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Category Archives: vintage music

“The Penguins – Memories Of El Monte”

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“Memories of El Monte”

is a metasong released in 1963 by the Penguins featuring Cleve Duncan. It was written by Frank Zappa and Ray Collins before they were in the Mothers of Invention. The song was first released as Original Sound 27.[2]

Composition

In 1960, Art Laboe released one of the first oldies compilations, Memories of El Monte, a collection of songs by bands that used to play at the dances Laboe organized at El Monte Legion Stadium in El Monte, California.[3]

At some point in the next few years, Ray Collins visited Frank Zappa at his house at 314 W. G Street in Ontario, California (34.070685°N 117.653339°W).[4] Frank told him that he and a friend had thought of writing a song entitled “Memories of El Monte.” Ray had been to the dances at El Monte Legion Stadium and had played there with tenor saxophonist Chuck Higgins. Ray sat down at Frank’s piano, played the “Earth Angel” chord changes and immediately came up with the first lyrics for “Memories of El Monte.”

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Frank Zappa took the song to Art Laboe, who loved it. Laboe came up with the idea of adding a section that named doo-wop groups and having the Penguins impersonate their songs.[3] The song functions as a de facto advertisement for the collection Memories of El Monte when it references songs on the compilation.

“Memories of El Monte” was recorded at Paul Buff’s Pal Recording Studio in Cucamonga, California in 1963.[5] The song was copyrighted on February 20, 1963.[6]

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“Doris Troy – Just One Look”

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Just One Look” is a song co-written by American R&B singers Doris Troy and Gregory Carroll. The recording by Doris Troy was a hit in 1963. The Hollies, Anne Murray and Linda Ronstadt recorded hit versions of their own. There have also been many other versions of this song.

Doris Troy version

Background
Details vary as to how the Doris Troy version came to be released on Atlantic Records. According to the book Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders,[2] James Brown saw Troy performing in a nightclub (under her then-stage name Doris Payne), and introduced her to Atlantic.[3] According to a more recent and detailed story in Soulful Divas,[4] Payne recorded a studio demo of the song and took it to Sue Records first, but their lack of response led her to offer it to Jerry Wexler at Atlantic, where the label released the demo unchanged. The personnel on this song included Horace Ott on Piano, Snags Allen on guitar, Barney Richmond on bass and Bruno Carr on drums (although legendary session musician Bernard Purdie has claimed that he was the actual drummer on the demo).[3]

Reception
In 1963, Doris Troy scored her only hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Just One Look”. The song spent 14 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 10,[5] while reaching No. 3 on Billboard ’​s Hot R&B Singles chart,[6] No. 8 on New Zealand’s “Lever Hit Parade”,[7] and No. 1 on Canada’s CHUM Hit Parade.[8] The single’s release was the first time she started using “Doris Troy” as her stage name, though her pen name remained Doris Payne.[3]

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“Maxine Brown – All In My Mind”

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Maxine Brown (born April 27, 1932) is an American country music singer who was originally a member of the successful 1950s trio, The Browns, before a brief solo career.

Biography

Brown was born in Campti, Louisiana, but her family moved to a farm near Pine Bluff, Arkansas when she was a toddler. Encouraged by her parents, she began singing and performing at local venues. Brown signed a recording contract in 1954 with RCA Records as half of a duo with younger brother Jim Ed Brown. They earned national recognition and a guest spot on Ernest Tubb’s radio show for their humorous song “Looking Back to See,” which hit the top ten and stayed on the charts through the summer of 1954.[1]

Their younger sister Bonnie Brown joined them in 1955. In 1959, The Browns scored their biggest hit when their folk-pop single “The Three Bells” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop and country charts. They became members of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee in 1963, and disbanded in 1967.

Brown had a brief solo career during the late 1960s, releasing a single and an album for Chart Records titled Sugar Cane County.

Her autobiography, Looking Back to See, was published in 2005 by The University of Arkansas Press. It delivered a revealing first-hand account of the American country music business in the 1950s and 1960s.

