Week 47 – 1960

Maurice Williams And The Zodiacs

Maurice Williams And The Zodiacs, #1 this week

The youtube playlist is available here.

#1 Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs – Stay

This song was a really good doo-wop song, even if some subsequent covers were really better. The song was originally written by Maurice Williams in 1953 when he was 15 (which explains the lyrics). This song was the main hit of the Zodiacs, reaching the first place for one week, and was featured in 1983 in Dirty Dancing, which made it definitely famous.
As it became a doo-wop reference (and covered by Frankie Valli), the song was covered many times.
Among the covers, there were the good ones :
The Hollies version, in 1963. Maybe the best version recorded. A proto-punk cover that made your grandmother dance and makes you say : “What were the Beatles doing in 1963 ? Please Please Me ? Seriously ?”
– Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (1964). Not interesting in itself, because it was really similar to the original, but the more modern production makes it sound better. And Frankie Valli is always true.
The Virgina Wolves (1966). A mod version. Just this. I don’t know anything about this band, and I couldn’t find the name of another song they have recorded (if they have done anything else).
Marx & Spencer (1983). I don’t know if this cover is good in itself. 1983 dance is funny. Maybe it is just that, a funny song, recorded to be forgotten two months later in the crate of a DJ recently fired from the Studio 54.

Quickly, they are three boring ones that were successful: Andrew Gold (1976), Jackson Browne (1977) and Cindy Lauper (2003).

I had to mention a really shitty 90’s cover by Dream House. So 1995.

#2 Elvis Presley – Are You Lonesome Tonight?

It will be number one next week. Wait a moment.

#3 Johnny Tillotson – Poetry In Motion

That good song was not good enough to keep Johnny Tillotson from being forgotten. Even if he had a long career, he never succeeded to reach the second place again. Sad, but Ola & The Janglers made a unknown cover, and finally Marie Pojkarova said the worst insult, in Czech : this video (please note that Pejskové se koušou means “Dogs Bite Each Other” to understand the deep meaning of the video).

#4 Floyd Cramer – Last Date

It will be number two next week. Wait a moment

#5 Ray Charles – Georgia On My Mind

Too difficult to comment such a performance, so I prefer to talk about the original version, by Hoagy Carmichael & His Orchestra. Hoagy Carmichel, dead in 1981 at the age of 82, was one of the best jazzmen in America, and he is behind lots of songs you may know, like Stardust.

#6 Hank Ballard & The Midnighters – Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go

A pop song like thousand of others. Quickly appreciated, quickly forgotten. The Chamber Brothers made a useless version of it in 1974.

#7 Kathy Young with The Innocents – A Thousand Stars

It will be number three next week. Wait a moment.

#8 Gary U.S. Bonds – New Orleans

It will be number one next week. Wait a moment.

#9 Joe Jones – You Talk Too Much

Joe Jones, the-man-who-did-not-compose-iko-iko despite his claims. This funny song was notably covered by Spooky & Sue.

#10 The Drifters – Save The Last Dance For Me

This song, that stayed three weeks at the first place, was produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and an unknown assistant, Phil Spector. An offer that he couldn’t refuse.
There were different and not very good covers :
DeFranco Family (1974), between disco and folk. Even if the cover is good, it is not as good as their big Heartbeat, it’s a Lovebeat.
Emmylou Harris (1979), country cover. The Dolly Parton version (1983) would be considered as best, if the production had not been SO cheap. Seriously, who had this idea of country music on 80’s beatbox ?
Neil Diamond (1993), kitsch as hell. This version sounds like the end of a family karaoke, a Sunday afternoon. Terrific.
Michel Bublé (2006). Everybody knows the stereotype about Canadian shitty music. I won’t argue against it with this “crooner” version.

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  1. Week 48 – 1960 « Parallel History
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