We start the week off with some tempo, this week, as we remember one of Carl Smith’s top ten classics. Carl Smith, the legendary singer turned rancher, was one of country music’s hottest acts during the first half of the 1950’s, scoring twenty-eight top ten hits between 1951 and 1956, including five number ones. However, like many traditional country singers of his era, his momentum was slowed by the onslaught of rock ‘n roll and it’s off-shoots such as Rockabilly. After 1956, Carl would only chart four more top ten singles, though his albums would be consistent sellers throughout the rest of the 1950’s and well into the 1960’s.
Like most of his contemporaries, when the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and others came on the scene, Carl suddenly found it harder to score hit singles, and was forced to adapt his sound to better fit the changing times. A smoothening of the vocal style is evident, starting with “Why, Why” and even some experimentation with the accompaniment can be heard, as this track has a bit of a rockabilly beat to it, while his next release, “Your Name Is Beautiful”, would have a style closer to what became the Nashville Sound, than the hard country of Smith’s earlier hits.
“Why, Why” was recorded in Nashville, in July, 1957; released by Columbia in August; and made it’s debut on Billboard in September, eventually climbing to as high as number two before the year was out. It was Carl’s twenty-ninth top ten single.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s a quick-paced record with a beat closer to rockabilly. Lite and bouncy, it’s a fun record to listen to and shows the versatility that Carl Smith had, something that is often underrated, in my opinion. He has help, as well, on the vocals with the Jordanaires.
Unfortunately, when the conversation is of Carl Smith hits, this is one that often gets overlooked, a real shame, too, as it’s an instantly likable record, even as it approaches it’s sixtieth anniversary of release. It’s really deserving of more accolades than it’s gotten.
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Categories: Single Of The Day Tags: 1957, AshevilleFM, Billboard, Carl Perkins, Carl Smithe, Columbia Records, Country Music, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, The Jordanaires, Why Why, Your Name Is Beautiful
If you have been with Ultimate Twang’s blog and radio show for any length of time, you know that I like to go beyond just the big hits, I like to help you remember the songs that didn’t do as well, songs called “almost hits” on the radio show. One such song is the subject of today’s Single Of The Day. Of course, Ronnie McDowell is no stranger to the higher end of the country charts, having scored fourteen top ten hits between 1978 and 1988, with two going all the way to number one.
Ronnie’s first success came about a month after the passing of Elvis Presley, when his tribute song, “The King Is Gone” became at top 20 hit in both country and pop music. That song, released on the Scorpion label, opened the door for two more hits, during his Scorpion days, the top ten “I Love You, I Love You, I Love You” and “Here Comes The Reason I Live”.
Ronnie’s vocal styling on the early releases had a similarity to that of Elvis’, not surprising since Elvis was one of his heroes, however, Ronnie wasn’t an imitator of the King, and starting with today’s Single Of The Day, you really hear his own vocal style emerging, getting closer to the vocalist we’d hear on his later Epic releases. Ronnie McDowell definitely had his own style!
“This Is A Holdup” was released in August, 1978, but didn’t debut on the Country 40 until early November, but spent only a week, there, peaking at 39. A mid-tempo track, it’s wordplay uses “this is a holdup, baby, give me all you got”, but it’s not money or possessions he seeks, it’s love. It’s a really catchy tune that deserved a higher placing on the charts, at least top twenty worthy, in my opinion.
I’ll also include a quick note about one of the song’s writers, Bill Wence. He co-wrote the song with Dan Willis, and I bring up Mr. Wence, because in addition to writing songs and performing, he also is in promotions and during my tenure as a program director in Connersville, Indiana, back in the 2002-2004 time period, he would regularly call to check on the performance of the songs he was promoting. I always enjoyed talking to him, he is one of those people that is simply enjoyable to talk with.
While this may not have been one of Ronnie McDowell’s big hits, it still is a fine record that I really enjoy, and if you come across a copy of it, by all means make sure you get it.
Join me for The World Famous Ultimate Twang Radio Show, every Thursday, 4p ET on WSFM-LPFM/AshevilleFM. In Asheville, it’s on the radio at 103.3FM and worldwide, on the AshevilleFM website, as well as ITunes, and via the TuneIn app, just search AshevilleFM. It’s 3 hours of great classic country music and more! And if you can’t catch the live version, you can always hear the archive, anytime, starting Friday morning on the Ultimate Twang page at AshevilleFM.
Categories: Single Of The Day Tags: AshevilleFM, Bill Wence, Elvis Presley, Epic Records, Here Comes The Reason I Live, I Love You I Love You I Love You, Ronnie McDowell, Scorpion Records, The King Is Gone, This Is A Holdup
Back over the summer, a good friend of mine, John, sent me this photo of a 1957 concert ad from Indianapolis, Indiana. And what makes this ad even more fascinating, are the two side stories on the page, one telling about a new local group, and the other mentioning the top ten request songs from teenagers, courtesy of a local radio station, WIRE, which was found at 1430. I’m not sure which paper this came from, as there were three in town, at the time; Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis News, and Indianapolis Times.
First, the ad. Two shows were scheduled for Indianapolis’ Murat Theatre, on April 14th, featuring an interesting blend of talent. For starters, there’s the opening group, The Five Stars, an Indianapolis-based group (more about them, later) whose record “Atom Bomb Baby”, was very popular, locally, as well as in several other markets. Then there was Boyd Bennett and his Rockets, a well known rockabilly act who had enjoyed a national top five pop hit in 1955 with the song, “Seventeen”. Patsy Cline was just beginning to enjoy national popularity, as her single, “Walking After Midnight” had recently debuted on the country and pop charts and was still climbing toward it’s number two peak. Faron Young and Ferlin Husky were stars, by this point. Ferlin, already with five top 10 country hits, had just hit number one with his sixth, the classic “Gone”. Faron was the headliner, here, already on his twelfth top ten hit, at this time, with “I Miss You Already (And You’re Not Even Gone)”. And how about ticket prices!!!! $1.25 in advance or $1.50 at the door. A concert with that level of talent, today, would likely have ticket prices well over $100 dollars.
