From the Land of Band Box Records

Name That Tune….

Herb Alpert – The Lonely Bull

(From Country Paul – August 22nd, 2017): “Wow – another run of great memory jogs! Thank you! I also loved the flip side of “The Lonely Bull,” “Acapulco 1922” – a bouncy little jam that was really rather cute. We used to use it for deadrolls up to the news on my early top 40 stations.”

Image result for herb alpertI have a theory that Herb Alpert’s “The Lonely Bull” inspired Ennio Morricone’s compositions featured in Sergio Leone’s “Spaghetti” westerns.  (Just my theory of course).  Doubtful if Morricone was tuned in to a track which was actually first recorded in Herb Alpert’s garage after he had witnessed a bull fight in Tijuana, Mexico.

The song wouldn’t immediately launch any spectacular success for “The Tijuana Brass”.  The single was not his first.  He had previously cut nearly a dozen, but would be his first using the “Tijuana Brass” name.  Brass frenzy wouldn’t follow until nearly three years later with the release of “Whipped Cream” a real game changer.

Alpert would eventually place 40 singles on the Billboard Charts with two number 1’s – “This Guy’s In Love With You” (1968) and “Rise” (1979).  “This Guy” marked his departure from fronting the so-called “Tijuana Brass” who were – as always, Hollywood noted session men included John Pisano, Lou Pagani, Nick Ceroli, Pat Senatore, Bob Edmonson and Tonni Kalash nary a Mexicano among them.

The “Tijuana Brass” run was interesting but for me became a little tiresome – I recall actually becoming a bit annoyed after hearing “Tijuana Tax” for the 203rd time – That blaring “taxi horn” made me more than a bit nervous.

But “The Lonely Bull” had a place in my heart.  I always fantasized the lonely not so little fellow reversing his fortunes and winning the futile match down there in Mexico striking a blow for Lonely Bulls everywhere!

Herb Alpert was born in March of 1935 in Los Angeles, California Herb Alpert birth name.  He partnered with Jerry Moss to establish the very successful A&M Records up until 1987 when they sold the enterprise to PolyGram Records for somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 million!

Leroy Anderson – “Blue Tango”/”The Syncopated Clock”

Image result for leroy andersonLeroy Anderson had a couple of ditties that I was drawn to the first being his “Syncopated Clock” which was a theme song for a daily local TV show in Denver, back in the 1950’s – Can’t remember the name of the show but I would watch it when I was home alone and missing a day of school usually due to a really bad cold.  The song was also used nationally for the TV program “The Late Show” but by a version provided by Percy Faith. (I was home alone because I was a “latch key kid”).

The other Anderson tune that captivated me was “The Blue Tango”.  Both of these instrumentals pre-dated the Billboard Hot 100 – with “Clock” charting way back in the Spring of 1951 reaching number 12.  “Blue Tango” was a biggie for Anderson hitting the top spot and remaining there for five weeks and further enjoying a nice 38 week chart run.

Leroy Anderson was born in June of 1908 in Cambridge, Massachusetts of Swedish decent.  “Syncopated Clock” was composed by Anderson in 1945.  “Blue Tango enjoys the title of being the first instrumental recording to sell one million copies.  That claim might be challenged but not sure.  “Blue Tango” was actually the “B” side of that release with “Belle of the Ball” being the “A”.

He never managed to place another single on the charts but received a lot of air play for his holiday season piece “Sleigh Ride”.  Anderson died on May 18th, 1975 at the age of 66.

The Baja Marimba Band – Comin’ in the Back Door

Image result for baja marimba bandSpeaking of Herb Alpert, he was the producer behind “The Baja Marimba Band” who were headed up Julius Wechter in 1962.

Like the “Tijuana Brass” the Baja’s were comprised of session men including Roy Caton, Pete Jolly, Lew McCreary, Nick Ceroli, Hal Blaine, Tommy Tedesco, Leon Russell and Emil Richards – the cream of the “Wrecking Crew” crop.

“Comin’ in the Back Door” was the only moment by the band that caught my interest and not as an all-time favorite at that but worth mentioning.  The song peaked at number 41 in early 1964 released in 1963.  They would only have three more meager hits on the Billboard Charts.

The did place 10 long plays on the Billboard Album Charts and from a longevity standpoint, outlived the “Tijuana Brass”.  Any collector of vinyl has shuffled through many a “Baja” LP in those bargain bins and at garage sales.  The group would don stereotypical garb for album covers, sometimes depicted as drinking beer, smoking cigars and striking goofy poses – and yes – there was always that lone band member off in the distance partaking in the “pause that refreshes” –

All these antics drew criticism from various quarters to no avail.  Today the band would probably be executed.

