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- Category: 1960s
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A while back, I can't remember exactly how far back,
someone who had contacted me in regard to my book had
mentioned that Alan Betrock had passed away. I had told
this person that it must have been a mistake; that I had
recently spoken to Alan regarding his book's inclusion in
my bibliography. We spoke about GG records, photos, my
project and how it would be an expansion of what he
initiated with his efforts. Alan then sent me a formal
letter giving me permission to use his book. I went
through my files to find the letter. The letter was
postmarked in July of 1999.
I saw his obit on Doc Rock's "The Dead Rock Stars Club"
website of R&R notables who have passed.
I was shocked and had a very strange feeling. Could this
much time have passed? Now I find it is over a year
since Alan's passing. This man made such a tremendous
contribution to American pop, not only for his
documentation of GG music, but with some of my favorite
contemporary artists as well, like Blondie, The
Smithereens and Marshall Crenshaw. Alan, for this I thank
you! Here is an excerpt from his obituary in The NY
Times on April 15, 2000:
> Alan Betrock, 49, Pop Critic and Record Producer
> Alan Betrock, whose love of rock 'n' roll propelled a
> pioneering career as a critic, editor, publisher,
> archivist and record producer, died on Sunday at Calvary
> Hospital in the Bronx. He was 49 and lived in Brooklyn.
> The cause was cancer, said Marilyn Laverty, his former
> His 1982 book, "Girl Groups: The Story of a Sound," was
> lauded by the critic Robert Palmer in The Times as
> "everything a rock 'n' roll genre study should be." By
> the time he published it, Mr. Betrock had sold New York
> Rocker and was pursuing a dual career as a journalist and
> an independent record mogul. Releases on his label, Shake
> Records, introduced artists like the dB's, the
> Smithereens and Marshall Crenshaw. In his writing he
> ardently defended American punk, exposing its roots in
> garage rock and vintage teenage pop.
[ Remembering Alan Betrock
Interesting mail from Brian Flaherty about Keith's first
record 'Caravan Of Lonely Men':
> [from] "Encyclopoedia of Popular Music" edited by Colin
> [Keith] started with a band called the Admirations in
> the early 60s, recording one single for Columbia
> Records, "Caravan of Lonely Men".
I can't confess to being a fan but this should be worth
I have two other versions of this early Jeff Barry
co-wr song, the earliest from '62 The Lafayettes
featuring Frank Bonarrigo RCA 47-8082 prod. Hugo &
Luigi. Latin tinged doo wop styled but with no backing
group! The B-Side 'I Still Do' perhaps even better,
again doo wop with no group but this time he supplies
the 'dip dip doo wahs'! The other is on Agon 1011 by
The Lovers, similiar up tempo Latin flavoured doo wop
but with full vocal backing. B-sibe also quite good
version of Jackie Shane/Roosevelt Grier's 'In My
Ronnie plays Tina to Andre Williams's Ike in their newly
released duet of the Turners' classic "It's Gonna Work
Out Fine." It kicks off side two of Andre's new album,
"Bait and Switch" (Norton 288), available for $8 (LP) or
$12 (CD) at
David A. Young
Here it is...
If you dig it, let my editor know....
If you don't, then be quiet :)
Radio Television Department
Sam Houston State University
Communications Building Room 123
Huntsville, TX 77341
Wow - it's fascinating to see that French popular music
has such a keen Spectropop following. Living in
Switzerland, I remember the heydays of ye-ye very well.
Have to agree, however, with those who don't find many
Spectorian touches in the work of Francoise Hardy. Her
records have great charm, to be sure, but not much
passion. Her specialty has always been wistful,
intelligent lyrics with pretty melodies, and understated
arrangements. She remains much revered on the French
music scene, and makes occasional appearances on TV.
However, her main interest for the past twenty years has
been astrology, with music taking a back seat. She still
looks fine, still very slim, but has let her hair go
That aside, it is clear that the French music scene was
acutely aware of Spector and his work during the Philles
years. Darlene Love's singles were frequently played and
joyfully discussed on the top radio show of the period,
"Salut les copains". There was even a French adaptation
of Bobb B. Soxx's "Why Do Lovers", entitled "Oui les
filles", released by French studio veteran Jacques
Revaux. In the early seventies, Sylvie Vartan did an OK
version of "Da Doo Ron Ron."
