Monday, May 16, 2016

Early '70s "Break-In" Records on the Charts

The novelty record boom of the late fifties brought forth the "break-in" single, a creation by record producer Dickie Goodman in which he'd insert snippets of current hits into a little melodrama usually set up as a newscast. "The Flying Saucer" (credited to Goodman and his partner Bill Buchanan) was his biggest one, hitting #3 in 1956, after which Goodman, the original mad sampler, went straight to court. (He prevailed after judges declared his records to be artistic statements.)

The early seventies novelty resurgence spawned more break-in records thanks to the nostalgia boom among adults and the strong preteen radio demographic who appreciated their entertainment value. Dickie Goodman resurfaced on the charts during this era, along with some imitators, but the difference between these new break-in records and those of previous years—and those after—was a darker undercurrent reflecting frustrating current events. Kids could laugh at them, but adult ears were crucial to their success. A glance at Goodman's rather enormous discography indicates a consistent eye for politics and current events from the fifties all the way to his tragic death of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1989. (The image above comes from a 6/2/73 Billboard ad.) Below is a roundup of all the charting break-ins by Goodman and his imitators (with the non-charting "Speaking of Ecology" included for the sake of context).


*Bonus*
"Speaking of Ecology" (1971)
Dickie Goodman and Ruthie

Written by Bill Ramal and Dickie Goodman * 45: "Speaking of Ecology" / "Dayton's Theme" * Label: Ramgo Records * Billboard charts: —

Ecology was on everyone's mind in the early seventies, including that of "break-in" king Dickie Goodman, due to his involvement in the glass bottle industry campaign discussed previously. His non-charting "Speaking of Ecology" listed "Dickie Goodman and Ruthie" as artists, with Ruthie, as revealed by his son John in The King of Novelty (2000), being Goodman's mistress at the time. After this, a non-Goodman break-in single called "Convention '72" would renew public taste in Goodman's specialty.

The samples: "Shaft" (Isaac Hayes), "Ain't No Sunshine" (Bill Withers), "Make It Funky" (James Brown), "Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves" (Cher), "Only You Know and I Know" (Delaney and Bonnie), "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (Joan Baez), "Thin Line Between Love and Hate" (Persuaders), "Yo Yo" (Osmonds), "Maggie May" (Rod Stewart), "Do You Know What I Mean" (Lee Michaels), "Never My Love" (5th Dimension), "Sweet City Woman" (Stampeders).

"Speaking of Ecology"




"Convention '72" (1972)
The Delegates

Written by Nick Cenci and Nick Koselaneos * Produced by Nik-Nik Productions * 45: "Convention '72" / "Funky Butt" * LP: The Delegates * Label: Mainstream * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#8)

Pittsburgh record men Nick Cenci and Nick Koseleanos concocted this racy spoof of the Republican and Democratic conventions, which they had gotten KQV disk jockey Bob DeCarlo to record. Its top ten success must have irked "break-in" king Dickie Goodman, who had been creating break-in records without pause since the fifties, but at least "Convention '72" created a renewed interest in his stock in trade. Most kids, though, likely had no idea who and what the record spoofed. Uncredited jazz rock fills up side B.

The samples: "Troglodyte" (Jimmy Castor Bunch), "I Gotcha" (Joe Tex), "Lean on Me" (Bill Withers), "Sealed with a Kiss" (Bobby Vinton), "Happiest Girl in the Whole USA" (Donna Fargo), "Jungle Fever" (Chakachas), "Alone Again (Naturally)" (Gilbert O'Sullivan), "Coconut" (Nilsson), "A Horse with No Name" (America), "Take It Easy (In Your Mind)" (Jerry Reed)," "If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Wanna Be Right)" (Luther Ingram), "Back Stabbers" (The O'Jays), "Liar" (Three Dog Night), "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" (Bee Gees), "Mr. Big Stuff" (Jean Knight), "Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves" (Cher), "Last Night I Couldn't Get to Sleep" (5th Dimension), "Double Barrel" (Dave and Ansell Collins), "The Candy Man" (Sammy Davis Jr.), "I Don't Know How to Love Him" (Yvonne Elliman).

