Way Back 2017


August 9, 2017 - The In-Person Masqueraders Overshadow a Chock-Full-of-Oldies America's Got Talent

No need to listen too closely to catch the many vintage recordings inserted into episodes of America's Got Talent. In the weeks since season 12's debut the final week in May, we've heard late 1960s smashes "Everyday People" by Sly and the Family Stone, "Oh Happy Day" by The Edwin Hawkins Singers, "Try a Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding and Steppenwolf rocker "Born to Be Wild." Earlier-decade songs the show's producers have worked in include "Soul Bossa Nova," Quincy Jones' instrumental (made internationally famous when it became the Austin Powers theme), "Miserlou," Dick Dale's guitar workout (that rocked the world after it played over the opening credits of Pulp Fiction) and you-know-them-by-heart hits "Be My Baby" and "Mr. Lonely" by, respectively, The Ronettes and Bobby Vinton. Reaching further back, Little Richard's 1955 rock classic "Tutti-Frutti" continues to live up to the hype.

But the real story concerns The Masqueraders, a trio (boasting as many as five members at one time) that operated on the fringe of the music business for 55 years, if not longer. Several minor chart singles stretching from the late '60s to '80 were highlighted by the group's top ten rhythm and blues hit from 1968, "I Ain't Got Nobody Else." Three longstanding members, all in their seventies, remain: founder Robert "Tex" Wrightsil, lead tenor Harold Thomas and newest recruit Sam Hutchins (a former solo act, he joined about 45 years ago). AGT's live shows are about to get under way and the Masqueraders are among the final 36 contestants. How high can they soar?


July 29, 2017 - "I Got the Feelin'" Will & Grace Will Return

James Brown's 1968 hit "I Got the Feelin'" and its current connection to Baby Driver, the movie where the rhythm dovetails with car crashes and gunfire, ricochets to the comedy corner of entertainment's universe. Will & Grace is back this fall on NBC; a promo featuring the show's stars Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes gives the Godfather of Soul's early funk classic every second of its allotted 30. The spot seems to be popping up all over the place: broadcast, satellite, streaming and the surprisingly-still-existent cable TV, though on second thought it's probably just on NBC-owned outlets....and YouTube.

The late 1960s are well represented in some of the top current movies. Aretha Franklin's once-neglected 1968 hit "Ain't No Way" has been gaining steam the last few years; right now it's on the soundtrack of the comedy Girls Trip. Canned Heat's '69 hit "Going Up the Country," which is still running on a Geico commercial, has a higher-profile position in Spider-Man: Homecoming. "Hey Joe" (the Jimi Hendrix Experience version) works its way into War for the Planet of the Apes, the ninth theatrical installment of a 49-year-old franchise that still has a long way to go.

Picking up some loose ends: A current commercial for E*Trade makes welcome use of Tony Bennett's mid-'60s recording of "Fly Me to the Moon." Major League Baseball's All-Star Game of July 11 gushed over New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge, the previous day's Home Run Derby winner and likely (but it's not a lock!) Rookie of the Year when awards time rolls around in November. A short promo narrated by actor Chazz Palminteri is notable for using "I Wonder Why" by Dion and the Belmonts (one of many great oldies in the 1993 film A Bronx Tale, directed by Robert DeNiro and starring Palminteri) as its backing track.




Everyday People Oh Happy Day