Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Beatles on the Big Screen

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What’s better than a Beatles song? How about seven of them.

In 1982 executives at Capitol Records had witnessed the success of the Stars of 45 medleys and the Beach Boys medley from 1981. Capitol had an entire catalog of Beatles’ recordings. So…

This week in 1982 a Beatles medley of clips from their movies had been climbing up the charts up to #12. It would go no further. Still, it was a top 20 hit that simply took some clever editing.

Click here for a video that accompanies the medley.

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Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: The artist had one of two choices

The year was 1978.

What an enviable decision.

You’re a musical pop artist. You have a huge recording on your hands.  It reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1976.

And now in 1978 it has a chance to make it into a movie soundtrack that could catapult the song into even higher stratospheres.

The artist?

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Boz Scaggs.

His 1976 album, “Silk Degrees” was on the charts for 115 weeks and had three Top 40 hit singles. We’ll hear one of them in a bit.

Ultimately, Scaggs’ manager chose this film’s soundtrack for his client’s recording.
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So which album soundtrack did Scaggs and his manager turn down.

The answer is coming up. But first, Scaggs performs with Jools Holland and his Blues Orchestra in the United Kingdom in 2015.

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The soundtrack album sold just about 100,000 copies.

For his efforts, Scaggs earned somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000.

Scaggs could have made so much more when the producers of another movie asked for “Lowdown” to be on their double-sided soundtrack. But his manager said no.

That other movie…

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By early January of 1979 worldwide sales of “Saturday Night Fever” reached 25 million. Scaggs could have made $1 million had his manager made a different decision. In an understatement, Scaggs said he was disappointed.

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: May the 4th be with you

Saturday is Star Wars Day. Let’s go back to 1977.

Composer John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra had a hit single of “Star Wars (Main Title)” that peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

At the very same time another Star Wars single was doing even better.

Meco released “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band,” a disco instrumental. The single hit #1 and stayed there for two weeks in October of 1977 and reports say it’s the biggest selling instrumental record of all-time.

The 45 is an edited version of a much longer track from Meco’s album, “Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk,” that put interpretations of many of Williams’ themes into one extended medley. The album like the single went platinum.

In a lengthy interview Meco said the following:

1) Believe it or not, synthesizers were not used on the album.

2) Since they couldn’t use voices of the actors sound effect recordings were used, with some sped up and others slowed down.

3) He takes pride in his belief that more so than the Williams’ soundtrack his album instantly conveys images from the film.

Here it is, the extended oldie you never heard on the radio!

The tracks in Meco’s medley:

“Title Theme”

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“Imperial Attack”

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“The Desert & the Robot Auction”

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“The Princess Appears”

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“The Land of the Sand People”

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“Princess Leia’s Theme”

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“Cantina Band”

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“The Last Battle”

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“The Throne Room & End Title”

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Finally…

Peter Mayhew, the towering Chewbacca in the ‘Star Wars’ films, dies at 74.

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: The Piano Man

This week’s oldie is from the star who performs tonight at Milwaukee’s Miller Park.

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Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

Kevin, you’re doing a forgotten oldie about…Billy Joel?  The guy who’s touring like crazy and has had one memorable recording after another?

You not only may be right, you are right. In the words of the Piano Man himself, “I had more songs than I had hits.”

This famous rocker certainly can’t do them all in one show. That’s where tonight’s oldie comes in. And you can play along.

I went back and looked at Joel’s set lists I could find for concerts so far in 2019 at Madison Square Garden (he’s doing one show a month there all year) and at Chase Field in Phoenix where he had to swat moths while playing.

Musician Billy Joel performs while swatting little white moths at Chase Field on March 9, 2019 in Phoenix.
Photo: Phoenix News Times

You’ll now see a list of Joel songs. Pick the one he hasn’t performed.

A) Don’t Ask Me Why

B) Just The Way You Are

C) Only the Good Die Young

D) Vienna

E) We Didn’t Start the Fire

Have your guess in mind?

Let’s get to the answer by eliminating one-by-one a song that has been on the set lists.

