Wednesday, September 30, 2020

I've Joined the Billie Club!

Evie Sands,
the blue-eyed soul
singer, songwriter
and guitarist you
met in the two
previous posts,
was first to record
"Billy Sunshine"
and "Angel Of
The Morning."

Both of those songs were covered by UK vocalist Billie Davis,
one of the leading female voices of the 60s Mod Scene.
Today I begin a two-part series dedicated to the
lovely and talented miss Davis.

"Billy Sunshine" - Billie Davis
(from 1970 album Billie Davis & Mar. 2005
album Tell Him: The Decca Years)

Influenced by American girl groups and soul singers,
UK thrush Carol Hedges derived her stage name
Billie Davis from two famous American artists -
jazz legend Billie Holiday and entertainer
Sammy Davis Jr. 

In 1962 Billie Davis released her first single, a duet with Mike Sarne.

 Their record is a comical call and response style
novelty ditty entitled "Will I What?"

"Will I What?" - Mike Sarne featuring Billie Davis
(Aug. 1962, highest chart pos. #18 UK)

With her bobbed hair and trend setting fashions, Billie Davis
exemplified the London Mod Scene subculture of the early to mid 60s.

She toured with The Beatles
and Rolling Stones and
appeared with Herman's
Hermits, The Animals
and other British Invasion
recording acts in the 1965
UK movie Pop Gear...
U.S. title Go Go Mania.

From 1963 through 1965,
Billie released a series of
solo singles. in 1964 she
waxed "Whatcha' Gonna
Do," a song written and
originally recorded in
1956 by American blues
and R&B star Chuck Willis.
The LeRoys are credited as
the background vocalists
on Billie's single.

In this beautifully restored HD film clip, Billie performs
"Whatcha' Gonna Do" in a scene from Pop Gear. Follow the
 melody and you'll understand why Billie gives me fever!

"Whatcha' Gonna Do" - Billie Davis & the LeRoys
(Sept. 1964, uncharted, scene from 1965 UK
film Pop Gear aka Go Go Mania)

Billie is best known for her covers of two other American hits.

One is a rendition of "Tell Him," originally recorded by the Exciters.

The other is a jump blues number entitled "I Want You to be My Baby,"
originally a 1953 R&B hit for Louis Jordan and a top 20 pop chart
hit in 1955 for Lillian Briggs. The Billie Davis version was
given an updated Northern Soul arrangement. You are
about to witness Billie's electrifying performance
of the song on Spanish TV in early 1969.
Katy bar the door - Billie KILLS! 

"I Want You to Be My Baby" - Billie Davis
(Oct./Nov. 1968, highest chart pos. #33 UK,
early 1969 perf. on Spanish TV )

Swings Like a
Pendulum Do.
Billie's Makin'
Great Records
Two by Two!

At the beginning of 1966,
Billie formed a duo with
Keith Powell, an act billed
as Keith & Billie. Keith
Powell was an underrated
blue-eyed soul man from
Birmingham, England,
who possessed a deep,
rich voice that reminds
me of Bill Medley of
the Righteous Brothers
and of Jerry Butler.


Keith Billie released three Northern Soul singles that covered classic
soul and R&B hits originally waxed by American artists. For their first
release, Keith Powell and Billie Davis mined the Stax catalog
 with a cover of the 1965 Rufus and Carla (Thomas)
recording "When You Move You Lose."

"When You Move You Lose" - Keith Powell And Billie Davis
(Jan. 1966, uncharted)

Flip the disc and you've got a killer bee, honey, the sweet soulful sound
of "Tastes Sour Don't It" aka "Taste Sour Don't It," a song written by
Jimmy Radcliffe and recorded in 1966 by Barbara Jean English,
former lead singer of a New Jersey girl group called the
Clickettes. Barbara's version remained unreleased
at the time, but Keith and Billie did a nice job
of resurrecting it on the B side of their
Piccadilly platter. Question:
Ever taste a sour donut?

"Tastes Sour Don't It" - Keith Powell And Billie Davis
 (Jan. 1966, uncharted B side of "When You Move You Lose")

Checking the scoreboard, Keith and Billie released 3 duet singles -
a total of 6 sides, all excellent - yet not a single one reached
the chart! Yep, it's par for the course in a world that tends
to overlook greatness and rewards mediocrity.

