Monday, February 3, 2020

February 1, 2020 - JS - Spoken Word Interludes

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:  2/1/20
Host:  John Simon
Feature:  Spoken Word Interludes

Back on the radio tonight (my first RR show since Dec. 21st!) with a spotlight on spoken-word interludes in Oldies: monologues, recitations, declarations, emotional asides, studio talk....R&B, C&W, R'n'R, Folk Rock, Novelty records, a little Foreign Language segment and more. See you on the radio from 6-9pm, and it won't cost you a dime! 😉




·      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)

Dead End Street - Lou Rawls (3/67; #29 Pop, #3 R&B - the first 1:27 is a spoken monologue, and the rest is 2:10 worth of song. Capitol Records even demarcated the break with a special groove in the record for those who wanted to cut straight to the chase!
Image result for lou rawls dead end street"

The End of the World - Skeeter Davis (1/63; #2 - Skeeter's singing partner had died in a car crash several years before, and many think that her lingering pain is what makes this record so affecting. When she speaks part of the lyric late in the song, the listener feels it too.)

I Can Take or Leave Your Loving - Herman's Hermits (1/68; #22 - this was their final Top 40 single, and it's poignant that Peter Noone's final words are spoken and not sung. His final word in the record? "Bye.")
Image result for I Can Take or Leave Your Loving - Herman's Hermits"

(You're My) Soul & Inspiration - Righteous Brothers (4/66; #1 for three weeks - this record was produced by Righteous Brother Bill Medley [left] after a contentious split with Phil Spector. The irony is that Bill used Spector's signature "Wall-of-Sound" production to deliver the goods. Tucked into the huge sound is a declaration of undying love spoken by tenor Bobby Hatfield [right].)
Image result for (You're My) Soul & Inspiration - Righteous Brothers"

Pata Pata - Miriam Makeba (10/67; #12 - this infectious party record just gets better when Ms. Makeba breaks "the fourth wall" to talk about the significance of the pata-pata dance in her South African homeland. Her final squeal of glee is magnificent!)

* The Letter - The Medallions (1954 - this non-charting single from the Dootone label features a sincere recitation by singer Vernon Green that contains the words "pismatology" and "pompatous!" Thanks to listener Tom Preston for the request!)

Little Darlin' - The Diamonds (3/57; #2 - competing versions of this song were released by the Diamonds of Canada and Maurice Williams' Gladiolas. The Diamonds won the chart race, maybe because they were white and on the bigger record label, but they certainly owed it all to the Gladiolas - right down to the completely appropriated spoken interlude, coming up just short of being a "blackface" routine....)

The Diamonds 1957.JPG  Image result for the gladiolas singing group

Love Is Here and Now You're Gone - The Supremes (3/67; #1 - James Jamerson plays his stand-up bass on this one and Diana Ross gets to insert some breathy spoken asides throughout the 3-minute record. Very cool!)

Image result for Love Is Here and Now You're Gone - The Supremes"

* Green Green Grass of Home - Tom Jones (1/67; #11 Pop, #1 UK for seven weeks! - my buddy JR suggested three records for this show, and this was the first of them. The song paints a pastoral picture of a happy homecoming, until we hear the spoken interlude by a man waking from a dream to find that he IS on death row, and that today is the day that he takes his final steps....)

Have You Seen Her - Chi-Lites (10/71; #3 Pop, #1 R&B - this is the record that I used to explain my theme to friends and associates: a 50/50 blend of spoken word and singing. Lead singer Eugene Record had mastered the technique. Sob on!)

Image result for Have You Seen Her - Chi-Lites"

Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye) - 4 Seasons (1/65; #12 - lead singer Frankie Valli utters thirteen words before he starts to sing, but they're enough to set the stage perfectly for this break-up song. You can hear them in this lip-synced version filmed in front of a ski lift!)

Wild Thing - Sen. Bobby (1/67; #20 - hot on the heels of the disappointingly partisan impeachment hearings that ended yesterday, here's a throwback to bipartisanship! The A-side was "Senator Bobby's" version and the B-side was "Senator Everett McKinley's" version of the same song. In true life they were the "Hardly Worthit Players" on the Cameo-Parkway Records label. Check out this live performance on national TV - emceed by Kate Smith!)

Where Does Love Go? - Charles Boyer (8/65; #144 - this record may have not sold a whole lot of copies, but its pedigree was impeccable: arranged by label-owner Perry Botkin and written by the same guys who would later write "Never My Love" for The Association, it somehow ended up in Elvis Presley's hands, and allegedly became one of "The King's" favorite records of all time!)

Image result for Where Does Love Go? - Charles Boyer"

I Wish I Could Speak French - Alvin & The Chipmunks (3/62; dnc - this was the b-side of The Chipmunks' "Alvin's Twist," which reached #40 on the Pop chart. The B-side is one of my favorites of all time: a sweet and clumsy attempt at multi-lingual flirtation that has a happy ending.)