The Baltimore and Ohio Marching Band – “Lapland”


“Seven years later, Joey Day and Alan Dischel resurrected the idea with another group of studio musicians, this time at Jerry Blaine’s Jubilee Records in New York City, and in late 1967 released Lapland as The Baltimore And Ohio Marching Band and in late October it peaked at # 28 Adult Contemporary and # 94 Hot 100 on Jubilee 5592 b/w Condition Red.”  

Now this was a ditty that you could really get up and do some serious marching to (which I have done). The producers on this record were Joey Day and Alan Dischel.  This assembly of musicians re-grouped occasionally recording in 1968 and again in 1969 releasing three more dead-end singles.

The Band of the Black Watch – “Scotch on the Rocks”

Now we are really marchin’!

These guys apparently are the musical segment of “The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland created back in the 1700’s.  The band is also known as “The Regimental Band and Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch – referred to as “the world’s most famous military unit”.

All that aside – these guys can march in my parade any day of the week.

Joe Harnell – “Fly Me To the Moon – Bossa Nova”

Image result for joe harnellJoe Harnell was born in August of 1924 in The Bronx, New York Joseph Harnell.  Joe cut his teeth studying music in Europe – and during World War II was a member of “The Glenn Miller Air Force Band”.

He worked closely with many top singers including Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich and Peggy Lee – as well as being a staff pianist for Dinah Shore on her television show.  In late 1962 he cut a single “Fly Me To The Moon – Bossa Nova” which immediately caught on in the U.S. and rose to number 14 on the Billboard Charts in early 1963.

The tune was first recorded in 1954 by singer Kaye Ballard but then titled “In Other Words”.

He would venture only one more time onto the single charts with “Diane” reaching only number 93 in the Spring of 1963. He did a brief stint in 1969 with Motown, releasing one long play and one single (shown below).  His Kapp long play “Fly Me to the Moon” did very well charting at number 3 and running for 36 weeks on the Billboard long play charts.

Although he released more than 20 LP’s – this would be his only entry onto the album charts.

Joe Harnell died on July 14th, 2005 at the age of 80.

Horst Janowski – “A Walk in the Black Forest”

Image result for horst jankowskiHorst Jankowski was born in January of 1936 in Berlin, Germany.  His claim to fame was a song titled “Eine Schwartwaldfahrt” or “A Walk in the Black Forrest” which charted number 12 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and reached number 1 on Billboard’s Easy Listening charts.

I enjoy this song most when I haven’t listened to it for a time.  One good spin and I am happy for another couple of years.  Record collectors see many copies of the LP “The Genius of Jankowski” which was his most successful LP charting in 1965 at number 18.  Two additional LP’s would reach the charts out of the many he required.

Only one more single charted for Horst “Simple Gimpel” also in 1965 reaching a silent number 91.

Horst passed away in 1998 at the age of 62 a victim of lung cancer.

Joiner, Arkansas Junior High School Band – “National City”

Image result for ernie freeman

Ernie Freeman Marches


“In 1960, Ernie Freeman assembled a group of studio musicians at Liberty Records and recorded a rock version of the 1906 march National Emblem which he called National City under the billing The Joiner, Arkansas Junior High School Band, and in late May/early June it made it to # 53 Billboard Pop Hot 100.

There was, of course, never any such band in Joiner (home town of Liberty president Al Bennett) but for a while there organizers all over the U.S. were calling around to try and book the “high school band” for one of their parades.”

A 45 Cat member says the idea came about during a Liberty Records’ session with Bobby Vee, with producer Snuff Garrett present and – well who knows?

The “band” released a couple more singles before moving on to their next project without additional fanfare.

Bert Kaempfert – “Wonderland by Night”/”That Happy Feeling”

Image result for bert kaempfertBert Kaempfert was born in October of 1963 in Hamburg, Germany Berthold Heinrich Kampfert.  Perhaps his crowning achievement for us rock and rollers came in 1961 when he hired “The Beatles” to back Tony Sheridan, this before any Brian Epstein “discovery”.  The resulting Polydor single featuring the song “My Bonnie (Mein Herz Ist Bei Dir Nur)” was labeled “Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers” – Quite collectible.  Notice that there is no credit for Bert on either the German or U.S. releases below.

