“The Door To Yesterday” #35

The other Royal Wedding!

Back in 1951, MGM released the above musical movie that was set in London and starred Fred Astaire and Jane Powell. The characters weren’t royal although Peter Lawford played an English lord. The songs were by Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane and included the wistful and Oscar®-nominated ballad “Too Late Now” which Ms. Powell sang to Mr. Lawford. There was also a fun duet between Mr. Astaire and Miss Powell titled “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know You’ve Been A

Liar All My Life?” which was performed as in a show within the film itself.

However, the film is most remembered for its other musical highlight: “You’re All The World To Me“, the song which leads into the famous routine where Mr. Astaire dances on the walls and ceiling of a hotel room. He actually sings the song to a photograph of co-star Sarah Churchill who was the actress-daughter of Sir Winston Churchill.

Incidentally in Britain, “Royal Wedding” was released under title “Wedding Bells”.


All this talk of impending royal nuptials got me thinking of some favorite songs of mine whose lyrics specifically refer to weddings. There was Jessie Mae Robinson’s milestone composition “I Went To Your Wedding” which was first recorded by Steve Gibson & The Original Red Caps Featuring Damita Jo on RCA Victor in 1952; Hank Snow had a big-selling 1952 country version also on RCA but it was Patti Page’s recording on Mercury that overshadowed the other interpretations and went on to reach #1 on that year’s Hit Parade. Eight years after that in 1960 came “All I Could Do Was Cry” with a lyric full of desperation and sadness, qualities which were perfectly suited to Etta James’ haunting vocal and which handed her a best-seller on Argo; written by Billy Davis, Gwen Fuqua and Berry Gordy, the song was revived by Beyoncé in the recent movie “Cadillac Records”.

Other wedding-themed songs for which I’ve always had a soft spot include Al Green’s self-written success “Let’s Get Married” on Hi in 1974, Holland/Dozier/Holland’s “Third Finger, Left Hand” by Martha & The Vandellas on Gordy in 1967, “Do You Hear Wedding Bells” sung by The Jive Five on Beltone in 1962 and written by their lead singer Eugene Pitt, Laura Nyro’s huge seller “Wedding Bell Blues” by The 5th Dimension on Johnny Rivers’ Soul City label in 1969, “With This Ring” penned by Luther Dixon, Tony Hester & Richard ‘Popcorn’ Wylie for a latter grouping of The Platters on Musicor in 1967 and finally, Roy C’s sound effect-laden “Shotgun Wedding” that he wrote under his real name Roy Hammond and which was a Top 10 hit in the UK first in 1966 and then again in 1972.


Credit where credit is richly deserved

Just as the on-screen movie credits in Hollywood’s so-called Golden Age of the 1930’s and 1940’s are relatively few compared to today’s lengthy lists that roll by seemingly forever at the end of each picture, so record label credits have often omitted mention of key instrumentalists. For instance, the 1962 UK hit version of Monty Norman’s “The James Bond Theme” by The John Barry Seven and Orchestra did not identify Vic Flick who was the guitarist who plays the famous menacing solo.

Similarly, when the original record of “The Pink Panther Theme” by Henry Mancini & His Orchestra was issued by RCA, it gave no mention of Plas Johnson who played the memorable sax solo.

Session musicians have always figured among the leading unsung heroes on recording dates and a standout example is pianist (and singer-songwriter) Leon Russell. During a

speech in March when he inducted Leon into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame, Elton John read the following list of names of some of the artists on whose records Leon has played over the years: Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Doris Day, Herb Alpert, Frank Sinatra (the “Strangers In The Night” session), The Ventures, The Everly Brothers, Del Shannon, Duane Eddy, Bobby Vee, Bobby Darin, Jan & Dean, Sandy Nelson (“Let There Be

Drums‘), The Fleetwoods (“Come Softly To Me“), Connie Francis, The Crystals, The Ronettes, every Phil Spector record, The Byrds (“Mr. Tambourine Man“), Delaney And Bonnie, every Beach Boys record including “Pet Sounds”, J.J. Cale, Harry Nilsson, Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker, Freddie King and B.B. King.

Below is an early 1960’s photograph of Leon Russell (left) standing alongside record producer Snuff Garrett. The two worked together on many sessions back then.

Tommy ‘Snuff’ Garrett was one of the most successful producers of his day; illustrated below are just two of his million-selling productions: Johnny Burnette’s original version of the Bob & Dick Sherman song “You’re Sixteen (You’re Beautiful And You’re Mine)” from 1960 and Bobby Vee’s #1 smash from the following year: “Take Good Care Of My Baby” written by Carole King and her then-husband Gerry Goffin.

Originally a dee-jay in Lubbock, Texas, Snuff was signed by Liberty Records for whom he produced a long list of artists in the 1960’s including Walter Brennan, Johnny Burnette, J.J. Cale, Vikki Carr, The Crickets, Jackie DeShannon, Buddy Knox, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Julie London, Dick Lory (aka Dick Glasser), Gene McDaniels, Garry Miles (aka Buzz Cason), Earl Palmer, The Rollers, Del Shannon, Troy Shondell and Bobby Vee. Snuff also produced a series of concept instrumental albums for Liberty featuring session musicians and credited to ‘The 50 Guitars Of Tommy Garrett’. He went on to have major chart success producing both Cher and Sonny & Cher for Kapp Records and he founded The Nostalgia Merchant marketing company. An ardent lover and collector of American western art, Snuff retired to and still lives in Arizona.


Movie Quote of yesteryear: 

I hope that was an empty bottle, George. You can’t afford to waste good liquor, not on your salary – not on an associated professor’s salary!”

Spoken by Elizabeth Taylor as Martha to Richard Burton as George in “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf” (Warner Bros: 1966).

Rock on!



“The Door To Yesterday” #34

Farewell Margaret Whiting


Some years ago, I introduced myself to legendary singer Margaret Whiting at a Songwriters Hall Of Fame evening in New York. We struck up an instant friendship and I made sure that I helped promote her father’s songs while I was with EMI Music Publishing. She was great fun and my wife and I enjoyed some wonderful dinners together with Margaret and her husband Jack either in New York when we were visiting on business or when they were in Los Angeles for meetings with the Johnny Mercer Foundation of which she was President.

Margaret was the daughter of composer Richard A. Whiting who co-wrote such classic songs as “Too Marvelous For Words” and “Hooray For Hollywood” (both with Johnny Mercer), “On
The Good Ship Lollipop” (with Sidney Clare), “(I’ve Got A Woman, Crazy For Me) She’s
Funny That Way” (with Neil Moret) and “When Did You Leave Heaven” (with Walter Bullock).

I was lucky enough to interview Margaret twice and on both occasions, I was struck by her passion about both songwriters and the art of singing. It was no wonder that she often lectured to music students about the importance for singers of phrasing. Although her father died when she was still a teenager, I asked if he had given her any advice about singing. She said that he told her to learn the melody first – “that’s the basis of a song” – then to talk the lyric until it sounds naturally like you. Margaret went on to give as an example the line “I got lost in his arms”; she pointed out that, if you spoke those six words in regular conversation, you wouldn’t break them up into two separate phrases, i.e: “I got lost” … “in his arms”; therefore the correct way to sing the line is as one complete phrase.

After Dick Whiting died, Johnny Mercer took Margaret under his wing and signed her to Capitol, the label he co-founded in 1942. Her first appearance on the hit parade was a 1943 best-seller by pianist Freddie Slack & His Orchestra of “That Old Black Magic“, which Mercer had written with Harold Arlen. Then Johnny gave her the ballad “Moonlight In Vermont” (by Karl Suessdorf & John Blackburn); he produced her recording and it became the song’s definitive version. Margaret’s career at Capitol was off and running and she clocked up over forty best-sellers for them. Two of the many great songs with which she had success were “A Tree In The
Meadow“, by British songwriter Billy Reid, and a 1947 revival of “Guilty“, the song her father had written in 1932 with Gus Kahn and Harry Akst.

She was also very proud of her successful foray into country music which peaked with her huge 1949 best-selling single of the Floyd Tillman song “Slipping Around” on which she duetted with Jimmy
Wakely. Capitol had originally planned to team Margaret with Tennessee Ernie Ford but as it worked out, Tennessee cut some fine duets with Kay Starr and Margaret recorded with Jimmy.

Margaret and Kay remained goods friends over the years; they were originally neighbors when Margaret lived in Bel Air, California, and Kay’s musical director on some of her early Capitol sides was Margaret’s second husband, Lou Busch.

[Lou Busch was also a Capitol artist himself; he had a Top 10 US hit in 1950 with “Sam’s Song” (Jack Elliott/Lew Quadling) on which he was credited as honky tonk pianist Joe ‘Fingers’ Carr and then in 1956, under his real name, he reached #2 on the UK charts with the South African instrumental tune “Zambesi” (Anton de Waal/Nico Carsten)].

And so, with Ms. Whiting’s death last week, another chapter in the Great American Songbook closes as does one of the important links to the early days of Capitol Records.

Farewell Margaret – your voice and the memories you generously shared will live on.



Movie Quote of yesteryear: 

“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend”

Spoken by Carleton Young as newspaperman Maxwell Scott in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (Paramount: 1962)

Rock on!


Previous postings of “The Door To Yesterday” newsletter can be found at www.wizwas.com


“The Door To Yesterday” #33

My early memories of EMI

1963 © EMI


EMI House was the head office of EMI Records in London’s Manchester Square just off Baker Street. The top photo above shows (from left to right) Ringo Starr, Dick James, John Lennon, George Harrison, George Martin & Paul McCartney outside EMI House in 1963 with the front door of the building clearly in view behind them; the second shot shows Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard & Diana Ross of The Supremes walking towards that front door a year later. (On the very left of the second photo is EMI’s then-promotion man Peter Prince).



When I walked into EMI House to begin work on January 2, 1961, I couldn’t have had any idea how much the company was to mean to me over the ensuing fifty years and just how many turbulent times the organization was going to have to endure.

Back then, EMI along with British Decca, Philips and Pye, was one of the four major record companies in Britain. Their biggest-selling local artists in 1960 & 1961 included Cliff Richard, The Shadows (Cliff’s backing group and major record sellers in their own right), Adam Faith, Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, Russ Conway, Michael Holliday, The Avons, Mr. Acker Bilk, Matt Monro, Ricky Valance, Rolf Harris, The John Barry Seven, Shirley Bassey, Charlie Drake, Peter Sellers and the Danish duo Nina And Frederik.

In those days, EMI was a very traditional British business organization; all the guys wore suits and ties and the girls were not allowed to wear trousers. Compared to the atmosphere in today’s music industry, EMI as I knew it back then was thoroughly Dickensian. Employees clocked in and out everyday and you were required to make out a requisition form for almost anything including stationery. If you were seen chatting for an extended period of time, chances were that the office manager would hear about it and report you to the head of the department.

In 1960, EMI (that stands for Electric And Musical Industries) had moved from their offices in London’s Great Castle Street to the brand new location in the sedate, historic Manchester Square which also was and still is, home to the famous Wallace Collection art museum. The company decided that, for their new premises, they’d build a small record library which would carry all the company’s latest releases as well as a representative stock of existing repertoire; the reason for creating this facility was that it would be available to the A&R and promotion staff within the building. The library was on the third floor which also housed the typing pool, the filing room, the accounts department and the mailroom. My job was to assist the guy running the library and, if and when we got a call from one of the A&R managers requesting a record, I’d get to deliver it. This was a terrific task because I got to know most people in the building including the in-house A&R guys namely George Martin, Ron Richards, Norrie Paramor, John Schroeder, Norman Newell, John Burgess, Walter J. (Wally) Ridley and Peter Sullivan.

Over these, my early years at the company, I also gained two important friends: Sir Tim Rice who came on board at Manchester Square on as a management trainee and Trevor Churchill who was a fellow label manager and in later years co-founded the critically-acclaimed reissue label Ace Records. All three of us were and still are mad record collectors and as British readers of this blog will know, Tim is not just a very successful songwriter and creator of hit stage musicals but also is currently a dee-jay on BBC Radio 2. However, Tim’s ability as a musical presenter harks back to the very early 60’s, when EMI House invited its employees to gather each Friday lunchtime in the conference room where they could listen to the company’s new releases; I volunteered to engineer some of these events which were called “Melody Menu” and Tim sat on the stage introducing the records! Ah, giddy times indeed!

