Friday, October 11, 2019

Oct. 5, 2019 - JS & GJ - Whose Riff Is It Anyway??!?

Rockin' Remnants

Rockin' Remnants is broadcast from WVBR-FM Ithaca. Check out our webpage, like us on Facebook, and tune in to 93.5 or stream the show every Saturday night from 6-9pm! (Or download the WVBR+ app now available for iOS and Android!)

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Date:  10/5/19
Host:  John Simon & Gregory James
Feature:  Sound-Alike Records

Tonight you get the tag-team of JS & GJ, spinning tunes that seem to have "borrowed" from earlier records (and  -  in some cases  -  were clearly stolen). Several of these were litigated in court, and writer credits were modified to acknowledge the original creators. Some of them slid by. In any case, you're about to go down a very interesting rabbit hole this evening!



·      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
·      a glossary of terms is below the playlist


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

He's So Fine - Chiffons (3/63; #1 - we'll start with the most notorious plagiarism case of the 20th century, when George Harrison was accused of lifting the melody of his biggest hit directly from this Girl Group classic written by a then-deceased Ronnie Mack. The jury of public opinion remains divided, but these are both great singles in their own right.)

Image result for He's So Fine - Chiffons Image result for My Sweet Lord

My Sweet Lord - George Harrison (1/71; #1 for four weeks - this was the first single by a former Beatle to top the charts. It was also the biggest-selling single of 1971 in the UK. It also, of course, was found by a United States District Court judge to have been "subconsciously" plagiarized by George, who had to turn royalty payments over to Ronnie Mack's publishing company.)

Image result for my sweet lord - george harrison

Surfin' USA - Beach Boys (3/63; #3 - When the single was released in 1963, the record only listed Brian Wilson as the composer although the song was published by Chuck Berry's publisher Arc Music. Later releases of the record, beginning in 1966, listed Chuck Berry as the songwriter. Under pressure from Arc Music, Murray Wilson, Brian's father and manager, had given the copyright, including The Beach Boys’ lyrics, to Arc Music prior to the release of the single. The "Surfin U.S.A." incident was one of the first major plagiarism scuffles in rock history.

Image result for Surfin' USA

Sweet Little Sixteen - Chuck Berry (2/58; #3 - Here's the original song in question. Willie Dixon plays bass on it and Lafayette Leake plays the piano!)

Image result for Chuck Berry

Lies - Knickerbockers (12/65; #20 - if it's possible to sue for "imitation," these kids from Bergenfield, NJ would be doing hard time. This is one of the greatest Beatles songs that wasn't a Beatles song in the history of Western music!)

In My Lonely Room - Martha & The Vandellas (4/64; #44 - opening jangly guitar strum, signature drum hit followed by handclaps and horns and a sunny Motown melody....)

Image result for In My Lonely Room - Martha & The Vandellas

The 81 - Candy & The Kisses (11/64; #51 - opening jangly guitar strum, signature drum hit followed by handclaps and horns and...the SAME sunny Motown-style melody! We still don't understand how this blatant act of piracy went unchallenged!)

Hang On Sloopy - McCoys (8/65; #1 - The lead singer was a 16 year old Rick Derringer. It is the official state rock song of Ohio and is played at every Ohio State football game by the marching band. The chord progression sounds exactly like the one from another #1 record from earlier in the same year.)

Image result for Hang On Sloopy - McCoys

The Game of Love - Wayne Fontana & Mindbenders (4/65; #1 - Fontana left the Mindbenders in the middle of a concert in 1965. He subsequently went on to perform with other musicians, and he has had quite a history of run-ins with British bobbies and bailiffs. The track includes a Bo Diddley percussion passage, too.)

Let's Live for Today - Grass Roots (5/67; #8 - this was apparently adapted from an Italian Pop record called Piangi Con Me from a year earlier, but it sounds eerily close in melody to an American Drifters' hit from several years earlier. Here it comes....)

Image result for Let's Live for Today - Grass Roots

I Count the Tears - Drifters (1/61; #17 Pop, #6 R&B - "Na-na-na-na, late at night" is the exact same melody as "Sha-la-la-let's live for today...." In the earlier case, Ben E. King delivers the goods. Both of them are great records.)

45 Corner:  Summertime - Ricky Nelson (3/62; #89 - this was found on the B-side of Young World, but it sounds a whole lot edgier than one might imagine all these years later. Speculation is that future Wrecking Crew member Joe Osborn is playing bass on here. This riff would later resurface on records by Deep Purple, Blues Magoos and others.)

Image result for Rick Nelson Summertime

(We Ain't) Got Nothin' Yet - Blues Magoos (12/66; #5 - this blistering psychedelic garage band record appears to have borrowed directly from Teen Idol Ricky Nelson. Whoa!)