In the fall of 1967, Billie gained
a UK solo hit with her version
of "Angel of the Morning."
This, as you recall from an
earlier post, is the song
written by Chip Taylor,
first waxed by Evie Sands
 and successfully covered
by Merrilee Rush, Juice
Newton and other artists
in the U.S. and the UK.

"Angel of the Morning"
- Billie Davis
(Nov./Dec. 1967)

Stay tuned. Coming up in my next post...
more great English pop and soul in
Part 2 of my salute to Brit bird


Have a Shady day!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Hard Luck Angel: Part 2 of My Salute to
Underrated Blue-Eyed Soul Diva Evie Sands!


 "Take Me For A Little While" - Evie Sands 
 (Aug. 1965, highest chart pos. #114 Bubbling Under,  
 perf. on Oct. 9, 1965, ep. of Shivaree

 "I Can't Let Go" - Evie Sands 
 (Dec. 1965, uncharted, perf. on 
 Dec. 18, 1965 ep. of Shivaree

Welcome to Pt. 2 of my salute to Evie Sands!
Last time, in part one, you watched the New York based white soul
singer, songwriter and guitarist in appearances on the teen-oriented
music TV shows Hollywood A Go-Go and ShivareeAt the top of
this post you saw two more (and different) Evie Sands perfor-
mances on ShivareeNow here's a fifth rare clip of Evie on
 Hollywood A Go-Go. This song is the fab flip side of
"Take Me For A Little While." The excitement meter
is pegged as Evie Sands belts out--
"Run Home To Your Mama!"

 "Run Home To Your Mama" - Evie Sands 
 (B side of "Take Me For A Little While," perf. 
 on Oct. 9, 1965 ep. of Hollywood A Go-Go

Stateside Evie's career was stymied by a series of bad breaks,
but across the pond in Northern Soul dance clubs, her records
were played heavily. One of the most requested Evie slabs
is the Northern stormer "Picture Me Gone," a June 1966
single that failed to make the U.S. chart.

 "Picture Me Gone" - Evie Sands 
 (June 1966, uncharted) 

Evie Sands was the first
to record "Angel Of The
Morning," a song written
by Chip Taylor, younger
brother of Jon Voight,
star of the 1969 film
Midnight Cowboy.
Evie's "Angel Of
The Morning" 45
hit the street in
June of 1967.

Evie's original version of
"Angel Of The Morning"
deserved to be a hit, but
at the time of the single's
release, her record label,
 Cameo-Parkway, was
in the midst of a steady
decline and nearing bank-
ruptcy. Lacking adequate
promotion and distribution,
another great Evie Sands
record flopped and failed
to reach any of the charts.

 "Angel of the Morning" 
 - Evie Sands (June 1967, 

It didn't take long for another artist to release a version of the dramatic
ballad and eclipse Evie Sands' recording. It happened the following
summer when Merrilee Rush And The Turnabouts hit the top 10
on Billboard and the top 3 on Cash Box with their single.

 "Angel of the Morning" - Merrilee Rush And The Turnabouts 
 (June 1968, highest chart pos. #3 Cash Box/#7 Hot 100

The most successful version of "Angel" was recorded more than
a decade later by pop/country singer and songwriter Juice Newton.
In the spring of 1981 Juice's single reached the top 5 on the
Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

 "Angel of the Morning" Juice Newton 
 (April/May 1981, highest chart pos. #2 Cash Box/#4 Hot 100, 
 Mar. 6, 1981, perf. on The Midnight Special

To conclude my tribute
to the music of Evie Sands,
I present two songs from
her 1970 album Any Way
That You Want Me. First
here is Evie's glorious
remake of one of her
signature songs "Take
Me For A Little While."

 "Take Me For A Little 
 While" - Evie Sands 
 (May 1970, from 
 album Any Way 
 That You Want Me

"But You Know I Love You" was a top 20 hit for Kenny Rogers and his group
The First Edition in 1969. Listen to the superb vocal and arrangement on Evie's
version. Released as a single in 1970, Evie's version merely Bubbled Under.
Shady sez a platter this pleasing should have peaked high in the Hot 100!

