DEAR JERRY: I'm doing some research on Van McCoy, who as you know was involved in nearly every phase of the recording industry.
Of particular interest is that he never had a Top 100 hit before 1975, and "The Hustle."
Did any of his earlier releases sell well enough to make anyone's survey?
George Donaldson, Terre Haute, Ind.
DEAR GEORGE: As a recording artist, Van McCoy made about 15 records before "The Hustle," but only one was a significant regional hit and one that was clearly labeled as the B-side.
We refer to "Never Trust a Friend" backed with "Mr. D.J." (Rock'n 101) both written by McCoy.
Not surprisingly, dee jays immediately favored the B-side, but the truth is "Mr. D.J." is simply the more commercial recording.
That it didn't make any of the national Top 100 charts is hard to believe, since "Mr. D.J." appeared on regional Top 40 surveys across the country including several large markets, especially Los Angeles where Van reached No. 11 on KRLA and No. 14 on KFWB.
DEAR JERRY: Ever since I bought Peggy Lee's "Black Coffee" I've had a special fondness for concept albums.
But rather than ones that were actually made, I'm curious about one that seemingly could have been made.
In 1957, after Bonnie Guitar's success with "Dark Moon," I vaguely recall another "moon" song or two by her.
Did she or her label (Dot) ever considered doing an LP with a moon theme, that is if she had enough tracks for that purpose.
Pauline Turlock, Joplin, Mo.
DEAR PAULINE: They not only considered it they did it, but more on that in a moment.
As you may know, the 1953 10-inch, eight-track "Black Coffee" LP (Decca DL-5482) is generally regarded as the record industry's first concept album.
Probably inspired by Peggy's Top 15 hit, "Mr. Wonderful," plus the overall trend toward longer long-play albums, Decca repackaged "Black Coffee" in 1956 (DL-8358).
To the original eight cuts, they added these four: "It Ain't Necessarily So"; "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You"; "You're My Thrill"; and "There's a Small Hotel."
A few months later, while Bonnie Guitar's "Dark Moon" was still riding high on the pop and country charts, along with the pop cover version by Gale Storm, Bonnie laid down more than enough moon tunes to fill a concept LP.
Titled "Moonlight and Shadows" (Dot DLP-3069), this collection, her debut album, came out in the fall of '57 with these tracks, all in monaural:
1. "Moonlight and Shadows"
2. "Carolina Moon"
3. "Get Out and Get Under the Moon"
4. "By the Light of the Silvery Moon"
5. "Moonlight on the Colorado"
6. "Shine on Harvest Moon"
7. "There's a New Moon Over My Shoulder"
8. "Moonlight and Roses"
9. "It's Only a Paper Moon"
10. "The Moon Is Low"
11. "Roll Along Prairie Moon"
12. "Roll Along Kentucky Moon"
When the stereophonic format started picking up steam, Dot ushered some of their top stars, especially Bonnie Guitar and Pat Boone, back into the studio to re-record some of their earlier tracks in true stereo, rather than reissue their mono material in fake stereo.
Most buyers, however, preferred the original recordings in mono over the newly-made stereo tracks.
In addition to Bonnie's stereo rehash of "Moonlight and Shadows" (Dot DLP-25069), Bonnie recorded all 12 of those songs in Spanish for release to that market.
Titled "Canta Bonnie Guitar" (Dot 12086), the content and sequence is identical to the U.S. album, but with these titles:
1. "Luz De Luna Y Sombras (Moonlight And Shadows)"
2. "Luna De Carolina (Carolina Moon)"
3. "Sal Y Ponte Bajo La Luna (Get Out And Get Under The Moon)"
4. "Bajo La Luz De La Luna Plateada (By The Light Of The Silvery Moon)"
5. "Luz De Luna En Colorado (Moonlight On The Colorado)"
6. "Brilla La Luna En La Cosecha (Shine On Harvest Moon)"
7. "Hay Una Nueva Luna (There's A New Moon Over My Shoulder)"
8. "Luz De Luna Y Rosas (Moonlight And Roses)"
9. "Es Sólo Una Luna De Papel (It's Only A Paper Moon)"
10. "Se Ocultó La Luna (The Moon Is Low)"
11. "Luna En La Pradera (Roll Along Prairie Moon)"
12. "Luna De Kentucky (Roll Along Kentucky Moon)"
By now you must be asking how on earth (in keeping with our planetary theme) Dot would issue a moon concept LP that does NOT include Bonnie Guitar's most famous and top-selling hit, "Dark Moon," or "Luna Oscura" for the Spanish album.
It sure seems to me like a no-brainer.
In late 1960, a "Dark Moon" LP finally appeared (Dot DLP-3335), though not as a concept collection. But by then the S.S. Opportunity had sailed.
Besides the title track, this package does have three other moon tunes: "Baby Moon"; "I Saw Your Face in the Moon"; and "Rocky Mountain Moon."
IZ ZAT SO? In June 1957, when "Dark Moon" ranked No. 5 on Cash Box and No. 8 on Billboard, Bonnie Guitar became the first female C&W artist with a crossover hit in the Pop/Rock Top 10.
Just a few months earlier, Patsy Cline came very close with "Walking After Midnight."
This country and pop classic, Patsy's first hit, peaked at No. 12 on Billboard and No. 14 on Cash Box.