Long Line Rider by Bobby Darin

#684: Long Line Rider by Bobby Darin

Peak Month: February 1969
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #79
YouTube.com: “Long Line Rider
“Long Line Rider” lyrics

Walden Robert Cassotto was born in the Bronx in May, 1936. His mother, born in November 1917, was pregnant with him when she was only sixteen, giving birth to him when she was seventeen. In the 1930’s, being a pregnant teenager was very improper. So she gave birth and was introduced to her son as his older “sister.” In order for the deceit to be pulled off, young Robert was raised by his grandmother, Polly, who he understood was his mother. And he understood that his “mother” had given birth at a later stage in life. His “mother” was a showgirl in her earlier days and so not the “grandmother type.” So the ruse was successful. It was not until 1968, when he was 32 years of age, that he discovered that his older sister, Giovannina Cassotto, was actually his mother. In his childhood, Robert learned to play piano, drums and guitar. According to his biographies, Walden Robert Cassotto suffered from rheumatic fever as a child. Bobby’s real sister, Vivienne, said years later, “my earliest memory of Bobby as a child was about his rheumatic fever. We couldn’t walk on the floor because just walking across the floor would put him in agony. I remember Bobby crying and screaming and my father having to pick him up and carry him to the bathroom, he was in so much pain. I remember being told all my life, “Bobby’s sickly. You have to be careful, and you have to protect him.” Between the ages of eight and thirteen, Bobby had four illnesses with rheumatic fever. Each one damaging his heart muscle more severely than the previous illness.

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Don't It Make You Want To Go Home by Joe South

#685: Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home by Joe South

Peak Month: October 1969
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #5
1 week Hit Bound
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #41
YouTube.com: “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home
“Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” lyrics

Joseph Alfred Souter was born in 1940 in Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of eleven his father gave him a guitar. In his mid-teens he built a small radio station where he played his own songs to his listeners. In his teens he changed his surname from Souter to South. He began his career penning a novelty answer song in 1958. “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor” was in response to two number one hits that year. The “Witch Doctor” had been a hit for David Seville and The Chipmunks, while “The Purple People Eater” was a hit for Sheb Wooley. South wrote the song for The Big Bopper, who had a hit earlier that year called “Chantilly Lace.” In the case of “Purple People Eater Meets The Witch Doctor” the Witch Doctor and the Purple People Eater find themselves forming a two piece rock n’roll band. The Witch Doctor plays guitar and the Purple People Eater plays horn. The lyrics build on the longing of the Purple People Eater who in Sheb Wooley’s song confides the reason he has come to earth is “I want to get a job in a rock n’ roll band.”

When South was just nineteen he wrote a song that Gene Vincent recorded in 1959. That year Joe South also played guitar on all the tracks for Tony Bellus’ Robbin’ The Cradle album, including the title track hit record. Then, in 1962, an R&B group named The Tams had a #12 hit on the Billboard R&B charts titled “Untie Me.” That same year Joe South was a featured guitar player for Tommy Roe’s number one hit, “Sheila.” In 1965 Billy Joe Royal had a Top Ten hit with South’s composition titled “Down In The Boondocks.” That year South was a session musician playing guitar on all the tracks for Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album. Released in 1966, the album included the singles “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” and “Just Like A Woman.” The former tune had a chorus with these lines: “Well I would not feel so all alone/everybody must get stoned.” The song went to #1 in Vancouver on CKLG in May 1966. The same year Joe South also was a session guitar player, along with Glen Campbell, on Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds Of Silence album. The album included the hits “Sounds Of Silence” and “I Am A Rock.” And Joe South was a session guitarist for Simon & Garfunkel on their follow up album in 1966: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme. That album featured the singles “Scarborough Fair/Canticle,” “Homeward Bound” and “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).”

Joe South produced a Top Ten hit for Friend And Lover titled “Reach Out Of The Darkness” that was on the pop charts in the winter of 1967-68. In 1968, Joe South played guitar alongside Bobby Womack for Aretha Franklin’s album, Lady Soul. The album featured the classic hits “Chain Of Fools,” “Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby)” and “You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman).” He also wrote the song, “Hush,” that became a Top Ten hit for the British band Deep Purple in 1968.  Souths’ songs were recorded by many artists including Vince Everett, Sandy Nelson, Cilla Black, Ray Whitley, The Tremeloes, Wanda Jackson, King Curtis & The Kingpins, Floyd Cramer, Petula Clark, Santo & Johnny, Don Gibson, Tom Northcott, Sandie Shaw, Bill Haley & The Comets, Jody Miller and others.

