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by Chuck Eddy

April 1, 2014

Hits You Never Heard Of, Pt. 13

by Chuck Eddy  |  April 1, 2014

Listening to this lucky 13th episode of "Hits You Never Heard Of" -- Rhapsody's attempt to alphabetically dredge up every interesting Hot 100 U.S. hit of the second half of the 20th century that almost everybody forgot existed until now -- a few interesting characters rise to the surface: Doo-wopping aliens invading from Mars to throw a dance for the human race, for instance (The Ran-Dells' impossibly nutty 1963 "Martian Hop," opening with whirly sci-fi electronics later swiped by glam-rockers Sweet); Christopher Columbus ("Like Columbus Did," where The Reflections board the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria in 1964 to discover a new gal); a handsome lifeguard whom a poolside-posted sign says you can't chat with (Diane Ray's 1963 "Please Don't Talk to the Lifeguard"); a scantily clad pinup ogled by truckers on Route 66 (Del Reeves' 1965 "Girl on the Billboard"); a poor girl who moves to a penthouse as revenge against The Four Seasons' "Rag Doll" (The Rag Dolls' 1964 "Society Girl"); a navy boy whose weekend furlough isn't long enough for his girlfriend (Diane Renay's 1964 "Kiss Me Sailor").

That those are all from the mid-'60s is somewhat curious -- but absolutely not a cause for concern. Joan Regan's "Croce Di Oro" -- that's "cross of gold" in Italian, even though Jean was British -- dates way back to 1955. And this playlist also has tunes from the '70s (manly soul from Gene Redding and Blowfly alter ego Clarence Reid, psychedelic folk rock from Quicksilver Messenger Service, frequent-traveler countrypolitan from Susan Raye, disco from Cerrone crony Don Ray and Pennsylvania band Q) to the '90s (post-George Michael London bubblebilly from Jimmy Ray, Star Trek-referencing Arizona alt from the Refreshments, L.A. girl-group pop from The Rebel Pebbles, nice-guy Barbados dancehall from Rayvon, lady R&B from Cleveland's Rebekah and Philly's Nicole Renée, London alt-dance-rock from Republica). Red Rockers' 1983 "China" and The Records' 1979 "Starry Eyes" form a shimmering pair of New Wave power pop janglers; the Rationals in 1966 and Genya Ravan in 1978 provide tough blue-eyed Motown covers; Red Rider and Dan Reed Network demonstrate mid-'80s AOR trying to get its funk on.

And somewhere in the middle of it all, there's Reunion's Top 10 1974 hit "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)," wherein Ohio Express veteran Joey Levine tallies probably the most tongue-twisting pop-culture laundry list ever to chart. Starts out "B. Bumble and the Stingers/ Mott the Hoople/ Ray Charles Singers/ Lonnie Mack and Twangin' Eddy/ Here's my ring, we're going steady"; keeps on speeding, for three and a half minutes, to "CBS and Warner Bros., RCA and all the others" and beyond. Thesis statement: "At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie." A more appropriate theme song for this playlist series has yet to be attempted.

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