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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Time Machine week 24- A Very Friday the 13th edition

It's July 13th, 1970, and just to give you an idea about how messed up this week's Time Machine will be, let me give you two quotes. The first comes from The People History:

13th July 1970 : FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover named the Black Panther party the most dangerous terrorist group in existence today.
Now, from a site using the late Andrew Breitbart's Big Government blog as a source, from last October:

New photographs obtained exclusively by BigGovernment.com reveal that Barack Obama appeared and marched with members of the New Black Panther Party as he campaigned for president in Selma, Alabama in March 2007.
The photographs, captured from a Flickr photo-sharing account before it was scrubbed, are the latest evidence of the mainstream media’s failure to examine Obama’s extremist ties and radical roots.
In addition, the new images raise questions about the possible motives of the Obama administration in its infamous decision to drop the prosecution of the Panthers for voter intimidation.

My, how times change.  42 years ago, they were the biggest terrorist threat in the nation.  Now they only are a threat if you are a white Republican.  Come to think about it, that's all they threatened then, too.  But before we get into the whole subject of legitimacy and political hypocrisy...

Well, it was a Monday then, but it's Friday the 13th now, so hang onto your hats, as we learn:  Popes can name Counts; what's old in The Neighborhood; what the Hollywood Argyles and Hee Haw could possibly have in common (Hint it is NOT the fact- true story- that Alley-Oop was intended to be a country song); and a tune that went 49 years between versions hitting the charts- and the last time was 60 years ago!  Plus, Citizen Kane (the movie), T.S. Elliot, and our second visit this year to the set of the TV show Emergency!

Our normal order of business is going to be badly mauled as a result of the stories I'm about to tell.  Therefore, though I CAN tell you that I will be featuring 5 of the ten songs that debut on the hot 100,  I'm just not going to mention three of them yet.  Oh, and speaking of debuts, about three weeks ago I missed one of the top 40 debuts (how rude!) and this week, of COURSE it hits the top ten!  Anyhow, the debuts I can mention now are- at #97 Al DeLory with "Song from M*A*S*H" (AKA Suicide Is Painless), and at #79, Edwin Starr's War.   Now I think it is safe to go on now with MOST of our birthday songs this week.

Turning 30 this week:  Paul McCartney's Take It Away; Men At Work's Who Can It Be Now?; Billy Idol's first big hit, Hot In The City; the Alan Parsons Project's Eye In The Sky; and I Ran (So Far Away) by A Flock Of Seagulls.  Turning 35 are Strawberry Letter 23 by the Brothers Johnson and a very underrated band, the Outlaws, with a very underrated song, Hurry Sundown.  Helen Reddy's I Am Woman turns 40 this week.  Turning 45 are Glen Campbell's classic Gentle On My Mind and Neil Diamond's Thank The Lord For The Nighttime.  The Beach Boys' Surfin' Safari turns the big 5-0 this week, and here's the first of our "A funny thing happened on the way" stories.  Turning 60 this week is the Les Paul and Mary Ford version of the classic In The Good Old Summertime, a tune they would ride to #15.  It would be the lowest this song ever charted.  In a period of just under six months from October 1902 to April 1903, the song charted by five seperate acts- and hit #1 three times, #2 and #3 once each!  And was never seen again until Les and Mary some 49 years later.

One of those not recording it is our old-timer feature this week, John McCormick (or, more properly, COUNT John McCormick).  Born in Ireland in 1884, the wonderful tenor began his chart career in 1910 and rode the charts for 19 years, collecting 77 top 40s, 66 top tens, and 8 number ones along the way.  His biggest hit was I'm Falling In Love With Someone in June of 1911, but he's perhaps better known to have the first chart hit of the WWI classic It's A Long Way To Tipperary in 1915.  A tireless worker for Catholic Charities and the war effort in both world wars, he was named a Count by Pope Pius XI in 1928.  He was a friend of famous author James Joyce (Ulysses, Finnegan's Wake). His stardom translated into the big screen as well-if not AS well;  He had an uncredited part as the singer at the newspaper party in Citizen Kane (in which Nat King Cole also snuck in under the radar). He became a naturallized citizen in 1917, and immediately gave from the fortune he amassed to the war bond effort.  He also did the USO gig, even after he had "officially" retired in 1938, up until near his death in 1945.

