Next week, of course, starts our annual Christmas music extravagana here in M4 Land, but today’s a free day, so I chose some songs from the period 1961 to 1964 that I like and that don’t get heard like they did back then.
- Lawrence Welk, “Calcutta” A sprightly little instrumental (what might be considered “Champagne Music”) that reached #1 on the Hot 100. Welk, who was 57 at the time, became the oldest person to have a #1 record, staying in that position until Louis Armstrong reached #1 in 1964 (at the age of 63) with “Hello, Dolly!” It blended accordion and harpsichord with a rock beat and hand claps.
- B. Bumble & The Stingers, “Bumble Boogie” According to Wikipedia, three African American studio musicians (Earl Palmer, René Hall, and Plas Johnson) wanted to come up with a way to make money without leaving the studio. Their first attempt, a rockin’ version of Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood,” was released under the name The Ernie Fields Orchestra and went to #4 on the Hot 100 in 1960. This was their next effort, a rockin’ version of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight Of The Bumble Bee,” released as “B. Bumble and The Stingers.” It rose to #21 on the Hot 100 in June 1961.
- James Darren, “Goodbye Cruel World” “Moondoggie” from the Gidget movie had a minor hit with the theme song from that movie, and was encouraged to record some more. This, from 1961, was his biggest hit, reaching #3.
- The Orlons, “The Wah-Watusi” The song that kicked off the “Watusi” dance craze, this went to #2 in 1962. The Orlons also sang backup on Dee Dee Sharp’s “Mashed Potato Time” and “Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes)” earlier that year.
- Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, “The Lonely Bull” Title track from Herb and the TJB’s 1962 debut album, this rose to #6 that year. Herb recorded the trumpet portion in his garage as he was experimenting with overdubbing, and members of The Wrecking Crew recorded the other parts later.
- Jimmy Soul, “If You Wanna Be Happy” Jimmy Soul (real name James Louis McCleese) based this song on the 1934 calypso tune “Ugly Woman” by Roaring Lion. It’s a reminder that beauty is only skin deep.
- Gene Pitney, “Twenty-Four Hours From Tulsa” This reached #3 on the Hot 100 in 1963, but oddly you never hear it anymore. Gene had a successful and prolific recording career in the US during the early and mid ’60’s. By 1966 his popularity was waning in this country, so he moved to England and revitalized it.
- Serendipity Singers, “Beans In My Ears” At the height of the folk boom in the early ’60’s, The Serendipity Singers recorded this protest song by Len Chandler. Many radio stations wouldn’t play this after doctors complained that kids were actually putting beans in their ears, so the song only reached #30.
- Roger Miller, “Dang Me” Roger claims that he wrote this one in four minutes in a hotel room. It spent half of 1964 on the country chart, where it peaked at #1, and it also reached #7 on the pop chart.
- Johnny Rivers, “Mountain Of Love” Some singers I just like, and Johnny Rivers is one of them. This is a cover of Harold Dorman’s 1960 original that reached #21 on the Hot 100 and #7 on the R&B chart. Johnny’s version, recorded with members of The Wrecking Crew, reached #9 in 1964.
As I said earlier, next week starts our Christmas music extravaganza, so be sure and join us for that. That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for November 26, 2018.