Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I was just sitting at the old ‘puter, listening to some tunes on the Media Player while my wonderful wife was watching Rachel Ray, and it hit me like a fast running Lionel train. It was on this date, December 31, 1996, when Adrienne said, lets get hooked up to the Internet. And so we did.
Back then we had a 386 computer with a whopping 40 megabyte hard drive. That’s right I said 40 megabytes. I think we paid some outlandish amount of money for that hard drive. We loaded the AOL start-up disc into the 3 ½ inch floppy drive (remember those things) and signed on at a lighting fast 9600 baud speed. The rest is history.
The very first web site I went to was the Lionel Trains web page. I had the URL from a Lionel catalog from 1986. I think it took two weeks for the web page to load up back then. Talk about your coffee break. A day or two later, I established my own E-mail
and Delwoodjef was born.
It was a few weeks later when I put out a requests somewhere on AOL for information on a DooWop message board. I got an E-mail from a guy named DooWopPop; he directed me to the DooWop Diner on the AOL Message Boards and the insanity grew from there.
My reputation as a master of misspelling grew and grew; I believe I crowned myself with the label, “The Butcher of Spelling.” A short time after that I got the name “The DooWop PostMan.” I can’t tell you how many people thought I worked for the Post Office. Wish I did.
I remember when I had my old web site and I did a “Vocal Group Gallery” page that took four weeks and six pots of coffee to load up on that old computer; even the next system I got crawled along with that 56K modem.
12 years later, we all speed around the Internet at lightning fast rates. The old web site is long gone, although I still have the individual pages on discs. I would recreate it but I was chastised by a web designer for poor design techniques. Back in 1998, it was bright colors and flashy graphics for me. Today I’m proud to be a part of the blogesphere, sharing what I know about this great music of the 50’s and 60’s, some thoughts on baseball cards, a lot about Lionel Trains, and anything else I feel like talking about.
I’d already reacquainted myself with several old friends through this blog. So it looks initially to be a good thing. As I said earlier, I’m looking forward to 2009 and some things I’ve wanted to do on the Internet for a long time.
So, please stand by.
After the first of the year, I will begin to do my own YouTube videos for the blog. My plan is to do some sort of podcast also. Gotta keep up with the Mystery Trainwreck.
For now, we say Happy New Year, 2009 to each and every one of you out there in cyberspace. May the good Lord bring you what you need for a prosperous 2009.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Finally we have Mike Laga from the '87 Topps set. Mike is the only player from any team to hit a ball totally out of Busch Stadium number 2. Unfortunately, it was a foul ball; but it was a historic foul ball non-the-less. Hope you all enjoy them; hope it warms you up if you're cold this December day.
Hope you enjoy the trains.
These two are from my friend Dan in Overland MO. He has an outstanding Christmas display in his front yard which includes a wonderful garden railroad that runs out from his basement and around the front yard. What a train show.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
I’ve been known by a lot of nicknames through the years; most of them can be talked about in public. One of the nicknames I’ll never forget is “Jocko.”
Back in 1971, I was proud to be a part of one of those 50’s tribute groups. We called ourselves MF and the Galaxies. Before I go any further, I must point out that “MF” was for Mike Franey, one of our lead vocalists. So get the minds out of the gutter. Gutters are for bowling balls. There were times when I had the pleasure of taking the lead on vocals; well I needed a name and it had to be a 50’s type nickname. So “Jocko” was born. The Galaxies sang a lot of DooWop and Rock & Roll from the 50’s and early 60’s. We even got aroud to singing the greatest song of them all, "I Wonder Why!"
The first time we sang, we used hairspray and something I came across called “Fitch Grease Hair Tonic.” When we put that stuff on our hair, I recall it just rolling down our faces. It added to the effect. Later we switched to good old Brylcream. The group went our separate ways after doing some fun shows through the 70’s. Unfortunately, our main lead vocalist, “MF” aka Mike Franey passed away in 1987. We were never able to recover after that tragedy.