‘Two Kaempfert songs left me feeling happy – the title track for the below LP and “That Happy Feeling” which truly did and still does make me happy!  “Wonderland by Night” peaked in the U.S. at number 1 for three weeks.  “That Happy Feeling” managed a number 67 rating but just glad it made it to the airwaves!  Bert would chart in the U.S. 12 times with “Red Roses for a Blue Lady” being his next biggest hit reaching number 11 in late 1965.

Kaempfert placed 21 long plays on the Billboard Hot 100 from 1960 until 1971.

Bert Kaempfert died on June 21st, 1980 at the age of 56 after suffering a stroke.

Raymond Lefèvre – Soul Coaxing (Ame Caline)

Image result for raymond lefevreRaymond Lefèvre was born in November of 1929 in Calais, France and had his big moment in the sun with 1968’s “Soul Coaxing (Ame Caline)” which went ‘global’.

In the U.S. the song reached 37, and as I recall did much better here in hometown Denver.  Raymond had charted ten years before in the U.S. with a song called “The Day the Rains Came” which charted late in 1959 outdoing his later effort reaching number 30.  That song was covered vocally by Jane Morgan the year before in 1958 reaching number 21.

Soul Coaxing was used by radio programs as a theme song.  American teen singer Peggy March recorded a vocal version of “Soul Coaxing” but re-titled “If You Loved Me” which failed to chart.

Los Indios Tabajaras – Maria Elena

Los Indios Tabajaras was from south of the border – all the way south to Brazil State of  Ceará.

Los Indios were the brother duo of Antenor and Natalicio Lima.  They were signed to RCA Victor way back in 1943 first recorded their number 6 hit “Maria Elena” in 1958 though it would not break through internationally until 1963.

The pair teamed up with Chet Atkins and Floyd Cramer to record an instrumental long play in Nashville, Tennessee.

Where “Mexico” and “Patricia” were big with the beat and bouncy – “Maria Elena” was smooth and silky – a refreshing break.  The Lima’s would only place one more single on the charts “Always in My Heart” – number 62 in 1964.  They placed two long plays on the charts – both named for their hit singles with “Maria Elena” reaching number 7 and “Always in My Heart” peaking at number 85.

Natalico passed away in 2009.

Mitch Miller – March from the River Kwai – Colonel Bogey

Image result for mitch miller

Mitch Miller’s “March from the River Kwai- Colonel Bogey” was a biggie!  The song hit the charts in 1958 drawing from the motion picture.  It peaked at number 20.

Miller enjoyed a long career in music rising to lofty positions first with Mercury Records in the 1940’s and then as A&R head for the powerful Columbia Records label.

Miller could make or break an act and with his dislike of all things rock and roll very few rock artists found their way onto the label early on.

In 1958 he stated “Rock ‘n’ roll is musical baby food: it is the worship of mediocrity, brought about by a passion for conformity.”

His biggest hit was his 1955 “The Yellow Rose of Texas” which held the top spot in the national for six weeks.

Image result for bridge over river kwai movie poster

Bob Moore – Mexico!

Bob Moore charted only a single time but it was a great little ditty called “Mexico”.  I don’t think the kids on American Bandstand ever danced to it back in the Summer of 1961 when the song peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Charts, but they should have.

As written in this site previously, Moore was a mainstay among the Nashville family of session musicians supporting many famed artists both pop and country.

Bob Moore was born in November of 1932 in Nashville, Tennessee Bob Loyce Moore.  His first musical break came when he met Owen Bradley in Nashville and was hired to provide backing support (at age 12) and then when he was just 15, he joined Little Jimmy Dickens as a backing bass player.  He went on to work with Sun artists Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison.

“Mexico” was penned by Boudleaux Bryant, composed of many hits especially for the Everly Brothers (along with wife Felice).  Moore is a member of the “Rockabilly Hall of Fame” and was named the number one country bassist of all-time by Life Magazine.

Perez Prado – Patricia!

Image result for perez pradoWas thinking about Paul Clayton’s comment recently about Perez Pardo’s huge number 1 hit in the Spring of 1955 “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” (the tune remained at the top of the Billboard Charts for 10 weeks).  Several months later Jerry Murad’s Harmonicats would sneak onto the charts for a short time with the same composition only reaching number 56.

So Clayton’s comment conjured up Prado’s “follow-up” which didn’t come until three years later – another number one instrumental “Patria”.  The song remained at the top for only one week but became one of my all-time favorites.  It crossed age lines.  My father-in-law, who played and loved the organ, was very fond of “Patricia”, and I distinctly recall the Philly teens dancing to the song on American Bandstand.