But of the many French hits aiming for the Spector style,
my favorite is probably Nicoletta's powerhouse 1967
single "La Musique", which is the French version of
Barry Mann's "Angelique". I way prefer Nicoletta's
version. She also did a pretty good, very elaborate
version of "Macarthur Park", called "Le Luxembourg" (a
lovely park in the middle of Paris).
Another terrific French Spector-style record is the
mid-tempo "Le Seule Bebe Qui Ne Pleure Pas" by boy-girl
duo Stone & Charden, released around 1970. Eric Charden,
a journeyman French singer-songwriter-producer,
surpassed himself with this one: great echo, pounding
orchestral arrangement...could have been a hit for the
While we're traveling, let's not forget Italy, which has
probably produced more great songs and great singles
than any other European country. Just last night I
turned on the Italian TV network RAI Due and was
stupefied to see a documentary featuring, among others,
GENE PITNEY. There he was, in person, speaking in
passable Italian, and reminiscing about the good old
days. Like Francoise Hardy, he hasn't changed much (put
on a little weight though) and has let himself go gray.
Gene had a huge fan base in Italy, and the program
featured very clear, well-preserved clips of him doing a
live duet with Italian icon Little Tony,, and also doing
a solo number in Italian. For a special treat, the show
also unearthed a priceless 1960s clip of Neil Sedaka,
singing in Italian and really juking and jumping all
over the set.
Judging from these samples, the RAI TV archives must be
packed with similar high-quality treasures. Let's hope
they'll be preserved, unearthed and made available some
Thanks for the tip Glynis. I'll check your site.
>Ultra Chicks is a series of 6 "unauthorized" CD
>compilations. Sometimes they go out of print for a time,
>depending on who is chasing the manufacturer, but after
>a few months they reappear. I can not give a direct
>source, since [the person] who makes them has been in
>trouble a few times over them. However, you can usually
>get these from sources which normally sell 60's garage
>style music. If you need links to these sources I
>have some links on one of my web pages
Must admit the current "is there/isn't there" discussion
regarding the question of a Spector influence on selected
Francoise tracks leaves me somewhat bemused, but may I
direct readers to the musica files,
where I just uploaded "However Much" (the English-
language version of "Et Meme"). I'm aware that sometimes
the terms "girl-group-influenced" and "Spector-influenced"
don't always mean the same thing, but for me those
jangling pianos and drum fills are a clear homage to "Da
Doo Ron Ron". I'd be interested to hear other opinions.
One thing that's always puzzled me about The Walker
Brothers' "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" is that the
UK 45 has an extra 10 seconds on the end which includes a
Frankie Valli/Bobby Hatfield-style falsetto ad-lib. Every
album/CD version I've found since fades just before this.
I wonder if the decision was taken because the ad-lib is
not in keeping with Scott's newly achieved 'heroic' vocal
sound, or simply to get it closer to the magic 3 minutes?
I've grafted the original end on to one of the stereo
cuts for interest value.
Dan Hughes wrote:
>I have a Columbia 45 rpm record, 4-42264, complete
>with picture sleeve, by Kenny Karen.
>Side 1: Oh, Susie Forgive Me, written by Mann & Weil
>Side 2: The Light In Your Window, written by King,
>Goffin, and A. Ripp
>Both sides arranged and conducted by Alan Lorber, and
>produced by Nevins-Kirshner Associates, Inc.
Kenny Karen's Oh, Susie Forgive Me is one of the most
hilarious teen death records ever made. Mann & Weil
must've laughed for two weeks solid when they wrote it.
You gotta hear this one!
[ ...a file has been uploaded to the Files area of the
File: /musica/[Kenny Karen] Oh, Susie Forgive Me.mp3
You can access the file at the URL
Following up on Ted T's post that mentioned Gene Pitney,
Gene has a pretty good Web site:
If you can get past the splash page photo (Gene's
expression looks like a 3-year-old after someone took
his lollipop away), you can listen to about 100 MP3
clips of his stuff, including many obscure items.