Side A: "Convention '72"


Side B: "Funky Butt"




"Super Fly Meets Shaft" (1973)
John and Ernest

Written and produced by Dickie Goodman and Sal Passantino * 45: "Super Fly Meets Shaft" / "Part Two" (Rainy Wednesday) * LP: Mr. Jaws and Other Fables by Dickie Goodman (Cash, 1975) * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#31), soul (#17)

Dickie Goodman teamed up with a partner named Sal Passantino for this pseudonymous record featuring two white guys (although no one knew that) satirizing black popular culture. (Joel Whitburn cites the duo as "John Free" and "Ernest Smith," but these are likely pseudonyms he'd found somewhere for Goodman and Passantino.) It's another record that could entertain preteens who likely had little familiarity with contemporary icons of blaxploitation films such as Superfly or Shaft. The record's content propelled it to #17 on Billboard's soul chart; a John and Ernest follow-up called "Soul President Number One" would never reach the charts. The gag track on the other side ("Part Two") is a two-minute continuation of the jumbled up "Superfly" utterance that closes side A. On his 45cat profile, Passantino reports that Curtis Mayfield had sued the duo over it, but settled "for $1,000 and a withdrawal of the song."

The samples: A mystery version of Jackie Ross's "Selfish One," "I Got Ants in My Pants" (James Brown), "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" (Temptations), "Keeper of the Castle" (Four Tops), "Me and Mrs. Jones" (Billy Paul), "I'll Be Around" (Spinners), "Shaft" (Isaac Hayes), "Back Stabbers" (O'Jays), "Love Train" (O'Jays), "Freddie's Dead" (Curtis Mayfield), "Daddy's Home" (Jermaine Jackson).

Side A: "Super Fly Meets Shaft"


Side B: "Part Two"




"Watergrate" (1973)
Dickie Goodman

Written and produced by Dickie Goodman * 45: "Watergrate" / "Friends" * Label: Rainy Wednesday * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#42)

Among the fallout of the Watergate break-in scandal was this break-in record by Dickie Goodman, which came out shortly after the Senate Watergate committee hearings became a regular televised event. Side B contained soul instrumental filler music played by nameless session players, with writing credits to "P.D." (public domain). The "Watergrate" title jibed with all of the other mangled names on the record, such as "John Snitchell."

The samples: "Soul Makossa" (Manu Dibango), "Pillow Talk" (Sylvia), "Drinkin' Wine Spo-De-O-Dee" (Jerry Lee Lewis), "Stuck in the Middle with You" (Stealers Wheel), "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (Alice Cooper), "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" (Dawn Featuring Tony Orlando), "Wild Flower" (Skylark), "The Cisco Kid" (War), "Funky Worm" (Ohio Players), "Reelin' in the Years" (Steely Dan), "I Knew Jesus (Before He Was a Superstar)" (Glen Campbell), "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" (Stevie Wonder), "My Love" (Paul McCartney and Wings).

Side A: "Watergrate"


Side B: "Friends"




"Energy Crisis '74" (1974)
Dickie Goodman

Written by Dickie Goodman * Produced by Dickie Goodman and Phil Kahl * 45: "Energy Crisis '74" / "Ruthie's Theme" (Rainy Wednesday) * LP: Mr. Jaws and Other Fables by Dickie Goodman (Cash, 1975) * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#33)

This Top 40 hit perhaps took the edge off of radio listeners waiting in the early seventies' notoriously long gas lines, a direct effect of the Arab oil embargo. Helen Reddy's recurring "Leave Me Alone" voiced the precise response cynical Americans expected to hear from higher ups regarding the crisis. Side B ("Ruthie's Song") contains the kind of horn-rock filler music that also appeared on "Watergrate," and as explained earlier (see "Speaking of Ecology"), "Ruthie" was the name of Goodman's mistress—an especially good reason, perhaps, for its public domain writing credit.

