English Country Garden by Jimmie Rodgers

#722: English Country Garden by Jimmie Rodgers

Peak Month: November 1961
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #10
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com link: “English Country Garden
“English Country Garden” lyrics

Jimmie Rodgers was a country singer who is best known for his 1957 hit “Honeycomb.” James Frederick Rodgers was born in Camas, Washington, in 1933. His mother taught him to play the piano and guitar. During the Korean War Rodgers served in the U.S. Air Force. While there he played in a band called The Melodies. After the war ended in 1953 Rodgers entered Arthur Godfrey’s talent show. The attention he gained got him a record deal with Morris Levy’s Roulette Records. He had a string of Top 10 hits that followed in the late 1950’s including “Secretly,” “Oh-Oh I’m Falling In Love Again,” “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” and “Bimbombey.” In Vancouver Rodgers charted nine singles into the Top 10 and eighteen singles onto the local pop charts.

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Sign Of A Gypsy Queen by Hud

#723: Sign Of A Gypsy Queen by Hud

Peak Month: December 1972
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #9
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com link: “Sign Of A Gypsy Queen
“Sign Of A Gypsy Queen” lyrics

Lorence Hud was born in 1947. He signed with A&M Records in 1972 and released a self-titled album that year and in 1973 Dancin’ in My Head. The single from his debut album, “Sign of the Gypsy Queen,” was his most successful charting single at #16 on the RPM charts and #9 on CKLG. He would release seven more singles between 1973 and 1982. However, none of them cracked the Top 30. The Canadian band, April Wine, had a Top 40 hit in Canada with “Sign of the Gypsy Queen” in 1981.

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Big Brother by Dickie Lee

#724: Big Brother by Dickie Lee

Peak Month: January 1965
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #7
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #101
YouTube.com link: “Big Brother
“Big Brother” lyrics

Dickey Lee was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1936. In 1957 he recorded “Dream Boy” which was a #2 hit on the Memphis pop music stations. With that success he got signed to Sun Records. In 1962 he wrote “She Still Thinks I Care,” which was a hit for George Jones. Lee was signed to Smash Records and at the age of 26 had a #6 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Patches.” The song about teen suicide was banned in various markets and was not playlisted on CFUN in Vancouver. He had another song about a girl named “Laurie” who died a year before her ghost asks for a teenage boy’s sweater. Most of his songs in the 1960’s had a tragic side to them.

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General Hand Grenade by Trooper

#725: General Hand Grenade by Trooper

Peak Month: January 1976
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #9
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com link: “General Hand Grenade
“General Hand Grenade” 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.”

General Hand Grenade by Trooper

“General Hand Grenade” is a song about two different people: General Hand Grenade and Isabella Band Aid. General Hand Grenade likes to ride in motorcades and parades and have a war to fight. Isabella Band Aid is recognizing that the wars that General Hand Grenade goes off to fight leave a “mess.” And she questions what all the fighting is for and what it accomplishes. The two characters represent the impulse to go to war and the other to nurture. Isabella Band Aid may be a nurse or paramedic having to attend to the wounded with her band aids, and more. General Hand Grenade seems to have a lot of fans he can wave at. This lets us know that not all the common people are in the same camp as Isabella Band Aid. Many people are supporting General Hand Grenade, the wars he fights and the honors he’s bestowed. The refrain, “people getting high, people getting low, people getting nowhere, ’cause they don’t know where to go,” is key. The parades, cavalcades and wars are all part of a society getting on a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs. It all ends up with confusion and little accomplishment.

Members of the Canadian military have expressed their own lack of clarity regarding what is being achieved in recent military campaigns. In 2008, in answer to the question of progress being made in the Afghan War, Cpl. Vartan Koumayan told the CBC, “Every war has a price and I really am in no position to know whether or not we are getting anywhere or what rate we’re achieving our goal or not.” At the time, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government had just passed a bill recommitting Canada to extend its mission in Afghanistan until 2011.

“General Hand Grenade” was a hit in Vancouver in 1976, the peace movement was still ascendant in society. NATO  allies and the Warsaw Pact nations were in the midst of the Cold War. Still, there was much discussion about the necessity of diplomacy and war being a last resort when all other options had failed. Would a similar song find its way up the pop charts into the Top Ten in Vancouver in 2018? Much has changed in the way the media and politicians report decisions to go to war and dissent. There have been occasions in the Canadian Parliament where politicians have objected to discussing the merits of a military campaign. This was since, it was argued, that to debate whether to go to war or not would have a negative impact on the morale of members of the military. In April 2006, the Globe And Mail reported “The new Conservative government had tried to fend off calls for a debate, saying it wasn’t needed and would only serve to hurt morale among the troops.”

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.

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.

June 12, 2018
Ray McGinnis

References:
Trooper bio, Canadian Bands.com.
Trooper concert schedule, Trooper.com
House Votes in Favor of Extending Afghan Mission, CBC.ca, Toronto, Ontario, March 13, 2008.
John Ward, MP’s Debate Canada’s Role in Afghanistan, The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Ontario, April 23, 2006.

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.

