Tag Archives: Shirley Bassey

That ’70s song, Vol. 23

As junior high school let out in June 1970, I had a sore throat.

It hadn’t come from singing along to some of the tunes in the Top 40.

Sitting at No. 1 that week at WLS, the Big 89 in Chicago, was “Hitchin’ A Ride” by Vanity Fare. (Which does, admittedly, have a cool keyboard bit halfway through.)

Also getting heavy airplay that week (for no apparent reason): “Gimme Dat Ding” by the Pipkins, “Which Way You Going, Billy” by the Poppy Family and “Hey Mr. Sun” by Bobby Sherman.

No, my enduring memory of that week is getting my tonsils out when all my friends were getting their summer on.

The only cool part about it was that my aunt was the director of nursing at the hospital, so she made sure I got whatever passed for VIP treatment for kids. Even so, it was 1970, and I don’t think I was allowed to have a radio at my bedside.

What I vividly remember is that my parents bought me a couple of packs of baseball cards — which they never did. I always had to buy my own with paper route money.

So it was me and Maury Wills, having quiet time at the hospital. Why I remember this card out of all the others, I can’t say. Seeing that it was June, and this is card No. 595, it might have been that — hey, Series 6 is finally out!

That also was the week that “Vehicle” by the Ides of March finally faded from earshot after three months in the charts. Given my situation, I didn’t hear “Vehicle” on its way out that week.

Nor did I hear, until Emmett posted it over at Art Decade three years ago, Shirley Bassey’s cover of “Vehicle.” The fine Welsh singer recorded this in early 1971 but it wasn’t released until 1994. Enjoy.

“Vehicle,” Shirley Bassey, from “Something Else.” It’s one of two bonus tracks on a 1999 CD re-release of the original LP from 1971. It’s out of print but is available digitally.

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Filed under June 2010, Sounds

Ladies night at Ray’s Corner

The music was blasting from Ray’s Corner as usual this afternoon.

Ray’s Corner, as our longtime readers know, is the apartment with the loud music, and the place where the martinis are made of gin with the vermouth bottle held about a foot away. Ray is my dad. He is 84.

When I opened the door, Dad popped up from behind the counter. He’d been digging around in his CDs.

“TV’s terrible tonight,” he said. “Just the coach’s show at 6:30, and then nothing until the news comes on.”

Dad was lining up some more tunes to fill the evening that followed watching the Packers’ coach discuss the latest preseason game.

First, though, Dad had to turn it down the music, then turn it off, so we could talk. That was Billie Holiday blasting away. Dad likes the ladies.

Dad likes his TV, too. But he misses the variety shows of the ’60s and the ’70s, the ones that featured up-and-coming singers like Shirley Bassey, the lovely Welsh sensation.

In the late ’60s, Dad was in his mid-40s. He never would have listened to anything from the musical “Hair,” nor anything by Three Dog Night.

But he might have listened to something from “Hair” or something done by Three Dog Night if sung by Shirley Bassey. Something like this:


“Easy To Be Hard,” Shirley Bassey, from “Shirley Bassey Is Really Something,” 1970. (The album link is to a remastered, expanded import CD released in 1999.)

That, of course, was the long way around the barn to get to this tune. It’s a companion piece to another Shirley Bassey tune — a fine cover of “Light My Fire” — posted the other day by our friend Larry over at Funky 16 Corners.

I found this record last fall in the dollar bins in my friend Jim’s back yard. There are at least two more solid covers — the Beatles’ “Something” and Blood, Sweat and Tears’ “Spinning Wheel” on it.

By the way, Dame Shirley Bassey is still going strong. She has a new album due out this fall. I know an older gent — also still going strong — who might like it.


Filed under August 2009, Sounds