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Darren J. Ray

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Reply with quote  #46 
I chose these songs as singles that were all hits here in Australia but were not hits in their artist's country of origin. 

None of them were hits in the US. 

'Wheeling West Virginia' only charted here in Australia (#20). 

'Trans-Canada Highway' was only released in Europe and Australia, and only a hit here (#14). I've been informed it went to #1 here in Brisbane. 

'Real Men' was only a big hit here (#6). #17 in the Netherlands. It went to #89 in the UK. Didn't chart in the US. 

'Cottonfields' was #1 here as well as South Africa and some European charts. Also a hit in various other countries. #5 in the UK. #13 in New Zealand. Went all the way to #103 in the US!

Now my votes...
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Darren J. Ray

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Reply with quote  #47 

Gold - Trans-Canada Highway (Gene Pitney - 1975)
To my knowledge, Gene’s last big hit in Australia. In fact, I’m told it went to #1 here in Brisbane. And it was a hit only in our country. So you think he would’ve done it at every concert he did here. Nope! I saw Gene live 10 times and I think he did it twice, and not at all in the last few years. It’s a great record. An adulterous tale. Bad Gene! How’s that rhythm section? Listen for the bass on the pre-chorus. Or those answering violins in the second verse. Gene used locals for the string section here in concert, and I laughed one time when Maurice Merry, his MD, gave the two nervous girls a ‘well done’ look mid-song once they’d pulled it off. My band has closed with this song for many years. It’s very popular and a great end to a show. RIP Uncle Gene.

Silver - Real Men (Joe Jackson - 1982)
Not exactly a boy-meets-girl type of song. Sweet melody juxtaposed with a challenging lyric. Used to do it in my solo act. Still trying to be a real man.

Bronze - Wheeling West Virginia (Neil Sedaka - 1969)
Recorded in Sydney with Australian musicians and only a hit here (#20). Arranged by John Farrar. Co-written with the late Howie Greenfield, I love the strong storyline and wordplay in this. Neil Sedaka is a survivor, unaffected, and should definitely be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s a shocking oversight that he’s not (yet Pitney is). Obviously a major, major talent and writer. And apparently a good friend of Brian Wilson. (There’s a recording of a phone call between the two on YouTube.)

Participant - Cottonfields (The Beach Boys - 1970)
Enjoyable but not a fave Beach Boys track, although I prefer this version to the 20/20 one. It was a #1 hit here and gets played a lot on radio. And it was released on Sunflower here as well.


None of these singles were hits in the US and only ‘Cottonfields’ was in the UK. They ALL were in Australia.

(Neil on I’ve Got a Secret, hosted by Steve Allen. Check out his playing of a Chopin piece.)


From an article in The Guardian in 2012:

In 1956, his teacher sent a recording of the 17-year-old Sedaka playing Prokofiev's fiendish 
‘Third Piano Sonata’ for submission to the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire in Moscow. Sedaka was accepted to play for a place at one of the most prestigious and competitive classical music hothouses. But a couple of weeks before he was due to go out to Russia, "I was disqualified, because they had heard that my name was associated with writing American capitalistic rock'n'roll." It's a tantalising thought, what Sedaka would have become in the classical world if that Moscow experience had worked out differently.

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paul g adsett

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Reply with quote  #48 

bronze: 'wheeling west virginia'
- i'm a little concerned, mr sedaka, as to your route.

maybe there'd be nothing backed up on the freeway at that time,
did you take the 10 east / santa monica freeway onto the 2 / hollywood freeway
all the way round to sunset blvd?
i'd be inclined to avoid them completely
and travel via la cienega blvd right up to santa monica blvd and then up into laurel canyon.
but, i don't drive, so what do i know?
well, i navigate the missus up and down and around,
so these biiig streets are familiar.
m
gm lost their plot, had many a sale and move to century city,
whilst sony took on the studios with its grand colonnaded front
and the old mgm archway now has 'sony pictures...'writ large across it.

and, methinks, someone lost the plot here with this song,
the upbeatness belies the potential (no, actual) tragedy beneath.
with the forced tick-tock-work routine and trials and tribulations
hanging heavy on a lauded actor 'playin' 'the star'
but hanging over for but one more day...
then what?
free to indulge in rich boy different 'make believin'' hedonistic escapades?
to slide into a different world out of touch with your roots and reality.
that way, insecurity, despair, booze'n'substances.
it doesn't bode well, really, as 'endless pretendin' - but that's all you are'
and that 'it faded long ago...' hints.
and a seemingly yet more enforced jolliness returns for the song's exit'n'fade.