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A) Don’t Ask Me Why

B) Just The Way You Are

C) Only the Good Die Young

D) Vienna

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A) Don’t Ask Me Why

B) Just The Way You Are

C) Only the Good Die Young

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B) Just The Way You Are

C) Only the Good Die Young

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B) Just The Way You Are

Released in 1977, this Joel smash record that hit #3 the following year was influenced by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Joel turns 70 next month.

“I’ve become very comfortable with that concept of maybe you just don’t retire,” Joel said. “Maybe it just keeps going because people want to keep seeing it. And it’s a great job. I have a great band. I play great venues. And I make great money. So what’s wrong with that? Hopefully, with age comes wisdom. It just seems like it’s not so far-fetched to continue to do what you have learned how to do all your life. And it seems like the natural thing to do. If I stopped, I wonder if my not doing something would contribute to an earlier death.”

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“He’s (Tony Bennett) 92 and he’s still belting it out and the place went crazy when he came out (at Madison Square Garden in March),” Joel said. “I think he’s still enjoying it. I saw that and went, ‘He’s really having a blast’ … He says, ‘You got to keep the energy going. The audience is giving me this energy and I can’t throw that away cause I gotta use that.’ And I think there’s something to that.”

BONUS

Here’s a big radio hit that is on Joel’s set list.

The year is 1983. Joel sings and dances with his future bride and now ex-wife Christie Brinkley.

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UPDATE: What did Billy Joel play Friday night?

Friday Night Oldie: Motown turns 60

A special concert honoring the 60th anniversary of Motown Records will be broadcast this Sunday on CBS.

The historic company began in 1959. Its first record label was Tamla, and their first # 1 single came in December of 1961.

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That was the Tamla label. BTW the Beatles and the Carpenters also recorded the song.

Fifty-five years ago the Motown Records label celebrated its first No. 1 single on the Billboard charts.

Jimmy O’Neil does the introduction.

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There’s no telling how big a star Mary Wells could have been.

In 1961 through 1964, she hit the Top 10 in the pop charts with “The One Who Really Loves You,” “You Beat Me to The Punch,” “Two Lovers” and her signature “My Guy,” all written or co-written by Smokey Robinson, a fellow Motown Records star.

“In 1964, Mary Wells was our big, big artist,” said Lucy Gordy Wakefield, Motown’s first sales chief. “I don’t think there’s any audience with an age of 30 through 50 that doesn’t know the words to `My Guy.”‘

Wells left Motown to join 20th Century Fox records in 1964 and other labels as well, but never enjoyed the fame she achieved with Motown.

A daily two cigarette pack smoker, Wells had no insurance when she was diagnosed with cancer, couldn’t pay the rent, and lost her home in Los Angeles.

This beautiful singer underwent surgery for cancer of the larynx in August 1990, and died two years later at the age of 49.

Peter Benjaminson wrote Mary Wells: The Tumultuous Life of Motown’s First Superstar  and said in an interview:

“From our perspective, it looks like a mistake to have left Motown, and I’m pretty sure it was. She would have taken all those songs that the Supremes made into hits, starting with Where Did Our Love Go, on and on. She could have been not just a star, but a super-superstar. … She was the first major person to leave. … In a way, she helped other Motown artists by showing them what they shouldn’t do.”

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Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: I ain’t got time…

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This past Tuesday would have been Marvin Gaye’s 80th birthday.

In 1984, the day before Gaye’s 45th birthday, the soul singer was shot and killed by his 71-year old father, Marvin Gaye Sr., a retired minister.

Gaye was shot in an argument with the elder Gaye who was taken into custody on the front lawn of his home shortly after the shooting, and after several hours of questioning was booked.

The singer became involved in a verbal dispute with his father the night before that resumed the next morning. Around noon some pushing and shoving took place in an upstairs hallway. That’s when Gaye’s mother attempted to stop the altercation, and Gaye Sr. armed himself with a five-shot, .38-caliber handgun, came back upstairs and opened fire on his son in the singer’s bedroom.  Marvin Gaye was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Marvin Gaye and his parents
Marvin Gaye and his parents

Marvin Gaye Sr. pleaded no contest to a voluntary manslaughter charge on September 20, 1984. On November 2, 1984, Judge Gordon Ringer sentenced him to a six-year suspended sentence and five years of probation.