The most remarkable thing that I witnessed during those days at EMI Records in the early 1960’s was the enormous success of the 45 rpm single. Concurrent with the rise of Beatlemania, releases by a seemingly endless line of other artists were literally going through the roof on a daily basis. I spent a short time in the sales department where each afternoon, I would gather the day’s sales figures on the latest singles and the company’s factory at Hayes was running at full speed trying to keep up with demand. EMI’s presses were kept busy by hits from the likes of local artists The Beatles, Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, The Fourmost, The Animals, Manfred Mann, Herman’s Hermits, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Freddie & The Dreamers, The Hollies, Cilla Black, Peter & Gordon, The Dave Clark Five, The Yardbirds, Georgie Fame, David & Jonathan, Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers, Paul Jones and Ken Dodd plus the aforementioned Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Adam Faith and Matt Monro. EMI was also home to Australian group The Seekers plus a number of top-flight American artists such as Gene Pitney (licensed from Musicor), The Beach Boys (on Capitol), Cher, P.J. Proby and Eddie Cochran (from Liberty), Del Shannon and Lee Dorsey (from Amy), The Easybeats (from United Artists), The Toys (from DynoVoice), Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs, Lou Christie, The Righteous Brothers and Connie Francis (from MGM), Mary Wells, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops and The Temptations (from Motown)…and these accounted for major UK successes up until and including 1966. In these days of declining sales of physical records, it’s almost impossible to imagine that back then, 7-inch circular pieces of plastic were in such huge demand on a daily basis!

A record company practice in the early 60’s which sounds archaic by today’s standards was that many LP records were issued in both mono and stereo pressings, partly because many record players were not specifically equipped to play stereophonic releases. In the summer of 1967, pop and easy listening albums were still being issued by British EMI in dual versions but the company sent the following official announcement: “As from July 1st 1967, all new EMI classical recordings released will be in stereo only. Everybody can play stereo records and thus can have all the enhanced delight that modern recording techniques provide. Most record equipment is convertible and at a very reasonable cost.” Eventually everything was issued in stereo (except for mono only recordings) and in due course, stereo singles also made their debut.

The above are just a few of my personal memories of working at EMI in the early 1960’s.

The EMI company has a rich and storied history dating back to the 1890’s and it’s worth noting that this coming April will mark the 80th Anniversary of the formation of Electric & Music Industries Ltd which came about as the result of merging The Gramophone Company Ltd with The Columbia Graphaphone Company Ltd. In addition, November 12th will mark the 80th Anniversary of the opening by composer/conductor Sir Edward Elgar of EMI’s Recording Studios in St. John’s Wood, London.



Movie Quote of yesteryear: 

“When a girl’s under twenty-one, she’s protected by law. When she’s over sixty-five, she’s protected by nature. Anywhere in between, she’s fair game”

Spoken by Cary Grant as the submarine captain in “Operation Petticoat” (Universal: 1959)

Rock on!


Previous postings of “The Door To Yesterday” newsletter can be found at www.wizwas.com






The Door To Yesterday #32

Hello again!

It’s been quite a while since I last posted a new “Door To Yesterday” but I’m back and promise to keep the missives coming!

A vintage TV trove at Cedars Sinai

I recently spent ten days in Cedars Sinai Hospital here in Los Angeles and one of the few things that helped retain my sanity was that they have an in-house TV channel devoted to vintage programs of comedy, variety and magic. Presented by The Board Of Governors of Cedars Sinai in association with veteran television film & video distributor and noted nostalgia authority Paul
Brownstein, the comedy menu includes a veritable treasure trove of classic sitcoms from years gone by including The George Burns & Gracie Allen Show (from the period around 1952 when Fred Clark was still playing Bea Benadaret’s husband before Larry Keating took over a year later), The Jack Benny Program and from later years: The Dick Van Dyke Show and Here’s Lucy. Also regularly featured are episodes from Groucho Marx‘s game show You Bet
Your Life, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Smothers Brothers specials and The Bill
Dana Show.

I grew up watching the Burns & Allen and Jack Benny programs when they were shown on British television by the BBC with all the commercial spots removed. I naturally realized this but what I didn’t discover until years later was that both series had dual sponsors; this meant that one week a Burns & Allen show would open announcing that the sponsor was Carnation Milk (“from contented cows”!) and then the program would end telling viewers that the following week’s episode would be brought to the airwaves by B.F. Goodrich. Watching some of the vintage Jack Benny shows, I also noted that sponsorship appeared to be split between State Farm Insurance and Jello.

It’s fascinating to look back at just which American TV programs were imported into Britain. Yes, series such as Burns & Allen and Jack Benny plus Sid Caesar and I Love Lucy and even “The Adventures Of Hiram Holiday” with Wally Cox all made it across the water but “The Honeymooners” never did originally; decades later, the BBC showed some of the old “Honeymooners” episodes for the first time but the experiment was not successful. Therefore Jackie Gleason was only known over there from his movie appearances. Similarly, Milton Berle was hardly known in Britain, likewise Red Skelton, Ed Sullivan and even Johnny Carson!

The one exception to the performers and series mentioned above was the multi-talented Phil Silvers and his wonderful American army series “You’ll Never Get Rich” which ended up being re-titled “The Phil Silvers Show“: not only was it successful in its home country but it struck a longterm nerve with the British public, so much so that it still turns up on BBC schedules over there from time to time. Amazingly, it’s as funny today as it ever was. Created by Nat Hiken, it ran on CBS from 1955 to 1959 and in addition to starring Phil Silvers as Sgt. Ernie Bilko, it boasted a wonderful cast of supporting characters including Paul Ford as the bumbling Colonel Hall, Harvey Lembeck & Allan Melvin as Bilko’s two henchmen Corporal’s Barbella & Henshaw plus Maurice Gosfield as the rotund Private Duane Doberman and Joe E. Ross as Sgt. Rupert ‘Ooh ooh’ Ritzik.

There’s a terrific 50th Anniversary DVD set of “The Phil Silvers Show” which includes a previously unseen audition tape and 18 choice episodes drawn from the whole series plus some great clips of Phil’s appearance on TV talk shows. In addition, the first complete season of the Bilko shows is also available on a recently released 5-DVD set.

For those Phil Silvers enthusiasts who want to collect everything they can lay their hands on, you may remember that in 1957, Columbia released the following album on which Phil played trumpet…

Thought for the week

I always seem to disagree with the Grammy ® Awards and the announcement of the latest nominations found me once again grumbling as I read through the categories. It seems understandably likely that Justin Bieber will win in the Best New Artist stakes but my complaint is not about who is nominated (although surely Drake’s breakout began in 2009) but rather that three extremely talented girls aren’t . In my humble opinion those who deserved an equal nod are Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj and the classical crossover singer Jackie Evancho.

Vladimir Putin sings Fats Domino!

