55 years ago today, Atlantic Records released the first single by the second incarnation of the Drifters – formed after the group’s manager, George Treadwell, who owned the rights to the name fired all of the original members – and, in doing so, transformed them from R&B superstars into kings of the pop charts.
Written by Treadwell, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Lover Patterson, and Ben E. King, who sang lead, “There Goes My Baby” was produced by Leiber and Stoller, with the latter also playing piano on the track. (You can also hear the legendary King Curtis contributing saxophone.) The song hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, topped the R&B chart, and established the Drifters as a force to be reckoned with. The song continued to resonate with audiences well beyond their recording, however, with Donna Summer taking it to #21 in 1984, not to mention its inclusion in the musical revue Smokey Joe’s Café.
Today marks the anniversary of the sad day that Pete Ham, one of the major creative forces in the band Badfinger, ended his life at only 27 years of age, but while the depressing saga of his band’s fortunes is well-documented, their music is still making a mark even now. For proof, one needs look no further than the last episode of Breaking Bad: the day after the series used “Baby Blue” – one of Ham’s compositions, lest we forget – to score its final scene, Billboard reported that the song had scored a 3,000% sales gain.
Born on April 27, 1947 in Swansea, Wales, Ham started his musical career in earnest in 1961 when he formed a rock group called the Panthers. Although the band’s lineup would change a bit, the Panthers ultimately transformed into the Iveys, signed to the Beatles’ label, Apple Records, and – just in time for the release of “Come and Get It,” written for them by Paul McCartney – changed their name to Badfinger.
Take me back to Chicago! And while you’re at it, pick one song from each of their albums. And, if it’s not too much to ask, would you throw a few odd selections in there? You can do all of that? Thank you so much!
New this week in the iTunes Rhino Catalog Room:
Long John Baldry, Boogie Woogie: The Warner Brothers Recordings: It may be a bit hard for British music fans to accept that folks on these shores are likely to be more familiar with Long John Baldry’s voice from giving voice to Dr. Robotnik on the animated Sonic the Hedgehog series than from any of his songs, but it’s almost certainly true: Baldry might’ve had a #1 song in the UK with his 1967 single “Let the Heartaches Begin,” but his highest-charting U.S. single, “Don’t Try to Lay No Boogie-Woogie on the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” only earned a paltry #73 placing. That’s hardly any indication of his gifts as a blues singer, though, as evidenced by this collection of both albums Baldry released during his brief stint on Warner Brothers – 1971’s It Ain’t Easy and 1972’s Everything Stops for Tea, each of which has been remastered – along with several alternate takes, previously-unreleased songs, live performances, and even a couple of radio spots.
The Bob Crewe Generation, Motivation: Bob Crewe’s career as a songwriter significantly overshadows his efforts as a performer, which is only to be expected when his list of compositions includes some of the Four Seasons’ biggest hits – including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Dawn (Go Away),” “Rag Doll,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” – as well as tracks by Herman’s Hermits (“Silhouettes”), Mitch Ryder (“Devil with a Blue Dress On”), the Toys (“A Lover’s Concerto”), and Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” among many, many others. This 1977 album, however, features Crewe’s debut as a vocalist, and while he may not be on the same level as the artists he helped into the upper reaches of the charts, the songs are so strong that they make this a highly enjoyable listen. (It also doesn’t hurt that the whole thing was produced by the legendary Jerry Wexler.)
It’s the middle of the week, and we here at Rhino know that it can sometimes be a bit rough to get over the Wednesday hump and see the light of at the end of the tunnel. In order to help make the way to the weekend a little bit less painful, we’ve put together a playlist featuring songs that span the entire week, starting with New Order’s “Blue Monday” and lasting all the way through to the Waterboys’ “A Life of Sundays,” with 65 songs sitting snugly between them.
by Ted Olson
The Folk Box is the kind of album that changes lives—I know this because it changed mine, assuredly for the better. And over the years I have heard that The Folk Box played an important formative role in the lives of many other people.
About the time I was learning to stay upright on a bicycle (1967), I discovered my parents’ record collection, which contained a host of titles—classical and jazz, mostly—that held little appeal to a six-year-old. But one album captured my interest—a thick box set with an appealingly rustic, unpretentious front cover. Somehow that cover spoke to me, in a rough yet reassuring voice, saying “Listen here.” And so I obliged, spinning one and then all of its four LPs on the family turntable. From the speakers wafted voices and songs that were at the same time familiar and mysterious; it was as if I was being summoned to hear news from a world I needed to know about, even if I was too young to fully comprehend that world. The ultimate evidence that that album — The Folk Box — had gotten through to me: I wanted to hear more—more of humanity’s other folk music.