Rockin’ Back in the Day
The Angels – “That’s All I Ask of You” – 1962
Since I listed “Believe Me” I just had to add the Angels rather obscure reply. Just as heartfelt and pleading. I loved the production on this record. I used to love to play it at dances – and of course seldom anyone would recognize it or care much about it. This is consummate “Girl Group” pre “My Boyfriend’s Back”. “That’s All” was the flip side of the 1962 minor Angel hit “Cry Baby Cry” (#38). Bernadette Carroll was a member of the Angels and had a solo hit in 1964 with “Party Girl”. A former member of girl group “The Pixies Three” also passed through the group – Debbie Swisher taking over lead vocals. The Angels provided girl group back-up vocals for some of Lou Christie’s tracks.
The Astronauts – “Baja” – 1963
Colorado’s own Astronauts (formerly the Storm Troopers) were mostly from the college town of Boulder with a couple of exceptions. Several members attended The University of Colorado in Boulder. The group had a great sound and “Baja” remains for me the best surf era instrumental. Got to dance to the Astronauts on a couple of occasions out at the old Elitch Gardens’ Trocedero Ballroom. The song was penned by Lee Hazelwood. The Astronauts recorded three of his compositions. “Baja” barely dented the Hot 100 at number 94 for a single week – their only entry into the charts. It did go to the top in Denver, Colorado however on The Denver Tiger – KIMN radio.
Here is a great article by Colorado Blogger George Krieger: “The Astronauts – Surfin’ The Rockies”
The Beach Boys – “Cherry Coupe” – 1963
Don’t know why I picked this obscure LP cut out from the Beach Boys’ infinite catalog of greats. They were so young – so juvenile, and this song just had sunny California and innocence dripping from every driving note. Oh those Beach Boys harmonies….
The Blues Magoos – “We Ain’t Got Nothing Yet”
Bruce and Terry – “Summer Means Fun”
And when in California – well I just couldn’t find enough of these tracks that were being put down by the surf and hot rod establishment out there including Jan and Dean, P.F. Sloan (Fantastic Baggies), the Hondells, The Rogues, Brian and his brothers, neighbor and cousin) – It was great growing up in Colorado but always a trip to visit good old Southern California through these songs! Bruce and Terry were Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher and I have written about them before. They pop up just about everywhere – They were the recording voices for The Rip Chords and The Rogues (“Everyday” and “Come On Let’s Go”) and Bruce was to become a beach boy.
Bubble Puppy – “Hot Smoke & Sassasfras” – 1969
Eddie Cochran – 1959
Arthur Conley – “Sweet Soul Music”
This is the one I used at dances to revive everyone. If the mood was winding down and the dance floor was thinning out – “Sweet Soul Music” was always the tonic. Folks found moves on the dance floor they didn’t even know they had when “Sweet Soul Music” burst open with it’s great horn intro.
The Count Five – “Psychotic Reaction” – 1966
Danny & Juniors – “Rock & Roll is Here to Stay” – “Sometimes When I’m All Alone” & “The Pony Express”
The Dell-Vikings – “Come Go With Me”
When I used to DJ dances this is one that always brought people out of their seats – A perfect rock and roll composition. There are times when I listen to this that I think it is the perfect unadulterated rocker! Bios always like to lead with the angle that this was an early integrated group which is true – Hooray for that! They formed in the mid 1950’s on an Air Force base in Pittsburgh sometimes listed as “The Del-Vikings” and also “The Dell-Vikings”. At that time the single white member was David Lerchey. There would be personnel changes here and there. One member was along the way Chuck Jackson. There was a period of time when the group split into two factions both touring and recording simultaneously.
“Come Go With Me” charted in March of 1957 reaching number 2 on the R&B charts and number 4 on the Hot 100 – residing there for 31 weeks. They hit the Top 10 again in 1957 with “Whispering Bells” (#5 R&B and #9 Hot 100), and “Cool Shake” (#9 R&B and #12 Hot 100).
Bo Diddley – “Road Runner”
“Road Runner” entered the charts in early 1960 and reached number 75 – What a great rumbling bass guitar and a great boss sound! I love this first video with the integrated and co-ed guitar threesome in a shortened version – The full version is posted second.
Dion and The Belmonts
The Doors – “People Are Strange” – 1967
Duane Eddy & The Rebels – 1959
The Electric Prunes – “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night” – 1966
The Five Americans – “I See the Light” – 1967
The Fogcutters – “Cry, Cry, Cry”
Denver’s Fogcutters – some of whom went on to become “The Fantastic Zoo”
Freddie & the Hitchhikers – “Sinner”
An early Denver group – “Sinner” has become a much sought after recording, especially in Europe.
The Hondells – “Little Honda” – 1964
The Human Beinz – “Nobody But You” & Steppenwolf – “Magic Carpet Ride”
And while we are on the topic of tonic – I would always follow “Sweet Soul” with two more both featuring that great fuzz tone grabber intro. People would discover moves they didn’t know they had when these were on the turntable. Often I would kill the lights and turn on a strobe for “Magic Carpet” then sit back and watch school teachers, bankers, auto mechanics, accountants and retail clerks transform into gyrating flower children. Fun times….
