Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: In the mid-1980s, while enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin, I often listened to KLBJ-FM. I liked their album-oriented format, and that they expressed no noticeable concern over hit singles or record charts.

One progressive rock cut they played tells of two people at their class reunion, reminiscing about their teen romance that died when the girl pursued stardom.

I haven't heard this song in nearly 30 years, and have no clues as to the title or the singer.

Based on its Byrds-like psychedelic guitar riff (e.g., "Eight Miles High"), it could be from the late '60s.

There was no room then in my budget for records, but now I can afford it and would love to have this piece of my past.
—Martin Roth, Tucson, Ariz.

DEAR MARTIN: Fortunately, this piece of your past is easily available on several different CD and vinyl collections, most in the $8 to $12 range.

The track you want is "Always Drive a Cadillac," written in 1986 by Larry Raspberry for the Everly Brothers' "Born Yesterday" LP (Mercury 826142).

"Always Drive a Cadillac" is an absolutely brilliant recording in every respect, and that sizzling guitar you recall is the artistry of Albert Lee.

DEAR JERRY: When I think back to when radio was the primary source for the top records, I am reminded of how often some stations abused their power by banning songs for the silliest of reasons.

Among those I recall are the Playmates' "Beep Beep" (encouraged reckless driving); Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" (glamorized organized crime); and even an instrumental "Rumble," by Link Wray, (sanctioned gang violence).

Now in an era when radio is no longer the dominant supplier of music, do they even bother to ban anything? All they need do is just ignore what they don't like.
—Clark Forcier, Greenville, S.C.

DEAR CLARK: Your assessment of radio's changing significance in the digital age is supported by the number of one-time Top 40 outlets that switched to a talk, news, sports, religion, or other non-music income-generating format.

The three examples you give are true, and here are just a few more that may be hard to believe:

The Coasters' "Charlie Brown" (misbehaving at school); Billie Holiday's "Gloomy Sunday" (depression, suicide); John Zacherle's "Dinner with Drac" (cannibalism); Ella Fitzgerald's "Love for Sale" (prostitution); Paul Simon's "Kodachrome" (product mention); and countless songs either overtly sexual, advocating drug use, or promoting some brand of religion to the exclusion of others.

We don't hear much these days about banning music, per se, but there is one fairly recent case not many in the U.S. know about.

This is the strange story of a song being banned by the BBC's Radio 1, not based on something they discovered by listening to it — rather by what they learned from reading a newspaper.

Until "The Guardian" ran an expose piece that came to their attention, Radio 1 aired "Style Attract and Play," by Shocka Featuring Honeyshot, unconcerned.

What Radio 1, which has a non-advertising policy, learned is that "Style Attract and Play" was an ad campaign for a hair gel product, and the song was created specifically to promote it.

Red-faced, Radio 1 responded thusly:

"The track was presented to Radio 1 in the usual way, via a legitimate promotions company, and we were not aware that it was a promotional tool for a hair product. As this was created by an advertising agency with the sole purpose of selling this product, and, since we do not play adverts, it is not something we will ever play again."

DEAR JERRY: What can you tell me about "Sail to Bombay, Sail to Rio," a beautiful song by Victoria's Voices? It was played often by the pop stations in this area, in the summer of 1964.

Did Victoria's Voices have other songs, or were they merely gathered to record this one tune? Are they perhaps known by another name.

Is "Sail to Bombay, Sail to Rio" available in any format?
—Warren M. Pischke, Brookfield, Wis.

DEAR WARREN: Victoria's Voices apparently were a Nashville-area bunch, assembled by Monument Records to provide just two tracks.

In addition to "Sail to Bombay, Sail to Rio," they also recorded "Daydreamer," and you'll find that on the B-side (Monument 847).

Other than that one single, which is usually available for around five bucks, I know of no other music credited to Victoria's Voices. I have yet to find them on a CD.

Since we're talking about Nashville, some of the Voices may have done session work, but no other recordings exist by the group as a whole.

Unfortunately, the identities of the gals in Victoria's Voices remains Victoria's Secret.

IZ ZAT SO? In 1964, about 20% of the music played in America came from the UK; however, "Sail to Bombay, Sail to Rio" arrived by way of Germany. A year before the Monument session, German singing star, Margot Esken, popularized the same basic tune, but in German and with the title "Ob in Bombay, Ob in Rio" (Polydor 52 095). Rather than "Sail to Bombay, Sail to Rio," this translates as "Whether in Bombay, Whether in Rio." In 1964, Esken went back and recorded an English version titled "Sail to Bombay, Sail to Rio." This track is what inspired Victoria's Voices, though their lyrics do vary from Margot's.

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 2013 Osborne Enterprises - Reprinted By Exclusive Permission

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