Countdown Saturday – March 27, 1967

It’s Countdown Saturday! Here’s the backstory on the Top 13 hits from the WKNR Music Guide for the week ending March 27, 1967.

13. The Story of My Life – The Unrelated Segments – During the Unrelated Segments brief prime (1966-1968) the garage band from Taylor, Michigan released three singles, the most popular of which was “The Story of My Life.” Keener played a huge role in generating airplay and notoriety for Lead Singer, Ron Stults’ unique performance. The group had success with a follow-up, “Where You Gonna Go?” and became regulars at Russ Gibb’s Grande Ballroom, opening for some of the hottest bands of their day, including  SpiritSpencer Davis Group, Jeff Beck, The Who and the MC5.

12. Happy Togetherthe Turtles – Happy Together, written by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon, arranged by Chip Douglas, and produced by Joe Wissert, was an instant smash when it was released in February of 1967, knocking The Beatles’ “Penny Lane” out of the Billboard Number 1 spot. It was a Keener Hit Number 1, riding the WKNR Music Guide for 10 weeks, the first of eleven Turtles tunes to make chart appearances.

11. The Love I Saw In You Was Just a MirageSmokey Robinson & The Miracles – Produced by  Smokey Robinson, who co-wrote it with Marv Tarplin, this one is unique in the Miracles cannon for featuring Tarplin on a 12-string guitar. It also was the first tune where the unit was branded as “Smokey Robinson” and the Miracles, the name that would be associated with the group until Smokey left the band in 1972 and Billy Griffin took over lead vocals.

10. For What It’s WorthBuffalo Springfield – Many remember this one as an anti-war song, when, in fact, Stephen Stills was inspired to write it in response to the Sunset Strip curfew riots in November 1966. On Saturday, November 12, 1966, nearly 1,000 demonstrators, including the likes of Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda gathered to protest against enforcement of a curfew whipped up by the city fathers in response to complaints about noise and loitering in the vicinity of the strip’s performance venues. Springfield recorded “For What It’s Worth” the following month.

9. Sweet Soul MusicArthur Conley  – Co-written with Otis Redding, with an opening riff inspired by Elmer Bernstein‘s score for the 1960 movie The Magnificent Seventhis Arthur Conley hit “spotlights” the popular R&B acts of the day. Lawyers for the late Sam Cooke thought the song sounded a little too much like Cook’s “Yeah Man” and the singer’s name was added to the writing credits.

8. With This Ring – The Platters – The Platters had endured several line-up changes and a dry spell where the 50s icons recordings didn’t find favor with fans. “With This Ring” featured  Sonny Turner on lead vocals and was the second to last significant chart appearance for the group before they retreated to the nostalgia circuit.

7. Bernadette – The Four Tops – The song writing and production team of Holland–Dozier–Holland helped make Motown the juggernaut it ultimately became. They were responsible for dozens of hit records including 10 out of the Supremes’ 12 chart toppers. With the Funk Brothers playing backup and Levi Stubbs plaintive wail up front, Bernadette, with it’s false ending and powerful reprise became one of the Four Tops’ most requested songs.

6. Jimmy MackMartha and the Vandellas – Holland-Dozier-Holland help cook up this smash, too. Originally recorded in 1964, Motown held the song’s release because it sounded too much like the Supremes. Reeves felt that part of “Jimmy Mack’s” popularity was connected with the Vietnam War where more and more of the nation’s young men in uniform were reading letters from home asking when they were “coming back.”

5. This Is My SongPetula Clark – Silent film star Charlie Chaplin wrote “This Is My Song” for his film A Countess from Hong Kong, with the intention of having Al Jolson sing it. The legendary vaudevillian died by the time the film was released and only an instrumental version is heard on the soundtrack. Petula Clark didn’t like “This Is My Song” and protested it’s release. It ended a brief dry spell in her career after initial success with “Downtown” and became a standard at her concerts and the title of her autobiography.

4. Western UnionThe Five Americans – Guitarist Norman Ezell told Michael Oberman that lead guitar player Mike Rabon, “..was just fooling around with his guitar when he came up with a unique sound. It sort of reminded us of a telegraph key. That’s when we decided to write ‘Western Union.” It would be the DurantOklahoma band’s one hit wonder. The former “Mutineers” broke up two years later. 

3. A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit YouThe Monkees – This Neil Diamond composition, paired with Michael Nesmith‘s “The Girl I Knew Somewhere“, was a huge follow up to Diamond’s “I’m a Believer” and epitomized the growing tension between the band and producer Don Kirshner.  Davy Jones flew from Hollywood to New York to record the lead vocal with producer Jeff Barry, but the band members were happy about the fact that none of their material, Save Nesmith’s B side, was included in the More of the Monkees LP.

2. In the Midnight Hour – The Wanted – Grosse Pointe, Michigan’s The Wanted released a half dozen singles on the local Detroit Sound imprint and a few nationally promoted releases on A&M records. But only their cover of Wilson Pickett’s “In The Midnight Hour” generated enough traction, thanks again to Keener airplay, to give the band significant chart success.

1. Something StupidFrank and Nancy Sinatra – Originally recorded by Van Dyke Parks older brother Carson, in partnership with his wife, Gaile Foote, Carson & Foote’s version of “Something Stupid” came to Sinatra’s attention. He asked Nancy’s sometime collaborator Lee Hazlewood what he thought of the tune. Hazlewood famously said, “If you don’t record it with Nancy, I will.” Sinatra booked studio time that same day.

Here’s a YouTube Playlist of this Week’s Countdown Saturday Hits.

Thanks for listening!

Scott Westerman
Host and Producer – Rock and Roll Revisited
Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit