Hits You Never Heard Of, Pt. 12
by Chuck Eddy | January 18, 2014
This series of playlists continues its alphabetical safari through Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1999 book, bagging songs that went Hot 100 in the U.S., then got erased from the radio and recollection as quickly as they'd appeared. This edition is comprised entirely of artists whose names start with "P" -- but that's not their only common denominator.
For one thing, this mix starts out unusually dark and desperate, beginning with "Where Evil Grows," an ominously titled No. 45 1971 single by The Poppy Family, an easy-listening-ish Canadian singing group led by a couple whose marriage was collapsing. Pennsylvania girl trio The Pixies Three endure a "Cold, Cold Winter" in 1964; a decade later, U.K. folkies Prelude skeletally cover a Neil Young prophecy of ecological disaster: Polar vortex, anyone? Two bleak near-hits follow from largely forgotten '70s singer-songwriters, Brian Protheroe and Andy Pratt.
Pratt's "Avenging Annie" also happens to be one of two songs here about women with that name. Joe Perkins' "Little Eefin' Annie," which hit No. 76 in 1963, is even weirder: a missing link between a hiccupy 19th-century Appalachian novelty shtick called "eefing," performed here by future Hee Haw regular Jimmy Riddle, and human beatbox rap.
Jamaican ska toaster Prince Buster's biblically misogynistic No. 81 1967 rant "Ten Commandments" also presages hip-hop. But way more common on this playlist are a stack of long-lost instrumentals, including three named after animals: The Pets' 1958 "Cha-Hua-Hua," The Piltdown Men's 1960 "Brontosaurus Stomp," Pretty Purdie's 1967 "Funky Donkey." From there, the playlist hustles through the disco era; Philly Cream (lamenting the demise of Motown, Beatles, live TV and Coke bottles) and Philly Devotions both come from, duh, Philadelphia.
Then lots of sweet R&B harmonies -- from the '60s (The Pentagons, The Poets) to the '90s (Perfect Gentlemen, Phajja). Then 1994 dancehall (Dawn Penn) into 1995 Miami house (Planet Soul) into space-pomp AOR from 1983 (Planet P) and 1977 (Prism's wacky "Spaceship Superstar"). There's more -- but if you're not curious by now, you're clearly in need of a curiosity transplant.