GROOVES & CUTS – John Apice
One of my thrills as a young boy was to take my allowance & visit Woolworth’s (5 & 10), & B&D’s (an early dollar store).
Buying 45’s was a big deal for my friend Sergio & I. Discovering obscure records, oldies, unknown artists, promos & songs. It was the early 60s — the 5 & 10 sold 15 singles for $1.00 in a white shrink-wrapped box. To decide you had a face & back record displayed. The other 13 were a mystery.
But the excitement was like scratch-off numbers on a lottery. But win or lose, we still had 15 records or 30 songs. It was a fast way to accumulate a collection. Hit records were 89 cents. So, to the 5 & 10 & buy 4 boxes each week – that’s 60 records. So did Sergio.
We bought a chocolate malt, went home tore off the shrink-wrap, rummaged through the pristine 45’s like miners panning for gold & some were.
Sergio liked soul, pop, & Spanish hits like “Bang, Bang” (Joe Cuba Sextet), Jimmy Castor’s “Hey Leroy, Your Ma’s Callin’ You,” Ray Barretto’s “El Watusi,” & Jimmy Clanton’s “Just a Dream”/“You Aim To Please.”
For trade, I got Jimmy Soul’s pop-reggae “If You Wanna Be Happy,” & Chubby Checker’s folk tune “Twenty Miles.” Surprisingly “The Chipmunk Song” I needed — for the flip: David Seville’s muscular jazzy piano cut: “Almost Good.”
Exciting stuff we’d never know about. A hillbilly-roots band on Newtime Records — Johnny Foxx & the Foxes’ with the percussive “Mountain Dew – a New R&B Version.” My intro to Americana 1961.
Songwriter Teddy Randazzo (ABC Paramount) issued a single, the bluesy & cool “Let the Sunshine In,” (not the Hair song). That was a nugget. Elvis should’ve covered it. The Students’ dynamic doo-wop song “Every Day of the Week” (written by a high school kid)! Then the bluesy Brook Benton of “Hotel Happiness.” Wonderous to a 13-year old’s ears.
At B&D’s — 100’s of 45’s dumped into a bin by the colorful bras & t-shirts. 10 cents each. Junk?
Not Dion’s “Donna, the Prima Donna,” the Beatles’ MGM & Atco sides with Tony Sheridan. Instrumentals like “Weekend” by the Kingsmen (not of “Louie, Louie” – but Bill Haley’s Comets — moonlighting). The Poet’s “Out to Lunch,” & The Marketts’ “Bella Dalena.”
Some rockers: “The Water Is Over My Head,” by the Rockin’ Berries (an Al Kooper song) & “Many’s the Slip Twixt the Cup & the Lip,” by The Present (a Tony Powers song – he wrote many hits). Boots Walker’s ballad flipside to his alien hit “They’re Here,” was “A Bum Can’t Cry.” Willie Nelson could’ve covered it.
The Two Shays’ — a good energetic Everly Brothers knockoff “Julie Julie.” One of the earliest Randy Newman covers “Just One Smile” (King Cousins, 1965) on Warner Bros. Quite good.
I tossed Bobby Sherman but discovered later that “Sounds Along the Way” had a great orchestra & arrangement. Then came Tiny Tim’s flip to Tulips. Biff Rose’s “Fill Your Heart” (covered by David Bowie). Tiny Tim (get past the silly intro) he sings in his serious voice. The Reprise studio orchestra smokes. It’s the same band as Sammy Davis Jr’s “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” & “Bein’ Natural, Bein’ Me.”
If you’re curious links are below. More on YouTube.
I miss those white boxes at the 5 & 10.
Some music still needs to be discovered. That’s what Americana Highways does.
Grooves & Cuts will feature capsule reviews. Next month overlooked roots artists: Robert Hazard, Jackie Leven, Chris Rea, Dion DiMucci & the late Emitt Rhodes.
Every Day of the Week – The Students: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yre6EG3igLE
Mountain Dew – Johnny Foxx: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lu7QEgDr24M
Almost Good – David Seville: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcASzoEXBhU&t=12s
Let the Sunshine In – Teddy Randazzo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouTZfITQLks
Hotel Happiness – Brook Benton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7LD9bDMWmo
Twenty Miles – Chubby Checker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnVzE8wPSMQ