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

SOCK IT TO ME BABY!!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Time Machine week 27

Today is August 3, 1970- and Corpus Christi, Texas, has been taken by surprise.  Hurricane Celia, which had nearly reached shore as a Cat 1 storm, blew up into a 125 mph monster as it hit land, and became the costliest storm in Texas history for the next 13 years.  15 people lose their lives in Texas alone.  In a somewhat less disastrous note, one Mairiam Hargrave of Yorkshire, UK, passed her driver's test on her 40th try.  I was unable to determine the effects of this disaster.

Welcome to Time Machine, where we leave the problems of today aside and just enjoy some good music.  This week is heavy on birthdays; features a Where Are They Now that could just as well be a where were they then; the song that White Christmas knocked off to become the biggest selling single of all time; and the true story of the Bobbettes' hit Mr. Lee- and why they had to leave their label to tell it.  And, six degrees takes us from the Temptations to world famous composer Bernard Webb (who?)  Find out, next!


We kick off with the hot hundred debuts this week, and there were 15 of them.  The ones I recognized included Tony Orlando and Dawn with Candida at 94; the Poppy Family's That's Where I Went Wrong at 89; Dave Mason's bluesy Only You Know And I Know at 86; Rare Earth's powerful cover of (I Know I'm ) Losing You at 68; and Blood Sweat and Tears with Hi De Ho all the way up at 49.

Like I said, I have a ton of songs celebrating birthdays this week.  But I'm going to start at the end of the story this week, with a tune that turns 55- Mr. Lee by the Bobbettes.  You remember this, don't you?  (One two three, look at Mr. Lee/ three four five, look at him jive/ Mr. Lee Mr. Lee, oh Mr. Lee...)  Anyway, the Bobbettes were four girls from the projects who were discovered literally singing in the hallway.  They wrote the original version of the song- I Shot Mr. Lee- not about a teacher they had a crush on, but one they hated.  Atlantic records made them "revise" the lyrics, and it became a big hit, peaking at #6.  Later, they recorded the original, but Atlantic refused it.  So they left the label, and finally got it released, hitting #52.  Here, check out the lyrics they way they were supposed to be...


(One, two, three,) (Hey!) (I shot Mr. Lee.) Oh-oh.
(Three, four, five,) (Hey!) (I got tired of his jive.) Oh-oh.
((A-woh-wo-wo, we should've never...)) Oh-oh.
((A-woh-wo-wo, we should'vd never...)) Oh-oh.
((A-woh-wo-wo, we should'vd never...)) Oh-no.
((A-woh-wo-wo, we should'vd never...)) Oh-oh.
((A-woh-wo-wo,)) oh-oh ((we should'vd never...)) Oh-no.
((A-woh-wo-wo, we should'vd never...))/Oh-oh.

Shouldn'ta never met a sweetie,
(Woh-wo-wo, we shoulda never...)
He shouldnta never met me.
(Woh-wo-wo, we shoulda never...)
Shouldn'ta never met a sweetie,
(Woh-wo-wo, we shoulda never...)
He shouldnta never met me.
(Woh-wo-wo, we shoulda never...)
Now his memory,
(Woh-wo-wo, we shoulda never...)
Is down in history.
(Woh-wo-wo, we shoulda never...)

He was a real cool cat.
(He was a real cool cat.)
(Ooooo.)/And wore a high-top hat.
(He wore a high-top hat.)
(Ahhhh.)/He was a real cool cat.
(He was a real cool cat.)
(Ooooo.)/And wore a high-top hat.
(He wore a high-top hat.)
(Ohhhh.)/He was a handsome cat.
(He was a handsome cat.)
(Ooooo.)/All the girls loved that.
(And all the girls loved that.)

I said-a,
((A-woh-wo-wo, we should've never...)) Oh-oh.
((A-woh-wo-wo, we should'vd never...)) Oh-oh.
((A-woh-wo-wo, we should'vd never...)) Oh-no.
((A-woh-wo-wo, we should'vd never...)) Oh-oh.
((A-woh-wo-wo,)) oh-oh ((we should'vd never...)) Oh-no.
((A-woh-wo-wo, we should'vd never...))

