And Do It All Over Again

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(Pictured: Wolfman Jack, howlin’.)

I would not have guessed, back in the fall of 1976, that one of the songs most evocative of that time, many years later, would be a good-time rock ‘n’ roll throwback featuring a famous DJ.

Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids started out as a bargain-basement Sha Na Na, formed at the University of Colorado in 1969. Relocating to Los Angeles in 1971, they ended up catching the 50s nostalgia updraft at precisely the right moment. A series of free shows at the Troubadour got them noticed, and they became a tireless touring outfit. They appeared on American Bandstand in 1972, one of the rare acts to get the gig without a record to promote. The next year, they got a deal with Epic Records. They considered asking Phil Spector to produce their album but ended up working with starmaker Kim Fowley. That same year, they were invited by George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola to appear as Herby and the Heartbeats in American Graffiti. Their version of “At the Hop” from the movie was released as a single, but given that they were playing a decent-but-not-great high-school dance band, it’s probably not surprising that the record didn’t hit.

A second album, There’s No Face Like Chrome, was to have been produced by Jerry Leiber, but he ended up handling only four songs. The members of the band did not consider themselves a nostalgia act anymore, and some of their mid-70s material was closer to glam rock, including the single “Dancin’ (On a Saturday Night),” which squeaked into the Hot 100 at #93 in 1974. The band went on a package tour with other Epic acts including Rick Springfield, the Meters, and Johnny Nash, but There’s No Place Like Chrome didn’t do any better than their debut album; neither one of them charted, and they ended up leaving Epic.

In 1975, the band made a guest appearance as Johnny Fish and the Fins in an episode of Happy Days. The same year, their first single on the Private Stock label, a 50s rock tribute called “Good Times, Rock and Roll”—on which they sang but did not play—rode the charts for weeks in Denver, was a Top-10 hit in Tucson, and was made available in versions customized for different radio stations. All that was enough to push it to #41 on the Hot 100. But the album Sons of the Beaches got short-circuited when Epic reissued the first two Flash Cadillac albums in a double set under the title Rock and Roll Forever. (If you’ve ever seen a Flash Cadillac album in a used bin, it’s probably that one.)

After Sons of the Beaches crashed, Private Stock brought the band a song called “Did You Boogie (With Your Baby).” Because they didn’t want to be only a nostalgia act, “Did You Boogie” wasn’t the kind of thing they wanted to do, but they did it, even bringing in Wolfman Jack to provide some nostalgic atmosphere. It hit as August turned to September, and made the Top 10 in Kansas City, Denver, Columbus, and Tucson. It hit #12 in my town, Madison, Wisconsin, and was ranked #10 for all of 1976 at WCIL in Carbondale, Illinois. It spent six weeks in the Billboard Top 40, 14 weeks on the Hot 100, and peaked at #29 during the week of October 23, 1976.

Flash Cadillac spent the 70s on the road almost continuously, largely as an opening act for someone or other. After another gig for Francis Ford Coppola, appearing in Apocalypse Now, they spent much of the 80s recording jingles and songs for the syndicated radio show Super Gold, and in the 90s they self-released some music. An edition of the band still exists today, although a couple of the original members have died. (This extended essay tells the whole story I have only sketched here.)

Against the odds, “Did You Boogie” is one of the hits from the fall of 1976 that most vividly takes me back to that time. It hit the radio in two versions—the original with Wolfman Jack and a non-Wolfman version. I used to prefer the non-Wolfman, but it occurs to me now, 42 years later, that his contributions are probably essential. And truthful, too: “Sometimes I get to thinkin’ there’s not enough love and romance in our lives today. And that’s why I like to reminisce, and relive that first feeling of love . . . and do it all over again.”

7 responses

  1. I thought that this post was gonna be about the Guess Who.

  2. “Did You Boogie” hit the stores in two versions, too. The non-Wolfman came out of the retail chute first, and – aside from a Private Stock ‘Sales Presentation’ promo LP sent only to distributors and buyers – was the sole source for the non-Woofie version in stereo. It was quickly pulled in favor of the one with the Wolfman overdubs. The reconfigured ‘Sons Of The Beaches’ LP track was likewise Wolfasized.

    The youtube link you provided for the non-Wolfman version shows a label scan of the commercial non-Wolfman stereo 45, but the audio from the clip is sourced from the far more common mono-only promo 45. The Wolfman stock 45s often had “With Wolfman Jack” added to the label copy, depending on the pressing plant.

    That “sometimes I get to thinkin'” bit had me scratching my head, since I didn’t remember where that line would have been in the song. That’s how long it had been since I’d listened to the Wolfman version. I’ll take the Wolf-free one any day.

    Although it wasn’t named specifically in the linked story, it was Transtar’s Oldies Channel for which Flash Cadillac did the jingle package. As the new PD of one of their affiliates, Transtar dispatched Jim Teeson to Minneapolis to run me through the paces, and he filled me in on the Flash Cadillac connection, as one of the band members was a Transtar exec at the time. Jim had been a jock at WDGY in the late ’60s, and I had to ask him to return my WDGY 30 Star Survey with his picture on it after I saw him discreetly slip it into his pocket. ;)

    Unfortunately, ever version of “Did You Boogie” we’ll ever hear, whether it’s the one with or without Wolfman, will come from a needle drop. The story goes that following the Private Stock’s demise, Jai Uttal, Larry’s son, stopped paying the rent where the label’s master tapes were stored, and they all ended up being tossed, with few exceptions. That apparently included the Four Seasons multi-tracks, which had been utilized for a Private Stock double-LP compilation. The group reportedly doesn’t have anything except for the stereo mixdowns.

    Perhaps the most pointless Wolfman appearance was on the one record where it should have made the most sense: Todd Rundgren’s “Wolfman Jack”. His presence on the early ’75 redone single sounded like a quickie Guess Who cash-in attempt in every way: everything in the mix sounded distant, the Bass-B-Gon 5000XLE was cranked to 11, and even his Wolfness’ presence came across as nothing more than a gratuitous afterthought.

    1. Your periodic reminder, people, that Yah Shure is The Man.

      1. I learnt me something today. I had no idea the Rundgren tune was ever a single or that it ever had Wolfman Jack on it. (The album version is a joy and a pleasure, as is the album.)

      2. Amen to that.

  3. that long piece on the group is very informative, wow.

    I knew that Flash Cadillac recorded at local (Illinois) Golden Voice studios; thanks to that article I now know it was “Youngblood” (performed on “Happy Days”) which they cut while on the road.

    Also interesting that Timothy P. Irvin was later in Flash Cadillac. In the early 70’s he and his band, “The Rural Route Three,” cut a 45 at Golden Voice, “Jesus Scared the Hippy Out of Me.” Throughout the years Timothy and the band bounced back and forth between Illinois and Colorado.

    Wolfman also phoned in a part on the Stampeder’s “Hit the Road Jack” if I recall. And he cut an album on Wooden Nickel, a single of “The Rapper” was issued which would be interesting. Maybe.

  4. In my home town of San Diego, there was a Wolfman Jack-sung version of”My Girl” that was on the radio constantly for a month or two. It was during those peak Wolfman years, I’d guess probably 1974, around the same time as “Clap For the Wolfman” and all the Clearasil commercials.

    It was actually the only version of “My Girl” that I knew for years. I was only 2 or 3 when the original came out, so I didn’t know it, although I figured out from Wolfman’s spoken intro that it was an oldie and not an original.

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