Who’s that calling at this hour? Just Wiseman Dellar with Sino-rock, integrated groups and red-hot covers.
Dr Dellar fills in the gaps.
I was playing The Marvelettes’ Beechwood 4-5789 the other night and it made me wonder how many others had scored hits with telephone numbers. Any idea? John Geering, via e-mail
Fred says: Quite a few acts have notched such hits since US comedian Joe Hayman recorded Cohen On The Telephone for Columbia in 1914, providing the first ever million-selling spoken word comedy record. Probably the first biggie was Glenn Miller’s Pennsylvania 6-5000, a millionseller in 1940 using the number of the Café Rouge at New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania, a popular venue for the swing community. Then, in 1962 came The Marvelettes’ Tamla classic, to be followed in 1982 by Tommy Tutone’s 867-5309/Jenny, a song penned by Alex Call, lead singer with Clover, about a girl’s number scrawled on a bathroom wall. The hit spent 40 weeks on the US charts, and was a news-flash item in 2004, when someone tried to sell the New York number 212-867-5309 on eBay. Phone book skims have also given us 853-5937 (Squeeze), 911 Is A Joke (Public Enemy), 842-3089 (Call My Name) (Etta James), soul classic 634-5789 (Wilson Pickett), 777-9311 (The Time), 6060-842 (The B-52’s) and, in 2017, rapper Logic’s 1-800-273-8255, the number of National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. There have doubtless been others. But I’ve been brought up to refrain from checking my mobile while typing. Click.
WHO POPPED INTO CHINA FIRST?
Was Wham! really the first European band to play in China? PA Clinton, via e-mail
Fred says: Though Wham!, who played in China in 1985, can claim to be the first pure pop band to perform there since the end of World War II, they were not the first European popular music act to appear there. That honour goes to The Chieftains who, in 1983, played in the heavenly city of Suzhou and on the Great Wall. Explaining their presence, The Chieftains’ Paddy Moloney said: “The Chinese have a soft spot for the Irish because we were the first country to recommend China to become a member of the United Nations.”
DID THE RASCALS PLAY PEACEFUL WORLD LIVE?
By the early ’70s, The Rascals had only two original members left. One of the last albums released under their name, Peaceful World, was a jazz-rock set with the remaining members essentially serving as sidemen to several New York session musicians. But did The Rascals ever play material from the album live?
Paul Schulz, via e-mail
Fred says: Peaceful World entered the US charts during May 1971 and I’ve seen a news cutting that reveals that The Rascals played a gig with Fanny at the Aquarius, Los Angeles on July 2. They must have
played some of the new material at the show because, at that time, they were pushing a new single, Love Me, taken from the album.
WHO LAUNCHED THE GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK?
Many singers have recorded LPs using the standards that became known as The Great American Songbook. But what was the first song to make the songbook, and who sang the first collection? CA Black, via e-mail
Fred says: Popular song buffs Philip Furia and Michael Lasser reckon Some Of These Days, a hit published in 1910 and recorded by Red Hot Mama Sophie Tucker in 1911, is the first popular song that truly qualifies as a ‘standard’. Alec Wilder, composer of I’ll Be Around, While We’re Young etc, also hailed it as “a landmark in popular music – perhaps the landmark song.” Penned by black composer Shelton Brooks, Some Of These Days was brought to Tucker’s attention by her maid who chided her: “Since when are you so important you can’t hear a song by a coloured writer?” Impressed, Tucker recorded the song on an Edison Amberol cylinder, it charted for nine weeks (she reand recorded the song to great success in 1927). It’s since been covered by singers including Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland and Bobby Darin. But who first recorded an American Songbook set? Lee Wiley gets my vote. In 1939, she cut eight Gershwin songs for a batch of 78s for Liberty Music Shop Records. You can hear But Not For Me via YouTube.
INTEGRATED BANDS – AN UPDATE
I’m surprised you didn’t include The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, whose first album dates from 1965, in your brief survey of early mixed rock bands. Butterfield (vocals, blues harp) and Elvin Bishop (guitar) were white, Mike Bloomfield (guitar) and Mark Naftalin (keyboards) were Jewish, Jerome Arnold (bass) and Sam Lay(drums) were Afro-American. Thony Christie, via e-mail
Fred says: Reader reaction is what
Ask Fred is all about, so emails like this are always welcomed. However, I still feel the International Sweethearts Of Rhythm ruled the integrated line-ups roost.