Questions and Answers

Let’s roll into the weekend with more one-hit wonders who peaked at Number 92 on the Hot 100. (First installment here.) During the weekend, stop by, because there’ll be a special post on Sunday.

“The Dartell Stomp”/Mustangs (10/10/64, three weeks). There’s a fascinating tale behind “The Dartell Stomp,” which was recorded by a group of New Jersey teenagers who called themselves Sandy and the Beachcombers, but released under the name of the Mustangs, possibly to capitalize on the debut of Ford’s new car. The musicians not only never saw a dime from it, they apparently had no idea the record had even charted until a freelance writer researching the group found the original members in 2009. I have no reason to believe the last part isn’t true, but how is it possible?

“I Want My Baby Back”/Jimmy Cross (2/13/65, three weeks). Here we have a notorious novelty record, a staple of The Dr. Demento Show, once voted the worst record of all time in a British poll. “I Want My Baby Back” is a parody of teenage tragedy records such as “Last Kiss” and “Leader of the Pack,” and it has to be heard to be fully appreciated. If appreciation is the right word.

“Respect”/The Rationals (11/26/66, three weeks). One of the more beloved artifacts of the Michigan scene of the 1960s, this version of “Respect” charted before Aretha Franklin’s did. An extensive history of the band is here.

“Questions and Answers”/The In Crowd (12/17/66, two weeks). Don’t confuse this In Crowd with Jon & Robin & the In Crowd, who hit with “Do it Again (A Little Bit Slower)” in 1967. Precisely who this In Crowd was is harder to pin down. “Questions and Answers” sounds a bit like the love child of the Four Seasons and the singers who did the Love American Style theme.

“Girls Are Out to Get You”/Fascinations (2/25/67, three weeks). A female quartet produced by Curtis Mayfield that included Martha Reeves in an early incarnation, years before the Vandellas. DJ Prestige at Flea Market Funk has more.

“Walk Tall”/2 of Clubs (3/25/67, three weeks). 2 of Clubs was a duo, Linda Parrish and Patti Valentine, who frequently sang in a club. They recorded on Cincinnati’s Fraternity label because Linda’s husband worked as both artist and producer there and was a friend of the label’s owner. “Walk Tall” was their second single. Despite its undeservedly low profile on the national charts, it was a smash hit in parts of the Midwest, going Top 10 in St. Louis and Chicago and hitting Number One in Erie, Pennsylvania. More here.

“Peas ‘n’ Rice”/Freddie McCoy (10/07/67, two weeks). McCoy was a soul-jazz vibes player who recorded on the Prestige label. He cut seven albums between 1963 and 1971, including one called Peas ‘n’ Rice. After his recording career ended, he is said to have drifted from Hawaii to India to Morocco. Larry Grogan of Funky16Corners caught up with him—although maybe it’s more correct to say that he caught up with Larry—shortly before McCoy’s death in 2006. The story is here. I know I should avoid the following sentence, but it’s the only one that fits: “Peas ‘n’ Rice” is extremely tasty.

“Believe in Me Baby, Part 1″/Jesse James (10/21/67, one week). James was one of the legion of soul singers who recorded on small labels back when a small label could make money with a modest hit. His early singles featured future R&B star Sly Stone on guitar, although Sly is not on “Believe in Me Baby.”

“Love Explosion”/Troy Keyes (3/2/68, three weeks). The classic doo-wop story: Keyes grew up singing on street corners in Brooklyn, belonged to a group that won a talent contest and got a record deal, and then kicked around the R&B field with various groups until he was drafted. Back home, he returned to singing, squeaked into the Hot 100 with “Love Explosion,” was never able to duplicate it, and gave up professional singing for a straight job. Years later, he’d be rediscovered by soul aficionados—and chart geeks.

“The Carroll County Accident”/Porter Wagoner (2/8/69, four weeks). A country smash that spent a month at Number Two, “The Carroll County Accident” is the compelling tale of a tragedy that reveals a deeper tragedy within. Here’s Wagoner performing it on the TV show That Good Ole Nashville Music.

In the next installment, more country crossover from the 1960s, the lone chart hit by a songwriter whose work you know and whose name you should recognize, and a novelty record that could only have been created out of karmic payback.

“Respect”/The Rationals (out of print)
“Peas ‘n’ Rice”/Freddie McCoy (out of print)