If I were a better writer, this post would have a snappier intro, but I’m not, and it doesn’t. Instead, we simply pick up the trail once again of the one-hit wonders who peaked at Number 91 on the Hot 100. Despite the fact that one-hit wonders tend to be obscure by definition, there’s a surprising number of famous people included in this installment. (Earlier installments here.)
“Poor Little Puppet”/Cathy Carroll (8/18/62, three weeks on chart). An elaborate production featuring a toy piano, “Poor Little Puppet” is apparently a relatively restrained performance for Carroll, who was capable of over-the-top emoting a la Johnnie Ray, whose “Cry” she eventually covered. Another single, “Jimmy Love,” charted in Cash Box but not on the Hot 100, and is a teenage tragedy record unlike any other.
“Say Wonderful Things”/Ronnie Carroll (6/15/63, four weeks). “Say Wonderful Things” was Britain’s entry in the 1963 Eurovision Song Contest, and placed fourth. Carroll, no relation to Cathy, represented Britain in both the 1962 and 1963 contests. Patti Page covered “Say Wonderful Things” in the States and took it as high as Number 82.
“Dear Mrs. Applebee”/Flip Cartridge (8/27/66, two weeks). “Dear Mrs. Applebee” was produced by Hugo and Luigi, and was released on the Parrot label from the UK. The song was covered by a British singer named David Garrick, whose Wikipedia entry cites this very blog, although it does so for the assertion that Cartridge wrote “Dear Mrs. Applebee,” which ain’t what I said, and also ain’t true. There are no words to describe how much I love the name Flip Cartridge. His record, alas, I love much less.
“Who Do You Think You Are”/Shindogs (9/3/66, one week). The Shindogs were the house band on the TV show Shindig! and featured several well-known musicians before they were stars, including Delaney Bramlett, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, and Glen Campbell, along with major studio players like James Burton, Glen D. Hardin, and Larry Knechtel. Bramlett wrote “Who Do You Think You Are” with Joey Cooper; I can’t tell you the exact lineup on it, though, because it looks to me as if the Shindogs’ lineup varied throughout the show’s run.
A couple of mp3s, plus something very cool for the radio geeks amongst the readership, on the other side.
“Some Kind of Wonderful”/Soul Brothers Six (6/24/67, one week). From Rochester, New York, the group was originally made up of five brothers named Armstrong, but two of them had been replaced by the time “Some Kind of Wonderful” was released, and some non-Armstrongs joined up, including lead singer John Ellison, who wrote the song. It’s the original version of the one that would become a Top-Ten hit for Grand Funk as 1974 turned to 1975, and just miss the Top 40 for Huey Lewis and the News in 1994. And it destroys both of ’em.
“Up Up and Away”/Johnny Mann Singers (7/8/67, three weeks). You’ve heard the Johnny Mann Singers even if you didn’t know it—their most enduring work is probably the radio jingles they did, and are still doing. (The Anita Kerr Singers, featured in the last installment, did ’em too.) And if you’re of a certain age, you may have seen them on TV: Stand Up and Cheer ran in syndication on local stations from 1971 to 1974 and featured show tunes, patriotic numbers, and non-rock pop music along with comedy sketches and celebrity guests. Their version of the Fifth Dimension’s “Up Up and Away” is nearly as familiar to me as the original.
We now pause for a completely awesome montage of classic radio jingles and logos, many by Johnny Mann and Anita Kerr, just because we can. Features the greatest legal ID the mind of man ever conceived, for WCFL in Chicago, at the 7:12 mark. The bit after the fanfare is for you to talk over: “It’s [time] with [your name] at the Voice of Labor.” Even as a Top-40 slammer, they never forgot where they came from.
“(Mama Come Quick and Bring Your) Licking Stick”/George Torrence (2/17/68, two weeks). Once there was a song by James Brown called “Licking Stick, Licking Stick,” which contained the lines “mama come here quick and bring your licking stick.” Strangely enough, this “Licking Stick” is a completely different song. Brown’s wasn’t released until 1969.
“San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native)”/Fever Tree (6/1/68, six weeks). Light and heavy and slow and fast and trippy and not, rich with fuzztone guitar, “San Francisco Girls” is vintage psychedelia from Houston, Texas, by one of the most-hyped bands of 1968. Their first show in Hollywood that March had them on a bill with the Jefferson Airplane and Canned Heat; members of the Buffalo Springfield, Chicago, the Doors, and the Turtles were in attendance, and they were introduced by Mama Cass Elliott riding an elephant. God, the 60s were awesome. More here.
“Soul Meeting”/Soul Clan (8/10/68, four weeks). The Soul Clan was Solomon Burke, Don Covay, Ben E. King, Arthur Conley, and Joe Tex. Otis Redding was supposed to be a member, but after his death Conley replaced him. Wilson Pickett was supposed to be in it too, but he bailed out before any recording was done. In the end, they made only the “Soul Meeting” single, with its flipside “That’s How It Feels.” (Much more here from Funky16Corners.) With all that talent, how did it peak only at Number 91?
In the next installment, one last record from the 60s, then it’s into the 70s with some R&B, a country star, a talking soul sermon, and other stuff that will, ideally, be interesting to somebody, somewhere, perhaps even you.