Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I don't know what the weather's been like in your part of the good ol' USA, but here in NJ we're havin' a heatwave (a tropical heatwave.....OK, I'll stop there). Like a week straight of 100+ degree temperatures. Which got me thinking about this record, one of my all-time fave crazy talkin' soul 45s.

"Rolls" Royce was actually Royce McAfee, a jazz/R&B organ player from Texas who had his own combo in the early 60s (cutting "Cairo Twist" on the Gayla label). He later went on to promote many local artists in the Dallas area, and reputedly hired a young Teddy Pendergrass to play drums in his band in 1965 (and cut "Afro-Au-Go-Go" for the Ara label). In 1964, the biggest rage in swimwear fashion was the one-piece topless bathing suit out of France - everyone talked about it, though very few women dared to wear it. Early that summer, Royce had a chance to record a dance tune he'd written, "The Frog", and needed something for the flip side. Royce's wife, Judy, was at the session, and suggested they do a tune about the risque piece of beachwear everyone was talking about. Royce and the band laid down a backing track, and then Royce, Judy, and another woman (possibly his sister-in-law) recorded a spoken dialogue about the topless bathing suit.

The result was absolute genius. You can actually hear the leer on Royce's face when he sees a woman wearing a "topless". The two women react with hostility at first, but one of them begins to come around to Royce's way of thinking, saying, "well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!" Which causes the other woman to retort, "if you can't join 'em, BEAT 'em!!" Sage advice, indeed.

"Rolls" Royce and The Wheels - Topless (Constellation 133) - 1964

Friday, July 22, 2011


WHAAAAT?? A Soupy Sales FUNK record?? Oh yeah....

Sorry I haven't posted much in the last couple of weeks. Between the Little Willie John radio special (which took FOUR sessions to edit down to two hours), my impending move, my time spent building a new computer with my genius cousin, work, and the wedding of my friends John and Heidi, I have had next to no time to blog!! However, I DID have time last Friday to go record shopping with John. We both got some great scores - he ended up with an original copy of the Sebastian Cabot LP on MGM, and I got this.

People will be surprised how good Soupy sounds with a funk backing, but it doesn't surprise me. Soupy (born Milton Supman in Franklinton, North Carolina in 1926) was a music man all his life. He had a gigantic jazz record collection, was a disk jockey in Detroit, and had two sons who became musicians. Plus he had a series of records of his own, culminating with his 1965 hit, "The Mouse" (which - reputedly - The Young Rascals play backup on).

Of course, about ten minutes after I brought this record home, I discovered that the record was originally done by Brunswick staff producer Willie Henderson and released about a month before Soupy's - also on Brunswick. But Soupy actually cuts Willie on this! It may be his best record, even though you NEVER see it in discographies.

So now there's one more thing to add to Soupy's already impressive resume. Soupy Sales, kiddie show host, jazz lover, game show mainstay, disk jockey, maker of hit records, and.....funkmeister.

P. S. I actually got to meet Soupy once, when I was working for some horrible radio station. He couldn't have been a nicer guy, not very impressed with himself at all, and took an interest in me and my little radio show. Soup, wherever you are, a big cream pie in the face to you from me.

Soupy Sales - Break Your Back (Brunswick 55472) - 1972

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


No less an authority than James Brown once said, "Little Willie John was a soul singer before anyone thought to call it that".  His original version of "Fever" inspired Peggy Lee to record it. He had 14 hits on the R&B charts between 1955 and 1961, and an equal number of hits on the pop charts. He appeared on "American Bandstand" and "Route 66". Unfortunately, he was also convicted of manslaughter in 1966 (even though it was never proven that he killed anyone) and died in prison at age 30 in 1968.

On Sunday, July 17th, WFDU-FM's "On The Record" with Richard Sibello will pay a 2-hour tribute to the singer who influenced many of the future stars of soul, including James Brown and Stevie Wonder. We'll be playing many of his hits, his forgotten masterpieces, and selections from his doomed 1966 session for Capitol Records (which stayed unreleased until 2008).

We will be interviewing author and journalist Susan Whitall, who has written a new book on the life of this incredible performer, entitled "Fever: Little Willie John - A Fast Life, Mysterious Death and The Birth Of Soul" (available now at www.amazon.com).

Not only that, but we will also feature an interview with Little Willie John's two sons, Kevin and Keith John, who will share their personal memories of their father and his music.

So be sure to tune in Sunday, July 17th, at 1:00 pm EST at 89.1 on your radio dial or at www.wfdu.fm on the web. This promises to be something special!

Posted here is one of the tunes by Willie that I HOPE I have time to play this coming Sunday - a GREAT uptempo side, very atypical for Little Willie John.....

Little Willie John - Don't Play With Love (King 5717) - 1963

Friday, July 1, 2011

Thank You!

I'd like to send out a HUGE "thank you" to the folks that responded to this last month's blog posts and helped me obtain information I so DESPERATELY needed:

First, Moptop Mike Markesich - the capo di capo tutti of garage punk 45s and dead wax numbers, who gave me great info about The City Dwellers (who knew they were possibly from Jersey? Mike did!!) and was able to put a date on the Gary Allen record on Saundra Lee (August, 1966 - I'll change it in the original post later). Mike is finishing up what promises to be THE definitive book on obscure 60s garage rock groups. Watch for it!

Secondly, I want to thank Bob, fellow blogger (who writes the excellent "Dead Wax" blog - check it out here), for being a veritable fountainhead of information, letting me know that the Gary Allen 45 was out of Arizona, giving me the release date of the Melvin London and The Red Hearts 45 (December, 1966 - again, I'll update the post), and especially for posting on his blog about the other two records on the Lil-Tee record label! Bob, you are awesome!

If I see either of you two in person, beers are on me! Thanks again, guys!

I also would like to thank all the folks who have read (and continue to read) my blog - you make it all worthwhile! Without you, I'm just another record geek....

Richard Sibello