My favorite YouTube video of the moment is of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin serenading an audience (including Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell) by singing the 1940 American ballad “Blueberry Hilland singing it in English! Written by Al Lewis, Vincent Rose and Larry Stock, the song is most associated with Fats Domino who sold a million copies of it on Imperial in 1956 but among earlier versions was one by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra (with vocal by Ray Eberle) on Bluebird in 1940 and another by Louis Armstrong on Decca in 1949; it was even featured by singing cowboy Gene Autry in one of his many movie successes, “The Singing Hill”, released by Republic in 1941.

Top to bottom: Fats Domino, Glenn Miller, Gene Autry

Johnny Otis’s “Speech”

All the talk about the new film “The King’s Speech” which documents the speech impediment problem that King George VI tried so valiantly to overcome reminded me of a song that R&B/R&R singer Johnny
Otis wrote and recorded back in 1959. There had been records about stutterers before such as a rockabilly opus called “Stutterin’ Papa” by Buck Griffin on MGM in 1956, but Johnny Otis came along later with “Mumblin’ Mosie” which I always remember packed a powerful punch from the moment you heard it!

Otis was also a standout drummer and bandleader who cut a string of major R&B charted records in 1950 and 1951 on Savoy Records. He later signed with Capitol and in 1957 enjoyed a huge British hit with a big beat version of the old 1920’s Sidney Clare/Con Conrad song “Ma! He’s Making Eyes At Me” which featured Johnny & his band (collectively known as ‘The Johnny Otis Show’) featuring vocals by Marie Adams & The Three Tons Of Joy. The following year found Johnny at the centre of the “Hand Jive” craze which was touched of by his song “Willie And The Hand Jive“. Then in 1959, Johnny released his “Mumblin’ Mosie” but it ran into protests because it was alleged that its lyric could be construed as ridiculing folks with similar speech disorders; Capitol in the U.S. subsequently withdrew the record but not before the song had found its way overseas where British rocker Cliff Richard covered it for EMI’s Columbia label.

Credit where credit was due

Do you remember the days when movie credits almost always ran before the beginning of the film? These days, it’s not unusual for you to have forgotten who is in the movie by the time all the credits have run. This same delayed display of opening credits also now occurs regularly on television, particularly in dramatic series. But of course, the big difference between yesteryear and today is that there are so many, many more credits. You start to wonder just how many executive producers it really takes to make a TV show!

Below is a wonderful example of the way movie credits are never displayed these days. It’s from the opening of the 1950 Warner Bros. release “Backfire” which is currently available on DVD in Warner Home Video’s fifth Film Noir Collection box-set. When was the last time you saw five leading players listed on one card?!

“Surfin’ Bird” re-surfaces!

Believe it or not, the 1963 oldie “Surfin’ Bird” by The Trashmen is #3 on the British singles chart this week! A hard-driving garage rock anthem, “Surfin’ Bird” was actually a combination of two songs “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” and “The Bird’s The Word“, written and recorded by the west coast R&B group The Rivingtons.

Movie Quote of yesteryear:

She came at me in sections…more curves than a scenic railway!”

Spoken by Fred Astaire describing Cyd Charisse in “The Band Wagon” (MGM: 1953)

Rock on!


Previous postings of “The Door To Yesterday” newsletter can be found at www.wizwas.com

Say Goodnight Harry!

“The Door To Yesterday” #31

George & Gracie: The missing TV shows!

Would somebody please unearth the episodes of the Burns & Allen TV series from its last two or three seasons? George & Gracie’s TV show began in 1950 and ran until 1958 but the only episodes that have been and are available on video & DVD are from the early years. Every episode was set in and around George & Gracie’s home and when the show began its run, George would talk to the audience from the side of the stage and then physically step onto the set. Then as the series developed in later seasons, he sat in his study and looked at a television set where he could watch the action taking place elsewhere in the house. This was a very ingenious plot device and of course, decades later Garry Shandling took a leaf out of George’s book and talked directly to the audience from time to time.

But the later Burns & Allen shows (which also featured Harry Von Zell along with George & Gracie’s adopted son Ronnie) have not been seen for years and I remember them as being very entertaining. Talk about TV On Demand – this would be on the top of my list!


Give a little whistle!

Maybe it all starts when you’re very young and you try to imitate the newspaper delivery boy who whistles down the street
but as Lauren Bacall famously said to Humphrey Bogart in the 1944 film “To Have And Have Not”:
You know you how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put
your lips together and blow“!

A famous musical reference came seven years earlier in the form of the Frank Churchill/Larry Morey song “Whistle While You Work” in Walt Disney’s animated film “Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs”.

On the smaller screen, whistling became a weekly essential exercise beginning in 1960 when CBS launched “The Andy Griffith Show” with a whistling tune that accompanied the aimable sheriff of rural Mayberry as he walked along the infamous tree-lined path along with six-year-old Ronny Howard.

Which got me to thinking recently of actual pop records of years gone by on which whistling played a memorable role. I’m sure that you have your own favorites but below is a list of mine including the version of “Sweet Georgia Brown” famously used by The Harlem Globetrotters. Obviously some of my selection are rooted in my British upbringing such as the skiffle record of “Freight Train” on which the group’s banjo-playing leader Chas McDevitt whistled while Nancy Whiskey took vocal honors.

Bony Moronie” (Larry Williams)
by Larry Williams (Specialty: 1957)

Freight Train” (Paul James/Fred Williams)
by The Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group featuring Nancy Whiskey (UK Oriole: 1957)

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” (Ennio Morricone)
By Hugo Montenegro (RCA: 1967)

A Handful Of Songs” (Tommy Steele/Lionel Bart/Michael Pratt)
By Tommy Steele & The Steelmen (UK Decca: 1957)

The Happy Whistler” (Don Robertson)
By Don Robertson (Capitol: 1956)

Heartaches By The Number” (Harlan Howard)
by Guy Mitchell (Columbia: 1959)

I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman” (Roger Greenaway/Roger Cook)
By Whistling Jack Smith (Deram: 1967)

Just Walking in the Rain” (Johnny Bragg/Robert Riley)
by Johnnie Ray (Columbia: 1956)

Magic Moments” (Burt Bacharach/Hal David)
By Perry Como (RCA: 1958)

Many Tears Ago” (Winfield Scott)
By Connie Francis (MGM: 1960)

March From The River Kwai” (Malcolm Arnold) & “Colonel Bogey” (Kenneth J. Alford)
By Mitch Miller & His Orchestra (Columbia: 1958)

Michael” (Arr: Dave Fisher)
By The Highwaymen (United Artists: 1961)

Rockin’ Robin” (Jimmie Thomas)
By Bobby Day (Class: 1958)