Rockin' Band by Del Erickson

#726: Rockin’ Band by Del Erickson

Peak Month: August 1961
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #4
WX DISC-overy of the Week August 5, 1961
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart

Buddy Clyde was host of the Dance Party show on CKWX. He wrote these liner notes for the album, Presenting Del Erickson on Thunderbird Records TBLP – 1001.
 Buddy Clyde stated, “I’ve been asked to write a few glowing words about the young gentleman you’re about to meet. When I’m sold on something I have a tendency to get a bit carried away. (Just ask any of my listeners). And Del Erickson is an artist that isn’t very hard to get sold on. 
Starting out as an actor in motion pictures, Del has appeared in “Blackboard Jungle,” “Diary OF Anne Frank,” “Hot Rod Girl” and “Blue Angel” just to name a few. Also ninety major T.V. productions. From motion pictures to recording Del has succeeded in having two “single” hits. Now he enjoys his new found career as a disc jockey in Vancouver, B.C., of course singing is still a major part of Del’s active life.
 This album has established a new plateau in his varied and exciting career. Right now I’m going to ask you to open a bottle of your favourite refreshment, relax and enjoy Del Erickson in person…”

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Fourteen Karat Gold by Don Cherry

#727: Fourteen Karat Gold by Don Cherry

Peak Month: September 1957
10 weeks on Vancouver’s CKWX chart
Peak Position #10
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com link: “Fourteen Karat Gold
“Fourteen Karat Gold” lyrics

In 1924, Donald Ross Cherry was born in Wichita Falls, Texas. After high school he was already winning golf championships in the summer of 1941. But once America entered World War II, he was drafted into the Army-Air Corps. In 1946, he returned to golf and as an amateur won over ninety trophies in nine years. At night he began to perform in front of audiences singing popular songs of the day. He got noticed and by 1950 had a recording contract with Decca Records. Credited to the Victor Young Orchestra, Don Cherry’s vocal on “Mona Lisa” (a bigger hit for Nat King Cole) led to more attention. He recorded a 1927 hit titled “Thinking Of You,” that was featured in the 1950 Tin Pan Alley film, Three Little Words. Cherry scored his second Top Ten hit as “Thinking of You” climbed to #4. The following year Don Cherry charted two more singles into the pop charts.
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Love's Gone Bad by Chris Clark

#728: Love’s Gone Bad by Chris Clark

Peak Month: December 1966
7 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #105
YouTube.com link: “Love’s Gone Bad
“Love’s Gone Bad” lyrics

Christine Elizabeth Clark was born in Santa Cruz, California, in 1946. From early childhood she expressed an interest in singing. She was active in school bands and by 1960, when she was 14, Chris Clark was on stage. She went on her first tour with Jan And Dean and Dick & Dee Dee. She also was on a tour with The Coasters and The Olympics at a VFW Hall in Marin County. Other recording artists Chris Clark performed with in the early 60’s was Bobby Freeman. She went down to Los Angeles to play in a number of clubs until she was kicked out when they discovered she was underaged. Her big break came near the end of 1963 when she had an audition with Motown.
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#729: Static by Dana And Dexter

Peak Month: December 1961
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
YouTube.com link: “Static”

Dana and Dexter Smith were brothers who grew up in Seattle, Washington. Dana was the oldest and Dexter the youngest. They were signed up with Imperial Records who also had Ricky Nelson and Fats Domino among their lineup or recording artists. Imperial seems to have given little promotion to the brothers when they released their one single on the label, “Static.”

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Summertime Guy by Eddie Rambeau

#730: Summertime Guy by Eddie Rambeau

Peak Month: August 1962
9 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #3
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart
Peak Position Music Vendor ~ #127
YouTube.com link: “Summertime Guy”
“Summertime Guy” lyrics

Eddie Rambeau was born Edward Cletus Fluri, in 1943. His birthplace was Hazelton, Pennsylvania. He is an singer, songwriter, actor and author. Rambeau sang at record hops in Hazelton where he impressed deejays with his talent. One of the deejays, Jim Ward, set up an audition for Rambeau at Swan Records. He was signed to the label and released his first single, “Skin Divin’,” under his new name, Eddie Rambeau, on graduation day in June 1961. The song made the Top 20 in several radio markets in Idaho and Massachusetts.

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Wait For Me by The Playmates

#731: Wait For Me by The Playmates

Peak Month: October 1960
8 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #5
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #37
YouTube.com: “Wait For Me”
“Wait For Me” lyrics

The Nitwits were a vocal group that began performing in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1952. They were a trio consisting of Chic Hetti (born Carl Cicchetti) on piano and lead vocals, drummer and vocalist Donny Conn (born Donald Clapps), and Morey Carr (born Morey Cohen) on vocals and bass. All three were born in the Waterbury area. Each had attended the University of Connecticut in the early 50’s and decided to form a comedy group that also sang songs. They toured lounges in the USA and Canada. Their routine and material resembled another vocal group from the mid-50’s into the early 60’s named the Four Preps. Over five years of touring, the Nitwits shifted their focus from comedy skits with songs to being primarily a  vocal group with comedic banter between tunes. In the spring of 1957, the Nitwits got a contract with Roulette Records, becoming the labels first vocal group. They changed their name from the Nitwits to the Playmates. In the middle of the calypso craze, they released an album titled Playmates Visit the West Indies. In 1958 they had a #4 novelty hit called “Beep, Beep.” The group appeared on the Milton Berle Show in December. The single was their third Top 30 record. Since the song mentioned the Nash Rambler in the lyrics, it created a bump in sales for that model. “Beep Beep” sold a million records and got The Playmates many invitations to tour around the USA and Canada. From 1958 to 1962 they charted ten songs on the Billboard Hot 100.

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