“The Door To Yesterday” #30

Turn your radios on!

When I go to physical therapy, I often turn on Pandora – the mobile ‘phone app that programs your favorite style of music just like a radio station and the other day my therapist Alex exclaimed: “Mr. Warner, you have the most eclectic taste in music!”  I guess I do and I think that’s a special gift because I can listen to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan one minute, Merle Haggard and Kitty Wells the next and then switch over to James Brown, Chuck Berry, Jay-Z and Lady Gaga.  Maybe some of that love of diversity in music styles comes from my growing up listening to BBC Radio in England where music request programs when I was at school played everything from operatic arias to ragtime piano!

Not that we relied entirely on the BBC for radio; in the late 1950’s when I was growing up through until pirate radio was launched in 1964, our station of choice was Radio Luxembourg which broadcast pop music in the evening hours from the grand duchy of Luxembourg, a principality near Belgium.  All the programs were hosted by English-speaking DJ’s and many were recorded in their own studios in London; these included ‘record’ shows sponsored by British record companies.  Virtually all my school friends got to know about the latest pop releases by listening to Luxembourg or ‘208’ as it was known – that was the medium wave frequency on which it was broadcast.  Unlike the BBC, it broadcast commercials for everything from girls’ make-up and hair lacquer to a famous infra-draw system for betting on football!  The one downside to Luxembourg is that its signal was not the strongest in the world and the audio level would regularly fluctuate but we listeners, hungry for a steady diet of pop music that the homegrown BBC did not provide, gladly put up with that deficiency!


James Bond sings?

If you ever need a question to stump your friends at a trivia contest, ask them if the James Bond character ever sang and if so, in which movie.  The answer is yes he did in “Dr. No”.  The song is “Under The Mango Tree” (though the lyric is “Underneath The Mango Tree”)  and it is sung by Sean Connery and Diana Coupland who dubbed for Ursula Andress.  It’s used in the famous scene when bikini-clad Ursula (as Honey Rider) emerges from the ocean singing a calypso…something about making boo loo loop soon!  It certainly sounded inviting!

The song was written by Monty Norman who also wrote “The James Bond Theme” which was heard in Dr. No and all the other James Bond movies except “Casino Royale”.


Do you remember…

…when record sleeves advertised other records?   Look for instance at the 45 rpm Imperial single below from the mid-60’s…


Rockin’ at Starbucks!

There’s a very cool 17-track Rockabilly CD put together by Starbucks’ very own Timothy Jones that’s currently in the coffeehouses and on the charts.  It’s a Rhino/Starbucks production titled “Let’s Go! – That Rockabilly Rhythm” and among the standout cuts is Little Richard’s dynamic original of “Rip It Up” plus Don & Phil Everly’s remake of Richard’s very own “Lucille”.  You’ll also find a slew of other legendary names such as Ritchie Valens (“Come On Let’s Go”), Ricky Nelson (“Believe What You Say”), Gene Vincent (“Be-Bop-A-Lula”), Eddie Cochran (“Nervous Breakdown”), Jerry Lee Lewis (“Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”) and The Crickets (“Not Fade Away”).   Fade away??? NEVER!  This music only gets better with age!


Classic Rock Songs – continued!

Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing” (Nickolas Ashford/Valerie Simpson)

More Marvin & Tammi dynamite gold, written and produced by the husband and wife team of Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson.  In fact, this was Ashford & Simpson’s first official production. The verse begins: “I got your picture hangin’ on the wall, but it can’t see or come to me when I call your name”.

