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From the Land of Band Box Records

Cruisin’ with Crewe

Bob Crewe

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Bob Crewe was born in November of 1930 in Newark, New Jersey  Robert Stanley Crewe.  Early on he set his sights on a career in architecture but fortunately for us – he changed directions when he met up with record composer/producer/talent scout Frank Slay Jr., in the early 1950’s.

Slay and Guadio would form their own record label “XYZ” and it was from that endeavor that they would release a song composed by the duo titled “Silhouettes” by the Rays.  The R&B group had released a couple of previous singles – one on Chess and one on Argo before coming to XYZ and cutting “Silhouettes” along with the B side “Daddy Cool”.  Both tracks were composed in a single day.  “Silhouettes” hit the top of charts for the Rays and was covered by Canada’s Diamonds who took it to number 10.

Frank Slay, Jr.

XYZ Records wouldn’t experience much more in the way of recording success – releasing singles by nine other very obscure artists.

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The Rays

Silhouettes hit the streets in August of 1957 and quickly gained the attention of Cameo/Parkway Records who picked it up and released it in September of the same year.  Crewe and Slay were in business for good.  They teamed up penning songs for the Swan record label for artists Danny and the Juniors, Billy and Lillie and above all, Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon.

The Swans

His next project 1961 brought him into collaboration with former Royal Teen Bob Gaudio – as Bob was embarking on a career as part of the Four Seasons.  The two collaborated on the single “Sherry” with Gaudio composing and Crewe producing.  The Seasons had scored one lonely chart single – a meager number 63 with “You’re The Apple of My Eye” recording as the Four Lovers back in 1956 in their pre-Guadio days.

And so, “Sherry” was just the tonic – soaring to number 1 on both the Hot 100 and R&B Charts.  More number one’s would follow with Crewe sharing the composing duties.  The writing team would stay together for many hits and many years.

Crewe was so encouraged by the his success with the Four Seasons that he attempted to create a female version calling them “The Rag Dolls” – but with little success – The group was headed up by lead singer Jean Thomas

Crewe’s Rag Dolls

All the while, Crewe continued to experience some success with other artists including Jerry Butler, Barbara Lewis, Diane Renay, Maxine Brown and Mitch Ryder to name just a few.

A Biggie for Crewe

Bob Crewe as a solosinger – recorded nearly 50 singles and a handful of LP’s, but only experienced moderate success with his “Bob Crewe Generation” tracks and so contented himself with moving from decade to decade churning out the hits.  (“Music to Watch Girls By” was originally a Diet Pepsi Cola commercial)

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In the mid 1960’s Crewe formed the record label Dyno-Voice which featured Mitch Ryder, Eddie Rambeau, Norma Tanega and girl group The Toys of “A Lover’s Concerto” (number 2) and “Attack” (number 18) fame.  Those two hits came from the pens of Denny Randell and Sandy Linzer – writers who teamed up often with Crewe to turn out charting singles especially for the Four Seasons.

In the mid 1970’s Crewe would compose for a group on the 20th Century label “The Eleventh Hour” a group which featured Kenny Nolan who would go onto work with Crewe as well as find solo success.

Kenny Nolan

Crewe enjoyed a lengthy and prolific career as both a composer and producer with nearly 140 of his songs reaching the pop charts.  His final charting song occurred in 2012 “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Andy Williams – making a very brief appearance on the UK Charts the month following Andy’s passing away at age 84.

Bob Crewe was truly one of the elites among pop hit writers, giving us many wonderful moments of pleasure to those great old 45’s through the years.  Crewe enjoyed a career in music that spanned six decades and truly left his mark on pop music.

