Song of the Day: Hugh Masakela, "Grazing In The Grass"

As long as I’m on the subject of instrumentals from the late ’60’s, this is a fun one from South African trumpeter Hugh Masakela. "Grazing In The Grass" was written by Philemon Hou and was released in May of 1968. It rose quickly to #1 on the Hot 100 and #15 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It was #18 on the year-end Hot 100 as well. Hugh’s recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2018.

The following year, lyrics were added by Harry Elston, a member of The Friends of Distinction. Their release reached #3 on the Hot 100, #5 on the Hot Soul Singles chart, and #5 in Canada.

Song of the Day: Young-Holt Unlimited, "Soulful Strut"

Shortly after The Ramsey Lewis Trio had a hit with "The ‘In’ Crowd," Eldee Young and Red Holt left and formed the Young-Holt Trio with pianist Don Walker. They had a minor hit in 1966 with "Wack Wack", which reached #40 on the Hot 100. Renaming themselves Young-Holt Unlimited and replacing Walker with Ken Chaney, they recorded the backing instrumental track to Barbara Acklin’s song "Am I The Same Girl" (later covered by Swing Out Sister) and released it as "Soulful Strut" in late 1968. By January 1969 it had risen to #3 and sold a million units, being certified gold by RIAA. Future releases failed to repeat the commercial success, and they disbanded in 1974.

Song of the Day: Ramsey Lewis Trio, "The In Crowd"

As I mentioned yesterday, Dobie Gray had a hit in 1965 with his song "The ‘In’ Crowd." Later that year, jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis and his trio (Eldee Young, bass, and Isaac "Red" Holt, drums) recorded an instrumental version at the Bohemian Caverns in Washington, DC that they released as a single. It reached #5 on the Hot 100 in October of that year, and also peaked at #2 on the R&B chart for three weeks. This is the full song; it was edited to just over three minutes to fit the requirements of Top 40 radio.

Song of the Day: Dobie Gray, "Drift Away"

I was having a conversation about one-hit wonders of the ’70’s, and someone mentioned this song. I checked and learned that Dobie Gray had a previous hit, "The ‘In’ Crowd," which reached #13 on the Hot 100 and #11 on the R&B chart. We tend to forget about it, because Ramsey Lewis had a bigger hit with that song later that year. "Drift Away," on the other hand, went to #5 on the Hot 100 in 1973 and reached #17 on the year-end chart, and was Decca Records’s last pop hit in the United States. It was written by Mentor Williams and originally done by country singer John Henry Kurtz in 1972.

Song of the Day: Looking Glass, "Jimmy Loves Mary Anne"

The band Looking Glass, part of the "Jersey Shore" sound, is best known for "Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)," which reached #1 in the US and Canada in 1972. Their next single "Jimmy Loves Mary Anne," didn’t do quite as well, only reaching #33 in the US and #21 in Canada, but for some reason it did quite well in Chicago, where it reached #1 for a week in October 1973 and where it was #72 on their year-end "Big 89" survey. I have no explanation for why, other than it was a great song.