Hits You Never Heard Of, Part 7
by Chuck Eddy | April 12, 2013
We are now approximately halfway through our alphabetical project excavating intriguing U.S. Hot 100 hits from the second half of the 20th century that most everybody has forgotten. (See the six previous installments here.) And what's curious about this, the L-through-M installment, is how much of it qualifies as Latin pop of some sort or other.
Partly that's due to four acts whose names start with "Los" (Spanish '60s garagers Los Bravos, Brazilian '60s guitar-brother duo Los Indios Tabajaras, Spanish turn-of-the-'70s vocal septet Los Pop Tops and Spanglish-rapping Danish/African '90s post-disco goofs Los Umbrellos). But there are also '70s Latin funk-rock bands Malo and Mandrill, conga-percussioned part-Equadorian early '90s Miami boy band Linear, also-early-'90s Brooklyn Latin freestyle singer Lil Suzy, Mexican American early '90s Cali rap duo Lighter Shade of Brown, Spanglish-jabbering '80s French post-disco goofs Magazine 60, and early-'60s L.A. doo-woppers Little Caesar and The Romans -- an African American group originally known as The Cubans, until the Bay of Pigs, anyway.
Of course, there's non-Latin-leaning stuff, too, beginning with two gorgeous soul obscurities from 1970 Chicago, by one group aptly called The Lost Generation and another called The Lovelites, the latter three girls pondering how to inform parents about an accidental pregnancy. Conversely, way down the playlist, there's a 1967 Top 10 spoken-word monstrosity by Michigan radio personality Victor Lundberg, who threatens to disown his longhaired teenage son if he dodges the draft. Long hair also figures in Donna Lynn's 1964 "My Boyfriend Got a Beatle Haircut," though not in Bob Luman's 1960 Top 10 "Let's Think About Living," with its astounding first line: "In every other song that I've heard lately, some fellow gets shot."
Otherwise: "Living in a Box," by '80s Brit trio Living in a Box, is concerned with living in a box. A cardboard box. Shorty Long's funky 1966 "Function at the Junction" ("We got Ling Ting Tong from China … We serving egg foo young and barbecue") and Hank Locklin's 1957 country hit "Geisha Girl" ("dressed in Oriental style") feel rather outdated in their use of Asian stereotypes. The latter concerns a lovelorn soldier, as does British World War II-era servicemen's sweetheart Vera Lynn's also-1957 "The Faithful Hussar (Don't Cry My Love)." Mere months earlier, comedian and telethon insomniac Jerry Lewis had his only Top 10 -- also included here -- with a minstrel-show-ready Al Jolson cover. Fortunately, Houston rapper Lil' Troy's posse-assisted and mixtape-(and millennium)-ending 1999 "Wanna Be a Baller" is at least as catchy.