Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Saturday Surveys (October 4th)

This chart certainly starts out reflecting the way most of the country was buying singles back in October of 1968 ... "Hey Jude" by The Beatles at #1, "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown at #2 ... and Top Ten Hits for The Grass Roots ("Midnight Confessions"), Gary Puckett and the Union Gap ("Over You"), Aretha Franklin ("I Say A Little Prayer") and Creedence Clearwater Revival ("Suzie Q") ... but there are plenty of surprises ahead.

How about TWO Top 20 Hits by Big Brother and The Holding Company ... "Piece Of My Heart" at #5 and "Down On Me" at #13!

Andy Kim scored at Top Ten Hit in Birmingham, Alabama, with "Shoot 'em Up Baby", a record that only climbed as high as #31 on The Billboard Chart.  And look at the chart hits for artists like Jimmy Webb, The Fuzzy Bunnies, Larry Marks, The Will-O-Bees, Sajid Kahn and Professor Morrison's Lollipop!  (These are not names we were used to seeing on chart hits here in Chicago!)  I also like seeing "The Weight" charting by both Jackie DeShannon and "Big Pink" ... which I can only assume is The Band since that's their album from whence it came!)  "Ride My See Saw" by The Moody Blues sits just outside The Top 30 ... and Fats Domino's cover of The Beatles' "Sgt.  Pepper" track "Lovely Rita" holds down the #39 spot!  (It's AWFUL by the way!)

And when's the last time you heard "Sunday Sun" by Neil Diamond.  (I'm guessing that for most of you it was during our "Month Of Sundays" feature ten years ago!!! 'Cause radio sure hasn't been playing it!)

Check out this 1973 chart from KLWW in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Osmondmania seems to be ruling the roost ... The Brothers are at #1 with "Let Me In", a song that peaked at #36 on The Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart, while little sister Marie holds down the #2 spot with her version of "Paper Roses".  (Kinda hard to believe on a radio station billing itself as "Superock"!!!)

Today's People, a pop vocal group from France (who never climbed higher than #90 on the Billboard Chart) sit at #7 with "He" and "Shady Lady" by Shepstone and Dibbens is climbing the chart at #19.

Here's another one of those "Heavy Charts" from KACY, showing some pretty mainstream artists (like Dusty Springfield, Engelbert Humperdinck and Vikki Carr) charting alongside "Heavyweight Hits" by The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, The Box Tops and The Hollies.)

Kinda cool to see both The Young Rascals in The Top Ten (with their latest, "How Can I Be Sure") as well as Booker T. and the MG's, with their cover of the recent Rascals' hit "Groovin'"!  I always liked the Jimmie Rodgers hit at #11, too ... "Child Of Clay".  And how about the group there at the bottom with the "Kontender" Hit "Love Is In The Air" ... The Wreck-A-Mended!!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

50 Years Ago This Weekend

10/3, 10/4, 10/5 -   

October starts with DO WAH DIDDY DIDDY by MANFRED MANN in the #2 spot on The Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart.  The only other Top 10 British hit belongs to THE ANIMALS as THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN drops to #8.  

Climbing the chart this week are CHAD AND JEREMY with A SUMMER SONG (up to #12 from #18), THE BEATLES with MATCHBOX (up to #18 from #23), FROM A WINDOW by BILLY J. KRAMER AND THE DAKOTAS (up to #23 from #30), THE BEATLES with SLOW DOWN (up to #27 from #32), THE HONEYCOMBS with HAVE I THE RIGHT (making a BIG move from #61 to #43) and THE NASHVILLE TEENS right behind it with TOBACCO ROAD, up from #60 to #44.  GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS also jump nearly twenty points from #66 to #48 with I LIKE IT.  DUSTY SPRINGFIELD climbs from #75 to #59 with ALL CRIED OUT and THE ANIMALS leap from #78 to #61 with I'M CRYING.  CILLA BLACK inches up three places from #82 to #79 with her LENNON-McCARTNEY Hit IT'S FOR YOU while THE KINKS climb from #92 to #81 with YOU REALLY GOT ME, a song that has gone on to become a rock and roll classic.  

On their way down are THE BEATLES with A HARD DAY'S NIGHT (from #19 to #24), THE DAVE CLARK FIVE with BECAUSE (down from #17 to #32) and THE SEARCHERS with SOME DAY WE'RE GONNA LOVE AGAIN (down from #34 to #47).  

