by Robert Wilkinson
Since the past week featured the birthdays for several Aries and their pioneering music, tonight we dance to an eclectic group of sets! We have the Platters, Joe Meek’s protopsychedelic space music, and sweet Chicago soul.
First, Wednesday would have been the 89th birthday of Tony Williams, THE Voice of the Platters that made ten thousand girls melt! Tony Williams (April 5, 1928 – August 14, 1992) was the lead vocalist of the Platters from 1953 to 1960, and was THE voice on all the major hits. The Platters were the first rock and roll group to have a Top Ten album in America and were one of the seminal vocal groups in pop music in the 50s, bridging the doo-wop, crooner, and rock and roll eras.
For your enjoyment, the original Platters and a few songs from a different world.
From 1955, a live performance by the original Platters of “The Great Pretender and Only You”
I also found the clip from the Ed Sullivan Show in March 1959 of our next performance! Here’s a live performance by Tony singing to a backing track of their smash hit “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”
Here’s another video from the day of Tony lip-synching to “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”
The studio version of their 1956 number one hit “My Prayer”
From Nov 1956, the studio version of “One in a Million”
Here's a stellar live television performance of a tune they took to #16 on the pop charts, #5 on the R&B charts in February 1957! “He’s Mine”
From 1958, a live performance of their number 1 smash hit “Twilight Time”
Also from 1958, “Oh Promise Me”
From 1959 or 1960, a live performance of “Remember When”
Though the Platters mainly did slow ballads, here’s a great live television performance from that era by Zola Taylor and ultimate bass man Herb Reed rockin’, jukin’, jivin’ and swingin’ to “Roll With Me Henry”
From 1959, the studio version of their #12 hit, “Enchanted”
One of his last with the Platters, here’s Tony belting out “Orchids in the Moonlight”
From January 1960, the studio version of their top 10 hit “Harbor Lights”
For our finale today, the awesome voice of Tony in the studio version of “The Magic Touch”
RIP Tony. You were the music of my childhood, an era of sweet music, great melodies, and magical harmonies. I’m sure the last half of the 20th century blew your mind. Thanks for the memories.
April 5 was also the birthday of legendary producer Joe Meeks (5 April 1929 – 3 February 1967), English songwriter who pioneered space age and experimental pop music. He also was a pioneer in using overdubbing, sampling and reverb.
From wiki, “Meek is considered one of the most influential engineers of all time, being one of the first to exploit the use of recording studios as instruments, and one of the first producers to assert an individual identity as an artist.” You may not have heard of him, but you’ve heard his music! A flaming star, he took himself out at way too young an age from depression. When he died, he left tapes with over 4,000 hours of music on 1,850 tapes, including recordings by David Bowie as singer and sax player with the Konrads, Gene Vincent, Denny Laine, Billy Fury, Tom Jones, Jimmy Page, Mike Berry, John Leyton, Ritchie Blackmore, Jess Conrad, Mitch Mitchell and Screaming Lord Sutch.
Tonight, we dance to a musical era long gone, bridging the do-wop of the Platters and the British invasion. For your dancing pleasure, a few of the best of the music of Mister Joe Meeks!
This is probably his most famous production, and it kicked the doors down for countless imitations! Written and produced by Meek, it was the first record by a British rock group to reach #1 in the US Hot 100! For your enjoyment, the original studio production of the Tornados’ revolutionary breakthrough hit “Telstar”
Here they are live performing “Telstar”
Here are the Shadows live cranking it up! “Telstar”
As a brief aside, here's Muse, whose lead player and singer Matthew Bellamy is the son of the Tornados' rhythm player, cranking out his homage to "Telstar," the very spacey and neo-surf psychedelic "Knights of Cydonia. (It's a great 6 minute mini-movie!)
He also hit big in a huge way in 1964 with the Honeycombs’ “Have I The Right” (I always wondered how he got the warble in the sound. This shows he was one of the true innovators of the era!) He also wrote the “B” side, “Please Don’t Pretend Again” and this follow up “I’ll Cry Tomorrow”
We go back to 1961 and find his first big production, made into a huge hit by Mike Berry, of “Tribute to Buddy Holly”
Here was his first hit, also in 1961, taken to the top of the UK charts by John Leyton! “Johnny Remember Me”
Here’s a great short bio from the Telegraph titled Joe Meek and the Tragic Demise of the Maverick who Revolutionized British Pop.
We now turn to another obscure talent, but one who cut a huge wake in the early 60s! Major Lance (April 4, 1939 [possibly 1941 or 1942] – September 3, 1994) was a huge seminar figure in Chicago soul in the early 60s. This guy was all over the AM transistor radio airwaves in the early 60s before the British Invasion.
From Shindig in 1963, ML movin and grooving to his biggest hit “The Monkey Time”
His follow up hit, “the Matador”
From 1963, an “answer tune” written by Curtis Mayfield to “Mama Didn’t Lie,” “Mama Didn’t Know”
He also went large with the Curtis Mayfield monster hit “Um Um Um Um Um”
From 1965, again on Shivaree, “Come See”
From Shindig in 1965, “Ain’t It A Shame”
Another tv clip to a backing track titled “The Beat”
Here’s another big one! The studio version of “Hey Little Girl”
And we’ll close with his biggest! Here’s take two of “The Monkey Time”
For our closing number (and yes, this is considered “whiplash programming” in the industry), one of the first truly psychedelic rockers done by the Animals. This hypnotic song was first released on this day in 1967, and still has a shelf life for years to come! For your remembrance, Eric Burdon's haunting, howling vocals shouting out “When I Was Young”
© Copyright 2017 Robert Wilkinson