& THE MIRACLES
The Miracles hit big in the early weeks of 1961 with their top 5 charting single "Shop Around." It would take two full years before the Smokey Robinson led Motown group would return to the top 10 with "You Really Got a Hold On Me." Although they weren't exactly burning up the charts during the lean months in between the Miracles nevertheless made some outstanding recordings.
In the late summer of 1962 "Way Over There" died on the vine at #94 on Billboard's Pop Singles chart and never even registered on the R&B Singles survey. My Pick to Click is the uncharted B side which sounds a little like "Raindrops," the Dee Clark hit from the previous summer. Here are Smokey and the Miracles singing "If Your Mother Only Knew."
"If Your Mother Only Knew" - The Miracles
(September 1962, uncharted B side of "Way Over There")
In 1967 the Miracles laid down an album track that became
a classic dance number in the South Philly/Jersey area.
"It's a Good Feeling" was featured on the radio and television programs of boss jocks like Jerry Blavat and Hy Lit and was played for years at regional record hops. The people in this video are performing the Wagner Walk, one of the Geatorific line dances of the 60s, a variation of which was also popular with our gang at the Shady Dell.
"It's a Good Feeling" - Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
(from the 1967 album Make it Happen)
& THE SUPREMES
During the Christmas season of 1966 "You Keep Me Hangin' On," the chart topping single by the Supremes, was playing nightly at the Shady Dell. At home, I frequently flipped the record and listened to Motown's most popular girl group per-
forming the exquisite B ballad "Remove This Doubt."
"Remove This Doubt" - The Supremes (December 1966,
uncharted B side of "You Keep Me Hangin' On")
& THE PIPS
Here's how I can tell that I'm getting old. There are millions of people alive today who never heard of A list soul groups like the O'Jays, the Spinners and the Pips. There are millions more who only know those acts from their 70s hits like "Back Stabbers," "Rubberband Man" and "Midnight Train to Georgia." What a shame, because all three acts were at their best in the 60s.
Gladys Knight & the Pips were already experienced veterans by the time they cut their first record in 1961. The family R&B/Soul act from Atlanta waxed some excellent sides on
the Fury and Maxx labels before signing with Motown and achieving their first major hit with "I Heard it Through the "Grapevine." One of those pre-Motown gems was released
in the spring of 1964 and cracked the top 40. You would be hard-pressed to find a ballad with more drama and feeling than "Giving Up."
"Giving Up" - Gladys Knight & the Pips
(June 1964, highest chart position #38)
In the 70s some of the coolest sounds around were coming from the Memphis studios of Hi Records.
"Rhymes," co-written by Al Green and performed by R&B great O.V. Wright, made only a brief chart appearance in the fall of 1976, but Wright's silky smooth vocals and the song's compelling lyrics made a lasting impression on me.
"Rhymes" O.V. Wright (September 1976, highest chart
position #87 R&B)
WITH JEFF KRON
& JACKIE ERTEL
The barbershop harmonies of the Chordettes were among
my earliest musical memories. I was barely five years old
in December 1954 when the female quartet hit #1 with
"Mr. Sandman," a record my mom and dad owned and that
I played often on my tiny tinny record player. In 1956 the popular girl group had a top 5 hit with "Born to Be With You," another of my parents' records I listened to again and again. In 1958 the Chordettes reached #2 with "Lollipop" followed by a top 20 single, the theme from one of my favorite TV series Zorro.
For decades those were the only Chordettes recordings I knew about. In the 1970s a friend gave me a box of records he no longer wanted and in it I discovered "A Girl's Work is Never Done," a poor selling Chordettes single released in 1959. Featured on the picture sleeve was Jackie Ertel, daughter of one of the original Chordettes, Janet Ertel. Jackie's other claim to fame was marrying Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers. "Girl's Work" is an obvious girl group knock-off of the Coasters' hit "Yakety Yak" and I didn't pay much attention to it.
Instead, I found myself spinning the heck out of the killer bee side of the record. "No Wheels" featured Jeff Kron doing his best imitation of hipster Edd "Kookie" Byrnes and Jackie Ertel credited for screaming "NO NO NO!" Both sides of the record benefited from the instrumental prowess of bandleader and tenor sax player King Curtis. "No Wheels" is so bad it's great! Dig it, man. It's far out, the coolest, like way gone, daddy-o!
"No Wheels" - The Chordettes with Jeff Kron & Jackie Ertel
(September 1959, uncharted B side of "A Girl's Work is
Have a Shady day!