Tag Archives: 1967

Loitering in the driveway

Yesterday was one of those long days that turned into a long night.

As I pulled into the driveway 14-plus hours after I’d left for work, a cool old song came on the radio. At first I thought it was Wilson Pickett. Then I realized, no, he didn’t cover that Beatles song.

It was Otis Redding doing “Day Tripper,” from 1966. So I sat there under the garage light, tired and wanting to go into the house, but hey, it’s Otis.

Today, we had king cake and paczki at work for Fat Tuesday, so I brought some home for Janet over the noon hour. Another cool old song came on the radio.

So I sat there in the driveway in the middle of the day, listening to Nancy Sinatra doing “Drummer Man” with the great session man Hal Blaine on the drums.

Been looking for that song, but it’s not on the LP shown above, at least not the original 1967 version. They did stick it on a 1996 CD reissue as one of the three extra tracks. Guess I’ll just have to keep digging.

Sometimes, it’s just that simple. You sit in the driveway and listen to one more song.

Today, by the way, is the 13th anniversary of this blog.

I wrote the first post on AM, Then FM on this day in 2007.

More to come, including the rest of a story started here not too long ago and what I hope will be an enjoyable new series of posts.

Thanks as always for reading!

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Filed under February 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

Here’s hoping Santa is cool with this

Now that Christmas has come and gone, I can come clean.

Six days before Christmas, my son and I took a quick overnight trip to Minneapolis. For Evan, it was an opportunity to do some research at one of the University of Minnesota libraries.

For me, of course, it was a chance to go record digging. For the record, so to speak, I went record digging while fully mindful that it was a time to be looking for a few last things for other people, not for myself.

After dropping off Evan at the library, I made a bee line for Mill City Sound in suburban Hopkins. My friend Todd tipped me to it a couple of years ago. It’s one of the best record stores around. Highly recommended.

When I walked in, there was a guy looking at the new arrival bins. He was taking his time, which is fine, so I headed for the soul and R&B bins. Along the way, I glanced at the collectible records on the wall. Always interesting to see what they have up there.

So I dove in, flipping through the letter A soul and R&B records. Nothing for me. I took a couple of steps to my right, and started flipping through the letter B soul and R&B records. About a dozen records in, I glanced up at the wall in front of me. What I saw took my breath away.

There, among the collectible records on the wall, right smack in front of me, was the LP that has been No. 1 on my wish list for the last 10 years. I immediately took it off the wall. Never mind that it cost about four times what I’d planned to spend on records on this trip.

Behold.

“Two For The Price Of One” is a soul scorcher by Larry Williams and Johnny Watson, released on Okeh in 1967. The title cut is proof.

My friends Larry and Derek tipped me to Larry Williams and Johnny Watson on their blogs way back in 2009. The closest I’d come to finding that record was coming across a CD re-release while digging at Amoeba Records in Berkeley, California, in the summer of 2010. I’d never seen a vinyl copy in the wild.

I found no other records that day at Mill City Sound, nor at either of the other Minneapolis record stores we visited. Finding that one kinda negated the need to look for anything else.

Now, with Christmas come and gone, I can fess up.

That record has been sitting in a Mill City Sound bag for the last nine days. I didn’t say anything about it to Evan during our trip, nor to Janet when we got home, nor have I put it on the turntable. Until tonight, that is.

Santa’s listening, you know.

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Filed under December 2019, Sounds

Three Christmas wishes

The first wish

Christmas bells, those Christmas bells
Ringing through the land
Bringing peace to all the world
And good will to man

“Snoopy’s Christmas,” the Royal Guardsmen, from “Snoopy and His Friends,” 1967.

In 1965, Charles Schulz started drawing Snoopy as a World War I flying ace battling the Red Baron. But “it reached a point where war just didn’t seem funny,” he told biographer Rheta Grimsley Johnson. Even so, Snoopy and the Red Baron inspired this novelty Christmas song with explosions, with gunfire and with a solid message of hope that came as the Vietnam War escalated.

The second wish

Someday all our dreams will come to be
Someday in a world where men are free
Maybe not in time for you and me
But someday at Christmastime

"Someday at Christmas" LP by Stevie Wonder, 1967.

“Someday at Christmas,” Stevie Wonder, from “Someday at Christmas,” 1967.

My friend Derek reminded me of this one on Christmas Eve morning. Thanks, man. When Stevie sings of “men” throughout this one, songwriter Ron Miller clearly means everyone, of any age.

I have this cut on “A Motown Christmas” from 1973, a record we’ve had since we had only a few Christmas records. The others from way back when? “The New Possibility: John Fahey’s Guitar Soli Christmas Album” from 1968 — here’s some of that — and “A Festival Of Carols In Brass” by the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble from 1967.

The third wish

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir, released as a single, 1971. I’d always had it on “Shaved Fish,” the 1975 compilation LP from Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band, until I found the single a couple of years ago.

War is over, if you want it

Merry Christmas, mein friends!

Enjoy your holidays, everyone!