> Just last night I turned on the Italian TV network RAI
> Due and was stupefied to see a documentary featuring,
> among others, GENE PITNEY...the program featured very
> clear, well-preserved clips of him doing a live duet
> with Italian icon Little Tony, and also doing a solo
> number in Italian. For a special treat, the show also
> unearthed a priceless 1960s clip of Neil Sedaka, singing
> in Italian and really juking and jumping all over the
> Judging from these samples, the RAI TV archives must be
> packed with similar high-quality treasures. Let's hope
> they'll be preserved, unearthed and made available some
All the more so since most of the major US artists
recorded their hits in Italian. Something Pitney did
even more regularly than others. I even have an
incredible Motown LP featuring a sort of best of by
their most popular artists, from Stevie Wonder to The
Supremes, The Four Tops, etc... all singing in Italian.
> Ronnie plays Tina to Andre Williams's Ike in their
> newly released duet of the Turners' classic "It's
> Gonna Work Out Fine."
That's such good news! But...it wasn't actually Ike
who sang on the Turners' "It's Gonna Work out Fine",
Assistant Librarian, Social Sciences,
Arts & Social Sciences Library,
University of Bristol Information Services,
Bristol BS8 1TJ.
Home Page: http://info.bris.ac.uk/~lipw/paulhome.htm
Many thanks to John Clemente for his mention of the Dead
Rock Stars site.
Last week I mistakenly said here that Keith had died last
year. Well, it was really Oliver (Good Morning Starshine
and Jean) who I was remembering. Hey, a one-name artist
whose songs were easy on the ears--you can see how easy
it is to confuse the two, right? Right??
It was Oliver, not Keith, who died of cancer in Feb 2000.
Glad I found that entry--it was driving me nuts trying to
remember who I was thinking of if it wasn't Keith.
Just listened to the track, Ian. True, the backing is
definitely Spector influenced, but my remarks about
Francoise relating to the Spector sound was meant more
as a general impression of her own sound. She always
sounded so aloof and hardly involved (at least to me)
that I always had real difficulty linking her with the
earnest Phil Spector Wall Of Sound.
But you are right on this track.
>Must admit the current "is there/isn't there" discussion
>regarding the question of a Spector influence on selected
>Francoise tracks leaves me somewhat bemused, but may I
>direct readers to "However Much" (the English-
>language version of "Et Meme"). I'm aware that sometimes
>the terms "girl-group-influenced" and "Spector-influenced"
>don't always mean the same thing, but for me those
>jangling pianos and drum fills are a clear homage to "Da
>Doo Ron Ron". I'd be interested to hear other opinions.
yah, very true for me too. I heard "Et Meme" via a mutual
friend of ours back in the 70s when this all began. Those
jangling pianos, the dramatic intro, the handclaps... we
called it "the French Da Doo Ron Ron." ; )
Phil touches all...
It's WONDERFUL to hear you talk about such great French
pop. Nobody mentions Nicoletta amongst the favorite trend
in French girly pop. I really like her solo stuff and am
interested in hearing her more "rock" oriented late 60's
stuff when she had her own rock band. I don't know if they
recorded but I have photos of her in my French pop
magazines. Stone was amazing. France's own Brian Jones
Is there anyone out in Spectropop-land who knows about
other non-American or non-British female who recorded in
To Ted T or whoever else may know:
Could you please tell me what the name of the Italian
documentary was which featured clips of Gene Pitney and
Neil Sedaka? As these are two of my favourite singers, I
would love to see it. Do you know if it will be repeated?
I had RAI on last night and saw a black and white clip of
a woman singing with large toy soldiers. I guess this
must have been the show. Although I was a little
intrigued, I figured they were only showing clips of
Italian singers I would not recognize. I regret now that
I turned it off so quickly.
John Clemente wrote:
>Now I find it is over a year
>since Alan's passing. This man made such a tremendous
>contribution to American pop, not only for his
>documentation of GG music...
