Now, let’s pivot from Jersey over to Central PA and meet Don Gardner's opponents, the Emperors of Harrisburg.
Before we continue with Part 2 of our Battle of the Boogaloos challenge, though, let's back up and recall the Emperors’ biggest hit and best known recording, “Karate,” the cookin’ dance number that had everybody at the Shady Dell throwing kicks and martial arts chops at one another.
“Karate” showed up in the jukebox at the beginning of December 1966 and remained popular throughout the winter of ’67. "Karate" reached #55 on the Billboard chart. That was an admirable achievement for our Harrisburg heroes when you consider the difficulty encountered by the Magnificent Men in trying to get most of their fine recordings on the charts. Although a minor hit nationally, "Karate" was a sensation at the Dell and ranks at #25 on my list of the Dell’s 200 Greatest Hits.
Five years after the release of "Karate" by the Emperors, superstar Carlos Santana reworked the song and scored a top 20 national hit with "Everybody’s Everything."
On the flipside of the Emperors' Mala 45 is the killer bee “I’ve Got To Have Her”...
...a surprisingly tender ballad that’s also way up there in the top 40 on my Dell survey!
Now, on to the business at hand. Let's FF to March of 1967, when the Emperors wowed the Dell crowd with a cover version of Don Gardner’s “My Baby Likes to Boogaloo.”
Dell dancers were still throwing “Karate” chops when the ‘Burg’s favorite funkmeisters proved that they weren’t ready to give up the throne. They hit back hard with another sensational jukebox two-sider, “My Baby Likes to Boogaloo" b/w “You Got Me Where You Want Me.” The A-side got the lion’s share of attention and jukebox play. With its raw and rowdy lead vocal, soulful group harmony, cookin’ funk organ, and outrageous lyrics that included I spy for the FBI (reminiscent of Edwin Starr’s "Agent OO-Soul"), “My Baby Likes To Boogaloo” was another major Shady Dell crowd pleaser.
The Emperors also placed the flip side of the record on my Shady Dell Top 200.
Click and listen to a genuine Shady Dell killer bee, the up-tempo funk fest entitled, “You Got Me Where You Want Me.”
It's time to declare a winner in our Battle of the Boogaloos, so I'll stop stalling and name my Pick to Click.
At the risk of being labeled a turncoat, I’m choosing the original Don Gardner version of "My Baby Likes to Boogaloo." This bad boy is a primal urge...an unstoppable force. It's over-the-top, off the hook, ruthless...one of the most exciting recordings ever made!
No matter which Boogaloos you choose, I hope you agree that both of these records rock and both deserved a much better fate on the chart.
Have a Shady day!