – not counting numerous remakes. Sinatra is credited with over 1400 recordings, but this does include hundreds of remakes. Crosby recorded over 1300 songs from about 1929-1975, and had over 300 hits (more than anyone), but less than a third are available today, on CD or anywhere.


      So it is likely that Ella stands alone – as a perfect voice too, with amazingly clear diction. This from a girl who didn’t get past grade school, for like so many performers, she had a poor (awful) background – one of the worst. Orphaned early, unwanted, abused, homeless in her teens, living on New York streets – but “discovered”, recording at 18, and never having to look back, or be poor. And she deserved it all.


      Her most “classic” performances, many say, came in the 50s and 60s, and I’m concentrating on these. Most of her late 30s and 40s records, including many hits, were unavailable for years and quite a revelation to me when I finally heard them. Her style and diction did change, but never aged.


      Unlike her great colleague/peer/rival Billie Holiday, who also had a horrifying background, Ella did not get into drinking or drugs. She ate a lot, and got very rich. A price was paid – perhaps a lonely personal life if she slowed down to think about it; two brief marriages, two briefer engagements; one adopted son with whom she lived in one of her mansions, in her final invalid years. Her music played endlessly throughout the house.


      Always I hear in her the sheer joy of singing. From 1956-64 she recorded her seven celebrated “songbooks”, devoted to classic songs by great writers; over 220 songs. I’ve picked 21 of these from 3 volumes:




Irving Berlin (1888-1989)

      Irving Berlin certainly had more hits than any songwriter, from about 1907 till 1954; he “retired” with the advent of rock ’n’ roll. He would be immortal if only for the astonishing trifecta of “Easter Parade” – “White Christmas” – “God Bless America”, but there is so much more.


      My first four selections show me the lively high-energy side of Irving Berlin and Ella. (She recorded all of these in 1958).


  1. Alexander’s Rag Time Band” (1911, originally)
  2. Puttin’ on the Ritz” (1935)
  3. Heat Wave” (1933)
  4. Let Yourself Go” (1935)


“Alexander’s” was his first international hit and often considered the beginning of modern songwriting. (Berlin had previous hits which are no longer heard  - such as a song which women disliked, in 1908 “My Wife’s Gone to the Country, Hurrah, Hurrah.” In 67 years, Elton John finally wrote the follow up – “The Bitch is Back.”


            “Puttin’ on the Ritz” had memorable revivals by Fred Astaire (1996), Judy Garland (1961), and a Disco version by Jaco Ockerse in 1983. Remember that one?

Jaco never quite made it into the Astaire/Garland/Fitzgerald league.


            “Heat Wave” is not, of course, the great Martha & the Vandellas hit, but Marilyn Monroe sang it memorably and appropriately. (By the way, Ella Fitzgerald was Marilyn’s favorite singer and inspiration, and they established a friendship.)


            “Let Yourself Go” was a great routine from a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie.


  1. Remember” (1925)
  2. All Alone” (1925)
  3. What’ll I Do” (1924)


Obviously, a sadder side of Irving Berlin, and sung so sweet by Ella. (Did Berlin have a crisis in 1924-25?)




Cole Porter (1891-1964) (Ella’s recordings, all 1956)


         He was the most sophisticated of these writers, and his songs had an upper class, high society feel, with a lot of flirting, teasing, innuendo, and word play.


  1. Night and Day” (1952)
  2. Begin the Beguine” (1935)
  3. Anything Goes” (1934)
  4. You’re the Top” (1934)
  5. It’s All Right with Me” (1953)
  6. So in Love” (1948)
  7. Too Darn Hot” (1948)


        These seven give a good representative survey of Porter’s talent. The intense , obsessive “Night and Day” may have been his biggest hit ever – written for Fred Astaire, who had numerous hits in the 1930s – Sinatra recorded “Night and Day” at least 6 different times.


       Sinatra also recorded “Begin the Beguine” twice. It has a flamboyantly romantic, over-the-top lyric – Listen twice for the words! Oddly, ironically, “Beguine” was never a big hit as a vocal. It was most famous for Artie Shaw’s 1938 instrumental hit.


       “Anything Goes” and “You’re the Top” show Porter’s highest spirits. In the late 30s, he slowed down somewhat after a crippling accident. But in 1948 appeared with a huge Broadway hit, “Kiss Me Kate”, with “So in Love” and “Too Darn Hot” (really hot live).


      “It’s All Right with Me” is one of his last great songs, not a hit when it first came out. He seemed to have retired after 1957.                                                                                                                            




<<<<<<<Part II coming next>>>>>>>>>










Article 48  (Vol. 4, Article 5)



Doris Day (April 3, 1924 -  )




      Doris Day is 90 as I write this. (or maybe 91 or 92, as some sources mention). As I pointed out in another article, she plans to “celebrate” with a celebrity auction at her hotel to benefit pets. Let us celebrate with a brief survey of her music career. Her huge success in movies sometimes overshadowed her music, but her singing popularity has remained solid, and, she really could do it all. It’s too bad she didn’t get more dramatic roles, since she was so good at them. But by some adjusted financial standards, she may be considered as the #1 box office of all! Yet, we are here for the music.




  1. My Dreams Keep Getting Better All the Time” – 1945  -with Les Brown
  2. Aren’t You Glad You’re You” – 1946 – with Les Brown
  3. It’s Magic” – 1948
  4. Again” – 1949
  5. Put ‘Em In a Box (Tie ‘Em With a Ribbon)” – 1948
  6. Every Where You Go” – 1949
  7. Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think)” – 1950
  8. I May Be Wrong” – with Harry James – 1950
  9. With a Song in My Heart” – with Harry James – 1950
  10. Would I Love You” – with Harry James -1951
  11. Tea For Two” – 1950
  12. On Moonlight Bay” – 1951
  13. By the Light of the Silvery Moon” – 1952
  14. Shakin’ the Blues Away” – 1955
  15. Ten Cents a Dance” – 1955
  16. I’ll Never Stop Loving You” – 1955
  17. If I Give My Heart to You” – 1954
  18. Secret Love” – 1954
  19. Everybody Loves a Lover” – 1958



How many of these tunes do you remember from childhood? My own Doris memory starts with “Put ‘Em in a Box” on our list. The first two tunes were among her 20 or so hits with the Les Brown band. “My Dreams” is a favorite #1 and “Aren’t You Glad” was also a movie hit by Bing Crosby.


It’s Magic” and “Again” show her alluring way with a ballad. In fact she made three great albums of all ballads in the late 50s – “Day By Day”, “Day By Night”, and “I Have Dreamed” – all available and highly recommended.


      “Put ‘Em in a Box” demonstrate, Doris’s 3 – step way with problems: Box/Ribbon/Deep Blue Sea. “Everywhere You Go” and “Enjoy Yourself” were hits for Guy Lombardo and also these more musically attractive versions.


      “I May Be Wrong”, “With a Song in My Heart” and “Would I Love You” are strong big-band performances with Harry James – the first two from the 1950 movie “Young Man With a Horn”. #11 - #16 are all from movies – and all but the last were very old tunes, sounding fresh. “Shakin’ the Blues” and “Ten Cents a Dance” are from the popular 1955 movie, “Love Me or Leave Me”, as is #16 “I’ll Never Stop Loving You”.


      The standard “Secret Love” has an especially beautiful arrangement, and “Everybody Loves a Lover”, her last big hit, end our collection on a snappy note. But she continued to record fine albums for another decade, and I wouldn’t be without these. All 19 of these performances are essential, and I hope some of them brought you a memory.