Originally written April 25, 2014.
All right, here we go again! Time for us put aside our differences and work toward making this world a better place. It takes a village, you know, and if we pool our strengths and unite as one, we can step forward into a glorious future. A world of never-ending happiness…you can always see the sun…aw, fuck it. Let’s just do a Top 10 flashback!
This week we will visit the west Texas town of El Paso, a city I know a little bit about, having spent some time there in 1979-80 and again in ’83, both times courtesy of Uncle Sam. And thanks to the AM radio in my ’72 Plymouth Satellite, I actually listened to this week’s featured station, AM 920 KELP, for a while in 1980. There’s not a lot of info on the early days of KELP, but it was El Paso’s go-to Top 40 station until border blaster XEROK (X-Rock 80) took over in the mid-70’s with their 150,000-watt blowtorch signal from Ciudad Juarez. When FM was available, I usually listened to 95.5 KLAQ (still rockin’ today!) or the former 93.9 KPAS, The Pass. But true to form, sometimes I’d sneak over to 97.5, KINT-98, for my Top 40 fix. Today 920 is home to KQBU, Univision’s “Que Buena” format, and the KELP call letters are way up at 1590, broadcasting brokered religious shows. KELP-FM is in neighboring Las Cruces, NM, also broadcasting for Jesus. But we’re here to look at how it was, so let’s dial way back to the end of April 1967 and dig what they were grooving to in the Sun City.
So out through the back door of Rosa’s I ran, out where the horses were tied! Survey dated April 28, 1967.
Peaches & Herb – Close Your Eyes
From well before they were reunited and shakin’ their groove thing. I could definitely see this one doing well among the Mexicans – it would fit well in a “Lowrider Oldies” compilation. I’d love to hear this on an AM car radio in its proper context.
Five Americans – Western Union
I don’t have a lot to say about the song; it’s OK, but how in the world did this record label not get a cease & desist from Atlantic?
Arthur Conley – Sweet Soul Music
An oldies radio staple to this day. Give your song a good, simple, classic arrangement like this and maybe it’ll be played 47 years later, too.
Tommy James & The Shondells – I Think We’re Alone Now
Tommy James got fucked over hard – he wrote a book about it some years ago. Roulette Records was owned by Morris Levy, an organized crime figure who also owned the famed Birdland jazz club. He screwed quite a few artists out of their royalties – James claims $30-$40 million. He finally overstepped his bounds when he released a rough mix of John Lennon’s “Rock And Roll” album of early rock covers on his own label. The details are beyond our scope here, but you can read Levy’s Wikipedia entry:
The song’s pretty good for what it is, especially when compared to the atrocious cover by Tiffany in the 80’s. Tommy James’s sound matured fast – in less than two years we’d hear “Crimson And Clover.”
Frank & Nancy Sinatra – Something Stupid
This one was a bona fide #1 Billboard hit in those pre-Summer Of Love days. I’ll go against the grain and say that while you can’t go wrong with Sinatra, his daughter may not have been the best duet partner – their voices don’t mesh all that well. It almost sounds like they were in different rooms when recording this. Maybe they were. Maybe they didn’t do it at the same time. Maybe I’m full of shit. It’s happened before.
Neil Diamond – You Got To Me
This one deserves to be heard more often than it is. It’s on par with his best rockers, “Cherry, Cherry” and “Thank The Lord For The Night Time.” No matter – not many singer-songwriters get to have the kind of career Neil has.
Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels – Sock It To Me Baby
Oh yeah, Mitch is a legend here, too – we definitely like our soulful white boys. This mix sucks – it has no punch, the instrumentation, especially the guitar and brass, is almost inaudible, and what bass? Let’s try this one instead:
Ahhh. Much better.
Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston – It Takes Two
1966-67 were Motown’s peak years. Nearly every single the label released in 1967 made the charts – not bad, huh? Shows both the artists’ quality and Berry Gordy’s quality control. If only the city of Detroit itself could have been run as well as Motown was.
Petula Clark – This Is My Song
This was written by Charlie Chaplin. Yes, that Charlie Chaplin. Ms. Clark didn’t even like the song, specifically its old-fashioned lyrics, but after recording it in three other languages, she went ahead and did it and was rewarded with an international smash. Even in India, the song reached #5.
Yay! It’s the return of the “oh, wow” song of the week. We’ll dip down to #14 for this one from the Platters, a group known mainly for their sophisticated brand of 50’s doo-wop. They shifted to a soulful Motown-type sound in the late 60’s, albeit with a somewhat different lineup than in their 50’s heyday. This is a great song and deserves two minutes of your time. Here they are, the Platters doing “With This Ring.”
Guess who played bass? Yep, it was Funk Brother James Jamerson.
So what was the top song in the great desert southwest this week in 1967? No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be:
And now the bride & groom will cut their cake!
Where are the Beatles, you ask? “Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever” was at #19 this week. 47 years ago. Damn.
One little kiss and Felina, good-bye!