 "But You Know I Love You" - Evie Sands 
 (Mar./Apr. 1970, highest chart pos. #110 Bubbling Under
 from 1970 album Any Way That You Want Me

Evie Sands has more soul and more talent
than any hundred of today's dance-poppers.

The proof is in the wax.

Have a Shady day!

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Six Degrees of Evie Sands

 White soul artist Evie Sands was still in her teens 

 when she made her greatest recordings. 

The talented
Brooklyn born
singer, songwriter
and guitarist
deserved stardom,
but it eluded her,
thanks to a series
of career setbacks.

In this 2-part series I am proud to present what I think
are Evie Sands' greatest recordings, most of them
uncharted, along with worthy covers of her
originals made by other artists.

First, here's a rarity - Evie's first record released in June, 1963,
when she was only age 16. With the song slowed down to
popcorn tempo for use in Euro clubs, Evie sounds
 a little like Jackie Wilson as she introduces
a new dance called "The Roll."

 "The Roll" - Evie Sands (June 1963, uncharted) 

Signed to the Blue Cat subsidiary of Red Bird Records,
home to the hit girl group The Shangri-Las, Evie Sands
recorded a song entitled "Take Me For a Little While."
A test pressing fell into the wrong hands and was
shopped to Chicago's Chess Records where R&B
vocalist Jackie Ross waxed the song and released
her single a week before Evie's original hit the
street. Radio stations were split on which
version to play. As a result, neither
record became a hit. Here's the
excellent single released
by Jackie Ross.

 "Take Me For a Little While" - Jackie Ross 
 (Aug. 1965, uncharted) 

Three years later another version of "Take Me For a Little While" cracked
the top 40, this one by the psychedelic blue-eyed soul band Vanilla Fudge.

 "Take Me For a Little While" - Vanilla Fudge 
 (Oct. 1968, highest chart pos. #38 Hot 100/#46 Cash Box

Now, let's listen to the best version of "Take Me" - the original version,
the definitive version, the Evie Sands version - a single that unfortunately
merely Bubbled Under the Hot 100 peaking at #114, In this vintage clip,
Evie performs the song on the music TV show Hollywood A Go-Go.

 "Take Me For a Little While" - Evie Sands 
 (Aug. 1965, highest chart pos. #114 Bubbling Under
 Oct. 9, 1965, perf. on Hollywood A Go-Go

On the back side of Evie's
"Take Me" hides a genuine
killer B. This one starts out
sounding like Johnny Rivers'
version of "Memphis." It also
seems to borrow from R&B
singer Timmy Shaw's 1964
hit "Gonna Send You Back
To Georgia (A City Slick)."
Listen now to Evie Sands
as she rips it up and shouts
the rhythm & blues singing
"Run Home To Your Mama."

 "Run Home To Your Mama" 
 - Evie Sands (B side of  "Take 
 Me For A Little While") 

In April of 1966 the English group the Hollies brushed the American
top 40 and reached #2 on the UK chart with the song "I Can't Let Go."

 "I Can't Let Go" - The Hollies 
 (Apr./May 1966, highest chart pos. #42 Hot 100/#59 Cash Box

Many people didn't realize back
then and don't know now that
Evie Sands was first to record
the song. I've posted the rare
stereo mix of this sensational
blue-eyed soul classic, a slab
that somehow failed to reach
the chart - didn't even Bubble
Under! Listen now to Shady's
Pick to Click - Evie Sands with
backing vocals by (I believe)
The Jelly Beans as they do--
"I Can't Let Go!" 

 "I Can't Let Go" 
 - Evie Sands 
 (Nov. 1965, uncharted) 

Let's flip that Blue Cat platter and hear another soulful song by Evie
and see her in another exciting live television performance in 1965.
It's the week before Christmas and Evie is wowing the crowd
on Shivaree testifyin' -- "You've Got Me Up Tight."

 "You've Got Me Up Tight" - Evie Sands 
 (Nov. 1965, B side of "I Can't Let Go," 
 perf. on Dec. 18, 1965, ep. of Shivaree

 Stick around. Coming up in Pt. 2 
 you'll hear more great recordings 
 by Evie Sands and other artists 
 who covered her work. 