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2019, Sounds

A revelation, a toast and a wish

Christmas begins like this.

An 11-year-old Michael Jackson will forever convey to me the excitement of Christmas morning. That Christmas songs could sound like this was a revelation to this 13-year-old kid in 1970.

“One more time, yeah! Santa Claus is comin’ to town. Oh, yeah!”

“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” the Jackson 5, 1970, from “A Motown Christmas,” 1973.

Christmas continues with a toast.

“Christmas bells, those Christmas bells
“Ringing through the land
“Bringing peace to all the world
“And good will to man”

“Snoopy’s Christmas,” the Royal Guardsmen, from “Snoopy and His Friends,” 1967.

Christmas concludes with a wish.

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir, released as a single, 1971. I’d always had it on “Shaved Fish,” the 1975 compilation LP from Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band, until I found the single last year.

Merry Christmas, mein friends!

Enjoy your holidays, everyone!

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2018, Sounds

Bob Seger’s Cameo appearance

When it was announced that Bob Seger would be playing our local arena in 2013, my friend Larry in New Jersey suggested I “buy a front row seat and spend the whole concert screaming ‘EAST SIDE STORY!!!!!'”

Which is a song Seger won’t play live. It’s one of his best songs, but it’s from early in his career, a time he seemingly refuses to acknowledge. If you’ve spent any time reading this blog, you know we love Bob Seger’s early stuff. He was huge in Detroit and we heard him on the radio in Wisconsin long before he hit it big with the Silver Bullet Band in 1976.

But because Bob Seger won’t play most of his great early stuff live, I didn’t go see that 2013 show, nor did I go see him when he returned to Green Bay last August.

Which brings us to yesterday’s intriguing news that ABKCO Records is releasing a bunch of Bob Seger’s earliest singles on LP, in glorious mono, on September 7.

“East Side Story,” the song championed by Larry, is the second cut on the forthcoming “Heavy Music: The Complete Cameo Recordings 1966-1967.” It draws from singles released by the Cameo label out of Detroit in 1966 and 1967.

It’s intriguing because we’ve been down this road before and have been disappointed.

In 2009, Seger teased us with “Early Seger, Vol. 1,” a regional release comprised mostly of deep cuts from some of his earliest LPs. Ten of the 14 cuts were from “Smokin’ O.P.’s,” “Back In ’72” and “Seven,” all released from 1972 to 1974. I have those LPs, so I didn’t need the comp.

In 2011, Seger ignored his early days when he released “Ultimate Hits: Rock And Roll Never Forgets,” which was comprised entirely of songs from 1976 or later.

Those of us who dig Seger’s early work again felt a little left out. So we put together a blog post of Bob Seger’s other greatest hits.

Larry picked “East Side Story,” of course. “Heavy Music” was a consensus pick by our panel of experts. Appropriately, “Heavy Music” also is the first cut on the new release.

Still, I wonder. I find it hard to believe that Bob Seger, always so reluctant to let his early stuff see the light of day, signed off on this. Perhaps he got a sweet deal. Perhaps he doesn’t own the rights to these releases and has no say. ABKCO re-released two of the Last Heard singles in 1973, but billed them as Bob Seger only.

Whatever. I’ll be happy to get it when it lands in our local record stores come September, even if I’ve heard all but four of the 10 cuts.

I already had two of the cuts on “Michigan Brand Nuggets,” a compilation of early Detroit garage and psych rock “fortified with 7 very rare Bob Seger songs.” It was released in 1996 and re-released in 2016. The two cuts are both sides of a Cameo single released in February 1967 and re-released as an ABKCO single in 1973.

“Persecution Smith” was the A side. From the liner notes: “The follow-up to ‘East Side Story.’ Sounds more than a little like Bob Dylan circa ‘Bringing It All Back.'”

“Chain Smokin'” was the B side. From the liner notes: “A good spoof about the torments of tobacco addiction.”

 

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Filed under July 2018, Sounds

The three always under the tree

Christmas Day is here!

It’s been a nice morning, and I hope it’s been one for you, too.

These three songs always make my Christmas.

An 11-year-old Michael Jackson will forever convey the excitement of Christmas morning. That Christmas songs could sound like this was a revelation to 13-year-old me.

“One more time, yeah! Santa Claus is comin’ to town. Oh, yeah!”

“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” the Jackson 5, 1970, from “A Motown Christmas,” 1973. Also available digitally.

A holiday toast!

“Christmas bells, those Christmas bells
“Ringing through the land
“Bringing peace to all the world
“And good will to man”

“Snoopy’s Christmas,” the Royal Guardsmen, from “Snoopy and His Friends,” 1967. Also available digitally.

A Christmas wish.

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir, released as a single, 1971.

I’d always had it on “Shaved Fish,” the 1975 compilation LP from Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band. Until this year, that is. Found this while record digging. Delighted to have it.

It’s also available digitally, of course.

Merry Christmas, mein friends!

Enjoy your holidays, everyone!

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2017, Uncategorized