The samples: "Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)" (Helen Reddy), "Smokin' in the Boys' Room" (Brownsville Station), "Livin' for the City" (Stevie Wonder), "Helen Wheels" (Paul McCartney and Wings), "Mind Games" (John Lennon), "The Joker" (Steve Miller Band), "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (Elton John), "Hello It's Me" (Todd Rundgren), "You're Sixteen" (Ringo Starr), "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" (Charlie Rich), "Top of the World" (The Carpenters).

Side A: "Energy Crisis '74"


Side B: "Ruthie's Theme"




"Mr. President" (1974)
Dickie Goodman

Written by M. Alexander * Produced by Dickie Goodman * 45: "Mr. President" / "Popularity" * Label: Rainy Wednesday * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#73)

At this stage the Watergate hearings were all about tapes and missing conversations, as was this record. "Mr. President" would be the last of Goodman's political break-in offerings to crack the Hot 100. (M. Alexander was likely a Goodman pseudonym.) His final two charting hits, occurring in the second half of the decade, would be movie tie-ins: "Mr. Jaws" (#4 in 1975) and "Kong" (#48 in 1977).

The samples: "The Streak" (Ray Stevens), "Seasons in the Sun" (Terry Jacks), "Bennie and the Jets" (Elton John), "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" (Stevie Wonder), "My Girl Bill" (Jim Stafford), "Dancin' Machine" (Jackson 5), "The Entertainer" (Marvin Hamlisch), "Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me" (Gladys Knight and the Pips), "The Loco Motion" (Grand Funk), "Oh My My" (Ringo Starr), "Hooked on a Feeling" (Blue Swede), "I Won't Last a Day Without You" (The Carpenters).

"Mr. President"




"Evil Boll-Weevil" (1974)
Grand Canyon

Written by Jeff McKee and Ed Brown * Produced by Jeff McKee * 45: "Evil Boll-Weevil" / "Got to Find My Way Back" * Label: Bang * Billboard charts: (#72)

The stuntman Evel Knevel was a subject all age groups could fully understand, unlike the political quagmires that previous charting break-in records had been lampooning. But Jeff McKee, the co-writer and producer (with no involvement from break-in king Dickie Goodman) explains in the comments for the YouTube link that this single suffered from bad timing. It mimicked Ed Sullivan but appeared at the same time as the beloved TV personality's death in October 1974, affecting stations' willingness to air it. McKee and co-writer Ed Brown worked at Top 40 station WQXI in Atlanta, hence the "Chattahoochee," "Doraville" and "Peachtree" references. An outtake from Paul "I Go Crazy" Davis, signed to Bang at the time, appears as the single's flip, possibly the best of all "break in" B sides. Listen to the guitar hook—it's one to remember.

The samples: "Jet" (Paul McCartney and Wings), "Summer Breeze" (Seals and Crofts), "Rocket Man" (Elton John), "It's My Life" (The Animals), "Evil Ways" (Santana), "Dialogue (Part I & II)" (Chicago), "Sweet Home Alabama" (Lynyrd Skynyrd), "Help Me" (Joni Mitchell), "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (Elton John), "Baby You're a Rich Man" (Beatles), "Clap for the Wolfman" (The Guess Who), "Here, There and Everywhere" (Beatles), "Rock and Roll Heaven" (Righteous Brothers), "Feel Like Makin' Love" (Roberta Flack), "Billion Dollar Babies" (Alice Cooper), "Do It Again" (Steely Dan), "Doraville" (Atlanta Rhythm Section), "Please Come to Boston" (Dave Loggins), "La Grange" (ZZ Top).

Side A: "Evil Boll-Weevil"


Side B: "Got to Find My Way Back"


Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Glass Bottle and the Dickie Goodman Connection

The "break-in" novelty record legend Dickie Goodman started The Glass Bottle as a marketing ploy for Manhattan public relations firm Benton & Bowles. They had hired Goodman to battle the burgeoning aluminum can and plastic bottle industries, and he'd developed a strategy to form a topical band, write their (non break-in) songs, and possibly make a fortune. He gathered together six young musicians from New Jersey, featuring the Johnny Maestro-esque lead vocals of Gary Criss, who'd released a number of teen idol disks on the Diamond label in the early sixties.

If the public would have responded favorably to Goodman's initial plan, we'd now recognize the Glass Bottle for songs he'd written with titles like "Glass," "Little Bottle Baby," and "Soda Pop Tonite." According to his son Jon, in his 2000 book The King of Novelty, Goodman eventually withdrew his own compositions from the hungry band's repertoire (which was fine by him because he was "still getting paid") and hooked them up with the AVCO Embassy label, for whom three of their recordings made the Hot 100, with "I Ain't Got Time Anymore" cracking the Top 40. Another non-charting single of theirs, "Mama Don't You Wait Up for Me (Wonderwheel)" appeared in the soundtrack for the well-regarded 1970 narcotics film The People Next Door. 

As for Goodman's ongoing commitment to Benton & Bowles, a captioned Billboard photo (above) that misspells Criss's last name refers to the group's "antilitter campaign," which suggests that they might have shifted their PR strategy from recording glass bottle industry-themed songs to merely speaking favorably about the easily recycled product during their appearances. (Aluminum and plastic recycling hadn't yet become so normalized at that point.)

All three of the group's charting records were MOR-suitable songs arranged by Goodman's business partner Bill Ramal, whose background in studio orchestration manifested itself clearly. The tracks also hearkened back to the teen idol ballad tradition Criss knew well and which many a music listener was feeling a nostalgic tolerance for during the troubled early seventies. The Glass Bottle's hit-making career didn't make it past the era, although Criss had some late-seventies traction with a disco album on the Salsoul label before he made his exit from the music business.

Below are the group's three charting singles:



"Love for Living" (1970)
The Glass Bottle

Written by Clare Torry * Produced by Bill Ramal and Dickie Goodman * 45: "Love for Living" / "The First Time" *
LP: The Glass Bottle * Label: AVCO Embassy * Billboard charts: Bubbling under (#109; peaked 1970-05-30)

Although the cover of the Glass Bottle's first LP displayed a kid-friendly band, the grooves inside contained a far more parent-friendly sound. This was a marketing page taken from the playbook of other acts like the Walker Brothers and Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, who also had lead singers with strong, disciplined voices. If "Love for Living" brings to mind some of the early Bee Gees ballads where Robin Gibb is given free emotive reign, you won't be surprised to learn that the original version of the song was a 1969 B-side for singer-songwriter Clare Torry, which lists the aforementioned Gibb brother as producer. Torry would later record the famous vocal segment for Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky" in 1973. The credited songwriter for the flipside's ballad (and also for their "The Girl Who Loved Me When" below) is Dayton Callie. Is this the character actor from Sons of Anarchy and Deadwood?

Side A: "Love for Living"


Side B: "The First Time"




"I Ain't Got Time Anymore" (1971)
The Glass Bottle

Written by Mike Leander and Eddie Seago * Produced by Bill Ramal and Dickie Goodman * 45: "I Ain't Got Time Anymore" / "Things" * LP: I Ain't Got Time Anymore * Label: AVCO Embassy * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#36; peaked 1971-09-25)

As they had done with their previous charting single, the Glass Bottle dipped into the British record bins for their lone Top 40 single. "I Ain't Got Time Anymore" revamped a 1970 UK hit (#21) for Cliff Richard, whose folk-rock delivery transformed itself into dramatic stage fare under the command of Gary Criss's larger vocals. The line where he sings, "used to take an interest in the state of the world, now I only know how much I'm missing that girl" rings with irony in context of the group's environmental origins. The single's B-side version of Bobby Darin's "Things" is, to the present day, available only on the original seven-inch vinyl. Composers Mike Leander and Eddie Seago would form the glam rock publishing company Rock Artistes Music Ltd. a few years after this.

"I Ain't Got Time Anymore"




"The Girl Who Loved Me When" (1971)
The Glass Bottle

Written by Neil Goldberg * Produced by Bill Ramal and Dickie Goodman * 45: "The Girl Who Loved Me When" / "Because She's Mine Again" * LP: I Ain't Got Time Anymore * Label: AVCO Embassy * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#87; peaked 1971-12-11)

"The Girl Who Loved Me When" opened the Glass Bottle's I Ain't Got Time Anymore LP and served as their final single with its familiar quiet-then-loud mood swing approach. Around the time of this single, songwriter Neil Goldberg had also been keeping busy in Jeff Barry's cartoon music realm, contributing actively to the Archie's Funhouse TV show among others. A ballad by Dayton Callie (see "Love for Living" above) appears on the B side.

