Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Glass Bottle/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 the (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 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 their charting records were MOR-suitable songs arranged by Goodman's business partner Bill Ramal. They 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 calling it good with the music business.

The Glass Bottle - "Love for Living"  (Billboard #109, entered by 5/30/70) [listen]. Written by Clare Torry. Produced by Bill Ramal and Dickie Goodman. 45: "Love for Living"/"The First Time" (AVCO Embassy 1970). LP: The Glass Bottle (AVCO Embassy 1970).

This song had been a 1969 B-side for singer-songwriter Clare Torry, who later recorded the famous vocal segment for Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky" in 1973.

The Glass Bottle - "I Ain't Got Time Anymore" (Billboard #36, entered 7/17/71) [listen]. Written by Mike Leander and Eddie Seago. Produced by Bill Ramal and Dickie Goodman. 45: "I Ain't Got Time Anymore"/"Things" (AVCO Embassy 1971). LP: I Ain't Got Time Anymore (AVCO Embassy 1971).

The Glass Bottle's biggest single had been a #21 UK hit for Cliff Richard in 1970.

The Glass Bottle - "The Girl Who Loved Me When" (Billboard #87, entered 12/4/71) [listen]. Written by Neil Goldberg. Produced by Bill Ramal and Dickie Goodman. 45: "The Girl Who Loved Me When"/ "Because She's Mine Again" (AVCO Embassy 1971). LP: I Ain't Got Time Anymore (AVCO Embassy 1971).

Songwriter Neil Goldberg was also an active contributor of songs to the Archie's Funhouse TV show.

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