Image result for (We Ain't) Got Nothin' Yet - Blues Magoos

Hello I Love You - Doors (8/68; #1 - This recording by the Doors was promoted as the first rock 45 rpm record in stereo. Robby Krieger has denied the allegations that the song's musical structure was stolen from The Kinks All Day and All of the Night. Krieger said the song's vibe was taken instead from Sunshine of Your Love. UK courts determined in favor of Ray Davies and any royalties for Hello I Love You are paid to him.)

All Day and All of the Night - Kinks (12/64; #7 - Hear it with your own ears and YOU decide!)



 Birthday Calendar

September 29 – Jerry Lee Lewis – age 84
            – Mark Farner (Grand Funk) – age 71

September 30 – Johnny Mathis – age 84
            – Cissy Houston (Sweet Inspirations) – age 86
            – Marilyn McCoo (Fifth Dimension) – age 74

October 3 – Chubby Checker – age 77

When Sunny Gets Blue - Johnny Mathis (9/57; dnc - this album track appeared on Johnny Mathis' Greatest Hits, which appears to have been the first "Greatest Hits" LP ever released as such.)
Image result for Johnny Mathis Greatest Hits

Unchained Melody - Sweet Inspirations (9/68; #73 Pop, #41 R&B - Cissy Houston and her group sang background on dozens of big hits and went on to release a number of singles under their own name on the Atlantic Records label. This stunning example is just one of many to grace the charts.)
Image result for Unchained Melody - Sweet Inspirations

Wedding Bell Blues - Fifth Dimension (11/69; #1 for three weeks - the group charted with at least four Laura Nyro compositions over a three-year period, and this was the most successful of them all. Marilyn McCoo sang it to her future husband Billy Davis on stage and it became true!)

Pony Time - Chubby Checker (1/61; #1 for three weeks - Chubby Checker charted 38 Pop hits in his career and 21 of them were dance records. Often overshadowed by The Twist, this gem deserves to be heard tonight. Boogity-Boogity-Shoop!)
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Drinkin' Wine (Spo Dee O'Dee) - Jerry Lee Lewis (4/73; #41 Pop, #20 C&W - Jerry Lee was one of the original Rockabilly pioneers unleashed on the world by Sun Records. His career took a serious hit when it was revealed that he'd married his 14-year old cousin, but he had a strong comeback  -  especially on the C&W charts  -  in the Seventies.)

Bad Time - Grand Funk (4/75; #4 - the critics hated them, but young white males bought millions of their records and they eventually had their greatest chart success with Todd Rundgren in the producer's seat. This Mark Farner number was their final big hit.)

Spotlight on P.F. Sloan

P.F. "Flip" Sloan was a singer, songwriter, session guitarist and record producer who was born and raised in NYC. After migrating to Southern California, he and his songwriting partner Steve Barri were behind a remarkable string of great records and recording projects. Tonight we'll zoom in a little bit closer on the man behind the music.

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Tell 'Em I'm Surfin' - Fantastic Baggys (8/63; #99 - these East Coast boys saw that there was gold to be made in the Surf Music craze unleashed by the Beach Boys. This was the closest they had to a hit single on their own, but they were poised to make their mark....)
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Little Old Lady From Pasadena - Jan & Dean (6/64; #31 - Label owner Lou Adler had hired Sloan and Barri as back-up singers and studio players, and Jan Berry tapped PF Sloan to sing the lead falsetto on this big hit in lieu of Dean Torrence. In essence, this was a "Jan & Flip" record!)

Secret Agent Man - Johnny Rivers (3/66; #3 - many a young guitar player cites this opening guitar lick as their first musical triumph. Few knew that it was PF Sloan who created it and played it on this giant smash record!)
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You Baby - Turtles (2/66; #20 - in addition to writing hit songs for the Grass Roots and Herman's Hermits - not to mention Barry Maguire's Eve of Destruction - Sloan-Barri wrote a string of great songs for The Turtles. This may have been the best.)
 Image result for You Baby - Turtles

California Dreamin' - Mamas & Papas (1/66; #4 - PF Sloan was one of Dunhill Records' chief creative forces. It is actually him playing the signature opening guitar lick on this classic ground-breaking record.)

Take Me for What I'm Worth - Searchers (1/66; #76 - one of their specialties was writing songs of teen rebellion and frustration. This one is dripping with angst and resentment.)

