JAY STRONGMAN PRESENTS POPCORN HEARTBREAK 1958-1964.

JAY STRONGMAN PRESENTS POPCORN HEARTBREAK 1958-1964.

Throughout musical history, songwriters always revisit certain subjects. Especially, angst, betrayal, heartbreak and love lost. Countless songs have been written about these subjects. That has been the case since the birth of popular music. However, for many music lovers, the late fifties and early sixties was a golden age for songs about heartbreak.

By then, America had shaken of the post-War gloom. Americans were now enjoying peace and prosperity. Fuelled by increased government spending, the American economy was booming. This was just as well, because each year, four million baby boomers were born. The future was looking good for the next generation of Americans.

Unemployment and inflation were at a record low. Meanwhile, disposable incomes were higher than ever. Americans were spending their newfound wealth on all manner of consumer goods. They also treated themselves to the new models of cars being built by GM, Ford and Chrysler. Many of these family cars were “borrowed” by young Americans as they made their way in life.

Unlike their parents, they had grown up in an era of peace and prosperity. These young Americans were able to borrow the family car and headed off to the drive-in, high school dance or local hop. Other times, they took the family car and cruised round town, or headed to a local block party. Providing the soundtrack to these adventures was the music playing on the radio.

Back then, Americans were able to enjoy an eclectic selection of music on the radio. As they drove around, young Americans switched between radio stations, enjoying everything from country, doo-wop, Latin, pop, R&B, rockabilly and rock ’n’ roll. Sometimes, music genres were fused, resulting in a new musical genre,..soul.

This occurred purely by chance, when artists combined elements of pop, country and gospel to create a nascent soul sound. Similarly, other artists combined R&B with doo-wop harmonies to create what was a forerunner of soul. While their constituents parts were different, the result was the same; med-tempo songs featuring lyrics full of angst, betrayal, heartbreak and love lost. They would prove popular for the next few years. 

Especially between 1958 and 1964, which is the period a new Jay Strongman’s new compilation covers. Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964 will be released by BBE Records on 15th July 2016. It documents an important period in American history where hope, change and fear were part of everyday life.

Between 1958 and 1964, many of the soulful songs on Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964 became favourites of young Americans. Many were high school students who should’ve been looking forward to the future. Sadly, by 1964, two dark clouds loomed large over America, the Cold War and the Vietnam War. America was about to change.

By 1964, war raging in Vietnam. A generation of young Americans were growing up fearing the draft. The thought of being forced to fight in Vietnam cast a shadow over their lives. Meanwhile, America was still reeling from loss of President J.F. Kennedy in 1963. No longer was there the same hope for the future. It was no surprise that America began to change.

So did American music. This began when the British Invasion groups arrived on American shores. Suddenly, American teenagers musical tastes changed. The soulful soundtrack of the last six years was usurped by the sound of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and The Animals. This wasn’t the last that was heard of the soulful sounds on Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964.

Music is cyclical, and usually comes back into fashion. That was the case with the music on Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964. It was rediscovered by Belgian DJs in the seventies, who looking for an alternative to disco. 

The Belgian DJs realised that most of the disco tracks were far too fast for what they were looking for. So they cast their net further, in an attempt to discover mid-tempo songs for slow jive dancing. The mid-tempo,soulful song from a decade earlier fitted the bill the perfectly. They became the soundtrack to late night jive dancing. These soulful songs were interspersed with everything from ska to pop. This mixture of ska, pop and soul was known as Popcorn, after a song by the self-styled Godfather of Funk, James Brown. Twenty slice of popcorn feature on Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964.

Among the twenty artists who feature on Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964 are Hillard Street, Varetta Dillard, Jesse James, The Gainors, Dolly Lyon, Brook Benton and Cindy Devereaux. That’s not forgetting contributions from Anna King, Johnny Wells. Timi Yuro and Lew Conetta. Each of these artists have their own tale of heartbreak to share on Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964. 

The most important songs on any compilation is the first one. Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964 is no different. It’s imperative that the right song is chosen, as it sets the tone for the compilation. In those days of short attention spans, if the wrong song is chosen, often a potential purchaser will move on. Jay Strongman realises this, and had chosen well.

The song he’s chosen to open Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964, is Hillard Street’s River Love. This was a James Parker and Florence Keller composition. It was chosen to be Hillard Street’s debut single for Capitol. River Love was released in November 1958. It’s propelled along by Latin percussion, while shrill, cinematic strings and doo-wop harmonies accompany Hillard Street’s jazz-tinged, soulful vocal. This proves a potent and heady brew, and whets the listener’s appetite for the rest of the compilation.

Jesse James will be a new name to most people. That’s not surprising; as he only ever released the one single, Dreams Never Hurt Nobody. This was an Eddie Curtis composition. It’s a Lutz and Kipness Production, that was was released on Musicor in May 1961. However, commercial success eluded Dreams Never Hurt Nobody. That’s despite Jesse delivering a  needy, lovelorn vocal, which is accompanied by a crystalline guitar, braying horns and quivering harmonies. They combine to create a song that epitomises everything that is good about the popcorn genre.

In 1962, Patsie Slater released her one and only single Yes You Did. Tucked away on the flip side was one of Patsie Slater’s compositions, A Tear. It was arranged by Bobby Smith. He’s responsible for an understated arrangement where jazz and R&B combine. It’s the perfect accompaniment for Patsie. She delivers the lyrics to this soul-baring ballad as if she’s lived and survived them.

