Wednesday, December 9, 2015

12/5/15 - JS - JS Plays Favorites

Rockin' Remnants

Rockin' Remnants is broadcast from WVBR-FM Ithaca. Check out our
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Date:  December 5, 2015
Host:  John Simon
Feature:  John's Favorites


It's Saturday night - the first one since my birthday last week and time for my annual Birthday Show on Rockin' Remnants - WVBR. Tonight's show will be totally narcissistic: three hours of personal favorites from the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies. Come take a trip into the tortured psyche of a kid who split his formative years between the northern edge of Harlem and the back roads of the northern Adirondacks. 6-9 p.m. on


Birthday Calendar

November 29 – Denny Doherty (Mamas & Papas) – born in 1941
            – Felix Cavliere (Young Rascals) – age 73

November 30 – Rob Grill (Grass Roots) – born in 1943

December 1 – Lou Rawls – born in1935
            – Gilbert O'Sullivan – age 69

December 3 – Andy Williams – Born in 1927

December 4 – Chris Hillman (The Byrds) – age 71
                    – Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys) – born in 1944

December 5 – Little Richard – age 83
                    – Jim Messina – age 67



[songs in bold are from the spotlight date of DATE; yellow song titles are YouTube links; songs with * were requests; all chart information comes from the Billboard Top 100 (for chart dates before/during July 1958) or Billboard Hot 100 (for chart dates during/after Aug 1958) unless otherwise noted]


OPENING THEME:  Good Old Rock ‘n’ Roll – Cat Mother & the All-Night Newsboys (1969, #29, produced by Jimi Hendrix)

Venus - Frankie Avalon (3/59; #1 for three weeks - one of the first songs I remember floating through the airwaves when I was a little kid, and one that still makes my ears perk up and makes me smile. A dumb lyric but a great record!)

This I Swear - The Skyliners (6/59; #26 - Pittsburgh's soulful Skyliners were white, had a girl as an equal partner in the band, and made at least two sublime records. This one has been cited by Smokey Robinson as a personal favorite. Me, too.)

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The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Tokens (12/61; #1 for three weeks - I can't remember if I heard this version or the Weavers' version first, but this another unshakable ear worm that I continue to sing in schools wherever I go with a guitar and a sing-along audience.)

Tell Me Why - The Beatles (1964 - this one was never released as a single, and was in the soundtrack to A Hard Day's Night. also appeared on the Capitol Records LP Something New, which was the first Beatles record we owned. That's the version I'm playing tonight - dripping with reverb and Capitol Records' compression, made to explode through your speakers!)

The End (Of The Rainbow) - Earl Grant (9/58; #7 - featuring a rare vocal performance by the Jazz keyboardist, this is one that I'd long-ago forgotten until I heard it one night on a camping trip through my little transistor radio. They never back-announced it and it took me years to track it down, but it's become an all-time favorite.)

* Johnny Angel - Shelley Fabares (4/62; #1 for two weeks - this came in as a dedication "to the birthday boy" from a listener who calls it in every year. Shelley Fabares was a television actress who was very timid about singing, and whose vocal was cobbled together from umpteen takes [this was before auto-tuning was a possibility]. The success of this record led to several subsequent recordings, but none ever matched the success of her debut record.)

School Day - Chuck Berry (11/57; #3 Pop, #1 R&B for five weeks - Heather Dunbar was sitting in the studio with me working on the weather report when this came on, and she named-that-tune after the first three notes. It's just that kinda tune!)

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Jamaica Farewell - Harry Belafonte (10/56; #14 - one of the first "folk songs" I remember singing with my family as a kid. This single spent a whopping 26 weeks on the chart. That's HALF A YEAR, people!)

Where Have All The Flowers Gone - Kingston Trio (1/62; #21 - Pete Seeger wrote this one and several artists recorded it, but this was my favorite version as a kid. We played the Best Of The Kingston Trio LP until the grooves wore out.)

A Fork In The Road - The Miracles (7/65; dnc - as I said on the air, one of the best sure-fire bargains you could get back in the day was a Smokey Robinson single, because both sides were sure to be terrific. This was on the b-side of Tracks Of My Tears, and I still can't decide which one I like better.)

