The first week after the A to Z Challenge is always a little rough, because it leaves you with a bit of a hangover. I’m taking it easy today and letting the people in Chicagoland who were buying records, playing them on the jukebox, and calling The Big 89 and requesting the DJ’s play these songs choose the Top Ten (and thus this playlist).
- Jimmy Dean, “PT 109” Jimmy Dean, in addition to lending his name to a tasty line of sausage products, was a pretty good singer. Here he does his best Johnny Horton impression telling the story of JFK and the ill-fated PT boat he was commanding during World War II.
- Paul Peterson, “She Can’t Find Her Keys” You’re probably asking yourself, “hey, why’s he doin’ ten this week?” Mostly because we have both the Stone kids from The Donna Reed Show in the Top Ten. Paul had a good run as a singer and actor until he turned eighteen, after which he was dropped like a hot potato by the studios, but residuals from songs like this probably helped him a little.
- The Crystals, “Uptown” One of two early-Sixties “girl groups” in the survey this week, this was the first of four singles by The Crystals released in 1962, sung by Barbara Alston. It reached #13 nationally.
- Dee Dee Sharp, “Mashed Potato Time” Dance songs were very popular in the Sixties, and this is a prime example of one. Those of you who are music theory fans will notice that her name is a minor second (D-D#). That was my great revelation for today.
- Shelley Fabares, “Johnny Angel” Now we come to the older Stone child, the one who looked better in a dress. I heard Shelley Fabares talking about this song a while back, and she said she showed up on the set one day and they asked her what song she wanted to do. Came as a big surprise to her. Nonetheless, it’s a nice song.
- Ernie Maresca, “Shout Shout” Ernie was better known as a songwriter, as he wrote “Runaround Sue” and “The Wanderer” for Dion & The Belmonts, but he had some success as a singer.
- Walter Brennan, “Old Rivers” The third actor in this week’s Top Ten, Walter Brennan was best known as Amos McCoy in The Real McCoys and as Gary Cooper’s sidekick in a number of movies, including Meet John Doe, where he called people a bunch of “heel-lots” and played ocarina to Cooper’s harmonica on several occasions.
- Jay & The Americans, “She Cried” This was Jay & The Americans’ first hit, though real chart success would come after Jay Traynor (who sings lead here) was replaced by Jay Black.
- Acker Bilk, “Stranger On The Shore” Acker Bilk was known for his appearance (bowler hat, striped waistcoat, and goatee) and for the low, breathy sound of his clarinet. This was his biggest hit. For some reason, I always lump him in with Bent Fabric, the Danish pianist who had a big hit with “Alley Cat” later in ’62. Bent affected much the same look (minus the goatee). Bent and Bilk did an album together in 1965.
- The Shirelles, “Soldier Boy” This song gained extra significance as the US’s involvement in Vietnam escalated, and it’s still relevant today.
Thanks again to Oldiesloon for the work they’ve done in preserving old radio station surveys. And that’s The Friday Five (times two) for May 5, 2017.