Have a Shady day!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Whodunit?... with Nick and Audrey Spitz -
Volume 2: Living Next Door To Alice

We're back... and that's a fack, Jack!

Hi, everybody! Remember us from last year?

We're those lovable Jennifer Aniston and
Adam Sandler look-alikes, Nick and
Audrey Spitz, stars of the hit Netflix
original movie Murder Mystery.

As you can see, we're still playing detective, examining
clues and trying to figure out who did the dastardly deed -
Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard or Mrs. Peacock.

While we try to solve our case, let's play another round of Whodunit.
Remember the rules? We'll give you the titles of 7 hit records along
with some additional clues. See if you can tell us Whodunit - who
is the artist, group or band that recorded the song?

If you're ready to play, let's put the pedal to the metal and find out
if you're just a garden variety gumshoe... or a first class dick.


In late 1982, "Everybody Wants You"
reached #1 on the Mainstream Rock
chart. The song was written and
recorded by a Boston area artist
known for his string of arena
rock hits of the 1980s which
also included "The Stroke"
and "Rock Me Tonite."



Recorded by a London-based glam rock band, the bubblegum pop single
"Sugar Baby Love" topped the UK chart four weeks in a row in May 1974.
In the late summer that year the single brushed the top 30 stateside.



In the summer of 1979 "Makin' It," the theme from a short-lived
television sitcom that revolved around the disco culture,
reached the top 5 on the pop chart. The song was
recorded by the actor who starred in the show.



In the early weeks of 1977 the single "Living Next Door To Alice"
went top 3 in the UK and reached the top 20 in America. It was
waxed by an English rock band led by singer Chris Norman.



In 1976 "Love Is The Drug," a single by an English glam
art rock band fronted by Bryan Ferry, peaked at #2
in the UK and cracked the top 30 stateside.



In the spring of 1981 the smooth groove ballad "How 'Bout Us"
went top 5 R&B and top 10 pop. The song was recorded by a
seven member R&B band named after their hometown in Illinois.



In 1963 this Scottish singer was billed as Johnny Cymbal when he
gained a top 20 hit in the U.S. with the novelty rock 'n' roll number
"Mr. Bass Man." In early 1969, using a different stage name, he
scored a top 10 hit with the bubblegum ditty "Cinnamon."




Around Christmas, 1982, the single "Everybody Wants You" recorded by
this Beantown rocker topped the Mainstream Rock chart. His name is


"Everybody Wants You" - Billy Squier
(Dec. 1982, highest chart pos. #1 Mainstream Rock,
#31 Cash Box/#32 Hot 100)


In 1974 these glam rockers from London topped the UK chart with
the bubblegum pop song "Sugar Baby Love," a single that made
a run at the top 30 in the U.S. They were known as


"Sugar Baby Love" - The Rubettes
(Aug./Sept. 1974, highest chart pos.
#30 Cash Box/#37 Hot 100/#1 UK)


He sang the theme song and starred in the disco oriented 1979 sitcom Makin' It.
The TV series lasted only eight episodes because the U.S. was experiencing a
backlash against disco. Watch Erik Estrada as he does his best Travolta
in episode 1 of season 2 of CHiPs dancing to the song made famous by


"Makin' It" - David Naughton
(June/July 1979, highest chart pos. #5 Hot 100 & Cash Box,
scene from Sept. 16, 1978, ep. of TV series CHiPs)


Led by English soft rock singer Chris Norman, this band had a hit
on both sides of the pond in 1977 with "Living Next Door To Alice."
The band's name is


"Living Next Door To Alice" - Smokie
(Jan./Feb. 1977, highest chart pos. #18 Cash Box/#25 Hot 100/#3 UK)


In the mid and late 80s, British singer and songwriter Bryan Ferry
had a successful career as a solo recording artist. Before that he
was frontman of the glam rock band that had a top 3 hit in the
UK and a top 30 hit in the U.S. with "Love Is The Drug."
They called themselves


"Love Is The Drug" - Roxy Music
(Feb./Mar. 1976, highest chart pos.
#24 Cash Box/#30 Hot 100/#2 UK)


In 1981 their quiet storm ballad "How 'Bout Us" was a crossover hit.
They took their name from their hometown in Illinois. They are


"How 'Bout Us" - Champagne
(Apr./May 1981, highest chart pos.
#4 R&B/#10 Cash Box/#12 Hot 100)


In the early 60s he was known as Johnny Cymbal and performed
rock 'n' roll.  In 1969 he scored a top 10 bubblegum pop hit
with "Cinnamon" using the stage name


"Cinnamon" - Derek
(Dec. 1968/Jan. 1969, highest chart pos.
#10 Cash Box/#11 Hot 100)

Okay let's find out how well you did on the quiz.