neil sedaka, working with some fine co-writers
(here it's longtime compadre neil greenfield)
knows how to create a complex story in a few well honed lyrics
- thiis'd work very very well in the context of a musical
musically, just dig that sparklin', swingin' vibe!
that vibrating 'ho-o-o-o-ome' indicating this chap's contemporary hipness
(oh, lordy, it's not a merely late 60's psychedelicate trope,
i just realised it presages bowie's 'ashes to ashes')..
i like it more and more
(and it's the only time i can remember playing an entry at least 4 consecutive times,
just to ingest more of what's going on).
good stuff.
good stuff, indeed, but not as good as...

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paul g adsett

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Reply with quote  #49 

silver: 'cottonfields'
-what a song!
- it doesn't exude the jumpy, spontaneous slurring authenticity of leadbelly's original recording
(
may i repeat here my little known factoid that melinda
is a distant relative of huddie ledbetter,
so i believe...).
- it hasn't the high-voice'n'harmony old-stylee harmony group loping declamation
that the highwaymen bring.
- it doesn't clippity-clop in quite a walkin'-the-line way that johnny cash walks it.
- it's not hokey like creedence clearwater revival's version
that lacks most of what made a ccr song great.

there's just so much to like here
(despite a too much 'boxed in' overall sound).
if only al had been able to bring more of this influence into the bb's
t
hey might've accrued some reputation as original purveyors of folk rock / americana.
(and, as i write this, i'm looking forward to a performance by
fairport convention,
godfathers of british folk rock
- with their 50th anniversary coming up next year)
this outshines the more stark, more shuffle-ploddy-jaw's-harpy-plingy version
that lacks the sparkle shown here,
but i don't dislike either version.
i love the way al's vocal seems to extend in from somewhere echoey way out back
to reach the front, crisp'n'dry.
i love the way the depth of instrumental arrangement kicks in.
i love the snare drum.
 love the 'dum dum di-di-dit 'doings under the 'don't care if...' bit.
i love the soaring exuberant chorus
and all they weave into the music.
i love mike's(?) underlying 'get me back to louisiana'.
i love the shake yer jingle bells percussion
and pedal steel outro.

i didn't know until far too late on that it was the great red rhodes.
adding those pedal steel guitar licks
otherwise i'd've given him an even bigger smile'n'handshake
when we saw him play a faaab duo date here in sunny brighton
with mike nesmith in 1974).

but, it fails to hit gold.

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bonnie bella

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Reply with quote  #50 
My votes.

GOLD - TBB.  For some reason our classic station plays this more than most other BB songs, but I don't think it's this version.  First time I heard it on the radio, I just knew it was the boys.  It's beautiful.  I first thought that Texakana was a chain of petrol stations, and imagined a long hot hike down a dusty road with a battered old petrol can.  But google informs me it's actually a town.  I bet they're happy they get a nod!

SILVER - Joe.  First thought - wow!  Michael Jackson's father also had a musical career?  How did I miss that?  But within seconds of pressing play I knew I was way off!  We've got Mr Message here, it seems he has a few choice words to share. Never heard it before, but found it listenable, interesting, melodic, climatic, and a tad angry.  Good on you, Joe Not-Michael Jackson's-Dad Jackson.

BRONZE - Gene and his Pits.  Actually pretty funky.  If DAN hasn't voted yet, I'm willing to bet this will be his Gold.  (Am I right?? [smile])  It's one of those songs that is really interesting and toe tapping on a Monday, but by Friday, he's just a little to bouncy, and if heard before coffee is ingested, intolerable.

TIN - Ah, we come to Neil, he of the sideways part and monthly woman exchange.  The part where he enters a tunnel and wails "thousands of miles from hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooommme" makes me wince.  So I end up wincing twice, which causes wrinkles.  Health and beauty hazard, so this is not a song for me, I'm afraid.

Thanks Darren, it looks like you have a pretty close battle this week.

One more from Gene.


