http://www.spectropop.com ________________________________________________________________________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ S P E C T R O P O P ______________ ______________ ______________ ________________________________________________________________________ This recording may be played on Monaural or Stereo equipment ------------------------------------------------------------------------ There are 7 messages in this issue #16. Topics in this digest: 1. Morris Levy From: "James F. Cassidy"
2. Yellow Dean From: "Kingsley" 3. Re: Jan and Dean's Yellow Balloon From: Jamie LePage 4. Pittsburgh radio From: "David Feldman" 5. Re: Pittsburgh From: Carol Kaye 6. local hits that never made it nationally From: Frank 7. Re: Rock On stall From: Frank ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ Message: 1 Date: Sun, 06 Aug 2000 11:16:16 -0400 From: "James F. Cassidy" Subject: Morris Levy A few digests back, my fellow Jamie, Mr. LePage brought up the name of Morris Levy. I can't add anything to the Tommy James story, but I do have vivid memories of the colorful Mr. Levy. My first job after college was managing the Strawberries record store in Framingham, Mass. The chain's corporate office was behind the store. Morris Levy owned the chain at that time. Every couple of months, Morris would drive to Framingham in his big Cadillac from his home in upstate New York, accompanied by his fiancee - a fetching redhead about 40 years Morris' junior. Morris looked, dressed, and spoke like a cast member of The Sopranos. His wardrobe favored powder blue leisure suits (this was 1978) with an open-collared white shirt and multiple gold chains. He smoked cigars and never smiled. Everyone at Strawberries lived in fear of Morris. He had a temper. And he knew people. His nephews, Neil and Richard, both worked for Strawberries at one time or another, and even they were afraid of him. Morris became their surrogate parent after their father (Morris' brother) passed away suddenly under violent circumstances. When Morris was concerned about pilferage in the Strawberries warehouse operation, he hired a young man >from New York named Sal Gigante to keep an eye on things. Sal was about 5 foot 8 and 250 pounds, most of which was concentrated in his arms. Sal was a sweetheart most of the time, but also had an explosive temper that would erupt unexpectedly from time to time. Morris later made Sal president of Roulette, which was all but dead at the time anyway. It wasn't until years later that I discovered Sal was a close relative of Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, the famous "Oddfather" of the Genovese crime family, who pretended he was crazy for 30 years to avoid the cops. Despite his gruff exterior, Morris would host a summer outing every year at his Ghent, New York farm for all the Strawberries employees, although I never attended. But a co-worker and I heard rumors that in his garage, Morris had boxes full of the John Lennon "Roots" album that was to be sold via TV on Morris' "Adam VIII" mail-order label (for the whole story on this episode, see http://www.best.com/~abbeyrd/lenlevy.htm). We kept trying to figure out a way to get some copies >from Morris without sending him into a rage, but we never got up the nerve. I was always joking to my friend that the next time Morris came to visit, I was going to say to him "Hey Morris, I really love that song you wrote, 'Why Do Fools Fall in Love.' Which part did you write - the words or the music?" Knowing that all Strawberries managers eventually got fired once their weekly salary exceeded $250, I soon found a "real" job and left under my own steam. Jim Cassidy --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]-------------------- Message: 2 Date: Sun, 06 Aug 2000 10:18:08 +0100 From: "Kingsley" Subject: Yellow Dean Re the Yellow Balloon debate - From what I've heard Dean has been known to 'forget' some of the history, so pronouncements like he being responsible for both versions of Yellow Balloon should be viewed with caution. Also compare the vocals! Zekely was a friend of his, but was more than capable of putting a great version out himself with session guys. I also noticed with a smile that the money figures in my Rock On memories got strangely translated in the ether: I paid three pounds, 25 pence for the Hondells, and three pounds each for The Critters. Needed to show that these were great buys even then!! I also recall a shop a little later in Oxford Street with a mass of US albums, including the first Hondells, all at 49 pence! Happy Hunting everyone. Look out for Ripples Vol 7 out in about a month. Kingsley PS I'm just off to London to attend a newly started Sunshine Music club that Bob Stanley of St Etienne is involved with. It's called 'Monday Monday' [Non-text portions of this message have been