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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gonna Go Back to the Sugar Shack

In today's post I have added links to youtube if you are interested in hearing some of the music that I am talking about.    

     In a post from last week I described how as I was growing up my musical taste was primarily developed according to what my parents had in their record collection.   I don't recall listening to the radio much, but I listened to my parents records on their hi-fi often.  There was always a wide variety of music to listen to so my musical taste became eclectic and I was pretty open-minded to hearing new music sounds.

       In elementary school I played in the school orchestra and took private violin lessons.  Also music appreciation periods in school introduced to classical and other forms of music.  I was becoming fairly well musically educated.  However, I was not really too aware of the rock and roll scene.  All of that changed in 1963 when I entered junior high school in San Diego.

       Almost a teenager entering a school mostly populated by those who were already teens was jolting.  Childhood was officially over.  I felt out of place.  Now the day consisted of several classrooms and several teachers instead of the security of one classroom with a teacher who knew you.  Now there was phys ed where we had to change into gym clothes and take communal showers, language class where I was going to learn Spanish, and school orchestra where I was no longer the best violinist in the lead chair.  It was like starting school all over again.

         One of the new experiences was a greater freedom at lunch.  There was a Snack Shack where we could buy tacos and hamburgers.  As we sat outside eating our lunches, music was being played over the loudspeakers.  Day after day I recall hearing one song, the big hit of the fall of 1963, and that song was      Sugar Shack by Jimmy Gilmer.  I don't remember hearing any other song.  For all I know "Sugar Shack" was the only song they ever played.  My musical sensibility was resisting the pop sounds I was hearing, but at the same time I couldn't help but kind of like it as well--just a little bit.  The teen chart hit sound was starting to worm its way inside of me.

          Less than two months after I started junior high my family moved to Indiana.  The transition was major, but occurring in the middle of the school year like it did it wasn't really that bad.  No more orchestra, but there was a sort of general music class that all 7th graders were required to be in.  But there was still the popular music that was starting to intrigue me.  And then came the British invasion.  I became hooked.

            I started buying 45 RPM records--those were smaller records with one song on each side.  They were less expensive than albums.  Then I started finding albums that were intriguing to a 13 year old male.  Early on I bought a knock off version of James Bond themes.  I also bought a series of novelty records by Frankie Stein  and his Ghouls.  It was instrumental beach dance music.  The one pictured here was Ghoul Music (1964) by Frankie Stein and his Ghouls.  Much of the music sounded alike and eventually I realized a lot of the songs were repeated from album to album and just had different names.  I still loved them at the time. 
Frankie Stein & his Ghouls Dreaming and Screaming




         In 1965 I graduated to a different type of more sophisticated instrumental music-- Herb Alpert and  the Tijuana Brass.   With an album cover that intrigued every adolescent boy, Whipped Cream provided hours of listening enjoyment for me.  I built a collection of Tijuana Brass.






       At this same time I was beginning to take note of my sister's Beatles records.  Those are the records she was collecting.  I had already began to appreciate some of the other English groups, but my sister owned the Beatles records.  Then I discovered one that I could appreciate.   The Chipmunks had been popular since the late 50s, and I had enjoyed their novelty songs.  Now as they performed the Beatles hits, the music of the Fab Four was mine too.  I could enjoy the harmonies Chipmunk style.
Alvin & the Chipmunks "All My Lovin'"



          From here something happens to my memory.  Music is everywhere and I am obsessed with it.  Are the dates on Google and other internet sources wrong?  I remember the time much differently than what the internet sources cite.  Here is what I remember.  I recall one very bizarre night in what I think is early 1966.  I am with my family traveling to Rochester, NY where we are to perform in the Shrine Circus.  It is the early hours of the morning and there is a great deal of snow.  My father has the radio tuned to a station that is playing some very interesting music.  First I hear "All My Loving" by the Chipmunks.  Then I hear a bright and peppy vocal quartet called The Sugar Shoppe singing a vaudeville sounding song called "Poor Poppa".   Then finally a hauntingly beautiful version of the Beatles song "A Hard Day's Night" performed by a sweet vocal duo call Tee and Cara.  I swear it was all there that early morning, lost and circling the snowed in city of Rochester, New York in the mid-winter of 1966. 



