April 29, 2013
Anticipating and hoping for something for a month is difficult at best but even more so if you have just turned 15 years old. Such was the situation that Peggy March found herself in during April of 1963 as her song “I William Follow Him” spent a month in the number two position on the Billboard Magazine Hot 100.
Little Peggy March, as she was known at the time, was 15 years, one month, and 13 days old when “I Will Follow Him” finally reached number one April, 27, 1963. It made her the youngest female to ever have a number one pop hit beating out Brenda Lee by about six months.
Peggy March was discovered singing at a family friend’s wedding. Several weeks later she passed an audition for RCA records. Her first single release, “Little Me,” was a flop but her second release was the biggest hit of her career. When you combine its three weeks at number one and five at number two, it was one of the biggest hits of 1963. It also topped the Rhythm & Blues Chart for one week, which was a real stretch as it was a pure pop song.
It was originally a French song written by Paul Mauriat and Frank Pourcel under the assumed names of Del Roma and J. W. Stole. Record by Petula Clark in 1962, it reached the top of the French pop chart that same year.
The Americanized version of “I Will Follow Him” was a smooth mid-tempo pop song that was representative of what was being released in the 1960s pre-Beatles era. March had a booming voice and pure voice that made the song one of the more memorable of the era.
She would record for the RCA label until 1971 but only four more singles would make the Hot 100 and none would enter the top 20. She would spend the 1970s as a German superstar. Living in the country, she would place 26 singles on their pop chart.
She moved back to the United States during the early 1980s and continues to perform and write songs. Despite the lack of commercial success for the last three decades, she can look back to 50 years ago this week when she ruled the American music world.
April 28, 2013
Queen burst onto the American music scene during 1976. By 1977 they were stars and during the early fall they released the single “We Are The Champions” backed by “We Will Rock You.” The single peaked at number four on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Hot 100.
While the songs were split for the single, they were connected on the album NEWS OF THE WORLD. The B side also received extensive airplay and both tracks have become signature songs for the band.
They could not have realized it at the time but boths songs have been played tens of thousands of times at American sporting events, which make them instantly recognizable to a large segment of the American population.
April 27, 2013
Neil Diamond had become a star with the Bang Label, 1966-1968. During 1968 he signed with the Uni Label. His second release for his new home was “Two-Bit Manchild.”
It remains one of my favorite Neil Diamond songs. It had introspective lyrics combined with up-tempo and catchy music. It just continued to build as the song progressed and included one of the better vocal performnces of his career.
How it did not become a hit I will never know. Taken from the album, VELVET GLOVES AND Spit, it was released as a single during the summer of 1968, it stalled at number 66 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Hot 100.
April 25, 2013
Perry Como had a career that spanned over six decades. He was one of the few Big Band era artists that continued to have success during the rock and roll era. Nearly 50 0f his 82 chart singles came after the beginning of the rock era. Much of his success at the time was due to his successful television show, which ran 1948-1963.
“Round And Round” was a typical Perry como song. It entered te BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Hot 100 on February 23, 1957. It peaked at number one on the Best Sellers In Store Chart (1 week) and Most Played By Disc Jockey’s Chart (2 weeks). It remained on the charts for 29 weeks.
It may have been the Elvis Presley era but Como’s career showed no sign of slowing down.
April 24, 2013
It may have been the rock and roll era but Andy Williams was decidedly not a rock and roll artist. Still, he retained his popularity for decades. While he sold tens of millions of albums, he also placed 47 singles on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Charts.
He would only have have one number one single. “Butterfly” would stall at number two on the Best Sellers In Stores Chart and peak at number four on the Most Playewd In Jukeboxes chart. It reached number one on the important Hot 100 Chart, March 30, 1957, where it remained for three weeks. It also topped the Most Played by Disc Jockeys Chart for two weeks.
It may not be his most well-known song but it remains the biggest hit of his career.
April 23, 2013
Marty Robbins placed over 90 singles on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Country Chart but “Ballad Of The Alamo” was not one of them.