Up next are the big movers for the week.  Climbing 19 spots to 77 are Neil Young and Crazy Horse with the original of Cinnamon Girl.  However, this time it's the big DROPPER that got lodged in the top 40.  But this week, it ain't gonna hurt to tell you, so let it be known that the big dropper is Which Way You Going, Billy?  The answer is down, a fall of 16 spots to 27.

Before we move on to the Where Are They Now segment, let me mention that another hot 100 debut this week was Mungo Jerry's In The Summertime.  It comes in at 84, and I held it back because I just HAD to see where you get a name like Mungo Jerry.  Turns out, Mungojerrie was a cat in a poem by T.S. Elliot.  So with Mungo Jerry, like Procol Harum, we have the feline community to blame.

Stupid cat names!  Why can't these guys have a good dog's name, like Bingo, or Spike, or... or Scrappy?


Moving on to the WATN feature, we find at the chosen position of #50 this week, Bobby Shermen, with the setting Hey, Mr. Sun.  Bobby's after teeny-bopper life actually began after starring on an episode of the drama Emergency! in 1974.  He went out and became a for-real EMT, joining the LAPD and later the county sheriff's department.  He founded and still runs the Bobby Sherman Volunteer EMT program, lining up EMTs to work events in the area.  But that is not the end of his philanthropic endeavors, no,no,no.  In fact, they led him to a like minded woman by the name of Brigitte Poublon , whom he married in 2010.  Brigitte was the daughter of refugees from 1960s Indonesia, and by 1996 had become a self-made millionaire in real estate.  She retired to concentrate full time on charitable causes, including work for Make A Wish and Special Olympics.  Last year, they founded Brigitte And Bobby Sherman Children's  Foundation to help children orphaned by AIDS, war, and other such things.  Working mainly in the nation of Ghana, they currently sponsor 30 children, giving them a place to live and a chance to learn and grow.  We're already in the sponsoring game, but if you'd like to help out, check out their website to learn more and help.

Thankfully for space concerns (and if I didn't drop the ball again this week), we only have two top 40 debuts.  Moving up 6 spots to #40, BJ Thomas hits with I Just Can't Help Believing.  And at 35, up 9 notches, Johnny Taylor's Steal Away.  So certainly it's a good time for another story from the hot 100 debut section.

Joni Mitchell sneaks in at 100 with her live version of her composition Big Yellow Taxi.  At this same time, another version (without her annoying laugh at the end) is in its second week on the chart at 77, by a nine -or so- member vocal ensemble called The Neighborhood.  The one thing that I learned, and quite quickly, was that they did some very nice, pleasant music.  The rest that I learned took a bit longer.

And much of that was from relatives of original band members on the comment sections of YouTube videos.  I'll try to smooth the story out from the disjointed way I learned it.  Around 50 years ago, give or take, two gentlemen named Michael Tomasetti (If you google it, this one is NOT the model- who is all you'll find)  and Mike Cavallo started a recording career as Mike and Michael.  They did a song called My Neighborhood, which if you look it up has an enjoyable Righteous Brothers feel to it.  They would then hook up with Louis "Chick" Stella, and record as (don't ask me why) the Taylor Brothers.  Their hit, Showdown, was a clone of late sixties Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and I thought very good.  But chart success waited until Stella and Tomasetti formed the Neighborhood.  Here, however, the info became much harder to come by.  The drummer, Bill Charmelo, apparently played on a kit he built around a 55-gallon drum he cut in two; he passed away sometime in 1999 or thereabouts.  (Tomasetti himself died in November 2008, according to his wife, and Cavallo followed soon thereafter.) There was a guitar player, who, depending on who you listen to, was either Bobby Bristowski or Robert Brotoski; Billy Mendes, Russ Rickman, and Joe Evans.  But the band was built around a set of identical twins who were called Ellen and Elaine, AKA "The Twins", for whom I drew little more than a blank.  One commenter says they were alive and well and lived in his building as recently as ten months ago; other than that they were, uh, well-endowed back then, I could confirm nothing more.  However, there was an act Elaine and Ellen who did some disco in the late seventies including a disco version of The Look Of Love.  If these are the same, then they looked like this in the late seventies:

Here they are with Big Yellow Taxi:



Trudging onward, we have three songs entering the top ten, so three fall out.  The Long And Winding Road slips down 4 to #12.  Get Ready drops from 7 to 14.  And I don't know what it is with Elvis spending a week at ten and then dropping, but he does it for the second time in a row; The Wonder Of You falls to 15.

