Tag Archives: 1965

Riding with Records on Wheels

It is the early summer of 1965. School’s out in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

You’re cruising Main Street, your car radio blasting away. You’re plopped down on the bed, listening to the tinny sound from your tiny transistor radio.

Then you hear a certain song.

But which stores have that 45? Stiller’s? Shopko? Prange’s? Woolworth’s? Snyder Drug? It’s a hassle to run downtown on the spur of the moment.

Still, you really dig it that song. You gotta have it. Like right now, man.

So you pick up the phone and dial 432-2333. You call Records on Wheels.

Records on Wheels ad, June 17, 1965

A Chevy panel truck pulls up outside the house. Someone gets out, comes up to your door, collects your money and hands you the 45 you just gotta have.

You paid a premium for that service, of course. That record you so urgently needed cost $1 — 97 cents plus 3 cents sales tax.

Depending on which store you shopped, and which sale you shopped, 45s sold for three for $1 … or two for 49 cents … or a bag of five for 39 cents … or 88 cents each … or 77 cents each … or 50 cents each … or 29 cents each … or 10 cents each.

Records on Wheels was ahead of its time. Decades ahead of a time with next-day delivery from Amazon.

The only evidence of its existence are 11 days of newspaper want ads touting the service in February 1965 and the ad above, which was curiously dropped into the paper four months later, on Thursday, June 17, 1965 — 55 years ago today.

And, of course, the records that were wheeled to homes all over Green Bay.

What was Green Bay listening to this week in 1965? The Beatles are between singles — it’ll be another month before “Help!” is released in the States.

That week’s Top 10 at WDUZ radio isn’t all that adventurous. It’s topped by Dino, Desi and Billy, who are followed by the Byrds, Herman’s Hermits, Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, the Dupries (a local group), the Sir Douglas Quintet, the Vibratones (another local group), the Beach Boys, Gene Pitney and the Yardbirds.

It won’t be long, though, before the Green Bay kids are digging this:

Four Tops I Can't Help Myself 45

“I Can’t Help Myself,” the Four Tops, 1965.

It just takes two months to make it to Green Bay after its release.

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Filed under June 2020, Sounds

The rise and fall of Stiller’s Top Ten

On Memorial Day weekend in 1965, the folks in the music department at the Stiller Co. in downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin, launched a Top 10 singles chart just as summer started.

They put it in an ad, which was published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette on Friday, May 28, 1965. The Stiller’s Top Ten singles chart appeared in the Green Bay paper every Friday evening for the next 245 weeks, give or take a week or two when it was left out for some reason.

The last Stiller’s Top Ten chart appeared 50 years ago this week, on Friday, Feb. 6, 1970. It’s on the right, opposite the first chart.

The first and last Stiller Top Ten singles charts from the Stiller Co. in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Stiller charts are a fascinating look into pop music tastes in a conservative Midwest town during the latter half of the ’60s.

Though the early charts say the Top Ten was based on record sales, the first Stiller Top 10 chart is exactly the same as the Top 10 chart from WDUZ radio in Green Bay for that week. That practice continued well into 1966. After that, and until the end of the run, the Stiller charts and the local radio charts are similar but not mirror images of each other.

The “By Actual Sales” notation eventually disappeared from the ads in the paper. In fact, actual sales may rarely have been a factor. I’ve been told that young women who worked at the store were influential in shaping each week’s Top Ten, picking their favorite records. For that reason alone, the Stiller charts may not be representative of what Green Bay listeners really liked.

The Stiller charts were flawed in another, more culturally significant way. Though the Supremes and the Dixie Cups show up in the first chart and Eddie Holman in the last chart, black artists were underrepresented.

That said, black artists also were underrepresented on the playlists at WDUZ radio and WBAY radio, Green Bay’s Top 40 stations. The Stiller store was tight with both stations throughout the Top Ten’s four-year-plus run, sponsoring radio shows that almost certainly hyped records the store wanted to sell.

The great value of the Stiller charts is when local and regional groups turn up with singles in the Top Ten.

The first chart has one such entry at No. 4 — “Baby Doll” by the Dupries. They were a local group featuring three Duprey sisters — Annie, Joanie and Carol — along with three guys. The band’s name was a play on their last name.

In early May 1967, “Rapid Transit” by the Robbs, a Milwaukee group, was No. 1 on the Stiller chart for two weeks.

