Last week, Marie McDonald of Indianapolis requested a list of the 1961 songs that didn't click nationwide but made the Top 30 in Los Angeles, specifically on KRLA radio.
In part one we made it through the month of May, leaving seven months for this week.
Not a one of these Top 30 hits in L.A. appeared in Billboard's Hot 100:
June: “Dinky Doo” (Eddie Bo); “Beware” (Innocents)
Like many others we've mentioned over the years, “Dinky Doo” (Ric 981) makes us wonder why it wasn't a bigger hit. It has no shortcomings, other than perhaps the title. Maybe that's what held it back. Eight years later, Eddie Bo reached the R&B
Top 15 with “Hook and Sling” (Scram 117), a new funk dance in the “Tighten Up” mode.
The Innocents made this list last week by backing Kathy Young on “Our Parents Talked It Over” (Indigo 121). On “Beware,” they may have lost points by what seems like an awkward digression for just the chorus.
July: “Same Thing” (Gino Parks)
Produced by Motown's Berry Gordy Jr., who, a few years earlier, wrote hits for Jackie Wilson. On “Same Thing” (Tamla 54042), and the follow-up, “Fire” (Tamla 54066), Parks sounds like a Jackie Wilson tribute artist. Both of these are well done, but they came along while the real Jackie Wilson was still Mr. Entertainment.
August: “Mr. D.J.” (Van McCoy); “Well I Ask You” (Eden Kane)
With the smooth “Mr. D.J.” (Rock'n 101), Van McCoy gave dee jays the perfect excuse to play his record. Jocks love to get requests, and McCoy wants to dedicate a song to his sweetie, preferably “Mr. D.J.” Van made many records over the next 14 years, but didn't chart until his million-selling disco hit, “The Hustle” (1975).
England's Eden Kane just topped the UK charts for two weeks with “Well I Ask You,” and there was reason to expect the U.S. issue (London 1993) to also be a huge hit. Unfortunately, it and “Get Lost” (London 9508), his follow-up that reached No. 8 in the UK, were both lost in America.
September: “Beware Below” (Frogmen); “Without Your Love” (Wendy Hill); 14 “My Girl” (Charles McCullough and the Silks)
From Southern California, the surf music epicenter, came the Frogmen and their sizable instrumental hit, “Underwater” (Candix 314). After that came “Beware Below” (Candix 326) which made a few waves on the West Coast, but not coast-to-coast. Some reviewers even preferred the flip side, “Tioga.”
Wendy Hill is remembered for her 1965 answer to Gary Lewis' “This Diamond Ring,” titled “(Gary, Please Don't Sell) My Diamond Ring” (Liberty 55771). However, “Without Your Love” (Era 3055) is her very best recording. It deserved to be on all of the Top 40 playlists.
Charles McCullough's “My Girl” (Dooto 462) is a soulful crying song. That it didn't at least hit the R&B/Soul charts was, in fact, a cryin' shame. This is completely different than the “My Girl” that became the Temptations' signature song.
October: “My Special Boy” (Carol Connors)
On “My Special Boy” (Columbia 42155), Carol's intimate style is strikingly similar to that of the Paris Sisters. They spent 20 weeks on the charts in 1961 with the similarly titled “Be My Boy,” and their biggest hit, “I Love How You Love Me.” Then there was the sensational Ann-Margret, hot on the scene. Perhaps there just wasn't room for another purring kitten.
November: “Trade Winds, Trade Winds” (Aki Aleong)
“Trade Winds, Trade Winds” (Reprise 20,021), blew into the Los Angeles Top 10, and was Aleong's best selling record.
Still, Aki is much better known for his lengthy acting career. From 1956 to 2009, he appeared in more than 250 television shows and over 40 feature films.
December: “I'm a Little Mixed Up” (Betty James); “And Then Came Love” (Ed Townsend)
Though the brand of gritty blues from Betty James is reminiscent of Etta James, they are not related. Betty should have made the R&B charts with this ditty, but didn't. She then tops “I'm a Little Mixed Up” (Chess 1801) with a perfect sequel, “I'm Not Mixed Up Anymore” (Chess 1837). Betty wrote it and delivers it with an attitude.
Wrapping up 1961 is Ed Townsend, whose only bona fide hit is the enchanting “For Your Love,” his own composition and a Top 15 smash in 1958. “And Then Came Love” (Challenge 9129) is the beautifully told evolution of love, from the dark ages to the light. This track might have been better suited for release in 1958.
IZ ZAT SO? With “My Diary” and “My Special Boy,” Carol Connors is the only artist with two singles on this unique list. Ironically, both were simultaneously issued by Columbia on 45 and as Compact 33 Singles.
We will credit the Innocents with one-and-a-half entries, since they back Kathy Young on “Our Parents Talked It Over,” then have their own with “Beware.”