Perez Prado was born in December of 1917 in Matanzas, Cuba Dámaso Pérez Prado.  His first group was “Sonora Matancera” the top Cuban combo of the time (1940’s).  In the early 1950’s he formed his own band and was signed by RCA Victor.

Perez composed “Patricia” and attempted to revive the tune in 1962 with his release of “Patricia Twist” which charted at number 65 and would be the final charting song for him (there were five singles).  Prado charted only once on the Billboard Album Charts with 1959’s “Prez” reaching number 22.  The LP ironically did not contain either of his number 1 hits.

Perez Prado died in Mexico City on September 14th, 1989 at the age of 71.

David Rose – “The Stripper”

Image result for david roseDavid Rose was born in June of 1910 in London, England.  He secured fame for himself with his rock-era instrumental, “The Stripper” in 1962 which hit the top of the charts at number 1 in the Spring.

“The Stripper was his crowning achievement as far as chart action went but he was awarded four Emmy Awards and composed and performed many soundtracks.

“The Stripper” was originally recorded in 1958 and was released then as a “B” side in 1962 chosen without Rose’s knowledge when he was away on vacation.

His long play titled after the hit single was to be his only appearance on the Hot 200 album charts reaching number 3 in the summer of 1962.

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards – “Amazing Grace”

Another military unit with it’s own pipe and drums group – these guys first formed in 1946 a competitive performing ensemble who managed a number 1 record in the United Kingdom “Amazing Grace” and managed a very respectable number 11 on Billboard in the United States.

“Amazing Grace” is not exactly a marcher – but one would have to imagine that the Dragoons would break out with one in a moment’s notice.  Would like to have seen a battle of the bands between the Dragoons and the Black Watchers!

Whistling Jack Smith – “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman”

Image result for whistling jack smith

Whistling Jack Smith was John O’Neill and who started off in the group “The Four Ramblers” born in Stanley, England in 1926.  He looked every bit the part of the 1960’s mod Brit.  He provided the whistling for the tune but was never paid.

“I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman” was composed by Brits Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook who recorded as “David and Jonathan” during the Invasion craze.  The song was originally titled “Too Much Bird Seed”.  The recording was done by session musicians  along with “The Mike Sammes Singers”.

Image result for roger cook and roger greenaway

Cook and Greenaway

Cook and Greenway composed hits for other British artists including “The New Seekers”, “The Hollies”, “Blue Mink”, “The English Congregation” and the “Fortunes” to name a few.

Neil also sang the “Wagon Train” theme for the hit television show under his own name.  O’Neill died in 1999.

Billy Vaughn – “A Swinging Safara”

I had to include this LP in this collection because I used to play it a lot!  Just something about it….

Billy Vaughn was born in April of 1919 in Glasgow, Kentucky William Richard Vaughn.  Anyone collecting albums knows very well that Billy put out a huge catalog – with 36 of them charting on the Billboard Charts.  His biggest chart topper was “Theme From a Summer Place” which peaked at number 1 in early 1960.

Billy hit the Billboard Single’s charts 28 times with his first entry “Melody of Love” (1954) being his most successful 45 hitting number 2.  I liked that one as well right along with all my rock and roll records of the time.  Another favorite was “Sail Along Silvery Moon” in 1957.  “A Swingin’ Safari” reached number 5 in mid 1962 towards the end of his run on the charts.  Although not an instrumental, I was always captivated by his 1955 hit “The Shifting Whispering Sands” (a song written in 1950) a haunting tale that had to be told in two parts narrated by Ken Nordine – The song hit number 5 on Billboard.  Wikipedia erroneously attribute’s Vaughn’s version as charting in 1962.  Rusty Draper also charted in 1955 with the same recording going all the way to number 3 later in the year after Billy first charted.

Vaughan created a popular vocal trio in 1954 called “The Hilltoppers” and from there it was off to Dot Records serving as music director.

Billy Vaughn died on September 26th, 1991 at the age of 72.

The Waikikis – “Hawaii Tattoo”

Right in the thick of the early 1960’s rock and roll age – a group like this comes along and hits it with Hawaiian music.  But the group was not from the Islands but Belgium and Germany! Those Stinkers!  Members included Joe Breye, Jo Van Wetter, Willy Albimoor.and Petro Gonez.

“Hawaii Tattoo” reached number 33 on the Billboard Charts and was followed by one more charting record, “Hawaii Honeymoon” which dented the Hot 100 at number 91.  Then it was back to Europe!  And yes, along with my latest Beach Boy record I ran out an purchased “Hawaii Tattoo” in 1963.