In November 1967, just before Thanksgiving, “Stop and Listen” by the Shag, another Milwaukee group, was No. 1 on the Stiller chart for a week.

The arc of the Stiller charts sort of parallels the Beatles’ career arc. The chart debuts as the summer of 1965 begins, with Beatlemania going strong in America for at least a year. From 1965 to 1969, at least 10 Beatles singles reach No. 1 on the Stiller charts. In the last chart, the store hypes a new Beatles LP as “coming soon.” That record is “Let It Be,” the Beatles’ last LP.

As the ’60s give way to the ’70s, the Stiller’s Top Ten chart seems to be staggering to the end. Is it still relevant? The editing gets sloppy. Does anyone care?

Led Zeppelin is listed as “Leo Zepplin” and remains that way for three weeks before being corrected to “Led Zepplin.” Not getting a whole lotta love there. “Creedance Clearwater Revival” has a new LP, “Willy Poor Boy.” “Laura Nyrol” and “Rod McKuern” have new LPs, too.

In the final chart, there are four typos in artists’ names — “Vanity Fair” instead of Vanity Fare, “By Jefferson” instead of Jefferson, “Lenney Welch” instead of Lenny Welch and “The Bad Finger” instead of Badfinger — and an extra S tacked on to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

The last Stiller’s Top Ten chart seems to be sending a farewell message. It’s right there, at No. 6 and No. 7.

Oh, well. Breaking up is hard to do.

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Filed under February 2020, Sounds

I’m still talking ’bout Shaft

This week marks 10 years of doing business on this increasingly lightly traveled corner of the web.

If you’re looking for something from Ten Years After or anything from Neil Young’s “Decade,” well, sorry.

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It was 10 years ago Sunday that we had the first audio clip here. Appropriately enough, it was John Williams’ theme to the old “Time Tunnel” TV show. The blog post that accompanied it was little more than practice. The image that topped that post is long gone, the boy in the picture on the verge of grad school.

It was 10 years ago yesterday that we had the first real tunes here, something from what was perhaps the second or third LP I ever bought, way back in 1971.

shaft-enterprise-lp-2

“Walk From Regio’s,” Isaac Hayes, from the “Shaft” soundtrack, 1971.

In 10 years of record digging since we got started here, I’ve been looking out for interesting “Shaft” covers. This is one.

shaft-soul-mann-lp-2

“Bumpy’s Lament,” Soul Mann and the Brothers, from “Shaft,” 1971. Soul Mann actually was Sy Mann, a New York arranger, conductor and keyboard player. Strictly a studio knockoff on the Pickwick label, which I usually avoid, but fun to have found. Just a little different sound.

As for all that record digging, some good news. We are back in business when it comes to ripping all those old records, thanks to a new turntable just installed last weekend. Here’s the first thing ripped on that new turntable. Its volume may not be perfect. Still getting used to it.

live-ike-tina-turner-show

“Finger Poppin’,” Ike and Tina Turner, from “Live! The Ike & Tina Turner Show,” 1965. I’m always looking out for cool Ike and Tina records, and this certainly qualifies. It was recorded live at The Skyliner Ballroom, Fort Worth, Texas, and Lovall’s Ballroom in Dallas.

When I posted on Facebook that I’d found it at the Milwaukee record show a couple of weeks ago, my friend Larry Grogan of the mighty Funky 16 Corners blog offered this instant review: “Great album. … Great snapshots of a mid-’60s soul revue, multiple singers, cover songs.”

Which reflects perhaps the greatest joy of 10 years of doing this blog — getting to know and being part of a good group of like-minded record diggers and music buffs. I’ve met JB from The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ and Greg from Echoes in the Wind in real life and still hope to meet those on the coasts and elsewhere.

More to come.

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Filed under February 2017, Sounds

It was 50 years ago today …

One of the joys of digging through old newspaper microfilm is finding things you didn’t expect to find. So it is as I’ve started a project to live-tweet, sort of, the Green Bay Packers’ championship run of 1965, 1966 and 1967 as it happened, 50 years after it happened.

It’s been barely a month and already the late summer of 1965 also has seen the Watts riots, the Beatles at Shea Stadium and Lassie at the county fair.