On the left side of the pic, is a look at the top ten tunes requested by teens, according to WIRE evening DJ Bernie Herman. As was often the case in 1950’s and 1960’s radio, it’s an interesting mix of music. The local guys, The Five Stars, are the most requested, but there’s also Chuck Berry’s “School Days” and “Little Darlin’ by The Diamonds. There’s also Elvis (of course) The Del-Vikings’ 1st hit “Come Go With Me”, and Marty Robbins, “A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation)”. Perhaps the two most interesting records on his list are “I’m Stickin’ With You” by Jimmy Bowen and “Pledge of Love” by Ken Copeland. While both of these records were top 20 hits, both artists would achieve greater fame in other circles. Bowen, as a producer, producing hits for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., & Nancy Sinatra, in the 1960’s, before turning to country music in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, working with acts like The Oak Ridge Boys, Garth Brooks, Hank Williams Jr., and George Strait, among others. Copeland would eventually become the well known televangelist, Kenneth Copeland. Also worth noting, is that the version of “Party Doll” listed is not the Buddy Knox version, but rather the Steve Lawrence version. His version also made the top ten, along with Knox’s, but has been largely forgotten, over the years. Perry Como, Ricky Nelson, Fats Domino, and The Coasters also are mentioned.
“Atom Bomb Baby” is a record that I inherited from my parents’ stash, and for years, I was unable to find out much about it. The Five Stars, as mentioned earlier, were a locally-based group, made up of two recent high school grads, with the other three still in high school. They had a sound that I’ve seen described as pop-rock and rockabilly; really, in my opinion, it’s a bit of both. The single, “Atom Bomb Baby” was released on the small Kernel label, and became popular in several markets. It eventually attracted the interest of Dot Records, who picked it up for national distribution. Unfortunately, even with national distribution, it failed to make Billboard’s Pop charts.
I am really grateful for his sending this to me, especially with it containing the Five Stars information. What a great bit of history! Thanks, John! By the way, if you are reading this, and by chance you happened to have caught one of these shows, why not tell us about it in the comments below?
Join me for The World Famous Ultimate Twang Radio Show, every Thursday at 4p ET, for three hours of the best commercial-free classic country music, mixed with vintage soundbites, movie bites, ads, TV themes, and lots of information and fun! If you’re in Asheville, North Carolina, you can listen on WSFM-LPFM/AshevilleFM at 103.3FM. Worldwide, you can tune in via the AshevilleFM website, or by searching Ashville Free Media on ITunes or the TuneIn app. The show is also availabe, anytime, to listen on the Ultimate Twang page on AshevilleFM, as well.
Categories: History Tags: Atom Bomb Baby, Boyd Bennett, Chuck Berry, Del-Vikings, Dot Records, Elvis Presley, Faron Young, Fats Domino, Ferlin Husky, Indiana, Indianapolis, Indianapolis News, Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Times, Jimmy Bowen, Ken Copeland, Kernel Records, Marty Robbins, Patsy Cline, Perry Como, Ricky Nelson, The Coasters, The Diamonds, The Five Stars, WIRE radio
Juice Newton had been charting singles in country music since her Silver Spur days in the late 1970’s, finally breaking through with the massive hit “Angel Of The Morning” in 1981. That record, a remake of the Merilee Rush classic, peaked at 22 on the country charts, but went all the way to the top 5 on the pop side and sold over a million copies.
“Hurt” is a song that, as I mentioned, appeared on the Country 40 three times, between 1975 and 1986. The first time, it peaked at 14, giving Connie Cato her only top 20 hit in 1975. The following year, it became a top 10 hit, peaking at 6 for Elvis Presley.
Juice’s version was released in November, 1985, and debuted on the Country 40 at the end of the month. It would climb all the way to number one, the first full week in February, 1986, becoming Juice’s third country number one hit.
So, what do you remember about this record? Do you remember the first time you heard it? Which version do you like best? You are welcome to comment about this or any of the versions of “Hurt”.
Remember, join me every Thursday for The World Famous Ultimate Twang Radio Show, 4p ET, on AshevilleFM/WSFM-LP. We’re at 103.3FM in Asheville, and worldwide on the AshevilleFM website, ITunes, and TuneIn.
Greetings from Asheville, where the good music is always on the turntable, and on the exclusive home of the Ultimate Twang radio show, Asheville Free Media. Today’s Single Of The Day had all of the ingredients to be a classic chart-topper; a great sound, strong composition written by a top songwriter, tied together by a legendary voice. Yet, amazingly, the record, while a hit, didn’t perform nearly as well as one might think. The record is “Kentucky Rain” by Elvis Presley, co-written by Eddie Rabbitt. Released January, 1970, by RCA Victor, the record could be found not only on the Country 40, but also the Top 40 and the Adult Contemporary chart. While it did top the AC chart (as well as Canada’s Country chart), the single could only muster a peak of sixteen on the pop charts, while only peaking at thirty-one on the Country side.
But that’s not the end of the tale. Since it’s chart run, the record has maintained a long level of popularity that’s kept it in rotation on country (now mostly classic country), AC, oldies, and even easy listening formats, up through today. How many other 1970 releases can boast that? Not many.
So, while it’s chart performance may not be eye-catching, it’s endearing longevity to music fans has helped turn it into a classic.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.