Category Archives: My Favorite Records

I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy

It’s hard to imagine anyone bettering the What Four’s storming “I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy” on Columbia from ’66. It is a girl-garage cult classic. But big-time soul collector Matt Weingarden (aka Mr. Fine Wine) has dug up a less-frenzied yet far cooler version (dig that organ!) on an acetate given to him by his uncle Morris Last. We know nothing about the artist singing this spectacular rendition; not a single name is listed on the acetate. All we have to go on is “a typewritten song title and the name of the company in New York’s Brill Building where it was cut,” writes Mr. Fine Wine in the accompanying sleeve notes. B-side “Watch Out” is an even greater mystery, apparently sung by the stunning gal featured on the cover. But this acetate offers even less information on the label. Mr. Fine Wine could’ve easily just given us these two fantastic rarities from his vast collection and left the stories well alone, but instead we’re taken on a detective’s trail, stumbling upon clues that lead us not to the names behind the songs, but to a more personal place—the story of Matt’s … Read more

My Favorite Record #10

Chako & Applies: Anata Ga Ichiban (Minoruphone, 1969) [Please note that the song can take a few seconds to load] For the month of March I instituted a self-imposed ban on buying non-essential items. Although I fell off the wagon just once (DJ Shakey’s 45s record fair… I couldn’t resist!), I did find that depriving myself of regular vinyl purchases meant spending more time with the records I already own. There’s a tendency as a record collector to feel that you never have enough—if I could only locate the Crystals’ “I Got A Man” 45 and any of Margaret Mandolph’s Planetary singles (seriously, I REALLY need these records!) then I promise I’ll be satisfied! But I’ve said that about pretty much every record I own, and having the 45 in my possession did nothing to relieve the hunger. So a record-shopping ban was perhaps the only way to force myself to appreciate what I have. It also prompted a new project—to go through each and every A-side and B-side in my collection, in hopes that I may have missed a winner or three. I’ve started with my ’60s Japanese girl-pop 45s, … Read more

My Favorite Record #9

Colin Blunstone: Caroline Goodbye (Epic, 1971) I’d probably feel quite differently about this song if I was Caroline Munro–’60s model, Bond Girl, and one-time girlfriend of the Zombies’ Colin Blunstone. He wrote the not-so-subtle “Caroline Goodbye” following the couple’s break-up, and doesn’t appear at all self-conscious about exorcising his pain so publicly. For Caroline Munro, listening to her lovesick ex mourning her departure must’ve been a bit cringe-worthy. It’s nice to know you’re missed, but the image of your former lover pouring over your photos (“my you’re looking pretty good”), swept up in sorrow just ain’t so very appealing. For those with a less personal connection to Blunstone, the magic of “Caroline Goodbye” is precisely in its raw, dead-honest, heart-exposed emotion. You get the feeling that this is a man who can’t fake it. The center of his universe has moved on, and “Caroline Goodbye” serves as both therapy and as a cautionary tale for the future. “I should’ve known better, I should’ve seen it sooner,” he sings, as if he somehow could’ve escaped the inevitable. I can think of few singers able to tackle emotional ballads with such delicacy and restraint. There’s never … Read more

My Favorite Record #8

Tina Britt: Who Was That (Veep, 1968) Just as I was about to dash home after DJing Soul-A-Go-Go on Saturday night/ Sunday morning, DJ Jumpy gets out Tina Britt’s “Who Was That,” a finger-wagging, tongue-lashing tirade by a girl who’s had enough. “Who was that going out the back door when I came in?” She demands to know, half singing, half talking, and veering between furious and laid-back. Questions turn into threats (“Don’t tell me no lie if you don’t wanna wake up dead”) and likening her man to a frog (“ribbit ribbit ribbit, ” she taunts). You get the feeling she’s quite enjoying this. Sue Records co-founder and producer Juggy Murray gets a crystal-clear sound out of every instrument; it was probably the best-sounding 45 of the night.   I ended up finding a video interview with Tina Britt from around 2010, where she calls Juggy Murray “a player,” who never paid her royalties for her two Billboard hits–“The Real Thing” on Eastern Records in 1965 (#20), and “Who Was That” in 1968 (#39). She was discovered whilst working in a restaurant, and being told by a patron that … Read more

My Favorite Record #7

Fleetwood Mac: Sara (Reprise, 1979) In anticipation of Monday night’s Fleetwood Mac concert at Madison Square Garden, I will be spending the entire weekend listening to (Buckingham/ Nicks era) Fleetwood Mac. I’m currently making myself a Fleetwood Mac mix to accompany my solo trip to the Allentown Record Fair tomorrow in Pennsylvania. “Gypsy” will be first, as it is on my many attempts at the perfect Fleetwood Mac mix. And then “Sara.” Oh Sara. When I get asked to pick my all-time favorite record, I struggle between the Ronettes “Be My Baby” and “Sara.” This is a rare song; direction-less, sparse, no obvious chorus, and nearly impossible to hum. Even Mick Fleetwood was baffled, struggling to come up with a suitable drum beat. I can think of no reasonable explanation for how and why this song works, yet it is as catchy and addictive as the most glaring pop records. Stevie Nicks has this special ability to write pop songs that don’t feel like pop songs. They don’t tire after too many listens. They are understated, tough to grasp, always slipping through your fingers. So easy to get lost in. I used to … Read more