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
/Produced by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson (Tamla: 1968) US R&B & Pop
Aretha Franklin/Arr: William Eaton/Produced by Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin & Aretha Franklin (Atlantic: 1974) US R&B & Pop
Donny & Marie Osmond/Produced by Mike Curb (Polydor: 1977) US Pop & AC (in 1976)
Chris Christian with Amy Holland (in a medley w/”You’re All I Need To Get By”)/Produced by Bob Gaudio (Boardwalk: 1982) US AC
*Marcella Detroit & Elton John/Produced by Chris Thomas (London: 1994) UK

Other versions include: Ashford & Simpson (in a medley w/”Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” & “You’re All I Need To Get By” (Warner Bros.), Bob & Marcia (Trojan), Angela Bofill with Boz Scaggs (Arista), Boyz II Men (Decca), Kiki Dee (Tamla), The Dynamic Superiors (Motown), Vince Gill & Gladys Knight (MCA), The Jackson 5 (Motown), Marv Johnson & Carolyn Gill (Motorcity),  Jonah Jones (Motown), Barry Manilow (Arista), Michael McDonald (Motown), Melba Moore & Phil Perry (Shanachie), Laura Nyro & LaBelle (Columbia), Diana Ross & The Supremes With The Temptations (Motown), The Spirit Traveler (JVC), The Temptations (New Door) .

*Singer Marcella Detroit had been previously known as Marcy Levy, under which name she co-wrote “Lay Down Sally” with Eric Clapton. 

“Ain’t That A Shame” (Antoine Domino/Dave Bartholomew)

Fats Domino’s giant breakthrough song – up until then, his initial twelve sellers had been R&B charters which didn’t crossover to the pop listings.  Covered by Pat Boone who reached #1 on the hit parade (as the pop chart was known back then) with his jerky, pubescent version that clearly lacked the appetizingly rhythmic roll of Fats’ original which was initially titled “Ain’t It A Shame”.  The Domino sound uniquely aided by Dave Bartholomew’s crew of hand-picked musicians sparked a trail of 22 million-sellers led off by 1949’s “The Fat Man” (Domino/Bartholomew) and continuing through to the early 1960’s.


Fats Domino/Produced by Dave Bartholomew (Imperial: 1955) US R&B & Pop and UK (in 1957)
Pat Boone/with Orchestra & Chorus/Produced by Randy Wood (Dot: 1955) US Pop and UK
The Four Seasons/Arr: Calello/Produced by Bob Crewe (Vee-Jay: 1963) US Pop and UK
Hank Williams Jr. with The Mike Curb Congregation/Produced by Jim Vienneau & Mike Curb (MGM: 1971) US Country
Cheap Trick/Produced by Cheap Trick (Epic: 1979) US Pop

Other versions includeDave Bartholomew (Imperial), Marc Bolan & T.Rex (Edsel), The Belles (Giant), Bill Black’s Combo (Hi), Brownsville Station (Private Stock), Roy Clark (Churchill), Eddy Clearwater (Wolf), Dipsomaniacs (Facedown), Frances Faye (Imperial), Connie Francis (MGM), Gary Glitter (Bell), Larry ‘T-Byrd’ Gordon (Greenhaw), Sammy Harp (Jin), Ronnie Hawkins (Monument), John Lennon (Capitol), Paul McCartney (EMI), Jimmy McGriff & Junior Parker (Groove Merchant), Bill Medley (Liberty), Ella Mae Morse (Capitol), Bobby Rydell (Capitol), Tanya Tucker (MCA)

Fats performed “Ain’t That A Shame” himself in the movie “Shake, Rattle And Rock!” (AIP: 1956) and his 1955 record was heard on the soundtrack of “American Graffitti” (Universal: 1973); however, when MCA’s Graffiti soundtrack album was first released, it contained a bastardized version of the original master with a chanting girl chorus which had been added in later years!

Ain’t That Peculiar(William Robinson/Warren Moore/Marv Tarplin/Bobby Rogers)

Though its lyric tells of heartache and suffering (“I know flowers can go through rain/But how can love go through pain?”), the tempo is joyously upbeat.  Marvin’s single was his second 45 to top the R&B charts that year (the first was “I’ll Be Doggone”) and found him ably supported by Motown session singers, The Andantes.