removed] http://www.spectropop.com/hgaryzekley.html --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]-------------------- Message: 3 Date: Mon, 07 Aug 2000 15:50:35 +0900 From: Jamie LePage Subject: Re: Jan and Dean's Yellow Balloon Paul wrote: > Dean did two arrangements of Yellow Balloon, one a typical > Jan and Dean one, and one that had a bubbly effect like > the Turtles. He says he was doing Turtles album graphics > at that time. > > Apparently he gave the Turtles type version to Gary Zekley > who shopped the tape (with some alterations) to Canterbury > Records. Wow! That's quite a story, and quite different from the one I am familiar with, which goes something like Gary didn't like Dean's version and stormed out of the studio in the middle of the session. Determined that the version in his head would be a hit, but in order not to antagonize Dean, he did his own version (as Yellow Balloon) without Dean's knowledge. This is from David Bash's review on the Gary Zekley page > Zekley was proud of the song, but didn't like the way > Torrence had recorded it, so he went around to different > labels to shop it. Among those who Zekley visited was Ken > Handler of Canterbury Records, who was very excited about > the song and immediately set about having it recorded. He > had Zekley do the vocals, and then he brought in > noteworthy studio musicians to add the embroidery. That's always been the story as I heard it. > he also said someplace he was afraid he would get sued if > he issued it On what grounds? Because it was allegedly the J&D master??? > I am told by other fans the Canterbury album was padded out > with some dead dog songs that were cut in about two > sessions. Some of the songs had been previously issued > under the name Our Gang, but I understand they were > re-recorded for the Yellow Balloon album so the sound > would be uniform. Can't confirm this because I don't have > the Our Gang versions on Br'er Bird label. I'm a fan and I think the Yellow Balloon album is excellent. Take the song "How Can I Be Down" for instance. A well crafted song with a great hook. Bash again: > Although many nay sayers have tried to dismiss The > Yellow Balloon as being lightweight and disposable, it's > absolutely false. Although it's certainly true that most > of the songs on the album are sunny and bright, and > childlike in sentiment, the arrangements are superb, > offering strongly Beach Boys influenced bass figures, > sophisticated keyboard flourishes, and some very odd > time signatures. You'll feel the magic from the opening > cut "How Can I Be Down," sung by Zekley, which is simple > in its essence but also awash in carousel like keyboards > and dizzying vocal arrangments. Which Yellow Balloon song was released by Our Gang? I know of Our Gang's THEME FROM LEON'S GARAGE (Hal does scab dates there), which is written by Zekley. It is actually the backing track to Don't Be Gone Long by the Ragamuffins. I assumed the garage in question belonged to Leon Russell and Hal Blaine was the drummer namechecked in the title. > The Save For A Rainy Day CD definitely belongs in any > Jan And Dean collection. This seems a little long but if > anyone else can shed some light on this confusing > subject, Thanks, Paul. Your post was very interesting and I echo your sentiments. The J&D CD is quite good, and I too hope further clarification on this confusing subject will be forthcoming. All the best, Jamie http://www.spectropop.com/hgaryzekley.html --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]-------------------- Message: 4 Date: Sun, 06 Aug 2000 04:26:43 -0400 From: "David Feldman" Subject: Pittsburgh radio Greg wrote some wonderful stuff about Pittsburgh radio: > Many of these records fall under the category of > Spectropop faves - a lot of girl-group type stuff, along > with soulful love songs. There is a local company that has > been putting a bunch of this stuff out on CD, and I'll have > to get more information and post it to the list. That would be great. I associate the Vogues with Pittsburgh, and have always thought of "5 O'Clock World" as a song about steel mills. > > An example of a "Pittsburgh Hit" is "High On A Hill," by " > Mandy" writer Scott English. Almost any time a poll is > conducted on Pittsburgh's favorite oldies, this song > usually pops up as Number 1. It wasn't a national hit, but > a monster record here in Pittsburgh. I think it may have > gotten some airplay in California. Now THAT is a great music choice (in the same way that "Gloria" often finished 1st or 2nd in such polls in Los Angeles). "High on a Hill" was indeed a hit in Los Angeles (where I ran out and bought the the single) but I'm pretty sure I first heard it on American Bandstand (a sort of Pennsylvania connection). Dave Feldman http://www.imponderables.com --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]-------------------- Message: 5 Date: Sun, 06 Aug 2000 18:22:11 -0700 From: Carol Kaye Subject: Re: Pittsburgh > From Greg Matecko: >>>On another note, I'm still kicking myself for finding out too late that Carol Kaye played a jazz concert during her seminar in Pittsburgh! Carol, what did you think of local luminary Joe Negri?