Mike, and all the members of MF and the Galaxies, are more of those people that I blame for my fascination of the music of the 50’s and early 60’s.
I’ve been rummaging through my archived files looking for pictures of the Galaxies. So far, I’ve come across one of them, partly thanks to Sully, one of the followers of this blog. There was a comment from my first post saying, “Long Live MF and the Galaxies.” To this person, who obviously was around back then, I dedicate this post. Drop me an E-mail Poleprech, especially if you are one of our missing Galaxies. In the meantime, I’ll keep looking for those other pics of the group. I have them somewhere in a back up file.
Rock on everyone!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
My cure for Christmas music blues is to embrace those great Rock & Roll Christmas songs and those off the wall Novelty Christmas records. I also enjoy anything the radio does not overplay. With this in mind, I give you my short list of must have Christmas CDs.
“A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector,” The Phil Spector Christmas Album is the quintessential Rock & Roll Christmas record. In my opinion, it’s the one record this is sometimes overplayed on these ‘All Christmas’ Holiday formatted radio stations. It’s also the record that all other Rock & Roll Christmas records strive to be. Darlene Love sings her classic, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” The Chrystals, Ronettes, and Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans will sing their Holiday classics for you. It’ll give you those great Christmas goose bumps.
My next must have pick is kind of a sleeper for a lot of people. It’s Dion’s “Rock & Roll Christmas.” The highlight of this gem is Dion’s rendition of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town;” he gives Springsteen a run for his money on this one. I love Dion’s versions of “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night” as well. This CD rocks.
In 1978, a local station here in St. Louis, started to play a song called “Mary’s Boy Child, O My Lord” from a British group, Boney M. Many people here went nuts over this one. I myself included. I managed to find the single on Sire. Several years later, I discovered “The Most Beautiful Christmas Songs Of The World,” Boney M’s Christmas CD. This one might be a little harder to find; but it’s well worth the search. And that’s half the fun anyway.
“The Beach Boys Ultimate Christmas” is a collection of just about everything the boys from California recorded for the Holidays on Capital, and later on their Brother label. This is the Beach Boys Christmas CD to have in your collection. It sounds better than any other Beach Boys Christmas music on any other CD that I have in my collection. Again, this one brings on the Christmas goose bumps when I hear it.
“The Ultimate Christmas Album” volumes 1 through 6 from Collectables Records should be a part of any decent Holiday CD collection. There are so many great Christmas, and New Years, songs that I can’t mention them right now; so I’ll just point out a few. On Volume 1 you get The Four Seasons’ version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” along with Stevie Wonder singing “What Christmas Means to Me” and Brook Benton sounding a lot like Nat King Cole on “This Time of the Year.” Volume 2 is filled with gems like Andy Williams classic, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” Dean Martin with the best rendition of “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” and an outstanding DooWop version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Raindeer” by a group called the Mellodeers. Volume 3 brings Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” and an overlooked gem from Lou Christie and the University of Pittsburgh’s Men’s Glee Club. While I do not have the other 3 volumes in my collection, I’ve seen the track listings and they live up to the first 3 CDs. These six discs can be found at http://www.oldies.com/.
The last one I mention here is “A Christmas Party with Eddie G.” If you see this CD out there in stores or on the web, and you like light hearted Christmas music, take my advice and buy it. You might want to buy several copies and give them to your friends. There’s lunacy and total Christmas insanity throughout this collection. The highlight on this disc is a Three Stoogies spoof that goes through the entire recording. So "spread out" and find this CD.
Here’s a few honorable mentions on the Holiday CD list.
“Dr. Demento’s Greatest Christmas Novelty CD of All Time” and “Dr. Demento’s Holidays in Dementia;” the titles speak for themselves.
“Christmas “ by Bruce Cockburn is a Folk/Bluegrass masterpiece highlighted by “Mary Had a Baby.”
“Billboard’s Rock & Roll Christmas” is another fine collection of Holiday gems.
There is a certain amount of repetition with some of these collections. That’s a problem whenever you start to collect great music. But, it’s a good problem. You should be able to find this CD on Amazon or some other on-line music store; you should find this classic at Best Buy or other retail stores.