Bob Crewe Selected Discography

The Bay City Rollers – Number 1 UK – 1975

The B.B.C. Generation – Number 56 Hot 100 – 1976

Billy and Lillie – Number 89 Hot 100 – 1959

Billy and Lillie – Number 56 Hot 100 – 1958

Billy and Lillie – Number 9 Hot 100 – 1957

Billy and Lillie – Number 14 Hot 100 – 1958

Maxine Brown – Number 98 Hot 100 – 1962

Peabon Bryson & Roberta Flack – Number 58 Hot 100 – Number 41 R&B – 1981

Jerry Butler – Number 68 Hot 100 – 1963

Freddy Cannon – Number 43 Hot 100 – 1959

Freddy Cannon – Number 3 Hot 100 – Number 14 R&B – 1959

Freddy Cannon – Number 83 Hot 100 – 1960

Freddy Cannon – Number 51 Hot 100 – 1961

Freddy Cannon – Number 92 Hot 100 – 1962

Vikki Carr – Number 79 Hot 100 – 1969

David Carroll – Number 102 Bubbling Under – 1962

The Bob Crewe Generation – Number 15 Hot 100 – 1967

Bob Crewe – Number 126 Bubbling Under – 1967

The Bob Crewe Generation – Humber 129 Bubbling Under – 1967

The Bob Crewe Generation – Number 89 Hot 100 – 1967

Danny & The Juniors – Number 60 Hot 100 – 1961

Danny & the Juniors – Number 68 Hot 100 – 1962

The Diamonds – Number 10 Hot 100 – 1957

Disco-Tex & The Sex-O-Lettettes – Number 10 Hot 100 – Number 32 R&B – 1974

Disco-Tex & The Sex-O-Lettes – Number 112 Bubbling Under 23 Hot 100 – Number 33 R&B – 1975

Disco-Tex & The Sex-O-Lettes – Number 80 Hot 100 – 1975

The Distant Cousins – Number 112 Bubbling Under – 1966

The Eleventh Hour – Number 95 Hot 100 – 1974

The Eleventh Hour – Number 55 Hot 100 – Number 45 R&B – 1975

The Four Seasons – Number 1 Hot 100 – Number 1 R&B – 1962

The Four Seasons – Number 1 Hot 100 – Number 3 R&B – 1963

The Four Seasons – Number 77 Hot 100 – 1963

The Four Seasons – Number 36 Hot 100 – 1963

The Four Seasons – Number 88 Hot 100 – 1963

The Four Seasons – Number 6 1964 Hot 100 – 1964

The Four Seasons – Number 1 Hot 100 – Number 2 UK – 1964

The Four Seasons – Number 10 Hot 100 – 1964

The Four Seasons – Number 12 Hot 100 – 1965

The Four Seasons – Number 64 Hot 100 – 1965

The Four Seasons – Number 30 Hot 100 – 1965

The Four Seasons – Number 3 Hot 100 – 1965

The Futures – Number 79 R&B – 1981

The Fuzzy Bunnies – Number 115 Bubbling Under – 1968

Leslie Gore – Number 115 Bubbling Under – 1966

Leslie Gore – Number 65 Hot 100 – 1967

Gerri Granger – Number 108 Bubbling Under – 1975

Herman’s Hermits – Number 5 Hot 100 – 1965

Labelle – Number 1 Hot 100 – Number 1 R&B – 1975

Labelle – Number 99 R&B – 1975

The Lettermen – Number 7 Hot 100 – 1967

Barbara Lewis – Number 113 Bubbling Under – Number 47 R&B – 1964

Barry Manilow – Number 32 Hot 100 – 1981

Al Martino – Number 54 Hot 100 – Number 1 Adult Contemporary – 1967

The Mary Jane Girls – Number 41 Hot 100 – Number 81 R&B – 1986

From Movie Moulin Rouge – Number 1 Hot 100 – Number 1 UK – Number 43 R&B – 2001 (CD)

Nielsen/Pearson – Number 56 Hot 100 – 1981

Lenny O’Henry – Number 98 Hot 100 – 1964

The Orlons – Did Not Chart – Preceded the Four Seasons version – 1962

The Orlons – Number 64 Hot 100 – Number 23 R&B – 1964

The Osmonds – Number 22 Hot 100 – Number 1 Adult Contemporary – 1975

The Rag Dolls – Number 10 Hot 100 – 1964

The Rag Dolls – Number 55 Hot 100 – 1965

Eddie Rambeau – Number 112 Bubbling Under – 1965

The Rays – Number 95 Hot 100 – Number 3 R&B – 1959

The Rays – Number 95 Hot 100 – 1959

The Rays – Number 49 Hot 100 – 1961

Diane Renay – Number 6 Hot 100 – 1964

Diane Renay – Number 124 Bubbling Under – 1964

Diane Renay – Number 131 Bubbling Under – 1964

Diane Renay – Number 101 Bubbling Under – 1964

Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels – Number 10 Hot 100 – 1965

Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels – Number 112 Bubbling Under – 1966

Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels – Number 6 Hot 100 – 1967

Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels – Number 106 Bubbling Under – 1968

Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels – Number 122 Bubbling Under – 1968

Linda Scott – Number 135 Bubbling Under – 1965

Senator Bobby – Number 108 Bubbling Under – 1968

The Shepherd Sisters – Number 94 Hot 100 – 1963

The Tremeloes – Number 11 Hot 100 – Number 1 UK – 1967

Frankie Valli – Number 128 Bubbling Under – 1965

Frankie Valli – Number 39 Hot 100 – 1966

Frankie Valli – Number 12 Hot 100 – 1966

Frankie Valli – Number 68 Hot 100 – 1966

Frankie Valli – Number 2 Hot 100 – 1967

Frankie Valli – Number 18 Hot 100 – 1967

Frankie Valli – Number 7 Hot 100 – 1967

Frankie Valli – Number 1 Hot 100 – 1974

Frankie Valli – Number 6 Hot 100 – Number 31 R&B – 1975

Frankie Valli – Number 77 Hot 100 – 1979

The Walker Brothers – Number 4 Hot 100 – 1966

Nancy Wilson – Number 52 Hot 100 – Number 27 R&B – 1969

 

The Story Behind Fab Four Memorabilia

February 18, 2019
craigr244

The Beatles and NEMS

Author Terry Crain has just published this exciting and historical 232 account of the North End Music Stores (NEMS)  which was founded by Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s father and a partner initially selling furniture and then expanding into appliances, musical instruments and more.

Eventually the Epstein’s opened a music shop which included records among it’s offering and young Brian was put in charge.  Crain’s book will be a welcome addition to the world of Beatles collecting and to those who can’t get enough of the Fab Four’s magical journey.

Click on the image below to visit the “FabGear” website – Get a copy of the book – kick back – and enjoy!

Rod McKuen – Mummy – Twister -Poet

February 13, 2019
craigr244

Not Your Father’s Beatnik

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I can’t recall ever seeking out or purchasing any Rod McKuen recording – single or long play.  And it wasn’t due to scarcity of recordings.  A rough count reveals that Rod was a busy guy in the recording studio releasing nearly 125 long plays of either music, poetry or sound track material!

Rod McKuen was born in Oakland, California in 1933 Rodney Marvin McKuen.  He had a rough beginning in life with a runaway father – was born in a Salvation Army hostel – endured an alcoholic mother and was the victim of sexual abuse as a child.

He broke away young and drifted finding work where he could – rodeo cowboy – dj – stunt man – railroad worker and lumberjack to mention a few.  His pay checks were always promptly sent home to ‘mom’.  He found work as a columnist on a newspaper and worked his way into the entertainment world performing at San Francisco’s Purple Onion – venue for many up and coming folk musicians.

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For a short time – before losing his voice – he even sang with the Lionel Hampton band.

Rod, who early on had rubbed elbows in San Francisco within the beat community – with the likes of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsburg, moved into a diverse life of recording and composing – often times drawing the unkind words of critics who considered much of McKuen’s work frivolous and sometimes downright silly.  However, he owed his critics nothing as he overcame tremendous odds of becoming not only a functioning human being but a versatile success – more than we could say for those who casts the stones I suspect.

Rod never fully disclosed being gay generally side stepping the question of his sexual orientation but as very active in supporting the gay and lesbian community.

McKuen and McFadden

McKuen would jockey between lightweight folk and novelty in his earliest days.  He teamed up with novelty-prone Bob McFadden in 1959 to record “The Mummy” a single which featured as it’s B side “The Beat Generation” – Giving that one a quick listen – I just can’t even imagine what Jack and Allen could have thought when they heard it.

Things got a little sillier when “The 4-D Man” was released by McKuen and McFadden as “Dor and the Confederates”.  But Rod wasn’t through with his novelty phase yet.  His next exercise in silliness would be jumping on the Chubby Checker gravy train with “Oliver Twist” followed by “Oliver Twist Meets the Duke of Oil” and then “I Dig Her Wig” in the summer of 1962.

Both “The Mummy” and “Oliver Twist” managed to enter the Hot 100 – the former peaking at number 39 and the latter number 76.

Very early on, Rod took a minor role in a 1956 motion picture, “Rock Pretty Baby” taking the role of “Ox” – The movie starred the young Sal Mineo as well.

