I was truly honoured when the good folks at Ace Records asked me to tell y'all about their brand new volume of Land Of 1000 Dances containing 30 more hit dances from the Golden Age of American Rock'n'Roll. Having been there and done that myself, they figured I was qualified to speak from experience, so here goes - and please excuse me if my memory plays the odd trick or if I get a little too sentimental.
I remember Curtis Lee - a blond kid, good voice... [breaks into falsetto] ... "Pretty Lil' Angel Eye-Yie-Yies..." but I don't remember The Wobble. Was it a hit? No matter. Boy, did they kick up a lot of noise on that one. It sounds like a fanfare for the Second Coming! Remember Gary US Bonds? That boy had so many hits, he even had me worried for a while. Twist Twist Senora is what you might call an uplifting sound. Brings a smile to your face every time you hear it. That goes for a lot of the sounds on this CD. Wait till you hear The Lurch by Ted Cassidy, the cat who played the spooky butler in the 60s TV cult comedy The Addams Family. Or The Crusher by the Novas - wacky or what? Same goes for The Bird's The Word by the Rivingtons.
Then there's Loop De Loop by Johnny Thunder. I'm tellin' ya', I could have used that song myself. What a smash! I believe it went over big in England too, by one of your own people, Johnny Vaughan or somebody. Great to hear that one again. Mickey's Monkey - what can you say about Smokey and the Miracles? That beat and hook-line had us all flappin' our arms like crazy anthropoids back in '63 and it still sounds fresh today. Danny & the Juniors? I knew those boys well - started out in Philly around the same time as I did. My people had Twistin' USA lined up for me to do but we switched to somethin' else at the last minute and Danny and the boys put their voices onto my track and got a hit out of it.
Gee, this CDs got more cuts on it than some others put together - 30 in all. They include Barefootin', Twine Time, Shake A Tail Feather, The Jerk, Popeye, The Shimmy Shimmy, The 81, The Madison Time. I gets out of breath just sayin' 'em. And I haven't even mentioned The Crawl by Guitar Junior (later known as Lonnie Brooks), or Baby Workout, a real biggie by the great Jackie Wilson. Not many folks remember (Make With) The Shake by the Mark IV. It hit the charts back in '58 around the time of At The Hop and it sounds real similar to that. The Ace people tell me it's the first time out on CD for that one, along with Lou Courtney's 1966 soul gasser, Skate Now which is kind of hypnotic.
The Twist! Now we're talkin'! I'm sure all of you out there know that my good friend Hank Ballard wrote that song and put it out first. He was makin' history but none of us knew it. I picked up the parcel and ran with it but Hank made money on every record played or sold and he's always been real cool about me getting a career out of his song. Gee, hearing all this great stuff makes me go all misty-eyed. Reminds me of the time you'd see not just the kids dancing but grown men in pork pie hats and shiny Italian suits, and women wearing bee-hives and stilettos disportin' themselves in a mad whirl on the dance floor in places like the Peppermint Lounge and Sal's Twist Bar. So, jack up the volume and get dancin'.
Sincerely, your friend,
EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks, Chubs. Just to round off, we should point out that Volume 2 of "Land Of 1000 Dances" comes with a lavish 20-page fully illustrated booklet annotated by Rob Finnis. A real delight.