(Pictured: Ashton, Gardner, Dyke, and Liber, circa 1971.)
“Resurrection Shuffle,” a 1971 single by Ashton, Gardner and Dyke, is one of our all-time favorite bangers. But “Resurrection Shuffle”—the song written by Tony Ashton, as distinct from the record he made with his mates Kim Gardner, Roy Dyke, and the also-appearing Mick Liber—was popular in more ways that one that summer.
After Tom Jones hit #2 with “She’s a Lady” in March 1971, his next single on the Parrot label was “Puppet Man.” It hit the Hot 100 in May and climbed to #26 for the week of June 26. The original release was Parrot 40062, and the B-side was called “Every Mile.” But on the Hot 100 dated July 3, Jones’ current hit, down to #29, is shown under a different catalog number, Parrot 40064, and is listed as “Puppet Man”/“Resurrection Shuffle.” On July 3, Ashton, Gardner, and Dyke’s version of “Resurrection Shuffle” was in its third week on the Hot 100, sitting at #63. Clearly Parrot, a subsidiary of London Records, had seen a chance to capitalize on the rising popularity of the song, and the fact that Tom Jones was a much better-known commodity than Ashton, Gardner and Dyke.
Starting on July 10, 1971, the two versions of “Resurrection Shuffle” danced at arm’s length on the Hot 100. That week, Jones’ double-A sided release was at #29 and AGD sat at #50. On July 17, Billboard flipped the listing and showed “Resurrection Shuffle”/”Puppet Man” at #38 with AGD at #42. (On that week’s American Top 40 show, Casey played “Puppet Man,” as he’d done every week since June 12, and not “Resurrection Shuffle.”) The two Shuffles moved past one another during the week of July 24, with AGD moving to #41 as Jones fell to #47. During the week of July 31, “Puppet Man” disappeared from the listing and Jones’ “Resurrection Shuffle” alone was shown at #50 while AGD held at #41. For the week of August 7, 1971, 46 years ago this week, Ashton, Gardner and Dyke finally cracked the Top 40, but only for a week. That same week, the Tom Jones version of “Resurrection Shuffle” was gone from the Hot 100. AGD wouldn’t be around much longer themselves—on August 14, their “Resurrection Shuffle” fell to #45, then to #73, and then out.
The AGD version outperformed its national chart number in lots of places, and even hit #1 at KWWL in Waterloo, Iowa, but it peaked as early as July in some cities and as late as September in others. In Chicago, WLS took it all the way to #5, but not until the week of August 30. It reached #8 at crosstown rival WCFL in the same week. So it never achieved the sort of critical mass it needed to rise higher up the national chart. But if it was big on WLS, that was good enough for me. I bought the 45 sometime in August, and it’s still around here somewhere.
Ashton, Gardner and Dyke have a Beatles connection. Dyke was the drummer for the Liverpool group the Remo Four, and Ashton eventually joined as a singer and organist. Dyke and Ashton backed George Harrison on his album Wonderwall Music; he returned the favor by playing guitar on “I’m Your Spiritual Breadman,” which eventually became the B-side of “Resurrection Shuffle.”
“Resurrection Shuffle” was covered by Clarence Clemons and the Red Bank Rockers in 1983, and that version kicks ass all day. But Ashton, Gardner and Dyke’s version is the one that’s still in my head, another indelible artifact of a long-ago summer.