Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne

DEAR JERRY: I read your piece about Russ Conway, who had a No. 1 hit in the UK ("Roulette"), and yet never could manage a hit in America.

Specifically during my pop music period (1960 - 1975), what other British No. 1 hit makers failed to appear on a U.S. chart?
—Audrey Hammel, Lancaster, Pa.

DEAR AUDREY: Love the question, and I think you'll find the results fascinating:

1960: "What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For" (Emile Ford and the Checkmates); "Starry Eyed" (Michael Holliday); "Apache" (Shadows); "Tell Laura I Love Her" (Ricky Valance)

Why "What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For" did not chart in the U.S. is a mystery, especially since it was issued twice that year (Andie 5018 and Cub 9063).

Traditionally, most American hits were covered by foreign artists, as is the case with Michael Holliday and "Starry Eyed," a 1959 U.S. release by Gary Stites (Carlton 521).

Occasionally the reverse is true, like the smash hit instrumental "Apache." Originally by the Shadows, the hit in America came out in late 1960 by then unknown Jorgen Ingmann (Atco 6184), and reached No. 2. Just a few weeks earlier, ABC-Paramount (45-10,138) released the Shadows' version, but to no avail.

Valance's "Tell Laura I Love Her" is a cover of Ray Peterson's Top 10 hit (RCA Victor 47-7745).

1961: "You're Driving Me Crazy" (Temperance Seven); "Johnny Remember Me" (John Leyton)

Rudy Vallee and His Connecticut Yankees recorded "You're Driving Me Crazy (What Did I Do)" in 1931 (Victor 22572), and the Temperance Seven perform it in the unmistakable Valle style. Not issued in the U.S.

Leyton's "Johnny Remember Me" came out stateside as ABC-Paramount 45-10,257.

1962: "Wonderful Land" (Shadows); "Come Outside" (Mike Sarne & Wendy Richards); "A Picture of You" (Joe Brown & the Bruvvers)

These three were all given a shot in America, but none scored: "Wonderful Land" (Atlantic 2146); "Come Outside" (Cameo 220); and Joe Brown's excellent "A Picture of You" (London 10517).

1963 "Dance On" (Shadows); "Diamonds" (Jet Harris & Tony Meehan); "Foot Tapper" (Shadows)

Three instrumentals, two by the Shadows and one by two members of the Shadows:

U.S. labels picked up "Dance On" (Atlantic 2177) and "Diamonds" (London 9589) but not "Foot Tapper," since the Challengers' original version was already getting some regional action (Vault 904).

1964: "Juilet" (Four Pennies)

A ballad in the style of Gerry and the Pacemakers, issued in the States by Philips (40202).

1968: "Everlasting Love" (Love Affair)

Though a Top 15 hit by Robert Knight the previous year (Rising Sons 705), the Love Affair's remarkable and distinctive "Everlasting Love" should have been a smash (Date 1591) in this hemisphere.

1969: "(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice" (Amen Corner)

Simultaneously issued in the U.S. by Immediate (5013).

1970: "Wand'rin Star" (Lee Marvin); "Back Home" (England World Cup Squad)

On the UK 45, Lee Marvin's "Wand'rin Star" is backed with "I Talk to the Trees," by Clint Eastwood. The American split single (Paramount 0010) still has Clint on the B-side, but with "Best Things." All three tunes are from the "Paint Your Wagon" soundtrack.

Not surprisingly, the England World Cup Squad probably crossed the Atlantic, but their music didn't.

1971: "Grandad" (Clive Dunn); "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" (Middle of the Road); "Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)" (Benny Hill)

Capitol American issued both "Grandad" (3064) and "Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West) (3272).

Domestically, it took Mac and Katie Kissoon to take "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" (ABC 11306) to the Top 20.

1972: "Mouldy Old Dough" (Lieutenant Pigeon)

Categorized an instrumental, though the Lieutenant frequently chimes in saying "mouldy old dough." Here in the New World, the Pigeon's masterpiece (London 1043) failed to generate any dough.

1973: "See My Baby Jive" (Wizzard); "Angel Fingers" (Wizzard); "Eye Level" (Simon Park Orchestra)

United Artists picked up "See My Baby Jive" (UA-272), but not "Angel Fingers." And yes, this is Roy Woods Wizzard.

Vanguard (35175) gave "Eye Level," an instrumental, a fighting chance, but no cigar.

1974: "Tiger Feet" (Mud); "Jealous Mind" (Alvin Stardust); "The Cat Crept In" (Mud); "Everything I Own" (Ken Boothe); "Lonely This Christmas" (Mud)

Of the three Mud chart-toppers, only "Tiger Feet" came out here (Bell 45602).

It was also Bell who introduced Alvin Stardust to America, with his 1963 "My Coo Ca Choo" (Bell 45454), which peaked at No. 2 in Britain. Curiously, they passed on "Jealous Mind," Alvin's top-selling UK single.

Ken Boothe's entry is the 1972 Bread hit (Elektra 45765).

1975: "Streets of London" (Ralph McTell); "Whispering Grass" (Windsor Davies As B.S.M. Williams and Don Estelle As Gunner Sugden); "Three Steps to Heaven" (Showaddywaddy); "D.i.v.o.r.c.e." (Billy Connolly)

The poignant "Streets of London" contrasts their haves and have-nots (20th Century-Fox 2178), but is just as significant for any large city. Unfortunately, very few Americans ever heard it.

"Whispering Grass (Don't Tell the Trees)" is an Ink Spots classic, a Top 10 hit in 1940. Davies and Estelle, of the sitcom, "It Ain't Half Hot Mum," stay surprisingly faithful to the original.

Showaddywaddy is an oldies band, similar to Sha Na Na. "Three Steps to Heaven" revives Eddie Cochran's 1960 hit.

Recorded live, Billy Connolly's hilarious parody of Tammy Wynette's "D-i-v-o-r-c-e" (1968) rounds out the coverage.

None of the above three were issued in the States.

IZ ZAT SO? Here's a quirky occurrence I spotted on the British charts:

For the first three weeks of December 1959, No. 1 is "What Do You Want," by Adam Faith.

For the next five weeks, Faith gives way to Emile Ford's "What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For."

One way or the other, they were the Top 2 in seven of those eight weeks.

If there is another time when the same first four words appeared in the titles of two consecutive, yet completely different, No. 1 songs, I can't think of it.

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368 E-mail:   Visit his Web site:  
All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.
Copyright 2012 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Exclusive Permission

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1. National – The Virginia EP 12″
2. Angels and Airwaves – Love Part I & II 4XLP
3. The Starting Line – The Early Years LP
4. Quicksand – Slip LP
5. Kevin Devine – Split The Country, Split The Street 2XLP
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25. Melody's Echo Chamber - Melody's Echo Chamber


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