Use the scoring system below to determine
your music detective I.Q.


Holy moly, if you correctly named all 7 artists, you're a super sleuth!
You will be inducted into the Music Detective Hall of Fame
and the Whodunit Record Book.


BOOM! No shame whatsoever. I spy a budding private eye. You put the
Mike Hammer down. Charlie Chan - U Da Man. Way to go, Columbo!


Nice try, Sherlock! You're a middling, mediocre Magnum, P.I.
Looks like Popeye Doyle could use a little oil. You're no
Dick Tracy and you sure as hell aren't Cagney & Lacey!


What the hay, at least you gave it your best shot (and failed).
Nancy Drew sure ain't you! Philip Trent got up and went.
Adrian Monk got no spunk. Inspector Clouseau's
got a long way to go!


No! Not good! Bad! Face it. You're a defective detective!
Boston Blackie? Not exactly! Bulldog Drummond's got fleas!
Philip Marlowe set the bar low!


TIMBER! You flunked the course! Sam Spade fell asleep in the shade.
Holy dumbed-down Barney Fife, Batman! Peter Gunn ain't got none.
Nero Wolfe's been outfoxed. Kojak? NO, Jack!

Shhhhhh! We need you to keep this on the down low because we're still
working our Murder Mystery, but you'll be happy to know that we'll be
back soon to play another exciting game of Whodunit? Stick around! 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Strange Magic Being Erica!

Hi! My name is Erica Strange.

I'm the main
character on
the Canadian
TV dramedy

Being Erica.

My life, in a nutshell...
not hazelnut... because
I'm allergic, is as follows.
I am a single 30-something
woman, unlucky in career
& unlucky in love, that is,
until I met a mysterious
therapist, Dr. Tom, who,
through some kind of
strange magic, is able
to transport me back to
the past so that I can
have do-overs and fix
my greatest regrets.

Things are definitely looking up for me...
and for you. I just landed a new job as a
member of The Shady Bunch deejay staff.
 Starting next year, I will be doing for you
on my radio show what Dr. Tom does for
me on my TV show. I'll be transporting
you back to the past and enabling you
to re-experience the soundtrack of
your youth. The songs I play will
give you a much needed infusion
of energy and enthusiasm that
might have diminished over
the years, especially now
that the COVID - 19
threat has become
a daily challenge.

On my television show Being Erica
I change clothes a lot. I'll be doing
the same here on on S-P-M-M...
even though I'm on the radio.
Hey, don't laugh. It makes
perfect sense to me!


My new show at Shady's Place is called
Strange Magic
Being Erica
and today's preview gives you an idea
of the kind of music you'll hear. I'll
be playing great soft rock and love
songs of the 70s and 80s, like this
one by Peter Cetera and Chicago.

"You're The Inspiration" - Chicago
(Dec. 1984/Jan./Feb. 1985, highest chart pos. #3 Hot 100/#4 Cash Box)

From Christmas 1984 and the early weeks of 1985, the smooth sound of Chicago
and their top 3 hit "You're My Inspiration," Peter Cetera on lead vocals, a song
he co-wrote with David Foster. You're my inspiration, and I'm very happy to
have you with me as I run down the types of sounds I'll be presenting
next year on Strange Magic Being Erica.

This band is best known for its folk-rock
harmony and early 70s international hits
that included "A Horse With No Name,"
"Ventura Highway," "Lonely People,"
"Tin Man" and "Sister Golden Hair."


They're called America but they formed
in London and were originally a trio with
a Brit-American and two members from
the U.S. The band's popularity faded in
the late 70s, but they bounced back in
'82 with-- "You Can Do Magic."