Image result for Take Me for What I'm Worth - Searchers

Autumn - The Thomas Group (6/66; dnc - tapping into the success of Jerry Lewis' son Gary or Dean Martin's and Desi Arnaz' sons Dino and Desi, PF Sloan was charged with production duties with Danny Thomas' son Tony's band. In addition to production, PF Sloan played the jangly guitar riff and sang the falsetto line that elevates this shoulda-been-a-hit single into the stratosphere.)
 Image result for Autumn - The Thomas Group

PF Sloan - Association (2/71; dnc - this Jim Webb composition should have immortalized one of the true unsung heroes of the Southern California music scene. Instead, the record faltered  -  and the members of The Association apparently didn't even realize that "PF Sloan" was a real person. He found this out when he met some of them at a Hollywood party and they laughed when he told them his name.)


* Pretty Ballerina - Left Banke (1/67; #15 - not a soundalike, per se  -  but they pioneered their own genre of "Classical Rock," and scored three charting singles writing about a girl named Renee Fladen. This goes out to both Debbie and Betsy.)

I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better - Byrds (6/65; #103 - B-side of All I Really Want to Do, but Columbia promoted the track extensively and it eventually bubbled under at #103. It ranks at #234 on the RS 500 Greatest Songs. Composer and lead singer Gene Clark admitted that the opening riff was taken from Needles and Pins.)
 Image result for I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better - Byrds

Needles & Pins - Searchers (3/64; #13 - The intro is performed by two 6 string guitars played by John McNally and Mike Pender that sound like a 12 string, inspiring the terms “ringing,” “chiming” or “jangly guitars.”)

My Baby Don't Care - The Gants (9/65; dnc - this was the B-side of the Mississippi college band's lone charting single Road Runner. They were HUGE Beatles fans and this song borrows from Ticket To Ride on multiple levels. Not a's an homage!)
Image result for My Baby Don't Care - The Gants

Give Me One More Chance - Wilmer & The Dukes (7/68; #80 - these guys hailed from the Geneva, NY area, and brazenly borrowed the "Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa's" from Otis Redding  -  but, again, it was more "homage" than "pillage.")
 Image result for Wilmer & The Dukes

Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) - Otis Redding (10/66; #29 Pop, #12 R&B - Otis playfully leads a call-and-response routine with the Memphis Horns on this tasty nugget from the Fall of 1966.)
 Image result for Otis Redding

Rock Around the Clock - Bill Haley & Comets (5/55; #1 - The April 12, 1954 Decca recording session almost failed to take place because the band was traveling on a ferry that got stuck on a sand bar en route to New York from Philadelphia. Danny Cedrone plays the iconic guitar solo. Many historians cite this as the first "Rock 'n' Roll record.")

Move It On Over - Hank Williams (6/47; #4 C&W - Move It on Over was Williams' first Billboard  hit, and generated the first serious money the singer had ever seen in his life. Don Helms on pedal steel guitar.)
 Image result for Move It On Over - Hank Williams

Everglades - Kingston Trio (10/60; #60 - this playfully borrowed the opening guitar figure from the Everly Brothers, and they winkingly reference that point near the end of the song with "running through the trees with the Everlys!")

Bird Dog - Everly Brothers (8/58; #1 - and here is the lick in question. See what they did there???)

45 Corner:  Mama McCluskie - Norro Wilson (4/68; #145 - this guy was more successful as a songwriter than as a recording artist, and would later recycle the "hook" of this song into a big #1 hit for Charlie Rich. Here it comes....)
Image result for Mama McCluskie - Norro Wilson

The Most Beautiful Girl - Charlie Rich (12/73; #1 Pop and C&W for three weeks - "Tell her I'm sorry, tell her I NEED my baby...." That was the catchiest part of Mama McCluskie, and was at the heart of this records success.)
Image result for The Most Beautiful Girl - Charlie Rich

Time of the Season - Zombies (2/69; #3 - Rod Argent acknowledged that the bass line of the Zombies song does echo Stand by Me, but he said “It was just a simple blues phrase, using the blue note leading up to the key note, and that’s all I thought really.”)

Stand By Me - Ben E. King (5/61; #4 - Inspired by an earlier spiritual recorded by the Soul Stirrers, King’s version was written with Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller who wrote the bass line played by Lloyd Trotman.)

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

Glossary of Terms:
dnc = did not chart
nr = not released as a single at the time
AC = Billboard’s chart for “Adult Contemporary” records
BB = Billboard Magazine, which publishes the Hot 100 chart (previously known as the Top 100), along with several other charts
Bubbling Under = songs that were ranked but fell below the top 100
C&W = Billboard’s chart for “Country & Western” records
R&B = Billboard’s chart for “Rhythm & Blues” records
RRHOF = Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
RS500 = Rolling Stone Magazine’s ranked list of the top 500 singles of all-time

Host Next Week (10/12/19):  Jan Hunsinger with a spotlight on Girls' Names, Part II

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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