Ask The Lonely - Four Tops (2/65; #24 Pop, #9 R&B - I first knew this one as an album track from The Four Tops' Greatest Hits. It's one of Levi Stubbs' most powerful and plaintive vocals. Amen!)

45 Corner:  The Blackboard Of My Heart - Hank Thompson (3/56; #4 C&W - we spent our summers living in the sleepy hills of the northern Adirondacks and our country neighbors Jimmy & Shirley Smith used to sing this one at our regular Saturday night sings. My brother & I used to quietly make fun of it, but years later we found ourselves in the recording studio and cut a pretty tasty version. This is the original.)

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The End Of The World - Skeeter Davis (1/63; #1 AC, #2 Pop, #2 C&W, #4 R&B - no other record charted as high on the four major charts at one time, leading Billboard to rank this as "the most successful cross-over record of all-time.")

* A Change Is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke (1/65; #31 Pop, #9 R&B - this was released weeks after Sam Cooke was shot dead in the lobby of a cheap LA motel. Thousands of people turned out for his funeral, and I still remember hearing my next door neighbor Mrs. Carloss sobbing through the apartment wall while she'd blast Sam Cooke records on a drunken Saturday night.)


California Dreamin' - Mamas & Papas (1/66; #4 - their debut single featured the rich voice of Denny Doherty. My brothers and sister & I still sing this one at family gatherings, just like we did with our friends as stoned-out teenagers.)

Dead End Street - Lou Rawls (3/67; #29 Pop, #3 R&B - my first Lou Rawls single, and still one of my favorites. The record comes with a track divider for those who want to skip the monologue, but I think you can't have one without the other....)

Lonely Too Long - Young Rascals (2/67; #16 - as a lonely and confused white kid in a mostly-black neighborhood, I was really drawn to the concept of "blue-eyed soul" bands. These guys were among the best  -  and this was one of Felix' most soulful performances.)

Midnight Confessions - Grass Roots (10/68; #5 - this record signaled the band's transition from Folk Rock to Soulful Pop group  -  and soon they'd shed the "soulful" aspect. While Rob Grill & Co. were proficient players, their producers turned studio chores over to the best players they could find: LA's "Wrecking Crew." Bass player Carol Kaye is responsible for the signature bass line. Oh, Carol!)

Almost There - Andy Williams (11/64; #67 - this was tucked on the b-side of On The Street Where You Live from "My Fair Lady." Andy Williams had a stunning vocal range  -  rich low notes and a warm and clear tenor come though on this long-lost gem.)

Clair - Gilbert O'Sullivan (10/72; #2 for two weeks - a playful ode to his young niece. I love the little kid's laugh at the end of the record.)

* Send Me Some Lovin' - Little Richard (4/57; #54 Pop, #3 R&B - this one was tucked away on the b-side of his rip-roarin' Lucille. I got a request for "something good" for Mary Anne's husband Augie's birthday, and a request for "something Blues-ey" from Joe-the-Cabbie. Here I kill three birds with one stone. Happy birthday today, Mr. Penniman.)

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Oh No, Not My Baby - Maxine Brown (10/64; #24 - this Carole King composition goes out  -  as so many do  -  to my sweetheart. I love this record!)

Since You Showed Me How To Be Happy - Jackie Wilson (11/67; #32 Pop, #22 R&B - the follow-up to his R&B #1 Higher & Higher is a great record that deserved to do better. It features the same uncredited Motown players who made the former record a smash. Maybe it just needed that infectious refrain....)

You Didn't Have To Be So Nice - Lovin' Spoonful (11/65; #10 - this was their second of seven consecutive Top Ten singles, all from the pen of John Sebastian. Tonight we hear the mono single, which is so much stronger than the wimpy stereo versions found on all CD copies.)

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Hungry - Paul Revere & The Raiders (6/66; #6 - I used to run home after school to watch these guys on Where The Action Is. Then my brother gave me this record for my birthday  -  in a picture sleeve, no less. Watch this video clip to see their wild stage show in its prime! Click here.)

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45 Corner:  Eight Miles High - The Byrds (4/66; #14 - the version we all know was actually a re-recording of this song that was recorded at RCA's LA studio on 12/22/65. You can read all about it on the record sleeve below  -  from a record released by Sundazed Records two years ago for Record Store Day. This is a true Rockin' Remnants exclusive!)