> > His 1982 book, "Girl Groups: The Story of a Sound," was
> > lauded by the critic Robert Palmer in The Times as
> > "everything a rock 'n' roll genre study should be."
Is there any chance of Alan Betrock's classic GIRL GROUPS
book being reissued? It's an invaluable source of
information. I've referenced my copy so often over the
years, it's in horrible condition. Forget about
"dog-eared" - it looks like dogs have been at it!
"Martin Roberts" wrote:
> > [Keith] started with a band called the Admirations in
> > the early 60s, recording one single for Columbia
> > Records, "Caravan of Lonely Men".
>I have two other versions of this early Jeff Barry
>co-wr song, the earliest from '62 The Lafayettes
>featuring Frank Bonarrigo RCA 47-8082 prod. Hugo &
>Luigi.... The other is on Agon 1011 by
>The Lovers, similiar up tempo Latin flavoured doo wop
>but with full vocal backing.
The original and best version of this song was produced
by Jeff Barry himself in 1962 for Carlton Records. The
artist is Tony Richards, better known as Tony
Passalacqua, a much-underrated vocalist who recorded at
least six early Jeff Barry compositions. Flipside of
the single is a wonderful little thing called "Wind-up
Toy," also written by Jeff.
I wanted to let you know that beginning next weekend,
frequent contributor to Spectropop, Ian Chapman, will
be hosting a new feature on my radio show, Treasure
Island Oldies. "Ian Chapman's Girl Groups", will
spotlight and tell the story behind a different girl
group song every week. I am very excited that Ian has
decided to become part of Treasure Island Oldies, now
in its 5th year on the Internet. Hope you can listen
in; the feature will be in the 3rd hour of the show.
Treasure Island Oldies
David wrote a great piece on the new Swing Out
Sister album here recently. I went over to their
unofficial web site where there are sound clips of
every song on the album. Here are my comments, but
before that, let me pass along the URL for these
clips, and recommend wholeheartedly that every group
member with 10 minutes and a fast enough connection
go over and stream every one of these audio clips,
You will be amazed at the beauty and depth - and
frustrated because the clips cut off so suddenly!
> ...this is the album that I wish Dusty Springfield
> would have left us with instead of "A Very Fine
> Love,".... "Somewhere Deep in the Night" has all
> the warmth, depth, atmosphere, sophistication,
> timelessness, and class of her finest work, and
> then some.
All the qualities David mentions are spot on. The
opening track "Through the Sky" is a spinning, spiraling
trip high into the sky. The fade in sounds like Tubular
Bells by John Barry circa 1964, and then: "Everything's
been said and done - What else is there to say" Corinne
I know that feeling...too well. When someone recommends a
new album highly, and then I listen to it and feel let
down. But not this time. This one starts off and within
seconds you arrive. You are swingin', baby!
> It strikes me as odd that I'd take such a strong
> liking to such a "grown-up" record...
Grown-up records typically try too hard and take
themselves too seriously. And this is no by-the-numbers
retro kitsch effort like others that attempt to go into
areas this album so comfortably explores. The audio clip
of Will we Find Love just doesn't come close to doing
this track justice. The strings are sublime, and the
lyric is exquisite: "Could our dreams still hold the key
to our hearts...? There is nothing else for us to be but
so in love". The track has the most gorgeous fade.
> References abound, but the ones that glance backward
> do so completely without irony:
That is so true, and you know what? I don't even care
about the references when I listen, and that's what makes
the record so special. You can't say - "Oh, there's the
clever Bacharach bit in that two bar phrase" or "That
snare is sampled from Beach Boys' Do It Again" or
"There's Nino Rota in that instrumental break", or "Those
background vocals sound like Jimmy Webb"...and that is
indeed what makes the record so special to me. It isn't
*trying* to be clever.
> the recurring French horn (yes, the orchestra here
> is 100% organic) are clues...