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“The Elegants – Little Star”

“The Elegants – Little Star”

The Elegants is an American doo-wop vocal group, that was started in 1958 by Vito Picone, Arthur Venosa, Frank Tardogno, Carmen Romano and James Mochella in South Beach, Staten Island, New York. Before their nursery rhyme inspired song, “Little Star”,[1] became a number one hit, the band usually performed informally under the boardwalk by their homes. “Little Star” was the only million seller for the group, and was written by Venosa and Picone.[2] It spent 19 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100, earning gold disc status.[2]
The song reached number 25 in the UK Singles Chart in September 1958.[3]

After their success with “Little Star”, the band, still in their teens, toured with artists such as Buddy Holly, Dion and the Belmonts, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. However, none of their subsequent singles reached the charts at all making them a prime example of one-hit wonders.

In early 1970s, lead singer Picone returned to the group replacing Tardogno as the lead singer. That group comprising Vito Picone, Freddie Redmond, Nino Amato and Bruce Copp have been together ever since and to this date, have not stopped touring. They can be seen annually performing at the San Gennaro Festival, in Little Italy, Manhattan, New York City.

According to the Elegants website, Freddie Redmond died of emphysema in 2006, and was replaced by original member, James Moschella. As of 2012, the Elegants are still performing at concerts and events throughout the United States, under the name “Vito Picone & The Elegants”. They still perform “Little Star”, as well as their interpretations of many golden oldies. The Elegants band consists of Mike Catalano on bass guitar, Joe Lucenti on lead guitar, Mark Garni on keyboards and Sal Albanese on drums.

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“Petula Clark – Downtown (HQ)”

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Downtown” is a pop song composed by Tony Hatch which, as recorded by Petula Clark in 1964, became an international hit, reaching No. 1 in Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 in UK Singles Chart. Hatch received the 1981 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.[1]

The song has been covered by many singers, including Dolly Parton and Emma Bunton.

As recorded by Petula Clark

Background
Tony Hatch had first worked with Petula Clark when he assisted her regular producer Alan A. Freeman on her 1961 No. 1 hit “Sailor”. In 1963 Freeman had asked Hatch to take over as Clark’s regular producer: Hatch had subsequently produced five English-language singles for Clark none of which had charted.

In the autumn of 1964 Hatch had made his first visit to New York City, the purpose being to seek material from music publishers for the artists he was producing. Hatch would recall: “I was staying at a hotel on Central Park and I wandered down to Broadway and to Times Square and, naively, I thought I was downtown. Forgetting that in New York especially, downtown is a lot further downtown getting on towards Battery Park. I loved the whole atmosphere there and the [music] came to me very, very quickly”.[2] According to Hatch he was standing on the corner of 48th St waiting for the traffic lights to change, looking towards Times Square when “the melody first came to me, just as the neon signs went on.”[3]

Hatch envisioned his embryonic composition “as a sort of doo wop R&B song” which he thought to eventually pitch to the Drifters:[4] Hatch had scored his biggest success to date with the Searchers’ “Sugar and Spice” modelled on the Drifters’ hit “Sweets for My Sweet”, and had also produced a cover of the Drifters’ “Up on the Roof” for Julie Grant. It has been alleged that Hatch gave Julie Grant the opportunity to record “Downtown” which Grant turned down[5] but this does not accord with Hatch’s statement that he played “Downtown” for Petula Clark within a few days of conceiving the melody and only completed the song’s lyrics after Clark had asked to record it: also Hatch has said that prior to Clark’s expressed interest in “Downtown” “it never occurred to me that a white woman could even sing it.”[4]