In 1969 Joe South had a #1 hit in Vancouver in March called “Games People Play” that spent two weeks at the top of the charts, but only reaching #12 in the USA. He won a Grammy Award for the song on March 12, 1969. The song was still on the pop charts.  South later told Robert Hilbrun of the Los Angeles Times, “The Grammy is a little like a crown. After you win it, you feel like you have to defend it. In a sense, I froze. I found it hard to go back into the recording studio because I was afraid the next song wouldn’t be perfect.” South continued to outperform his chart success in his native USA when he charted in Vancouver with “Don’t It Make You Wanna Go Home.”

Don't It Make You Want To Go Home by Joe South

“Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” evokes a nostalgia for childhood and a more rural life. The singer remembers a place where his grandma’s cow used to graze, a creek where he used to go skinny-dipping as a child, a meadow where strawberries grew wild. He is going back to his hometown after he gets a one-way ticket from a Greyhound Station. However, what he discovers is a drag strip by the riverside, a six-lane highway by the creek, the grass doesn’t grow and the river doesn’t flow. The encroachment of modern civilization has made some of the things he cherished from his childhood only memories. Playing drums, percussion and adding backing vocals was brother Tommy South, as the chorus sang “all God’s children get weary when they roam and don’t it make you wanna go home.” Aside from its #5 peak in Vancouver, the song did best in Atlanta where it climbed to #1. Other cities of note include St. Thomas, Ontario, where “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” climbed to #5, in Boston and Oshkosh (WI) where it peaked at #6, Milwaukee at #7 and Edmonton and Saginaw (MI) at #8.

In January 1970, Joe South had another big hit with “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” that climbed to #7 in Vancouver and #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1971 Joe South wrote “Birds Of A Feather” which became a hit for Paul Revere and the Raiders. That year his song, “Rose Garden” became a number one hit for Lynn Anderson. Tragically, Tommy South died by suicide in 1971 when Joe South was 31 years old. The March/April 2007 issue of American Songwriter Magazine noted “the loss triggered (Joe) South’s drop off the face of the earth ~ or more specifically, the music business ~ during the peak of his career. Try as he did, he never fully recovered from (the) tragedy.” Joe South became clinically depressed. Even though his song, “Rose Garden” was at the top of the charts.

Joe South developed a drug habit and began to associate his drug dependency on inspiration to write songs. However, his next two albums were commercial failures. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979. He died in 2012.

August 14, 2018
Ray McGinnis

References:
Andy Lee White and John M. Williams, Joe South bio, Joe South.com, September 16, 2012
Joe South (writer), “Untie Me,” The Tams, 1962 (#12 R&B charts USA)
Joe South (guitar), Tony Bellus, Robbin’ The Cradle – Credits, Discogs.com
Simon & Garfunkel, Sounds Of Silence personnel, Sounds Of Silence, Wikipedia.org
Simon & Garfunkel, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme personnel, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme, Wikipedia.org
Bob Dylan, Blonde On Blonde personnel, Blonde On Blonde, Wikipedia.org
Richard Williams, Joe South Obituary: American Singer and Songwriter Best Known for Games People Play, Guardian, September 12, 2012

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.

Someone Someone by The Tremeloes

#686: Someone Someone by The Tremeloes

Peak Month: August 1964
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #8
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #97
YouTube.com: “Someone Someone
“Someone Someone” lyrics

In 1956 at Park Modern Secondary School in Barking, Essex, two school mates, Brian Poole and Alan Blakley, started a band.  On family holidays together, they’d tell their parents about their dreams of being on TV. They learned a couple of tunes by Buddy Holly and Everly Brothers, got two acoustic Hofner guitars, and asked their saxophone and bass playing school mate, Alan Howard to join them. Once they started performing at local parties, they met drummer Dave Munden, who soon joined them. Soon Alan Blakley, Dave Munden and Brian Poole found that they could harmonise any song they wanted to and developed a style of their own, with all of them singing and playing and Alan Howard on bass guitar. At this time they did not have a name but soon opted for Tremilos after the sound on the new amplifiers which they could not yet afford. In time, the lead guitarist from Joe & The Teems, Ricky West, was added to the band in 1960. They began touring and got a BBC spot on Saturday Club. Dave Munden, Brian Poole and Alan Blakley were also being hired on as a backing vocalists for session work by Decca Records on numerous hit records for Tommy Steele, Delbert McClinton, US Bonds, Clyde McPhatter, Jet Harris & Tony Meehan and the Vernon Girls and others.

