Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Who is the singer of, and what is the name of, the song playing on the latest Friskies "Feed the Senses" cat food TV commercial?

I know I heard it a time or two in the 1960s, but now I'm going nuts trying to identify it.
—Josephine Manno, Johns Creek, Ga.

DEAR JOSEPHINE: Based on your description, I believe you are referring to the video titled "Dizzy." You won't see the title during the spot, but it's about a curious cat being enthralled by things that spin.

In order shown, the kitty marvels at: a vinyl LP on a turntable; a ceiling fan; a clothes dryer on spin cycle; water in a tub circling the drain; a wind-driven whirligig; a computer graphic spinning counterclockwise; and, with a little nudge from the cat, a can of Purina Friskies Feed the Senses salmon dinner.

A true professional, the cat casted shows no signs of lightheadedness after those dizzying scenes. Just an increased appetite for salmon.

The music accompanying this feline foolishness is "Happiness Runs (In a Circular Motion)," one of the non-hit but popular tracks on Donovan's 1969 album, "Barabajagal" (Epic 26481).

On the outside chance you watched "Night Lights" rather than "Dizzy," then the song heard is "Connected," by Caught a Ghost, from their 2013 "Nightworks" EP.

In "Night Lights," the cat roams the house in the middle of the night searching for, and eventually finding, one crunchy piece of cat food.

I just realized that in the history of this column — approximately 1.2 million words spread over 28 years — this is my first use of "whirligig."

DEAR JERRY: A well-known British Invasion collector posted a blog note saying: "Not until the Beatles in 1964 was there a week when the exact same recording topped both the U.S. and UK charts."

This is a cool piece of trivia, but I would like to confirm it with you.
—Cliff Woodside, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR CLIFF: The claim borders on truth, but requires a slight modification before being factual.

Make it "Not until the Beatles in 1964 was there a week when a recording by a vocal group topped both the U.S. and UK charts."

From the beginning of the New Musical Express (NME) chart, November 15, 1952, through 1969, only 20 times did the same record rank No. 1 in both countries at the same time.

For 43 weeks, out of a possible 892, both the Yankees and the Brits had these tunes at No. 1:

"Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" (Perry Como), one week in February 1953
"Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" (Perez Prado), two weeks in April 1955
"Singing the Blues" (Guy Mitchell), five weeks beginning January 5, 1957
"Young Love" (Tab Hunter), five weeks beginning February 16, 1957
"Diana" (Paul Anka), three weeks in September 1957
"It's All in the Game" (Tommy Edwards), one week in November 1958
"Can't Buy Me Love" (Beatles), three weeks in April 1964
"A Hard Day's Night" (Beatles), first two weeks of August 1964
"Oh, Pretty Woman" (Roy Orbison), one week in October 1964
"Baby Love" (Supremes), one week in November 1964
"I Feel Fine" (Beatles), three weeks beginning December 26, 1964
"You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (Righteous Brothers), one week in February 1965
"Get Off of My Cloud" (Rolling Stones), two weeks in November 1965
"We Can Work It Out" (Beatles), one week in January 1966
"Paperback Writer" (Beatles) one week in July 1966
"I'm a Believer" (Monkees), four weeks beginning January 28, 1967
"Somethin' Stupid" (Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra), one week in April 1967
"Hello Goodbye" (Beatles), three weeks beginning December 23, 1967
"Get Back" (Beatles), two weeks in May 1969
"Honky Tonk Women" (Rolling Stones), one week in August 1969

The number of weeks shown here may not reflect the song's total stay in either country, but is the number of weeks at No. 1 simultaneously.

Note that Roy Orbison is the only post-Beatles solo artist on this list.

IZ ZAT SO? The Beatles first made the British charts February 2, 1963, with "Please Please Me." Three weeks later it became their first No. 1 hit.

This reminded me that we have yet to dissect the top UK hits before and after the Beatles (we can't call it British) Invasion.

Just as in the U.S. one year later, the changing makeup of solo singers and vocal groups in England was staggering.

For this analysis we'll look at the NME No. 1 hits, for four years before (1959-1962) and after (1963-1966) the Beatles debut. 1959 through 1962:

Of 208 total weeks, only 18 had a vocal group (includes duos and trios) at No. 1. All of those 18 weeks belonged to just five acts: Everly Brothers (13); Marcels (2); Platters (1); Highwaymen (1); and Temperance Seven (1).

On the flip side, of the 208 weeks from 1963 through 1966, groups spent 157 at the Top of the Pops!

As for the other 51 weeks, here are the solo vocalists who briefly managed to push the groups aside: Cilla Black (7); Tom Jones (6); Roy Orbison (5); Jim Reeves (5); Ken Dodd (6); Sandi Shaw (4); Frank Ifield (3); Cliff Richard (3); Frank Sinatra (3); Elvis Presley (2); Dusty Springfield (2); Chris Farlowe (2); Len Barry (1); Nancy Sinatra (1); and Jackie Trent (1).

Stateside readers may not recognize Ken Dodd ("Tears [For Souvenirs]"), Chris Farlowe ("Out of Time"), and Jackie Trent ("Where Are You Now"), all of whom did have records released here. It's just that none of those ever reached the U.S. Top 100, although "Out of Time" was a regional hit for Chris Farlowe.

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:

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