I picked up my gun,
(Shot him in the head, boom-boom, ahhh.)
And I went to his door.
(Shot him in the head, boom-boom, ahhh.)
I picked up my gun,
(Shot him in the head, boom-boom, ahhh.)
And I went to his door.
(Shot him in the head, boom-boom, ahhh.)
Now Mr. Lee,
(Shot him in the head, boom-boom, ahhh.)
Can jive me no more.
(Shot him in the head, boom-boom.)

He hollar', "Help! (help!) ((Murder! Police!))
((The girl's after me with a gun.))
He hollar', "Help! (help!) ((Murder! Police!))
((The girl's after me with a gun.))

(Six, seven, eight,) (Hey!) (a-Mr. Lee had a date.) Oh-oh.
(Nine, ten, eleven,) (Hey!) (now he's up in heaven.) Oh-oh.
((Shot 'im in the head, boo-hoo, woh-oh.))
((Shot 'im in the head, boo-hoo, woh-oh.))
((Shot 'im in the head, boo-hoo, woh-oh.))
((Shot 'im in the head, boo-hoo, woh-oh.))
((Shot 'im in the head, boo-hoo, woh-oh.))
((Shot 'im in the head, boo-hoo.))
 Wow, wasn't THAT fun!  Let's get back to the birthdays, shall we?

Turning 30 this week we have Jackson Browne's Somebody's Baby, America's You Can Do Magic, and Dolly Parton's original of I Will Always Love You, a version that makes Whitney Houston's sound as if sung by a screechy alley cat.  Turning 35 are Steve Miller's Jungle Love, Donna Summer's I Feel Love, and Crystal Gayle's Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.  Hitting 40 this week are Michael Jackson's Ben, Gallery's cut of Mac Davis' I Believe In Music, Jackson Browne (again!) with Rock Me On The Water (a song I had no idea was this old), Arlo Guthrie's City Of New Orleans, and (If you discount the one week each that it was on the charts in two other failed releases) the Moody Blues with Nights In White Satin.  45 years ago this week came the debuts of the Beach Boys' Heroes And Villains, Eric Burden and the Animals' San Franciscan Nights, Diana Ross and the Supremes with one of Lauries faves, Reflections, Bobby Gentry's Ode To Billy Joe, and Jackie Wilson's (Your Love Lifted Me) Higher And Higher.  Turning 50 like me are Nat King Cole's Ramblin' Rose and the Marvellettes' Beechwood 4-5789.  And turning 55 with the Bobbettes are Jimmie Rodgers' Honeycomb and Buddy Holly and the Crickets with That'll Be The Day.  21 birthday songs, blow out the candles...

The big jumper this week is in the top forty.  And the top thirty.  And the top 20.  You get the picture.  Our big dropper, perhaps weighed down by the act's long name, is Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band with the much more succinct Love Land, falling 27 spots to 46.


Couldn't you have just called yourselves "Charles In Charge"?

Which brings us to #50 and the Where Are They Now victim.  Having listened to their tune, I think that with a little good promotion, we would have all known who the Lost Generation were.  The quartet, whose hit at #50 was called The Sly The Slick And The Wicked, were a Chicago soul outfit led by Lowrell Simon and his brother Fred.  They formed in 1969, and put together a debut album produced by someone we talked about here not long ago, the Impressions' leader Eugene Record.  They split in '74 after they just couldn't break out of the regional airwaves.  Some of the members formed another regional success called Mystique, while Lowrell went solo recording under just his first name.  Member Larry Brownlee passed in 1978; and around 1999 Fred formed a new quartet (later a trio) under the Lost Generation name.  Their sound was the equal of the Chi-lites and other such Chi-town bands, and I think a shame it never got any farther.

6 songs enter the top 40 this week.  Clarence Carter up 9 to 38 with Patches; Chicago leaps 20 to #37 with 25 Or 6 To 4; up ten spots is Jr. Walker's Do You See My Love at 36; up 9 to 35 is Dionne Warwick with Paper Mache; the Ross-less Supremes are at 34, also up 9, with Everybody's Got A Right To Love; and our big jumper, up 25 to #13, Mungo Jerry's In The Summertime.