So let me be the one millionth person to say Merry Christmas to all. I know I'm two weeks early, but what the hey!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Pop Culture Safari: http://popculturesafari.blogspot.com/
This is a neat site with a lot of things to jog the old memory.
Norm's Train Blog: http://normstrains.blogspot.com/
Norm Charbonneau is my Lionel Trains hero. His layout is outstanding.
Music You (Possibly) Won't Hear Anywhere Else: http://musicyouwont.blogspot.com/
The title says it all.
The Topps Archives: http://toppsarchives.blogspot.com/
One of the best trading cards sites I've come across. Topps made cards for almost everything.
The Italian American Baby Boomer Club: http://www.iabbc.com/
I'm not Italian, but this is the first web site to link back to this blog. Thanks!
Probe Is Turning On the People: http://www.philxmilstein.com/probe/index.htm
What a collection of off the wall music.
I’ll be sharing more stuff periodically so keep watching.
Monday, December 8, 2008
But there’s an awful lot of outstanding DooWop music that I just don’t recall hearing on local radio stations back then. So who do I blame for my obsession with DooWop? Well, I’d point the finger to the before-mentioned Larry Miller; for it was on his show that I would first hear The Chandellears from Kansas City and the great “Blueberry Sweet,” and “Long Tall Girl” by The Carnations; that song didn’t get a lot of airplay around here. I’d also have to point a finger at a few people who I crossed paths with right here on the Internet. I’d like to single out three people who have since passed away; I wish I had gotten the opportunity to meet all three. I did meet one of them in person. Let me explain further.
First I’d like to mention a gentleman by the name of Ron Tuskan, or as we knew him back in the days of the old AOL DooWop Diner, "RTUSKAN." Ron sent me a tape of a CD that changed me forever. The disc is Mr. Maestro’s “Memory Lane.” To this day, it remains one of my favorite CD compilations of all time. The title track “Memory Lane” came from a group I knew as The Hippies on Parkway records in 1963. I learned it was actually recorded in 1959. It was reissued on Parkway and had moderate air play in ’63 here in St. Louis. A few other songs on this CD were known to me, including “A Casual Look” from the Six Teens, “W-P-L-J” by The 4 Deuces, and The Rainbows “Mary Lee.”
However, it was the rest of the tracks on this disc that totally blew me away and left me wanting more, More, MORE! I’ll mention just a few songs: “Dance, Dance, Dance” by Scott Stevens & the Cavaliers, Baby, I Love You So” from Joe Weaver and the Don Juans, “Pledge of a Fool” from The Barons, “Now that I Found You” by The Willows, “There Goes (a Pretty Girl)” by The Enchanters, “Kiss and Make Up” by the Crowns, a group I would later learn would become The Drifters, the early 60’s version, “Something Cool” from The Academincs, “Shirley” by John Fred & the Playboy Band, and yep that’s John Fred of “Judy In Disguise with Diamonds” fame, plus two songs that simply put me in orbit: The Students “That’s How I Feel” and “Rainy Day Bells” from The Globetrotters; a song shrouded in mystery even today. I’m still not sure which story to believe about it
Ron sending me that tape, plus others I got from various folks I met through the net, left me starving for more DooWop gems.
Then there was Marsha Grant, aka "MGDOOWOP." I did get the fortune to meet this East coast DooWop queen back in 1998 when she came to visit me here in St. Louis. Marsha was another person who put me on to many, many songs, too numerous to mention.
Finally, I proudly mention Jerry Skokandich aka "Tuneman." I deeply regret never having the pleasure of meeting Jerry in person; however, we corresponded a great deal in the late 90’s and up until his untimely death. Jerry led me to discover so many great DooWop tunes I’d never heard before. He also was mainly responsible for my increased admiration of those wonderful DooWop Ballads. We’d go round and round via E-mail about ballads vs. up-tempo DooWops. I recall Jerry telling me that he once preferred the more upbeat, familiar music, and then he too discovered those more obscure ballads, and even some great up-tempo sides as well. This guy knew his stuff and was more than generous when it came to passing the knowledge along. Jerry, I know you’d be proud of me; my list of most favorite DooWop tunes is now filled with those dreamy ballads; thanks in a great part to you my friend.