Gaye Sr. told the court, “If I could bring him back, I would. I was afraid of him. I thought I was going to get hurt. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I’m really sorry for everything that happened. I loved him. I wish he could step through this door right now. I’m paying the price now.”

Health issues forced him to move to a nursing home. He died of pneumonia on October 10, 1998, nine days after his 84th birthday.

We continue our series of great music from 50 years ago, 1969.

“Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” was Marvin Gaye’s second biggest hit of the 1960s, after “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”. “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby” peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, and remained at the number one position on Billboard’s Black Singles Chart for six consecutive weeks, from the weeks of June 7 until July 12, 1969, with sales totaling 1.5 million copies. The single was the top-selling R&B single of the year, and was the first release from Gaye’s 1969 studio album “M.P.G.”

From the “They Don’t Write Them Like They Used To” file…

Marvin Gaye - Too Busy Thinking About My Baby

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: They needed a few lyrics

This week, another in our series of recordings from 50 years ago, 1969.

Any idea who this band is?

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Members included Rod Prince and Todd Potter on guitars, Roy Cox on bass guitar, and David “Fuzzy” Fore on drums.  Their gimmick was dual lead guitars.

The group’s name was based on a 1932 novel by Alduous Huxley, “Brave New World.” Huxley imagined a utopia that found peace and stability by banning monogamy, privacy, money, and family. He wrote about a fictitious children’s game, Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy.  The above-pictured psychedelic rock band changed the name to “Bubble Puppy.”

Now Bubble Puppy needed a hit and some catchy lyrics.

Our featured oldie was inspired by an unlikely duo:

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Granny (Irene Ryan) and Jethro (Max Baer) from the immensely popular TV series “The Beverly Hillbillies” that aired on CBS from 1962 to 1971. After striking oil on his Arkansas property Jed Clampett moves with his family to ritzy Beverly Hills, California.

While in the stuido Bubble Puppy came up with a composition that still required some work.

“We came home after playing the song, and we needed some words,” recalls Fore. “We were watching The Beverly Hillbillies. Granny was berating Jethro for something, and she goes, ‘Hot smoke and sassafras, Jethro, can’t you do anything right?’ That’s where it came from.”

“Hot Smoke” was released in December 1968 and was immediately embraced by stations Bubble Puppy’s home state of Texas. By the spring of 1969, Bubble Puppy was lip-synching their hit on American Bandstand. The single was being played all over the country, but not in two big cities. “To get airplay in L.A. and New York, you had to pay the guys that controlled those markets,” said Potter. “You had to cut ’em in.”

While practicing in an International Artists recording studio some businessmen stopped in to remind the band of its responsibility “to cut ’em in.”

“It was like a cartoon,” said Fore. “These guys came to our studio in a black limousine wearing black suits, white ties, and black bowlers, right? They came in and they demanded payola for the record or they’d stop it dead in its tracks. International Artists just laughed at them and told them to get out.”

“Hot Smoke and Sasafrass” peaked at #14, the group’s only hit.


In the mist of sassafras

Many things will come to pass
And the smoke shall rise again
To the place above where it beganTime will bring the fire and flame
As surely as it brought the rain
But in the gardens of the moon
Time is held within the silver spoonIf you’re happy where you are
Then you need not look too far
If you’ve found your place at last
Then you need not use the looking glass

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: Humorous history

The job is to make sure a forgotten oldie is never forgotten. That may sound strange, but it’s not.

The Library of Congress this week announced the National Recording Registry class of 2018. It is an annual list of 25 recordings that the library deems worthy of preservation.

“The National Recording Registry honors the music that enriches our souls, the voices that tell our stories and the sounds that mirror our lives” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “The influence of recorded sound over its nearly 160-year history has been profound and technology has increased its reach and significance exponentially. The Library of Congress and its many collaborators are working to preserve these sounds and moments in time, which reflect our past, present and future.”

Stan Freberg was a comic genius who built a successful radio career out of using satire in commercials. His 1961 album “Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America,” a history lesson in songs and sketches, made the Library of Congress’ list. Time magazine said it may have been the “finest comedy album ever recorded.”

This album track might be considered politically incorrect these days which makes it so entertaining. On “Pilgrim’s Progress” Freberg lends his voice to the character of Mayor Pennypacker who starts a goodwill campaign and invites everyone to “Take an Indian to Lunch.”