My Favorite Record #6

The Cryin’ Shames: Please Stay (Decca, 1966) I’ve always had a soft spot for melancholy. As a teenager, I would pull out all my favorite metal ballads and sit in the dark, listening to Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Close My Eyes Forever” and Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and Megadeth’s “In My Darkest Hour.” Though my metal years are long behind me, I still find myself making way too many melancholy mixes, with titles like “very very sad songs,” “only the lonely,”  “devastated,” “seance on a winter afternoon” (for when I have the winter blues). The Cryin’ Shames’ “Please Stay” is on every one of those mixes. I can think of few songs sadder than this. The Drifters lay claim to the original, but it comes nowhere near the devastation of this Liverpudlian sextet’s cover. Singer Charlie Crane sounds so close to tears, you can practically hear him trembling. Producer Joe Meek was never one to play it safe; the organ is straight out of a funeral procession, the bass and drums muffled and detached from the vocal. “Please Stay” charted at #26 in the UK.  A year later, Joe Meek murdered his land-lady, … Read more

My Favorite Record #5

Connie Stevens: Tick Tock (Bell Records, 1970) Kudos to the A&R man who paired Connie Stevens with Philly “sweet soul” producer, Thom Bell. The single may have done little to revive Connie’s flailing music career, but A-side “Keeps Growing Strong” would become a million-seller for the Stylistics and a proud moment in Philadelphia’s musical history. Thom Bell and co-writer Linda Greer had written “Keeps Growing Strong” specifically for Connie. When they delivered it to Bell Records with the title “Betcha By Golly Wow,” the label balked, complaining that the title sounded too similar to Connie’s early novelty hit “Kookie Kookie Lend Me Your Comb.” Despite Thom Bell’s objections, the label went with “Keeps Growing Strong.” When the record tanked, Thom Bell took it to the Stylistics, whose cover version of “Betcha By Golly Now” has pretty much erased all memory of the original. “Tick Tock” doesn’t have nearly as exciting a story, but this little-known B-side has earned its rightful spot on the Northern Soul scene. Connie Stevens couldn’t be further from a soul singer, but somehow her vanilla voice blends beautifully with Thom Bell’s lush pop-soul arrangements. If only the storming instrumental outro didn’t have … Read more

My Favorite Record #4

Peggy Lee: Sneakin’ Up On You (Capitol, 1965) I haven’t even begun to grasp the decades-long, genre-spanning musical career of Peggy Lee. There is a TON of material, and so much of it–whether big band, jazz, or pop–is top-notch. “Sneakin’ Up On You” came out long past her “Fever” prime, when she was 45-years-old, on husband number four, but the detached cool that she sang with remains. Songwriter Chip Taylor called it “a cool sexy little thing,” where Peggy plays a one-eyed cat, stalking her love interest and throwing in a few sultry purrs. Cats popped up in quite a few of Peggy’s songs, most notably on her own co-write,”The Siamese Cat Song,” a hilarious tale of naughty kitties featured on the Lady & the Tramp soundtrack. 

My Favorite Record #3

Earth & Fire: Weekend (Vertigo, 1979) In the days before Shazam, I’d find my pockets full of restaurant napkins, scribbled with the lyrics I attempted to decipher from songs played in public. I first heard “Weekend” at a waffle restaurant in Amsterdam. The immediacy of the melodies and steel drums-intro cut through the crowd chatter, and I managed to catch the lyric “I don’t wanna be your lover for the weekend” (still my favorite part of the song). It turned out to be a massive hit by Dutch prog-rock band Earth & Fire, reaching #1 in Germany, Portugal, Denmark, and Switzerland as well as in their native Netherlands. Twin brothers Chris and Gerard Koerts founded the group in 1968. Singer Jerney Kaagman signed on a year later, and the band scored nine top ten hits throughout the ’70s, each getting progressively more pop. By 1979, Earth and Fire clearly got the memo that reggae was in, and managed to merge the ever-trendy style with melodies that even those disappointed with the band’s commercial direction couldn’t help but love. Some of you may recognize it by the 2003 cover from the very irritating German techno group, Scooter, who … Read more

My Favorite Record #2

The Three Degrees: Collage (Roulette, 1970) This may be the coolest record in my collection. Nearly every time I play it out, a curious listener dashes up to the DJ booth to find out who, what, where, when! It was co-written by Joe Walsh, guitarist for Cleveland rock band, the James Gang and appeared on their debut album, Yer’ Album from 1969. A year later it turned up on the flip of the Three Degrees re-recorded version of the Chantels “Maybe.”A word of warning–“Maybe” came with a few different B-sides, so check before you buy! Both versions are brilliant; the James Gang’s leaning more heavily on folk-rock, whilst the Three Degrees get downright trippy, laying the psychedelia and soul on thick. The ever-changing Philadelphia girl trio already had 13 singles under their belt by the time this was released, but it would still be another few years before a turn towards disco would land them on the top of the charts–first with Soul Train theme song, “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” and then with “When Will I See You Again.” Apologies for all the pops and crackle. I never managed to find … Read more