Cracking the top ten at 10, up 6, are the Five Stairsteps with O-oh Child.
And gumming up the works at #9 is my next-to-last story.  The song I failed to notice slipping in the top 40 a month ago climbs 6 to #9 this week.  It is a reworking of Beethoven's Hymn To Joy called Himno A La Alegria, or A Song Of Joy, and it is done by Spanish superstar Miguel Rios.  This dude singlehandedly took the repressive monotony of the Franco-era music scene in Spain and turned it upside down.  The song became a huge worldwide hit, and so Rios did what any rock superstar would shortly thereafter- got busted for hashish possession and spent a few years planning his next lp in prison.

Vanity Faire falls a pair (poetic, no?) to #8 with Hitchin' A Ride.
Tony Burrows, this time as the Pipkins, leaps 7 spots to the #7 spot with Gimme Dat Ding.  True story, when I was in kindergarten, girl came up to me and asked in complete seriousness, "That song is being selfish, isn't it?"  Had I said, "Y'know, I think you're right" instead of, "ummm, yeah...", my success with women might have been forever changed.  But that's not my last story.  This is.

The final of the hot 100 debuts this week is actually on its 17th chart week- Bobby "Borris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers doing the Monster Mash at #89.  Now, you might ask, why on earth do you re-release a Halloween themed tune in the middle of summer?  I know I did.

I didn't get answers, but I did get a fun story.  Pickett took the song after coming up with it to Gary Paxton, a producer, who, BTW, was basically the Hollywood Argyles, known for the fellow-novelty hit Alley-Oop.  Trying to figure out just who the Crypt-Kickers were was a ton o' fun.  One site- the first one I saw- suggested that the Hollywood Argyles were in fact the CKs.  However, there were really only two (and barely that) HAs, and one of 'em wasn't involved.  So I dug on, and found that Leon Russell was there.  Then I found another story that said he arrived late, and while he was on the rest of the album they threw together to go with it, he was NOT on Monster Mash.  Was he? IDK.  Another place suggested that members of Ronny and the Daytonas were involved; but if they were, I sure couldn't prove it.  Then comes Mel Taylor, who would become drummer for the Ventures.  He was supposedly a CK; but then I found that the drummer on the lp and the drummer that toured with Pickett were NOT one and the same, because the studio drummer ( according to his daughter) didn't want to tour.  Which one was Taylor?  I'm not really sure, and I have no idea where I found the story from his daughter, whichever "he" it was.  That brings us to a lady named Ricky Page who was definitely in on it.  She had also been involved in a band with her daughters called Joanne and the Triangles and hit with After The Showers Come Flowers (which was a pretty good clone of the Murmaids' Popsicles, Icicles) as well as a Ricky solo called I Cry Inside.  My source further says that she became a member of something called the Nashville Edition.  And who, pray tell, were they?  Why, they were the two-man, two-woman vocal quartet that provided a lot of the background vocals for the Hee Haw TV show, including joining Sheb Wooley (AKA Ben Colder) on the show's theme song , which he wrote.

So, let's see if we can get done with the top ten now, shall we?
#6, up three notches, is Freda Payne's Band Of Gold.
Holding at 5, what would have been the six degrees song if the hot 100 debuts mess hadn't so thoroughly destroyed it, is Blues Image with Ride Captain Ride.
The Jackson Five drop from top dog to #4 with The Love You Save.
A notch to three, Melanie and Lay Down (Candles In The Rain).
A notch to two,  the Temps with Ball Of Confusion (quite possibly this week's theme song).
ANNNNND... a notch to the top spot.....

Three Dog Night- and if ever the song was appropriate to the post, this is it-  Mama Told Me (Not To Come)!!!!!

Thank God I typed this up Thursday night- if this is what Friday the 13th is doing already, I might be in jail or the hospital by  9 AM tomorrow!  See ya next time!

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