Raspberries, Strawberries - Kingston Trio (1/59; #70 - this was the follow-up single to their big #1 Tom Dooley, but it largely fell on deaf ears. Lead singer Bob Shane [left] sadly passed away last Sunday in a hospice facility in Arizona, making this a particularly poignant slice of vinyl tonight.)

Image result for Raspberries, Strawberries - Kingston Trio"


 Birthday Calendar

Jan 29 – James Jamerson (Funk Bros.) – born in 1934

February 1 – Bob Shane (Kingston Trio) – born in 1934
            – Don Everly (Everly Bros) – age NUMBER

This Tuesday will be the night we've been talking about for weeks: Rockin' Remnants teams with Cinemapolis to bring you Standing in the Shadows of Motown, the story of the session players behind all of the Detroit labels' big hits. The Funk Brothers' best secret weapon was bass player James Jamerson. Tonight listen for his shimmering bass lines, all played with one finger (known as "the hook"). We hope to see you Tuesday!

Image may contain: one or more people and text

Baby Baby Don't Cry - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (1/69; #8 Pop, #3 R&B - James Jamerson's bass and Marvin Tarplin's guitar back Smokey up as he comforts a woman with a broken heart, half-spoken, half crooned. One of my all-time favorite records.)

Image result for James Jamerson  Image result for Marv Tarplin

* Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Diana Ross (8/70; #1 Pop and R&B for three weeks - Berry Gordy reportedly hated the spoken-word elements of this album track and insisted that they be edited out for the single version. Still, the LP version is a thing of majesty and beauty, underpinned by James Jamerson's magical bass lines. Listen to them revealed here!)

Image result for diana ross ain't no mountain high enough album"

Ebony Eyes - Everly Brothers (1/61; #8 - The flip side of this record was Walk Right Back, which is the better of the two sides, and which charted higher  -  but this side has Don Everly's spoken narration, and it's pretty amazing.)

Bad Man Blunder - Kingston Trio (6/60; #37 - these guys alternated between sweetly harmonic Folk ballads and zany comedy numbers. This is one of the latter, and we celebrate group founder Bob Shane on the week that he died, just days shy of his 86th birthday.)

Image result for Bad Man Blunder - Kingston Trio"
Image result for Bad Man Blunder - Kingston Trio"

* I Want You Back - Jackson 5 (1/70; #1 - their debut single rocketed to #1, as did their next three - but this batch of players didn't include many of the original Funk Brothers, who'd stayed behind in Detroit when the operation moved to LA. It also turns out that there's no "spoken-word" going on in this record, so the theme got co-opted! Whoops!)

* Hot Rod Lincoln - Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen (3/72; #9 - this one, however, is nothin' BUT "spoken word!" The caller says it was the first LP he ever went out and bought. Here's what the cover may well have looked like. Is that right, Dave?)

Image result for Hot Rod Lincoln - Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen"

Are You Lonesome Tonight - Elvis Presley (11/60; #1 for six weeks - everything Elvis touched in those first ten years turned to gold, and this one has one of his most famous spoken soliloquies of them all. The Jordanaires are just the icing on the cake!)

Image result for Are You Lonesome Tonight - Elvis Presley 45"

I Love How You Love Me - Paris Sisters (9/61; #5 - I love how she speaks her lines for emphasis. Sigh.)

* Sky Pilot, Pt. I - Eric Burdon & The Animals (6/68; #14 - one of a plethora of anti-War records that were starting to proliferate by 1968, this one really takes off on Pt. II with the sounds of bombs and battle and bagpipes, but that's a 7:29 time commitment and we've got a lot more fish to fry tonight....)

Next Plane to London - Rose Garden (10/67; #17 - this is a true "one-hit wonder" in that they only ever charted with this one single. It opens with an airport announcement, followed by a couple of updates. They don't make 'em like this anymore!)

Image result for Next Plane to London - Rose Garden"

San Franciscan Nights - Eric Burdon & The Animals (8/67; #9 - Eric Burdon was born in rough-and-tumble coal country in the UK, and fell in love with the free-love vibes of northern California when he played the Monterey Pop Festival in early June of '67. His next couple of records were "love letters' to the region.)

Image result for San Franciscan Nights - Eric Burdon & The Animals"

* Atlantis - Donovan (4/69; #7 - this was actually the b-side of To Susan on the West Coast Waiting - another anti-war song - but programmers and listeners were more drawn to this trippy epistle. The first 1:48 is devoted to a spoken introduction, followed by three+ minutes of rising mayhem paying tribute to the lost continent.)