Singing The Blues” (Melvin Endsley)
By Tommy Steele & The Steelmen (UK Decca: 1956)

(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” (Otis Redding/Steve Cropper)
By Otis Redding (Volt: 1967)

Sweet Georgia Brown” (Ben Bernie/Maceo Pinkard/Kenneth Casey)
By Brother Bones & His Shadows (Tempo: 1948)


R.I.P: Norman Wisdom (1915-2010)

The beloved British slapstick comedian Norman Wisdom made his fame and fortune in a series of very successful movies in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He also sang, most notably a ballad he co-wrote himself called “Don’t Laugh At Me (‘Cause I’m A Fool)“; it was featured in his first box-office smash “Trouble In Store” and reached #3 on the British hit parade in early 1954. Three years later, he charted with “The
Wisdom Of A Fool” which, though its title suggests it might have been written specially for Norman, it was actually a cover of an American song by Roy Alfred & Abner Silver and originally recorded by The Five Keys in 1956. Norman’s A&R man Norrie Paramor also teamed him up for a couple of duet recordings, one with the Irish singer Ruby Murray and another with British comedienne Joyce Grenfell.


R.I.P: Solomon Burke (1936-2010)

So sad to hear of Solomon’s sudden passing. He was rightly referred to as ‘The King Of Rock & Soul’ and his impassioned vocal lit a formidable fire under the country song “Just Out Of Reach”, giving him his first chart record back in 1961. Even in recent years, he was on still on the top of his game with his Grammy®-winning album “Don’t Give Up On Me” and his subsequent trio of records for Shout! Factory, singing songs by such contemporary artists as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and Van Morrison. Below is a list of outstanding cuts from his early Atlantic sides.

Cry To Me” (Bert Berns)
By Solomon Burke (Atlantic: 1962)

Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” (Bert Berns/Solomon Burke/Jerry Wexler)
By Solomon Burke (Atlantic: 1964)

Get Out Of My Life Woman” (Allen Toussaint)
By Solomon Burke (Atlantic: 1968)

Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)” (Bert Russell/Wes Farrell)
By Solomon Burke (Atlantic: 1964)

Got To Get You Off My Mind” (Solomon Burke/Delores Burke/J.B. Moore)
By Solomon Burke (Atlantic: 1965)

If You Need Me” (Robert Bateman/Wilson Pickett/Sonny Sanders)
By Solomon Burke (Atlantic: 1963

Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)” (Virgil ‘Pappy’ Stewart)
By Solomon Burke (Atlantic: 1961)

The Price” (Solomon Burke Sr./Solomon Burke Jr./J.B. Moore)
By Solomon Burke (Atlantic: 1964)

Take Me (Just As I Am)” (Dan Penn/Spooner Oldham)
By Solomon Burke (Atlantic: 1967)

Tonight’s The Night” (Don Covay/Solomon Burke)
By Solomon Burke (Atlantic: 1965)

You’re Good For Me” (Don Covay/Horace Ott)
By Solomon Burke (Atlantic: 1963)


That song…That Face!

“That face, that face, that wonderful face!
It shines, it glows all over the place.

And how I love to watch it change expressions.

Each look becomes the pride of my possessions”

The premiere episode of CBS Television’s new cop show “The Defenders” ended with Frank Sinatra Jr. on stage singing an extract from “That Face” which was the title song from his 2006 album released by Rhino. The song has an interesting history: it was written by Alan Bergman and Lew Spence and introduced by Fred Astaire on a Verve single in 1957 and then both sung and danced by him on his 1959 TV special “Another Evening With Fred Astaire” on which his dancing partner was Barrie Chase.

That Face” has been recorded a number of different times over the years by such artists as Rosemary Clooney (on Concord Jazz in 1996), by Sarah Vaughan (on Mainstream in ’75), Joe Williams (on RCA in ’64), Mel Torme (on Stash in ’68) and John Pizzarelli on Telarc in 2004. The song’s co-author cut it himself on his “Lyrically, Alan Bergman” album on Verve in 2007 and Mr. Astaire revisited the song during his 1976 London sessions for United Artists. In addition, Barbra Streisand included an extract in the Circus medley portion of her 1966 TV special “Color Me Barbra’.


Movie Quote of yesteryear:

I am big…it’s the pictures that got small

Spoken by Gloria Swanson as the fading movie actress Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard” (Paramount: 1950)

Rock on!


Previous postings of “The Door To Yesterday” newsletter can be found at www.wizwas.com

“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!


Previous postings of “The Door To Yesterday” newsletter can be found at www.wizwas.com

“The Door To Yesterday” #29

What was that again?!

The saying goes that Britain and America are separated by a common language.  Nowhere is there a better example of this than in the wacky world of movie titles.  British distributors of American films were often very good at anglicizing the descriptive names of their product.  For instance, W.C. Fields’ 1940 comedy classic “Never Give A Sucker An Even Break” was given the dreary title “What A Man” in the UK.  Similarly, the 1951 Susan Hayward fashion industry-based drama “I Can Get It For You Wholesale” was saddled with the title “This Is My Affair” when it reached British cinemas.  Then there were some title changes I could never understand such as Anthony Mann’s 1952 James Stewart western “Bend Of The River” which became “Where The River Bends” overseas (if they were going to change it, at least be a little more inventive!) and in 1967, Delbert Mann’s minor Dick Van Dyke comedy “Fitzwilly” was re-titled “Fitzwilly Strikes Back” for UK audiences, although he hadn’t even struck before!

Of course, folks across the water grew up learning all kinds of Americanisms and not just from the cinema.  Song lyrics often referred to people, places and things which were totally foreign to us British!  I remember trying to track down a lyric sheet for Irving Berlin’s “Easter Parade” to find out what a rotogravure was!  I was probably not familiar with Dorothy Parker when I first heard Cole Porter’s reference to her in the opening verse in “Just One Of Those Things” and though I always figured that ‘Mimsie Starr’ was a fictious character created by the same Mr. Porter in “Well, Did You Evah!”, the fact that ‘she got pinched in the Astor Bar’ obviously made reference to the legendary New York Hotel!

Indeed, songwriters familiarized us with America’s cities long before some of us ever set foot here.  For example, Betty Comden, Adolph Green & Leonard Bernstein etched a descriptive memorable picture of the Big Apple in “On The Town” when the song opens “New York, New York, a helluva town. The Bronx is up, but the Battery’s down”! That lyric comes from the song “New York, New York” and incidentally, when John Kander & Fred Ebb wrote their title song (the one that begins “Start spreadin’ the news”) for Martin Scorsese’s “New York, New York” movie in 1977, it was officially titled “Theme From New York, New York” so as to avoid getting confused with the earlier title.


Have you noticed?

Maybe it’s just me,  but look at the image that Verizon is using for their latest ad campaign…

New Verizon Ad

Doesn’t it remind you of the old RKO Radio logo?



Classic Rock Songs

#3: “Ain’t Got No Home” (Clarence Henry)

R&B novelty song written and recorded by singer/pianist Clarence Henry;  this was the first occasion on which he injected his croaking ‘frog’ voice, hence his nickname.  On the track, Clarence also used his own voice plus an imitiation of a female vocal. Born in Algiers, Louisiana, he was influenced by New Orleans native Fats Domino and initially sang with the Bobby Mitchell band. His signature song was later revived by The Band on their “Moondog Matinee” album in 1973.


Clarence Henry ‘Frog Man’/Produced by Paul Gayten (Argo: 1956) US R&B and Pop (in 1957)
The Band/Produced by The Band (Capitol: 1973) US Pop

Other versions include: Bruce Channel (Smash), Buddy Holly (Coral), Sleepy LaBeef (Rounder), Carl Mann (Sun), The Outlaws (Kaygan), Sylvain Sylvain (RCA), The Vindictives (Liberation).

Sequel song:
I Found A Home” (Clarence Henry/Paul Gayten) by Clarence Henry ‘Frog Man’ (Argo: 1957)

#4: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”(Nickolas Ashford/Valerie Simpson)

All-time classic Motown song.  Though originally planned to be a solo Tammi Terrell recording, it became the first of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s glorious string of duet hits and was produced by Harvey Fuqua and Johnny Bristol.  It was later chosen for the second single of Diana Ross’ solo career after she left The Supremes and writers Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson produced her version.    Memorably performed by Chaka Khan & Montell Jordan in the documentary film “Standing In The Shadows Of Motown” (Artisan: 2002)


Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell/Produced by Harvey Fuqua & Johnny Bristol (Tamla: 1967) US R&B and Pop
Diana Ross/Produced by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson (Motown: 1970) US R&B, Pop and AC, UK
Boystown Gang (in a medley with “Remember Me”) (WEA: 1981) UK
Jocelyn Brown (Incredible: 1998) UK
Whitehouse (Beautiful Noise: 1998) UK

Other versions include: Ashford & Simpson (in a medley w/”You’re All I Need To Get By” & “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”) (Warner Bros),  Sandra Bernhard (Enigma), Odell Brown & The Organ-izers (Cadet), Al Green (Hi), Inner Life (Salsoul), Chaka Khan & Montell Jordan (“Standing In The Shadows Of Motown” s/track) (Hip-O), K.X.P. featuring Ceybil Jeffries (Slam Jam), Stacy Lattisaw & Howard Hewett (Motown), Claudine Longet (A&M), Manzanilla (Crescendo), Hugh Masekela (Uni), Michael McDonald (Motown), The Moments (Stang), Meisha Moore (Iamshe), Debelah Morgan (Motown), Scherrie Payne (Motorcity), Diana Ross & The Supremes And The Temptations (Motown), The Spirit Traveler (JVC), The Sugar Beats (Sugar Beats), The Temptations (New Door/Universal), Stanley Turrentine (Blue Note), The Pete Waterman Orchestra (Universal), Young-Holt Trio (Brunswick)

Song was also performed by Whoopi Goldberg in “Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit” (Buena Vista: 1993) and by Michael McDonald on the soundtrack of “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” (Universal: 2005). Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s original recording was heard in various pictures including being featured three times on the soundtrack of the Julia Roberts/Susan Sarandon movie “Stepmom” (Columbia: 1998).

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


Movie Quote of yesteryear:

If I’d been a ranch, they would have named me the Bar Nothing
Spoken by Rita Hayworth as the voluptuous casino singer Gilda in the movie bearing her name (Columbia: 1946)

Rock on!


Previous postings of “The Door To Yesterday” newsletter can be found at www.wizwas.com

“The Door To Yesterday” #28

John And Marsha are back!

The comedic genius that is Stan Freberg was a major recording artist on Capitol Records beginning in the 1950’s.  His satirical comedy routines naturally led him into the world of advertising and the TV commercials that he produced are still recognized as classics to this day.  Last week, in the 4th season premiere of AMC’s hit series “Mad Men”, two of the characters (including one of the show’s stars, Elisabeth Moss) began mimicking Stan’s breakthrough routine “John And Marsha” in which two lovers repeatedly exchange only their names but in ever-changing, melodramatic fashion.  Stan’s routine was in fact a marvelous send-up of soap operas which he had initially demoed on a private tape;  he played it to Capitol’s Cliffie Stone and the label immediately signed him up.  Supported by Cliffie Stone & His Orchestra with the accompanying melody arranged by Billy Leibert and with Ken Nelson producing, Stan recorded the studio version of “John And Marsha” on November 7, 1950.  The single was released on February 8, ’51 and it not only launched Stan’s career but created a virtual firestorm in the media because of its originality and the fact that it became a talking point craze around many water coolers!


Movieland memories

Since coming to Hollywood in 1976, I have always been fascinated to discover buildings and places that have links with movieland history.  For instance, there’s a house in a neighborhood not too far from where we live that was the home of actor Craig Stevens (the star of TV’s “Peter Gunn”) and his wife Alexis Smith, the Warner Bros. contract star of the 1940’s who years later co-starred in the Broadway musical “Follies” and appeared for a season as Barbara Bel Geddes’ crazed sister on the TV series “Dallas”.  My wife and I occasionally saw Craig Stevens dining in Schwabs during his later years.  The Stevens’ house had originally been owned by actress Loretta Young and her producer/husband Tom Lewis who at one time had lived in the building next door.

I remember briefly meeting two veteran members of the Hollywood community, almost by accident.  One day in the early 80’s when I was walking our dog along Marmont Avenue, I came across a bunch of keys lying on the footpath directly in front of a house.  I picked up the keys, walked up the steps and rang the doorbell and it was answered by a beautiful lady in her 70’s ; it was the veteran singer Peg LaCentra. I showed her the keys but she couldn’t identify them but she turned to her husband who was by then standing behind her and I immediately recognized him as the great actor Paul Stewart.  As you can see from the illustration above, Peg sang with Artie Shaw & His Orchestra in the 1930’s;  she was also an important ‘ghost’ singer in Hollywood, providing the vocals for Ida Lupino in “The Man I Love” (Warner Bros: 1947) and for Susan Hayward in “Smash-Up: The Story Of A Woman” released by Universal that same year.  My favorite performance of hers was a brief on-screen appearance as the singer/pianist in a poignant barroom sequence in the 1946 Warner Bros. romantic drama “Humoresque”; ;  the scene opened with Peg singing two lines from Cole Porter’s “You Do Something To Me”. Sitting at a side table, wealthy socialite Joan Crawford argues with violinist John Garfield and then smashes a glass against the wall; the two of them leave the room after which the camera moves back over to Peg who appropriately sings the first two lines of Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love”.

