Original v. Cover — #44 in a Series

This writer has other commitments early this evening, so if someone could kindly post an opening comment for ponies on my behalf, I would be most appreciative. Please check back later this evening for additional commentary about the video above, additional photo images and more music.

The above video provides a somewhat oblique hint regarding the title of this week’s selection and is also a very memorable scene from one of the greatest films of the twentieth century.

This week’s selection was recorded and released by a Cleveland-area rock and roll/garage rock group, first appearing on the Billboard Top 40 charts on March 26, 1966, where it would remain for ten weeks, peaking at #5, selling more than one million copies and earning Gold Record status.  This was the first, and most successful, of four Top 40 songs they would release during that year.  Although they produced four albums in the mid-1960s, none of their songs would again reach the Top 40 charts.

The group had been a well-established rhythm and blues band in the Cleveland area since 1958, performing as The Starfires until changing their name in 1965. After their followup single, #15 “Girls in Love” in June, 1966, former Starfires drummer Jimmy Foxx was brought in to perform on the remaining tracks of their first LP recording. Foxx would later co-found The James Gang with Joe Walsh, who eventually joined The Eagles in 1976.

The lead guitarist on this week’s selection, then a fifteen-year-old session player from Cleveland, Joe Balassarre, since went on to earn a Ph. D. in Early Music from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland in 1986, is considered an international authority in medieval period music, and is currently a professor of guitar at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho.  

Their second album, entitled, “Album 2”, regarded as their best effort, included their cover version of The Isley Brothers’ “Respectable”, which rose to #15 on the charts, first breaking into the Top 40 on August 20, 1966, remaining there for six weeks. Those close to the band at the time believed that the horn-laced “Respectable” better reflected the band’s trademark “Mersey Rock-Motown” sound than “Girls in Love” and might have been a better choice for the immediate followup to their first hit song.

Their third album, released in January, 1967, was the only one of the four that didn’t appear on the Billboard Top Albums charts, and included the song “Bend Me, Shape Me”, which was not released by the band as a single.  The American Breed did so in late 1967, taking the song to a #5 ranking on the Billboard Top 40 charts.

Allmusic described the group’s success as follows…

“…musical success lay in the group’s embellishments [with horns and strings], which slotted in perfectly with their basic three- or four-piece instrumental sound. . . . [H]owever bold and ambitious they got, one never lost the sense of a hard, solid band sound at the core. With Geraci’s magnificent singing out front, it was impossible for anyone with an ear for soul not to love how this group sounded, on their album tracks as well as their singles.”  

The group’s style was later reflected in the music of the Buckinghams and Chicago.

The group’s lead singer, Sonny Geraci, would later form the group Climax, whose single, “Precious and Few” made its first appearance on the Top 40 charts on January 22, 1972, where it would remain for twelve weeks, peaking at #3. The song sold more than a million copies and achieved Gold Record status.  

Having exhausted all hints at this time, without further ado, this week’s selection is the #5 hit song from 1966 by The Outsiders, entitled “Time Won’t Let Me.”  

Here is The Outsiders’ version from March, 1966…

Drummer Sandy Nelson was one of the best-known rock drummers of the early 1960s, recorded more than thirty albums during his career and produced three drum-oriented instrumentals that became Top 40 hits between 1959 and 1962 (remarkably, two of the three made the Top Ten and one achieved Gold Record status).  Nelson’s work as a session drummer can be heard on a number of other hits including “To Know Him Is to Love Him” by Phil Spector’s Teddy Bears in 1958, “Alley-Oop” by the Hollywood Argyles in 1960 and “A Thousand Stars” by Kathy Young and the Innocents in 1960. Even though Nelson was involved in a motorcycle accident in late 1963, resulting in the amputation of his right foot and part of his right leg, he continued to record two to three albums per year into the early 1970s.  

Nelson attended high school with Jan Berry and Dean Torrence, who were among the early pioneers of surf music, which occupied the limelight from about 1961 until the British Invasion in 1965. Their career as a duo suffered a severe setback on April 12, 1966.   Berry received severe head injuries when he crashed his Corvette into a parked truck just a short distance from Deadman’s Curve just two years after the song “Deadman’s Curve” had become a hit song. Berry had also separated from his girlfriend, singer-artist Jill Gibson, who was later a member of the Mamas and the Papas for a brief time.

The story of Berry’s courage and determination, as well as the duo’s devotion to each other in the aftermath of adversity provides important lessons for us all and can be read here by those who might be interested in learning more.

Here is Nelson’s rendition of “Time Won’t Let Me” from 1966…

Del Shannon launched nine songs onto the Billboard Top 40 charts from 1961 to 1982, and was best known for his #1 hit from 1961, “Runaway”, which remained in the top position for four consecutive weeks. Here is his cover version of “Time Won’t Let Me” from 1966…

The Heartbeats, an all-girl band from Lubbock, Texas, appeared on Dick Clark’s television series “Happening 68” in August and September of 1968, where they performed this cover version of “Time Won’t Let Me”…

Gene Pitney placed sixteen songs on the Billboard Top 40 charts between 1961 and 1968, and was perhaps best known for his #2 hit from 1962, “Only Love Can Break a Heart.”