Court of Love - Unifics (9/68; #25 Pop, #3 R&B - this vocal quartet was formed at Washington DC's Howard University and this was their first  -  and most successful  -  single. The bailiff and the jury's Forewoman do the speaking, while the plaintiff pleads his case through song.)

Image result for Court of Love - Unifics"


My Baby Must Be a Magician - Marvelettes (12/67; #17 Pop, #8 R&B - again, the Funk Brothers carry the day here after a spoken introduction from The Temptations' Melvin Franklin. Marv Tarplin plays the guitar.)

* Proud Mary - Ike & Tina Turner (2/71; #4 - two people requested this one, which opens with a sultry introduction by Tina explaining that they start "nice," but they never REALLY "do anything nice." Strap on your seatbelts, because they're about to blast off.)

Image result for Proud Mary - Ike & Tina Turner"

* Hey Leroy (Your Mama's Calling You) - Jimmy Castor Bunch (12/66; #31 Pop, #16 R&B - here's a little bit of Latin Soul for you from the guy who would return a few years later with Troglodyte and Bertha Butt's Boogie. My brother Doug called this one in!)

Angel - Aretha Franklin (7/73; #20 Pop, #1 R&B for two weeks - Aretha opens with a bit of background on how her sister wrote this one for her, and then proceeds to sing one of her most beautiful songs. The 45 managed to cut off both the spoken intro AND the climactic ending so that they could shave off one minute from the LP version. Meanwhile, see what the Billboard reviewer had to say....)Image result for Angel - Aretha Franklin"
Image result for Angel - Aretha Franklin

* Leader of the Pack - Shangri-Las (11/64; #1 - producer Shadow Morton knew how to tug the heart strings, and he knew that these girls' Queens accents would appeal to teen record buyers. This goes out to Barbara in Danby, who just can't get enough of this one! 😉)

Inside of You - Ray, Goodman & Brown (5/80; #76 R&B - this one opens with the guys giving each other a pep talk about how good this song is going to sound. The very next song on the LP - Special Lady, released a few months earlier  -  reached #5 Pop and #1 R&B.)

Image result for Ray, Goodman & Brown"

Everybody Plays the Fool - Main Ingredient (7/72; #3, #1 on Cashbox - these guys were from Harlem, and opened most of their singles with a spoken come-on. One of my elementary school buddies played bass with them before they hit it big.)

* Polk Salad Annie - Tony Joe White (7/69; #8 - this is another one suggested by my buddy JR. Tony Joe White had a distinctive sound, and he certainly put "polk salad" on the map!)

Image result for Polk Salad Annie - Tony Joe White"

Are You Lonesome Tonight (live) - Elvis Presley (ca. 1973; dnc - by 1973, Elvis must have done this song "live" about 3,000 times. After a while, he started to just play with the lyrics to amuse himself. "Do you stare at your doorstep and wish I were there" became "Do you stare at your bald head and wish you had hair?" This is simply classic, even though the video doesn't match the audio!)

I Can't Stop Dancing - Archie Bell & The Drells (7/68; #9 - this was the follow-up to their out-of-left-field smash "Tighten Up." Unfortunately, Archie had been drafted and sent to Vietnam, so he wasn't able to tour much. This was written by Gamble & Huff and produced by Thom Bell, where it's all music until near the end when he can no longer sit still eating his hamburger and drinking his malt. He had to dance!)

Image result for I Can't Stop Dancin' - Archie Bell & The Drells"

Lil' Red Riding Hood - Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs (6/66; #2 for two weeks - his tongue-in-cheek leering aside, it's his feeble sheep impression at the end that won me over. He had me at "ba-aa!")

45 Corner:  Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing - Stevie Wonder (4/74; #16 Pop, #2 R&B - tonight's featured 45 is unique in that all CD versions run 4:44 and segue in from - and out of - the tracks that surround it. Tonight you get the slightly scratchy 45, but Stevie still mangles Spanish and French as he tries to impress his lady friend.)

Image result for Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing - Stevie Wonder"

I Wish I knew What Dress to Wear - Ginny Arnel (4/64; #130 - on the surface, this is a silly song about vanity and insecurity - but it rings true if you really give it a chance. Her broken-hearted soliloquy near the end seals the deal. 💔)

He Stopped Loving Her Today - George Jones (4/80; #1 C&W - this one made no noise on Pop radio, but it won George Jones the CMA Record of the Year Award, and his spoken recitation near the end still gives me goosebumps. We'll let him have the last word tonight.)
 Image result for He Stopped Loving Her Today - George Jones"

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

Congratulations to Elise from Danby, for winning tickets to Standing In The Shadows Of Motown playing at Cinemapolis this Tuesday. See you at the movies!

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 (2/8):  Gregory James with a spotlight on those "Unlucky In Love"

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

Thanks again to our sponsors Island Health & Fitness and Rasa Spa for their support every week!

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