No Milk Today - Herman's Hermits (2/67; #35 - this was released as the b-side of There's A Kind Of Hush here in the States, but had been released as a stand-alone single in the UK [8/66; #7]. Tonight we hear it in stunning stereo from the Bear Family 2-disc singles box.)

Susan - Buckinghams (12/67; #11 - one of my Top Ten all-time personal favorite records, this version is from a brand-new collection on the Varese Sarabande label. This is the first CD version to successfully reproduce the radio station edit that played back in the late Sixties. In stunning stereo, too!)


Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell (11/68; #3 Pop, #1 C&W - one of Jim Webb's most shining moments as a songwriter, and one of Glen Campbell's finest as a recording artist. The opening bass line is played by Carol Kaye. The iconic guitar solo was played by Glen himself, using Carol Kaye's borrowed DanElectro six-string bass.)

You're My Everything - Temptations (7/67; #6 Pop, #3 R&B - a rare shared lead vocal by the band's Eddie Kendrick and David Ruffin. This was one of a string of nearly-perfect singles by the band, but all good things must end. The songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland was about to leave the Motown family, and the band was about to fire David Ruffin.)

I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - Madeline Bell (2/68; #26 - her only charting hit as a featured performer, although her voice was on many hit records as a back-up singer, especially for Dusty Springfield. Dusty repaid the favor on this one: you can hear her voice on the choruses.)

Image result for Madeline Bell I'm Gonna images  Image result for Madeline Bell I'm Gonna images

Only The Strong Survive - Jerry Butler (3/69; #4Pop, #1 R&B - this one and the previous one were written by Philadelphia's Gamble and Huff. The players on this one were none other than MFSB, the crack studio band that played on all of the Gamble & Huff hits.)

Don't You Write Her Off - McGuinn, Clark & Hillman (3/79; #33 - three original members of The Byrds reunited for a one-off LP, and this was the single that Capitol Records picked.)

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Your Mama Don't Dance - Loggins & Messina (11/72; #4 - Jim Messina had been a founding member of Buffalo Springfield and of Poco. He was simply going to produce Kenny Loggins' record, but the chemistry was undeniable and they formed this very successful duo. This was their biggest hit.)

Your Song - Elton John (11/70; #8 - no one knew that this single on the Uni Records label would be the beginning of one of the greatest string of hits of the next two decades. Elton John had arrived.)

Suavecito - Malo (3/72; #18 - this would be the only charting single for the Chicano band featuring Carlos Santana's brother Jorge.)

Give a Damn - Spanky & Our Gang (8/68; #43 - this one began as a PSA for NYC Mayor John V. Lindsay's collaboration with the Urban Coalition. Just like The Youngblood's Get Together, it became a full-blown song and radio hit.)

Image result for John V. Lindsay Give A Damn images   Image result for Spanky Give A Damn images  Image result for Spanky Give A Damn images

45 Corner:  Ariel - Dean Friedman (4/77; #26 - released as a single on Cashman & West's Lifesong Records label, this 45 version edits out the line that says "she was a Jewish girl, I fell in love with her" and replaces it with "her name was Ariel, I fell in love with her...." Still, it's got a killer chorus, a fun story line and a classic saxophone solo. A great record!)

Landslide - Fleetwood Mac (11/75 - this was an album track that wasn't released as a single, but it's a very well-crafted record with multiple layers of guitar and the beautiful singing of young Stevie Nicks. I first "fell in love" with the girl on the left. I thought her name must be Lindsey Buckingham. Oops! I love this song.)

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I'm Looking Through You - Beatles (12/65 - this weekend marks the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles' Rubber Soul LP. The UK version had fourteen tracks, while the US version had only twelve, and two of them were taken from the Help! album. This particular track has a double false-start, which is also unique to the American version.)

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CLOSING THEME:  Sleepwalk – Santo & Johnny (1959, #1 for two weeks)


Host Next Week (12/12/15):  John Simon with a spotlight on December 1967

Thanks for tuning in! You can listen to Rockin' Remnants every Saturday night from 6-9pm on WVBR (93.5 FM in Ithaca, NY) or at

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