Hits You Never Heard Of, Pt. 11
The 11th edition of this long-running exploration of Hot 100 singles that fell through the historical cracks is culled from the "O" and "P" pages of Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1999 book, which makes for intriguing juxtapositions: For instance, who knew groups called both The Paradons (from Bakersfield, Calif.) and The Paragons (from Brooklyn) had sweet doo-wop hits in '60-'61? And also on the soul harmony tip, how neat is it that The Ovations ("It's Wonderful to Be in Love," 1965) reformed years later with alumni of Ollie and the Nightingales ("I Got a Sure Thing," 1968)?
This playlist starts with two wonderfully obscure answer songs: The Pearlettes' 1962 "Duchess of Earl" (from two months after Gene Chandler's "Duke of Earl") and ex-Gene Vincent sideman Paul Peek's 1961 "Brother-In-Law" (from two months after Ernie K-Doe's "Mother-in-Law"). Pat and the Satellites' interplanetary 1959 rockabilly instrumental "Jupiter-C" segues into Paper Lace's 1974 motorbike glam "The Black-Eyed Boys," which segues into Opus' Austrian 1986 bierhall-handclap disco-prog "Live Is Life." By then, you're stuck.
Oxo's 1983 "Whirly Girl" is Ish Ledesma of Company B and Foxy sort-of-fame making a twirly New Wave move, so it made sense to head from there into the two most propulsive dance records in the mix -- Latin freestyle girl trio Pajama Party's breathless 1989 "Yo No Sé" and Detroit funk band One Way's ebullient 1982 "Cutie Pie." Or-N-More, The Outhere Brothers, and Kingston dancehall dame Patra all hail from the '90s; The Pasadenas' Brit-quintet retro-soul homage "Tribute (Right On)" from just a couple months before the '90s got underway. Then, after more excellent old R&B and older doo-wop, we slip into the scarier realm of '70s soft rock.
The Original Caste's ominous "One Tin Soldier," later a much bigger hit for converted occult-ritual witches Coven as the theme from Billy Jack, signals the transition. Then moonlighting actor Michael Parks swipes a Bob Dylan melody, ex-Elton John sideman Nigel Olsson swipes a Tom Waits melody, and Calgary lumberjacks Painter swipe a Guess Who riff.
Graham Parker, who made the second and fourth most critically acclaimed albums of 1976, contributes a non-LP Trammps cover that got to No. 58 in 1977. He's followed by a 1983 pub-country duet between Robert Ellis Orrall (JEFF The Brotherhood's dad) and Carlene Carter (June Carter's daughter) and sundry other lost pop-rock trifles, culminating in Off Broadway's 1980 Chicago power pop and The Peanut Butter Conspiracy's 1967 California bubble-psych. Some of it might go in one ear and out the other, but it'll sure feel nice before it gets through.