Here is his interpretation of “Time Won’t Let Me” from 1968…

Punk rocker and occasional actor Iggy Pop recorded this cover version in 1981…

Belgian martial artist and actor Jean Claude Van Damme (aka “The Muscles from Brussels”) appears in this video along with The Smithereens on August 26, 1994…

Jim Belushi filled in for his deceased brother, John, allowing the Belushi-Akroyd connection to continue. He may not be the world’s greatest singer, but hey, it’s all in fun. In this case, the visuals overshadow the audio.  Here the duo performs their interpretation of “Time Won’t Let Me” from May 20, 2003…

Bubblegum fans will not doubt be excited to know that the 1910 Fruitgum Company has apparently regrouped and are performing again. This group placed five songs on the Billboard Top 40 charts in 1968 and 1969, three ranked either #4 or #5, including “Simon Says”, “1,2,3, Red Light” and “Indian Giver.”  Here they perform “Time Won’t Let Me”, a song that would have been completely out of character for them during their heyday.  Here is their performance at the Deerfield Harvest Fest in New Jersey on October 12, 2008…

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  1. I voted for the Outsiders because of their truly fab hairdos!  😀

    That clip from the 39 Steps was mesmerizing … haven’t seen that movie since I was a tot.

  2. In my haste this evening, I forgot to specify a 7:00 P.M. PDT publish time, causing it to autopublish earlier than planned.  To anyone who might have been inconvenienced by this error, please accept my heartfelt apologies.

    Here are a few other photo images that were considered as possibilities for opening this week’s essay…

    This juxtaposes time and music…

    Time machine Pictures, Images and Photos

    From the 1960s film “The Time Machine”, based upon the book by H. G. Wells…

    time machine Pictures, Images and Photos

    Perhaps Salvador Dali is referring to some kind of time warp in the following surrealistic painting from 1931 entitled, “The Persistence of Memory”, which has been part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City since 1934…

    Salvidor Dali 3 Pictures, Images and Photos

    Possible themes suggested by the Big Ben clock scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, “The 39 Steps”, might include a reference to the Rolling Stones’ song “Time Is On My Side” (or not), or “time waits for no one” (well, most of the time).   Perhaps the visual of the man hanging from the minute hand of the clock might have been a suitable image to open this writer’s earlier Original v. Cover essay for “You Keep Me Hanging On.”  

    The followup to “Time Won’t Let Me” was the much mellower “Girls in Love”, which first appeared on the Top 40 charts on June 4, 1966, where it remained for five weeks, reaching only #21…

    The Outsiders’ second most successful single was their third Top 40 hit, a cover version of the Isley Brothers’ “Respectable”,  which first reached the Top 40 on August 20, 1966, remaining on that list for six weeks and peaking at #15…

    The Outsiders’ fourth and final Top 40 hit, “Help Me Girl”, was also recorded by Eric Burden and the Animals and was written by the songwriting duo of Scott English and Larry Weiss, who also wrote “Bend Me, Shape Me.”

    The Outsiders’ version appeared on the Top 40 charts on December 10, 1966, exactly three weeks before the Animals version did likewise.  While the Animals had slightly more success (their version remained in the Top 40 for four weeks, and peaked at #29), the Outsiders’ version remained in the Top 40 for only two weeks, rising to a #37 ranking…

    Some at the time thought that “Lonely Man” had hit potential; however, the Outsiders did not release it as a single.  Keeping in mind that songs sometimes must be heard several times before they are appreciated, what is your opinion?

    Here is The Outsiders’ cover version of the Temptations #1 hit from 1965, “My Girl”, which appeared on their first album, “Time Won’t Let Me”, from 1966…

    Here is a rather interesting version of “Bend Me, Shape Me”, which pre-dated the #5 hit version released by the American Breed in late 1967…

    As mentioned earlier, lead vocalist Vince Geraci formed the group Climax, the one hit wonder, whose #3 song in 1972, “Precious and Few” sold more than a million copies and achieved Gold Record status…

    The James Gang was co-founded by Jimmy Foxx, formerly a drummer with The Outsiders, perhaps best known for “Funk #49”, which peaked at #49 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, appearing on their 1970 album, “The James Gang Rides Again.”  For a trip down memory lane, give this one a listen…

  3. or does Sandy Nelson’s biggest hit, “Teen Beat”, which remained on the Top 40 charts for twelve weeks, peaking at #4 in 1959 not sound familiar?

  4. compete with the Beach Boys in the vocal surf music genre…

    Their biggest hit was “Surf City”, which first appeared on the Top 40 charts on June 22, 1963, remained there for eleven weeks and occupied the #1 slot for two weeks…

    Their second biggest hit was the humorous “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena”, which first appeared in the Top 40 on July 4, 1964, remaining there for ten weeks and peaking at #3…

    And here is their oddly and tragically prophetic hit “Deadman’s Curve”, which first appeared in the Top 40 on March 28, 1964, remaining there for eleven weeks, and peaking at #8, a little more than a year before Jan Berry’s tragic car accident in almost that same exact location, somewhat reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix’ rendition of “I Don’t Live Today”…

  5. strive to purchase any bubble gum music, here is the 1910 Fruitgum Company’s first and biggest hit, “Simon Says”, which rose to #4 in 1968, providing a real alternative for those who didn’t like Jimi Hendrix…

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