Sunday, 16 December 2018
Mission Bell/Let The Water Run Down/She Cried/Maria
Born and mostly raised in Texas, rock & roller P.J. Proby never really hit it big in his homeland, but his trouser-busting stage antics helped make him a genuine pop star in England at the height of the British Invasion. Proby was born James Marcus Smith in Houston on November 6, 1938, and grew up listening to country and black gospel; later on, he became fascinated by rockabilly, and his stepsister even dated the young Elvis Presley. After graduating from military school in 1957, he moved to Hollywood hoping to make it in the music business. Through his boyhood friend, teen-idol singer Tommy Sands, Smith made some connections that included songwriter Sharon Sheeley (who was dating Eddie Cochran and had written "Poor Little Fool" for Rick Nelson), and he soon began recording singles under the name Jett Powers, with little success. In the meantime, he worked as a demo singer and also did a bit of acting, appearing in several Westerns and an episode of Gunsmoke.
Meanwhile, Smith was working on his own original songs, which earned him a composition contract with Liberty at the end of 1959; his material was recorded by Johnny Burnette ("Clown Shoes"), the Searchers, Leroy Van Dyke, Rick Nelson, and Jackie DeShannon, among others. He also briefly joined producer Kim Fowley's studio group the Hollywood Argyles in 1960. In 1961, Smith (probably wisely) changed his alias from Jett Powers to P.J. Proby, the name of a childhood friend of Sharon Sheeley. Proby cut several singles from 1961-1963, ranging from rock to pop to country, again without much luck or promotion. With the single "Wicked Woman," he even resorted to changing his name to Orville Woods in hopes of getting played on R&B radio stations.
Saturday, 15 December 2018
It's My Party/She's A Fool/You Don't Own Me/Judy's Turn To Cry
Lesley Sue Goldstein (May 2, 1946 – February 16, 2015), known professionally as Lesley Gore, was an American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. At the age of 16 (in 1963) she recorded the pop hit "It's My Party", and followed it up with other hits including "Judy's Turn to Cry", "She's a Fool", "You Don't Own Me", "Maybe I Know" and "California Nights".
Gore also worked as an actress and composed songs with her brother, Michael Gore, for the 1980 film Fame, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. She hosted an LGBT-oriented public television show, In the Life, on American TV in the 2000s, and was active until 2014.
When she recorded her version of "It's My Party" with Quincy Jones in 1963, she was a junior in high school. It became a number-one, nationwide hit. Gore's version sold over one million copies and was certified as a gold record. It also marked the beginning of a time when fans would show up on her front lawn.
"It's My Party" was followed by many other hits for Gore, including the sequel, "Judy's Turn to Cry" (US No. 5); "She's a Fool" (US No. 5); the feminist-themed million-selling "You Don't Own Me", which held at No. 2 for three weeks behind the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand"; "That's the Way Boys Are" (US No. 12); "Maybe I Know" (US No. 14/UK No. 20); "Look of Love" (US No. 27); and the Grammy-nominated "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" (US No. 13), from the 1965 movie, Ski Party. In 1965 she appeared in the beach party film The Girls on the Beach in which she performed three songs: "Leave Me Alone", "It's Gotta Be You", and "I Don't Want to Be a Loser".
Gore was given first shot at recording "A Groovy Kind of Love" by songwriters Carole Bayer and Toni Wine with a melody borrowed from a sonatina by Muzio Clementi, but Shelby Singleton, a producer for Mercury subsidiary Smash Records, refused to let Gore record a song with the word "groovy" in its lyrics. The Mindbenders went on to record it, and it reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts.
Gore was one of the featured performers in the T.A.M.I. Show concert film, which was recorded and released in 1964 by American International Pictures, and placed in the National Film Registry in 2006. Gore had one of the longest sets in the film, performing six songs including "It's My Party", "You Don't Own Me", and "Judy's Turn to Cry".
After high school, while continuing to make appearances as a singer, Gore attended Sarah Lawrence College, studying British and American English literature. At college folk music was popularly lauded as 'chic', whereas pop music was often derided as 'uncool.' "Had I been tall with blonde hair, had I been Mary Travers, I would have gotten along fine." She graduated in 1968.
Gore signed a contract with Mercury Records for five years, which carried her obligations to the company through the spring of 1968. Her last big hit had been twelve months prior to this time, but Mercury still saw promise in her as an artist, and believed that one of her singles would make it, like they had in the past. They offered a one-year extension on the initial contract, and Gore was formally contracted to Mercury for a sixth year. During this time, "He Gives Me Love (La La La)", a single release based on a Eurovision Song Contest winner, rose to #96 on the Music Business charts, while bubbling under the hot 100 in Billboard. Mercury took out a full page ad in the trades to support the single, but its airplay was spotty, becoming a hit in only a few major markets. She was then paired with the successful soul producers Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell for two singles that took her into the "soul" genre: "I'll Be Standing By" and "Take Good Care (Of My Heart)." These songs did not fit the image Mercury had crafted for her, and the singles were not played. Her contract with Mercury ended after the release of "98.6/Lazy Day" and "Wedding Bell Blues" failed to make headway on the charts.
In 1970, she signed with Crewe Records and was reunited with producer Bob Crewe, who had produced her album California Nights. None of the Crewe releases charted.
Lesley with Bob Crewe
Night Train/Love Don't Love Nobody/You've Got The Power/Think
"Night Train" is a twelve-bar blues instrumental standard first recorded by Jimmy Forrest in 1951.
James Brown recorded "Night Train" with his band in 1961. His performance replaced the original lyrics of the song with a shouted list of cities on his East Coast touring itinerary (and hosts to black radio stations he hoped would play his music) along with many repetitions of the song's name. (Brown would repeat this lyrical formula on "Mashed Potatoes U.S.A." and several other recordings.) He also played drums on the recording. Originally appearing as a track on the album James Brown Presents His Band and Five Other Great Artists, it received a single release in 1962 and became a hit, charting #5 R&B and #35 Pop.
A live version of the tune was the closing number on Brown's 1963 album Live at the Apollo. Brown also performs "Night Train" along with his singing group the Famous Flames (Bobby Byrd, Bobby Bennett, and Lloyd Stallworth) on the 1964 motion picture/concert film The T.A.M.I. Show.
"You've Got the Power" is a song written by James Brown and Famous Flames member Johnny Terry and recorded by Brown with Bea Ford as a duet in 1960. Released as the B-side of Brown and the Famous Flames' hit recording of "Think", it also charted, reaching #14 R&B and #86 Pop. It was Brown's first recorded duet and his first hit B-side. Brown briefly performs the song in a medley on his 1963 album Live at the Apollo.