Hits You Never Heard Of, Part 4
by Chuck Eddy | September 14, 2012
So yet again, in a bid to come to terms with lost Hot 100 chart hits of the second half of the 20th century, I've been paging through Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1999 to find songs whose entries make my eyes pop out of my head, but whose music doesn't make my ears shrivel up. Part 1 of this series covered The Accents through Choirboys, Part 2 The Choir through Figures on a Beach, Part 3 The Five Blobs through Stuart Hamblen. This time we get from The Harden Trio (twee 1966 Brit invaders with "Tippy Toeing," no. 44 in the U.S.) to Jewell (with two L's, i.e. not the Alaskan folkie, but the L.A. Dr. Dre protégé who reached no. 72 in 1996 with a hip-hoppish R&B update of Shirley Brown's "Woman to Woman," from the Murder Was a Case soundtrack).
Jewell is one of several '90s rap and R&B footnotes to make this playlist -- surrounded by quiet-stormy Chicagoans Miki Howard and Alfonzo Hunter, verbally dexterous East Coasters Ill Al Skratch and High & Mighty, and goofy Floridians Home Team and Hi-Town DJs. After which, white-boy Young MC wannabe Jesse Jaymes asks us to "Shake It (Like a White Girl)" (no. 74, 1991), and after that, Jennifer Love Hewitt shakes it like a white girl ("How Do I Deal," no. 59, 1999). But at least she leaves her shirt on -- not the case with earlier singing celebrity Joey Heatherton on the cover of The Joey Heatherton Album, from which I've drawn her no. 87 1972 cover of Brenda Lee's "I'm Sorry." Other covers include two rousing and snotty forgotten New Wave-era garage-rock nugget revivals that open the mix: U.K. post-pub greaseballs The Inmates' no. 59 1979 take on The Standells' "Dirty Water," then Brooklyn reggae-rock songster Garland Jeffreys' no. 66 1981 redo of ? and the Mysterians' "96 Tears" -- the closest he has ever come to an actual hit, in a deservedly critically acclaimed career that has now spanned nearly four decades.
Oregon cult-folk songwriter Tim Hardin, author of "If I Were a Carpenter," among other hits, didn't last nearly as long as Jeffreys -- he overdosed on heroin in 1980 -- but he, too, only hit the Hot 100 once as a performer, with the Bobby Darin-penned (and presumably Vietnam-inspired) war protest "Simple Song of Freedom" in 1969. He's not the only war correspondent here, either: See also Industry, Hedgehoppers Anonymous, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and maybe hillbilly comedy duo Homer and Jethro, though the latter's no. 14 1959 "The Battle of Kookamonga" is technically a "Battle of New Orleans" parody where camping Boy Scouts lust over Girl Scouts.
A few additional notables: Bull Moose Jackson, the 1919-born jump-bluesman from whom Aerosmith learned "Big Ten Inch Record," taking a new version of his 1948 78-rpm smash "I Love You Yes I Do" to no. 98 in 1961 (uncertain which version the one playlisted here is, to be honest, but it's still worth hearing); Robert Hazard, the Philly faux-waver from whom Cyndi Lauper learned "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," riding his "Escalator of Life" onto MTV and a no. 58 chart peak in 1983; Chicago country-rock softies Heartsfield stretching 1974's no. 95 "Music Eyes" almost to an surely-longer-than-the-AM-radio-edit eight minutes; and Aussie wobble-boarder and kangaroo-roper Rolf Harris making not-as-funny-as-he-wishes puns about "Nick Teen and Al K.Hall" (no. 95, 1963). I thoughtfully saved that one for the end, in case you can't get through it.