Holding steady at #76 are THE BACHELORS with I WOULDN'T TRADE YOU FOR THE WORLD.  Brand new on the chart this week:  EVERYBODY KNOWS by THE DAVE CLARK FIVE, debuting at #66 and PETER AND GORDON, who premier at #84 with their latest LENNON-McCARTNEY cover, I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN 

British Invasion Artists have THREE Top Ten Hits on this week's WLS Silver Dollar Survey … DO WAH DIDDY DIDDY by MANFRED MANN is at #2, THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN by THE ANIMALS is at #4 and FROMA WINDOW by BILLY J. KRAMER AND THE DAKOTAS is at #8. 


With a chart that only ranks The Top 30 Pop Songs in Chicago now, the only other British Hit represented is I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN by PETER AND GORDON, which is at #30.  Still that gives The Brits NINE of The Top 30 Hits, which is a full third of the chart!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Have fun with this today ...

You can even "play dee jay" ...

Watch the track timer ...

As each song winds down to the last 8-10 seconds, start the next track ...

And create your own blend of non-stop radio fun!

(More fun than actual radio ...

Because you probably won't hear ANY of these tracks there today!!!)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


When you take on the responsibility of writing a review of a concert, you run the risk of ruffling a few feathers along the way ... even if they belong to a band you've always liked.  

Such seems to be the case with Ambrosia and our review of their recent appearance at The Arcada Theatre.
Let's take a little closer look at what was said (and intended) with our review.

But first ... some of YOUR comments ... about some of OUR comments ...  

The thing I like about the reviews you post in Forgotten Hits is that they always come from the perspective of a fan -- it's like you know that we can't possibly go to every show -- so you tell us which ones we'd be best served to see from the perspective of getting your money's worth.  They're always honest -- whether you enjoyed the show or not, we know you're not going to pull any punches in your analysis.
As long as I've been reading I've sensed that, as a fan, you're disappointed when some of your favorites let you down in concert -- and I commend you for sharing your honest appraisal of what went down on stage that night.
While others may pander to a particular artist or favorite or venue, you have always called 'em as you see 'em -- and that's what keeps readers coming back year after year after year.
Dennis Frost  
Thanks, Dennis ... I've said it a thousand times ... I will ALWAYS be a fan first.  It's true that as a connoisseur of all this great music I sometimes go into a concert with some preconceived notions of what I expect to see ... and I have openly acknowledged this fact.  However, for every time I've been disappointed by a particular artist, I have also been completely blown away and won over when the artist exceeds my every expectation ... and that can be completely credited to the magic created on stage ... it's not MY doing ... it's what the artist brings to the table and, at the very least, I'd say I'm about 50/50 with being knocked out by a show that went completely over the top and beyond my wildest expectations.  And when it happens, I say so ... by the same token, when it DOESN'T happen, I also say so ... and that's the trust and bond we have with our readers here in Forgotten Hits ... good, bad or ugly, we're always going to "call 'em as we see 'em".  We're all familiar with the old adage that says "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" ... and we try to find SOMETHING positive in every show we see ... because we truly and genuinely LOVE this music ... it's what we live for.  I just think that sometimes the artists forget to consider their overall presentation from the fans' perspective ... but also firmly believe that there is a fair compromise that will please ALL parties concerned.  (kk)  

Hey Kent, 
Well, I guess I'm gonna have to move to Chicago and "live" at the Arcada, like you talked about doing!
I was fortunate enough to have seen Orleans back in '75 when they were the front act to Melissa Manchester ... and what a wonderful night of music it was! I have always loved Larry Hoppen's  soaring lead vocals, and "Love Takes Time" (The Forgotten Hit) is my favorite song of theirs (great vocals with  great lyrics).
One of the things I remember about their time on stage was a fantastic guitar soloing duet between Hoppen and John Hall. It was a "jamfest"! Not long before before Hall "served his time" in Congress, he played a solo concert here, which I attended with many friends. He showed up with just an acoustic guitar, but his playing made the instrument sound like a whole band. When he sang "Still the One", the audience was on its feet and clapped along. I don't remember his solo record you featured today, but love his singing on it. 
I wish I could see almost every group coming up at the Arcada. I really enjoyed The Spinners, when I saw them here in '07. Back then, I believe every member was original, except for the tenor lead-vocalist, so I can't imagine what they sound like today, as only one is left. I was hoping that they would come out for autographs after the show, but it didn't happen. I so wanted to tell "smooth-as-glass" vocalist, Bobbie Smith, that he was one of my singing heroes.
- John LaPuzza
Ron Onesti continues to book a wide variety of high profile talent at The Arcada ... it's become our home away from home ... there isn't ANYBODY else out there putting on the kinds of shows he's putting on ... and the ambience of this vintage theater really makes for a great night out.  (We're hoping to see The Spinners in November ... as much for them as for Ray Parker, Jr.!!!)  Seriously, Ron, clear me out a corner ... we're moving in there for about the next ten weeks!!!  (kk)  