Bubbling pizzicato strings set the scene for the vocal on The Gainors’ Tell Him. Already it’s obvious something special is unfolding. Suddenly, it’s 1963 all over again, and one can imagine this Van McCoy composition playing on car radios and jukeboxes. Alas, that wasn’t to be. When Tell Him was released on the Talley-Ho label in 1963, incredibly, this soulful and heartfelt plea failed commercially. Now fifty-three years later, it makes a welcome return on Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964 and is my highlight of the compilation.

Dolly Lyon’s Palm Of Your Hand is a jazz-tinged slice of R&B. It was originally released on Apollo Records in 1957. Sadly, it’s an all too familiar story. When the single was released in 1957, it failed to find the audience it deserved. After this the single became a rarity. Even during the popcorn era, collectors struggled to find copies of Palm Of Your Hand.  However, in February 2011, the Popcorn label rereleased Palm Of Your Hand. Belatedly, a new generation of record collectors were able to rediscover this hidden gem. That will be the case upon the release of Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964.

Mention the name Brook Benton, and most people think of his cover of Rainy Night In Georgia. That’s just one single in a long and illustrious career. Way back in July 1960, Brook Benton was signed to Mercury Records and was preparing to release his new single Kiddio. This was a song Brook and Clyde Loverne had written. When Kiddio was released as a single, it reached number seven on the US Billboard 100 and number one on the US R&B charts. That is no surprise. Brook Benton’s phrasing and delivery is perfect. He delivers a tender, needy and heartfelt vocal on this jazz-tinged and soulful tale of heartbreak.

Cindy Devereaux is another artist whose career amounted to just the one single. This was a cover of Loverne’s Sing On Baby. It was released on Mercury Records in 1960. Doo-wop inspired harmonies accompany Cindy Devereaux’s coquettish vocal, as she delivers a feisty, powerful vocal.

On the 1st of April 1963, Anna King released You Don’t Love Me Anymore as a single on the Ludix label. Hidden away on the B-Side was The Big Change, a Dixon, Edwards, Weiss composition. It was arranged by Roy Montrell and produced by Ludix Productions. Despite being relegated to the flip side, The Big Change was another hidden soulful gem. Anna King delivers a heart-wrenching vocal that’s full of hurt and heartbreak.

Although Timi Yuro’s career only began in 1961, by June 1962, she was ready to release her fifth solo single. By then, she had enjoyed four hit singles. Her most successful single was her debut, Hurt. Not only did it reach number four in the US Billboard 100, but reached twenty-two in the US R&B charts. Since then, Timi Yuro had struggled to replicate the success of Hurt. So it was important that Timi’s fifth single got her career back on track.

The song chosen was What’s A Matter Baby (Is It Hurting You). It was penned by Joy Byers and Clyde Otis, who produced the single. When it was released in June 1962, it reached number twelve in the US Billboard 100, but reached sixteen in the US R&B charts. Timi Yuro was back on track. That was no surprise. What’s A Matter Baby (Is It Hurting You) featured a vocal that was a mixture of defiance, hurt, frustration and anger. This makes Timi Yuro’s vocal one of the most emotive on Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964.

The final track of any compilation has to be a good one. It should leave the listener wanting more. There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting through a compilation only to discover that the compiler has run out of good music. When that happens, it’s something of a damp squib. Thankfully, Jay Strongman has dug deep.

Closing Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964 is Lew Conetta’s You Got Me Crazy. Theodore Conyers and Lloyd Pemberton cowrote the song, which was released on Decca in 1957. A desperate Lew Conetta delivers a needy, pleading vocal, as he lays bare his hurt and heartbreak for all to see. It reached a dramatic and memorable crescendo. Nobody will forget Lew Conetta’s You Got Me Crazy in a hurry.

That is the story of Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964. This twenty track compilation will be released by BBE Records on 15th July 2016. Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964 takes the listener back nearly sixty years, and documents what was an important period in American history. 

Having shaken off the post-War gloom, America was now enjoying peace and prosperity. This was the case in 1958, the start of the period that Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964. Some of the songs on the compilation may have provided the soundtrack as American teenagers cruised their local town, en route to hops, high school dances and block parties. However, within the six years, it was the end of the innocence.

In 1964, America was still reeling from the death of  President J.F. Kennedy in 1963. The war was raging in Vietnam, and a generation of young Americans were growing up fearing the draft. The thought of being forced to fight in Vietnam cast a shadow over their lives. Gone was the hope that seemed to be omnipresent during the seventies. It was no surprise that America began to change. So did music.

The soulful sounding music on Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964 fell out fashion until the seventies. It was only when Belgian Popcorn DJs are looking for an alternative to disco that they discovered the mid-tempo, soulful sounds on 

These mid-tempo,soulful song from a decade earlier fitted the bill the perfectly. They became the soundtrack to slow dancing, late at night at Popcorn nights across Belgium. Before long, Popcorn nights weren’t just confined to Belgium, and they grew in popularity. 

Nearly forty years later, and even today, there are still Popcorn nights being organised in clubs. This is testament to the music that is played at these nights. It’s truly timeless, and is a reminder of another musical age.A reminder of this music can be found on Jay Strongman Presents Popcorn Heartbreak 1958-1964, with its soulful songs full of angst, betrayal, heartbreak and love lost.

JAY STRONGMAN PRESENTS POPCORN HEARTBREAK 1958-1964.

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