Jerry turned me on to those great Relic Record survey’s that were done back in the 1990’s. Through Jerry, and a couple of other Internet friends, I was even able to hear the broadcast of the last few shows they did. That was quite enlightening for my musical education. Recently Hometown AOL shut its doors; we lost a number of great web sites when this happened. But thanks to Big Jack at the DooWop Café, Jerry’s outstanding “Rhythm and Blues Highway” is once again available. He spent a great deal of time and effort putting this site together; and I’ve been assured that is has been recreated with Jerry’s wife’s permission and is now available at http://www.doowopcafe.net/; you can find the link to the R&B Highway on the left hand side of the page. Thank you Jack.
There are so many other people whom I’d love to mention or blame for putting me on the road to this great music. I’ll drop a few more names from time to time. So again, stick around and see if I drop your name.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this thing, when I was a kid I listened to the radio more than anything else. The radio has been a mighty good friend of mine all my life. When Rock & Roll was still in the growing stage in the late 50’s, the radio stations played hits from Rock, Pop, Country, Folk, Early R&B, and Novelty records. So I got to hear it all. This type of formatting continued into the early 60’s when, at least in St. Louis, stations began to go in separate directions such asTop 40, Country, R&B, and Easy Listening. Then in 1964, things really changed with the British Invasion, the rise of Motown, the Folk music era, and other musical trends.
The funny thing for me was that by listening to The Beatles, The Beach Boys and other big artists of the mid 60’s, my desire to go back to the beginning of Rock & Roll and pick up on the sounds that I missed when this music was new, became more important. For instance, hearing The Beatles singing those Carl Perkins’ songs that I’d not heard back in the day of “Blue Suede Shoes,” would cause me to want to hear those songs performed by Perkins himself. The same was true with The Beatles covers of Larry Williams’ “Slow Down,” “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” and “Bad Boy,” along with Buddy Holly’s “Words of Love.” These songs and others, made me hungry for more of the lesser known early songs from the legends of Rock & Roll, and those artists and groups who were not as well known.
In the beginning of the decade of the 70’s, several events would change the way I looked at the Rock & Roll era for ever. KADI, An FM radio station here in St. Louis, hired a guy from New York City whose name was Larry Miller. Miller began to play those old 45’s from the 50’s and early 60’s during his program. After a few weeks, this show evolved into what would become the Sunday Night Oldies Show. Larry Miller played the songs I was longing to hear for years. He played those Carl Perkins songs I’d not heard along with Buddy Holly, Larry Williams, Little Richard, Elvis, and Dion & the Belmonts, to name a few. Miller also introduced the local audience to some vocal group music that had not hit the airwaves here in St. Louis back in the 50’s.
These lesser known songs really wet my whistle and I started to have a desire to acquire them. So began the great hunt for the old music. I’d rummage through the “cut outs” section in any store that had one. I would buy up LPs that had one or two songs I knew, and a bunch of others I did not recognize by their titles. I’d take these records home and play them. To my surprise and delight, I’d find that Larry Miller was playing a lot of these songs on his Sunday Night Oldies Show.
The desire to search the bargain bins in stores such as E.J. Korvette, Arlands, Viscount Records, and later Camelot Music and Peaches would stay with me to this day. If there was a rack of LPs for $2.00 or less, I’d thumb through them, hoping to strike gold.
So I guess Larry Miller is partially to blame for the state of “musical” mind that I am in today.
There are other people, both living and deceased, who I hold personally responsible for fueling the flames of my continuing hunger for great old Rock & Roll records. I will mention these people as I proceed with these pages. So stay tuned to this blog and see if your name shows up on list. You never know.
Friday, December 5, 2008
I have more books that I plan to share with you as we go along. I also appreciate any feedback that you all have. I'm trying to lay the groundwork for future topics of interest.
