BIRMINGHAM RECORD COLLECTORS
DEDICATED TO THE COLLETING OF MUSIC, ITS PRESERVATION, AND LASTING FRIENDSHIP
MONTHLY MEETING THIS SUNDAY, JUNE 10th 2018
2:00 PM HOMEWOOD LIBRARY – 1721 OXMOOR ROAD 35209
NEXT MEETING SUNDAY, JULY 8th, 2018 THE SECOND SUNDAY
THIS MONTH’S MEETING
Thanks to Bunky Anderson who joined us last month and shared stories about his life in the music business. From drumming in local bands to producing records to being a concert promoter Bunky has seen it all. It was fun to listen to the memories he shared with us.
Be with us in June to hear some tunes spun by BRC member Bob Friedman. Bob spent many a year singing in doo wop groups in the NE before moving south. But his love for doo wop and group harmony hasn’t wavered. He still sings on open mic nights around town and enjoys it all just as much. Come and hear the tunes Bob spins for us this month.
WHO’S ON FIRST OR IN THIS CASE, WHO DID IT FIRST – PART 2
I think a whole year of newsletters wouldn’t do justice to the number of hit songs that were recorded by someone else first with so many of the hits seeming to be written perfectly for the artist who had the hit. But we will do one more then move on next month.
With the British Invasion going full throttle in the winter of 1964 the Moody Blues burst onto the scene with their top ten hit, ‘Go Now’. Gee, what a great song from the UK, huh. Well, not so. The Moody’s recording of that song was and still is one of my favorite songs from that era. I really enjoyed the feeling they put into the song. But before it was the band’s first hit an American soul singer from North Carolina did it first. Her name is Bessie Banks. The song was written by Larry Banks, they were married at the time. Backing Bessie on the recording is Cissy Houston and Dee Dee Warwick.
When ‘Chapel of Love’ is mentioned I would think 100% of people think of the Dixie Cups. Although their version was the first recording released the song was done about a year earlier by Darlene Love and the Blossoms. Their recording was never released. A few months later The Ronettes included the song on their debut LP.
The first top ten hit in the US for Herman’s Hermits was ‘Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat’. The group was going strong in both the US and the UK but the song was not released as a single in the UK. Probably because the song was already a hit over there being recorded and released a month earlier by an American all-female band called Goldie and the Gingerbreads. That band was the first all-female band, a singer and three musicians, that was signed to a major label – Decca then Atlantic.
Janis Joplin backed by Big Brother & The Holding Company had a big hit with ‘Piece of My Heart’ in the fall of 1968. Janis really put a lot into the recording and was getting lots of good revues for her style of bluesy delivery. The song is a good style for her and I can image when she heard the original recording done by Erma Franklin ten months earlier she knew she wanted that song. Now if you were into R&B at the time you probably heard Erma’s version since it charted at #10. Both were good versions and record sales showed how much the public agreed. Erma, by the way is Aretha’s older sister. And the song’s composers were Bert Berns and Jerry Ragovoy who had a who’s who of hits. Maybe a newsletter article about them is coming soon.??
Think back to the fall of 1961. Who were you listening to on the radio? Roy Orbison, The Jive Five, Ray Charles, Sue Thompson, The Dovells? How about Glen Campbell? His first charted record came along then and it was ‘Turn Around Look At Me’. Written by Jerry Capehart, the song would have many versions later with two pop versions making the top ten, the Lettermen (1962) and the Vogues (1968).
When Gene Pitney delivers a song he does it with a lot of passion. Listening to ‘I’m Gonna Be Strong’ shows how much. With all the songs Pitney wrote you would think this is one of his own written for himself. But the song is a Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann composition. It was first recorded and released in 1963 by Frankie Laine on the Columbia label. Listening to Laine’s version I would not think it is him. His normal style is much like Pitney’s delivery style but on this one it doesn’t sound like him. His version charted only on a few NE stations while Pitneys, a year later made the top ten in both the US and the UK. The song has been covered by well over twenty artists including the likes of Del Shannon, Jackie DeShannon, Juice Newton, Bill Medley and Cyndi Lauper with her band, Blue Angel and later as a solo by her.
Speaking of Jackie DeShannon, she not only wrote ‘Bette Davis Eyes’, she was the first to record it. It was included on her 1975 LP, New Arrangement. Kim Carnes had a major hit in 1981 with her release. The versions are very different with Jackie’s being a more upbeat, R&B style with Carnes version more 1980’s progressive synthesizer laden style. It went six years between the original and the hit release but after it charted it has been recorded by dozens even including the Chipmunks (see below).
Another Weil/Mann composition that has a song that took a different turn is ‘On Broadway’. The song was originally recorded by The Cookies but a version by The Crystals was released first. It wasn’t until six months later that The Drifters would record it and become a big hit for them. The song would have a slightly different arrangement and lyrics when Weil/Mann got together with Leiber/Stoller and made it fit the Drifters style. Fifty five years later the song is still being recorded by major artists. It is said that Phil Spector plays the guitar solo on the Drifters’ recording.
For our last song we’ll use one with ‘last’ in the title. ‘Last Kiss’. At last month’s club meeting, our speaker, Bunky Anderson mentioned seeing Wayne Cochran at a local nightclub here in B’ham. I told him I thought Cochran had recorded the ‘Last Kiss’ before J Frank Wilson had a major hit with it. I did the checking and that was correct. But not only did Cochran record it first he was one of the writers. Cochran recorded it first in 1961 but it would be over two years later that Wilson and his band would release it. For Cochran, there would be no success except in Georgia where he was from and where it received airplay. But as you know, for Wilson it would hit big time nationally. Going to # 2 and staying in the top ten for eight weeks. While on the road promoting the song, the car Wilson was riding in collided with a trailer truck killing his manager and leaving Wilson with a broken ankle and ribs.
Well, that’s a look at just a few of the many, many hit songs that we are familiar with that had a release earlier by another singer or band that it just not known. Hope you enjoyed the history lesson. There will be NO test on this so don’t worry.
Check out our old and NEW BRC Radio shows . Send us your requests. Check out the music and fun on BRC Radio! http://www.birminghamrecord.com/brc/category/radio/
34th Annual BRC Record & CD Show
Just 2 months away is our 34th annual record & cd show. August 17-19, 2018 at the Gardendale Civic Center. Check out hours at our website – http://www.birminghamrecord.com/brc/ Be ready to volunteer when the time arrives. At next month’s monthly meeting we will be putting address labels and stamps on approximately 1500 postcards. We need as many as possible to get that job done in a timely manner. So be there next month to help out. Tables are all reserved. We expect another great show. Attendance has been growing steadily over the pass years. See you there!!
HEY! HAVE YOU HEARD THIS ONE?
‘Bette Davis Eyes’
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU HEARD THIS HIT?
(1959 – # 2 Pop – #1 R&B)