Side A: "The Girl Who Loved Me When"


Side B: "Because She's Mine Again"


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Chart Song Cinema: Billy Jack (1971)

Much movie biz folklore surrounds Billy Jack, the 1971 sequel to Born Losers (1967). The film stars Tom Laughlin, who also produced, wrote, and directed it, and then worked its distribution to make up for Warner Bros's inactivity. (AIP and 20th Century Fox had both dropped the film, after which WB came to the rescue but with little promotional commitment.) Laughlin's efforts paid off in 1973, when his re-release of the film struck a chord and took in over $40 million.

Laughlin plays the title character, a Native American ex-Green Beret who, somewhere in the arid southwest, becomes a bodyguard figure for a multiracial Freedom School for troubled youths. Tensions rise between the school and certain bigoted townspeople, who bring the martial arts master Billy Jack's anger to a boil. Although the film's violence definitely sold tickets and consequently invited plenty of criticism, the dubiousness of violence as a cure-all prevails as the message when the closing credits roll.

Aside from the violence, other elements contributed to Billy Jack's cult appeal. The amateurish nature of many of the film's actors, who were untrained family members, friends, and neighbors of Laughlin, managed to lend it an aura of guileless authenticity. The musical interludes colored the soundtrack with a found-recording time capsule quality, while drama class sequences, a town council hearing, and a narrated rattlesnake ceremony gave the viewing experience an aspect of sketch revue. (A young Howard "Johnny Fever" Hesseman appears in those drama class scenes.)

Another advantage for Billy Jack's re-release was its timing, coinciding with the American Indian Movement's 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee and its demands of the U.S. Government to reopen treaty negotiations. In the recent Reel Injun documentary about Native American portrayals in cinema, film critic Jesse Wente referred to the character of Billy Jack as one who embodied "all seventies angst and anger," which was also true, perhaps, of those occupiers.

The Billy Jack theme "One Tin Soldier" had a peculiar history in keeping with the film's non-standard business trajectory. Written as one of songwriting team Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter's earliest products, the song's "peace on earth" message graced Billboard's Top 40 in 1969 in a recording by Canadian quintet The Original Caste. Two years later, Laughlin had hoped to get an unavailable Linda Ronstadt to record a version for the film, going instead with Jinx Dawson, lead singer of the LA-based band Coven.

Although Dawson sang the song with an orchestra apart from the rest of the band, as she reports to Sam Tweedle in his Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict blog, she didn't think twice about the song being billed to Coven because she had no inkling it would become a Top 40 hit and play havoc with the band's reputation. Coven, in fact, were occult to the core. Their first album, Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls (featuring a thirteen-minute track called "Satanic Mass") had gotten yanked from shelves by their label Mercury when a 1970 Esquire article titled "Evil Lurks in California" associated their musical activities with those of Charles Manson. (By the way, those who have seen Billy Jack and have familiarity with that first Coven album will draw a connection between the album's gatefold image and a key scene from the film. I wonder if that's what gave Laughlin the idea.)

The re-release of Billy Jack two years after its first run led to the unusual situation where "One Tin Soldier," having already made the charts in 1969 and 1971, visited the Hot 100 again in 1973 when Coven, at the behest of their management, re-recorded it using a similar arrangement and re-released it on MGM as promotion for a new album. Because copyright law didn't protect arrangements, their new version was barely distinguishable from the old one. That opening flute, sounding so much like the intro to a TV commercial, was still there, and Dawson's vocals came across no less enunciated and ritual-esque.

Before the year was over, the Warner Bros version of "One Tin Soldier," a song Dawson "never understood as a peace/love song," as she told Sam Tweedle, but one of "hypocrisy toward the church," breached the Hot 100 still one more time, peaking at #73 in early 1974.