There was so much music then.  Everywhere.  It was on the radio in the car, on the school bus, and at home.  My mind was filling up with great songs and new sounds.  I began reading about music and watching it on television.  It was a long time ago and I seem to remember it all so well, but then as I think about it I begin to wonder:  How well do I really remember it all?  I should have written it all down, but I never thought I'd be trying to remember it all later.  I'll have to ask my mother and see if she can remember.
 Tee & Cara Hard Day's Night




One thing I do remember for sure is that in December of 1965 everyone was waiting for the new Beatles album.  Rumors were going around that this would be a very different album.  I don't recall the exact date, but I remember hearing some songs, perhaps the entire album, debuted on WLS radio in Chicago.  Every night thereafter, when WLS would play the most requested song for the night, it would be "Michele".  I had to have this album.  I got it for Christmas.  From that point on my sister was not particularly interested in the Beatles, but I got every Beatles release after the release of Rubber Soul.  I began building a collection of records that was only limited by how much money I had to spend and how many albums I would get for Christmas or birthdays, which was limited.   In other words, the collection built slowly, but steadily.  I only showed symptoms when I was getting those early novelty albums and 45 RPM records.  With Rubber Soul I became fully infected with musical fever.




23 comments:

  1. This is a great blog, I know most of these and how the memories come flooding back. Thanks for the memories Lee.

    Have a good day.
    Yvonne.

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  2. I loved all your selections and I do remember a lot of those songs! I recall my older sister playing the Beatles, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand". I wrote down the lyrics and sang it over and over and over!
    What memories the Herb Alpert album brought back! My brother-in-law was a music teacher and a trumpet player and whenever I visited my sister for the summer, this would be playing non stop.
    I had almost forgotten!
    Love it!

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  3. Didn't Rubber Soul come out after Dylan introduced them to weed?

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  4. I remember my first 45 was "Build Me Up Buttercup"! My first album was "Meet the Beatles", my father had given it to me for Christmas along with my own record player!
    In middle school I used to ride my bike several miles to the Sears store to buy a new 45 every week. They were .99 cents! Thanks for bring back the memories Arlee. I also remembered Herb Albert and the Tijuana brass!
    Love Di ♥

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  5. My number one son is a Beatles fan. I'll share some of what you said with him.

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  6. Interesting selection. Most of the ones I know are limited to The Beatles, but it's always nice to discover new music.:)

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  7. Thank you for a fabulous trip down Memory Lane! I was also happy to read your impression of music being everywhere for that is how I also remember those years. It just seemed like the world was bursting with song, that a new hit group emerged with such regularity it was almost expected, and, I don't know, the sun was shining, music was 'groovey' and life was endless.

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  8. Thanks for bringing back some great memories!

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  9. I recognized The Beatles and that's it.

    Thanks for the music! I love discovering new artists...well, new to me. ;)

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  10. I used to be a DJ so I shopped in a lot of old thrift stores that had dusty old vinyl collections. 25 cents for a 12 inch LP is a great deal.

    Having had a lot of experience digging in the crates, I can tell you that Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass had A LOT of records pressed. They are probably one of the most prolific bands out there when it comes to old vinyl.

    Oh, and they rock too. Great list, thanks for sharing Lee.

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  11. rLEE-b ~
    While I was putting together that list of my favorite album cover art, I did a bit of research and discovered to my surprise that when the photographs were taken for the Herb Alpert "Whipped Cream" cover, the whipped cream-covered model was pregnant. She'd had a bun in the oven for several months.

    Now I feel guilty about all the times, as a little boy, I stared at that album cover with my tongue hangin' out. ;o)

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McD-Fens

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  12. Yvonne -- I've been really digging deep to remember things.

    Rae- back in the 60s it seemed like Herb Alpert and the Beatles were everywhere.

