It's time to salute two more fabulous Cruisin' albums, those simulated radio shows featuring boss jocks of the 50s and 60s, cool oldies, and authentic jingles, commercials, and sound effects from the era.
As always I picked my favorite songs from each album, added a song or two of my own from the same year, and tacked up some vintage soda pop print ads to help get you in the mood.
If I was going for a cheap laugh I would call part one of this post Dellie Does Dallas; but I'm not so I won't. In part two I'll make a U-turn and drive us back east to the Big Apple. Let's cruise!
Russ "Weird Beard" Knight - KLIF, Dallas
"You'll Lose a Good Thing" - Barbara Lynn (July 1962)
It is my pleasure to present in today's edition of Cruisin' two of the greatest R&B songbirds of the 60s. I begin with Barbara Lynn - the singer, songwriter, and guitarist who hit paydirt with her first single "You'll Lose a Good Thing." The song entered the Billboard pop chart at the start of summer 1962 and enjoyed an impressive 13 week run finishing in the top 10. Over on the R&B singles chart the record did even better, climbing all the way to #1 and lasting 15 weeks. I offer you two video clips of "You'll Lose a Good Thing" beginning with the original studio recording.
Now, please enjoy this superb live Barbara Lynn performance.
"Popeye the Hitchhiker" - Chubby Checker (October 1962)
Chubby Checker is one of the most easily dismissed and underrated stars of rock 'n roll. You would think he was a one hit wonder.
Although Chubby (Ernest Evans) wasn't the first to release "The Twist," (that honor belongs to Hank Ballard), it was Chubby's version that became the global sensation, hitting #1 on the chart in 1960 and again in 1961.
Chubby Checker's "Twist" record is credited as the song that changed pop culture by getting Mrs. Robinson and her generation out on the floor dancing to teenage music for the first time.
The story certainly doesn't end there. I love just about everything in Chubby Checker's extensive catalog.
Chubby cranked out one hit record after another...
and while some of his releases were derivative variations of the twist and other dance fads...
others were refreshingly different up tempo folk songs.
When measuring an artist's greatness I always look for killer bees. If you count Chubby Checker's "Jingle Bell Rock"/"Jingle Bells Imitations" single recorded with Bobby Rydell...
Chubby had a total of 10 singles with both the A side and the B side making the Billboard chart. In a few cases, the B side out performed the A side.
Bottom line: Chubby Checker consistently produced high quality recordings!
Chubby's "Limbo Rock" went to #2 on Billboard and #1 on Cash Box at Christmas time 1962. Chubby's latest dance craze spent an astounding 23 weeks on the chart in all - more than any of his other records including "The Twist."
As far as I was concerned the groovier song was the killer bee "Popeye the Hitchhiker," a bizarre dance record that broke into the top 10 around Halloween.
Chubby Checker's "Popeye the Hitchhiker" became the inspiration for Cool Ghoul John Zacherle's spooky answer song "Popeye (the Gravedigger)."
TV ghost host Zacherle also recorded creepy covers of songs by other Cameo/Parkway recording artists including the Dovells, the Orlons, Bobby Rydell and Dee Dee Sharp. Here's Zach's version of Dee Dee's "Gravy" flavored with a dash of cyanide.
B. Mitchell Reed - WMCA, New York
"Mama Didn't Lie" - Jan Bradley (February 1963)
R&B thrush Jan Bradley might have been a one hit wonder, but her waxing of a Curtis Mayfield song became a northern soul classic and my favorite song on the Cruisin' 1963 album. Released on Chicago's legendary Chess label at the start of that year, "Mama Didn't Lie" became a top 10 hit on the black chart and finished #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Listen now to Chitown soul at its best!
The First Family, Vol. 1 - Vaughn Meader
(November 1962 through November 1963)
The assasination of President John F. Kennedy is the first thing I think of when the year 1963 is mentioned.
Comedian and satirist Lenny Bruce was performing at a New York nightclub on the day of the assassination. As the story goes, Bruce tested his audience's capacity to laugh in the face of tragedy by remaining silent for a few moments before quipping "Vaughn Meader is screwed."
Comic impressionist Vaughn Meader's career took off like a rocket with the release of a comedy album based on the Kennedys.
The First Family featured Meader as the voice of JFK.
The album was released in the fall of 1962 and by Christmas it was a smash hit. By November 22nd, 1963, 7.5 million copies had been sold. When the unthinkable happened that day in Dallas it put an abrupt end to Vaughn Meader's career because the comic actor became irrevocably linked with the fallen president and one of the darkest days in American history.
...thee rubber schwan...is mine!
Be here for the next installment of Cruisin'...coming soon!
Have a Shady day!