Paul Stewart had been a member of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre company and was a leading member of the cast of Welles’ masterpiece “Citizen Kane” (RKO: 1941).  In later years, he was an extremely busy actor in both movies and television.  Paul died in 1986 and Peg passed away ten years later.


Vintage Hollywood Snapshot:

Back in the 1950’s long before swanky Hollywood nightspot Ciro’s was turned into what we now know as The Comedy Store, headliner Peggy Lee was pictured outside the club when she was appearing there.  What the workmen were doing is anyone’s guess!


Personal libraries

I’ve always been an avid collector of music and movie-related books and one of the hardest decisions these days is what to keep and what to discard.  My wife is particularly concerned that we have acquired and kept far too many possessions whether they be books, CD’s, records, videos, DVD’s and reference files that have at times seemingly come close to devouring us!  She is regularly and systematically attacking our vast library so that we can review what we have and decide what we can live without.  This past weekend, she found some books and magazines which were hidden behind the flatscreen TV in the bedroom;  we discovered some hidden gems but for the most part they were items that we really don’t need to keep forever.  Among them are some early issues of a very fine British movie magazine created by Peter Cowie & Allen Eyles titled “Focus On Film” which was launched back in 1970.  Trouble is that when you come across treasures like this, the first instinct is to sit down and read them all, cover to cover!  Alright – you’re probably right – I won’t read every word but as I glance at the covers, I think I just have to read the ‘Interview with James Mason’ and an account of ‘Robert Wise at RKO’ is far too fascinating a proposition not to immediately examine in depth!


Question of the week

Just a personal thought…but unless the new movie , “The Kids Are All Right” is about political leanings of the kids in question,  shouldn’t the title be spelled “The Kids Are Alright” ????


You’ve heard that song before

The old-time Hollywood film studios very often re-used musical themes (of which they owned the copyrights) in movies long after the film for which they were written had come and gone.  Here’s one of my favorite examples:  The song “The First Time I Saw You” (Nathaniel Shilkret/Allie Wrubel) was introduced – as the illustrated sheet music indicates – in the 1937 RKO post-Civil War drama “The Toast Of New York”;  it was actually sung on-screen in that picture by Frances Farmer.  Then in  1947, RKO re-worked the melody as the recurring theme in their film noir classic “Out Of The Past


Classic Rock Songs

“After Midnight” (J.J. Cale)

Originally recorded by J.J. Cale on a Snuff Garrett-produced Liberty single in 1967, it was later successfully covered by Eric Clapton on a session produced by Delaney Bramlett.  J.J. re-cut the song himself for Leon Russell & Denny Cordell’s Shelter label.  Clapton himself re-recorded “After Midnight” in 1988 for a TV beer commercial for Michelob.


Eric Clapton (Atco: 1970) US Pop hit
J.J. Cale (Shelter: 1972 re-recording) US Pop hit
Other versions include:  Chet Atkins (RCA), Maggie Bell (Atlantic), Jerry Garcia (Arista), Merl Saunders (Fantasy)
(Updated entry from my book “Who Sang What In Rock ‘n’ Roll” published by Blandford/Cassell, London in 1990)


Movie Quote of yesteryear:

I was born when you kissed me.  I died when you left me. I lived a few days while you loved me

Spoken by Humphrey Bogart as a Hollywood screenwriter reading dialog from a potential script in the suspense drama “In A Lonely Place” (Columbia: 1950)

Rock on!


Previous postings of “The Door To Yesterday” newsletter can be found at www.wizwas.com

“The Door To Yesterday” #27

The Way Things Were!

Do you remember the pre-cell ‘phone days – not so long ago – when every major airport had lines of telephone booths?  You’d press on the individual doors which would then fold open and you’d step inside and sit on a small stool before dialing a number.  The convenience that smart ‘phones provide has changed so many things.  You used to be able to shop in a store where people only spoke to other people whereas these days, folks walk up and down aisles in supermarkets carrying on conversations with friends and relatives who are probably miles away!

Thinking back to the days of old-style landline telephones, I was once at the Beverly Hills Hotel’s Polo Lounge meeting with Mel Tormé and remember thinking how chic it was that when somebody rang him, the waiter brought a telephone over to the booth and plugged it in for Mel to take the call!

Do you also remember the days when you rang a company and spoke to an actual human being?  Those real-life voices belonged to what were usually referred to as switchboard operators (as pictured above) and they connected you with the person or department you were calling.  Of course, they have long since been replaced by pre-recorded voices which give you a menu to choose from (e.g: “Press 1 for the accounts office”) or you’re invited to press “the first three letters of the person you are calling”.  By the way, in England, switchboard operators were called ‘telephonists’.

A further way in which the human voice has been replaced in the telephone industry is that before answering machines, there were answering services: a person or persons who you paid to personally answer your calls while you were away;  therefore, when somebody rang you while you were out, an actual person would answer the call and take a message for you.

Another mode of communication which has undergone a major transformation is of course letter writing.  There is now a generation who have not grown up automatically putting pen to paper in order to mail a letter;  in fact, there are those who never go near a post office.  Emailing and texting have not only displaced physical letters and postcards for a growing segment of the world’s population but they’ve been responsible for partly creating a new shorthand language of abbreviations and symbols.   I guess the old Joe Young/Fred E. Ahlert song that was popularized in the 1930’s by Fats Waller would have to be re-worded today – “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and text myself a message” — ouch!

R.I.P.: Harvey Fuqua (1929-2010)

The obits which ran recently on the former Motown legend Harvey Fuqua understandably outlined his achievements as an artist (particularly as one of the lead singers of The Moonglows), producer, label owner and his shepherding of Marvin Gaye to initial stardom.  Harvey was also an accomplished songwriter and I thought that this would be a perfect opportunity to list my favorite Fuqua compositions.

Most memorable of all his songs was the anthemic “Someday We’ll Be Together”*which he co-authored with Johnny Bristol and Jackey Beavers.  Messrs Bristol & Beavers recorded the original version of that song;  they were billed as Johnny & Jackey and it was released in late 1961 on Harvey’s Tri-Phi label.

Here’s my list:
A Long Time” (Harvey Fuqua/The Quails)
By The Five Quails (Harvey: 1961)
Cleo’s Mood” (Harvey Fuqua/Autry DeWalt/Willie Woods)
By Jr. Walker & The All Stars (Soul: 1965)
Come On And See Me” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol)
By Tammi Terrell (Motown: 1966)
If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Vernon Bullock)
By Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (Tamla: 1967)
Mr. Engineer (Bring Her Back To Me)” (Harvey Fuqua)
By The Moonglows (Chess: 1957)
Most Of All” (Harvey Fuqua/Alan Freed)
By The Moonglows (Chess: 1955)
My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Pamela Sawyer/James Roach)
By David Ruffin (Motown: 1969)
Nobody Loves You (Like Me)” (Harvey Fuqua/Gwen Gordy)
By Etta James (United: 1961)
*“Someday We’ll Be Together” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Jackey Beavers)
By Diana Ross & The Supremes (Motown: 1968) – a 1969 #1 R&B and Pop hit; sampled in Janet Jackson’s 1993 hit “If”
That’s What Girls Are Made For” (Harvey Fuqua/Gwen Gordy)
By The Spinners (Tri-Phi: 1961)
These Things Will Keep Me Loving You” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Sylvia Moy)
By The Velvelettes (Soul: 1966)
Twenty-Five Miles” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Edwin Starr/Gerald Wexler/Bert Russell)
By Edwin Starr (Gordy: 1969)
What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Vernon Bullock)
By Jr. Walker & The All Stars (Soul: 1969) – revived by Kenny G in 1986
What Good Am I Without You” (Harvey Fuqua/Johnny Bristol/Sylvia Moy)
By Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston (Tamla: 1964)


Classic Rock Songs

Abraham, Martin And John” (Dick Holler)

Evocative folk-rock anthem written as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and John Kennedy.  It marked a comeback (and a return to his original record label) for Dion (Di Mucci), formerly of Dion & The Belmonts.  The song (which was authored by the same writer as the very different “Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron” by The Royal Guardsmen on Laurie two years earlier) also charted for Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and by African American comedienne Moms Mabley.  It was later integrated into a Top 10 medley single (along with “What The World Needs Now Is Love”) by disc-jockey Tom Clay narrating between portions of the two songs sung by The Blackberries, namely Clydie King, Venetta Fields and Billie Barnum.  Revived in 1991 by UK singer Lavine Hudson on Virgin’s 10 label.

Dion (Laurie: 1968) US Pop hit
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (Tamla: 1969) US R&B and Pop hit
Moms Mabley (Mercury: 1969) US R&B and Pop hit
Marvin Gaye (Tamla: 1970) UK hit
Tom Clay [Medley w/”What The World Needs Now Is Love” (Bacharach/David)] (MoWest: 1971) US R&B and Pop hit

Other versions include:  Harry Belafonte (RCA), Charles Brown (Galaxy), Ray Charles (ABC), Cliff Richard (UK Columbia),
Kenny Rogers(Liberty), Andy Williams (Columbia)

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


R.I.P.: Hank Cochran (1935-2010)

Hank Cochran (right) with Merle Haggard in 2009                     Photo: BMI

Nashville lost a member of its songwriting royalty last week when the enormously successful Hank Cochran passed away at his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee.  His most profitable  copyrights include such legendary songs as “I Fall To Pieces” (written with Harlan Howard) which was a #1 hit for Patsy Cline in 1961, “Make The World Go Away” which charted initially for Ray Price in 1963 and then for Eddy Arnold in ’65, “She’s Got You”: another #1 for Patsy Cline this time in ’62, “It’s Not Love (But It’s Not Bad)” which topped the country charts in 1972 for Merle Haggard and “The Chair” (co-authored with Dean Dillon) which gave George Strait a #1 single in December ‘85.  Hank also wrote two songs which were major pop hits by folk singer Burl Ives: “A Little Bitty Tear” in 1961 and “Funny Way Of Laughin’” in ’62.

Additional Hank Cochran chart hits included: “Don’t Touch Me” by Jeannie Sealy (the former Mrs. Hank Cochran) in 1966, “Don’t You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me” by Ray Price in ’66 and by Ronnie Milsap in ‘89, “I Want To Go With You” by Eddy Arnold in ’66 and “That’s All That Matters” by Mickey Gilley in 1980.

In his early days, Hank Cochran teamed up with singer/guitarist Eddie Cochran and, though they weren’t related, they toured as The Cochran Brothers in the days before Eddie went solo and turned into a rock ‘n’ roll legend.  As a recording artist, Hank had initial success on Liberty with a single of Harlan Howard’s “Sally Was A Good Old Girl” produced by Joe Allison in 1962.  Joe also cut a session with Hank for Dot, Fred Foster produced him at Monument, Chet Atkins cut him at RCA including a fine LP in 1965 called “Hits From The Heart”(illustrated above), Tommy Allsup produced him for Liberty and over at Capitol in 1978, Merlin Littlefield and Glen Martin were in the producer’s chair for Hank’s memorable duet with Merle Haggard on “Ain’t Life Hell”, another Cochran original.  Hank also re-cut “Make The World Go Away” for Elektra in 1980 which he co-produced himself along with Chuck Howard and Rock Killough.


Movie Quote of Yesteryear:

Look at that – Look how she moves! Just like Jello on springs. She’s got some sort of built-in motor or something.  I tell ya it’s a whole different sex!” Spoken by Jack Lemmon to Tony Curtis about Marilyn Monroe walking along a railroad platform in “Some Like It Hot” (United Artists: 1959).


Thanks to everyone who commented on my Summer Song list (“Door To Yesterday #26) .  Former Sonet Records man Alan Whaley wrote to remind me of “Seaside Shuffle” by Terry Dactyl & The Dinosaurs, that label’s first hit which rose to #2 in the UK in the summer of ’72.  When I passed this information on to the curator of cool, Gene Sculatti, he shot back a knowing comment that “They beat T. Rex to dinosaur-rock— but did they beat the Piltdown Men?”!

Rock on!


Previous postings of “The Door To Yesterday” newsletter can be found at www.wizwas.com

“The Door To Yesterday” #26

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”.


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.

Rock on!


Previous postings of “The Door To Yesterday” newsletter can be found at www.wizwas.com