I’m In A Lonely Situation 45 by Hermans Hermits

September 30, 2011

Peter Noone was long gone from Hermans Hermits but the band, at least in name, continued on. Varoius members would recruit other musicians and go out on the road and into the studio to capitalize on the name.

One of the last singles released was “I’m In A Lonely Situation.” It was issued during January of 1976 but received no chart action in the United States or the United Kingdom.

It remains a rare record but unfortunately not many people are collecting post Peter Noone Hermans Hermits records.

Sunday Monday Or Always 78 by Bing Crosby

September 29, 2011

“Sunday Monday Or Always” by Bing Crosby was the number one song in the United States for seven weeks beginning September 11, 1943. Frank Sinatra released a similar version but it stalled at number nine.

It was another song recorded in the midst of the mmusicians strike. It was so well done that you really had to listen closely before you realized there was no instrumental backing. The use of backing voices fill in for the missing musicians.

Crosby had his first chart hit with the Paul Whiteman orchestra during 1927 and during the latter half of the 1940s would be one of the biggest, if not the biggest star in the world. His single “White Christmas” was the biggest selling single of all time.

He released 409 singles during the course of his career and this was one of his best.

Whatcha See is Whatcha Get by The Dramatics

September 29, 2011

The Concord Music Group has been reissuing classic albums from the extensive catalogue of the Stax label. Their latest three releases, issued September 13th, are Do The Funky Chicken by Rufus Thomas, Woman To Woman by Shirley Brown, and the subject of this review, Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get by The Dramatics.

Stax was a gritty soul label, originally located in Memphis, Tennessee. It was founded by Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton, who used the first two letters of their last names to form the name Stax. It featured funk, blues, and a hardcore rhythm & blues sound. Some of the artists who graced the label were Booker T. & The MG’s, Sam & Dave, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, and The Dramatics

Stax vice president Al Bell decided to expand the label’s roster and national appeal by bringing in talent from different parts of the country. One of the new additions was Detroit producer Don Davis, who was brought in to work with Carla Thomas and Johnnie Taylor. He brought along the Detroit vocal group, The Dramatics. Several years later, they would release their debut album for the label.

The Dramatics were and are a rhythm & blues vocal group formed during 1962. After releasing several failed singles during the early and mid-1960’s, they grabbed the brass ring when they signed with the Stax label. Their debut album, Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get, was the best and most commercially successful of their career. It also containe their two biggest selling and most popular singles. The title track (which reached number 9 on the pop charts and number 3 on the R&B charts) and “In The Rain” (number five on the pop charts and a number one R&B single) were among the best of the era.

The title song had impeccable and creative arrangements. The group members alternated singing lead on each line. It was an R&B tune, but it looked ahead to the coming disco movement in a good way. A fuzz sound on the lead guitar, plus horns and strings all served to make it memorable. “Get Up And Get Down” was more of the same as the vocal interplay was again different and creative.

Their biggest hit, “In The Rain,” was more atmospheric. The sound of rain falling plus the guitar wizardry of Dennis Coffey in conjunction with the strings all added to the song’s dramatic effect.

The original release contained eight tracks, but this reissue is over twice as long as it adds ten bonus tracks. They consist of singles and some of their better material from follow-up albums. The best track is “Hey You Get Off My Mountain,” which marked Ron Banks debut as lead singer. “Fell For You” marked the first appearance of L. J. Reynolds, who not only shared the vocal lead but would go on to become an important part of the group.

When the Stax label folded, The Dramatics went on to a long and successful career with the ABC and MCA labels.

Unfortunately, time did not treat the members kindly. Original members Ron Banks, William Howard, Elbert Wilkin, and 1973 replacement Lenny Mayes all died of heart problems before the age of 60. Original member Willie Ford and L.J. Reynolds continue to record and tour down to the present day.

Their crowning achievement has now reached its 40th birthday. Watcha See Is Whatcha Get remains one of the better rhythm & blues albums of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and it’s nice to have it back in print in a remastered form.

Lonely Guitar 45 by Annette

September 29, 2011

Annette Funicello became a teen or pre-teen idol during her time with The Mickey Mouse Club during the 1950s. She continued her idol status during the 1960s as the star of the series of BEACH PARTY movies.
In between, 1959-1961, she established a credible singing career, recording a number of albums, plus placing 10 singles on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

“Lonely Guitar” was not her biggst hit as it only reached number 50 during its 11 weeks on the Pop Singles Charts, yet it contained one of her better vocals.

The picture sleeve showed Annette just between being a teenager and a woman. It spoke to millions of late 1950s teenagers who were also growing up at the time.

Martian Hop 45 by The Ran-dells

September 28, 2011

“Martian Hop” was one of those songs that was so dumb, it was actually very good.

The Ran-dells were a vocal group consisting of brothers Steve and Robert Rappaport and their cousin John Spirt. They released “Martion Hop” August 3, 1963 and it reached number 16 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

They were one hit wonders as they never had another chart hit.

Baker Street 45 by Gerry Rafferty

September 27, 2011

If there was ever a song that deserved to be number one on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart, it was “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty. Released April 22, 1978, it spent six weeks in the number two position.

Rafferty was the co-leader of the pop group, Stealers Wheel, before establishing a solo career.

“Baker Street” was just about the perfect single as it was carchy, contained a good vocal, had an excellent sax sound floating above the mix, and made you want to hear the song over and over again.

Despite releasing some quality, if somewhat underappreciated material down through the years, he was never able to match this one brilliant single.

Brown Sugar 45 by The Rolling Stones

September 26, 2011

The last original issue Rolling Stones single in the United States on the London label was the chart topping “Honky Tonk Women.”

If you are going to start your own label, it helps that the first single release on the Rolling Stone Label was one of the best rock songs in music history. “Brown Sugar” was was released May 1, 1971, and would spend two weeks at the top of the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

The Rolling Stones were arguably the best rock band of the 1960s and then Mick Taylor replaced Brian Jones as the second guitarist and they became one of the best, if not the best, rock band of all time. Taylor and Keith Richard may not have got along, but Taylor pushed Richard to be better.

“Brown Sugar” just rocks from beginning to end. An essential listening experience.