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paul g adsett

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Reply with quote  #51 
oh, sorry to clog up the works,
but these were bits wot i wrote over the previous days,
and needed to find t'internet signal to post from assorted places
as we headed south.
and then some didn't... 

gold: 'real men'
-one of those artists whose work i really appreciate,
but, like david hockney,as a person,
annoys the lungs out of me
by so actively espousing cigarette smoking
as to detract, in my eyes and innards
from their brilliance and from their work.
daft, i know, since i put up with not only quirky idiocycracies
amongst the 'artist' frater'n'soror'n'anypoint-inbetweenity
and, let's face it downright glaring personality flaws 
(van morrison / miles davis / wagner...)
in my some of favouritest-of-all musicians.
but, joe, it leaves a passively received 'gggrrr' in the throat
when you winge on about the right to smoke
(hmmm, the tobacco lobby has probably been seeking
a packet of 20th amendment to allow for that right.
'hit me with that canceer stick!')...
rant over and back to the glories of  mr jackson's music
and the track that strikes gold this week in my minefield.
 
i've followed his work since before the first album.
coming out of the maritime city of portsmouth,
just along the coast,
(apparently, like crystal palace,
us brightonians are supposed to hate portsmouth,
due to some football rivalry,
but bollocks to that.
plus, i went to college to get my professional doings there,
and, as a grammar school boy who trembles at their possible reemergence
under this new boss,
i was quite happy, thankyou, that it was then a polytechnic
and none of this universal wanna-be-a-university nonsense that came along
and was fairy-godmothered by a previous govt
...)
joe used a format similar to evis c and the fab attractions,
in those early days

a whoosh of power pop sound,
often cynical, snaring lyrics,
but with, for me, more breadth and scope
that, as it might dilute an attack on aspects of humanity,
its foibles, personal, others' or universal,
also showed a compassion lacking in elvis.
(though there's a distinct overlap here with 'imperial bedroom',
which is, i think contemporaneous
and where ec used grander productions to suuround his songs.
not sure if i'm putting it in a way y'might understand
('now', i hear you say, 'there's a first,
he's trying to be comprehensible!),
but the pair shouldn't ever be lumped together
as 'the same' or 'which one's better'
(and, ok, that's the problem with this botb malarkey,
innit, in that it's, as advertised, adversarial...).
maybe ben folds is a nearer equivalent.
they all explore the same territory in overlapping fashion,
but are quite distinct.
 
i've bought just about all joe's albums
and seen some top top live performances by many different jackson lineups.
he'd bring his band along to sunny brighton.
and they were sometimes magnificent.
the reunion tour of that original lineup showed just what a great repertoire he so rapidly built.
his jumpin' jive band brought music i'd heard from my parents back to the fore.
and then the large group, with some gorgeous new york / latin sounds and fab percussion
there's also the instrumental piano stuff and the (hushed voice) 'serious' albums.
to contend with. shows his strengths both musically and arrangingly,
but, similarly, weaknesses.
sometimes magnificent,
but also teetering into near formula mawkishness a tad too often. 
crikey, meandering again...
 
must concentrate on this song entry.
for me,
it's one that throws his observation, 
awareness of failings and a sensitivity into the best light.
great vocal, fab arrangement and playing.
only bit i hesitate and am ambivalent about is
the 'oo-wow-o-wowo-wow-wow-oooo' belting out.
otherwise it's more than pretty dashed good.
and, as with the aztec camera track i posted below,
it eschews butchness and addresses the foibles and failings of men,
with a touch of the feminine side trickling through
all in a short song in the poular idiom.
 
but, there's still that question of fags....

but, it still, as i transpose this onto
the blue/green/whatever-colour-it's become board
it remains my toppermost choice this week.

cheers
.
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paul g adsett

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Reply with quote  #52 
in the spirit of sharing and comparing,
how about joe jackson covering a number by
a firm favourite band here
(though usually later songs are given space
- here it's an interpretation of an early, edgy number)
on a 'tribute album' to xtc



cheers
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t bedford

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Reply with quote  #53 
Wholly gee-had? Turn to the East & listen to Gene Pitney - Mecca

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Tom Tobben

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Reply with quote  #54 
Just checking in now under the wire -- too busy this past week watching the Olympics and various other projects. So, without further ado:

Gold -- "Real Men", Joe Jackson. A fine song and challenging set of lyrics from Joe's excellent album, Night and Day, which I've had ever since it first came out in vinyl -- perhaps his best album. Excellent song which candidly poses the question of what it means to be a real man and who the real men are. Lovely piano accompaniment by Joe as well. A class above all the rest this week.

Silver -- "Cottonfields", Beach Boys. The Beach Boys' cover of this famous Leadbelly classic makes its reappearance in this week's battle, after I had initially used it a few years ago in my "Ledbetter tribute" battle week in 2013. With a much different "Beach Boys" pop interpretation than the earlier Leadbelly version, it became a catchy tune, as compared to his more rootsy folk blues version:
  

Bronze -- "Wheeling, West Virginia", Neil Sedaka. Not a particularly noteworthy song, but it is based on a real town of about 25,000 people in rural West Virginia, and some guy who supposedly goes west to LA to make the big time. One thing noteworthy about this small town is that it was the home of not one but two Major League Baseball members of the Hall of Fame -- the late Jesse Burkett and Bill Mazeroski -- and the late powerful United Auto Workers labor union leader, Walter Ruether.

Over the years, Brooklyn native and former Brill Building pop songwriter Neil Sedaka wrote, or co-wrote, and performed numerous hit songs, as well as wrote songs for others. I mostly preferred his early 60s hits, such as "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do",  "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" and "Calendar Girl", but I also liked some of his comeback songs in the mid-70s, such as "Laughter in the Rain", "Love Will Keep Us Together", "Bad Blood", and his slowed down reinterpretation of "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do". For me, this week's battle song doesn't compare to any of those Neil Sedaka classics, but his pop tunesmithing is still evident in this song.

Tin -- "Trans-Canada Highway", Gene Pitney. Like Sedaka, a highly successful singer/songwriter with a long list of hits for himself and others, but like the Sedaka song above, this one does not hold up to his best work or to my favorites in this week's battle. My favorite hit songs by Pitney would include "Town without Pity", "Only Love Can Break A Heart", "It Hurts to Be in Love", and perhaps "Liberty Valance". The lustful guy in this song should have known better and now he's on the run and eventually gonna pay the price. A story unfortunately repeated over and over.  


An interesting collection of songs, all by well-known artists, that were hits in your country, Darren, but that never charted in the US.

bonnie, in case you didn't look it up, the town of Texarkana got its unusual name because it is right near the borders of the states of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana, here in the southern US. 
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Darren J. Ray

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Reply with quote  #55 
Thanks a lot for the votes and comments, bonnie, Paul & Tom. 

Okay, just waiting for DAN to confirm the scores and hopefully vote, and then I'll post the results. 
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D.A.N

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Reply with quote  #56 
GOLD Beach Boys
SILVER Jackson

BRONZE Sedaka / Pitney (sorry, Bonnie)[wink]

Yes it's stil Monday here...barely

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Darren J. Ray

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Reply with quote  #57 
Thanks a lot, Dan.

OK, here come the results....
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Darren J. Ray

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Reply with quote  #58 
The results are:


Gold - Cottonfields (The Beach Boys - 1970) (71)
(12G, 6S, 2B, 1T)

Silver - Real Men (Joe Jackson - 1982) (54)
(5G, 7S, 4B, 5T)

Bronze - Trans-Canada Highway (Gene Pitney - 1975) (53)
(4G, 7S + 1 shared, 4B + 1 shared, 4T) 

Tin - Wheeling West Virginia (Neil Sedaka - 1969) (32)
(0G, 0S + 1 shared, 9B + 1 shared, 10T)


Thanks again to the 21 voters. 

And thanks to D.A.N for being my scrutineer. 


It was the second appearance for 'Cottonfields' and, indeed, that same single version. 

It previously won Gold in Week 40 of Season III (Tom Tobben). 


'Real Men' is the first appearance for Joe Jackson here. 

It recovered well from a distant 3rd place, early doors, to snatch the Silver on the very last vote. 


'Trans-Canada Highway' was the second Gene Pitney song in the Battle. 

'I'm Gonna Be Strong' won Tin in Week 24 of Season VI (t Bedford). 

It now appears very likely for the Bronze Play-Off (which doesn't disappoint me). 


'Wheeling West Virginia' was Neil Sedaka's first visit to the Battle. 

I wasn't expecting it to do poorly. 


This week is now closed. 

Please support Cindy's excellent Week 26. 

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