I want to give a shout out to three almost-but-not-quites that are on the way down this week.  Pickettywitch had their one week in the top 40 at 40 with That Same Old Feeling; it slips an awesome 1 notch to 41.  A nifty song which you might not know, Go Back by a band called Crabby Appleton, peaked at 31 last week and falls to 52 this time.  And one more- the Intruders' When We Get Married slips from its peak of #48 to 55.  I bring this one up because the original was a not-so-bubble-gummy hit for bubblegum act 1910 Fruitgum Company (1-2-3 Red Light) in 1969 that didn't quite crack the hot 100, but deserved to.

Our look at the stars of the past brings us to the first of the great crooners, a guy by the name of Gene Austin.  He had 53 top fortys in a career that spanned 1925-34, with 48 hot 100s in a five year span from 1925-9.  Gene hit Vaudeville at the age of 15, when as a runaway he got egged on by buddies to take the stage at a show.  He enlisted in the Army in WWI, serving both in the Villa expedition to Mexico and in France.  He came out with the thought of becoming a dentist, but show biz was in his blood by then.  He collected 37 top 10s and 9 #1s, including 1928's Ramona, 1925's Yes Sir, That's My Baby, and a song that was for a time the top selling single of all time.  That was My Blue Heaven, and it held the title with 5 million records sold, until Bing Crosby passed him with White Christmas.  My Blue Heaven sat at #1 for 13 weeks.

Like many singers of the day, Gene got into the film act, including a part in his friend Mae West's My Little Chickadee.  He ran for the democratic nomination for governor of Nevada in 1962 (he got whopped), and passed in January of 1972.  He is related to two country stars:  Tommy Overstreet, who had 11 top 10s on the C&W charts from 1971-77 is a third cousin; and he is godfather to David Houston who hit #1 six times between 1966-9, including the classic Almost Persuaded.

One song joins the top ten, one falls out:  the stubborn J5 hit The Love You Save slips a single notch from 10 to 11.

Blues Image slips two more to #10 with Ride Captain Ride.

Up five spots to #9 is Eric Burden (he's been a real pest the last two episodes!) and War with Spill The Wine.

Alive And Kicking climbs one to #8 with Tighter, Tighter.

Three Dog Night tumbles three dog notches to #7 with Mama Told Me (Not To Come).

Which brings us to our six degrees victim.  Dropping out of the top spot to #6 this week is the Temptations' Ball Of Confusion.  One of the most recognizable parts of the song is the beginning bass line, played by Bob Babbitt. A member of the Motown studio group the Funk Brothers, Babbitt played on many big hits, including the classic Little Town Flirt by Del Shannon.  Shannon wrote many of his own songs (such as Flirt), and some for others as well.  One example of this was a song that he tried to record, but ran out of time at the studio- I Go To Pieces.  Unsatisfied with his vocal, he tried selling it to the Searchers while on tour with them, along with Peter and Gordon.  That duo heard him play it for the Searchers, and when they turned it down, P&G asked for it.  They took it to the top, one of their many hits.  Another act that wrote for them was Paul McCartney, since Paul was dating Peter Asher's sister, Jane.  He wrote them their hits A World Without Love (#1), Nobody I Know (#10), I Don't Want To See You Again (#16), and one more- a song called Woman (#14).  On Woman, though, he wanted to know if he could write a hit song apart from the Lennon-McCartney brand, so he was credited as "Bernard Webb."

Stevie Wonder climbs a pair to #5 with Signed Sealed Delivered (I'm Yours).

Also up 2 to #4 are the Five Stairsteps with O-oh Child.

And up two to #3 is Bread with Make It With You.

Edging up a notch to #2 is Freda Payne with Band Of Gold. 


And our new top dog, up one spot...

... The Carpenters with (They Long To Be) Close To You!!!!


That's it for this week!  Tune in Saturday for the penultimate eighties countdown!

9 comments:

  1. Just goes to show, I know like absolutely NOTHING regarding 70's music. Thanks for sharing! :)

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  2. I would like to say I don't remember Mr. Lee by the Bobbettes but I do not that I am that old......I just do remember it.......lol and I loved The Carpenters

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