Monday, April 4, 2011

Some American Boys

So this week, The 60's Beat will take a little hiatus from posting (even pop music archeologists need a break once in awhile), but the good news is that next week, we're going hog-wild with the British Invasion! However, in complete contrast, I'll leave you with just this one post about a few bands from the 1960's with "American" in their name.

So first off, we have the American group (obviously) The Five Americans, originally from Oklahoma (and thanks to my sister for reminding me about this song). Considered a one-hit wonder (although they did have a few tunes make it into the Top-100), these guys are best known for their 1967 hit "Western Union," which scored #5 on the Billboard charts. This song holds the record for the most repetitive word in a Top-10 hit, however, this imitative word ("dit") represents morse code that Western Union used to transit messages (a very clever idea, if you ask me). And according to this introduction, even the "old squares" like this tune.

From Chicago, Illinois, the rock band The American Breed were also somewhat known as a one-hit wonder. Released in 1967, their biggest hit was "Bend Me, Shape," which reached #5 on the charts as well. Written by Scott English and Larry Weiss, this fun tune was first released by The Outsiders the previous year, however, The American Breed's version went on to sell over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc. The single mix of this song was sped-up during the mastering for its release, while the album release is at normal speed. From their performance on American Bandstand, these guys make this "swingin'" song so much fun.

The final band for today is the wonderful New York pop group, Jay and the Americans. These guys are so great, I'm actually going to post two of their songs! Forming in the late-1950's, the original "Jay" Traynor left the group in the early 60's but after being replaced by David Black (who agreed to change his name to "Jay" Black), the group found their biggest success. In 1965, they had a #4 hit with the popular song "Cara Mia," which was actually first recorded by English singer David Whitfield in 1954. Meaning "my beloved" in Italian, Jay can sure belt this tune!

And the final song for the day by Jay and the Americans is "Come A Little Bit Closer," the group's most popular single to this day. Reaching #3 on the charts in 1964, this song was written by songwriting team Boyce and Hart, their first Top-10 hit before going on to write the early hits for The Monkees. Because of its popularity, Jay and the boys joined The Beatles on their first American tour, along with The Righteous Brothers. Whenever I hear this song, I'm reminded of my dad playing this tune really loud on the radio while on our family roadtrips. What a fun classic!

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