When John Wayne was filming his epic movie, THE ALAMO, he turned to Marty Robbins, who was a country superstar, to sing the title song. Released as a single during the early fall of 1960, it reached number 34 on the Pop Chart.
It was more of a country song than many of his hits but the country radio stations never picked up on the song. Maybe they theough it was too Hollywood. It remains one of the very few Marty Robbins singles that did not make it onto the Country Chart.
April 22, 2013
Big Bill Morganfield is a spiritual son of the delta by way of Chicago. His new album, Blues With A Mood, features seven original compositions among the 11 tracks, and finds such blues stalwarts as pianist Augie Myers and guitarist Eddie Taylor Jr. supporting his gruff vocals and guitar playing. “Ooh Wee” and “Look What You Done” both channel the legacies of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. There is also the amusing “No Butter For My Grits” that is a witty journey through the lighter side of the blues. “Song of The Blues” is an autobiographical tune rooted in the traditional blues. In all, Morganfield has released a satisfying album rooted in the blues
April 22, 2013
Big Papa and The TCB can best be described as a jump blues band. Their instrumental heritage is rooted in the big band era, as a saxophone and trumpet carry the sound while a piano fills in around the edges. The lyrics and vocals move the sound over to the blues, as band leader/guitarist/vocalist Chris Thayer is able to write about life while creating music that is mainly up-tempo and catchy. Their new album, A Six Pack Of Cool, is a nice modern day fusion of two distinct American musical styles.
April 22, 2013
A couple of years ago I reviewed What Makes Bob Holler by Hot Club of Cowtown. It was an album of modernized western swing with a little jazz thrown in for good measure that paid homage to country artist Bob Wills. When their new album, Rendezvous in Rhythm arrived in my mail box, I expected a similar sound. Much to my surprise, they traveled in a different direction.
Hot Club came into existence when fiddle player/vocalist Elana James placed an ad in a local newspaper looking for a band. She didn’t join a band but did find guitarist/vocalist Whit Smith and so a band was born. Bassist Jake Irwin made three and their line-up was complete. Since their formation they have toured with the likes of Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. Their 13th album will be released May 28.
Rendezvous in Rhythm is an ambitious affair that finds the band leaving their western swing roots behind and exploring new sounds. They tend to rotate traditional songs from the Great American Songbook (sung by Smith) and Gypsy jazz material (sung by James). The acoustic music channels artists such as violin and guitar masters Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt.
The lead track establishes the fact that they have moved in a new direction. “Ochi Chorne,” also known as “Dark Eyes,” is a Russian folk song, which is presented in a classical format. Combined with their other instrumentals, “Minor Swing” and “Douce Ambiance,” the tone, energy, and instrumental virtuosity is in place for the rest of the album.
The tracks tend to meander along. There is the beauty of Smith’s vocal on “I’m in the Mood for Love” and the sass of James on “Crazy Rhythm.” Throw in the Billie Holliday tune “Back in My Own Backyard,” Al Jolson’s “Avalon,” the classic “Slow Boat to China,” and the gentle “If I Had You” and you have an album that grabs your attention.
Hot Club of Cowtown has issued an entertaining album that shows off their versatility and growth as a band. They have moved from the smoky clubs of the West to the dimly lit bistros of pre-World War II Paris, and it’s worth accompanying them on their journey.
Article first published as Music Review: Hot Club of Cowtown – Rendezvous in Rhythm on Blogcritics.
April 21, 2013
Gale Garnett was born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1941. He family moved to Canada when she was 11 and than to the United States. In her early 20s she signed a contract with the RCA Label. Despite issuning eight albums during the 1960s, she would only chart two singles.
“We’ll Sing In The Sunshine” was released during the summer of 1964 and peaked at number four o the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Hot 100. It reached number one on their Adult Contempory Chart.
It was a mid-tempo and upbeat pop song that somehow won the 1965 Grammy Award for Best Folk Song.
Garnett would appear on dozens of television programs and in a number of movies as well.