DEAR JERRY: I have been trying to find out the name of an early rock 'n' roll hit, a dance record. It had a big band theme, as did many of the early '50s records. The vocalist started by stating It's ?? time! Hit it! Oh, you're lookin' good. He then took listeners thru some of the various steps. Not too long ago I heard it in a TV movie. I waited until after the movie to catch the credits, but of course they didn't show them. To complicate matters more, the movie was not a regularly scheduled one. It was on only due to a rained out baseball game.
I have talked to plenty of people who say they remember it, but no one can come up with the artist or title. Every few years or so I hear it on the rado, but can never get ahold of the station for info. Won't you please help?
Ian Phillips, Chicago, Ill.
DEAR IAN: From the sketchy information you provide, I cannot offer an absolute match; however, a couple tunes immediately come to mind that favor your description.
Does The Madison Time sound familiar? This big band number, by the Ray Bryant Combo, is my pick as your mystery tune. A Top 30 hit from the spring of 1960, it includes narrative instructions on dancing the Madison, along with loads of you're lookin' good-type encourgment. Plus, he even says hit it!
If not that, how about It's Twine Time? Though a bit later than the time period you suggest, this 1965, Top 20 hit does begin with It's Twine time, followed soon with oh you're lookin' good. I'm betting it's The Madison Time. Let me know.
DEAR JERRY: Several years ago, you wrote a piece on the differences between a cover record and a remake. From your few paragraphs I learned more about this much-misunderstood topic than ever before.
One point I recall you making is that Elvis Presley never covered anyone else's hit. Not once.
Recently I began to think of songs by the Beatles, in this regard. While we know John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote most of their songs, in their early years they did remake quite a few older songs. Still, I don't believe they ever issued a cover version. Am I right about this?
Edwin Halee, Southern, Conn.
DEAR EDWIN: You certainly are, though there are a couple of tunes that some might think to be covers. Since John and Paul wrote From Me to You, and issued it first in England, they did not cover Del Shannon's version. In fact, he covered them, thus owning the distinction of being the first U.S. artist to release a Lennon-McCartney composition.
As for Act Naturally, the Beatles version featuring Ringo Starr's lead vocal came out two years after Buck Owens' original, so it is a remake and not a cover. Same goes for Twist and Shout, another remake.
DEAR JERRY: As a pre-teen in the '50s, I faithfully watched the Mickey Mouse Club on TV. Long after the Mouseketeers grew up and went off in different directions, I tried to keep up with their various entertainment-related adventures. Of course Annette Funicello was the biggest star and the easiest to keep track of. It is very sad to see the health problems (MS) she is now having.
Johnny Crawford is another one that had a good singing and acting career.
Some of the cast have passed away, and some (Darlene) have had their troubles with the law.
About 20 years ago I read that Cubby (O'Brien) was playing drums for the Carpenters, but never a word about him since. Can you tell me if he is still performing?
Also, while on the subject, when did Karen Carpenter die?
Kim Carlisle, New Haven, Conn.
DEAR KIM: Cubby is still pounding out a beat, most recently for Bernadette Peters. Cubby accompanied Broadway Baby Bernadette on her most recent west coast tour.
Karen, the velvety voice of the Carpenters, died of anorexia nervosa complications on February 4, 1983.
DEAR JERRY: I have a 12-year-old son who has just become interested in the older James Bond movies. He especially enjoys the theme songs and I am wondering if there is a compilation CD of the James Bond film songs, performed by the original artists?
Pete, via e-mail
DEAR PETE: You and that young double agent will be pleased to know that EMI has issued The Best of James Bond: 30th Anniversary Collection, a 19-track Bond blast. Nearly all the tunes are by the original artists.
Among the many essential Bond themes included are: The James Bond Theme (Monty Norman Orchestra); Goldfinger; Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever (Shirley Bassey); Nobody Does It Better (Carly Simon); A View to Kill (Duran Duran); For Your Eyes Only (Sheena Easton); Live and Let Die (Paul McCartney); All Time High (Rita Coolidge); License to Kill (Gladys Knight); From Russia with Love (Matt Monro); Thunderball (Tom Jones); You Only Live Twice (Nancy Sinatra); Man with the Golden Gun (Lulu).
DEAR JERRY: I heard a song titled Sugar Plum in the late '50s or early '60s, but have never ever heard it again. I wonder now if it it really exists. Its a doo-wop tune and very melodical. I would appreciate your expertise on this.
Doug Hale, Palm Harbor, Fla.
DEAR DOUG: Sugar Plum (Mercury 71975) is a summer '62 hit of sorts, by Ike Clanton. Nationally, the tune didn't do very well, charting for just two weeks and getting no higher than No. 95. Regionally, however, Sugar Plum did make the Top 40 in a number of areas, including Los Angeles where I lived in 1962.
IZ ZAT SO? Looking for a really tough trivia question to throw at that Beatles know-it-all friend? Try this one:
At first, nearly every Beatles original got covered by someone. The challenge is to name any that didn't.
Of their first 10 singles, only There's a Place and If I Fell qualify as uncovered.