Here are the four charting versions of "One Tin Soldier":


"One Tin Soldier" (1969)
The Original Caste

Written and produced by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter * Arranged by Artie Butler * 45: "One Tin Soldier" / "Live for Tomorrow" * LP: One Tin Soldier * Label: T.A. * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#34) * Entered: 1969-11-15

Perhaps the biggest difference between this original recording of "One Tin Soldier" and the Coven version is the more laid back vocal by Dixie Lee Innes. After this 1969 Top 40 hit, the Original Caste, from Calgary, Alberta, would have three songs bubble under the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970 before vanishing from the American charts for good. Canada and Japan, though, would prove to be more profitable markets for the band.

"One Tin Soldier"




"One Tin Soldier, 
The Legend of Billy Jack" (1971)
Coven

Written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter * Produced by Mundell Lowe * 45: "One Tin Soldier, The Legend of Billy Jack" / "I Think You Always Knew" * LP: Music from the Motion Picture "Billy Jack" * Label: Warner Bros. * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#26) * Entered: 1971-09-18

After moving to Los Angeles, the Mississippi guitarist Mundell Lowe had gotten busy with production and arranging for movies and TV and, as he reports it in Jim Carlton's Conversations with Great Jazz and Studio Guitarists (2012), was commissioned to write a theme song for Billy Jack with Peggy Lee. After hearing the Original Caste's "One Tin Soldier" on the radio, though, he felt that nothing could work better than that and opted to arrange it with Coven's Jinx Dawson on vocals and studio musicians (after rejecting takes he'd done with her bandmates). He also reports that Tom Laughlin, as the credited co-producer, had no actual in-studio involvement with the album. A love theme written by Lowe (and featuring him on guitar) that plays near the end of the movie appears on this edition's flipside.

Side A: "One Tin Soldier, the Legend of Billy Jack"


Side B: "I Think You Always Knew"





"One Tin Soldier 
(The Legend of Billy Jack)" (1973)
Coven

Written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter * Produced by Mundell Lowe *  45: "One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack)" / "I Guess It's a Beautiful Day Today" * LP: Coven * Label: MGM * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#79) * Entered: 1973-07-21

This is the re-do Coven did in 1973. See if you can detect any differences. Here's one for starters: much less piano after the flute intro.

With word likely spreading about their theatrical stage shows in the late sixties, Coven were a highly plausible influence on Black Sabbath, who perhaps co-opted some of their shtick. The first Coven album, Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls, had come out in 1969 with an opening song called "Black Sabbath" and a guitarist named Oz Osborne, while Black Sabbath's debut LP appeared in 1970.

The 1973 Coven album was a much less forbidding, commercial affair than their debut, which didn't stop two members from "flashing the horns" on the cover. The country-rock B side is a relaxed breath of fresh air, although true Coven-heads may beg to differ.

Side A: "One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack)"


Side B: "I Guess It's a Beautiful Day Today"





"One Tin Soldier, 
The Legend of Billy Jack" (1971) 
Coven

Written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter * Produced by Mundell Lowe * 45: "One Tin Soldier, The Legend of Billy Jack" / "Johnnie" * LP: The Original Soundtrack from Billy Jack * Label: Warner Bros. * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#73) * Entered (re-issue): 1973-12-29

"One Tin Soldier" entered the Hot 100 one last time in late 1973 (peaking in early 1974), thanks to the Billy Jack film's long life span and a reissued soundtrack album. The new edition of the "One Tin Soldier" 45 had as its new B side a somewhat spruced up version of "Johnnie," the mournful dead-soldier song Tom Laughlin's real life daughter Teresa Kelly sings for her school in the movie.