This is another book that I believe might not be in print. Again I have seen copies on EBay and Amazon. I think it is also available with a Collectables Records box set. I can't remember which one. Check them out at http://www.oldies.com/.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
When I was young, it was a ritual for me every November, to go to Johnson’s Electric Trains on Chippewa in South St. Louis, and get my copy of the current Lionel Trains catalog. It would not be until I was a grown man that I would learn how these works of art were referred to as “wish lists.” I would peruse each catalog and marvel at the great trains Lionel was offering for the Holiday season. For many years, I managed to hang on to each year’s catalogs. Then, along came those teenage years when I would discard those fond memories of my youth.
The Lionel Catalog Archive allows me to recapture those fond memories; and I didn’t have to pay as much for the CD ROM as I would have to get good copies of each year’s catalog. It’s another trip down memory lane for me. Thanks to John Holtmann of HSL right here in St. Louis, for all your hard work on this project. If you love Lionel Trains as I do, this is a must have. You can check it out at http://www.hslinc.com/.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Well this evening I'm in the year 1958, one of my absolute favorite years for music, and here's what I'm hearing on the old headset.
Chapel of Dreams - Dubs
Woodchoppers' Ball - Honky Tonkers
A Big Hunk of Love - Elvis Presley
Beep Beep - Playmates
Stupid Cupid - Connie Frances
Swinging Shepheard Blues - Johnny Pate
Yellow Dog Blues - Johnny Maddox
You Cheated - The Shields
Suzy Q - Dale Hawkins
Lonely Boy - Ronnie Jones & the Classmates
Itchy Twitchy Feeling - Bobby Hendricks
That Old Black Magic - Louis Prima & Keely Smith
So Tough - The Original Casuals
Down the Aisle of Love - The Quintones
Some great DooWop, a little Rockabilly, several Pop classics, those great Instromentals, and of course, a little Elvis
Like I said, I love all kinds of music from this era. They played it all on the same radio stations back then.
Well that's all for tonight.
BTW: How's the old "Butcher of Spelling" doing?
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
After over 50+ years of listening to all this great Rock & Roll music, I have come to one conclusion about the greatest record ever made. This is the song that surpasses others. To this day, I get goose bumps when I hear it on the radio or when it comes up on my media player.
It was a day in May 1958 when I first heard “I Wonder Why” by Dion and the Belmonts on American Bandstand. There they were, sporting white shoes and belting this tune out that had me mesmerized. As time went by, my older brother and I would sing the song; just imagine two kids trying to do a song with four parts. Well maybe you shouldn’t imagine it. We got a copy of the old gray Laurie single with that black lettering. Man we must have worn it out. As years past, I foolishly traded the 45 away for what song, I can’t remember.
Last year, I purchased the 45 of "I Wonder Why" on the original gray and black Laurie records label off of E-Bay for $15.00. I mean after all, it was the 50th anniversary of the release of the greatest record ever made; I thought I might as well own a copy of Laurie 45 #3013 on the original label.
As so I do.
Like other kids back then, I collected Baseball cards, from ’58 to ’63 and then some. And like other kids I loved to play with those Lionel Trains we’d put up over the Christmas Holidays. As time went by, people who thought they were helping me grow up, told me to stop listening to that music, stop collecting those Baseball cards, and definitely stop playing with those Lionel Trains. Like so many others, I listened to them. Only later to learn I should have never given those things up.
It’s been over 50 years and while I don’t have those old Baseball cards, I still have some of our family Lionel Trains and I’ve managed to once again acquire that great music I listened to back then on the radio.
And that brings me to today; after 11 years surfing the net, I’ve found a way to let it all out; to tell everyone about those great songs from that great musical era that was the 50’s and 60’s. I’ve managed to compile a lot of information inside this old head of mine and it’s time to share it with the world.
Oh yes, on the way I’ll mention those great Baseball cards and let’s not forget those Lionel Trains too.
That’s what all of this is about; the music, the memories, the feeling of those wonderful care-free years.