Here Comes Summer!
Last week, Billboard’s website unveiled their ‘Top 30 Summer Songs Of All Time’. Understandably, that propelled all of us addicted list compilers into comparing their selections with ours. Quite a number of my all-time favorites are there but I feel that the biggest omission is “Dancing In The Street”; after all, that song always appeared to be an unmistakable call to arms for anyone who dreamt of partying in the summer months. So I’ve put together the following selection of summer-related singles but please remember that it is my personal list of favorites and is not intended to be a definitive group in any way:
“Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” (James Rado/Gerome Ragni/Galt MacDermot)
By The 5th Dimension (Soul City: 1969) – Smash-hit medley of two songs from “Hair”
“Beach Baby” (John Carter/Jill Shakespeare)
By First Class (UK UK: 1974) – Studio group best-seller from outstanding British producer John Carter
“California Girls” (Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
By The Beach Boys (Capitol: 1965)
“Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)” (Billy Ocean/Keith Diamond)
By Billy Ocean (Jive: 1984)
“Cruel Summer” (Sarah Dallin/Steven Jolley/Siobhan Stewart/Tony Swain/Keren Woodward)
By Bananarama (London: 1983) – British girl group who later revived Shocking Blue’s 1970 chart-topper “Venus”
“Dancing In The Street” (Marvin Gaye/Ivy Joe Hunter/Mickey Stevenson)
By Martha & The Vandellas (Gordy: 1964) – Martha proclaims “Summer’s here and the time is right”!
“Do It Again” (Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
By The Beach Boys (Capitol: 1968)
“Farewell My Summer Love” (Keni St. Lewis)
By Michael Jackson (Motown: 1973)
“Groovin’” (Felix Cavaliere/Eddie Brigati)
By The Young Rascals (Atlantic: 1967)
“Heat Wave” (Brian Holland/Lamont Dozier/Eddie Holland)
By Martha & The Vandellas (Gordy: 1963)
“Here Comes Summer” (Jerry Keller)
By Jerry Keller (Kapp: 1959) – Soft rock one-hit wonder by American Jerry Keller which hit #1 in the UK in ’59.
“Hot Fun In Summertime” (Sylvester Stewart)
By Sly & The Family Stone (Epic: 1969)
“In The Summertime” (Ray Dorset)
By Mungo Jerry (UK Dawn/US Janus: 1970) – Longtime British favorite superbly revived in 1995 by Shaggy with Rayvon.
“It Might As Well Rain UntilSeptember” (Gerry Goffin/Carole King)
By Carole King (Dimension: 1962) – Carole King’s first hit as a recording artist, on the Nevins-Kirshner Dimension label.
“Itchycoo Park” (Steve Marriott/Ronnie Lane)
By The Small Faces (Immediate: 1967) You know what they say…”It’s all too beautiful”!
“Lazy Day” (Tony Powers/George Fischoff)
By Spanky & Our Gang (Mercury: 1967)
“Loco In Acapulco” (Phil Collins/Lamont Dozier)
By The Four Tops (Arista: 1989)
“Love Shack” (Kate Pierson/Fred Schneider/Keith Strickland/Cindy Wilson)
By The B-52’s (Reprise: 1989)
“Lovely Day” (Bill Withers/Skip Scarborough)
By Bill Withers (Columbia: 1977)
“Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer” (Stevie Wonder/Syreeta Wright)
By Stevie Wonder (Tamla: 1971)
“New York Is A Lonely Town” (Pete Anders/Vini Poncia)
By The Tradewinds (Red Bird: 1965) – Not the Beach Boys but Messrs. Anders & Poncia created a very similar sound.
“One Summer Night” (Danny Webb)
By The Danleers (Mercury: 1958) – Superb doo-wop serenade.
“Ride The Wild Surf” (Jan Berry/Brian Wilson/Roger Christian)
By Jan & Dean (Liberty: 1964)
“Sealed With A Kiss” (Gary Geld/Peter Udell)
By Brian Hyland (ABC-Paramount: 1962) – Soft rock ballad that charted two years after Brian’s “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini” smash.
“She’s My Summer Girl” (Jan Berry/Brian Wilson/Don Altfeld)
By Jan & Dean (Liberty: 1963)
“Summer Breeze” (Jim Seals/Dash Crofts)
By The Isley Brothers (T-Neck: 1974) – Originally by Seals & Crofts (Warner Bros: 1972)
“Summer Holiday” (Brian Bennett/Bruce Welch)
By Cliff Richard (UK Columbia: 1963) – British perennial oldie which was the title song of Cliff Richard’s 4th movie.
“Summer In The City” (John Sebastian/Mark Sebastian/Steve Boone)
By The Lovin’ Spoonful (Kama Sutra: 1966) – “Hot town, summer in the city”: John Sebastian at his very best.
“Summer Means Fun” (P.F. Sloan/Steve Barri)
By The Fantastic Baggys (Imperial: 1964) – P.F. Sloan & Steve Barri’s studio group with the song later covered by Bruce (Johnston) & Terry (Melcher).
“Summer Nights” (Brian Henderson/Liza Strike)
By Marianne Faithfull (UK Decca: 1965) – Not the “Grease” song but a British composition which went Top 10 there for Marianne.
“Summer Rain” (James Hendricks)
By Johnny Rivers (Imperial: 1968) – James Hendricks was a singer/songwriter whom Johnny Rivers produced on his Soul City label.