Side A: "One Tin Soldier"


Side B: "Johnnie"

Monday, May 2, 2016

KKUA (Honolulu): Top 40, 1967 - 1986

Honolulu's Top 40 powerhouse KKUA ("double K-U-A"), residing at 690 AM, called itself "The Big 69" (and its DJs the "The Big 69 Men"). By the late seventies, the station had distinguished itself as a commercial airwave venue especially friendly to local talent. Ron Jacobs (d. March 8, 2016), who was the program director at Los Angeles station KHJ during its storied "Boss Radio" years and who also created the syndicated American Top 40 institution, joined KKUA as an on-air personality in 1976. With his "Whodaguy" nickname, he launched the station's series of annual Homegrown albums that featured nothing but regional up-and-comers. Sometime in the very early eighties, KKUA would simulcast with KQMQ (93.1 FM) before surrendering its call letters later in the decade (if I've sorted the timeframe correctly) to a public radio station. What follows is a list of eight selected singles of local interest that racked up tons of airplay on KKUA between 1970 and 1974 (thanks to the year-end lists at the Hawaii Radio and Television Guide).



"1900 Yesterday" (1970)
Liz Damon's Orient Express

Written by Johnny Cameron * Produced by George J.D. Chun * 45: "1900 Yesterday" / "You're Falling in Love" * LP: Liz Damon's Orient Express * Label: Makaha/White Whale * Billboard charts: Hot 100 (#33), easy listening (#4) * Entered: 1970-12-26 (both charts) 

Written by soul songwriter and producer Johnny Cameron, "1900 Yesterday" first showed up as a B-side for Betty Everett's "Maybe" (not a cover of the Chantels classic) in 1969. This version by Liz Damon's Orient Express—a group featuring three female vocalists and six instrumentalists—first appeared on the Makaha label, after which White Whale picked it up once it caught fire. In a 1971 issue of Billboard, KKUA's Scott Edwards (who ran the "sunset sounds" shift from 6 to 9 p.m.) receives mention as the DJ who "broke" the record. It's a true wee-hours song, with its "smoke from a cigarette" catchphrase, ambiguous time-traveling lyrics, and disembodied vocals. It also has capering bone-marimba lines that may remind you of some of Morton Stevens's instrumental music on Hawaii Five-O.  Liz Damon and her troupe had another massive Hawaii-only hit in 1973 with their version of Bacharach and David's "Me Japanese Boy (I Love You)," which Damon, evoking Karen Carpenter, sings with a chorus of children's voices a la the Carpenters' "Sing."

"1900 Yesterday"



"Cheryl Moana Marie" (1970)
John Rowles

Written by Nat Kipner and John Rowles * Producer: Don Costa * 45: "Cheryl Moana Marie" / "The Love I Had with You" * LP: Cheryl Moana Marie * Label: Kapp * Billboard charts: Easy listening (#19), Hot 100 (#64) * Entered: 1970-11-21 (easy listening), 1971-01-02 (Hot 100)

The big voice of John Rowles, New Zealand's Engelbert Humperdinck, sailed with enough regularity on Hawaiian airwaves to give the impression of being local. "Cheryl Moana Marie" (a Don Costa production and arrangement) was Rowles' only single to reach the US charts, although "She's All I Got" and "Juanita Chiquita" were even bigger Rowles records in the islands.

"Cheryl Moana Marie"




"Chatto Matte Kudasai 
(Never Say Goodbye)" (1969)
Sam Kapu

Written by Jeanne Nakashima * Produced by Ed Brown and John De Marco * 45: "Chatto Matte Kudasai (Never Say Goodbye)" / "Huttin' in the Hall" (1969) * LP: Sam Kapu Again! (1969) * Label: Hana Ho * Billboard charts: Easy listening (#39) * Entered: 1971-09-11

Sam Kapu is perhaps best known as a Don Ho show biz cohort (who also appeared alongside him in a Brady Bunch segment). This single has a chorus reminiscent of Mac Davis's "I'll Paint You a Song." A big seller and airplay staple in Kapu's native Hawaii, it did make a brief showing on Billboard's easy listening chart in 1971, two years after its original release.