Rod McKuen and King Kong’s Fay Ray – Bit Parts

In 1961 Rod experienced extreme hoarseness in his voice due to overworking it in live performances.  He would never recover his original voice and so the raspy voice we were to witness until the end of his recording days.

Along the way their were some more serious compositions that were met with chart success of various degrees – the first being 1958’s “Sing Boy Sing” by Tommy Sands from the motion picture of the same name – It would chart at number 24 on the Hot 100.  A discography below highlights some McKuen compositions which cracked the Hot 100.

Once Rod settled in he found himself a niche within the motion picture industry composing either songs for the movies or entire soundtracks some displayed below.

Beginning in 1967, McKuen would team up with music arranger Anita Kerr and the San Sebastian strings to record a series of ‘earth-think’ albums featuring his poetry – for the most part narrated by Rod.  Any collector who has waded through thrift store record bins or attended record shows – has probably thumbed quickly through more copies of this six LP-series.

McKuen Goes Green

In 1969 Frank Sinatra recorded the long play “A Man Alone” which featured all McKuen compositions – The LP did very well in the U.K. (number 8) but not so well in the U.S.

A further collaboration found McKuen working with Belgian composer/poet Jacques Brel and from that collaboration came McKuen’s biggest single success “Seasons in the Sun” first recorded by Rod in 1968 and later covered by Canadian Terry Jacks who took it all the way to number 1 in 1974.

Brel – Kerr

Jacks had been a member of a little-known in the U.S. but rather successful Canadian group, “The Chessmen”, before forming the “Poppy Family” with his wife Susan and charting with “Which Way You Going Billy?” a number 1 in Canada and number 2 in the U.S.

Terry Jacks 1974.JPG

Terry Jacks

Rod McKuen passed away January 29th, 2015 at the age of 81 – a victim of pneumonia.

Rod McKuen Selected Discography

I have to admit that I have a soft spot for some of these recordings (Ally Ally Oxen Free – The World I Used to Know – as well as Two Ten Six-Eighteen but my liking was the Kingston Trio version on long play).

45 – Liberty – Jaydee/Happy is A Boy Named Me – October,1956 – Rod McKuen’s first Single

45 – Capitol – Sing Boy Sing Number 24 – 1957 (Tommy Sands)

45 – Brunswick – Frankie & Igor at a Rock and Roll Party – May, 1959 – Rod’s 1st effort with McFadden

45 – Brunswick – The Mummy – Number 39 – 1959 (with Bob McFadden)

45 – Brunswick – The 4-D Man – by Dor and the Confederates – November, 1959

45 – Spiral – Oliver Twist – Charted Number 76 – November, 1961

45 – Spiral – I Dig Her Wig – June, 1962

45 – Jubilee -Oliver Twist Meets the Duke of Oil –  March, 1962

45 – Dot – Two-Ten Six Eighteen – Charted Number 74 1963 (Jimmie Rodgers)

45 – A&M – The Ballad of Hollywood – June, 1963

45 – Capitol – Ally Ally Oxen Free – Number 61 – 1964 (The Kingston Trio)

45 – Dot – The World I Used To Know – Number 51 – 1964 (Jimmie Rodgers)

45 – Epic – If You Go Away – Number 68 – 1966 – (Damita Jo)

45 – A&M – I’ll Say Goodbye – Number 20 Adult Contemporary -1967 – Jimmie Rodgers

45 – RCA Victor – A Cat Named Sloopy – November,1967

45 – Crewe – Jean – Number 2 Hot 100 Number 1 Adult Contemporary – 1969 – (Oliver)

45 – Reprise – Love’s Been Good To Me – Number 75 – 1969 (Frank Sinatra)

45 – Warner Bros.- Trashy – May, 1969

45 – I Think Of You – Number 53 -1971 – (Perry Como)

45 – Warner Bros. – Something for Snoopy – December, 1970

45 – Warner Bros. – The Carols of Christmas – December, 1971

45 – ABC – Seasons in the Sun – Number 24 Country – 1974 (Bobby Wright)

45 – Bell – Seasons In the Sun – Number 1 Hot 100 – U..K. and Adult Contemporary – 1974 (Terry Jacks)

45 – Bell – If You Go Away – Number 74 Hot 100 – Number 8 U.K. – 1974 – (Terry Jacks)