CRUISIN' 1963



B. Mitchell Reed
WMCA, New York
Increase Records INCM 2008
Released January, 1972


Resume:
WOR [New York] 1956
KFWB [LA] 1957
WMCA [New York] 1963
KFWB [LA] 1965
KPPC [LA] 1968
KMET [LA] 1968
KRLA [LA] 1971
KMET [LA] 1972
KLOS [LA] 1981
Global Satellite Network Rockline [LA] 1981 - host
Passed away at his home in LA in March 1983 (heart condition).

For more on the WMCA Good Guys, head to This Site.

Side One: Opening Theme (HAND CLAPPIN' - Red Prysock) Easier Said Than Done - The Essex (2:08) WMCA "Good Guy" Sweatshirt Winner Announcement & B.M.R. "Bell Ringer" intro Sally Go Round The Roses - The Jaynettes (2:38) WMCA "Good Guys" Song He's So Fine - The Chiffons (1:53) 1963 Dodge Commercial Twist & Shout - (1962) Isley Brothers (2:33) Green Acres Promo Baby It's You - Shirelles (2:40) "Name It And Claim It" Winner It's My Party - Leslie Gore (2:19) WMCA Station I.D. Side Two: Walk Right In - The Rooftop Singers (2:32) Litter Basket public Service Song Hey Girl - Freddie Scott (3:04) B.M.R. Correspondent's Report Denise - Randy & The Rainbows (1:57) WMCA "That's The Way To Spend Your Day" Song Mama Didn't Lie - Jan Bradley (2:02) 1963 Rambler Commercial Hey Paula - Paul & Paula (2:25) "Musical Love Letters" Contest Winners Louie, Louie - Kingsmen (2:24)

When B. Mitchell Reed returned to his native New York in early 1963 to take over the seven-to-eleven evening shift as one of WMCA's "Good Guys," he was known as - coming from Hollywood radio - "The Fastest Tongue in the West." Fifteen seconds into this CRUISIN' volume and it will be abundantly clear why. In many ways, Reed epitomized the early '60s radio sound, where sound effects, noisemakers, commercials and songs rattled like machine guns on the firing line. Ree'd jivey 100-mile-an-hour rap was unequalled, and perfectly tailored for the time and medium.

BMR, as he is known today - Mitch to his friends - might have seemed an unlikely candidate for Top 40 radio because he had a masters degree in in political science and early in his career, as WOR's successor to the original "Symphony Sid," had been strongly identified with a different sound, hosting the all-night "Birdland Jazz Show."

But regardless of what records he played, Reed was colorful. Nicknames - an often self-conscious display of ego indigenous to pop radio - began piling up like aliases in a Damon Runyan anthology: "The Boy on the Couch," "The Mad Monk in the Monastery," "The Fastest Tongue..." and when he grabbed the No. 1 spot in New York at WMCA, leaving Murray the K and Cousin Brucie tap-dancing for second, "Your Leader, the Nuttiest on the New York Turf."

Reed's first year as a "Good Guy," 1963, was a pivotal year for popular music. Half a dozen musical trends continued as Jan & Dean recorded Surf City, Chubby Checker abandoned the twist for Limbo Rock, Eydie Gorme told everyone to Blame It on the Bossa Nova and Trini Lopez popularized an old Lee Hays-Pete Seeger tune, If I Had a Hammer. More significant, this was the year Motown made its first real impact, with Little Stevie Wonder's Fingertips, Heat Wave by Martha & the Vandellas, the Miracles' You've Really Got a Hold On Me and the first hits of Mary Wells. Then Peter, Paul & Mary established a young singer-songwriter named Dylan with Blowin' In the Wind and Don't Think Twice. And in the last months of the year, the Beatles appeared. The new styles, the new sounds, were set.

The national scene was in greater, more shocking flux. School prayer was ruled unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court. Over 200,000 civil rights demonstrators gathered in Washington to hear Martin Luther King say, "I have a dream..." A nuclear test-ban treaty barring all tests except those conducted underground was signed with Britain and the Soviet Union. The U.S. Surgeon-General linked smoking and cancer. And President Kennedy was shot.

By year's end, so numbing was the assassination, nearly all of 1963's diversions seemed forgotten. Gone from recent memory were the year's three top award-winning films, "Lillies of the Field,' "Hud" and "tom Jones." Gone were Koufax and Drysdale and Podres, the Dodgers' triple threat. Gone were all those elephant jokes. The show presented on this volume of the CRUISIN' series is from a period six months earlier.

Almost from the moment Roulette joined the growing list of independent record companies in 1956, it was a consistent winner, producing hits (and a well-tossed bag of sounds) by Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, Buddy Knox, Ronnie Hawkins, Jimmie Rodgers and Joey Dee and the Starliters. A number one song in '63 for the company: a plaint of unrequited love (she loves him, is too timid to say so) called Easier Said Than Done, by the Essex. It was the first of three chart songs scored by the group, the only No. 1.