"Chatto Matte Kudasai (Never Say Goodbye)"




"Pipeline Sequence" (1972)
Honk

Written by Steve Wood, Richard Stekol, Craig Buhler, Tris Imbuden, and Will Brady * Produced by Honk and Terry Wright * 45: "Pipeline Sequence" / "Made My Statement (Love You Baby)" * LP: The Original Soundtrack from Five Summer Stories * Label: 20th Century *
Billboard charts: —

Honk was an eclectic Orange County band (reminiscent of the seventies version of the Grateful Dead), whose soundtrack for the popular 1972 surfing film Five Summer Stories, by Greg McGillivray and Jim Freeman, sold especially big in Hawaii where the film's first segment takes place. The sudden "surf band" identity baggage might have contributed toward Honk's 1975 unraveling, although they play the occasional reunion show to this day. (Quite a few Beach Boys tracks also appeared in the film but not on the album soundtrack.) If "Pipeline Sequence" reminds you of any sounds from the Boston-Styx-Kansas FM rock era, keep in mind that it predated many of those. A country song on the album called "High in the Middle" became another memorable musical highlight in the film, which seems incongruous until you consider the steel guitar's honored place in Hawaiian music history.

Side A: "Pipeline Sequence"


Side B: "Made My Statement (Love You Baby)"


Bonus: "High in the Middle"



"Stella's Candy Store" (1972)
The Sweet Marie

Written by Donald Bennett * Produced by Darby James and the Sweet Marie *
45: "Stella's Candy Store" / "Another Feelin'" * LP: Stuck in Paradise * Label: Yardbird * Billboard charts: Bubbling under (#123) * Entered: 1973-02-03

A California head-rock trio with a Hawaiian following, the Sweet Marie recorded their 1972 Stuck in Paradise album (their second) in Honolulu. Its leadoff single was a back-alley rocker called "Stella's Candy Store," which caught enough fire nationally to bubble under on Billboard in early '73. A moody, somewhat foreboding track from the album with crashing waves and someone sreaming "help!" at the end (with writing credits given to the three Sweet Marie members) provides contrast for the bender on side A.

Side A: "Stella's Candy Store"


Side B: "Another Feelin'"




"If That's the Way You Want It" (1973)
Diamond Head

Written and produced by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter * 45: "If That's the Way You Want It" / "What Do I Do on Sunday Morning" * Label: Dunhill * Billboard charts: Bubbling under (#106) * Entered: 1973-05-05

The Southern California quartet Diamond Head took its name from the famous volcanic ridge mark in Oahu, and although the Dennis Lambert-Brian Potter tune "If That's the Way You Want It" only reached #106 in Billboard, Hawaiian radio spun it like crazy. Info about this band is elusive, but a 1975 single of theirs on Capitol called "Proud to Be Your Slave," which was written by Steely Dan's Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, has turned up on YouTube. The UK heavy metal band called Diamond Head has no relation to this piƱa colada crew. (Side B is another Lambert-Potter tune.)


Side A: "If That's the Way that You Want It"


Side B: "What I Do on Sunday Morning"


Non-charting 1975 bonus: "Proud to Be Your Slave"




"Song for Anna" (1973)
Ohta-San

Written by Andre Popp * Produced by Newell Bohnett * 45: "Song for Anna (Chansons d'Anna)" / "Keeping You Company" * LP: Song for Anna * Label: A&M * Billboard charts: Easy listening (#26) * Entered: 1974-05-04

Herb Ohta is a Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso who is sometimes billed as "Ohta-San" (with "san" being a Japanese term of respect). The 45 of this song is subtitled according to its French title and billed to Ohta's Japanese name. The album cover, though, sticks with "Herb." Ohta charted only one more time in his long career, with the easy listening hit "One Day of Love" in 1975.

"Song for Anna (Chansons d'Anna)""




"99.8" (1974)
Society of Seven

Written by Ernie Freeman and Frances Kirk * Produced by Ernie Freeman * 45: "99.8" / "Charming Beau" * LP: 99.8 * Label: Silver Sword Audio * Billboard charts: —

A variety show band that's been doing its thing at Honolulu hotel lounges and beyond since the sixties, Society of Seven's 99.8 album featured the production and co-writing work of Ernie Freeman, best known for his late fifties hit version of Bill Justis's "Raunchy." Check out the boosted reverb on the lead vocal during the chorus.

"99.8"