Tuesday, May 23, 2006

On the Cover of Good Rockin' Tonight

Today in Music History:

In 1995 Jerry Lee Lewis releases his first rock and roll album of the Nineties, Young Blood, calling it "my best album ever!"
dr. HookSpeaking of AM pop radio's heyday of the '70s, one has to mention Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. The band was formed in Union City, NJ, in 1968, when a young singer/songwriter named Dennis Locorriere teamed up with Alabama-born country-rocker Ray Sawyer. Sawyer's distinctive stage presence stemmed from his enormous cowboy hat and an eye patch that hid injuries from a serious car accident in 1967. Sawyer's eye patch inspired the nickname Dr. Hook, after a certain character out of a children's novel; with the addition of more band members, the rest of the band was christened the Medicine Show (which may or may not have been a possible drug reference, duh.), they began playing some of the roughest bars in the Union City area, concentrating mostly on country-flavored pop/rock. The band recorded some demos, and in early 1970 their manager played the tapes for Ron Haffkine, who was working as musical director for the film Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? Haffkine had been looking for bands to perform the songs written for the soundtrack by Shel Silverstein, an ex-folkie, Playboy cartoonist, and children's author who'd penned Johnny Cash's hit "A Boy Named Sue." He took a liking to Locorriere's voice, and became the group's manager and producer.

Shel Silverstein ended up writing all the songs for Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show's self-titled debut album, which was released in 1971. The single "Sylvia's Mother," a slight parody of teen-heartbreak weepie songs, flopped on first release, but with some more promotional muscle became the band's first million-seller and hit the Top Five in the summer of 1972. Their second album was called Sloppy Seconds. Ya gotta love that title, and was once again penned by Silverstein. It contained more risque stuff and the classic, The Cover of Rolling Stone. This song was written specifically to get them on the cover of said magazine and it worked. The title of their third album was Belly Up and that's exactly what they did, the band declared bankruptcy in 1974, mostly to get out of their contract with CBS. They reemerged in 1975 simply as Dr. Hook with a new album called Bankrupt which featured more original material, they weren't relying solely on Silversteins material. A cover of Sam Cooke's "Only Sixteen" returned them to the Top Ten in 1976 and revitalized their career, further hits followed over the next few years in "A Little Bit More," "Sharing the Night Together," "When You're in Love With a Woman," and "Sexy Eyes." 1979's Pleasure & Pain became their first gold album and now, during their peak years, they were just as famed for their crazed stage antics, which ranged from surreal banter to impersonating their own opening acts. For me though, these later hits really signaled the end of the band as it should have been. I really enjoyed the early albums and not the top 40 pablum of the late seventies. It was around 1980 when the band pretty much folded. Eye Patch guy left the band and other changes occurred and all was folded up by 1985. I think Eye patch guy still tours under the Dr. Hook moniker but he has to license it's use through Locorriere.
I was tempted to post up Sylvia's Mother, but decided to opt for a couple of lesser known tunes from the early years. Essential listening.

The Things I Didn't Say
by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show
Acapulco Goldie by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show
Buy It

Funny Toon