“Summer (The First Time)” (Bobby Goldsboro)
By Bobby Goldsboro (United Artists: 1973) – Fine, coming-of-age ballad later superbly covered by mischievous Millie Jackson!
“Summer Wind” (Johnny Mercer/Hans Bradtke)
By Frank Sinatra (Reprise: 1966)
“Summertime” (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin/DuBose Heyward)
By Billy Stewart (Chess: 1966) – Billy Stewart twisted & turned the “Porgy And Bess” showstopper into a fully-fledged R&B milestone.
“Summertime Blues” (Eddie Cochran/Jerry Capehart)
By Eddie Cochran (Liberty: 1958) – Cochran’s finest moment: “Workin’ all summer just to try to earn a dollar”
“Summertime Summertime” (Thomas Jameson/Sherman Feller)
By The Jamies (Epic: 1958)
“Sunny Afternoon” (Ray Davies)
By The Kinks (UK Pye: 1966) – “Lazing on a sunny afternoon…in the summertime”
“Sunshine After The Rain” (Ellie Greenwich)
By Elkie Brooks (A&M: 1977) – Ellie recorded it herself for United Artists but Elkie’s version hit the UK Top Ten.
“Surf City” (Jan Berry/Brian Wilson)
By Jan & Dean (Liberty: 1963) – “Two girls for every boy”: The ultimate surf anthem!
“Surfer Girl” (Brian Wilson)
By The Beach Boys (Capitol: 1963)
“Surfin’ Bird” (Al Frazier/John Harris/Carl White/Turner Wilson Jr.)
By The Trashmen (Garrett: 1963) – An unforgettable combination of two Rivingtons hits “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” and “The Bird’s The Word”
“Surfin’ Safari” (Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
By The Beach Boys (Capitol: 1962)
“Theme From A Summer Place” (Max Steiner)
By Percy Faith & His Orchestra (Columbia: 1959) – Troy Donahue & Sandra Dee fell in love to this!
“Too Hot” (George Brown/Kool & The Gang)
By Kool & The Gang (De-Lite: 1980)
“Under The Boardwalk” (Kenny Young/Artie Resnick)
By The Drifters (Atlantic: 1964) The lyric-opener dramatically sets the scene: “When the sun beats down and burns the tar up on the roof”
“Walking On Sunshine” (Kimberley Rew)
By Katrina & The Waves (Capitol: 1985)
“Wipeout” (Robert Berryhill/Patrick Connolly/James Fuller/Ronald Wilson)
By The Surfaris (Dot: 1963) – OK it’s not a song but an instrumental yet it was an ultimate summer 45!
It’s all relative!
When Tim Rice recently played a record by big band singing group The King Sisters (pictured above) on his BBC Radio 2 series ‘American Pie’, I remembered that one of the sisters was married to a mogul in the music industry. At one time there had been six performing King sisters but it was as a vocal quartet (namely Alyce, Luise, Donna and Yvonne) that they were most famous, recording such best-sellers as “The Hut-Sut Song (A Swedish Serenade)” (Killion/Owens/McMichael) for Bluebird in 1941 and “It’s Love-Love-Love” (David/Kramer/Whitney) for the same label three years later. Donna King was married to James ‘Jim’ Conkling who was head of A&R at Capitol in the late 1940’s before switching to Columbia as president in 1951 and then eventually becoming the founding president of Warner Bros. Records in 1958.
Band singer Marion Hutton’s older sister Betty was another vocalist who tied the knot with a record label executive. Soft-spoken Alan W. Livingston had been a major player at Capitol in the 1940’s where he conceived and produced their successful series of children’s records and he would eventually become the label’s president. In 1955, he married Betty who had been a Paramount Pictures star in the 1940’s when she also cut a group of hit singles for Capitol including 1944’s “His Rocking Horse Ran Away” (Burke/Van Heusen) and 1945’s “Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief” (Carmichael/Webster). Unfortunately, the Livingston/Hutton marriage didn’t last and he went on to marry actress Nancy Olson. Before Alan, Betty had been the wife of trumpeter Pete Candoli (who also recorded for Capitol) and Candoli went on to marry actress/singer Edie Adams.
Album of the moment:
“Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook” by Bettye LaVette (Anti)
Bettye’s take on Pete Townshend’s “Love Reign O’er Me” is nothing short of miraculous.
TV Theme to remember:|
Not all TV themes are custom-made and among my favorite uses of a vintage track under the opening titles of a series is “Superhero” (Ezrin/Embry/Navarro/Farrell/Perkins) by Jane’s Addiction. It’s back, blasting out of the small screen in the recently-premiered seventh season of HBO’s “Entourage”.
MOVIE QUOTE OF YESTERYEAR:
“It’s not the men in my life but the life in my men!”
Spoken by Mae West as the wonderfully brazen Tira, a dancer and lion tamer, in “I’m No Angel” (Paramount: 1933)
Vintage song of the week:
“Better Use Your Head” by Little Anthony & The Imperials
Originally released in 1966 on United Artists’ Veep label, it became a Northern Soul favorite in the UK where it even made the local charts a decade later! Co-written with Victoria Pike by the late Teddy Randazzo, it’s a great R&B dance tune driven by a throbbing bass with swirling strings surrounding Anthony’s trademark high-pitched tenor voice.
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