Your crusty chronicler is wildly waxing nostalgic yet again. Having seen so many young’uns wearing vintage rock band t-shirts, it struck me that it might be a good idea if these kids knew something about the assorted artists advertised across their chests. With the number of classic rock stations surviving to this day as well as all the remakes by popular artists, sampling and cover versions on such hit shows as Glee it seemed like a good time to experiment with an idea that’s been on the backburner for quite some time now.
Hence this new series: “Retro Rock: Do You Remember?” Here your favorite record reviewer will list and briefly describe actual songs (on 45s/singles) personally purchased over the years by yours truly. The songs here will be presented in the order in which they were purchased not necessarily the order in which they were actually released. So read on and by all means let me know if YOU remember any of these tunes!
“Knock Three Times”—Tony Orlando and Dawn: The single came out in 1970. It was backed with a song called “Home” which is also nice albeit never a big hit. “Knock Three Times” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1971. It also took the number one spot on the UK Singles Chart. It was written by L. Russell Brown and Irwin Levine. Actor Bill Murray does the song during the movie Mad Dog and Glory. In 2008 DJ Freddy Retro and Jim Davis even put out a dance club remake of the tune. (This is one that yours truly STILL sings in the shower to this day as any of the women who has had him over for the night would confirm!)
“Chick-A-Boom”—Daddy Dewdrop:Dewdrop, whose real name is Dick Monda wrote and recorded the song backed by future Neil Diamond musical director Tom Hensley and future Redobone member Butch Rillera. Monda originally wrote the song for the animated series Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies of Archie Comics fame. It was released on his novelty album and then renamed “Chick-A-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes’ Love It)”. It hit number nine on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in 1971 and went to number three on the Cashbox charts. Hey! Who wouldn’t love a song about Little Richard (If you guys really want to know if a woman loves you then just sing this tune in the shower after the very first time she has you over, mmmkay?)
“Draggin’ The Line”—Tommy James: This was released in 1971 and was James’ biggest solo hit. It was written by James and Bob King and reached number 4 on the U.S.’s BillboardHot 100 in 1971. The tune made it to number 2 on the Cashbox chart that same year. “Draggin’ the Line” was ranked at #44 overall for hot songs of 1971 by Billboard magazine.
“American Pie”—Don McLean: This is a folk rock classic released as a two-part double A side single. It was also the title track from the 1971 album American Pie . The single hit number-one in America and remained there for four weeks in 1972. It was re-released in 1991 and hit number 2 on the UK charts.
The song was slotted at number five on the RIAA project Songs of the Century and stands as McLean’s signature song. Someone once asked McLean what this song meant. He said: “It means I never have to work again.” The tune tells the tale of “the day the music died” – the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.). It was first covered (in America) by The Brady Bunch and has been since covered by many artists including KIlldozer, Pearl Jam and Madonna. The cute blonde neighbor girl liked this song too. (Wonder what she looks like in a bikini today or if she even still has the album.)
“How Do You Do?”– Mouth & MacNeal: Mouth’s real name was Willem Duyn and he died in 2004. MacNeal was Maggie MacNeal (birth name Sjoukje van’t Spijker). Mouth was a former member of the 1960s band Speedway and MacNeal had put out one solo single before they teamed up to do this track.
This was their second single and it reached number one in 1972. In fact, they topped the charts throughout Continental Europe as well as in Scandinavia. The song became a hit in America thanks to the help of radio DJ Jim Connors. It hit number 8 in America the same year. “How Do You Do” spent 19 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 . The single is credited for the additional success of the album How Do You Do which hit number 77 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Do YOU remember any of these songs? What are YOUR memories of these tunes? Let me know if any of this struck a chord with you!
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.