Marvin Gaye
/Produced by Smokey (Tamla: 1965) US R&B & Pop
George Tindley/Arr: Tom Sellers/A Lynnewood Production for John Madara Enterprises Ltd. (Wand: 1969) US R&B
Diamond Reo/Produced by David Shaffer (Big Tree: 1975) US Pop
Stevie Woods/Produced by Jack White & Robbie Buchanan (Cotillion: 1984) US R&B
New Grass Revival/Produced by Garth Fundis (EMI America: 1986) US Country

Other versions includeWilliam Bell & Mavis Staples (Stax), The George Benson Quartet (Columbia), Booker T. & The MG’s (Stax), Paul Carrack (Absolute), Rita Coolidge (A&M), The Delfonics (Philly Groove), Dennis Edwards (Motown), Frankie Eldorado (Epic), Fanny (Reprise), Jose Feliciano (RCA), Jim Gilstrap (Roxbury), Ellie Greenwich (Verve), Nona Hendryx & Billy Vera (Shanachie), Chris Hillman (Asylum), Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes (Prestige), Thelma Houston (Shout! Factory), Jermaine Jackson (Motown), The Jackson 5 (Motown), Japan (Virgin), Booker T. Jones (A&M), Quincy Jones (Mercury), Ramsey Lewis (Cadet), Michael McDonald (Ramp), Mike & The Mechanics (Warner Bros), Dorothy Morrison (MGM), Aaron Neville (Burgundy), John Patton (Blue Note), Martha Reeves (MCA), Sharon Ridley (Tabu), (Rufus & Chaka Khan (Warner Bros), The John Schroeder Orchestra (Pye), Rex Smith (Columbia), Sounds Orchestral (UK Pye), The Spirit Traveler (JVC), Bettye Swann (Capitol), The Tokens (Warner Bros), John Waite (EMI America), Delroy Wilson (House Of Reggae), Ruben Wilson (Blue Note).

New Line’s 2003 biopic of Harvey Pekar “American Splendor” featured not only Marvin’s original but also a hauntingly slow version by Chocolate Genius.


Ain’t Too Proud To Beg (Eddie Holland/Norman Whitfield)

One of the greatest ‘please don’t leave’ songs!  She maybe walking through the door for the last time, but The Temptations decide to beg and plead for their woman’s sympathy.  Co-writer Norman Whitfield produced the original version by The Temptations on which David Ruffin sang lead.

The Temptations
/Pro: Norman Whitfield (Gordy: 1966) US R&B & Pop and UK
The Rolling Stones/Pro: The Glimmer Twins (Rolling Stones: 1974) US Pop
Rick Astley (RCA: 1989) US AC

Other versions include: Jimmy Barnes (WSM), Count Basie (Brunswick), Willie Bobo (Verve), The California Raisins (Atlantic), Eric Donaldson (Dynamic Sounds), The Four Tops (Motown), (Hip-O), Z.Z. Hill (Tuff City), J.J. Jackson (Calla), Jimmy James & The Vagabonds (UK Pye), Pat Kelly (Justice), Mama Lion (Family Productions), Willie Mitchell (Hi), Sandy Nelson (Imperial), David Ruffin (Motown), Kate Taylor (Columbia), Richard ‘Popcorn’ Wylie (Motorcity)

Recorded as part of a four-song “Apollo Medley” with “Get Ready” (Robinson), “My Guy” (Robinson/White”) and “The Way You Do The Things You Do” (Robinson/Rogers) by Daryl Hall and John Oates with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendrick on their “Live At The Apollo” album on RCA in 1985.

Performed by Ben Harper in the documentary feature “Standing In The Shadows Of Motown” (Artisan: 2002)

(Updated and expanded entries from my book “Who Sang What In Rock ‘n’ Roll” published by Blandford/Cassell, London in 1990)

Movie Quote of yesteryear:

If there’s one thing I know, it’s men…I ought to, it’s been my life’s work

Spoken by Marie Dessler as fading stage actress Carlotta Vance in “Dinner At Eight” (MGM: 1933)

Rock on!


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