I was at the Arcada show that you wrote about yesterday and have to agree with most of what you said.  While the show started off brilliantly, showcasing the beautiful harmonies and intricate arrangements of Firefall and then Orleans, it soon degenerated into a clusterfuck of noise that made some of Ambrosia's set nearly unlistenable -- and I consider myself a fan of their music.  Turn it down a notch next time, guys, and let the beauty of the music come through.
Amen.  (kk)   

Kent ...
I gotta tell ya, my brother ... you give great and honest reviews of these great shows ... I only wish they'd come to Delaware. Every time I read your reviews, I wish that I either did or didn't go to the shows. LOL.
BTW, have you listened to the new Smokey Robinson duets album????? A very GOOD album with an eclectic grouping of talent. Smokey's been my favorite singer since the late 50's, and some of his more recent albums have not been great ... but THIS one is worth a listen.  From Elton John to Steven Tyler, and various current R&B acts, they do a nice job with Smokey on some of his bigger hits. Hope you get a chance to hear it and give a review of it.
I've seen Smokey at least 50 times over the last 50 or so years, and he still, at 74 puts the same energy and passion for all of those songs as he's done since 1957.
As always, my friiend, I eagerly await every Forgotten Hits posting. Thanks for everything ... thanks for keeping the oldies alive!!!!!!!!!  But most important, thanks for YOUR passion, too. 
Pete Garrison
I have heard a couple of isolated tracks from Smokey's new album but honestly haven't been all that impressed ... not Smokey's fault but more that of the contemporary artist he's singing with.  There have been few voices as silky smooth as Smokey's over the years ... and he still sounds great ... but the tracks I've heard just haven't done it for me.  (Maybe I need to hear the whole album.)
Thanks for the kind words ... as stated above, we will ALWAYS call 'em as we see 'em here in Forgotten Hits ... because the moment we don't, we lose all credibility with our readers ... and I've been doing this WAY too long now to sell out to please a particular artist.  (When questioned by an artist about something that I've written, I have always told the artist "If you want a fluff piece, have your publicist write it ... but if you want somebody to tell it like it is, then I'm your guy.")  kk  

Meanwhile, we evidently pissed off a couple of the guys in Ambrosia with our review yesterday ... so let's address that point by point ... 

If you're going to trash a band at least get the names right.
Burleigh Drummond 

Dear Kent,
Though I appreciate the candor of your review of our show at the Arcada Theater this weekend in St. Charles, IL, it is apparent that you were not paying attention or did not stay long enough to hear the band introduced.  Rick Cowling is not the lead singer and has not been since last year!  My name is Ken Stacey!  It was announced during the show.  I am sure you can appreciate the importance of accuracy in journalism, whether it be a blog or print.  Wanted you to know!

There are several points here that need to be addressed ... 

Here's the thing about band announcements naming all the players ... they're nearly all unintelligible because while that is going on, the somebody being announced is most often noodling around on their instrument, showing off their particular skills, all the while drowning out whatever is being said about them ... so unless a fan brings a note pad along to jot down every detail, MOST of us are going to miss it ... which is why for THIS show (since I could barely dissect a word being said), I relied on the band's websites. 

Here's where you guys may want to do a little bit of housekeeping of your own ... BOTH of the "official" Ambrosia websites still list Rick Cowling as being the lead singer ... which, based on your emails, is information that is clearly WELL out of date and (I would think from Ken's perspective anyway), FAR more damaging and demeaning than my isolated mistake since this is where ALL of your fans are going to find out information about the band and upcoming performances.  (For the record, I have since fixed it ... and sincerely apologize for the error ... it shouldn't have happened ... however the misinformation I passed along came as a direct result of both official Ambrosia websites ... so you guys MIGHT wanna fix that ... or risk the same mistake from numerous other repeat offenders!!!)    

To state that we weren't paying attention or didn't stay long enough to hear the announcements is a bit unfair ... makes me think you didn't read the whole review since we reported on the evening's events right through the second messy encore jam of "I'm Crying" ... proving that we were there for the full performance.  (And if you think that this is an unfair assessment of that performance, go back and objectively listen to the audio yourself ... I'm sure it exists since you have since posted a video of the all-star encore jam version of "Take It Easy", which really rocked and sounded great, on your Facebook page.  By the way, speaking of getting the names wrong, you guys erroneously introduced that song as having been written by Jackson Browne and Don Henley ... when, in fact, it was Glenn Frey who wrote the song with Browne ... and then performed it with The Eagles ... goes back to Ken Stacey's point about getting the accuracy right when reporting.  Of course he may not have noticed just how bad "I'm Crying" really sounded as he spent the entire song hitting on the blonde who joined them on stage to shake her tambourine ... and other assets ... during that number!)  

Getting back to "accuracy", to say that we "trashed the band" is also pretty far from the truth ... and certainly was not our intention ... 

Read the review again (key excerpts shown below) where you'll find quite the opposite to be true. 

Only THIS time read it not as a "trashing" but rather as "constructive criticism" ... 'cause here is the way I see it as a life-long Ambrosia fan. 

Ambrosia brought something new to the musical spectrum ... I bought all those albums back in the day because they were unique and pushed the envelope musically ... there really wasn't anything else quite like it on the radio at the time.  Ambrosia developed a perfect blend of beautiful ballads, smooth jazz and just enough pop/rock to sustain an audience ... and a loyal following.  If I have a beef with anything performed the other night it would be that you seem to have given up your niche ... and, in effect, your identity ... the very thing that endeared you to all those fans in the first place ... in an effort to "rock things up" a bit more.  Not a slam, per se, if that's what you're going for ... but from a FAN'S perspective, not necessarily what we came to see. 

I understand that all artists have a need to grow ... and we're used to seeing established acts embellish their hits a little bit on stage ... it's come to be expected ... and to that end, I have to say that you guys were VERY true to the original arrangements on the hits ... in fact, I complemented both "Holdin' On To Yesterday" and "Biggest Part Of Me" as being damn near perfect performances and amongst the highlights of the evening.  "You're The Only Woman", "How Much I Feel" and a few others also were presented in a way to best capture the original feel of these songs ... but the truth is (and again, this is not a slam but rather the stating of a simple fact), these songs are NOT going to sound the same when presented by somebody other than the guy who originally wrote and sang them.  Period. 

I also said (with the correct name now inserted):  "I've got to say that new lead vocalist Ken Stacey can certainly sing ... he exhibited an incredible vocal range and along the way hit some notes I didn't even know existed!!!  Coupled with original bassist and vocalist Joe Puerta, they did their best to recreate the sound of Ambrosia we came to love back in the day.  This worked to its greatest effect on two of our personal favorites, "Holdin' On To Yesterday" and "Biggest Part Of Me", far and away their best performances of the night."  

Trash talk?  I don't think so.  

But I also went on to make the same point I made above:  

"There was a certain jazz / pop / rock feel to the original Ambrosia music and this simply did not come across in the muddled sound presented on stage Saturday Night.  All the beautiful nuances of their music were lost in their efforts to rock us.  When they first took the stage and said something to the effect of "Now you're going to see a real rock band", I should have known then that we were in trouble .. and that we were not going to hear the very essence of what made Ambrosia stand out from the rest of the crowd in the first place.  Sadly, this proved to be the case.  That being said, props to the few tracks that DID work ... we still hold the music of Ambrosia very dear to our hearts." (By the way, I thought the "Biggest Part Of Me" / Grammy story was hysterical ... and another nice tip of the hat to how well respected the band was back in the day.  And you can say whatever you want about my "All This And World War II" comment ... but reach back to that moment in time and tell me that every word I said doesn't ring of 100% truth and accuracy!!!)     

Sadly, another statement I made was also true:  "By the time Ambrosia's set rolled around, we saw a large number of fans leaving the theater."  Fact is, we watched them filing out as about two-thirds of our section became vacant seats.  I can't say with all certainty why this was the case ... so I speculated that "part of this may have been the fact that it was now well past 11 pm ... part of it may have been that they were SO incredibly loud that your ears were ringing ... and part of it may have been that they simply weren't very good.  (In all likelihood, it was all of the above.)"  For the record, two hours after we got home and were trying to fall asleep, our ears were still ringing from the sheer volume of your set ... again, constructive criticism here ... but your audience will appreciate what you do up there a lot more without the clutter and volume.  The idea is to leave 'em wanting more ... not having the effects of the show echoing in their heads for hours afterwards!   

Thanks to Arcada Photographer Luciano Bilotti, here's a shot of all the artists who performed Saturday Night, along with proper credit and identification for each.  (Would have been helpful to have this information BEFORE we did our review ... but it wasn't posted until afterwards.) 

Backstage before the Ambrosia, Orleans & Firefall show ...
Top Row (L-R) - Ken Stacey (Ambrosia), Jock Bartley (Firefall), Joe Puerta (Ambrosia), Lane Hoppen (Orleans), Lance Hoppen (Orleans), Sandy Ficca (Firefall). 
Bottom Row (L-R) - Alan Tilles (Ambrosia), Mark Andes (Firewall, Spirit, Heart, Jo Jo Gunne), Charlie Morgan (Orleans, Elton John), John Hall (Orleans, Rep. - NY). 

Remembering Ambrosia from The Midnight Special ...
How big were these guys at the time??? They even HOSTED this show!!!