The song has become an “Hawaiian standard” ranking up there with “Tiny Bubbles”.  “Hawaii Tattoo was composed by Martin Bottcher in a half hour.  Martin, not wanting to diminish his ‘brand’ in Belgium used a pseudonym for the recording “Michael Thomas”.  Martin recorded a version of the song himself under a group name of “Mike Thomas and His Wall Street Babies”.

The song sold two and half million copies world wide.

Lawrence Welk – Calcutta!

Calcutta was Welk’s shining moment on the Billboard Charts – rising all the way to the number 1 spot in early 1961 entering the charts in December of 1960.

Welk had entered the pop charts prior to “Calcutta” 15 times, and would after 10 additional times but none of his tunes would match the bounce of this – by far his biggest commercial success.

The author was a German, Heino Gaze who composed the song in 1958 as “Tivoli Melody”.  The song originally was accompanied by lyrics – one set composed in German and a parallel set composed by American writers Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss – a team who composed hundreds of songs together.

Some of the more noted by Paul and Lee were “Tracy” and “When Julie Comes Around” by the Cuff Links (they wrote almost exclusively for the group) – They also contributed several novelty songs for the studio creation “The Detergents”.

A key element in the success of Welk’s strictly instrumental version was the lively harpsichord accompaniment with a dual accordion thrown in (had to have an accordion if you were with Welk).  These were effectively combined with a bouncy cadence including had clapping, and a chorus of female “la la’s”.  Frank Scott was the musician on both harpsichord and piano on the recorded version).

Dancing the “Calcutta” with Bobby and Barbara

Related image

Original Mousketeer

A reference was made on Wiki stating that former Mouseteer Bobby Burgess and his dancing partner Barbara Boylan created a dance to the tune of “Calcutta” – and sure enough – the couple entered a Lawrence Welk “Calcutta Dance Contest” and not only finished first place but became fixtures on the popular show.  Found a great video of the young couple performing their winning entry and making their Lawrence Welk debut:

Bobby had a nice long run with Lawrence Welk from 1961 until ’67 with Barbara and then all the way to 1982 with Cissy King and then Elaine Balden.  Burgess became a solid member of the Welk family when he married band member Myron Floren’s daughter Kristin in 1971 a marriage which continues today!

Welk’s ‘Other Teens’

Lawrence Welks’ son, Larry Welk met a young girl in high school who was part of a singing quartet along with three of her sisters.  Larry brought them to his home where they performed for Lawrence who was in bed ill.  Impressed, he booked them on the spot for a show appearance where they continued on until 1968.  The girls came from a Los Angeles family of 11 siblings.

First a quartet, Peggy, Dianne, Janet and Kathy – they became a trio for four years when Dianne departed after getting married.

The group began recording on Coral Records in 1956 and made a dent on the charts in 1956 when their version of “Tonight You Belong to Me” competed with darling little Patience and Prudence who’s version reached number 4 – with the Lennon’s peaking at 15.  The Lennon Sisters would only chart one additional time with 1961’s “Sad Movies (Always Make Me Cry)” reaching number 53.  The song was the first hit record for Sue Thompson who’s version came out a few weeks earlier reaching number 5.

Surrounding the release of “Calcutta” were several departure efforts from Welk’s trademark “champagne” music with “Last Date”, “Theme from My Three Sons”, “Riders in the Sky” and even a version of “Runaway”!

Lawrence Welk was a very popular band leader, especially via his national weekly television show and his power lie with long play albums, having placed 42 of them on the charts and landing in the top 10 twenty times.  And his “Calcutta” titled long play was a monster success remaining at the number one spot for 11 weeks.

As a Welk post note – I enjoyed his band’s theme song “Champagne Time” which was released in the fall of 1956 as a single “B”side (“A”side “Around the World”) neither side charting.

Welk was born in March of 1903 in Strasburg, North Dakota the son of Ukraine immigrants.  He started off with bands “The Hotsy Totsy Boys” and “The Honolulu Fruit Gum Orchestra” (wow!!).  His primary band picked up the “champagne” moniker during a stand in Pennsylvania with a member of the audience alluding the “bubbling” reference.

Welk’s TV career started off after to moving his band to Los Angeles, California starting off on local station KTLA, eventually being picked up by ABC in 1955.  A wild moment came in a 1971 show where his band performed “One Toke Over the Line” a Brewer and Shipley hit and for which he drew prompt criticism from a few.

The Welk band recorded their big hit – Calcutta – in a single take!  Welk died on May 17th, 1992 at the age of 89.


%d bloggers like this: