Old 97s

Hello again, music lovers. It’s time for another edition of whatever we’re calling this feature in which we look at records that peaked near the bottom of the Billboard Hot 100. This time, it’s Number 97. Between 1961 and 1977, 19 records topped out at 97. We’ll take six of them today and the rest at some future point.

“Here’s My Confession”/Wyatt (Earp) McPherson (5/29/61; two weeks on chart). Talk about obscure: Wyatt (Earp) McPherson was an R&B singer who was born in 1931 and died in 1978, and “Here’s My Confession” was on the Savoy label. But that’s all I know, so if you know more, help a brother out.

“At the Shore”/Johnny Caswell (8/3/63, one week on chart). Caswell is a Philadelphia singer who recorded a handful of sides by himself and with a group called Crystal Mansion, which made the Hot 100 a couple of times. “At the Shore,” inspired by the surf craze, was written by David White, a member of Danny and the Juniors who also wrote their most famous song, “At the Hop.”

“Big Party”/Barbara and the Browns (5/2/64, two weeks on chart). Three sisters and a brother from Memphis, Barbara and the Browns were a gospel group trying the secular market. “Big Party” was cut for a small Memphis label and leased to Stax for national release. A few other singles recorded at Stax and featuring Stax musicians including Steve Cropper failed to go anywhere, and the Browns ended up back on the gospel train.

“Lover’s Prayer”/Wallace Brothers (9/5/64, two weeks on chart). The Wallace Brothers were actually cousins. Nashville DJ John R became their patron, and they released several singles starting in 1963 and an album in 1965. Their producer, Cleveland Warnock, says that at one time, the mother of one of the Brothers had signed them to six different contracts, which led to a great deal of confusion and eventually, the end of their recording career. “Lover’s Prayer,” as best I can tell, was recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

“Teasin’ You”/Willie Tee (3/27/65, two weeks on chart). Born Wilson Turbinton, Tee was a New Orleans pianist who signed with the Nola label, and was produced by soul master Wardell Quezergue. “Teasin’ You” is a savory slice of Southern soul that should have charted a whole lot higher. Tee recorded into the 80s, then was discovered in the 90s by British soul fans and hip-hop artists, who sampled songs he cut with the Gaturs and the Wild Magnolias. He died in 2007.

“If You Really Want Me To, I’ll Go”/Ron-Dels (7/24/65, one week on chart). The “Del” in “Ron-Dels” is Delbert McClinton, who wrote “If You Really Want Me To, I’ll Go.” Allmusic.com describes it thusly: “a country-flavored beat ballad strongly reminiscent of the Beatles’ similar material from 1964 and 1965.” And it is.

“Teasin’ You”/Willie Tee (buy it here)

One thought on “Old 97s

  1. porky

    jb, you forgot to mention that another high-profile version of “Fortune Teller” was on that horrid Robert Plant/Allison Krause record (Bluegrass Music for People Who Don’t Like Bluegrass)

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