Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I was flabbergasted at your piece on how very successful Decca was with singles sales in the '40s. I couldn't have imagined any label besides Columbia or RCA having nine of the Top 10 hits.

I doubt anything like that happened in the 1960s, even when Capitol had the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Peter & Gordon. That is unless it was when the Top 5 hits were all by the Beatles.
—Ivan Veeneman, Jacksonville, Fla.

DEAR IVAN: You're right about there being nothing in later decades to equal Decca's dominance in the '40s, even in the 1960s when there was no shortage of superstars.

One key reason is that record production peaked big time in the '60s, and the major companies of decades past found themselves yielding chart slots to countless new labels.

The change, in fact, was immediate. Before the time came to flip the first calendar page of the '60s, every one of the Top 10 — actually the Top 11 — records came from a different company. Check out this chart for January 25, 1960:

1. "Running Bear" (Mercury 71474) Johnny Preston
2. "El Paso" (Columbia 41511) Marty Robbins
3. "Why" (Chancellor 1045) Frankie Avalon
4. "Teen Angel" (MGM 12845) Mark Dinning
5. "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" (Swan 4043)
6. "The Big Hurt" (Signet 275) Miss Toni Fisher
7 "The Village of St. Bernadette" (Cadence 1374) Andy Williams
8. "Go, Johnny Go" (Ace 575) Jimmy Clanton
9. "Pretty Blue Eyes" (ABC-Paramount 10058) Steve Lawrence
10. "Where Or When" (Laurie 3044) Dion and the Belmonts
11. "You Got What It Takes" (United Artists 185) Marv Johnson

This is but the first of many weeks that followed with 10 tunes from 10 different labels.

At the time (April 4, 1964) the Beatles owned the Top 5, only two of their singles were Capitol's, though in time they would all belong to Capitol and EMI:

1. "Can't Buy Me Love" (Capitol 5150)
2. "Twist and Shout" (Tollie 9001)
3. "She Loves You" (Swan 4152)
4. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (Capitol 5112)
5. "Please Please Me" (Vee-Jay 581)

Those two are the only Capitol discs by anyone in that week's Top 10.

DEAR JERRY: "The Sopranos" used a lot of great oldies in their episodes, most of which I recognize. That's good, because they never identify any of the songs or artists in the credits.

One that does stump me is heard at both the beginning and the end of "Two Tonys" (first episode of Season Five). I think that was the only time they used the same song twice like that.

Now that I want that record, I'm hoping you can tell me what they didn't.

It features a great guitar that's twangy in a Dwight Yoakam sort of way, and a singer who sounds a bit like Dolly Parton. The lyrics even seem like something she might have written.
—Albert Hartsfield, Palmdale, Calif.


DEAR ALBERT: The producers must have liked this song to have used it twice. Like you, I don't recall another episode with so much of the same song.

The artist is Emmylou Harris, coincidentally a former singing partner of Dolly Parton's, and her song is "Heaven Only Knows" (Reprise 22999), a Top 20 hit in 1989.

Paul Kennerley, Emmylou's husband for about eight years (1985-1993), wrote "Heaven Only Knows." It is just one of many tunes he wrote for Emmylou. Paul also penned numerous hits for other top country stars.

DEAR JERRY: As I am listening to Adele's "21," I am wondering if this album is still in the Top 10 in the U.S.

It's been many months since you last mentioned it.
—Tammy Singleton, Norman, Okla.

DEAR TAMMY: On Sept. 22, 2012, after 80 weeks on Billboard's album chart, "21" dropped out of the Top 10, presumably for good.

Even so, "21" has never fallen from the Top 40, but that may soon change. As of this writing (Aug. 1), Adele occupies the No. 35 slot.

Being ranked No. 1 for 24 weeks gives "21" the greatest number of weeks atop the LP charts since the beginning of the SoundScan era (March 1991).

IZ ZAT SO? In an occurrence hugely reminiscent of when Pete Wingfield's "Eighteen with a Bullet" landed at No. 18, and with a bullet (indicating strong sales and upward chart movement), on both Billboard and Cash Box (Nov. 1975), Adele's "21" is now the SoundScan era's 21st album to sell 10 million units.

For now, "21" is No. 21 on that very exclusive list.

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.

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