Friday, January 23, 2009

Lovely Melodies and Fruity Tunes

For the background on this blog series, see this post.

January 22, 1955: Joan Weber’s “Let Me Go Lover” finally tops the sales chart, after being a television, radio and coin-op sensation since November. She still hasn’t consolidated her hold on the top spot, as she drops from #1 to #2 on the radio chart, where “Mr. Sandman” by the Chordettes regains the top spot.

The only sales debut is the third chart version of “Melody of Love,” this time a vocal version by the Four Aces. Billy Vaughn is at #7, and David Carroll at #21, a spot above the Four Aces. Three other songs re-enter the sales chart, but they are all retreads that had fallen a few notches out of the Top 30.

A Top Ten sales hit, “Sincerely” by the McGuire Sisters, finally cracks the coin-op Top 20. Nothing else moves there, but radio gets “Melody of Love” religion, adding three versions to join Billy Vaughn: David Carroll, the Four Aces, and Frank Sinatra with Ray Anthony and His Orchestra. The Sinatra/Anthony version will chart only on radio. This week, at least, “Melody of Love” makes up 20% of radio’s Top 20.

January 28, 1956: Dean Martin finally has a unanimous #1 with “Memories Are Made of This,” one of his most enduring hits. Popping onto the sales charts this week are several songs that will create trends. A second version of “Teen-Age Prayer,” this time a Gloria Mann recording that hopes to steal some sales from Gale Storm, debuts this week. The iconic Little Richard recording of “Tutti Frutti” debuts on the short sales chart, to be joined soon by a tepid Pat Boone version.

And, very quietly, the “Unforgettable” Sound of the Dick Hyman Trio (thus was he billed) climbs onto both the short and the long sales charts with “Moritat (A Theme from the ‘Three Penny Opera’).” This song will find itself on the long chart five times on March 3, under four different titles. Two other artists will resurrect the song in 1959-60. More details will follow.

January 26, 1957: It’s all Guy Mitchell, all the time, as “Singing the Blues” logs its 8th week atop three charts, and its 7th atop the coin-op chart. The Sonny James original of “Young Love” threatens at #2 on the short sales chart, but its #1 status will owe itself eventually to radio. Tab Hunter’s version is hot on its heels, and a third contender, by the Crew-Cuts, debuts on the long sales chart but won’t go far.

The sampling methodology for the coin-op chart means that just this week, the James/Hunter “Young Love” versions debut there. Fats Domino’s “Blue Monday,” which is headed for Top Ten sales, just now makes the coin-op and radio charts.

January 27, 1958: Though “At the Hop” by Danny and the Juniors is in its 4th week at #1, the Top Ten is shaking itself up, as the #6 through #10 songs are rising stars, cracking the Top Ten for the first time. The songs are “Get a Job” by the Silhouettes, “Sail Along Silvery Moon” (with “Raunchy” still showing strong B-side support) by Billy Vaughn and His Orchestra, “The Stroll” by the Diamonds, “Sugartime” by the McGuire Sisters, and “La Dee Dah” by Billy & Lillie. “Get a Job” and “Sugartime” will reach #1 on other charts, but none of the five will top the short sales chart.

A bit of a chart misnomer has occurred with the flip of Ricky Nelson’s “Be-Bop Baby.” That B-side, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?” did make the long sales chart on its own, so its flip numbers were erased. Had the song stalled at #41 or lower, it would not appear in the Top 40 book at all. But the song spent 17 weeks on the short sales chart, listed as a flip, apart from its three Top 40 weeks on the long sales chart. I find that run worthy of note.

Another chart quirk is the debut of “Don’t” by Elvis Presley on both sales charts, whereas it’s a week away from hitting the radio chart. I don’t know if the song’s subject matter led to radio resistance, or if the jockeys thought it was too quiet, but they will catch on when sales go through the roof.

January 26, 1959: The Platters hold steady at #1 with “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” Even with “La Bamba” making some chart headway, “Donna” by Ritchie Valens climbs from #4 to #3. Mitch Miller has jumped on the “Children’s Marching Song” bandwagon to compete with Cyril Stapleton, doubling the pain on the Top 40.

A couple of eventually hard-to-find songs debut, both by One-Hit-Wonders: Jesse Lee Turner charts with “The Little Space Girl,” his only Top 40 hit, and Philadelphia’s Quaker City Boys prove to be a True One-Week Wonder, as “Teasin’” spends a week at #39, then sinks immediately.

For your listening pleasure, here are the two 1959 One-Hit Wonders. The Quaker City Boys, a string band in the finest Philadelphia tradition, was led by Tommy Reilly. The song appeared on Swan 4023. Jesse Lee Turner was a Texan, a purveyor of rockabilly who took his lone hit to #20 on Carlton 496.

For Wednesday, I’ll explore spoken-word comedy from the early days of music, after a one-week detour. See you then!

Quaker City Boys, Teasin’

Jesse Lee Turner, The Little Space Girl

No comments: