Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Remember Always - Margaret Schneider

It is another important date
on the Shady Dell calendar.
Today we remember and
honor Margaret Schneider,
precious child of the Dell.

Blessed with longevity,
Margaret earned the
nickname The Oldest
Living Dell Rat as she
approached and then
passed the century mark.

Margaret died three years ago
at the age of 105. Last month
as we celebrated Margaret's
108th birthday, I posted three
old songs that Margaret might
have known during her years
as a young adult. Today, as
we remember Margaret on
the date of her death, I'll
play three more songs I
think she would enjoy.


It's hard for many of us to believe that easy listening balladeer Johnny Mathis
will be 85 later this year. Time marches on. Johnny built a career on singing
romantic pop standards. In 1958 Johnny had a top 20 hit with "A Certain
Smile," the title song from the 1958 dramatic film that stars
Rossano Brazzi and Joan Fontaine.

As Johnny sings the song and we remember
Margaret, seen here on the right at age 16,
let's enjoy this video montage containing
portraits of the past - reminders of how
women and girls presented themselves
in the first half of the 20th century
when Margaret was young.

"A Certain Smile" - Johnny Mathis
(July 1958, highest chart pos.
#14 Hot 100/#15 Cash Box,
from July 1958 film
A Certain Smile)


In last month's birthday tribute I introduced The Boswell Sisters,
a popular jazz vocal harmony trio of the 1920s and 30s.
The Boswells are back today to perform another
song that reminds me of Margaret.

"The blues" is derived from the blue devils. If you are beset by a fit
of the blue devils you are despondent, depressed and feeling hopeless.
That, I believe, is the correct interpretation of the word Devil in the
song "Shout, Sister, Shout!," the B side of a Boswell Sisters single
released in 1931. The singing sibs remind us how to beat the Devil
and put the blues on the run, and it's a lesson Margaret Schneider
also taught: Don't dwell on your problems, betrayals and losses.
Shout Hallelujah, come on get happy. Rise up. Celebrate life.

Keep your spirit way up high,
Look up to the sky
Stand up and shout "Hallelujah
If that old Devil should grab your hand
Here's one thing that he can't stand
Shout sister, shout sister, shout!

"Shout, Sister, Shout!" - The Boswell Sisters
(1931, B side of "Roll On, Mississippi, Roll On")


To end this tribute to Margaret on another happy note, I present The Boswell Project,
a vocal trio from Adelaide, Australia. Inspired by the music and style of the original
Boswell Sisters, this fine group features vocalists Louise Messenger, Kylie Ferreira
and Valeska Laity. In the following video The Boswell Project covers "I'm Gonna
Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter," a standard first popularized in 1935
by Fats Waller and a top 3 hit the following year for The Boswell Sisters.

"I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter"
 - Boswell Sisters cover by The Boswell Project,
Aug. 2017 (Boswell Sisters version
reached #3 in 1936)

I hope you enjoyed this musical tribute to
Margaret Schneider... and I can't help
hoping that she did, too.

Yours was a long life and a life well lived, Margaret.

We love you, miss you
and will remember you always.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

How Sarah Got Her Groove Back -
Vol. 4: The More Etta... the Betta!

Welcome to vol. 4 of my series


NADV 1502031AM1 Sarah Collins. Picture : Adrian Murray (1502031AM1)

Sarah Collins, as you recall, is the mum of two in Yorkshire, England,
who underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor, bounced back to health
and became a sensation on YouTube in recent years with shot-at-home
videos in which she sings covers of Northern Soul favorites.

Sarah also appears at clubs
in England and other parts
of Europe fronting the
Northern Soul band
Keep The Faith.
So inspired am I by
Sarah's touching story
and her soulful singing
that I created this series
to showcase her covers
along with the originals.


In this special edition of How Sarah Got Her Groove Back, Sarah sings
covers of three songs made famous by Etta James, the bluesy R&B singer
who recorded dozens of R&B and pop hits in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

In 1962 Etta James had a top 5 R&B hit with "Something's Got
A Hold On Me," a recording that combines elements of soul, blues
and gospel, with backing singers that sound like a church choir.

 "Something's Got A Hold On Me" - Etta James 
 (Mar./Apr. 1962, highest chart pos. #4 R&B/#37 Hot 100


Now here is Sarah Collins with her capable cover
of Etta James' "Something's Got A Hold On Me."

 "Something's Got A Hold On Me" 
 Etta James cover by Sarah Collins 


In 1988, Etta James released her 17th studio album Seven Year Itch.
The title of the funk/soul project refers to her comeback after going
some seven years without a recording contract. One of the songs
on Seven Year Itch is the smoldering ballad "Damn Your Eyes."

 "Damn Your Eyes' - Etta James 
 (from 1989 album Seven Year Itch


Now here's Sarah doing some sassy soul singing
on her version of Etta's "Damn Your Eyes."

 "Damn Your Eyes" 
 Etta James cover by Sarah Collins 


Today "Seven Day Fool" is one of Etta James' best known songs, especially popular
on the UK Northern Soul and Mod scenes. However at the time of its release as a
single in late 1961, "Seven Day Fool" drew very little attention. An R&B record,
"Seven Day Fool" failed to reach the black chart, and it barely made a dent in
the Hot 100, peaking at #95. "Seven Day Fool" performed better on the
Cash Box survey where it finished in the minor hit range at #75.

 "Seven Day Fool" - Etta James 
 (Dec. 1961, highest chart pos. #95 Hot 100/#75 Cash Box


Now once again, Sarah Collins channels the late,
great Etta James, doing "Seven Day Fool."

 "Seven Day Fool" 
 Etta James cover by Sarah Collins 


I have two bonus tracks for you! First I am proud to present my most recent
discovery, Emma Eveline, a singer and actress in The Netherlands. Please watch
her brief one minute cover of Etta James' "Something’s Got A Hold On Me."

 "Something’s Got A Hold On Me" 
 Etta James cover by Emma Eveline 
 (Apr. 2020) 



Last but not least, here is bonus song #2, another version of Etta James'
"Something's Got A Hold On Me" just released this week by the exciting
Romanian duo of guitarist Andrei Cerbu and zesty singer Beatrice Florea.

 "Something's Got A Hold On Me" 
 Etta James cover by Andrei Cerbu & Beatrice Florea 
 (May 2020) 

I hope you liked the Etta James
originals along with the killer kovers
by my good friend in England
Sarah Collins

... and I hope you enjoyed
meeting Dutch singer
Emma Eveline

and watching the latest performance
by the up-and-coming Romanian duo
Andrei Cerbu & Beatrice Florea.

Have a Shady day!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Workin' On A Drew-vy Thing with Joe Niagara!


Hello! This is Joe Niagara -"The Rockin' Bird" - veteran radio personality
on Wibbage - WIBG Philadelphia. I'm here to tell you about my new show
coming in 2021 to S-P-M-M Radio. It's called Joe Niagara's Knocked Out
Nifties featuring the greatest rock 'n' roll, doo-wop, R&B and soul of the
1950s and 60s, the kind of tuneage you love listening to on Wibbage.

In today's special preview, Workin' On a Drew-vy Thing, the main focus is
on a fine singer by the name of Patti Drew. I'll be spinning Patti's best group
and solo recordings along with a few other golden goodies to give you an
idea of what to expect on my new show. I'm puttin' down a wailin'
pound of sound, so if you're ready... this Rockin' Bird will fly!

Patti Drew is a soulful singer from Charleston,
SC, who led The Drew-Vels, a group that
included her sisters Lorraine and Erma and
bass man Carlton Black, Erma's husband.
 In October 1963 The Drew-Vels released
their first single "Tell Him," not to be
confused with the 1962 hit by another
mixed gender R&B group The Exciters.

October 1963 was one of the worst times
in history for an American recording act
to issue a record because, the following
month, President Kennedy was slain,
plunging the U.S. into despair and
putting a damper on record sales.
Soon after, The Beatles arrived
with a radically different style of
music that rendered traditional
pop and doo-wop obsolete.

In February, 1964, The Drew-Vels' single peaked near the bottom of
the chart. Greatness has nothing to do with chart position, and here's
here's proof as Patti and the The Drew-vels perform-- "Tell Him."

"Tell Him" - The Drew-Vels
(released Oct. 1963, charted Feb. 1964,
highest chart pos.  #90 Hot 100 & R&B)

That was "Tell Him" by The Drew-Vels,
a record that slipped through the cracks
and sold poorly at the time of its release,
but one that is today regarded as a
gem of the genre by critics and
fans of R&B and early soul.


The following month, March, 1964, Patti Drew
and The Drew-Vels released their second
single with "Everybody Knows" on the
A side. This Rockin' Bird digs the
popcorn tempo B side--
"It's My Time."

"It's My Time" - The Drew-Vels
(Mar. 1964, B side of "Everybody Knows")

You just listened to a honey of a sound,
a genuine killer bee called "It's My Time"
the fab flip side of the Drew-Vels'
single "Everybody Knows." 


"Everybody Knows" failed to chart,
but Patti Drew and her group kept on
releasing records. In August of '64,
with a full-fledged British Invasion
underway, The Drew-Vels streeted
their next single. Once again no
chart action, but Niagara says
"Creepin'" is a keeper!

"Creepin'" - The Drew-Vels
(Aug. 1964 single)

Saw my baby "Creepin'" - another great record by
The Drew-Vels that missed the chart. If you're just
tuning in, I'm Joe Niagara, one of the deejays on
Philly's legendary Wibbage radio station, WIBG,
and I'm simulcasting a preview of my upcoming
show on sister station S-P-M-M. Together we're
Workin' On a Drew-vy Thing with Patti Drew.

In 1965 Patti's group The Drew-Vels broke up.
The following year Patti found a new label
and began a career as a solo artist. In 1967
Patti made a run at the R&B top 20 with
a re-recorded version of "Tell Him."

"Tell Him" - Patti Drew
(Sept. to Nov. 1967, highest chart pos.
#22 R&B/#85 Hot 100)

Niagara's got chills and fever after hearing
that one. Patti Drew, out on her own,
with a nifty update of her earlier
girl group recording, "Tell Him."


In 1968 Patti gained her biggest hit with
"Workin' On a Groovy Thing," a song
co-written by Neil Sedaka. A cover
by the 5th Dimension charted higher
...but the original's still the greatest!

"Workin' On a Groovy Thing" - Patti Drew
(Aug./Sept. 1968, highest chart pos. #34 R&B/#62 Hot 100)

From the summer of '68, "Workin' On a Groovy Thing" by Patti Drew,
a song successfully covered a year later by the 5th Dimension.

Before I go, I'd like you to hear a few more
examples of the kind of music I'll be playing
on Knocked Out Nifties. My show will run
the gamut from 1950s R&B and doo-wop
to rock 'n roll to 60s pop, R&B and soul.
This Rockin' Bird's ears know what's
good for you, and on this next R&B
ballad, the eyes have it. From right
here in Philadelphia, Brenda And
The Tabulations now with their
signature song-- "Dry Your Eyes."

"Dry Your Eyes" - Brenda and the Tabulations
(Mar./Apr. 1967, highest chart position
#8 R&B/#20 Hot 100/#22 Cash Box)

I'm The Rockin' Bird and you just heard Philadelphia's own
Brenda Payton and her group The Tabulations, do their first
and biggest record "Dry Your Eyes," a single that went
top 20 pop and top 10 R&B in the spring of 1967.

The great sounds just keep on comin'.
Now meet The Sparkletones, another
Philadelphia area group, not to be
confused with Joe Bennett And The
Sparkletones, the rock 'n' roll and
rockabilly act from South Carolina
 that had a 50s hit with "Black Slacks."
In 1963 these Philly Sparkletones
released their one and only record
entitled "Just One Chance."
Unfortunately the group missed
their chance to become singing
stars because their single
failed to make the chart.


Listen to the girl group harmony on this outstanding doo-wop
ballad and you'll wonder why and how this fine group,
The Sparkletones, managed to remain no hit wonders!

"Just One Chance" - The Sparkletones
(Mar. 1963, uncharted)

I hope you enjoyed Workin' On A Drew-vy Thing, the best of Patti Drew,
along with those other gems of rock 'n' roll, R&B, doo-wop and early soul.

There's lots more where they came from and, starting in 2021,
you'll be hearing them on my new show Knocked Out Nifties.


It's time for me to wrap up this special sneak preview, but I hope to see
your face in the place next year when I join The Shady Bunch team
here on S-P-M-M, the number one station for a rock 'n' roll nation.
As the Stax Records studio session band The Mar-Keys play
us off the air with their Memphis sound 1961 instrumental
"Morning After," this is Joe Niagara, The Rockin' Bird,
saying stay cool and goodbye for now!

"Morning After" - The Mar-Keys
(Oct. 1961, highest chart pos. #60 Hot 100/#65 Cash Box)

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Helen Ettline - Every Dell Rat's Mom

 Shady Dell owner 
 Helen Ettline 
 didn't have any children of her own. 
 In a way, we were all her kids 
 and she was our mom. 

 Clearly Helen and John 
 loved kids. Why else 
 would they have 
 put up with the 
 aggravation all 
 those years? 

 The Ettlines believed 
 in kids. They enjoyed 
 counseling and 
 helping kids. 

The pictures above and below remind me ever so much of Helen's snack bar
and the jukebox in the adjoining room where rows of diner booths were located.

 To remember and honor  
 Helen on Mother's Day, 
 I picked three songs 
 I think she would enjoy. 
 Helen, these are for you. 


This record might be the closest Ol' Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, ever came to R&B.
The song "Two Hearts, Two Kisses (Make One Love)" was first recorded by the
doo-wop group Otis Williams and the Charms, a top 10 hit on the R&B chart
in the spring of 1955. Clean cut crooner Pat Boone covered the song and
brushed the top 15. Here's The Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra,
with his version of "Two Hearts" released in late March, 1955,
backed by The Nuggets, a black doo-wop group signed to
Capitol Records, And Big Dave's Music. Their record
swings but somehow failed to reach the chart.

 "Two Hearts, Two Kisses (Make One Love)"  
 - Frank Sinatra With The Nuggets And Big Dave's Music 
 (March 1955, uncharted) 


To entertain Helen this year, I now present the Birmingham, 'Bama-born
singer Jimmy Jones whose smooth, soulful falsetto drew comparisons to
R&B greats Clyde McPhatter and Sam Cooke. In 1960, Jimmy scored
two major hits in a row with "Handy Man" and "Good Timin'"... but
subsequent releases stalled near the bottom of the chart. Here now
is Jimmy doing his first and biggest hit, a record that went top 3
on the pop chart and on the R&B chart-- "Handy Man!"

 "Handy Man" - Jimmy Jones 
 (Feb./Mar. 1960, highest chart pos. 
  #2 Hot 100 & Cash Box/#3 R&B
  perf. on The Dick Clark {Beechnut} Show) 


Finally here's soul/R&B great Sam Cooke who went from singing hymns
in the church choir to recording a string of secular crossover hits.
In the summer of 1961 Sam gained a top 20 hit with "Cupid."
Released in May, the love song might have been a bigger
hit had it been released in January and climbed the
chart in the weeks before Valentine's Day.

 "Cupid" - Sam Cooke 
 (June/July 1961, highest chart pos. 
 #16 Cash Box/#17 Hot 100/#20 R&B

 Happy Mother's Day, Helen! 

 We love you and miss you! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Can't You Hear, Can't You Hear the Thunder?
Jessica M. Comes From a Land Down Under!





I'm sure you know the first two ladies, but might not have heard of the third.
Australia born and raised Jessica Mauboy, also an actress, is better known
as a recording artist. I discovered Jessica a few years ago while doing
research for my year long series on modern dance-pop. I like so many
of Jessica's recordings that I was inspired to devote an entire post to her.

Released in 2008,
Jessica Mauboy's
debut studio album
Been Waiting was the
second highest selling
Australian album of 2009.
Been Waiting yielded
"Burn," Jessica's first
#1 charting hit single.

"Burn" - Jessica Mauboy
(Dec. 2008, highest
chart pos. #1 Aus,
from Nov. 2008
album Been Waiting)

Along with singing and acting, Jessica is known for her good girl image
and philanthropy. Her father is Indonesian and her mother is Indigenous
Australian. Jessica is considered a role model for young women and for
Australia's Indigenous population. In 2011 Jess teamed up with British
R&B artist Jay Sean on "What Happened To Us," the third single
from Jessica's second studio album Get 'Em Girls.

"What Happened To Us" - Jessica Mauboy ft. Jay Sean
(Mar. 2011, highest chart pos. #14 Australia,
from Nov. 2010 album Get 'Em Girls)

In the fall of 2013 Jessica released her third studio album Beautiful.

The lead single, an up tempo dance-pop number entitled
"To the End of the Earth," co-written by Jess along with
three other song scribes, brushed the Aussie top 20.

"To the End of the Earth" - Jessica Mauboy
(July/Aug. 2013,  highest chart pos. #21 Australia,
from Oct. 2013 album Beautiful)

"Pop a Bottle (Fill Me Up)," another song from Beautiful, rocketed to #2
in Australia, becoming Jessica's highest charting single since "Burn" in 2008.

With such a suggestive title and lyrics that include:

I don't want to wait until the weekend comes
just so I can pop a bottle of your love
take another shot I never get enough
come on and fill me up fill me up can imagine what you'd see in a video made by certain other rappers
and hip hoppers we could name. Curiously, Jessica was criticized by some
people for keeping this and her other vids PG-rated. Have a look.

"Pop a Bottle (Fill Me Up)" - Jessica Mauboy
(Sept. 2013, highest chart pos. #2 Australia,
from Oct. 2013 album Beautiful)

One reviewer described the Beautiful album's title song as "the perfect Summer
club track." Another called it "an addictive track that is bound to be stuck in
your head for days on end." I can testify to that because I have awakened
some mornings with the song playing on repeat in my noggin. If I had to
pick one word to sum up this song it would be...hmmm... "Beautiful."

"Beautiful" - Jessica Mauboy
(Nov. 2013, highest chart pos. #46 Australia,
from October 2013 album Beautiful)

A year after its release, Jessica's Beautiful album was re-released as a
Platinum edition containing five additional songs including her eighth
top 10 single "Can I Get a Moment?" The zesty song and music video
were inspired by artists that influenced Jessica including Beyoncé,
Mariah Carey and the R&B divas of the classic Motown era.

"Can I Get a Moment?" - Jessica Mauboy
(Oct./Nov. 2014, highest chart pos. #5 Australia,
from Nov. 2014 Platinum edition of Beautiful)

"Can I Get a Moment?"

"Can I Get a Witness?"

Can we agree that Jess is a

real ragin' roo of a ripper?

Can't you hear the thunder

from this girl down under?

An exciting singer and an excellent role model
for young people, Jessica Mauboy joins Naomi Watts
and Nicole Kidman on my list of Australia's best exports.

Have a Shady day!