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We're Here For A Good Time by Trooper

#687: We’re Here For A Good Time by Trooper

Peak Month: July 1977
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #8
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “We’re Here For A Good Time”
“We’re Here For A Good Time” lyrics

In 1967 Ra McGuire and Brian Smith played in a Vancouver band named Winter’s Green. The band recorded two songs, “Are You a Monkey” and “Jump in the River Blues” on the Rumble Records Label. “Are You A Monkey” later appeared on a rock collection: 1983’s “The History of Vancouver Rock and Roll, Vol. 3.” In the early seventies Winter’s Green changed their name to Applejack and added drummer Tommy Stewart and bassist Harry Kalensky to their lineup. Applejack became a very popular band in the Vancouver area, and began touring extensively in British Columbia. The band played a few original tunes such as “Raise A Little Hell,” and “Oh, Pretty Lady,” as well as Top 40 songs by artists such as Neil Young, and Chicago.

After hearing Applejack perform, Randy Bachman of Bachman–Turner Overdrive and The Guess Who signed the band to his Legend label. The band changed their name from Applejack to Trooper. Bachman produced the band’s self-titled debut album, Trooper, which contained the Canadian hits “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home” and “General Hand Grenade.”

Managed by Sam Feldman, Trooper began touring extensively in both Canada and the United States. After moving from Legend Records to MCA Records, Trooper added Frank Ludwig on keyboards. A second album, Two For The Show, featured their 1976 hit singles “Two For The Show” and “Santa Maria.” In Vancouver, the band had a third hit single from the album titled “Ready.”

In 1977 Trooper released their third album, Knock ‘Em Dead Kid. The first single from the album, “We’re Here For A Good Time (Not A Long Time),” was the bands highest charting single at the time, peaking on the RPM charts at #12.

We're Here For A Good Time by Trooper

“We’re Here For A Good Time” uniquely charted on the Vancouver pop charts and was given a pass elsewhere in Canada. The song was an anthem to seizing the day while you can and having a good time, knowing not every day is free of tears and struggles. The song peaked in Vancouver at #8 in the summertime.

The 70s ended well for Trooper with “Raise A Little Hell,” “Round Round We Go” and “3 Dressed Up As A Nine” among their Canadian hits. Their album, Thick As Thieves, was nominated for Best Selling Album Juno Award. And in 1979 the band won the Juno Award for Group of the Year. Trooper won a SOCAN Classic Award in 2005 for “Oh, Pretty Lady.” SOCAN is an acronym for the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada. Trooper has 401 photographs housed in the Library and Archives Canada’s Gatineau Preservation Centre.

Between 1975 and 1991 Trooper charted a dozen singles into the Canadian RPM Top 40, and released nine studio albums. As of May 2018, Trooper continues to go on concert tours with concerts from May to December, 2018, in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and the Northwest Territories.

August 10, 2018
Ray McGinnis

References:
Trooper bio, Canadian Bands.com.
Trooper concert schedule, Trooper.com

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.

Bitter Green by Gordon Lightfoot

#688: Bitter Green by Gordon Lightfoot

Peak Month: December 1968
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #5
1 week Hit Bound
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Bitter Green
“Bitter Green” lyrics

Gordon Meridith Lightfoot Jr. was born in Orillia, Ontario, on November 17, 1938. His parents, Jessica and Gordon Lightfoot Sr., ran a dry cleaning business. His mother noticed young Gordon had some musical talent and the boy soprano first performed in grade four at his elementary school. He sang the Irish lullaby “Too Ra Loo Rah Loo Rah” at a parents’ day. As a member of the St. Paul’s United Church choir in Orillia, Lightfoot gained skill and needed confidence in his vocal abilities under the choir director, Ray Williams. Lightfoot went on to perform at Toronto’s Massey Hall at the age of twelve when he won a competition for boys who were still boy sopranos. During his teen years Gordon Lightfoot learned to play piano, drums and guitar.

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Poco Loco by Gene & Eunice

#689: Poco Loco by Gene & Eunice

Peak Month: October 1959
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #4
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #48
YouTube.com: “Poco Loco
“Poco Loco” lyrics

Eugene Forrest III was born in San Antonio, Texas, in September 1931. Later he took the name Gene Forrest when he began a singing career. In May 1931, Eunice Levy Frost was born in Texarkana, Texas. Before 1954, Eunice heard Ann Walls playing with Ernie Fields’ Orchestra in Phoenix. Eunice reflects, “when I saw her complete control of the band, for a few minutes she was the queen. They had to do everything she said, it seemed good.” Eunice Levy headed to Los Angeles to fulfill her dream. When she got to Los Angeles she met Gene Forrest at a singing contest. She discovered that Gene Forrest was “a struggling young man trying to make it entertainment-wise…and make big money the fastest way he knew.” The pair hit it off and soon became a singing duo and got involved romantically. Gene & Eunice wrote most of their own songs. Their first single, “Ko Ko Mo, put “The Sweethearts of Rhythm & Blues” on the map. However, Perry Como covered the song and it became a #2 hit for Como and a #6 hit for The Crew Cuts on the hit parade.

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Town Crier by Tommy Roe

#690: Town Crier by Tommy Roe

Peak Month: February 1963
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #7
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Town Crier

In Atlanta, Georgia, Thomas David “Tommy” Roe was born in 1942. At the age of 17, while he was still in high school, Roe was part of a trio with Bob West and Mike Clark called The Satins. Roe wrote a song called “Caveman” in 1959, backed with “I Got A Girl”  and the trio was billed as Tommy Roe and The Satins released their first single on Judd Records. When he finished high school Tommy got work a soldering wires at a General Electric plant. In 1960 the single was re-issued on the Trumpet label. This time “I Got A Girl” climbed into the #10 spot on WAKE 1340 AM in Atlanta. The trio released a song in 1960 called “Sheila,” complete with Buddy Holly-esque vocal effects. But it failed to chart. Two years later Roe signed a contract with ABC-Paramount Records. Though he was just twenty years old, Roe found himself on the top of the national charts in America and Australia in October 1962 with a new version of “Sheila.” When “Sheila” became a hit, ABC-Paramount Records asked Tommy Roe to go on tour to promote the hit. Roe was hesitant to leave his steady paycheck at GE until ABC-Paramount changed his mind when they advanced him $5,000.

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Muddy Mississippi by Bobby Goldsboro

#691: Muddy Mississippi by Bobby Goldsboro

Peak Month: September 1969
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #6
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #53
YouTube.com: “Muddy Mississippi Line
“Muddy Mississippi Line” lyrics

Bobby Goldsboro was born in Mariana, Florida, in the Florida Panhandle in 1941. Shortly after his birth his family moved 35 miles north to Dothan, Alabama, where he was raised. Goldsboro learned is musical skills as he grew, by the age of twenty-one, Goldsboro became a guitarist for Roy Orbison. From 1962 to 1964 Goldsboro toured with Orbison, including the tour where The Beatles appeared as the opening act on the UK tour with Orbison as headliner. He roomed with Roy Orbison and they became close friends. In 1962, Goldsboro released his first of four singles on Laurie Records. Only one of these, “Molly,” made the Billboard Hot 100, and only marginally. In 1964 Goldsboro had his first of sixteen Top 40 hits in the USA with “See the Funny Little Clown.” Having switched labels, United Artists had sent him three songs to choose from in advance of recording, hopefully, a hit record. But after sitting and listening to the three songs, Bobby thought none of them were hit material. So he sat down in his parents living room and wrote “See The Funny Little Clown.” The song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 when Goldsboro was turning 23 years old. but didn’t appear on the CFUN charts in 1964. That year Goldsboro was the opening act on tour with the Rolling Stones. Subsequently, he was the opening act on a tour headlined by the Four Seasons. The following year he was the opening act on tour with The Beach Boys.

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I Can't Explain by The Who

#692: I Can’t Explain by The Who

Peak Month: April 1965
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #2
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #93
YouTube.com: “I Can’t Explain
“I Can’t Explain” lyrics

The Who are an English band who emerged in 1964 with singer Roger Daltry, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon. The band enjoyed popular singles, such as “I Can See For Miles,” “Pinball Wizard” and  “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” In Vancouver the band had eleven Top Ten hits, while in the UK they charted fourteen singles into the Top Ten, but in America they only charted one single, “I Can See For Miles,” into the Billboard Hot 100. The band were innovators of new genres in rock n’ roll with their rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia. The Who early on were known for outlandish antics on stage. At the Railway Hotel in Wealdstone, England, in June, 1964, Peter Townshend destroyed his guitar on stage and smashed it into other instruments. The Who stand alongside The Beatles and The Rollings Stones as among the most influential rock bands from Britain. They had their first Top Ten single in the UK and in Vancouver in 1965 titled “I Can’t Explain,” which peaked at #8 in the UK and #2 in Vancouver.

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Mexican Lady by Steel River

#693: Mexican Lady by Steel River

Peak Month: February 1972
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CKVN chart
Peak Position #6
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com: “Mexican Lady

In 1965 an R&B group formed in Toronto called The Toronto Shotgun. Coincidentally, possibly there was a huge Motown hit that year called “Shotgun,” by Junior Walker & the Allstars. The band consisted of vocalist John Dudgeon, drummer/percussionist Ray Angrove, bass player Rob Cockell, guitarist Tony Dunning and on keyboards, Bob Forrester. In 1969, Toronto Shotgun changed their name to Steel River. As Toronto Shotgun, they had played a lot of dances at high schools and performed at clubs in town on the weekends. As Steel River they became a full time rock n’ roll act. Their producer, Greg Hambleton owned his owned Tuesday Records and signed the band to the label.
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