In Club 99, I look at songs that peaked at position #99 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and help to put them into context. Together we can decide if the song deserved more success or got too much. The Song: “Pickle Up A Doodle” The Artist: Teresa Brewer #99 Chart Date: September 1, 1958 I don't know that this entry necessarily counts as a novelty song, but it sure sounds like one upon first listen. The problem with making that determination is that at this point in American music history, the definition of pop music was much broader and more inclusive than it is today. So I'll let you listen and make that call yourself: Any idea? Pop? Novelty? Traditional? A little of each? It's fun no matter what you call it, albeit somewhat inconsequential. I tracked down a liv
Before We Was Fab looks at some of the best songs of the pre-Beatles era, in search of great singles that have largely been forgotten. If you've heard of Benny Spellman at all, chances are it's because of his association with groups such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, The O'Jays, or The Hollies -- all of whom covered his songs. As it happens, I was listening to the iconic Who album Live at Leeds and paid particular attention to their live rendition of "Fortune Teller." The Who, as with many English rock bands of the time, had a deep love and appreciation for popular and obscure R&B, and that's where "Fortune Teller" comes in. The song was written by the great Allen Toussaint under the pseudonym Naomi Neville, and was first recorded by Spellman as the B-side of his only hit si
In Club 99, I look at songs that peaked at position #99 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and help to put them into context. Together we can decide if the song deserved more success or got too much. The Song: “Nothing in the World" The Artist: Nat King Cole #99 Chart Date: August 11, 1958 Just one week after our last entry peaked at #99 on the Billboard Hot 100, one of the 20th century's greatest crooners grabbed the spot. And my friends, this is about as smooth and sumptuous a recording as we're likely to come across during this project. As far as I can tell, this song was actually the B-side to "Acércate Más (Come Closer to Me)", released on Capitol Records F4004, which itself peaked at #41 in September 1958. In addition to Cole's smoother-than-butter vocals,
In Club 99, I look at songs that peaked at position #99 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and help to put them into context. Together we can decide if the song deserved more success or got too much. The Song: "I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)" The Artist: Billy Williams #99 Chart Date: August 4, 1958 Today's entry is the first #99 in the Billboard Hot 100 era, "I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)" by Billy Williams. Williams charted several times going back to the mid-1940s, but by far his biggest hit was "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter," which hit #3 in the summer of 1957. Just over one year later he released "I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)" as the b-side of "It's Prayin' Time." In just about every important way, "I'll Get By" is a carbon c
Because I can't get enough of Spotify playlists or of gathering things into lists, I have undertaken what I think you'll agree is a great public service that combines those two loves. I am in the process of creating playlists -- which I've helpfully dubbed "Ultimate Hit Collection" -- that gather together every song to chart in the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100 U.S. singles chart. These aren't your typical hits playlists, in that I'm not curating but collecting. That means if a song ever got into the top 10 and it's on Spotify, it goes into the playlist. So you get to hear some all-time classics and some head-scratching dross. Thus far I've completed my playlists for the 1980s, am almost halfway through the '70s, and have just started the '60s. I may one day get to the 1990s but that...