Fifty years ago today, on Friday, Aug. 20, 1965, as the Packers rested for the next’s afternoon’s preseason game in Milwaukee, the Beatles played two shows at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

Sharon Simons, an 18-year-old woman who’d graduated from Green Bay West High School just two months before, took the train to Chicago, went to one of the shows and wrote it up for the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Tickets were $3.50, $4.50 and $5.50, or about $27, $34 and $42 in today’s dollars.

beatles ticket 08201965

Before the Beatles ever took the stage, she saw the King Curtis Band, Cannibal and the Headhunters, Brenda Holloway, Sounds Inc. and Gordon Waller, the latter half of Peter and Gordon. The whole thing was emceed by Ron Riley, Art Roberts and Don Phillips of WLS, the mighty top-40 AM station in Chicago.

The Beatles played a typically fast but short set: “Twist And Shout,” “Baby’s In Black,” “She’s A Woman,” “I Feel Fine,” “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” “Ticket To Ride,” “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help” and “I’m Down.”

Then the wild Comiskey Park scoreboard went “TILT!” and blasted off fireworks.

Here’s a little of what that day was like.

Some other memories from that day …

7 more flashbacks, via the Chicago Tribune, plus some great color photos.

Larry Kane interviews all four Beatles in the basement at Comiskey Park.

Ringo didn’t care for shows in ballparks.

“Not as much as indoor with the people a bit closer, you know. ‘Cuz they’re too far away, really.”

John didn’t care for the stands left empty behind the stage, which sat on second base on the Comiskey infield.

“Yeah, it does put you off a bit, you know. Even though they keep saying, we don’t allow them to sit there. I dunno, I wish they’d hide it. Whereas there’s also kids always half behind, you know. And I’m really looking ’round so they get to see something, anyway.”

 

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Filed under August 2015, Sounds

A little variety from Ray’s Corner

There was a crisis at Ray’s Corner the other day.

My dad, who is 87, dropped his TV remote. It shattered. Without it, he can’t watch TV. Watching TV has been my dad’s main source of entertainment for as long as I can remember. You can see where this might be a problem. So we got him a new remote and managed to fix the old one.

However, there still are no variety shows for him to watch.

In the ’60s and ’70s, we frequently heard the sophisticated pop songs of Hal David and Burt Bacharach on those shows. At the time, they worked most often with singer Dionne Warwick, of whom David once said: “She always interprets my lyrics in a way that sounds as though she had written them herself.”

Four years ago, I took Dad to see Dionne Warwick.  I was certain Dad would remember her from those long-ago variety shows. He didn’t. But once his hearing aid was adjusted, and he heard the songs, he recognized them. That night, Warwick performed two Bacharach-David tunes — “I Say A Little Prayer” and “Do You Know The Way To San Jose” — with new, Latin-flavored arrangements and new phrasing. They sounded just fine.

That’s what makes them classics, and why the songs of Hal David — who died earlier today at 91 — are timeless. No matter who interprets them, they usually sound just fine. (Well, those Isaac Hayes covers might be an acquired taste.)

David and Bacharach worked together from 1957 to 1973, an arc that matches the first 16 years of my life, a time often spent watching TV with my dad. Enjoy, as we did, a little variety, some of the most familiar versions of Hal David’s songs, and some covers.

“What The World Needs Now Is Love,” Jackie DeShannon, 1965, from “The Very Best Of Jackie DeShannon,” 1975. The original version. David and Bacharach didn’t think this was such a good song after they wrote it. “We put it away in our desk drawer and kept it hidden there for 10 months,” David once said. “A flop, we thought.”

“This Guy’s In Love With You,” Al Wilson, from “Searching For The Dolphins,” 1968. Herb Alpert did the original version earlier that year.

“(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me,” R.B. Greaves, from “R.B. Greaves,” 1969. Warwick did the original version as a demo in 1963. Lou Johnson had the first hit with it in 1964. It’s such a great song that it became a hit all over again in 1983 for the British synth-pop duo Naked Eyes.

“One Less Bell to Answer,” the 5th Dimension, from “Portrait,” 1970. Out of print, but available digitally. The original version, with Marilyn McCoo’s tremendous vocals.

Finally, a little glimpse of one of those old variety shows.

That’s Tom Jones, of course, doing “What’s New Pussycat.” In 1965, he did the original, for which David and Bacharach were nominated for an Oscar for best original song.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under September 2012, Sounds