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Freberg actually flunked history in high school.

Here’s the entire 2018 National Recording Registry:

  1. Yiddish Cylinders from the Standard Phonograph Company of New York and the Thomas Lambert Company (c. 1901-1905)
  2. “Memphis Blues” (single), Victor Military Band (1914)
  3. Melville Jacobs Collection of Native Americans of the American Northwest (1929-1939)
  4. “Minnie the Moocher” (single), Cab Calloway (1931)
  5. “Bach Six Cello Suites” (album), Pablo Casals (c. 1939)
  6. “They Look Like Men of War” (single), Deep River Boys (1941)
  7. “Gunsmoke” — Episode: “The Cabin” (Dec. 27, 1952)
  8. Ruth Draper: Complete recorded monologues, Ruth Draper (1954-1956)
  9. “La Bamba” (single), Ritchie Valens (1958)
  10. “Long Black Veil” (single), Lefty Frizzell (1959)
  11. “Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Vol. 1: The Early Years” (album), Stan Freberg (1961)
  12. “GO” (album), Dexter Gordon (1962)
  13. “War Requiem” (album), Benjamin Britten (1963)
  14. “Mississippi Goddam” (single), Nina Simone (1964)
  15. “Soul Man” (single), Sam & Dave (1967)
  16. “Hair” (original Broadway cast recording) (1968)
  17. Speech on the Death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy (April 4, 1968)
  18. “Sweet Caroline” (single), Neil Diamond (1969)
  19. “Superfly” (album), Curtis Mayfield (1972)
  20. “Ola Belle Reed” (album), Ola Belle Reed (1973)
  21. “September” (single), Earth, Wind & Fire (1978)
  22. “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” (single), Sylvester (1978)
  23. “She’s So Unusual” (album), Cyndi Lauper (1983)
  24. “Schoolhouse Rock!: The Box Set” (1996)
  25. “The Blueprint” (album), Jay-Z (2001)

 

 

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: “When I kiss your lips, ooh I start to shiver, can’t control the quivering inside”

Something different this week. Instead of an intro to the oldie we’re going right to the oldie, with complete explanation later.

Stay with me. It’ll be worth it.

Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders had a #1 hit in 1965 with “The Game of Love.” Fontana, the lead singer of the British band, soon left, but the Mindbenders in 1966 recorded this song that reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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And we have another oldie that has a connection to the Mindbenders hit. It’s the theme song from the 1981 movie “Arthur” starring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli, sung by Christopher Cross.

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The record went to #1 and won the Oscar for “Best Song.”

Now for some clarity.

Have you been able to figure out the connection between the above two songs?  No, it wasn’t a common musician.

The answer is in the lyrics.

They were co-written by the lovely Carole Bayer Sager.

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She’s written a best-selling book.

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Perfect title. Sager has written more than 400 songs. Here’s Sager receiving that Oscar for “Arthur’s Theme.” Also pictured are Burt Bacharach and Bette Midler.

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Last week The Songwriters Hall of Fame announced that Sager has been selected for the Johnny Mercer Award. Please follow along.

The Johnny Mercer Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame, is exclusively reserved for a songwriter or songwriting team who has already been inducted in a prior year, and whose body of work is of such high quality and impact, that it upholds the gold standard set by the legendary Johnny Mercer. Carole Bayer Sager was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987.

Songwriters Hall of Fame Chairman Nile Rodgers said, “If you are going to be the honored recipient of the Johnny Mercer Award you better be one of the greatest lyricists of all time…the incomparable Carole Bayer Sager has been a powerful female voice that has made the world a gentler and more beautiful place.”

Just a few of her songs: “When I Need You,” “That’s What Friends Are For,” “Nobody Does It Better,” “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” and “The Prayer.” Sager has collaborated with (and written for) Peter Allen, Ray Charles, Celine Dion, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Clint Eastwood, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Carole King, Melissa Manchester, Reba McEntire, Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand.

Sager will be honored at the 50th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Dinner on June 13 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.

We close with another of her big successes.

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Last summer Neil Diamond received the Johnny Mercer Award. The singer has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and has canceled live concert performances.