Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: There are hundreds or even thousands of internet radio stations now, with channels for every conceivable style of music.

The programs are free, and non-stop, but they don't always identify what's being played.

There is one killer ballad I heard on the doo-wop channel that I'm hoping you can identify.

It begins with "Since you've been gone, I hear an echo in my heart." All or part of that may be the title. Sounds like either a 1950s or '60s group.

Any thoughts?
—Lester Hannaman, Franklin, Tenn.

DEAR LESTER: Yes, I'm thinking what you heard is one of only two possibilities. Either way, the title is just "Echo in My Heart."

First we have it by the Stereos, who, despite their stage name, recorded only in monaural. This single, issued in 1962 (Columbia 42626), is extremely rare and somewhat pricey, selling in the $500 to $1,000 range.

Then, 30 years later and seemingly out of nowhere, the 5 Majors, led by Dom D'Elia, revived "Echo in My Heart."

Their 1992 recording (JG 100) is nearly identical to the original, and generally thought to be just as good.

Even with the similarities, there is one sure way to know which "Echo" you're hearing.

At the ending of the Stereos track, the music simply fades out, whereas the 5 Majors end it cold (no fade).

DEAR JERRY: I've enjoyed your frequent coverage of so-called regional hits, records that were played in certain sections of the country, but never quite sold well enough to be nationwide hits.

Therefore I am certain you can help my foggy memory regarding two songs played in the San Bernardino-Riverside area in late 1963 and early '64. on KMEN and KFXM, then the two Top 40 stations in the Inland Empire.

One is a drag racing song that was played at the same time as "Drag City" (Jan & Dean). They both start out with the same revving engine sounds.

The other song is by a girl group, and in the style of the Ronettes. In it, the singer is pining over her breakup with a boy named Joe. I think he hooked up with her ex-best friend.

Those are the only clues I can provide.
—Joe Bertrand, Redlands, Calif.

DEAR JOE: Now it's clear why you liked a song in which Joe is so popular.

Seriously, both clues are terrific because they point directly to the songs in question.

"Drag City" made its Hot 100 debut December 7, 1963, and the only other hot rod tune being played there at that time was "Big Mean Drag Machine," by Lynn Bryson (Hook 12863). Interestingly, the Hook selection number is also release date: 12/8/63.

It's not really a car song, but Freddy Cannon's "Abigail Beecher" (his history teacher) was also on the charts then. Everyone at the school knew when Abigail arrived for work, by "the roar of her (Jaguar) XK-E."

Foggy memory number two is one of those faux Wall of Sound recordings, and, as you discovered, truly inspired by Spector's productions for the Ronettes.

This girl group is the Joys, and their Spector-like number is "I Still Love Him" (Valiant 6042), with "him" being Joe. It too was played in late 1963.

Meanwhile, two authentic Spector productions were on the charts at that same time, "Baby I Love You" (Ronettes), and "Little Boy" (Crystals).

IZ ZAT SO? Most of the artists whose recordings emulate Phil Spector's distinctive techniques and gimmicks are unknown, even to staunch music collectors.

Most, but not all.

A handful of those artists are famous to varying degrees, especially Cher; Shelley Fabares; Chiffons; Shangri-las; Linda Scott; Earl-Jean/Cookies; Nino Tempo & April Stevens; Jackie Lee; Carol Connors; and Diane Renay.

Tunes by these stars, along with ones by several dozen unknown acts, make up the dazzling three-disc CD collection, "Touch the Wall of Sound (60 Spectacular Sound Gems from the Sixties - Rare Phil Spector Style Productions Done By Others)."

About the only essential track they missed is "Too Hurt to Cry, Too Much in Love to Say Goodbye," by the Darnells, but perhaps they were unable to license it from Motown.

However, this package does include "I Still Love Him," by the Joys.

Though a Japanese import from the '90s, "Touch the Wall of Sound" is still available on Amazon, eBay, and other online sources, usually for about $15 per disc.

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