Within a few days of his New York City junket Hatch visited Paris to present Clark with three or four songs he’d acquired from New York publishers for Clark to consider recording at a London recording session scheduled for 16 October 1964 which was roughly two weeks away: Hatch – “she was not very enthusiastic about [the material] and asked me if I was working on anything new myself. Reluctantly (because the song was still so unfinished)”[6] – according to Clark besides the title lyric Hatch had only written “one or two lines”[7] – “I played her the tune of my New York inspiration and slipped in the word ‘Downtown’ in the appropriate places. ‘That’s the one I want to record,’ she said”[6] – “‘Get that finished. Get a good lyric in it. Get a great arrangement and I think we’ll at least have a song we’re proud to record even if it isn’t a hit.'” [8]

“Downtown” was recorded 16 October 1964 at the Pye Studios in Marble Arch. Thirty minutes before the session was scheduled, Hatch was still touching up the song’s lyrics in the studio’s washroom. Of his arrangement for the session Hatch would recall: “I had to connect with young record buyers…but not alienate Pet[ula]’s older core audience…The trick was to make a giant orchestra sound like a rock band.”[3] The session personnel for the recording of “Downtown” who were assembled in Studio One of Pye Recording Studios – Hatch insisted that all session personnel on his productions be recorded performing together – included eight violinists, two viola players and two cellists, four trumpeters and four trombonists, five woodwind players with flutes and oboes, percussionists, a bass player and a pianist: also playing on the session were guitarists Vic Flick, Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan and also drummer Ronnie Verrell, while the Breakaways served as vocal chorale. Hatch’s assistant Bob Leaper acted as conductor.[8] According to Petula Clark, the session for “Downtown” consisted of three takes with the second take ultimately chosen as the completed track [yet, elsewhere, an “extended” version, instrumental+backing vocal track, most likely from a session tape makes claims questionable].[9]

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Santo & Johnny “Sleep Walk”

Santo & Johnny “Sleep Walk”

Sleepwalk” is Ultravox’s first single from their fourth album, Vienna, and their first with Midge Ure as frontman. It was Ultravox’s first UK Top 30 chart hit, hitting the lofty heights of Number 29. As well as the standard black vinyl, the 7 Inch was released as a limited clear vinyl.

The single’s B-side, “Waiting” is a more solemn, bass-laden affair in comparison to the faster synth work of the A-side. It now appears on the CD re-issue of Vienna as a bonus track, as well as various other Ultravox compilations.

The 12″ release does not contain an extended version of the song, or a third/additional song,[2] in fact it is simply a double A-sided promo single, with only “Sleepwalk” on each side. The sound quality however is rumoured to better and the sleeve apparently features a difference picture.

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Posted by on October 13, 2017 in billboard, nostalgic, vintage music

 

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“THE TEMPTATIONS I’M LOSING YOU”

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(I Know) I’m Losing You” is a 1966 hit single recorded by The Temptations for the Gordy (Motown) label[1] and produced by Norman Whitfield.

History

This song was another step away from the group’s softer records recorded with Smokey Robinson as producer, a change that Whitfield had begun with “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” earlier in the year. “I’m Losing You” features a much more dramatic arrangement than most contemporary Motown songs: a rock-styled guitar riff (devised by Temptations road manager/band director Cornelius Grant), sharp horn blasts and the Temptations’ doo-wop vocals paint the backdrop for one of David Ruffin’s trademark raspy lead vocals.

As The Funk Brothers keep time with the song’s James Brown-inspired beat, Ruffin pointedly accuses his lover of gradually slipping away from him. The closing vocal riff to the song’s chorus had the other four Temptations call out an extended “losing you…!” shout in falsetto. The choreography for the line, with each member cupping their hands around their mouths as they shout the line out, became a Temptations standard.

“I’m Losing You” was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard R&B singles chart, and reached No. 8 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart.[2] The single was included as the anchoring track for the summer 1967 album The Temptations with a Lot o’ Soul.

The Temptations performed the song live on the CBS variety program The Ed Sullivan Show on May 28, 1967,[3] and in a duet with Diana Ross & the Supremes later that year, on November 19, 1967.[4]

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Posted by on October 3, 2017 in 1960s, nostalgic, vintage music

 

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