"You Can Do Magic" - America
(Sept./Oct. 1982, highest chart pos. #7 Cash Box/#8 Hot 100)

Magic men, the band called America, with their top 10 single from
the fall of '82-- "You Can Do Magic." You're tuned to S-P-M-M and
I'm Erica Strange bringing you a preview of my new radio show
Strange Magic Being Erica premiering next year on this station.


On my TV series Being Erica, I have
quite a few encounters with players.
Here's the good kind of Player, the
LA soft rock band, with a #1 single
that spent an astonishing 32 weeks
on the chart. This record was one
of the few by a white artist to be
played on black radio stations,
earning the band a reputation
as a blue-eyed soul act. Here
they are, Player, with their
biggest hit and signature
song-- "Baby Come Back."

"Baby Come Back" - Player
(Dec. 1977/Jan. 1978, highest chart pos. #1 Hot 100 & Cash Box)

A monster hit from Christmas 1977 through the early weeks of '78...
"Baby Come Back" by Player. Incidentally one of the members
of Player, vocalist and bassist Ronn Moss, went on to assume
the long-running acting role of Ridge Forrester on the hit
daytime drama The Bold And The Beautiful.

You're listening to Strange Magic
Being Erica - The Preview here
on S-P-M-M, where we do more
rockin' and less tockin'.


Now let's hear some late 70s
American-made new wave rock
from the Boston band The Cars.
Written and sung by Ric Ocasek--
let the "Good Times Roll!"

"Good Times Roll" - The Cars
(Apr. 1979, highest chart pos. #41 Hot 100/#60 Cash Box)

We're letting' the good times roll on S-P-M-M, and those were Beantown's best,
The Cars, doing "Good Times Roll," a song from their debut album. At the time,
the single only brushed the top 40 in the U.S... but over the years it has grown
in popularity and today is counted as one of The Cars greatest hits.


On Being Erica I'm always looking
for Mr. Right. As luck would have it,
I found Mr. Wright here on today's
playlist. It's Gary Wright, former
member of the British hard rock
band Spooky Tooth. Gary also
played keyboards on ex-Beatle
George Harrison's epic triple
album All Things Must Pass.
With his hit mid 70s single
and album "Dream Weaver,"
Gary Wright helped make
the synthesizer a leading
instrument in rock and
pop music. Here's his
follow up single--
"Love Is Alive."

"Love Is Alive" - Gary Wright
(June/July 1976, highest chart pos. #2 Hot 100/#3 Cash Box)

"Love Is Alive" here on S-P-M-M...
Retrosonic Radio in Futuresonic
Stereo Surround, and you just felt
the spirit of '76 captured by the
Dream Weaver, Gary Wright,
on his second major hit single.
Strangely, "Love Is Alive" was
released before "Dream Weaver"
but charted after it, and spent an
amazing 27 weeks on the chart -
seven weeks longer than "Dream
Weaver," Gary's signature song.
Hung up at #2, "Love Is Alive"
was denied the top spot on the
chart by The Manhattans' single
"Kiss And Say Goodbye" and by
Elton John and Kiki Dee with
"Don't Go Breaking My Heart."


In late 1973 this song was everywhere - on the radio, on stereos and on
stage as The Edgar Winter Group played to rock fans who dug the sound.
Written by band member Dan Hartman who scored a disco hit with
"Instant Replay," this is the blues rock classic-- "Free Ride!"

"Free Ride" - The Edgar Winter Group
(Sept/Oct. 1973, highest chart pos. #10 Cash Box/#14 Hot 100)

From the fall of '73 you just heard
the fusion of blues & rock on the
song "Free Ride" by The Edgar
Winter Group, a single from
the band's hit 1972 album
They Only Come Out at Night.


That does it for my special sneak
preview. Thank you so much for
tuning in today. I'm Erica Strange.
Be sure to join me next year for
more sensational songs from the
sound track of your youth on my
new show Strange Magic Being
on S-P-M-M... where all
the cool oldies come to play.
Take care and I'll see you
right here in 2021!

"Strange Magic" - Electric Light Orchestra
(Apr./May 1976, highest chart pos. #14 Hot 100 & Cash Box)