Jan & Dean – “Sidewalk Surfin'” – 1964
The Jefferson Airplane – “Somebody to Love” – 1967
The Mamas & Papas – “California Dreamin'” – 1966
The Moonrakers – “I’m All Right”
The Moonrakers in Denver were second only to The Astronauts – A great “garage” group.
The Music Explosion – “A Little Bit of Soul” – 1967
The Music Machine – “Talk, Talk” – 1966
The O’Kaysions – “Girl Watcher”
Question Mark & The Mysterians – “96 Tears” – 1966
The Rebels – “Wild Weekend”
The Rebels were from Buffalo, NY and their producer – DJ Tom Shannon had them cover a Canadian group’s recording – they being The Hot Toddys. When the record became a hit, the Hot Toddy’s version was released on Swan and the group was called “The Rockin’ Rebels”. A bit confusing but I loved both versions. The Hot Toddys also had a hit with “Rockin’ Crickets” #57 in 1959. “Wild Weekend” hit number 8 on the Hot 100 in December of 1962. Shannon had some subtle ties to Colorado, working in the state for a time.
The Royal Teens – “Short Shorts” & “Believe Me”
I loved “Short, Shorts” by the Royal Teens. It was raunchy and gritty and as a pre-teen I could only imagine how fine it must have been to be a “Royal Teen”. But “Believe Me” released in October of 1959 (#36) had those rolling piano keys and that pained and pleading lead vocal. Just loved the song and still do. Four Season Bob Gaudio was a member of this group and co-penned “Short Shorts” as well as “Believe Me” which featured the lead vocals of Joe Villa. For a short time Al Kooper was with the group in 1959. The female refrain on “Short Shorts” was provided by one girl – Diana Lee.
This You Tube video is priceless! Gaudio is on the piano.
Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs – “Wooly Bully”
I saw The Pharaohs one time up in Fort Collins, Colorado – playing a weekend gig at “Clancy’s” – Price of admission: a couple of bucks at the door!
Santo and Johnny
The Searchers – “When You Walk in the Room”
Speaking of the Mersey Beat ending – When the British hit our shores I had the Searchers right up there near the top of my “fave raves”. They put out a great string of songs following their smash “Needles and Pins”: “Don’t Throw Your Love Away”, “What Have They Done to the Rain”, and “Sugar and Spice”. Jackie De Shannon penned “Walk”.
The Showmen – “It Will Stand”
I never, never get tired of this song which hit the charts in September of 1961 and was composed by Norman “General” Johnson – the lead singer for the Showmen and later the front man for The Chairmen of the Board on Invictus Records which was formed by Motown smash hit composers Holland-Dozier-Holland. Now growing up in Denver I never knew what “beach music” was – I thought it was the Beach Boys in California. I only later learned about the Southeast coast genre. And I learned about a great dance, called “The Shag” which I could never engage in without looking like my pants had fallen down and caught around my ankles sending me stumbling across the dance floor. I love “It Will Stand” – Always will. The song was a minor hit – first charting at number 61 in 1961 and then again in 1964 reaching number 80.
The song was featured in the 1989 movie “Shag” with a cast that included Bridget Fonda. It was filmed appropriately enough in South Carolina.
Here is a video from that movie showing the “contest scene” music by The Showmen and a finale rousing couple dancing to Lloyd Price’s “Staggerlee”.
The Silhouettes – “Get A Job”
What a great rock and roll record! If you don’t get up and dance to this one – let’s face it – you will NEVER DANCE! The Philadelphia base Silhouettes would take this one all the way to the top of charts in January of 1958 – #1 for 2 weeks (#1 R&B for six weeks). Oddly, the group would never experience another charting single let alone a monster hit.
Here they are on American Bandstand:
The Soul Survivors (Denver Group) – “Can’t Stand to Be In Love With You”
The Star Tones – “Harlem Nocturne”
Gary Stites – “Starry Eyed”
13th Floor Elevators – “You’re Gonna Miss Me” – 1966
The Ventures – 1960
Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps
We Five – “You Were on My Mind”
I’ve stated before that when this song first hit the air waves in July of 1965 (#3), I was absolutely sure that We Five came from England. The convincing touch was the ending of the song which I was certain was straight out of Liverpool – the “Mersey Beat” ending ala “Needles and Pins”, “Every Time You Walk Into the Room”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, etc. But I was wrong on both counts. The We Five were from San Francisco and not typical of SF groups from that time period and featured the darling lead singer Beverly Bivens. The Five wouldn’t approach the sound and style of “You Were On My Mind” again, returning to a softer and folkier style and sound and soon fading away….. – The following year they would have a moderate hit with “Let’s Get Together” a song which would resurface twice later on by the Youngbloods – first in 1967 (#67) and again in 1969 (#5) re-titled as “Get Together”.