<<< Joe is a wonderful person, fine guitarist, very sensitive, good chordal knowledge and fine player -- I loved meeting him, great person, wonderful musician, and chatting with him was fun too. It really wasn't a "concert" but more of a jam, playing tunes I'd never played before on bass (with Henry Johnson, and fine local drummer, forget his name sorry, it was such a busy seminar-filled 3-1/2 days there, then flights from hell trying to get back to LA...but Pittsburgh...ah, what a beautiful city, great place). Wish they had the musical educational programs for guitar and bass out here in LA like you all do back there in Pittsburgh. Our schools out here are something of a joke I think. Bill Purse, Mark Koch - simply geniuses...Duquesne is so lucky to have their educational prowess, and their bass teacher, another great, Jeff Mangone...played with Buddy Rich on the road, symphony bassist too, fine jazzer, and fine teacher.....he's been using my books he says for decades. Was so thrilled to meet these people, Joe Negri, Ken Karsh etc., just the best. Was fun to trade some one-liners with Jimmy Bruno too, and of course I know Ron Anthony who also got the Pittsburgh Legends award.... was a fun but busy week. On another note, Jamie in his post said "the drummer overplayed". Listen, the way those sound-mixers work.....they dramatize the bass drum by loading it with DB's! You can never hear the bass player but the thud-thud-thud-thud of that awful bass drum, thanks to the ignorance of sound-mixers who evidently got their training in the 80s when the bassists were busy slapping the bass (not playing real notes which support the band and chordal foundations). You should have seen the look on the sound mixer when our trio (we were one of the bands playing for the opening of the Paul Allen music museum in Seattle), Ray Pizzi on sax, Mitch Holder on elec. guitar and myself on elec. bass played --- I playfully looked over to catch the dismay on the sound-mixer's face when he evidently was searching for that dreaded bass drum and alas, there was NO DRUMMER. Hope they all learn to find the bass and bring that up instead of the bass drum soon. Carol Kaye http://www.carolkaye.com/ --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]-------------------- Message: 6 Date: Mon, 07 Aug 00 09:29:47 +0100 From: Frank Subject: local hits that never made it nationally This remark makes me think that it could be a good idea if Spectropop listers could send lists of local hits that never made it nationally. I know for sure there were quite a few that really made it big (like the Scott English" track) in their region. Difficult to know about them if you weren't there. I'm pretty sure we would make some great finds in these lists. Anybody for it ? Frank >An example of a "Pittsburgh Hit" is "High On A Hill," by " >Mandy" writer Scott English. Almost any time a poll is >conducted on Pittsburgh's favorite oldies, this song >usually pops up as Number 1. It wasn't a national hit, but >a monster record here in Pittsburgh. I think it may have >gotten some airplay in California. --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]-------------------- Message: 7 Date: Mon, 07 Aug 00 09:29:45 +0100 From: Frank Subject: Re: Rock On stall Thanks a lot Kieron, and Kingsley this does bring back memories. The number of great Lps I found in this stall !! It was the beginning of my record collection. As a matter of fact most of my Phil Spector's singles came from this Rock On stall. And this is where Igot my first "BACK TO MONO" button ! Frank >That was in Soho market, at the east end of Gerrard Street >(London's Chinatown). Rock On originally was a stall in >Portobello Market and moved to Soho Market in 1976. It was >great - I bought the Try It LP by The Standells in = 1977 >(I was three years old...). In Sep or so '76 the Jam >plugged into the electric supply at the stall and played >outside the market on the street (I didn't see this). But >the stall was a goldmine for 60s and 50s stuff - the folks >who ran it ran Chiswick records, now Ace Records, top >reissue label. In mid 1977 another stall opened in the >market, Wretched Records, totally dedicated to punk. When >the Rock On shop opened in Camden (late 1978 I think) the >stall became Rocks Off, and moved into a shop in Hanway >Street (behind Oxford Street) under that name. And it was >there I got the soundtrack to Riot On Sunset Strip. > >That's quite enough memory lane, > >Kieron --------------------[ archived by Spectropop ]-------------------- End
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