It isn't this little lick or that little phrase. It is
the intensity, the warmth, the honesty of the music. I
gotta ask the obvious question - how can a record this
good be made in year 2001? There's no flavor-of-
the-month Rodney Jerkins type production, no attempt to
remake Breakout circa 2001, no leaning on the latest
ProTools auto tuning effects. Just pure organic sounding
well composed/arranged/produced/performed music. It's
such a relief, and in year 2001, it's a !%$#!$%! miracle!
> In fact, that's the major charm of the disc: the fact
> that it is simultaneously so slick and so affecting
> makes it irresistible and addictive. (Apparently the
> artists - and I obviously have to include producer
> Paul Staveley O'Duffy here - knew that, since the
> segue from end back to beginning on repeat play is
Yeah, O'Duffy's production is as impressive as the
music itself. It never gets in the way. Yet, it isn't
simple production by any means. It is richly textured and
layered, with spoken word and ambient sound effects
sparingly used, and thankfully, just the right touch
at the right time. But most of all, the production is
honest (O'Duffy gives great snare and reverb, btw!)
> "Where Do I Go?" packs the most restrained intensity
> since Burt and Elvis's "God Give Me Strength."
Where Do I Go is brilliant. It's like Swing Out Sister's
Til I Die. It's that good. The droning vibes set a 3/4
groove (think What the World Needs Now") with acoustic
piano backing a little 70s moog-like synth line. The
lyric is one of their best: "Where do I go for the rest
of my life? How will I know when tomorrow's impossible
without your love?" But it's affirmation, not remorse,
and so subtly stated.
> It's only as a result of great effort that I'm able to
> restrain myself from further raving here.
OK, I take your hint. I'll shut up now too. :-)
> I now put to you as "What kind of Spectropopper
> wouldn't love this record?"
In all fairness, the kind that is into Nuggets-ish
guitar oriented garage rock wouldn't fall head over
heels over this record. But if your tastes run along
the lines of Jack Nitzsche, Dusty, Tony Hatch, Free
Design, Lalo Schifrin, Bacharach, Beach Boys circa
20/20/Friends, Jimmy Webb, Italian soundtracks and
Philly soul, this album is definitely going to become a
Ted T. wrote:
> Another terrific French Spector-style record is the
> mid-tempo "Le Seule Bebe Qui Ne Pleure Pas" by boy-girl
> duo Stone & Charden, released around 1970.
I've just found it on the net. A great Spector
sound-a-like!!!. Do you have more suggestions?
Tom wanted to know the name and date of the RAI Due
program featuring the clips of Gene Pitney and Neil
Sedaka. The show was a weekly newsmagazine called
"TG2-Dossier" and the subject of this edition of the show
was the 45 r.p.m era. It was broadcast at ten
thirty-five p.m. (Italian time) on Saturday June 30th.
I'm sorry I didn't tape it. Dunno if it will be
rebroadcast? Maybe the RAI Due website has the info.
Glynis asked if there were other non-US and non-British
singers who rocked with the energy and passion of French
rockeuse Nicoletta. To tell the truth, I think Nicoletta
is kind of unique. She had an extremely wretched
childhood, was in and out of reform schools for most of
her adolescence, ran away from most of them, and all of
this shows in her singing. I don't think she ever reached
her full potential as a singer, probably for lack of
guidance and lack of good material. But her voice has an
extraordinary quality to it, and on her best sides, like
"La MusiqueE she gives you goose pimples. She is still
around incidentally, turns up on French TV once in a
while, and, thankfully, finally seems happy and relaxed.
>It's WONDERFUL to hear you talk about such great French
>pop. Nobody mentions Nicoletta amongst the favorite trend
>in French girly pop. I really like her solo stuff and am
>interested in hearing her more "rock" oriented late 60's
>stuff when she had her own rock band. I don't know if they
>recorded but I have photos of her in my French pop
>magazines. Stone was amazing. France's own Brian Jones
Glynis, I did work with some of these girls at the time,
I was in the studio with Nicoletta when she recorded her
first song. I worked with Dani, Il Etait Une Fois,and
many others later on.
Regarding Nicoletta's more rock sides, she did record a
few of these at the time she was going out with the
leader of a fairly successful French rock group : "Zoo".