    Charmaine -- Thanks for visiting

    Will -- That sounds quite possible. I think Rubber Soul definitely had a lot of influence from Bob Dylan. The weed part I don't remember, but there's a lot of things I can't remember.

    Diana -- I remember going to the Sears store in Gary, IN to buy 45s.
    To save money I sometimes bought the knock-off copies of hits that 2 different ones on one 45 and they were only .39 cents. I rode my bike a lot back then.

    Ocean Girl -- the Beatles still retain a respectable fan base among the young.

    Lindsay -- I am continually discovering "new" old music.

    Kittie-- Music seemed more magical back then. Now it's so accessible that we probably take a lot of it for granted.

    Bossy -- Great memories!

    Pal-- You need to check out some of those other old great artists.

    Matthew -- Herb Alpert was very popular for a while and had a lot of projects going on.

    Stephen McC-- Well, I don't feel guilty because it was a great photo. Wonder what that kid is doing now -- that would be an interesting story.

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  13. Thanks arlee - for sharing all the memories attached to each music selection. Fascinating voyage to say the least!

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  14. Those are before my time, but I do remember the music bug biting - first to play an instrument, then to collect records. I still have most of them.

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  15. I remember my parent's large 8 track machine. It was the size of a car. Anyway, we used to listen to music from those boxes until my parents opted for a smaller listening device called a record player. I think we used the 8-track machine for a coffin or something. Anyway, it's not there anymore. I listened to my mother's albums: The Beatles, Peter Paul and Mary, Simon and Garfunkle and it really shaped the music I listen to today.

    You really brought me back in this post. Thank you.

    CD

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  16. LEE ~
    I just now finished viewing the Desert Island Music List of every person who played. Yeah, a lot of variety there.

    I noticed, however, that more than a few of the people who signed up didn't actually participate.

    Oh well, those who did did and it is what it is. (Yeah, I'm feeling most profound today. Ha!)

    It was fun! Thanks for puttin' it all together for us. Yer an Organizational Wizard.

    Yak Later, Brotherman.
    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McD-Fens

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  17. Paula-- Thanks for taking this part of the journey

    Alex -- fortunately I still have most of my records, unfortunately right now I don't have anything to play them on.

    Clarissa -- 8 tracks were all the rage for a while. I doubt whether I still have many and if I do they are probably all gummed up and won't play. I still do have an 8 track player that probably works.

    StMc-- don't know about "organizational wizard" but I think it went over pretty well. The non-participants that were on there probably are just blog hoppers who sign up to any list thinking they'll get more followers. A couple emailed and said they wouldn't be posting after all, although they had originally intended to do so.

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  18. Ha Ha, tag – you are now it!

    IF I WERE A…

    MONTH. DAY; TIME OF DAY; SEASON;
    PLANET; DIRECTION; TREE; ANIMAL;
    MUSICAL; INSTRUMENT; FRIUT FOOD; COLOUR; BOOK; SONG ; MOVIE;
    FLOWER; FACIAL EXPRESSION.

    So what would you be? Can’t wait to see!

    I was tagged by Yvonne @ Welcome to My World of Poetry. Check out my answers in tomorrow’s post. For now however, you are it!!!!!

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  19. Wow, Lee - those are some oldies!

    Okay, that probably came out wrong...

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  20. Thanks for the musical trip! Lots of fun :) My folks had 45s and even some 78s from when they were younger. There is some awesome music on those!

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  21. Alvin and the Chipmunks? Wow. I never would've guessed. I imagine that they were different back then, especially next to the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies that came out. I remember they had a TV series. I used to watch it. Do they still show that?
    The Beatles! I like The Beatles. Especially songs like While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Here Comes the Sun. Beatles rock band is really fun, especially those songs. That's part of why I like them so much.
    Otherwise, I don't recognize the others. ;)
    -Wolfie

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  22. Gregg -- Answering your tag on my Saturday post.

    Diane -- That's okay because that's what they are.

    Wolfie -- I guess the Chipmunks weren't much different then, they just sang the songs of that day.
    Beatles are going to be around for a long time.

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Lee