Before the Beatles started their wave, this was a year noted for its girl groups. There were the Murmaids, the Angels, the Cookies, the Crystals, the Bobbettes, the Ronnettes and...the Jaynettes, whose only chart record (on the independent Tuff label) was Sally Go Round the Roses.

Another group of young female vocalists, the Chiffons, started their career on Big Deal Records, but didn't become big deals until they moved to Laurie, where they had a long string of hits, most about boys and love (I Have a Boyfriend, Sailor Boy, Sweet Talkin' Guy). The Chiffons' top song in 1963 was from the same mold: He's So Fine.

A "smashback" on this volume is the song by the Isley Brothers (Ronald, Rudolph and O'Kelly), Twist and Shout, a logical follow-up to Shout, a song that'd been a hit for them twice, in 1959 and 1962. Twist and Shout later was recorded by the Beatles and often used by them to open their early concerts. Listen to the vocal similarity. It's obvious the Isleys were an important influence.

One of the most successful, and musically rewarding, of the all-girl vocal groups was the Shirelles, whose little girl voice (Shirley Owens) and gospel-based all-and-response harmony structure served as something of a model for many competing groups. The Shirelles started on Decca in 1958, soon switched to Scepter and in 1963 recorded Baby, It's You. Two other pop classics by this group: Soldier Boy and Will You Love Me Tomorrow.

Lyrically, early rock had a lot of loneliness and suffering in it and it's easy to defend Lesley Gore as a hands-down choice for Queen of the Teen Weepers. Lesley was a poor little rich girl from New York who had a shrill voice first heard (on Mercury) wailing It's My Party (and I'll Cry If I Want To), one of several successful records but her only No. 1...even if she did follow it with Judy's Turn to Cry.

The second half of Mitch Reed's "Good Guy" show begins with Walk Right In, a No. 1 record for the Rooftop Singers, a song written by two of the singers, Bill Svanoe and Erik Darling. (Darling was a widely respected five-string banjo player who earlier had founded the Tarriers and was Pete Seeger's successor in the Weavers.) Although the tri owas together for years, on the folk-oriented Vanguard label, this was its only commercial success.

Freddie Scott's first hit, one of Colpix's initial entries in the mother company's (Columbia Pictures) bid for the teen dollar, and on the charts 12 weeks, was Hey Girl. A formula lament: "Hey girl, I want you to kno-ooooow/I'm gonna miss you so much if you go-ooooo..." It should be noted, however, that it was written by the then husband-and-wife team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, one of the most prolific - and creative - songwriting duos in recent pop music history.

From time immemorial (and probably earlier) songwriters (usually male) have been writing songs about girls, using the girls' first names as the title (i.e. Fanny, Margie, Clementine). Composers in the '50s and '60s were no exception; remember Venus, Donna, Sherry, Diana, Sheila and Maybelline? In 1963, Randy & the Rainbows had their first chart record (on the Rust label) with Denise, a record you could pound your feet and hands to.

Most think of Chicago's Chess Records as the home of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, and although these singers remained with that influential blues label through their most productive years, thereby setting the company's sound, by '63 there were a number of others on the roster, including Jan Bradley, whose first hit was a pre-Generation Gap song: Mama Didn't Lie. Moral of the song: Mama didn't lie.

1963 was not without its novelty tunes, three of which went to the top: Allan Sherman's song about summer camp set to an operatic melody line, Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah; the nonsense ditty from Australia, Rolf Harris' Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport; and the saccharine Hey Paula, by the young sweethearts of pop, Paul & Paula.

What better way to close this CRUISIN' show than with the number one record of the year, introducing a group from Portland, Oregon, singing a tune first recorded for the rhythm and blues market in 1956, Louie, Louie. (Pronounced in a nasal whine, "Lou-way, Lou-why...") During a Congressional investigation of alleged obscenity in lyrics it was said that if you played this single at 33 1/3 rpm - or maybe it was 78 - it was dirty as hell. Not true. Merely slower, or faster.
-Jerry Hopkins

CRUISIN' THE FIFTIES & SIXTIES: A History of Rock and Roll Radio. Conceived and recreated by: Ron Jacobs/Production and Research: Ellen Johnson and Jere Alan Brian/Engineering: Bill Hergonson/Art Direction: Paul Gruwell/Cover Art: Mike Royer/All selections are the original performances as released on the following labels: Chess: Jan Bradley/Colpix: Freddie Scott/Laurie: The Chiffons/Mercury: Lesley Gore, Paul & Paula (Philips), Red Prysock/Roulette: The Essex/Rust: Randy & the Rainbows/Scepter: The Shirelles/Tuff: The Jaynettes/Vanguard: The Rooftop Singers/Wand: Isley Brothers, The Kingsmen/Special thanks Ken Fairchild, WMCA Radio. Produced by RON JACOBS for Increase Records, a division of Watermark, Inc., Los Angeles, California. (P) & 1972 Increase Records.

This section of the CRUISIN' site is respectfully dedicated to the memory of B. Mitchell Reed.

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