But she was definitely more interested in Blues and R. n'
B. than anything else.
On the subject of possible republication of Alan
Betrock's excellent Girl Groups book, I did speak to him
about 18/20 months ago about reproducing the two Motown
girls sections in my Motown reader collection which is
recently published here in the UK by Helter Skelter. At
that time he said that he was in the process of updating
the book for probable re-publication, so quite
understandably didn't want the chapters to go elsewhere.
So perhaps some re-publication deal was already on its
way before his very sad death - with whom I have no idea,
except I assume a NY publisher.
Regarding French Pop, Spectropopers might want to look
out for a new album by Tahiti 80 "Puzzle" -
Atmospheriques 2349-3. Some very nice modern soft pop
with a twist (including input from Eric Matthews). The
CD is dated 1999, but it has only just come out here in
Hello to you all.
I hope that somebody can identify the following
information regarding a track I heard on the radio.
Trackname: "Vampire", Performers mentioned: The Crystals,
length approx. 2.37 minutes, additional info:
instrumental track with saxophone and male voice saying
HAHAHAHA. Question: Are these performers The Crystals AKA
The Metros and in which year is this track released.
Appreciate your help.
Thanks in advance.
PS. Ted T. many thanks for the information on the French
"Spector Sound" tracks. I have checked out some of the
tracks and you are right it sounds really nice.
Paul Woods wrote questioning whether it was Ike Turner
duetting with Tina on their hit "It's Gonna Work Out Fine,"
and I'm here to testify that it is. First, I know his
voice well enough (compare his deadpan here to the intro
"Rollin'...rollin'...rollin' on the river" on their
"Proud Mary"), but second, Tina alternates her
salutations to her singing partner as "Darlin'" and "Ikey."
(By the way, Ike has a new CD out with his Kings of
Rhythm and is touring heavily these days, unlike certain
retired ex-wives of his.)
Al Quaglieri calls Kenny Karen's "Susie Forgive Me" "one
of the most hilarious teen death records ever made," and
although even I loosely categorize it in the "death
records" category, it fits more neatly into the
"near-death" genre a la "Endless Sleep": not only does
Kenny not kill Susie here, even his crippling her turns
out to be only temporary.
I don't believe that Kenny's other records have been
dealt with here in any depth. I have two others as well,
and there's not a loser side among the six. I don't know
whose golden boy he was, but as previously noted, he had
access to the best hands on his decks: the flip of "Susie,"
"The Light in Your Window," is written by
King/Goffin/Ripp; on Columbia 42452 (which, like "Susie,"
has a picture sleeve) pairs "To Sandy with Love," which
Kenny co-wrote with Artie Kaplan, with "A Face in the
Crowd," written by Jack Keller and Gerry Goffin and
arranged and conducted by Carole King; and the most
blatantly Sedaka-derived one in the bunch, "Sixteen Years
Ago Tonight" (Columbia 42638), written by Karen with
Howie Greenfield and Jack Keller, is paired with Karen
and Kaplan's "Take Me Back." All that's missing is Jeff
David A. Young
And now for something completely different! Anyone have
any info on this group--? They recorded a song called
"Little Boy," a frothy, foamy, chirpy, very-1963 number
sung by a lead with the most amazing falsetto: leading me
to think that they may in fact be boys. (Someone years
ago told me the lead, hence the group name, was George
Goldner... I don't think so !!!!!) It's eminently catchy,
and sounds as if the Chiffons ran into the Secrets and
decided to record a side. Any help?
And Happy Fourth to all my stateside buddies... : )
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
>Ton Borsboom asked:
>I hope that somebody can identify the following
>information regarding a track I heard on the radio.
>Trackname: "Vampire", Performers mentioned: The Crystals,
>length approx. 2.37 minutes, additional info:
>instrumental track with saxophone and male voice saying
It was the Crystals on Mercury 71381, released '58,
backed with "Tropical Illusion".
This message is in response to Ton Borsboom's question.
The song to which you are referring may be The Crystals
on Indigo Records out of California circa 1961. That
single is an instrumental, whatever the title may be.
I've never heard it, but I do know that it is an
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